2293: Red Moon

Posted: February 22, 2014 by Kelly in Uncategorized

Despite the late hour, Dudev picks up on the fourth ring. His face appears in Irina’s screen, oddly pale and white in the light of his comm device. As if he’s already dead. “What do you want?” he asks roughly. He looks disheveled, dark hair tousled and eyes still bloodshot with sleep.

Irina smiles faintly at him through her plasma screen. She leans back in her workstation chair, eyes briefly wandering to a russet moonrise that is visible from the window of her office. “Just wanted to have a little chat.”

“At four in the bloody morning? Fuck, you’re insane. What the fuck you do want?”

/Someone is grumpy in the mornings, apparently. Guess I caught him at the right moment./ “I heard you were talking shit about me,” she coins an old saying. She smiles again, only a little bit, to show that she’s only being half ironic. “I thought it was high time you and I had a chat.”

Solchov’s old associate rubs over his face and reaches away from the camera to grab a glass of water. He drinks it while watching her. His hazel eyes are bold and challenging, despite being blood shot. “What of it? I don’t owe you anything.”

“Apart from the six million credits you mean?”

“I don’t owe them to you. I owed them to Solchov. You do know he’s dead, don’t you? Well, you must know, otherwise you wouldn’t be strutting around in his feathers, acting like you own the place.”

Irina leans back in her chair and sighs. “This thing again? Dudev, you owe that money to Solchov’s corporation. I own the corporation. I really need you to pay off soon. My patience is running out.”

Dudev’s voice lowers dangerously. He narrows his eyes and the camera shifts a bit, showing him in his bedroom. A flash of a woman sleeping next to him. “I won’t pay you anything. You’re just Solchov’s whore, not his CEO.”

/And there it is. Well, at least he’s not beating around the bush. He’s honest, I’ll give him that./

“Yeah, that was the reason I called. As much as you need to pay that money, you also really need to stop calling me that. It’s been half a year. You are boring me.”

The past six months have been filled with scrambling around to get Solchov’s empire under control. The financial takeover was arranged easily enough – she had been planning to do so for three years by that point. The nasty part of it was getting the Black City to accept her as the new boss of things. She had hoped that they’d seen enough of her face and her publicly running most of Solchov’s show over the years that they would accept her, but many of Solchov’s old contacts have been testing her patience. And in some cases, she /needs/ them. It’s taken a lot of pushing, bribing and threatening, but they listen to her now. All of them, except for Dudev. He /keeps/ calling her Solchov’s whore and his bile is infecting others. It would be infuriating if Irina would still care personally about what people call her. It’s just the principle of the matter, though. Name-calling is just a symptom of lack of respect and she /needs/ that.

He smiles then, a slow, leering ‘fuck you’ smile that she knows so well from him. She’s seen enough of it over the years. “And what if I don’t?”

“This was your last warning,” Irina says. There’s a message flashing in the left underside of her screen. Gershan. Apparently everything is in order. He’s ready. /Perfect/. “Are you going to accept this new reality?”

Dudev barks out a laugh and holds his comm closer so his face fills up the screen. The leer turns into a sneer, and she knows what he’s going to do. “Whore,” he says.

Irina gives him a brilliant smile in return. “I was hoping you’d say that.” Her hand caresses her screen, sending out a message to Gershan that he can go ahead.

Dudev is confused. She can see it on his face, one brief moment of speechlessness because he had never expected her to say this. He should have. He definitely should know what’s coming now, too. He should be taking precautions. He has known how Solchov treated his enemies – and Irina’s been on the operative side of Solchov’s affairs for years. She learned from the best.

One moment she wonders if perhaps he hasn’t set up a counter move, hired extra security, been fooling her intel that he’s sleeping in his own bed tonight, but the next moment the door blows open and in that split second before the camera view topples to show her the ceiling, she sees a very familiar face smile at Dudev before the man is slugged unceremoniously in the face. Gershan.

The man groans and she hears the sounds of a struggle and Dudev’s grunts, before the man groans in pain. More struggles follow. She thinks she can hear Gershan chuckle at some point, but it’s hard to make out over Dudev’s curses.

Irina waits and watches the ceiling patiently. She’s sent him on so many missions and while he’s always backed up by a team and doesn’t leave anything to chance, he still prefers to be the one to actually take point. He wants to be the one to actually land the punches. She’s not sure whether it’s because he’s just that violent, or because he hates these people so much. She won’t ask and he won’t tell, and it doesn’t really matter anyhow. Gershan’s got this. He always does.

It doesn’t take long. Eventually the camera rights itself again, and Gershan grins at her. She cannot help smiling back at him. “All done,” he reports brightly, “now what do you want me to do with him?” He angles the camera at Dudev, who is now tied to a chair, gagged and all. He’s only wearing a white t-shirt and boxer shorts. In his underwear, tied up and gagged, he looks incredibly harmless.

She smiles again, a slow smile. This one is brilliant nor happy. “You can take the gag out. I think I would like to hear him scream.”

Dudev starts in his chair, sitting upright and tugging at where his wrists are tied to the armrests. The zipties aren’t budging; they’re just visibly cutting his flesh. He is sweating profusely, but he doesn’t struggle as Gershan yanks the gag out of his mouth. The man sits still, straight up. “What- what are you going to do?”

