Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Nineteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Кто рано встаёт, тому Бог даёт.
God gives to those who wake up early.
Back in St. Petersburg he looks through his luggage bag inside The Crowne Plaza Hotel. He left the luggage back with Dmitry. He’ll give Goatee and Salt and Pepper two days to find him or whoever Morok Industries now has looking for him. He screws on the silencer to the AF-1 and slides it inside the waist band of his pants at his back. It’s cool enough outside to wear a jacket. He only has one objective now. To walk around window shopping so any street cameras can lock onto his image. He carries his carryon bag just to be more noticeable.
As he walks down Ligovsky Avenue, a woman wearing a kangaroo jacket with the hoodie up and pink sneakers jogs by. He’s impressed with how tone her calve muscles are. The umbrella she’s carrying in her right hand seems to have an unusually thick shaft and handle. He doesn’t see Goatee or Salt and Pepper or anyone else suspicious. The running woman piques his senses. He’ll watch to see if she shows up again tomorrow.
Windows in shops, on cars, and car side mirrors are great ways to see more than what’s in front of the eyes. He sees Goatee walking towards his back in the glass pane of grandfather clock within a shop whose window he is staring through. He doesn’t take a step but continues staring through the shop window with great interest.
For him a tall, burly man bangs into his back. He feels the back of a hand press against his waist just above a side pocket of his jacket. For a moment he feels a slight difference of weight in the pocket as something falls inside. The Goatee man apologizes in Russian with a Spanish accent. He nods his understanding of the situation and Goatee continues down the street. He stares through the shop window for a few more moments than turns back the way he came. Halfway down the block he sees Salt and Pepper staring into another shop window. He peers through the same window.
“Sometimes I miss a good Cornelius,” he says in Russian but with a German accent.
“Who would want one of those Pendos cigars,” Salt and Pepper replies in Russian with a slight American accent turning towards him.
For just a moment he sees a red bead in the centre of Salt and Pepper’s forehead. “Oh well,” he replies moving on.
In his hotel room he makes a call. The beep of an answering machine comes on.
“Perseus,” he says and hangs up.
Thirty seconds later his phone rings.
“Perseus,” a nondescript woman’s voice says.
“There is a bear sanctuary at Komsomdsk-on-Amer Reserve. A unique bear that is small and very pale will be in danger in three days.
He re-glues on the false nose and covers it in the dark makeup. Next he makes sure the receiver Goatee dropped in his pocket is sitting beside his phone as he calls the same pilot. Once he hangs up he slips the receiver back into the same pocket. With the AF-1 under his pillow and the MP-443 Grach on his night table he tries to sleep lying on his back.
Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Eighteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
несчастья никогда не приходят одни
Misfortunes never come alone
*This story is coming to its conclusion so I’ll be posting more often.
Dmitry plunks himself down beside him as Nelli tears at the salmon from the other side of the table.
“What’s in the backpack?” Dmitry asks pulling out a crumpled piece of paper from his shirt pocket and flattening it out on table top.
He shifts over and places the backpack in the space between them.
“Ah, I don’t smoke anymore!” Dmitry explains siphoning through the backpack’s contents. Taking both the boxes of cigarettes out Dmitry opens the lid. Dmitry hesitates. “I’ll keep the cigarettes to barter with but you better keep those.” Dmitry puts the two guns back inside the backpack.
He sees Nelli has stopped eating and is now staring at the boxes.
“No good for Nelli,” Dmitry says waving an index finger at the bear.
Nelli makes a snorting sound and continues to eat the fish.
Looking at the sheet he sees circular wet marks that could have been made by rain or tears. Daughter of the Bear is written on the top of the sheet with a poor drawing of a bear’s head snarling in the centre.
“Katya found it slid under the door to the house.” Yekatrina is Dmitry’s wife of over forty years. She’s a sniper who trained others up until her retirement as a lieutenant. “Nelli would have made a noise if someone unfamiliar came near.”
“It was her,” he says touching the sheet.
“Later we found a memory stick tied around Nelli’s neck with sisal string. We both know Nelli wouldn’t let anyone but me, Katya or Marina do that.”
“So she’s safe?” he asks pulling the sheet closer to see if there are any other hints.
“Maybe but a family called Prevoskhodyashchiy isn’t.”
He presses the palms of his hands against his temples and groans before he says, “They are a very powerful family.”
“Yes, and that’s where the plan comes in. You were followed at least initially?”
“Da,” he replies. “Not experts though.”
“You need to get them to follow you again.” Dmitry playfully reaches for a piece of fish and Nelli reacts by pulling the corpse closer to her. “Bring them here. But let me know. There is a hidden camera at the start of the roadway and at the gate. Try to stall them just as you turn off the main road. “
“How many days?”
