“Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.” ― Stephen King
Nuru blasted his enemies with a stick and defended his position with grenades made of broken brick. He reveled in their death, but alas, he too was mortally wounded. He pirouetted and tilted left then right then eased himself on the ground proud of his grace in the face of ensuing darkness. He looked up and smiled at his friends closing in to examine his corpse.
The gritty swoosh of a black sedan caught his eye, and he sat up to stare at its occupants. There in the back window, centered in the glossy frame, was a woman with auburn hair and brilliant green eyes. Nuru sat spellbound. In a land of dark features, auburn hair and green eyes were an omen of his good fortune.
The woman looked at Nuru. She smiled and waved. He felt a stirring in his heart. Kindness from strangers was unknown to him. From now on, he swore, he would fight all his battles against the damned Dragons for the auburn haired goddess of good fortune.
* * *
Kirill looked up as Vika entered the room. She looked apprehensive as his angry mood flared. He rose from the chair and straightened his jacket as he approached Vika.
“How was your trip to Romania?” Kirill’s gravel voice filled the room.
“I always enjoy hunting Dragons in Constanta.”
“Did you fill your quota of Dragon hearts before you killed them?”
“I felt benevolent and let them live. It’s not good to eradicate your quarry too soon. What would I do later, knit you a sweater?”
She played with him. How he loved this game.
“Then tell me what you learned while you rested on the shores of the Black Sea.”
“Oh, it was nothing that would interest someone of your status. Just small things here and there. You know, a lady must have her sub rosa.” She looked into his penetrating gaze.
He mused how her look was the same as a shark. The cold blackness of her eyes perched over full red painted lips aroused him.
“Entertain me with your adventures.”
“Let’s talk later. I’m distracted by all this noise about Dragons popping up in Georgia. It makes me. . .”
“Yes, my skin itches for the feel of their blood on my blade. But, it seems, this time, there are too many of the enemy.” Vika rubbed her arms as she spoke.
“I took the liberty of bringing in some help from up north for that,” said Kirill.
“A Russian?” Vika asked with a hint of scorn.
“Yes,” Kirill smiled, his mood relaxed as he watched Vika’s discomfort grow.
“Mmmmm. You’ve been busy.” Vika accused.
“You were gone,” he replied, watching Vika for any hint of jealousy.
“What’s her name, Kirill?” Vika’s voice was calm and controlled, but those shark eyes cut through him like daggers.
“You know her well, Vika.”
“Who?” She insisted.
“Where is she?”
“Behind you.” Kirill murmured.
Vika spun on her heels, half in anger and half expecting an assault.
“Valeriya.” Vika spat out the name of the woman in front of her. The woman’s green eyes glared back at Vika.
Vika turned back to Kirill.
“You bastard. Can’t you let me pick my team just once?” Vika’s sharpness made Kirill smile. Her killer instincts were edgy and always just under the surface. Her edginess stirred his desire.
He laughed and motioned Valeriya to approach them. The two women assessed each other then turned to face Kirill. He delighted in the contrast of their looks. Vika’s dark skin and Asian features next to Valeriya’s glowing pale face and freckled arms made them a perfect pair of assassins. He envisioned their quarry watching the fair Valeriya as the dark Vika crept up from behind. The Cybrid dream of liberty may well rest on their shoulders.
The three rebel Cybrids sat down. Kirill briefed them on their mission.
“An unknown number of Dragons landed in Georgia near Poti last week. We found three Dragons’ bodies, two in fighting gear shown in figure twelve and thirteen in your packets. The lab will confirm their DNA and who they were soon.”
The Cybrid master handed a stack of documents to each woman and continued the brief as they looked at the pages of the report and scenes of the battle. Vika looked up from the report.
“They killed twelve of our people, some of them the old way; shocking them then shredding their throats with their talons and knives.”
“Do you think that indicates something other than just hand to hand combat?” Valeriya brushed her auburn hair away from her face and leaned forward to hear the Cybrid Master and Vika’s comments.
“It means they were from the Dragons’ elite Sentinel Force – Dragon Sisters; old school and hardcore killers.” Kirill listened as Vika spoke in a subdued tone. Kirill recalled the Dragon Sisters and their viciousness. Memories chilled his skin and raised the hair on his neck.
“They’re apex predators. We don’t have anything to match their fighting ability one on one. We’re no match for them once they close in battle.”
Kirill noted Vika’s concerned voice as she spoke. Her past encounters with the feared Dragon Sentinels were as unpleasant as his.
“We managed to kill three of them,” Valeriya’s confidence failed to move Vika.
“The attack was likely a diversion to get us to move assets away from the real target to chase ghosts. The Dragons don’t send their Sentinels to kill low-value targets.” A hint of disdain carried on Vika’s voice as she stared straight at Kirill to make her point.
Kirill didn’t interfere with Vika’s rebuke of Valeriya. There was bad blood between them. It made them both mean, just what he needed. If they didn’t kill each other, they would stay in the right mood for killing Dragons.
“Are the Georgia connections sure none of the Dragons survived?” Valeriya queried Kirill.
“We aren’t sure of anything. That is why you two are going to Georgia. You leave Kazakhstan tonight. Go to Poti and meet our contacts for a debriefing. They will assist you. Hunt any loose Dragons down and kill them. Kill anyone that tries to stop you.”
Kirill dismissed the Dragon Hunters with a wave of his hand. Vika waited until Valeriya walked out the door and faced Kirill.
“When I get back, I don’t want to smell or taste another woman on you.”
“If you come back, I’ll make sure you are the only thing on me. Now go and kill those damned Dragons so I can concentrate on important matters.”
Vika put her arms around Kirill’s waist. He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. The stubble on his face stung her cheek as he whispered in her ear. “It’s time for the fox to chase the hound.”
She closed her eyes and savored the kiss goodbye as his hands gently pushed her away.
“Go before I change my mind.” Kirill’s face softened, and his eyes were full of Vika staring back at him with a stoic face betrayed by longing in the depth of her eyes. Vika released Kirill, turned, and walked out.