Irina shrugs slowly. “I think I want you to just call me Irina. Or better even, Ms Weisz. You know, that respect thing we talked about? Can you do that?”

He is defiance personified as he nearly spits out his reply: “Can, yes. Will, no.”

/Of course./ She nods. “Gershan, please motivate him.”

She hardly even sees Gershan move. It’s Dudev’s strangled cry when Gershan’s knife buries itself in his gut that alerts her that it’s already happened. “That looks nasty,” she comments, as she watches blood drench Dudev’s white shirt and seep onto the hardwood floor.

“I didn’t hit anything vital,” Gershan says dispassionately. “It just hurts like a bitch. I could go at it again, if you want, hit his intestines this time.”

“I don’t know,” Irina answers, as if she and Gershan haven’t done this countless times before. As if it’s the first time they have a conversation like this. “Dudev, do I want that?”

“Probably,” the man says. He spits at the floor, still showing defiance. “Do you like your little power play, you stupid whore? Do you really think this means anything?”

She smiles at him. “I don’t know, I could do this all night. Gershan too, right? Gut wounds take forever to bleed out. Gershan, if you would…?”

Gershan flashes a grin at her and pushes Dudev against his chair, trailing the knife over the man’s belly. Gershan tugs the blood-soaked t-shirt up, exposing pasty and bloody skin. “I’m going to puncture your intestine. This will probably hurt a lot.”

“Fuck you,” Dudev grumbles and moves to spit Gershan in the face, but the knife buries itself in his gut before he can finish his action. It slashes deep, so deep. From Dudev’s cry it is obvious Gershan’s hit something vital. Dark red blood gushes over his gloved hands as he pulls his knife back.

“We could do this for hours,” Irina tells Dudev softly. “It’ll take you a long time to die this way. Unless you just call me by my name. It’s not that hard. Just say my name, call me Ms Weisz, and we might let you live with the scars. If you get to a med center before dawn, you can survive this. Do you want to?”

Pain and defiance battle openly for dominance in Dudev’s expression, and pain seems to be gaining ground. There’s a bit of desperation there, too. This is a man who knows he’s outgunned and who doesn’t want to die. He doesn’t have a backup plan or a way out, and it begins to dawn on him that this may be it – he might be in for a torture session that lasts for hours.

His resolve weakens. Irina can see it clearly on his face as she waits so patiently for him to find words to answer. When it finally comes, it’s hardly more than a hoarse whisper. “Yes, ms Weisz.”

“Oh, that sounded nice,” Irina says, her voice intentionally lighter, more girlish. “Can you say it again?”

As Dudev quickly complies, she can see Gershan shake with silent laughter as he shoots her a message. Her feed glows up with his words. /That was easy. He’s as weak as his security guys./

“Thank you, Dudev. That’s music to my ears. Now, one of my people has set up your accounts to wire me the money. I need your iris scan to send me the money. Will you do that for me, too?”

He nods. “Of course, ms Weisz.” He doesn’t struggle. He just complies; stupidly hoping that this might save his life. Why does he even harbour hope? Doesn’t he know who she is and what she is capable of? How did this incompetent get so high up in the Black City food chain?

“Oh, Dudev. If only you’d done that from the fucking beginning. Now it’s too late.”

“….What? You said-…”

“Oh, shush now. I’m trying to think of the shittiest way to die. Gershan, any thoughts?”

Gershan leans against the wall behind Dudev and grins his slow, bright grin, that would warm any girl’s heart if he hadn’t had the eyes of a killer. “I could stab him some more. As you said, it takes hours to die from a gut wound. Supposed to be excruciating.”

“Hmm,” Irina muses, as if she and Gershan haven’t settled on this a long time ago. As if Yevgeny isn’t already dousing the house with gasoline and taking out the emergency sprinklers. “Oh, I know. I think we’ll go for fire this time. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Not since Pajari last year,” Gershan nods. “He took quite a while to die.”

“That’s nice. A pretty prelude to hell, too. Fire it is, then.”

The look on Dudev’s face is priceless. To his credit, the man doesn’t beg. His face has gone deathly pale and he is sweating, but he’s staring bloody murder at the camera. At her face. If looks could kill, she would be the one dying, not him. He doesn’t say anything anymore. Not when Yevgeny starts to splatter the contents of a jerrycan of gasoline through the room, and not even when Gershan takes the jerrycan and douses the last remnants of it over Dudev’s head. The man splutters for breath for a moment, but he doesn’t beg for his life. He just sits there, soaking in gasoline and blood, glowering. Hating her.

“Light her up, Gershan,” Irina says almost gently.

“I’m not going to scream for you, whore,” Dudev growls then, tugging in vein at his bonds in newly retrieved defiance. They bite in his skin and make him bleed; new red blood joins the blood-and-gasoline mixture on the floor.

She laughs softly. “Oh, you will. They all do.”

A minute later, Dudev is screaming as the flames reach his feet, crackle the skin, burn his flesh.
Irina watches him, dispassionately wondering what will die first; the uplink connection that shows her the images, or Dudev.

It turns out to be Dudev.

She watches the image feed anyway, until the connection is broken.

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