“Five, so we can prepare. That’s all the time we have before Marina takes action.”
“Alone?” He doubts she can do much against a protected estate by herself.
“She said she will have help but didn’t say who.” Dmitry puts a hand on his shoulder. “I know it was a while ago now but I’m so sorry for what happened to Sofia and your mother.”
He bites his lower lip. Dmitry is either testing him or really doesn’t know the truth. “Time never fully heals but the numbness lets me continue.”
“Tomorrow I’ll drive you to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Airport. Tonight we’ll go over Marina’s plan for us.”
Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Seventeen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Доверя́й, но проверя́й [daviRYAY noh praveRYAY]
Trust, but verify
They turn left onto Ulitsa Korova until it becomes Shevemoye Shosse Road. He sees Dmitry glance at him in the rear view mirror. Shaking his big head Marina’s uncle says, “Better put on whatever you used on your face and hands on your nose now or Nelli will freak out.”
He dabs some of the makeup cream on his nose and rubs it in.
An hour later they turn left again down a dirt road that’s barely visible.
“I don’t know if you remember but I’m off the grid from the reserve. Still part of it but not where visitors are allowed.”
The road continues but it’s blocked by a farm fence between barbed wire fences that disappear in the dense woods. He can just make out tiny wires underneath some of the barbed wire. “How many volts?” he asks.
“Nine thousand volts and one hundred milliamps,” Dmitry replies. “We were hoping people wouldn’t see the wires.”
He gets out of the UAV pickup truck as Dmitry pulls the fence open. Once Dmitry drives through he steps past the fence and pulls it closed than jumps back in.
Dmitry pulls into an open patch of land surrounded by forest.
He remembers the dirt ground, the log house that’s raised on stilts for the rainy season, and the picnic table with extra wide seating on the one side. But he doesn’t recall the large tarped object by the screened in cabin Dmitry uses as a command centre. Nor the giant satellite disc on top of the cabin. “What’s under the tarp?”
“Ypa,” Dmitry exclaims as he briskly walks over to the tarp, unfastens the bungee cords that hold it and pulls it off.
He’s amazed to see a ZU-23-2 (Zenitnaya Ustanovka) anti-aircraft gun.
“It’s been adapted,” Dmitry says, stroking the barrel of one of its two 23mm guns. I can sit in it and push a button to get it to automatically spin, aim, and fire or if the auto system fails I can manual move it like they did in the 60’s. The wife has an RPG-7.”
He glances at the log house and sees the barrel of a Mosin rifle aimed at him. An elderly woman with very deadly looking pale blue eyes is staring at him with a face contorted with unsureness.
“We should do a little test to see if you are who you claim to be. The Bopoh-3 knife is in Dmitry’s right hand.
“Where’s Nelli?” he asks. He’s more afraid of her than of either Marina’s uncle or aunt.
“She’s coming,” Dmitry assures him. Sit at the picnic table with your hands on the table.”
He sits at the table on the side where the seat is more human sized. As he places his hands on the table, palms down, hears a soft whistle.
A little later a massive bear with wet fur bounds towards the table with a mouth full of salmon. Snarling while holding the fish Nelli steps towards him. He can smell salmon and the wet fur as his eyes widened. He tries not to shiver as she sniffs him.
With a grunt she briskly moves away to sit on the other side of the table. He exhales as she eats at her fish.
“Welcome Mikhail,” Dmitry says as he sits beside him. “Now we can talk about Marina’s plan.”
Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Sixteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
In Western Slavic lore, a dry maple tree that blossoms after a person touches it, means the person can be trusted.
“The WCS Russia Program works to protect the extensive forest and tundra ecosystems of the Russian Far East and the myriad species whose survival depends on these intact, functional ecosystems.” [This is a direct quote taken from the website—see below, because I couldn’t word it any better].
“Lucky you picked this time of year or the lake would be frozen,” the pilot tells him as they skid along the lake’s surface. “Keep in mind it will be colder here.”
He sees the plane turn towards a sandy area surrounded by trees.
“Go right when you get to shore, GPS won’t work here,” the pilot says as he turns the propellers off. “I suggest you either take your shoes and socks off and roll up your pant legs before you get out or make a fire quickly.”
He knows he can’t roll his pant legs up. The white of his skin would definitely go against the tan skin colour of his face.
“Thank you for the advice. I’ll just make a fire.”
The pilot passes him two long elastic bands. “I’ll wait until you reach shore.”
“Thank you again,” he says slipping the elastic bands over the cuffs of his pant legs. Next he puts on his backpack and grabs the luggage bag. “Thought we would be closer to shore.”
