A Dance with the Reaper: Part Three
Evan gingerly straightened his back as he climbed onto the dock. Being thrown by Mashka was a new experience, and not something he would want soon to repeat. Though, he was beginning to have doubts that it was the Mashka he knew who did it.
“Going somewhere?” A deep, heavily accented voice asked.
Evan felt a gun barrel tickling at the back of his neck. He rolled his eyes in exasperation, 'Again, really?'
The Czech gave a half grin, as Evan raised his hands in surrender.
Anya found herself trapped when Mashka brought her other hand to her collar bone, pinning her to the side of the yacht. The knife she had stabbed through her palm, nicked her skin, before falling out the back of Mashka’s hand. A clawed fist whistled towards her face. She tried to dodge, but it felt like she was moving in slow motion compared to her assailant. The fist grazed her cheek, taking off the top layer of skin. Then it slammed into the wood and fibreglass hull, splinters spraying, as cracks radiated outward, stem to stern. Had that fist made its target, Anya was well aware that her face would resemble a bowl.
However all the force put into that punch, gave her an opening. She drew a knife with her left hand and thrust it into Mashka’s gut.
Mashka dropped her right hand and grabbed hold of Anya’s left, keeping the knife anchored in place, then she reached across with her left, open-palmed hand and grabbed Anya’s face. Pushing them both down, Mashka slammed the back of Anya’s head into the dock.
Lights exploded in Anya’s vision and she felt dazed. She knew she could not stay down, if she wanted to live any longer. Almost as a reflex, she punched the woman above her in the gut, granting her enough space to bring her feet in, to kick out, throwing the vicious fighter back.
Mashka’s foot shot downwards to stop her fall, but the angle was wrong, so she fell back and rolled across the dock. She quickly pushed herself up, holding her bleeding side. Anya threw three kunai, Mashka leapt back into a flip. The knives stuck harmlessly in the dock. Then Mashka ran, crouched over, snatching up each of the three. Anya feinted to the left. Mashka threw the knives. Anya twisted and dodged to the right instead, in hopes of throwing off her aim. To her dismay one, two, three knives embedded themselves in a row up her right thigh, slicing her tendon.
'She predicted my movements!' she realised through her pain. Worse yet, her left foot landed awkwardly and she heard an unsettling ‘snap,’ as she fell to the dock.
She could feel Mashka approaching by the vibrations in the wood. She prepared to pull out one of the knives. A booted foot smashed her wrist into the dock. All feeling vanished from her hand. Harsh claws pulled back her head, exposing her neck.
Anya could only look into those two golden orbs, filled with killing intent, above sharp grinning teeth. Mashka’s other clawed hand, rose and slashed down towards her neck, to rip out her oesophagus. In her last moments, she could not draw breath or scream, as the claws drew closer.
To Anya’s surprise, she felt nothing. After a while, she realised there was no pain. She looked at Mashka’s face. She was grimacing as a growl uttered from her throat. The yellow eyes kept fading to blue, but shimmered back to yellow, the pupils elongating and shortening at random.
“Nyet!” Mashka screamed, “You relinquished this body, you gave up, you’re not worthy! It’s mine, it’s mine to keep!” Anya felt the claws start to break her skin.
Her eyes faded a little more to blue, and her tone changed, “You don’t control me…” The clawed hand began retreat.
Mashka’s eyes turned yellow again, she threw back her head and sent a roar to the heavens that seemed to shake the air. She blinked towards the sky, her eyes reflecting the moon, her pupils narrowing into slits against the light, however, the irises remained blue.
She smiled, and in barely audible whisper, “Spasibo… mother…” She fell backwards, her legs bending to the side, a peculiar sigh escaping her lips. The two women lay facing opposite directions as a gentle drizzle caressed their limp forms, slowly rinsing away the stench of brutality.
Aleksei limped across the dock towards the blue boathouse. He focused on expanding his field, once again lowering visibility, but increasing his own awareness. A strange shiver ran down his spine. He looked around, focusing his attention to the left.
“Mashka?” he whispered.
He quickened his pace, just as he was about to reach out to slide the door, it opened.
John stared at him, “You look like… well you don’t look good anyway.”
“Is the plane ready?” Aleksei asked.
“Yeah, but where’s Mashka and Evan? I was just about to go and look for them.”
“Then take me with you.” Aleksei requested, “I can make the search much easier.” As if to emphasise his point, the mist rolled over the docks like a carpet.
John nodded, put the boy’s arm over his shoulder and hurried down the dock.
The Czech paused and grabbed Evan to stop him.
“Something wrong?” Evan asked.
The Czech huffed, “This blasted fog. I’m trying to remember the way back.”
“I could blow it away for you?” Evan suggested innocently.
“I’ll pass on that offer.” the bald man replied. He grabbed his phone and dialled, “We need some lights, or perhaps some directions. The fog has gotten thicker. …nyet, I have Chekhov…You sure? …I figured that myself… Very well, I’ll go after him.”
He flipped his phone closed and returned it to his pocket. “Orders are to incapacitate you then capture the little humidifier. My team has found where your plane is stored. We also know both subjects are both in bad shape. So--,” The Czech pointed the gun to back of Evan’s knee, “Right, left, or both?”
“Stop,” Aleksei whispered.
John halted their hobbling sprint. “Found someone?”
“Da, Ios--, er Evan. But the bald man is with him, and he has a gun.” Aleksei kept his eyes closed, trying to catch every detail of the situation.
“Ok, so let’s hurry and take him down.” John said.
