Innocence and Power
Aleksei’s high mood dropped slightly when he met Yegor in the hall and saw his friend’s worried expression.
“Radik got you, didn’t he?” Yegor asked, his eyes riveted on the dark red blotch plastered across Aleksei’s face.
“What do you mean ‘sort of?’ Radik doesn’t ‘sort of’ get someone.” Yegor’s gaze shifted over Aleksei shoulder. “And speaking of that spawn of evil,” he muttered. Yegor glanced at Aleksei, surprised he was so nonchalant, and not joining in his sly shuffle out of the way.
Aleksei turned and to Yegor's astonishment he yelled, “Hey Radik, our meeting last night was productive, you think? Do you understand variables now?”
The faces of those around them were all saying the same thing, unspeakable disbelief. Did the boy honestly want further ministration from Radik?
Radik glanced quickly at Aleksei. His eyes opened wide and he spun on his heel and marched away, leaving all the students perplexed. If a pin had dropped in the hall, it would have echoed. Suddenly, Ilya started clapping, and slowly the rest of the hall was filled with applause. Radik had met his match. In the eyes of the students, Aleksei was just one small step below an archangel.
The celebration was broken up as soon as a teacher arrived at the scene, wondering what the commotion was about. The students all returned to normal, but stole occasional glances at the school’s new ‘alpha male.’
Yegor watched Aleksei walk into his classroom and wondered how on earth had his friend beat off Radik, let alone his goons?
He smiled proudly. “Well, I guess my popularity with the ladies just fell through the floor.” he said ruefully not to anyone in particular. But on the inside, he felt immense pride to be the best friend of the boy who overthrew the tyranny of Radik.
Aleksei, however, had a much less joyous demeanour. He swallowed heavily, a tight, guilty feeling flooded his chest as he saw the hunched shoulders of Radik disappear around the corner. Aleksei did not see a vanquished tyrant, he saw a broken, awkward boy, who had just had all he had left, stolen from him.
Aleksei stared at the floor in front of him as he walked to class. Am I-- am I just a thief? I robbed from him all he had worked so hard to earn. I should feel better about myself. I did a good thing, didn’t I? He looked at the grins and the mouthed “Spasibo’s” of the students. He felt the grimy hatred and loathing for Radik radiate out of them. All the vicious feelings people had been hiding, just under the surface, now showed ugly on their faces, clawing at the corner of their mouths. All the innocence he felt from the formerly oppressed, vanished. He knew that in very little time, the taunting would resume, Radik would find himself at the brunt of it all, and someone else would relish the opportunity to enact vengeance on another human being. Innocence is the luxury of the powerless. Aleksei reminded himself bitterly.
Stepping calmly through the security checkpoint, The Czech laid his gun on the conveyor belt and showed his badge, identifying himself as an FSB agent. The security officer returned his gun to him and gestured for the bald man to proceed.
The Czech’s eyes sifted through the sea of people in the terminal, until he saw a figure in a dark hooded sweater, its face hidden from view, sitting on one of the benches near the wall. He discretely sat down with a seat between them.
“You procured the subject from Estonia?” the hooded figure’s slithery voice floated out from its shadowed face.
“Yes I did, he came very easily. Any resistance was dealt with.” The Czech replied stiffly. The bald man did not show it, but of all the members of The Association, this one was the most intimidating. The Czech liked to know the strengths and weaknesses of those around him. But as for the shadow beside him, he did not even know its face. And he did not even know if it was a he or she, or if it had a name besides ‘The Messenger’.
“Good, and where is he?” it asked.
“Storage crate K-54. He will be out for another four hours at least.”
“Very good,” The Messenger wheezed, almost betraying a hint of pleased humanity beneath its dark hood, that reminded The Czech that the creature beside him was indeed a living person, and not merely a weary spectre. “Your next mission will be far more enjoyable for you. You know who I’m speaking of?”
The Czech nodded, “Yes, the Russian girl and her brother.”
“Indeed. You need not worry about the boy though. You get the interesting assignment. If she resists, do as you will, but we want her in one piece,” The Messenger put extra emphasis on the next part, “physically and psychologically. Not like what you did to the subject in Novgorod. He is still useless to us. So no ‘playing’ with your target this time.”
“As you wish.” his reply sounded almost pouting.
“She is currently in the hospital and should come without resistance. You are to be there, should anything go wrong.” The Messenger paused then handed a file, “This is all you need to know about her.”
Then The Messenger fell silent, which meant he was dismissing his audience. Eagerly The Czech rose and walked a few paces before glancing back. The Messenger was nowhere to be seen. An odd tingle went up his spine as he glanced around in vane to catch one more reassuring glance of the mysterious figure.