He steps into the shallow water and grits his teeth. The cold is sharp but having the elastic bands around the cuffs of his pants and collar of his new hiking boots makes it tolerable. The pilot passes him his luggage bag. Holding the luggage bag over his head he takes careful steps along the rocky surface. Once he makes it to the bank he climbs ashore and waves at the pilot.
As he walks past the maples with their little spring buds he sees a dirt trail heading east. If he keeps moving his feet should be warm enough when he gets to the highway. Strange to thinks that maples, birch, oaks and numerous other trees here are also found in northern Europe, Canada and maybe even the northern states of the United States. Is it common evolution based on climate and that all the continents were once just one big continent called Pangaea? Before he left the Atrium Hotel he put as much of his luggage and carry-on bag contents into the backpack. But lugging the luggage bag was starting to wear him out.
When he gets to the roadside of R454 he shrugs off the backpack and puts the luggage bag against a maple. He takes off his hiking shoes, slips off his socks and pulls on a new pair. He ties the hikers onto his backpack and pulls on his original shoes. He doesn’t sleep completely just partially.
“It’s not wise to sleep where the bears roam,” a deep voice rumbles down at him.
“Unless you’re friends with the bears,” he replies as he looks up at a very tall and burly man with thick grey hair and pale blue eyes. The beige logger pants and lumberjack shirt fits his bearish presence.
“Do I need to have you hold onto a branch of a maple tree to see if you are true or not?”
When Marina’s Uncle Dmitry squats down in front of him, he sees a Bopoh-3 knife in Dmitry’s right hand. Very slowly he pulls up one of his pant legs.
“Okay, I didn’t think you could tan naturally,” Dmitry tells him. “Better get the nose off before Nelli sees you.”
He gulps at the name of Nelli.
While Dmitry drives him towards the reservation he twists his prosthetic nose back and forth until the seal breaks. He does not want the bear to see him as an unfamiliar.
Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Fifteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
The Mariinsky Theatre (Мариинский театр), Saint Petersburg, was opened in 1860. The premier performance of the Nutcracker was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre on December 18, 1892.
The plane is refueling in Kryzl Airport and the pilot is taking a power nap. Erwin sits in one of the passenger seats in the back of the plane and reclines it. Closing his eyes he recalls the phone call from the Dombarovsky Air Base after his mother and Sofia’s plane exploded. “We would like to discuss with you and Marina what happened to your mothers,” the commanding officer said in a sharp voice. “We can’t seem to find Marina though. I would like to meet with you September 14 at 2 p.m. in my office.”
He emailed Marina knowing the email would be thoroughly checked before it was sent to her a day later.
Commander Sergey Zelin welcomed them into his office. The commander was grinning at him and Marina. I’d like to take you somewhere the commander told them.
He had glanced at Marina who appeared much the same as he imagined he did; distraught. His confusion at the commander’s chipper attitude was mirrored in her face.
Two hours later the pilot asked him if he wanted to sit in the co-pilot seat again.
“If you look out your window you might see the Sayan Mountains. That’s the border between us and Mongolia.”
“I’m going to put on headphones for a while,” the pilot tells him, breaking his train of thought. “If you have something to ask me just tap my shoulder.”
“Ladno,” he replies. The pilot probably wants to listen to music. He notices the pilot’s headphone mic is still in front of the pilot’s mouth so any important information will play over the music so the pilot can answer immediately.
To pass the time he thinks of Ana and the plays they had gone to. When they first started dating she told him she always wanted to go to a ballet so he bought tickets for the Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. He had to buy the tickets a year in advance so he hoped they would still be together than. He also did his research. The Nutcracker was originally written by E.T.A. Hoffman, a German romantic writer. Fifty years later Peter Tchaikovsky with Marius Petipa turned it into a ballet. They were still together at the end of the year.
He missed most of the ballet, too engrossed in watching the ever changing reaction of Ana’s face as she watched with her upper body leaning forward and her lips moving in whispered comments to herself.
The pilot was saying something to him. “Prosti,” he apologizes. “I missed what you said.”
“We have to veer north for a bit to avoid the Chinese border of Harbin; than south again. It will be a few more hours yet.”
via Rita Walker
Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Fourteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
This is violent so read at your own discretion.
He stares at the dashboard of the AeroVolga LA-8 as the pilot invites him to sit in the co-pilot seat; probably to keep company on the long flight. As the son of a military pilot he was encouraged to use flight simulators. First he learned to fly single engine biplanes such as the Antonov an-2. Next the four-engined Antonov an-12. Eventually he could fly a Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic plane and Kamov Ka-27 helicopter on the simulator. Both his mother and Sofia had warned him that flying the simulator they have at home is not the same as the air forces simulator or the real thing.
He turns his head and stares out the co-pilot’s window. The AeroVolga is good to fly about 4,000 km, two thirds of the way to his destination, before refuelling.
“You realize we are going right across Mother Russia?” the pilot asks.