“No, he’s the one we told you about. He can pass through solid objects. We can’t let him know we’re coming, we should not get close.”
“I thought he was vulnerable to you?”
“He is, but I’ve never tried to compress fog at this distance.”
“Well, if you lowered the fog a little, I could get a shot at him,” John suggested.
“No that-,” Aleksei paused, thinking over what John had said. “On the other hand, your gun, aim it ahead of you.”
“Ok,” he raised his gun into the murk, “but I can’t see anything.”
“That’s what I’m for,” Aleksei said, removing his hand from John’s shoulder, and placing both of his hands on John’s outstretched arms. He turned them a few degrees, and raised then lowered them. His eyes remained shut. He could sense both of the men’s forms in the distance. From the test back in The Association’s garden, he knew there was a significant delay of when his fog touched something and he detected it. At this distance, there was about a two-second delay. To his relief, the two men stopped moving, giving him a perfect opportunity. He raised the gun slightly to fix the angle. Taking a deep breath, he ordered, “Fire!”
“So, where shall I start?”
The Czech’s eyes widened, as a small explosion erupted from his shoulder. A split second later, a ‘bang’ followed. He could feel the bones rattle and crack inside him, as he collapsed. His teeth clenched tight in pain as he fell, the shock making him unable to move.
Evan took the advantage, grabbed his gun, and pulled out his radio.
“You alright?” John asked, as he and Aleksei materialised from the fog in front of him.
“Where’s Mashka?” Aleksei asked, concerned.
“Somewhere that direction,” Evan pointed.
Aleksei nodded and knelt down, putting his hands on the dock. He knew he probably would only be able to use his power once more. For the first time, he was experiencing his limit. He closed his eyes as three wisps of vapour rose around him then they sped off, taking the three intersections and splitting further, as they encountered more docks.
He smiled a moment, but the brief glimmer faded to worry, “I found her.”
“That’s good,” Evan replied.
“She’s not moving,” Aleksei added, “Go to the first left, then turn right, and take the second right.” Aleksei started to lean over, “I, I can’t do this anymore.”
John caught him, “Evan, get the girl. I’ll help Aleksei back to the plane.”
Evan nodded and ran, his feet pounding loudly on the docks, as he took the first left. As her turned around the second corner, he pleaded, 'I may not have ever done anything for you before, but God, please listen to me. Let her live, for her sake. She doesn’t deserve any of this.'
He saw the two women. As he approached, he could see Anya breathing heavily, though she seemed unconscious. He knelt by Mashka. Her face was pale, with a sickly green tinge. He could not sense any movement. Bending down, he listened for breathing, but before her could go far, he saw her eyes twitch. His heart leapt in relief.
Her eyes fluttered then opened, the pupils greatly dilated. “Dad?”
Evan raised an eyebrow, and proceeded to pick her up.
“You heard me and came back,” she said, smiling, “I got a standing ovation you know.”
“That’s great.” Evan said, figuring he might as well play along. He lifted her up, raising himself to one knee, for the first time realising how small she was.
“Can we go home now?” she asked, in a weary, childish voice, “I’m tired from all the dancing.”
“Yeah,” Evan replied, standing up, “We’re going home.”
A soft murmuring sound banished the silent atmosphere. Fog swirled around them. It gradually became louder until it was roar, then Evan launched into the sky, leaving behind a whirlwind of water.
Mashka closed her eyes and her head nodded against Evan’s broad chest. She listened to the heart’s steady beating, assuring her that it was not her imagination. He had come back for her, and now she was going home. Then the world went black, as she fell into dreamless sleep.
Evan saw the plane waiting next to the dock. He descended, the force rocking the aircraft. He put the unconscious Mashka down in a seat, next to her sleeping brother. Then he turned to John. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Roger that!” John replied, as the propellers roared.
The administrator watched the glimmering lights of a small seaplane head off into the distant sky, then glanced at the new activity on the docks. The flashing lights atop the police vehicles bathed the lake-port in hues of red and blue, as torches exposed the aftermath of a small war to confused eyes. The local authorities had arrived, but all they found were smashed boats, a few bullet holes, and some strange blood splatter.
The Administrator heard heavy panting, as The Czech walked from the alley behind him, “Do we go after them sir?” he asked.
He shook his white head, “We can find them again another time, but we have more pressing issues at hand.” He looked gravely at his faithful companion, “They have returned.”
“SICA?” The Czech replied, his arm in a sling.
“You would be right,” The Administrator affirmed, “At the moment it fits with our plans that our targets disappear for a while. We won’t have to worry about them, while we deal with this our old rival.
The Czech gave a grim nod and said, “Our people will be overextended activating our assignments overseas. We could use some more assets.”
The Administrator shook his head, “We can track down Evan and his two charges any time. I have an idea where they are going. Once they cool off a little, I may yet be able to use them. But right now, they are safe. For how long? That's up to fate.”
The Czech smiled, “Do you think Evan will ever discover your real agenda?”
The Administrator raised his eyebrow, “Ha! You don’t know my agenda.”
“I’ve made a few educated guesses, but if I knew, it would take all the fun out of this job,” The Czech replied, still grinning.
“And that’s why I hired you,” The Administrator replied, “You’re going to have a lot more “silencing” jobs, because of those upstarts. But you enjoy that work, don’t you?”
“It will be my pleasure,” The Czech gave a slight bow, his eyes becoming dangerous.
As the moon rose higher into heaven, shining its pure, innocent light below, the two men walked deeper into the shadows, evading the exposing moonbeams.