A Time to Weep, a Time to Rejoice
The garbled answer on the radio satisfied Vika for the moment. She situated herself behind one of the parked vehicles across the street leaning against the brick wall of the apartment. The agitated assassin shouted to the last five soldiers to set up a perimeter while they waited.
Gloria and Raul helped each other down the stairs until they came to the landing by the open front door. The light framed by the open door of the dark apartment was bright like the glow of a portal to another dimension.
Gloria steeled herself for their last stand against the rebels. It would all be over in a few minutes before all of her life drained away.
Raul took quick breaths, his face red with sweat pouring down in his eyes. His voice slurred, and his eyes looked weary.
“I hear Vika directly in front. I’ll go out first, fire a couple of shots to get their heads down then move left. I’ll secure the right side next. You drive straight for the Cybrid whore and take her out. Don’t stop until you or she is dead.”
Gloria nodded. Raul crouched as Gloria put her hand on his back to move with him when he jumped off on his attack.
“I love you, Raul.”
Raul reached back and touched Gloria’s arm.
“I love you more.”
The Dragon rushed out the door into the light as Gloria followed on his heels. When he cut to the left, Gloria ran and jumped high into the air over the top of the vehicle. She heard shouts and rifle shots, but her focus was on the female staring directly at her as she came over the top of the car. Gloria pulled her knees together under her chin with her arms spread wide and her talons deployed in the form of a winged raptor.
Vika raised her pistol and fired twice into Gloria’s legs before Gloria reached her. It took less than a second to close the distance with Vika. It was an eternity to predator and prey.
Three Cybrids engaged Raul, hitting him numerous times. The big Dragon fought on, dropping one then another Cybrid before he stumbled and fell to the ground. Two of the Cybrids lay dead beside Raul. The third held his rifle on Raul, not willing to move on until he fired a shot into the Dragon’s head. He never made the shot.
A loud cough sounded down the street. From the attic window, Tesli saw the Cybrid drop dead from her shot with a silenced sniper rifle. The other two Cybrid soldiers closest to her were already dead.
Tesli watched through her scope as Gloria attacked Vika. The Dragon Sentinel snapped her legs out in front of her at the last moment as she descended driving Vika into the brick wall snapping her collarbones in half and shattering her shoulder blades. Gloria flipped backward in the air on the rebound and landed on her feet. The Apex Predator immediately speared Vika before her body hit the sidewalk. Gloria’s talons tore into the Cybrid’s broken shoulders as her thumb claws sliced under the shattered clavicles.
The Sentinel pivoted, swinging Vika’s stunned body in a wide arc and smashing her to the ground, breaking her ankles. Vika’s broken arms twisted and flailed at the sidewalk as the Dragon wrapped her legs around Vika where the legs joined the hips. Gloria clamped her legs with all her might as Vika’s bones snapped like dry wood. The Cybrid contorted and screamed in pain and mindless terror.
Gloria slammed her mouth down on the exposed throat of her enemy and pressed with all her strength. The two struggled until the ridge of the assassin’s throat filled the Dragon’s mouth. Teeth dug in closing off Vika’s windpipe. The Cybrid continued to scream like a wild animal eaten alive, the sound strangled in her chest.
Gloria reached under the Cybrid’s head and dug her talons into Vika’s skull and pulled her head back to expose her throat better. Vika twisted her broken and shredded body to get away and tried to scream, her agony beyond measure.
Tesli watched Vika’s slaughter with detached awareness. She saw Gloria struggle to lift herself from the convulsing killer. The Dragon clamped her taloned hand around the Cybrid’s neck and leaned over.
“For the children,” she whispered in Vika’s ear as Vika’s wide, bulging eyes stared into the sun.
Gloria squeezed until her talons met at the back of Vika’s throat and the tips reemerged on each side. Vika’s gaping mouth opened and closed as if to protest her manner of death. Her pupils spread open in the bright light across her dark irises like spilled India ink. Vika was dead.
Tesli watched the scene unfold then took out her phone and hit the send button on a coded message.
Gloria tried to stand, stumbled and fell. She leaned up against the brick wall and pulled herself up. Weakened from her injuries and loss of blood, the exhausted Dragon fell against the car and pulled her way around to the other side of the bumper. On her hands and knees, she made her way to Raul. She leaned across his body, lifted his head from the road, and kissed his ear.
“Tell me about Monaco again, Darling. Tell me how we’ll rock each other to sleep under the stars and make love in your captain’s bed on the Black Sea as the moon peeps through the portal.” Gloria held Raul and waited for his answer.
“I can smell your delicious coffee swirling in that funny glass coffee pot of yours.” The trickle of blood from her wounds slowed.
Gloria lifted her captain’s face to hers and kissed him with desperate longing, smearing his face and beard with her and Vika’s blood.
“I love you, Raul. I don’t want to live without you.”
Gloria rested her cheek on her Dragon’s face. She felt cold, and the sun seemed to set leaving her in a quiet darkness alone with her lover. She saw them walking on the beach arm-in-arm. Gloria smiled as her heart fluttered one last time. The two Dragons lay still, locked in their embrace in the morning sun. A van stopped in the road next to Raul and Gloria. Four men jumped out. Tesli reached down and felt for Gloria’s pulse.
* * *
Val looked down at her phone to read the message. Viking Summer. It was Tesli, not Gloria. She felt neither elated nor sad. Val wanted to feel something but could not. She looked up at the pilot and nodded then put the phone away. Val had to focus on how to get close to Kirill. Perhaps if he sued for peace or was dead, she could afford the time to let her emotions find the light of day. For now, she had to lock them away.
Outside the window of the chopper, the rolling landscape, and distant mountains shrouded in a smoky haze drifted below in a lazy stroll. Val thought about what Gloria had said about turning away from violence and living out her life with Raul in peace. She wanted to know peace and solitude too. It is the fate of every warrior; to fight and wish for peace.
“Nothing ever turns out as planned,” She whispered to herself.