Blood and Vodka IC
Anastasia Alexandrov stood in her living room with her cell phone in one hand and an unlit cigarette in the other. She stared at the glowing screen before hurling it with anger, smashing the phone against the wall, the face shattering. She lit her cigarette with a silver zippo, engraved with to world “Vor”. It had been a gift from Nikolai, when he first started the Shadow Brotherhood and wanted her with him. Her hand trembled slightly as she flicked the wheel., the flame glinting off her red polished nails. Her brother, locked away in federal prison as now dead. Shanked ignominiously in the cafeteria, bleeding to death face first in a greasy meatloaf. The message had been sent, the Shadow Brotherhood would be no more.
She sucked in the first puff and let out the smoke in a shuddering sigh. It was because of her that they ordered this. No Bratva would be run by a woman, not even one just holding the male leader’s place while he was locked up. Nikolai should have known better but refused to trust anyone but his sister after being betrayed by a close friend. Stasia should have turned it down, passed it to Ivan or someone she trusted but the truth was that she wanted the power and her loyalty to her older brother made it impossible for her to refuse him anything. Besides, no one could be trusted anymore. There was no honor among these thieves without her brother there to protect her.
She walked to her freezer, her heeled boots clicking on the stone tile, and took out a bottle of Russian Standard vodka and grabbed a small glass tumbler. She poured half a glass and held it up, silently toasting Nikolai and then knocked it back. Stasia set down the glass and finished her cigarette, snuffing the butt out in a crystal ashtray. She leaned against the counter, fighting back tears that would smear her eyeliner when she heard a sudden sharp knock at the door.
Stasia reached for the Gsh-18 semi automatic pistol that lay on the counter and tucked it in her waistband, pulling out her blouse to cover it. She could feel the familiar and comforting press of the knife she kept on her person. She walked to the door and stood to the side, against the wall.
“Who is it?” she asked in her stern, throaty voice.
“Stasia, it’s us. Ivan and Vlad, open up,” the familiar rumble of Ivan’s voice should have made her relieved but she was on edge. If her brother was dead she must be next and it was not unusual for a council to order former friends and gang members to kill each other.
She put her hand on the gun, her finger curling near the trigger. It was fully loaded and had a round chambered. “Come in slowly, boys.”
Stasia unlocked the door and stood ready. The men entered, they did not carry weapons, at least not openly. Ivan’s tall frame filled the doorway and he looked at her, his eyes bloodshot. Vlad followed him, his eyes cool and blank as he went to sit down on his favorite chair.
Ivan cleared his throat, his deep voice subdued. “We heard about Niko.”
She looked at him, her face unchanging. “I have as well. Something I should have expected but hoped would not happen. So what now?”
Ivan shrugged, glancing at Vlad who was staring at the television with the sound off. The smaller man stood up finally, his face stone but his wiry body seemed to twitch with anticipation. Her blood ran cold, she had seen him like this before.
Without hesitating she grabbed for the gun at her waist, firing at Ivan who stood closest to her, hitting him twice in the chest at point blank range. He grunted and sagged, reaching for his gun but his strength was gone.
She turned quickly to fire at Vlad but he was faster, anticipating her being armed and he ducked out of the way and fired at her with his own gun, a silenced machine pistol. She dropped and crawled, slipping through Ivan’s blood to the other side of the counter. She could hear Vlad chuckling and he called out to her.
“Little bitch, do you want to live a bit longer? Come play my game,” he was crouched behind the sofa, moving stealthily towards the kitchen, trying to keep out of her sight. “I’ve wanted a piece of you for a long time. Your brother isn’t here anymore to protect your fine ass.”
Stasia’s anger burned, she had trusted Vlad because Nikolai trusted him but she had never liked the sadistic man. He took pleasure in his executions, prolonging the suffering instead of treating it like a job. Now he was here for her death and would extract a high price from her before it was all over. She slowly reached up, her heart pounding and fired a shot in the direction she thought he might be.
Vlad laughed and fired a burst of muffled shots casually over the counter. “Oh, Stasia. I had expected better from you. But then again, you’re nothing but a fucking woman. Nikolai was stupid to leave you in charge, he deserved his death. And you, you will die too but not until I’ve had my fun.”
