Authors: Masha Dark
LEGACY IN BLOOD
LEGACY IN BLOOD
All Rights Reserved © July 2012 by Masha Dark
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Masha Dark
In Memory of my grandmother Alexandra Rozhdestvenskay
Frontis nulla fides.
Appearances are deceitful.
The passengers who had just arrived on the New York-Stockholm flight were predominantly American. First came an excessively large woman in hot pants, which miraculously had not yet ripped at the seams. At her heels walked a freckled man with his wife, an athletic blond, and two children. The boy had braces on his teeth; the girl had a picture of Justin Timberlake on her t-shirt. Behind them stalked a stately dame, well beyond seventy and as thin as a rake, but heavily made up. Just one man, who looked like a yuppie, might have been Scandanavian. He was followed by a young girl toting a small backpack.
“I can’t see our Dutchwoman,” Ruslan said.
He stood twenty steps away from Marisa, avidly peering into the crowd of American tourists.
“Well then, you should have brought a sign with her name on it,” Marisa advised coldly.
The high-tech covert communications device, which connected her to her partner, reflected every undertone of her retort with relentless precision.
“You can’t rile me up,” Ruslan said, offended. “You’re just trying to get on my nerves because you’re in a nasty mood. And you’re in that nasty mood because you aren’t playing first fiddle like you usually do. You’re just too independent. Sorry, but I’m in my element here, leading the operation.”
In part, he was correct. But only in part.
“You are riled up, Rus,” Marisa answered. “She’s a professional. There aren’t many of her kind. And I am in a bad mood because you look like a turkey from the side. Your element! You’re supposed to be blending in; you’re supposed to mingle with the crowd!”
“I’m hardly even visible,” Ruslan said proudly. “But women just can’t help staring at me in admiration. They can smell the pheromones in my sweat.”
She could never really be angry at him. More accurately, she could never be angry at him for long.
“Scientists aren’t even sure humans have pheromones.”
“Well, whatever, they are my attractions,” the boy blurted out.
“Oh, just shut the hell up.”
And after a moment she added: “Attractants. Sexual attractants.”
“Well, yes, those,” Ruslan replied.
She smiled. He smiled at her in answer. They had no need of their wondrous technology to see each other’s smiles.
Alexander Goldberg, the head of the Homicide Division of CRUSS, in which Marisa and Ruslan served, went by the nickname ‘Papa.’ When they were still students in the Academy, the two young people had often visited his home. Goldberg’s wife made a fantastically tasty stuffed pike. Just as striking at a little over fifty as she had been earlier in her life, Rimma Goldberg loved to sit down at the table and grumble about the convoluted fate that had pushed her into marriage with such a ‘strange, idiosyncratic Jew’; the only one of all the Jews she had ever known who had chosen a career that led him to being in charge of a department that battled against the supernatural. At such moments Marisa and Ruslan energetically nodded in reply to Rimma’s long monologue while they happily demolished the scrumptious fish, which simply melted in the mouth.
However, it was by no means only the pupils who had proven their worth that were received in Goldberg’s home. Papa simply adored his students. He adored all of them, even the most negligent. He fed them, he gave them money, and quite often he was called upon to aid his foster children when one of them got into a jam or failed to talk their way out of some unpleasantness. And the students, of course, paid him back with their loyalty and affection; there was not the slightest trace of irony in Alexander’s nickname. This was all the more true because all the students of the Academy shared one common and unfortunately none too pleasant characteristic– in the past each of them had spent time in an orphanage. This was one of the fundamental requirements for applicants to the Academy.
“Now, you know I’m counting on you,” announced Papa, “She’s Darla Van Glek. Her codename is Dutchwoman. She is highly dangerous.”
Ruslan and Marisa examined the dossier carefully. There was nothing all that unusual, and certainly nothing worse than any other monster they had encountered. She was mixed up in two murders and had numerous ties with the American, Italian, Korean and Russian mafias. She had an apartment in Manhattan, a house in Beverly Hills, a country house in San Marino and a cottage in Haninge. She had at least three passports – American, Swedish and Russian. She had traveled all over the world. She had a penchant for rare books, antiques and luxury, which was not surprising considering how much money she had. She was single and never married.
