They drove from the scene in Solaina‘s signature black limo. The driver peeled away from the zombie covered streets with white knuckles gripping the wheel. They drove to Deep Throat’s new safehouse, the result of a recent arrangement with his mentor, William Blake. Then they settled The Sphinx into a chair for a more detailed conversation. Marko, as they found his name to be, is an ex-bodyguard who worked for Oleg Chernenko – otherwise known as Pripyat, Comrade Bones, Maxim Chernenko, Semyon Chernenko, Vladimir Chernenko, and Chernobyl Olie, as well as other names. But to Marko, he was just the monster he used to call ‘Boss.’
They questioned Marko in turns, while the others discussed what needed to be done. They had not gotten a chance to even finish the first round of conversation when Chernenko called again and spoke with Solaina this time. He spoke in clipped sentences, brief and cold, with implied threats subtly woven in. They knew they were dealing with someone a cut above the common mob boss. Elijah continued listening to Marko. He learned that Marko was from Bulgaria and just wanted to get one more plane trip home. He tried to run from Oleg, tried to keep a low profile, but always Oleg found him. “I can’t run anymore. I don’t have any more money to run. I want to see the old forests of sweet Bulgaria. I have a poet’s soul. All the men of my country have a poet’s soul. Making poetry; it passes the time when there’s nothing to fucking eat.”
With only the occasional skilled question Elijah inquired further as to why Marko was scared, and what exactly he knew of Oleg Chernenko- vaguely aware that most of these names alluded to the Russian word for ‘black,’ as if Oleg was a sort of boogie man of the Russian mob. Marko tried to explain: “Back then, I couldn’t tell you why. I could tell you: Oleg is a monster. But what were we all if we weren’t monsters? Oleg, he was a monster.” But then Marko backed his story up as if he had gone too far with that, and he prefaced the tale with some background on Oleg as a mobster, Oleg from Ukraine, Oleg working for the Chechen Mafiya, on how men died in the mob, and how men didn’t ask questions. Everyone rolled their eyes and listened in on Solaina’s conversation.
She gave Oleg very little, but admitted to having Marko, and that they’d discuss payment. All the while she strung him along. Several minutes later they received another call – this time from a man named Mr. White. Apparently Mr. White was willing to sweeten the deal and offer $350k for Marko, preferably alive, but dead was also doable. When Solaina hung up the phone Rowana Arina O’ren warned the coterie about Mr. White. She couldn’t exactly remember who he was, but she remembered his name coming up in her research on Nickolas Bergstrom nearly two years ago. It was after the Doves’ first mission together. And he was not a pretty man to deal with. Everyone trusted Rowana on this: she knew werewolves best, and there was a good chance this had something to do with them, even if she wasn’t describing it in detail. Solaina went outside for a moment to send her driver away for the night. Tyler went out with her, and got an uneasy feeling that he was being watched, but even with his new special ops training he couldn’t see anything amiss when he scouted the perimeter of the warehouse.
In the meantime, Elijah got Marko to really spill the beans. There was a certain job, an average job, in which Marko had to hit an old man in a decrepit apartment. But the man was acting strangely. Laughed when hit, laughed harder when stabbed, holding his guts in, and glancing at the refrigerator. Marko described how he’s cracked the man over the head a couple times so his neck broke, and then he looked in the refrigerator. There he found a little box with a little wire attached, and almost opened it. And Marko described further, “So I say, ah. And then something comes over me, something about Oleg…so I close the refrigerator door and I take out my cell phone and I call Oleg and I say, yes, it’s been delivered, and no it wasn’t expected.” Marko described how he passed Oleg on the way down, and Oleg raises an eyebrow, but doesn’t fully suspect anything. “I think, why did I do that? Oleg hasn’t done me wrong. He is a creepy bastard, but he is my boss.” But it was too late. “And then the apartment goes boom.” Only Oleg walked out of the wreckage, with little flames still licking his shoulder and face, and Marko had to drive as fast as he could and try to explain it all away, and calm his racing heart, and wish he hadn’t done it, and pray for escape.
It was at this time in the story that he took several long, deep drinks of vodka. Solaina had provided well for him. He shared with Elijah. The others turned back to this conversation which had just turned feverish. But this did not satisfy Deep Throat. Why was everyone willing to pay so much for this man? Just because he tried to kill Oleg. That explained Oleg’s interest, but not the new buyer, Mr. White, or Alexei Tokoff. Marko came clean on the rest. He knew that he would need something to bargain with, so he obtained sensitive information from Oleg’s briefcase he found in the car, and he gained temporary work for an affiliate of Oleg’s, Gattaca Institute, in a foreign branch. This institute worked in prosthesis, and cybernetic/ biological implants. He used all his money to buy himself an internal memory and recording device, and with it he recorded a series of files to reveal the secrets of Oleg and Gattaca. And now he needed a buyer he could trust – a buyer who could keep him safe from both these threats. That buyer was his old friend Alexei.
