The Road To Oblivion-Part II
Gloria looked up and caught Val’s eyes looking at them in the rear-view mirror. For a brief moment, they assessed each other before Val returned her gaze to the twisting road ahead. Val gave her an uneasy feeling. Was she loyal to the Dragons or was she setting them up for ambush? She could only ride along and see what comes next.
They continued to discuss the details of the mission as they traveled southeast to ever lower altitudes. More villages came up on the road ever closer together. They would enter Tbilisi in a few hours.
“What about our primary target, the Cybrid leader in Astana? Gloria asked. How will we take out Vika, her men, and still move across borders to get the target? He will be alerted long before we can get there.”
“While Vika is busy with you, I will go back to Kirill’s headquarters and take care of him and his staff. They only communicate via couriers for obvious security reasons so we will have a window of opportunity to synchronize our attacks. Tesli will take over-watch nearby but she can’t afford to get ahead of you during the attack or Vika will realize she is trapped and try to escape,” Val explained in that monotone voice of Dragon Sister Warriors as they explain the coordinating efforts of a combined arms attack.
When things settled down, Gloria returned her attention to Raul. He put his arm around her shoulder and held her to him. He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her arm.
“We’ll sleep in shifts. One of us must remain awake at all times.” Raul whispered. Gloria looked up into his tired face. She kissed him and whispered back.
“You sleep now. I’ll wake you when we get into Tbilisi.”
Raul closed his eyes as Val went through the S10 to E60 exchange and once on the main highway, she accelerated toward Tbilisi.
Gloria rested on Raul’s shoulder. She couldn’t wait to get him in a clean bed for the night. They had much to do to get ready, but nothing would keep her from enjoying her man. The thought of finishing this mission and the two of them disappearing on Raul’s ship to sail the oceans and live like they wanted, free of the world’s encumbrances, made the pit of her stomach tingle and her body burn to feel Raul’s love again.
They entered Tbilisi in the early evening. Gloria woke Raul, and they both began to watch as they drove south on Skhvitori bridge across the Mtkvari River past the huge Tbilisi shopping mall. Raul noticed the American Embassy compound where they turned west beside the Ristorante Fortuna to the end of 66th Street next to a large complex of warehouses. Gloria noted the signs that pointed south to the Security Police headquarters and east, the National Bureau of Enforcement.
“You picked a hell of a place to have a battle with the Cybrids.” Gloria broke the silence in the dark cabin of the car.
“It will force Vika to plan on a quick mission knowing the security police can respond in minutes to a full battle. The proximity of police gives you the advantage because they will try to come in light and fast to get away.” Val always seemed confident in the outcome.
“Will you be leaving after you drop us off?” Raul asked Val.
“Yes, I’ll head back to Astana to meet Kirill. You kill Vika, and I take out Kirill leaving the Cybrids leaderless. The Dragons will see that as the pre-arranged sign to begin their counter-attack. We’ll end the resistance once the Cybrids learn of the defeat of their leaders. This battle will break their will.”
“And if we fail?” Gloria grilled Val.
“If we fail, the war will continue, and the Cybrids will eventually develop the skill and weaponry to meet the Dragons on the battlefield with parity if not superiority.”
“Then we won’t fail,” Gloria spoke with an even tone as they exited the car and began walking toward the dark three-story apartment.
They walked in silence to the third floor stopping at the last apartment at the end of the hall. Val opened the door with a key and gave it to Raul. Tesli stayed at the head of the stairs at the opposite end to watch for anyone coming in.
“There is no one else in the building. Anyone you see or hear after Tesli and I leave won’t be friends,” Val cautioned.
Raul walked inside, turned the living room lights on and began to check out the small apartment. Gloria remained by the door talking to Val. When Raul returned, Gloria looked at him; he nodded to signal everything looked in order.
Gloria smiled and reached for Val giving her the customary Dragon Sister farewell. She held Val tight against her. She placed her cheek against Val’s and spoke to her.
“Tell your mother I am sorry for what I did and if I had my life over again, I would obey my masters and leave her in peace. I promise after this is over, Raul and I will seek our lives together as far from war and the past as possible.”
Gloria looked into the stunned face of Mariah and Peter’s daughter. There was no malice in her eyes. Gloria was letting go of her last bit of guilt and preparing to face her final battle with a pure heart.
Val’s mouth moved and an utterance caught in her throat. It was too late to turn back the clock. Fate would decide the outcome, and they would live or die according to their fate.
Gloria felt Val hug her in return. The flow of energy between them was a balm that temporarily soothed years of pain and self-hate that haunted Gloria in every quiet moment of her life.
Val squeezed Gloria’s hand.
“To victory,” Val whispered.
“To victory,” Gloria repeated in a quiet, detached voice.
Val turned and walked down the hall. The echo of her steps matched the emptiness Gloria felt in her heart. To see Mariah and Peter’s daughter reminded her of the life she dreamed of in Peter’s arms years ago. Now, childless and infertile, she clung to Raul for comfort.
Tesli and Val turned to look at the Dragons standing in the corridor, arm in arm. They paused to burn the memory of the Dragons in their minds. No one expected to see each other again in this world.