Series Two: Bête Noire
By Timothy Noël
Monday September 19, 2011
Why do I mourn for one unknown?
Someone I never touched, or loved.
Why do I hear the empty song
That rings in my heart?
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A peaceful night in sleeping Lyon was interrupted as a girl sat up in her bed and screamed, “Maman!” She looked around her warm room through her dishevelled brown hair. All that met her eyes were the soothing lavender of her walls, and her teddy bears smiling back at her from the foot of her bed. Realising that all was well, she stuffed her head beneath her comforter, tears soaking into the fabric. 'It’s not real, it never happened, it’s not real.'
The door flew open and a wide eyed woman in her nightgown burst through, “Océane! What’s wrong?”
“Maman!” Océane cried.
The woman sat on the edge of the bed and embraced her daughter, “What’s wrong, ma petite? Was it another nightmare?”
The girl buried her face in her mother’s breast as she tried to suppress her sobs. This is my mother, she has to be… she looks like me, smells like me.
Her mother rubbed her back soothingly, as she began to hum an old lullaby. Several minutes later, the teen’s shuddering ceased and Océane curled back up under the comforter.
The mother looked at her child, with the same gentle brown eyes her daughter had. She wondered what plagued her dreams, but Océane always claimed she did not remember them, that it was only night terrors. She leaned over and kissed her forehead, “You want to talk about it?” she asked.
“Non, Maman. I‘m fine, it was nothing. Bonne nuit.” She smiled to reassure her. Then she rolled over and closed her eyes.
Her mother lingered a few moments before leaving, chewing her lip in worry.
“What was that about?” her father asked as his wife re-entered their bedroom.
“She had a nightmare.” she said simply as she climbed under the comforter.
“Another one?” he asked.
“Oui, she doesn’t want to talk about it,” she replied anxiously, “Do you think she should see a specialist?”
“I don’t know,” he replied warily, “That might just make her resentful. Let’s just wait a little bit, it might pass, or she might open up. She’s never been one to keep things to herself very long.”
“I suppose you’re right, but if it worsens, we ought to make an appointment with Dr. Carole. What I’m concerned about is if something very bad happened to her.”
Her husband thought a while. “Well, every time I’ve asked her, she said it was nothing.”
“Cher, you don’t understand women. When we say nothing is wrong, we mean the opposite.”
He nodded thoughtfully. “So…does that mean when you say something is wrong, it’s really nothing to worry about then? What a relief!” He chuckled.
His wife promptly smacked him with her pillow.
Two walls and a bathroom away, Océane looked out the window with red eyes. 'I’ve never met that woman, why am I grieving for a mother I never knew? Why won’t this dream leave me be? She squelched her tears, tucked her head into her pillow, and fell back into fitful sleep.
The sky over Aberdeen, Scotland was blessed with a bright blue day, a rare but welcome occurrence on a September morning. Aleksei Sharov strode down the shipyard docks, toolbox in hand as he returned from his second job of the day. He paused to take a deep breath of the salty air. Looking at the horizon, he admired how the sun made the drab, grey-green North Sea look like a field of shimmering gems. The weight of the toolbox reminded him that he had to return to the shop. With one more longing gaze in the direction of his distant Slavic home, he focused on the task at hand.
It had been six months since the insanity of powers, kidnapping, the escape, the battles, and now he was not even himself anymore. He had dyed his blond hair brown and became Nikita “Nicky” Petrov. The only place Aleksei existed now was at home, and beneath the roots of his unruly hair. His birthday had been moved from November 26th to April 2nd, making him eighteen years old. His language changed, though he still spoke Russian with Mashka, in public he spoke English, and he was quite proud that he could mimic the Scottish accent, mostly; a tiny bit of Russian would sneak in on his ‘r’s, ‘v’s, and ‘j’s, pointing him out as an immigrant. And now that he was considered a permanent Scottish resident, he felt rather pleased to be a member of the United Kingdom.
Entering the mechanic’s shop, he navigated around the many tables where other employees were fixing various boat parts. He put down the box of tools and walked over to the notice board where jobs would be posted for those employees not currently pre-assigned. He looked for one that he had the expertise to complete.