Stasia felt panic rise and she fought it down, she calculated her chances of making it to the door without a bullet in the back of her head and it was not good. She had seen Vladimir's work before on victims and she felt sick with fear. Survival was slim but she had to try. Vlad’s weakness was his love of torture, to see the terror of his victims fed his ego. He also assumed women were not as smart or lethal as he was.
He had her pinned between the island counter and the stove, she had no escape but past him and out the front door. To get past him was to kill him and to do that meant to expose herself. She cursed to herself and took a deep breath, even if she died of a gunshot it was better than being raped and tortured at his hands. Gathering her courage she prepared to rise up but he fired another burst just above where her head would have been had she risen. She grit her teeth, seething with rage at the traitorous bastard, he had her and they both knew it.
"Come to Daddy, de'vatchka," he chuckled, "I promise not to hurt you too bad before it's all over."
"You're a terrible liar, Vlad," she called out, trying to located where he was.
He laughed and when he did she darted around the side of the counter and fired her last three shots. One hit grazed his thigh and two went wide. Vlad cursed and shot back, a long burst from his machine pistol and Stasia ducked out of the way of the bullets she could feel snapping right near her head. Her gun fell from her hand and she rolled back behind the counter, she was now out of ammo. She let go and reached for her knife, holding it tightly, waiting for the inevitable.
Mikhail Kirov, known to the Russian underworld as D'yavol, or The Devil, sat quietly in the driver's seat of his (stole) Chrysler 300, watching the townhouse with detached interest. He'd been contacted a week prior by Nikolai Alexandrov, leader of the Shadow Brotherhood. The organization was in trouble, and Nikolai had apparently felt the situation dire enough to wire $3million to the account of one of the most infamous men in a society of infamous men. D'yavol was a contract killer, a former Spetsnaz MVD operative whose sole reason for existing was to kill other human beings for money, and he was very good at his job.
Mikhail had received word upon arriving in Chicago that the man who had hired him had been killed in prison. This didn't matter to D'yavol. He was a professional, he had been paid in advance, and he had a job to finish. He also had a contact address which had lead him to this house, and a woman named Anastasia Alexandrov, Nikolai's sister and the apparent temporary leader of the Bratva that had hired him. He knew he had to contact her, but he also knew that rushing into an unknown situation got people killed, hence his watching the house from his car for the last two hours.
This instinct served him well, as he saw another car pull up and two men get out, walking towards the door.
They knocked, the door opened, and after a short conversation he saw two muzzle-flashes as the taller of the two men crumpled to the ground.
Time to go to work, he thought to himself, exiting the vehicle. Rounds continued to pop off inside the house as he quickly but smoothly drew a DiamondBack .380 from a shoulder holster under his suit jacket, then pulled the accompanying suppressor from the opposite side and screwed it into place with practiced ease.
Striding confidently towards the door, Mikhail stepped over the man sprawled in front of the door and into the house, walking quickly but calmly. Directly in front of him was the other man he'd seen entering the building, his gun trained on a woman who could only be his new employer.
Mikhail calmly strode towards Anastasia, putting his pistol to the side of Vlad's head and pulling the trigger without breaking stride. The gun spat quietly, the .380 hollow-point punching into his skull just behind the ear and tearing through his brain, leaving a spray of gray matter on the wall by his head as the killer collapsed like a stringless puppet. Reaching Anastasia, he extended his hand to help her to her feet.
"My name is Mikhail Kirov," he said calmly, his face serene. "You know me as D'yavol. Nikolai hired me to help you, and paid the money right before he was killed. This means I now work for you."
Stasia had been ready, she had muttered a prayer begging forgiveness for her mortal sins and waited for Vlad, hoping he would make it one shot and not fulfill his promise of torture. What happened next was not expected at all. A man, hard faced and assured in his movements, came forth out of no where and took Vlad out. She blinked at the explosion of bone and brain and when he helped her up she met his eyes.
