The Road to Oblivion-Part I
Footsteps echoed on the stairs. They came closer and grew louder; the hollow sound like the steady beat of a drum in a cave. Gloria and Raul watched the door with anticipation. A knock came followed by Tesli announcing she had arrived with their driver to Tbilisi. The door opened, and Tesli walked in with a smile and greeted her guests.
“Good morning. Oh, I see you are ready to go.”
Val walked in behind Tesli. The two Dragons locked eyes on the auburn haired woman. Their nostrils flared taking in her scent.
Gloria approached Tesli as she introduced Val.
“This is Valeriya, your driver today. She is here to help us with the Cybrid insurrection.”
Gloria hugged Tesli. Her lips brushed the Dragon Sister’s ear as she breathed the words, “She is not entirely a Dragon. Do you trust her?”
The cautious Sentinel glanced into Tesli’s eyes. The girl signaled her confidence, barely dropping her eyelashes.
Gloria went to Val and embraced her with a warm hug that was firm and genuine. Gloria placed her cheek against Val’s. She inhaled a slow, steady breath through her nose touching Val’s neck just below the ear taking in her scent; making sure it was the daughter of Peter Ivanovich and Mariah and not some Cybrid clone.
Val held Gloria to her and reciprocated the closeness between them in the time-honored way of the Dragon Sisters. There was no mistaking identities between the two, although Gloria confessed their meeting was a pleasant surprise.
Gloria released Val and went back to Raul’s side and introduced Raul to Val. He said nothing. His eyes stayed on the strange woman with the auburn hair and freckled arms. He noticed her alertness and the hair raised on her arms. He sensed a duality of purpose in Val’s demeanor that kept him from feeling as comfortable as the others.
“We’re burning daylight ladies. Let’s get moving before the world wakes up and takes note.” Raul spoke with a sharp sound in his voice alerting the women that introductions were finished.
Val pointed to the door. “Right this way. I’m parked outside.”
Once in the back seat of the small sedan, Gloria nuzzled Raul’s neck and held his arm to her breasts. He rubbed the inside of her thigh to calm her. He sensed her tension was higher than usual. Something felt wrong.
They wound their way from Chala to the city of Oni where they picked up the road that took them on a long arc through the mountains along a string of ridges. Gloria and Raul held on to each other and watched the mountains and streams whip by them.
Their lives had moved at a crawl until now. Gloria felt an ache in her chest as the expansive scenery melted away. She wanted to go back to the horses and continue her sojourn with Raul without the need to fight a war.
Val drove at a safe speed, but the flashing of the forest and open vistas of stone and snow across the tops of the mountains mesmerized the two weary travelers. They crossed the Jejori River into Nakereba, and the mountains gave way to open rolling hills and streams carpeted with grass and trees.
Val opened a satchel with her right hand as she drove and handed a folder to Tesli. Tesli turned and called Gloria as she dreamed in Raul’s embrace. Gloria took the documents and handed them to Raul. On top of the dossier was Vika’s picture.
Val began to talk in a cadence and tone that was all business. Gloria and Raul listened while they studied the pages.
“I am your contact for Tbilisi. We’ve been expecting you for some time now. In fact, I’ve been scouring the countryside looking for you. It was just blind luck that you stumbled on Tesli.”
“Tell me more about our target.” Gloria focused on the picture of Vika.
“Her name is Vika. She is the love interest of the Cybrid Kirill, who leads the insurrection from Astana in Kazakhstan. She is an assassin and is responsible for taking out the Dragon hierarchy in Eurasia. She commands a group of 120 commandos that operate in teams of five to assassinate Dragon leaders or intellectuals. They spare no one, not even the children. Her mission is total extermination or the complete evacuation of all Dragons from the region. Since we aren’t evacuating, she is executing her first order.”
“Where will we find her?” Raul queried.
“She’s coming to you. I’ve been working as a double agent for the Cybrids to gain their trust. The Dragon Masters and I fed them with actionable information in the past. I’ve convinced her to come after you in the safe house you are going to tonight. She will likely send observers for one or two days to watch the building and to make a plan. She will have at least fifteen men with her. They fear you in close quarters but feel they must attack you under conditions that constrain you in order to have a high probability of success.”
“We have no weapons to defend an attack,” Gloria seemed unsettled by Val’s taking over and setting a plan into motion without their input.
“There are some toys in the apartment. You will stay in the last room on the top floor. There is only one narrow stairway. They can only come up or go down single file. The hall is also small, barely room for two men in gear to stand side by side. It is a funnel of death for them.”
“I suggest you look around but be wary. The Rebels will be watching. After you look around outside, it is no longer safe to go out. You have everything you need in the apartment.”
“What happens after the battle? We will need to exfiltrate before reinforcements arrive.”
“There is a cell phone with encryption in the dresser of your room. After you kill Vika and as many of her soldiers as possible, send the coded message Viking Summer to the only number in the contacts. An operator will arrange to take you out of the country and return you to your ship. From there you can go as you please. The Cybrids will take a week to decipher your message by then we will all be long gone.”