From the realms above the grey clouds where the morning sun showed, Chekhov descended in a calm fall, trying to make as little commotion as possible from his kinetic waves and leave no visible disturbance in the clouds. However, this method also caused him to approach the ground too fast, so his landing was harder than he expected. He crumpled to the ground with a brief cry of surprise.
He needed to improve his control, and soon. His knees could not put up with too many more bad descents. Looking around the innocuous alley, he found a door a few metres from him, hidden behind a large dumpster. Squeezing behind the dumpster, he knocked. He waited a moment, but there was no answer. He put his ear to the door and felt, rather than heard, the Russian heavy metal music rattle the building.
“That’s Yaakov for you.” he said, rolling his eyes.
He tried the knob and found it was unlocked. He stepped in and tried to yell over the music. “Yaakov! Are you here?”
He turned left to a source of light. It was two computer screens and a lamp, on a paper cluttered desk, in front of which there was a large high-backed office chair. He could see green spiked hair, sticking above the chair’s back, as it bobbed up and down with the beat.
“Yaakov!” he yelled over the ruckus.
The chair spun around to reveal a man in his late twenties, covered in tattoos and ear-piercings to the point of mutilation.
“Yo, what you want?” he replied, “Ever heard of knocking?”
“I di-,” Chekhov could barely hear himself so he walked up and hit the mute button on the stereo. “I did,” he said calmly, but with an air of frustration. “I was wondering if you could make a few I.D. cards and passports.”
Yaakov chuckled, “You just get right to the point, don’t you? No “Hi”s, or “How are you”s? he gave a look of injured ego.
Chekhov sighed. “Hello Yaakov, you seem well! However, I myself am not so overwhelmed with ecstasy. I would really appreciate you doing a quick job.”
The man gestured to the equipment around him. “Hey!” he exclaimed, “I’m your dude.”
“Thanks. You could get them done today then? In say, half an hour?” Chekhov asked.
Yaakov sighed, “Not good ones, but thankfully I keep some ready-made spares just for this situation. They’ll get you through light security. All I need are pictures and names, and you’ll be set in fifteen.”
“Could you throw in a couple of disposable phones?”
“Certainly, they are in the drawer to your left.”
Chekhov opened the drawer and picked out two small cell phones with built in cameras. “These will have to do.” Chekhov replied. “How much?”
“For you, two thousand for the two cells, and passports will be a mere forty-five hundred each.” Yaakov replied, suddenly putting on a business attitude.
“Two thousand for each passport.” Chekhov replied, attempting to barter.
“Four thousand, last offer.” Yaakov replied, seeming peeved.
“Thirty-five hundred,” Chekhov declared. “Or I walk out.”
“Gotcha.” Yaakov nodded grudgingly, muttering something about being treated like a charity. “Now, I need my music back on.”
Leading the way, John took a left, away from the lake, and after a few hundred paces, the siblings found themselves in the midst of the city.
“Umm,” Aleksei looked around at the brick buildings and the tall fence of a power station. “This isn’t the docks. Why are we here?”
“Da…” Mashka winced, holding her ears. “the crackling sound hurts.”
John nodded and pointed to the wires above them, spreading out from the power transfer station. “That noise is coming from the tiny sparks of electricity as they jump along the frayed wires. Since they are overcapacity and old, they emit a substantial electromagnetic field, which you might be feeling right now as a tingling sensation.”
“Ah! Well that is fascinating.” Mashka exclaimed. “And though I don’t mind the fuzzy feeling too much, why are we here? Shouldn’t we be heading to the docks to wait for Chekh-, er-, Evan?”
“We are hoping to knock out any tracking devices.” John explained. “The way you “lost” them so easily, had myself and Evan worried. If one of us has a tracking device, we should disappear or become distorted on their readings. Now, please, examine any part of your clothing that could have been tampered with.”
Aleksei stepped forward to help his sister with her jacket when he felt a sharp pain at the base of his shoulder, where The Messenger had cut him. It worsened as he neared the power station. Suddenly his knees buckled beneath him and he was gasping for air. His shoulder felt like it was on fire.
“W-what’s going on?!” he cried through chattering teeth.
John pulled down Aleksei’s collar, and saw the bandage. He explained while he took it off. “What you are feeling is the electricity that leaks from the power lines to travel through the air around us, the field I mentioned earlier.”
“So why does it hurt!?” Aleksei demanded.