They were blank, unperturbed by the execution, they showed no excitement in their depths. Stasia brushed back her bangs and nearly laughed when he introduced himself. She felt an urge to weep, her brother was still protecting her, even beyond the grave. Oh, Niko, she thought, why did it have to end up this way? The answer was easy, they were Vor, it always ended up this way.
She stood straight, ignoring the blood splatter on her blouse and looked the assassin in the eye, "So, I pray for angels and I get a Devil instead, sounds about right. Give me a moment to clean up and we'll get on with it."
Stasia did not thank him or cling to him, she was well aware of who this D'yavol was and he was not doing it out of charity or chivalry. Nikolai had hired the best to protect her but also the most dangerous. It would be akin to having a man eating panther on a leash. It would pay to watch herself no matter how much money Niko had put into the man's coffers.
She stepped over Vlad's lifeless body without a second look and walked over to Ivan. She sighed and looked down at the ashen face. He was dead, her two shots had hit center mass and he had bled out quickly. She felt a sudden sting of remorse, her elegant features still and blank but inside she felt her throat tighten. Ivan had always been her right hand man, always there for her to count on, to lean on when a tough, sensitive job needed to be done. He had grown up with her and Nikolai in the mob controlled neighborhood of Solntsevo in Moscow and was like a brother. More than a brother at times, she recalled and grit her teeth. What if he had not been there to kill her, but to help her against Vlad. She closed her eyes briefly, she would never know that answer now. With a last look, she knelt and closed his eyes, not wanting to see that dead stare from her old friend.
Stasia looked over at man, her pale blue eyes showing a hint of sadness and then she spoke in Russian, her voice husky but feminine, "Time to be off, I'll get my things. If you need extra weapons, come with me."
She went to her room, changing her dirty blouse for a long sleeved black top and began packing a small suitcase lightly with a few clothes and she opened her hidden floor safe, removing ammunition, money, and some forged documents, stuffing them into the bag. In her walk in closet, behind the designer clothes was a rack of weapons. She removed her micro Uzi, tucking it in the shoulder holster and put her long coat on. There were rifles and handguns in here, a variety and she picked up her old favorite AK-47. It was battered and worn but had never let her down.
Mikhail followed her into the closet, quickly perusing the weapons. Spotting one of his favorites, he pulled it from the shelf. The PP-19 Bizon-2-01, a Russian-made submachine gun, was chambered in the ever-present NATO 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge. The ammunition was cheap and readily available, with decent stopping power (especially with hollowpoints), and while it didn't have the punch of a .40S&W or a .45ACP, the major trade-off came with the rapid rate of fire and 54rd helical magazine. As an added bonus, the weapon had been designed in specific response to calls for a new submachine gun from the SPETSNAZ MVD, the unit Mikhail had worked with before becoming a hired killer. Needless to say, he was well trained and had extensive experience with that weapon in particular.
Grabbing three magazines and a few boxes of ammunition, he started for the door.
"Meet me at my car. Police will arrive soon," he said over his shoulder. "We must be on our way before then."
Stasia pulled her long pale blonde hair back into a pony tail and grabbed her back, her guns in their holsters and her rifle slung over one shoulder. She glanced at him and had the feeling she would not see this place again. It was no great loss, none of the decor or furniture held anything but the monetary value and that was something that could be replaced. Everything she valued was in her small purse that was shoved into the pocket of the suitcase.
Quickly she made her way out of the house, taking one last look at Ivan's corpse and said a quick prayer for the dead. She muttered the lines, "In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins he has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin..."
Whether she believed any of it or not, it was a habit and the only thing she could give to Ivan as an apology. Stasia made a hasty gesture, murmuring "Amen" and went through the door. The Chrysler was parked outside, inconspicous and not nearly as flashy as her new black Land Rover SUV which she would miss sorely. Again, it was traceable to her and she must leave without one. She trusted Mikhail, this Devil, to take care of her. She had heard he was good as his word as long as he was paid. Stasia hoped it was true and not just said out of fear of the lethal man.
"He's not the only one that's deadly," she told herself, feeling the comforting weight of her weapons as she tossed the bag into the backseat and slid into the front, buckling herself in and waited for him.