The coterie received yet another phone call, this time from Ms. Laura Naiziere, who worked for an unspecified constituent who was willing to offer $500. Almost immediately after this call Solaina there was a knock at warehouse front door, far above the basement level where the coterie was camped out. They heard it faintly with their preternatural senses and went to investigate. They found a small box, wrapped in a blue ribbon. Deep Throat and Solaina remembered Marko’s tale and investigated cautiously. The Mekhet bent to listen and heard no ticking. He touched the box and felt little. He finally opened it and found a recently severed finger. He looked to Solaina, then touched it nervously, seeking a vision, and suddenly recoiled in horror. Oleg had cut the finger off the limo driver’s hand while the man screamed. Apparently Oleg had done his research, and waited until one of their number had separated, then took care of him.
When Oleg called Solaina answered and she curtly agreed to meet at 12:30 am, in an hour. Deep Throat tried to caution her but had little success. The coterie tried to get a grip on the situation while Marko babbled, half-drunk from Grey Goose: a Russian mobster monster, Gattaca and the technocratic mages, Mr. White and his mysterious agency, Alexei and his expected delivery package due tomorrow, a limo driver who would be losing fingers by the hour, and a pack of zombies at Oleg’s call. If they went to Oleg, they risked losing the chip inside Marko’s head, or damaging it. If they didn’t the limo driver would certainly lose all his fingers and toes, and probably more. What started as a simple ‘pick up the package’ turned into a black as night pick up the trash job, and have it dumped on your head. Tyler came in to calmly add the cherry on top. A black van and two sleek motorcycles were staking the joint- and from the pricetag and the armor on the van, he’d say Gattaca was making sure they were still interested in a deal…or making sure they didn’t need to deal.
Solaina went to meet Oleg, strapping her knives to her waist. Rowana Arina O’ren followed. The drove off in a taxi fast – far before the others had decided what they’d do. The clock ticked 12:30. Deep Throat took the others out under Obfuscate while he told Marco Ramos to leave through another exit. He didn’t want his agent falling into something like the limo driver.
Meanwhile the ladies arrived in a northwestern cemetery, the Holy Sepulchre. They walked up the hill and found a maintenance building with the light on and the door open. Rowana Arina O’ren pointed out the lumbering shadows that shuffled between the trees and tombstones. Rowana turned to bird form and Solaina strode in. They saw their man, and then from all corners, from all rooms, and from behind the zombies came at them. Oleg grinned a macabre grin. It was all Solaina could do- to slash and dodge and slip between the undead bodies. But soon they overwhelmed her – tore a chunk from her arm, pummeled her body, came at her…came at her…came at her…gnashing and clawing. Rowana strode in behind and screamed, “Run! Save your man!” then waded into the zombies. After their first hit she grimaced and backed up the stairs a little, then stole herself and brought up her Rhino’s Hide, just as her covenant had taught her. And suddenly the hits couldn’t hold her back. She still had a sea of zombies to wade through, but a few moments later she came crawling out, bloody and weary. And finally she came up to Oleg and Solaina. She bounded up to him and wrapped his throat out.
Now during all of this Elijah, Tyler, and Deep Throat took Marko outside hidden under Obfuscate. They came to the motorcycle, sleek and beautiful as it was. Tyler noticed the cylinders on its side and Deep Throat guessed that they held grenades of different sorts. And they noticed the man on it was looking quite oblivious. Tyler quickly dispatched him, and had a quick snack in the process. Gattaca was no longer under strict orders to observe it seemed, so what was the harm, and the evening had been far far too busy to get the drink of the gods anywhere else. And then Tyler noticed the armored Ford E series 350 that looked more armored than some tanks, and saw a side door pull open with an enormous gun, the Browning M2HB, otherwise known as the ‘Ma Deuce,’ – for obvious reasons. He signaled to Deep Throat to get the hell out of doge and the three ran as fast as their little legs could take them. With kindred celerity they made break for Deep Throat’s car, and while Deep Throat slid into the driver seat and peeled away, Tyler jumped through the backseat’s open door, the car already swerving through traffic. They made a break through the streets, but Deep Throat drove a reckless pace, finally outmaneuvering the heavy van. The other bike was noticeably absent. Elijah and Tyler watched in amazement as Deep Throat gritted his teeth and carried them away to safety.
When they finally met up, Rowana and Solaina were in the midst of arguing over whether the limo driver should live or die- oddly, with Solaina claiming he should die. Elijah escorted her broken man away, and got him help. And after all was settling down, Deep Throat got a call from Ms. Naziere. “What do you say to renegotiation? $400k and your man Marco Ramos lives, and all we ask for is our Marko back.”
The following night, they delivered Marko to Alexei as promised and Alexei promised to give them all the information he could on Koin’s guard on Tobias Smith. It took long hours of negotiation, but with his mentor’s help, incredible amounts of resources, and even more amounts of patience, Deep Throat negotiated for Marco Ramos, and counted himself lucky his man didn’t end up like the other driver.