“Da,” he replies.
“For the first half of the trip will be flying near the Kazakhstan border. After we refuel we’ll be flying along the borders of our friends the Mongolians.”
Kazakhstan, a country once part of the Soviet Union, with a population of nearly twenty million people is a place he had heard of often but never visited. That realization surprises him considering it is the ninth largest country on the planet. Nor has he ever been to Mongolia, the eighteenth largest country with barely three million people. The birthplace of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian horde and a true friend to Russia after the Soviet Union helped it gain independence in 1924 from China and made it a socialist state. Unlike China the Soviet Union accepted Mongolia’s desire for independence in 1992 peacefully.
He wants to keep up his cocky character so he points at one of the meters and asks, “That’s altitude isn’t it?”
“Why yes,” the pilot replies with mock surprise. “You fly?”
“Thinking of it,” he replies smugly.
“Too bad you don’t, I could let you fly while I sleep,” the pilot says with an intentional sniff.
He’s not much of a conversationalist; more of a listener. Acting cocky undercover is a good way to limit conversation. No one likes a braggart.
The radio is on so the pilot knows where any other planes are located. Occasionally the pilot pulls, pushes, or turns the steering wheel. That gives him a chance to dwell on the past. He stares out the window at the clouds and occasional glimpse of land below.
He had thought of getting his airplane license. It seemed natural since both his mother and Sofia were air force pilots. That thought unfortunately creates an ache in his chest.
Not long after the air force allowed women to fly fighter planes his mother called him. Her enthusiasm had made him grin with excitement for her. He had been working for INTERPOL for a number of years by then and living on the fifth floor of an apartment in Hanover.
“Mikhail, Mikhail, Sofia and I will be test flying the new Mig 36D!” she had shouted into the receiver. He was ecstatic for her and Sofia. He knew they would have to retire from their current positions at the air force soon and now they could do it by actually flying a prototype plane first.
Five days later he received a call from the air force. The Mig 36D his mother and Sofia were flying exploded. The two had ejected but considering how quickly the plane burnt up it was unlikely of any survivors. He was devastated. Too distraught to ask what they meant by unlikely. The phone call had been abrupt and he was not allowed to ask any questions.
At the funeral Marina clung to him as flags were draped over empty caskets. His father wept. None of his grandparents were still alive. Just as well he had thought.
A month later after the wreck had been thoroughly investigated he was sent an email message. The air force was investigating whether the airplane caught fire because of faulty work or whether it was an act of terrorism.
Two months later Marina came to him on a drizzling day. She was soaked so he insisted she shower and put on one of his dress shirts while he made hot chocolate. He could see she was distraught. So he covered her in a blanket and led her into his living room. He sat down beside her on his couch and listened while they both sipped at their hot chocolate.
Her voice was wispy at first and he had to ask her to repeat herself.
“I found out who killed our parents,” she told him and he saw her shivering. “They were hired by the same people who killed my father. But at first I couldn’t figure out how to get close to them. I was watching a TV series about the Night Witches when an advertisement came on announcing that a movie called Red Sparrow with captions would be playing later in the night.”
“What did you do Marina?” he asked taking her shaking hands into his.
“I used Red Sparrow tactics.” Tears started pouring out of her eyes. “I guess I can dress up in disguises, just like you, as long as it’s as an escort. I thought what would Mikhail do in this situation? That helped me not to gag as I flirted with the first of the two men. I had crushed up about twenty sleeping pills and poured it into a mickey of vodka. I wanted to find out what he did to the plane. But he was more interested in feeling me up than drinking. So I got on top of him while he was lying on the bed and jokingly poured some of the vodka into his mouth. He laughed and refused to drink. I was furious. I shoved the mouth of the vodka into his mouth and drove my palm down onto its bottom and kept pressing down.”
There was nothing he could say. The man had helped kill their mothers.
“The second one I slipped a mixture of ecstasy and ZzzQuil into a drink I bought him.”
“What happened to him?” he asked dreading her response.
“By the time we got a room he was too gone to try and touch me. He laughed as he told me how he and the other one got jobs as engineers to work on the plane. They added a detonator with a vibrator trigger to the inside of the fuselage of the plane. They were instructed to remotely turn the detonator on once the two female pilots were on board. He also gave me the name of the person who hired them. A fake name but I was able to follow back to who it really was.”
She was gulping in her breaths now.
“I didn’t kill this one intentionally but read in the National that a man fitting his description died of an overdose. The article also said the police are looking for a red haired girl about 177 to 179 cm tall wearing a silver dress.”
She broke at this. So he had pulled her close just as he did sometimes after her father was killed. Her head buried against him he could feel her tears soak through his shirt and onto the skin of his chest. They both had blood on their hands now.