Mikhail paid no attention to religious rituals, instead busying himself with several objects in the back of the car. Once she was out of the house, he took a full gas can and a pack of matches, heading back towards the door. As he entered the home, he stooped to grab Ivan's foot, and drug the corpse inside and dropping it by Vlad's.
Setting the gas can down, he quickly patted down both corpses, taking their cash and any identification he could find, as well as their guns and ammunition. These could be used later, without fear of the weapons being traced to himself or Anastasia.
After he had taken anything useful from the bodies, he doused them in gasoline, then began to walk quickly around the house, leaving trails of fuel in his wake. He made sure to pay special attention to the bed, curtains, and sofa, anything that would catch and hold, as they would spread the fire throughout the rest of the home.
This done, he tossed the can aside and took out his matches. He the left the house, striking and throwing matches as he went. One for the bed, one for the curtains, one for the bodies, one for the couch. As he left the front door, the flames were already beginning to spread, devouring any evidence that might remain of his presence in the building.
The house burning behind him, Mikhail got in the car and fired it up, taking off down the street at a leisurely pace, well within the speed limit. As he drove, he spoke.
"Where we go next is up to you. I was told that my services were needed, but I haven't been given targets or any mission parameters. Normally I work for $25K per target, but your brother was generous enough to put $3million in my account. This makes me yours until these troubles are over." Reaching into the console of the car, he removed a pack of Marlboro reds and lit one, offering the pack to Anastasia. "So. Where to?"
Stasia took a cigarette from the pack and lit with her own lighter, inhaling deeply and sighing the smoke out. Where to go was a loaded question. She had many friends and the same time none. Who would stand with her, now that Nikolai was gone and her own closest comrades tried to gun her down. Would they all be against her now, she was now marked for death and to be hunted down like a dog. She felt her fingers tremble slightly as she brought the cigarette up to her lips and she detested herself for it. Mentally she ran down who might still be willing to help her, perhaps even go against Vasilyev.
The first stop she would make would be to her old associate who ran one of his whorehouses. Irina Polzin ran the day to day affairs of a club called Cloud Nine. A dance club on the surface, it was a hot bed of prostitution, bookies, and illegal dealings. Irina was in charge of the prostitutes, she was efficient and she knew where they came from for she had come from the same place. They were often fresh from the small towns of the old Soviet bloc countries with limited knowledge of English. Young and poor, they hoped for a better life with more excitement than their mundane existences. Though some knew what they were getting into and some did not, all were owned by the mob.
Stasia turned her head slightly, "We'll go to Cloud Nine first, I've got someone to speak to there but I don't dare enter unless you want to be involved in a shoot out right away. I'll need you to speak with her on my behalf, perhaps if she's agreeable, she'll help. Her name is Irina Polzin, she's the madame there. You can't miss her. Fake red hair, big fake tits, fake smile. Trust me, once she sees you, she'll make it a point to introduce herself. "
Maybe she was being a little hard on Irina, but the woman was at times grating but she had a purpose and she was good at her job. Irina was the closest thing Stasia had to another woman in a position of power. Certainly, Irina was no gang leader but she was savvy and without her things would not get done as they should. She gave him instruction on how to get to the club and soon they were pulling into the parking lot. It was nearly midnight and the lot was full.
"When you go in, head toward the back. You'll have to pay a cover to get in and again to the into the back room. Irina will be there with the girls, try to talk to her alone and get a feel for where she's at. We've known each other a long time, for better or worse, and she was also lovers with my brother before he went to prison."
She had flicked her cigarette butt out the window and glanced at him, "Try not to kill anyone unless given no choice. There are a lot of Vasilyev's men here."
Inside Cloud Nine, thumping trance and industrial music drowned out any hopes of communication. The long bar was packed with people ordering drinks and in dark corners there were people buying tabs of acid, X, and coke. All of which was supplied by the mob who made a profit off the captive audience. Lights pulsed and blinked wildly in the dark, illuminating the gyrating bodies on the dance floor. Women in scant dress, many of them tall and slender, with Slavic features. Beyond this was a door with two large men in suits standing on either side and a shapely redhead speaking to one of them, a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.