Mellisa Flanagan, or more accurately with how she dressed and with her clip-on hair extensions on, Marishka Petrovskaya, walked down the block, a few blocks from the club she’d kidnapped a mob boss’s son from a few weeks before, hands in her pockets and head down. She was going to her favorite (not favorite) dive to talk to someone she could get information from. The weather was cool, and a little rainy, and she wasn’t enjoying it. She would have preferred to be up there, above the streets, running across the rooftops and launching herself with her swingline, the wind in her face.
So intent in her grumpiness was she that she nearly was surprised by the three large men in t-shirts, jeans, leather jackers, and boots, all with the particular hairstyle popular with the not-quite-made-men associated with the Patriarca crime family’s street muscle. One of them sported a bandage across the front of his somewhat crooked nose.
“Hey, we been lookin’ for you.” The one in front smirked at her. “You was there when that loonie took Tony. We gots questions for ya.”
“Busy,” she grunted. “Need to see a man about important things. You? Not important.” She tried to push past them, but one grabbed her shoulder.
“We gots lots’a questions for ya,” he said, and squeezed her shoulder.
She narrowed her eyes. She felt the energy inside her, but shut it down. Not now.
“Move or get broken,” she informed him, looking up at him.
His buddies moved to either side, surrounding her. “Make me,” he taunted.
She got out of the way of her own reflexes and struck. Left backfist to the nose of the one with the bandage, sending him down howling in agony as it broke again. His buddies started, and her knee went into the groin of the one holding her shoulders. He stepped back, releasing her and grabbing at his insulted balls, as her right fist got the third in the throat. Choking noises filled the air as he fell backwards, temporarily unable to breathe. She stepped on his ankle, overstraining it and forcing a strangled scream out of him. She turned to the first one, and grabbed his hair.
She let go at the feel of the product in it, and grabbed his chin instead. It squished as she forced him to look up.
“You would not last minutes in Russian prison. Russian women’s prison,” she added. “I was in Russian men’s prison. How you say… max security.” She squeezed his chin. “If you want to talk to me, be nice… or bring many more toadies.”
His eyes were wide, and she pushed him backwards, then stepped over him and continued on her way.
The door to the Model Cafe pushed open, and Marishka stepped in. There was a clot of men around the middle of the bar, including one with bandages on both hands sipping vodka from a glass on the bar with a straw. As she passed, the man with the bandages tried (unsuccessfully) to become one with the bar.
[I hope you’re healing well, Piotr,] she said as she walked passed them. Three more in the clot blanched as she speared them with her gaze, but kept going past.
At the end of the bar, Kuznetsov waited. [You’re late,] he said, then took a drag from his unfiltered Camel.
[Some Italian boys were looking for some fun and did not get it from me.] She gave a small, cruel smile. Then, going all business, she asked, [What did you need from me?]
[Well, I was going to tell you the Mafia was looking for you about Little Crackers, but you already know. So.] He shrugged. [Some people are wondering if you’re going to go into business here or just laze about.]
[I have enough money to not care for a bit if I am thifty,] she replied. [And if I go into business I will be certain to make sure the interested parties are aware and that I do not step on any toes.]
[Good,] he replied. [What happened to Piotr?]
[He put his hands on me. I took them off.] She gave her own shrug. [I was kind to him. I could have broken his hands much worse.]
Fyodor nodded, taking another hit from his cigarette. [I was asked to do some looking into your background. I tracked you back to IK44, and your escape. I tracked from there to the women’s prison outside Moscow. In IK44, I found out about your friend Yevgeniy. But very little from before Moscow. It was if you just …appeared. Some suspect that Marishka Petrovskaya may not be your actual name, but unless you cause them to worry, well, no one will bother you.] He glanced over. [I suggest not causing them to worry.]
[It is the only name I will use now,] she replied. [I annoyed someone high up in the apparatus, and then no one came to look for me, so I do not care anymore.] She shrugged again, evocatively. [I am a daughter of the Motherland and that is all.] She turned to regard him. [And what did you find out about Yevgeniy?]
[There are few former Spetznaz in prison. Do you know what he did to get there?] His eyes gleamed. He liked little more than to spread gossip and rumor.
[I know that he was in Afghanistan. I know that his team was sent to die, and a field marshal died for that. He told me that he did not repent his action, just that it was needed.] Fyodor shrank a little.
[He killed many people before that field marshal. He taught you some fighting.]
She just nodded.
[Something like that,] she evaded.
[Be careful, girl. A woman with your skills may be useful, or some might consider you a danger.]
She was about to answer when the door opened. A dozen men in their early twenties strutted in, and she rolled her eyes. [The bastard Italians again.]
“Yo,” the first one – the one she’d warned – yelled. “We want that bitch in the back. Somebody yank her outta here so we can get the crap we need outta her.]
“You aren’t welcome,” Anatoly, the bartender, said with a thick accent. “Go away.”
The guy in the front reached into his belt and pulled a pistol – looked like a Glock – and leveled it. “Shut it, Russkie. We just want the bitch. Crackerjack wants to know what she knows about his kid.”
Piotr jumped over the bar, crying out as his hands shifted in ways he didn’t like, as his friends pulled out guns. “She’s bitch, but ours. Go away,” said the man with the tears tattooed under his eyes.
The standoff grew tense, until Marishka walked between them. “No shooting. It would upset Anatoly.” She turned to the guy in front. “You brought more toadies. Smarter than you look.” She shrugged. “Fine. I go with.”
They lead her out to a long black car, and opened the door. Inside was Anthony “Crackerjack” Montonio, and there was a smoked glass barrier between the back and front seats. She sat down, and the door closed, the car starting to accelerate away from the curb.
“What happened to my kid?” he said, skipping any kind of niceties.
She shrugged, to take a moment to compose her accent. “Someone hit me. I wake up, he was gone. Too bad, he looked like good lay.”
“We’re gonna make sure we’re sure.” He pulled out a knife. “Let’s see if you tell the same story a finger down, you stupid bitch.”
“Is bad idea,” she said. “Very bad.”
“I gotta go kill my kid. You’ll be easy, Russkie.” He reached for her hand, and then she had her fist in his throat. He could barely breathe, barely move, and it all went dark.
She shook her hand, the one she used to block his carotid and his windpipe at the same time, then grabbed the knife. The door was locked, and with the knife’s hilt she tried to break the window. Of course it was bulletproof, and the car was starting to pull over, the sound probably having gotten attention from the driver. She shrugged, punched Crackerjack in the neck again to keep him out, and then buried the knife in the seat. Then she got herself ready to leap.
The door on the opposite side from Montonio, the one next to her, opened, and she got out of the way of her reflexes again, her fist going into the solar plexus of the guard, who fell down puking. One step, two, then a jump over the edge and she was falling towards the river. She hit the water, and her muscles started to cramp immediately.
Nothing to lose, she thought, and energized the vest. She reached into her jacket and pulled out her rebreather, putting it in her mouth, and started to swim, first under, then with her right side towards the bridge so she knew she was going south. By the time she pulled herself out, they were all gathered on the bridge, looking towards the other side. Soaking wet, she walked towards the Doubletree, dismissing the field.
“I need a room,” she said, shivering. “And someone to run to Target for me.” The gold card in her hand distracted the clerk, who checked her into a room and took down her information. She told them to leave it outside the room, and went up to the room to strip down and take a long hot shower. The Night wasn’t going out tonight, it seemed.
It was good, she thought, she’d left the car at home.
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