A/N: Why did I write this fic? Because I've been a shameless Russophile since age 13 and it all began with those pretty Russian figure skaters. I'm taking this from both Nochnoi Dozor movieverse and book.
Disclaimer: The last thing I would be is a Russian psychologist turned SF/fantasy author named Sergei Lukyanenko.
By Saoirse the Irish Colleen
/And so it came to pass. The Great Other came into the world, and chose the side of evil. Legend says, evil plunged the world into darkness, but so long there are those among us who believe in light there will be hope./
Chapter I: Nadezhda
/It/ was fermenting the way potatoes and rye should when vodka wasn't being cut with gasoline. Semyon stood outside the truck and sniffed the air again, its tentative odor mingled with the feeding and lusty insects humming in the Gloom.
Hard to trace.
He dropped his cigarette and crushed it beneath his sneaker's scuffed rubber sole.
"Syoma!" The short balding man turned and saw Katya- Tiger Cub when she was on the clock- standing in the passenger side doorway. "Vashli!" The highlighted blonde shapeshifter slammed the door behind her with a loud thud. Semyon followed suit and soon their third companion, Bear, a bulky man with a mess of glossy black curls and a scruffy beard was squished between them. Semyon started the truck's ignition. He buckled up and grunted from the taut canvas seatbelt painfully.
"Gotta drop some pounds," he grunted. Irked, Bear shook his head. The son of a bitch would be stuffing his face with jam-filled blinis when they got back to HQ. Wild blue fire burst with a jet engine's roar from the double exhaust pipes and the truck sped away.
A red pen dislodged itself from between the Venetian blinds and a grey aluminum blade dropped back into place. Did they honestly think people wouldn't notice? The conspicuous yellow and red truck from the Gorsoviet Light Company had been around the school five times in the last two weeks. That's more than any other service truck has been around the city under the pretense of repairs from any of the corrupt power companies since the second revolution. She rubbed her bare arms fighting off the chill despite the 80-odd degree pre-summer heat. Things hadn't changed much in Moscow since she was twelve, and soon to be 24-year-old Nadezhda Lazarova, teacher at Moscow's Elementary School No. 3 and prolific skeptic was suspicious of whatever was ripening in the air was going to prevent her from seeing her birthday in three months. But she had always known she was /different /from others since childhood. But she would have been only too happy and willing to ignore it if things hadn't been shot to hell 12 years ago.
Slumping behind her desk she uncapped her pen and returned to test grading... that is if Liliya would cut her damned radio off. But she had been obsessing over some pop idol that leeched off the tweens to twenties crowd. The first time Nadezhda seen the bitch shaking her wide ass in a glittering sheer green tank dress and black thong was when Liliya dragged her to a concert. The vibes the old bitch was projecting was enough to make Nadezhda want to hurl daggers at her and pitch her bloodied corpse to the carrion crows. And the placid teacher never considered herself to be a violent person... 90 percent of the time.
At the moment however, the bitch was shrieking some old-skool Madonna track in Russian with only the chorus untranslated.
I've always been in love with you
I guess you've always known it's true
You took my love for granted
Why, oh why?
The show is over, say goodbye
Heaving an impatient breath Nadezhda caved in. She banged the thick sheaf of test papers on the desk before storing them into her father's old brown leather briefcase for something to do over dinner. She undid the chignon letting loose her fox fur-colored hair to spill down her back in thick, ropy curls. Her tan pumps made soft clicks on the hardwood floor and she stopped short in the doorway to look at a pair of desks side by side in the fourth and fifth rows, respectively, nearest to the open door. Nadezhda saw the apparitions of a boy and girl some dozen years earlier laughing over some hand-held game console the girl held before racing out at the conclusion of classes. Strange that a boy and girl should be joined at the hip sharing every joy and tear. Strange that she would be the only one to think it strange.
Baba Dunya?/ /Nadezhda's 12-year-old self asked her grandmother, the pleasantly plump woman with a vibrant red-dyed bob had her back to her beloved grandchild puttering around the kitchen.
Do you think it's weird that my best friend is a boy? The bouncy elderly lady continued to hum an unknown song native to her unnamed village.
No it is not. Nadezhda swung her coltish legs sitting atop the tall kitchen stool and continued to ponder her situation with the same keen processes that she used to dissect equations that her teachers were astounded by.
It's not like I don't like the girls I'm friends with, it's just that I'm more comfortable with him.
"And love still lives... in my wounded heart..." Don't worry about it so much, Nadya dear.
Why do you always sing that song, Baba?
In my village, this is the sound imprinted on our souls.
Is it in my soul, even though I was born the city? Her grandmother turned off the faucet and shook the excess water from the tomatoes in the sieve she washed.
It is. As for you and your friend... it is your common fate to be so close.
Common fate? What the hell did that mean anyway? Russians were often portrayed as being overdramatic and superstitious by Hollywood who only bothered to care when there was exciting dogfights in the Chechen conflict to tape. But as of late she had been stepping outside herself to observe her environment from an ethnocentric perspective to something... less humane. And Nadezhda decided that ultimately she didn't understand what the hell anyone was talking about anymore. She rapped her knuckles on the boy's desk before exiting her classroom and wondered if it was his fate to vanish as he had /that /night.