Carefully John spread open the wound on the boy’s neck. “Aha! I think I see something. It seems they tagged you with a subcutaneous chip.”
“That means they know where we are!” Aleksei felt stupid. “I-I thought it was just a cut!”
“Calm down.” John said. “Let’s go to the alley over there. I’m going to remove it.”
As Aleksei moved away from the lines, the pain lessened. He sat down on a crate and John stood behind him.
“What’s that?” Mashka asked, pointing at the small box John had just removed from his coat.
“I’m going to have to perform an operation. It’s just a quick one, but it’s going to hurt,” he warned Aleksei, “If you want, you can cry for mommy.”
Aleksei clenched his teeth and glared, as John sterilised the wound. With a pair of long tweezers, he pulled the flaps of skin apart.
Aleksei panted through gritted teeth, tears squeezing from his eyes.
Mashka bit her lip until it almost bled as she watched her brother’s suffering. More than once, she had gotten the urge to slam her fist into Ingles’ focused expression. She held herself back with weakening self-control.
“We had a hunch, and it turns out we were right.” John said, holding a small black device in the tweezers. “At least we know for sure, we were being tracked. That gives us an advantage.”
Aleksei tried to move away but a firm hand grabbed his shoulder, “Don’t move, I still have to stitch it up.” John warned.
After he finished and re-bandaged Aleksei’s shoulder, he examined the device. “I know why it was hurting when we were near the electrical lines. It has an unusually high voltage battery. My guess is that the EMF caused it to feel somewhat like a bee sting.”
He lowered the tweezers for Aleksei to look at it. The device was shaped like a triangle and had three sharp edges, which explained why it slipped into the skin easily. “That little bugger should have been causing you a lot of pain.” Ingles said, “But you didn’t seem to mind that much.”
“No, I didn’t really feel anything. My shoulder was just numb.” Aleksei replied. “It only hurts now that it’s out.”
“Maybe that’s why it had the extra voltage,” John theorised, “to disrupt your pain receivers in that area. At least, that’s what I can assume with my limited medical knowledge. Anyway, it will hurt to move your neck and right arm for a while.”
John took the tracking device and laid it on the ground. He raised his foot to stomp it.
“Stop!” Aleksei ordered.
“Why?” Mashka and John asked.
“We can still use it.”
“How?” Mashka inquired, confused.
Aleksei smiled and pointed to himself, “I can be used as a lure. They would only know where I am.”
John picked up where Aleksei had begun, “Which means, you can be used to draw them out, and leave them vulnerable to ambush, if we play our cards right. So we use their own advantage against them. If the device is still working, of course.”
John looked closely at it, “It seems that it still is. But we’ll need to get in contact with Evan again.”
Mashka and Aleksei silently nodded. John handed Mashka bandages and the latter proceeded to gently place them over the stitches.
John turned to Mashka, “In order to complete our goal, you’ll need this.” He bent down and pulled a holster from his ankle. He handed it to her but Mashka hesitated.
“I-I don’t know how to use this.” Mashka said, apprehensive since she had never even touched a firearm before.
“Look,” he explained, “Just don’t point it at anything you aren’t willing to shoot, and keep your hands steady.”
“Ok,” she replied nervously.
“Relax,” he reassured her, “you have enhanced senses. That includes sight, right?”
“Then you are much safer with this.”
She attached the holster to her belt and buttoned up her coat. It felt odd for her to have a firearm, but to her wonder, she did feel more secure.
“Now we do not know when they’ll show up next.” John said, “So let’s get going. We’ll talk as we go.”
As they walked back towards where Chekhov/Evan had said he would return to, John expanded on their developing scheme, “I get the hunch they aren’t going to do anything until we are all together, and at night. The last thing they want is for stuff to get too public, if I understand what Evan told me.”
“So why don’t we leave now?” Aleksei asked, “We could head out on your plane and scram, while they can’t get us.”
“The issue is, again, the tracking device. They are most likely tailing us as well. Which, if they are, and we get rid of device we still have to lose them. So leaving now, we don’t have a chance to set up the ambush you suggested.
“I‘m not really good with this kind of stuff,” he admitted, shrugging his shoulders, “It seems Evan and Aleksei are the real idea people here. So let’s head back to meet him, so you can figure out what to do.” Turning to Aleksei, he handed him the small device in a plastic bag. “You can keep this with you for now.”
They made it back to the white wall, the odd statues stretched out before them. Then they waited, watching the streets and alleys before them, and the clearing sky above.