“She’s gorgeous.” Ruslan said. “She looks like a movie star.”
“She’s a stump in disguise,” said Marisa. She had not yet come to the photograph of their objective.
“Huh?” Ruslan did not understand.
“I mean, with her money anyone could look like a movie star,” the girl explained to her partner.
“But she’s not bad, is she?” Papa agreed with Ruslan.
“She has a load of names and false passports,” continued Papa, “so let’s assume that no one knows this lady’s real name, but she had the indiscretion to blow her cover as Van Glek. She knows a minimum of five languages. That splendid physical form is a master of martial arts. She has the physique of an athlete.”
“What is she, eight meters tall? An athletic brunette? She is totally hot; I like her even more,” Ruslan commented happily.
Bestowing a baleful glare on him, Papa hurried to add, “Her IQ is off the charts, beyond 200.”
Papa took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He lit up and took his first drag in a dignified manner. Knowing that her boss was in the habit of sustaining a pause, Marisa deepened her study of the ‘highly dangerous’ criminal Darla Van Glek. There wasn’t much in the dossier. Marisa wondered where her weak spot was. Drugs, perhaps? No, for some reason she didn’t look like a drug user.
“Questions?” Papa’s voice drew Marisa from her thoughts.
“I already asked one,” declared Ruslan.
“But it was entirely without eloquence or thought, yes?” said Papa with a shade of temper, “I’m asking for questions that are substantial and not vulgar.”
That was the signal for Marisa, who was also impatient to satisfy her curiosity.
“How did she get on our radar?”
Papa drew his eyebrows together thoughtfully, ‘Neidan Meyering…. You should acquaint yourselves with his role in this affair a bit later…. But to the point – our American bureau had been trying to get to him for a while… But Van Glek beat them to it. If it hadn’t been for that, Meyering’s corpse would hardly have found its way into one of our top secret dossiers because no one would have bothered to dig all that deeply.”
“Sure, but then I still don’t understand – what does she have to do with CRUSS?” asked Marisa. “What is she, a telepath? Or a witch?”
“A psychic?” proposed Ruslan.
Goldberg’s department, likewise of Marisa and Ruslan, was only part of an enormous organization that paralleled the FSB, the CIA, Interpol and other similar departments that looked after international security. The acronym CRUSS stood for Coalition of Reinforced Unified Special Services. CRUSS incorporated a number of departments and subdepartments in many countries and as a result was a giant ant hill in which people of practically all relevant professions worked in peaceful coexistence – from forensic scientists and big-time hackers to snipers and lawyers of all specialties. But commonplace drug dealers, ordinary serial killers, psychopaths and the individual links in organized crime held no interest for Papa and his kids. The Coalition was concerned solely with identifying and fighting, by any possible means, paranormal phenomena and other devilry.
“Reach a bit higher,” offered Goldberg.
“A member of some satanic organization?” Marisa guessed.
“We suspect she’s is a vampire,” Goldberg informed them in a bored tone.
“Oh!” Ruslan brightened. “That’s makes it even more interesting! Give me the photos, Papa.”
Ruslan lost himself in admiration of the photographs of the victims of the alleged vampire.
“Is everything the way it usually is? Two holes in the neck and no blood in the veins?”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. With the first victim everything is exactly as you say…”
“Aha, it’s this girl, right?” inquired Ruslan, tapping a photograph of a blonde with glassy eyes.
“A prostitute from a New York whorehouse,” clarified Papa. “She was found that evening. While the trail was still hot, as it were.”
“Wow, so our lady is bisexual?”
Ruslan’s delight at this was without limits.
“Ah…well, I’m sure someone’s looking into it,” said Papa uneasily, momentarily flushing crimson.
As a man in his sixties who was educated in the old school, Goldberg did not understand, or more precisely did not want to understand, the meaning of many such neologisms that had entered the popular culture in modern times.
“What about the second victim?”
Marisa decided to come to Papa’s aid. Besides, she was extremely keen to find out what the stake in the heart of victim number two signified. He was a dark-haired man with a face twisted in agony.
“Indeed.” The crimson on Goldberg’s cheeks gradually faded. “The second victim is Neidan Meyering, whom I mentioned earlier. We were thinking that this was some kind of ritualistic murder. But in fact it is not. We received the work-up on the composition of this victim’s blood and we came to the conclusion that he is a vampire.”