"Lilya," Nadezhda knocked on her friend's classroom door and she hit the pause button on the CD boom box, temporarily silencing the offending song. "I'm taking off now."
"Okay, I'll see you." Nadezhda didn't get two steps away before she was called back. "Ah! Nadya!" Nadezhda clutched her hand to the doorframe and tilted her upper body backward.
Liliya pointed at Nadezhda with a pen. "Don't forget the party at my parents' dacha this weekend." Nadezhda waved a dismissing hand.
"I'm /picking you up/... unlike the last time..." She warned.
"I won't forget."
"See you in the morning, then." Nadezhda nodded and flew for the door to the stairwell. When she was two floors down Nadezhda blew off an incensed sigh, she loved Liliya, but she hated her friend for constantly playing matchmaker. Every prospective Romeo turned out to either be a jerk or liar... of course she hadn't told Liliya she had used what she loosely described as 'gifts' to scan their aura and promptly shut them down within the first hour of their introduction. All she did really was sense out their intentions through their body heat and humans released inordinate amounts of heat, and nearly everything in the world could conduct heat which would lead to extraordinary results depending on Nadezhda's mood. But she was human in the end and she found alternatives to relieving her stress without harming innocents.
Nadezhda flipped open her metallic blue Motorola /Razr /to check her voicemail, and was alarmed to find a message from the doctor treating her grandmother who was in the hospital awaiting her hip replacement surgery. She speedialed the hospital and patiently waited for someone to pick up, all the while her heart ready to shatter through her ribs.
"Hello? Yes, I'd like to speak to Dr. Avyeri Plekhanov, please. It's in regards to Mrs. Yevdokiya Lazarova... I'm her granddaughter Nadezhda Lazarova... thank you." Another five heart-wrenching minutes crawled by until she heard his tired voice.
'Dr. Plekhanov speaking.'
"Doctor, this is Nadezhda Lazarova. I just checked my voicemail and heard your message. I apologize for not reaching you earlier, but as a rule I turn off my phone at work."
'I understand. I just wanted to tell you that I've had to reschedule your grandmother's surgery.' Nadezhda silently took a sharp breath; both of her hands throttled the phone so that the thin plastic shell creaked from the pressure.
"Is... is there something wrong?"
'No, no nothing like that,' Plekhanov allayed her fears. 'We were all ready to go this morning when I saw the ball-jointed artificial hip was defected.' Laying a hand on her chest, Nadezhda exhaled thanking every god she knew for the doctor's blessed eyesight. 'The metal had not been bonded properly from the manufacturers so it will take another week for a replacement to come in.'
"Thank you doctor."
'Miss Lazarova, don't thank me yet. You are aware of the complications that can arise in this surgery- in any surgery- because of your grandmother's advanced age and overall health condition.'
"I am aware, but I will still thank you doctor... goodbye." Nadezhda clapped the phone shut and dropped it into her briefcase. Her grandmother would be another week in the hospital... perhaps longer Plekhanov said after the EMTs brought her in. For now though she had to visit her for her peace of mind.
Nadezhda waited at the curb for the light to change opting to take the bus instead of the Metro. It would be a longer commute to the hospital, but she just didn't feel up to climbing the steps. What Nadezhda did not see was a man dressed in a black leather duster, black jeans and a pullover hat oblivious and unaffected by the brutal sun leaning against the traffic light pole behind her. Zavulon laid a Black Russian fitted in a plastic cigarette holder on his lower lip hawkishly studying Nadezhda's legs as she crossed the street swaying her double-tiered, flared rust-colored skirt. His eyes smiled beneath his white lashes grateful that she decided to leave the blazer in the hall closet and showed off such a pretty alabaster silk tank top. Alas, moments as perfect as that were destined to be short-lived as the silver Jaguar skidded to a halt before him.
Pop idol Alyssa Donnikova- Dark Other Witch- coyly laid her chin atop her hands on the window. "Good afternoon." Clenching the Black Russian between his teeth, Zavulon flicked his lighter and lit the cancer stick from a green flame pumping from the wick. Exhaling carcinogen he watched from the corner of his eye Nadezhda mount the steps of the bus fully aware that Alyssa watched him from the driver's side mirror. Her narrow eyebrows quirked as she inwardly laughed at that /child/. She excused Zavulon's roving eye since she really wasn't in love with the bastard anyway, but why did he bother with the human women so much?
"What has my wonderful son been up to this fine day?" Zavulon slid himself alongside of Alyssa who started the engine.
"His rounds," she shrugged. "Why don't you call him?"