“'Ey, Nicky!” A brash voice called out.
Aleksei turned to see one of his co-workers, a very muscular Scotsman who towered over Aleksei’s hundred and sixty-two centimetres. “Hello Jake, how are things?”
“I’ve got something I’d like ye ta’ ‘elp me wit’. I would do it m’self if I ‘ad t’ree arms, ye ken?”
Aleksei nodded simply and replied, “I ken. Which boat are you on?”
“T’e fishin’ skiff, Janeway, she’s ‘aving issues wi’ ‘er rudder and I need someone ta ‘old a wrench in place while I reattach it.”
“MacDougal is awful hard on his boat, isn’t he?” Aleksei replied humorously. “We’re always fixing that slab of driftwood.”
Jake gave a laugh from deep within his broad chest. “Yeah, that’s ‘im, but ‘ee swears tha’ ‘ee’s never going ta git another lady.”
Jake’s laugh was so infectious, that though Aleksei did not feel amused, a chuckle bubbled out his throat.
The two of them set out on another dock. Aleksei looked at the North Sea then back before him. 'Wait,' he thought, looking back down at the water. It looked as it always did, just with a little more light from the sun. He assumed it must have been his imagination, but he was certain he had seen a weird reflection. He shrugged, 'I must still be getting used to my brown hair.'
Slowly Aleksei raised his open hand over the water. The sea remained calm. He sighed in disappointment. Then, shaking his head, he hurried to catch up with Jake.
Rain fell in gentle sheets and trickled down the brick walls of the dark alleys in the industrial heart of Liverpool. A salt and pepper haired gentleman leaned over just enough to see around the corner down one of these passages. Seeing nothing but an empty alley he spoke quietly into the microphone on his collar, “Clear here, moving on to sector zed-one.”
Just as he was about to move, a hand grabbed the side of his face and a blade pressed against his throat. “Allo handsome. I thought you types had to be clean shaven.”
His eyes widened and he smiled nervously, “I apologize for the appearance lass, I have been out and about for a mite.” He carefully turned his face to see a short haired redhead with bright blue eyes, “Did not expect to see someone this bonnie around here.”
She rolled her eyes, “Well this ‘bonnie lass’ would like to know some things. I’m new in town, you see?”
“Really? Well I ken this town like the back of my hand. I could show you around, Love,” he offered, attempting to hide his nervousness.
“Hmm,” she thought a moment, “ni-et.”
The man bit his lip and said hopefully, “You have a lovely accent, where are you from, Love?”
“Finland, and before you ask, the name is Anya.”
“It’s just my luck that the enemy has to be this gorgeous.” he said forlornly
Anya chuckled as one hand traced down his back before retrieving a tranquiliser from her pocket and injected it into his thigh.
He gasped while she hushed him and said, “This has been fun but, I’m on a tight schedule, so, spakoynay nochi.”
She heard footsteps from around the corner at the other end of the alley. She grabbed the man’s handgun and dove forwards, snatching a Beretta from her thigh.
The four agents were too slow raising their weapons as Anya’s dual guns salvo tore through them. By the time she rose from her crouch, her victims were dead, or dying. She walked back to the man she put to sleep and saw The Messenger already crouched by him.
“So,” The Messenger hissed from under its black hood, “I assssume he’s the one we’re taking in?”
“Da,” she replied, “he grew on me rather quickly.”
“Very well,” The Messenger sighed. It lifted the man onto its shoulder with little more than a grunt. “Could you have chosssen sssomeone a little lighter?”
“Niet,” she declared, “besides, he’s cute!” she winked and smiled at The Messenger’s irritation.
Her partner let out a hiss which seemed to say, ‘No, you can’t keep him.’
Then it spoke as if bored with its task, “Just as long as he confirmsss whether they have any leadsss on the current target. Sssee you at the pickup location.” With no further exchange, The Messenger leapt up and grabbed the edge of a fire escape ladder. With one arm it pulled both itself and the man onto the platform then dashed into the darkness with its burden.
Anya took a final glance back as the last of the four men took his last, gasping breath. She nodded in the direction of the corpses, as if to give a moment of respect, then she disappeared into the night.