“What, this fancy, little prick is also a vampire?” Ruslan was practically clapping his hands from excitement.
“Yes, Rus, today is definitely your day,” said Marisa, smirking.
“Hence the stake in the chest,” summarized Papa.
“But then, why did she kill him? A vampire killing a vampire? It’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense!” Now Ruslan seemed resentful.
“It is for you, my little doves, to understand the reason for this nonsense.”
And with an air of importance, Papa lit up a second cigarette.
On the whole, Marisa agreed with Ruslan. The case they’d been assigned was atypical and odd, even in a department where the agents had become accustomed to witches, psychics, murderous demons, telepaths and even vampires. The last group, however, were considered the domain of the elite. Not every employee of CRUSS had the skills to evaluate, track down, catch and neutralize a vampire, especially if the vampire was a loner. It was easier to eradicate a herd of vampires during a sweep than to trap an individual. On sweeps a team of agents worked together on the objective, and moreover the objective – the target – was concrete. Old, seasoned, individualistic vampires were considered more malicious and more dangerous than the freshly turned ones, who had a predilection for groups. The members of CRUSS studied vampires as carefully as they could. They knew enough about these creatures to realize that the myths of the ‘servants of Satan’ and ‘agents of the Devil’ who slept in coffins filled with dirt and were afraid of crosses and holy water were false. Yet even those employees of the department who were most disposed to incredulity had to acknowledge that every now and then they encountered certain elements of the truth in the numerous literary and cinematic sources. Here and there. Perhaps not an element, but only a washed out inkling of the truth. But regardless of how sparse these inklings were, they could not be ignored. On the contrary, any and all data on these creatures had to be analyzed, studied thoroughly, and correlated to compensate for intelligence gaps. And there were a great many of those. “These creatures do not fear the cross, but our aim is to do everything in our power to make them fear CRUSS, and not simply fear it, but tremble in awe,” Goldberg loved to say. And his agents truly did all they could to achieve this goal.
Yet for all intents and purposes, humans knew practically nothing about vampires. Marisa gazed thoughtfully at the photograph of Van Glek. Rus was right – she looked like a movie star. She was beautiful. Blue-black hair, brown eyes. The arch of her eyebrows was perfect. Her nose was precise, and her mouth was rather large. Just a bit larger and it would be overdone; it would look as if some hack had injected her lips with a double dose of silicone. But it wasn’t overdone, and there was no silicone either. The contours of her face were simply amazing; Marisa was immediately envious. In general, she looked like a European, a southerner, an Italian or…but then there was also an elusive Asian quality about her. It was visible in the shape of her eyes. And what eyes they were, deep beyond deep, and just as bottomless as the sea.
“Listen, what if she doesn’t leave the terminal here?” Ruslan’s voice sounded in her earpiece, and Marisa could clearly discern the faint mockery it held. “If she’s such a professional, then she might have already caught wind of the fact that she’s been fingered. And here we are, standing around like two geeks playing Mulder and Scully.”
But then Marisa saw her. It was impossible not to notice her. Impeccably dressed, with her black hair flowing down her back, she was even more beautiful in life than in photos. And younger. For crying out loud, this ‘highly dangerous’ woman looked the same age as Marisa! She walked fluidly, smoothly, and by the spring in her gait it was easy to see that she controlled her body with irreproachable skill. Her accessories were of the highest quality. The small valise, which the vampire was holding in her hand, was equally as elegant as her stylish sunglasses. Elastic, practiced muscles played under her clothes. That kind of grace – the grace of a panther – was artlessly charming…a strange thing; it even seemed to Marisa that the vampire looked right at her through her dark glasses. It was as if she peered into her soul…
“I see the target,” said Ruslan. And after a second he added in his usual vulgar way, “Oh yeah, that chick’s just like walking Viagra.”
“Let’s begin,” commanded Marisa, trying to shake off her stupor.
Now the most important thing was not to slip up. All they had to do was follow her closely and wait patiently, with the persistence of a vulture, until she made a mistake. She had already made one mistake. That meant she would do so a second time.