The sleek black Aston Martin /Volante /pulled up to the curb in front of the market, the sun striking a white gleam in a perfect straight line down the side like a racing stripe decal. The driver wasn't in the least concerned with theft should a potential thief lay a finger on it the curse that was put in place would sever his limbs and head. The /Volante /owner entered the market unhurriedly taking confident, long strides. He could have been anyone and few human patrons glanced at him, as was his intentions and he was ashamed at some of his fellow Dark Others who were flamboyant, or just plain uncivilized. He wore jeans, boots, a plain black T-shirt that clung to all the right places on his muscled torso and an unzipped black leather jacket. His translucent blue eyes scanned the busy bazaar quickly falling on the stall he was searching for.
The butcher wrapped cuts of meat meticulously in brown paper before tying them with crude string and handing them to his female patron.
"Thank you," she said loading it into her shopping cart.
"Enjoy." The butcher said and the woman with her 15-year-old son who was pushing the cart ambled away. The butcher clapped his bloodstained hands together and rolled his shoulders then cracked his neck a few times.
"I think lunch is in order," he said softly to himself but when he spun around he saw the Volante driver standing proudly on the other side of the cracked dull light blue tiled ledge.
"Afternoon," the blue-eyed man greeted him nicely. "Am I late?" The butcher stood erect and for a moment he felt bereft of words.
"Not at all." The butcher looked down at his bloodied hands and raised them slightly.
"Take your time. Go ahead." The visitor said. The butcher thanked him with a nod of his head and turned to the sink behind him. The High Vampire allowed his hands to tremble under the hot tap whilst his visitor had his back turned. After eons the High Vampire knew how to play Zavulon, and there was not much that could truly incite his wrath. Conversely, his spoiled little prince ensured that every Other regardless of station or side in the war walked on eggshells around him. The prince was accommodating and infinitely patient, which perfectly complimented his utter ruthlessness that made him so terrifying. The vampire twisted off the tap and dried his hands on his apron.
"Okay." The vampire announced.
"Mm-hmm." The prince nodded and allowed the vampire to lead the way. They walked the short corridors, open doors to the rear delivery yard and parking lot allowed air to travel for ventilation because of the heat. The prince ran his hands through his hair trying to remember when it had gotten so dark and wavy, but now that it was growing out it was getting curly. He had to get a haircut. The first thing he heard was Fedya's annoying bray chattering without a care on his phone, and most likely with a woman. The International Congress of Others called for the Nochnoi Dozor and Dnevnoy Dozor to upgrade their communications technology when suited and both Night Watch and Day Watch now used the Nokia 6235i /specifically for the VGA video camera and Net access. And it was on his purple shelled /Nokia /Fedya was prattling on dressed in a loud deep purple crushed velvet tracksuit and green tinted /Ray Bans did he meekly bid his admirer adieu and shut off the phone. The High Vampire's son Kostya rolled his eyes swinging a red metal thermos in one hand. He was dressed in torn white jeans and an untucked royal blue short sleeved shirt with a pair of silver chains around his neck. The longer chain had a clear crystal dangling from it. His /Tommy Hilfiger /shades hung from his collar.
The prince lifted his eyebrows at Kostya who opened the meat locker door that he and Fedya flanked. The prince entered with the other three in tow, he stared down an unconscious man in torn clothes chained to a pipe on the wall with a string of crystals around his neck. The prince snapped his fingers.
"Get him up please." He told Fedya anxious to get back in his good books. Fedya walked over and squatted near the inert body of the man on the floor.
"Yo! Wakey! Wakey!" Fedya smacked the man a few times tossing his head from side to side. The bedraggled man came to slowly and saw the room he was in a smear of gray from the concrete and red for the hanging, frozen meat separate and solidify until his muddy brain at last registered where he was and who was sitting on the metal table along the wall.
"YEGOR!" The man scooted as far back into the wall as it was allowed colliding with a frosted-over bucket. Kostya watched it roll into a cobweb cluttered corner.
"Please, Yegor... I beg of you," Roman beseeched, "it's not what you think!" Yegor blinked owlishly at the trussed man.
"'Not what you think'?" Yegor repeated without sarcasm and Roman's terror just kicked up about a dozen notches as he observed Yegor's features. He looked as though he was ready to smile. Yegor never raised his voice, there was no logic behind getting angry, it was just counterproductive. But you sure as shit better believe that whatever punishment Yegor devised fit the crime, because he followed the letter of the law when it came to reprimanding his kind.
"Roma I like you," Yegor sighed. "I've known you for so long and you've taught me so much... I- I'm really not comfortable doing this," Yegor shook his head pacing the locker. Roman held his tongue not buying a single word of what he said. "But you can imagine my shock... my disappointment... when a pair of Night Watch appears on my doorstep waving a warrant in my face saying they're going to arrest you."
"Yegor, please listen..."
"My compliments to Gesser for his dexterity and the fact that he /didn't /revert to entrapment." Roman was silenced and he pulled in his bloodless lips over his teeth. Yegor snapped his fingers at Kostya who withdrew a black /iPod Video /from his pocket and handed it to Yegor. He tapped the touchpad scrolling down for a file and clicked upon reaching it. It was a /Podcast /video download from the news channel's official website from the previous night. Yegor squatted before Roman and allowed him to view the clip.
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