Chapter 4 – Chaos Reigns
Igor took off running down the hall after Vladimir and their mystery man. He wanted to stay and ask Alexandra more questions about the man to find out what she knew. But right now, Vladimir would need his help to catch this suspect. And actually, Igor was more interested in keeping Vladimir from killing the man until they could question him to find out why he had murdered Mr. Romanov in the first place.
Igor burst out onto the top of the stairs and paused to look around. He listened for any noise that would let him know if they had run down the stairs or continued running down the hall in the other direction.
He didn’t hesitate long and flew down the stairs. He ran headlong for the front door and burst outside through the foyer. Max turned and looked at him lazily.
“You seen Vladimir? He’s supposed to take the next shift.”
Igor shook his head as he tried to catch his breath. “He’s chasing Mr. Romanov’s killer who was trying to get Alexandra. Vladimir chased him down the hall.”
Max looked at Igor strangely as if he didn’t believe a word he was saying. Just then they heard two shots fire out.
Max started and shot Igor a strange look. “That came from outback!”
Then he burst through the doors and took off running through the house with Igor close on his heels. When they came through the back doors though, there was nothing to see.
A guard was walking past the cars on the far end of the lot. Max waved him over and asked him if he had seen anyone. The guard admitted he had heard the noise but hadn’t seen anyone out that way.
Max headed around the house in one direction and sent the guard to circle the house in the other. He ordered Igor to cut back through the house in case they were still inside.
Igor barged back into the house, going from room to room. He cleared out the bottom floor and headed back up the stairs. He found Vladimir in the second room.
The man was doubled over on the floor. He had taken two bullets in his left side. He tried to sit up, but Igor held his shoulders firmly down.
“Don’t move. I’ll get help.” Igor said.
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Go get that murderer and finish him.” Vladimir groaned as he laid back down.
Igor called 911 on Vladimir’s phone and asked for an ambulance. He looked out through the window and saw Max below. He opened the window and let him know what was going on.
“Don’t you have a way to communicate with Max and the guards?” Igor asked when he turned back around.
Vladimir nodded, “Yes, but I took it off when I went to sleep. And then I woke up in the bathroom and never put it back on.”
Max came through the door and knelt down beside Vladimir.
“How’s it look, old friend?” Vladimir asked.
Max shrugged. “I’ve seen you survive worse.”
They both chuckled, but Igor could see the fear in Max’s eyes. It didn’t last long though and was soon replaced with fury.
“Rusalka?” he asked. “Anyone we know?”
Vladimir shrugged. “I never got a good look at his face. I came around the corner too fast. He surprised me. But the same description as Igor gave. Pale face. Short. No one I recognized.”
Max nodded and growled, “I’m going to continue looking around. You stay here with Vlad until the ambulance arrives.”
Igor nodded. Then Max was gone, jabbering orders over the com to the other guard as he headed out the door.
Igor asked if there was anything he could get Vladimir. Water or a pillow. The man shook his head slightly and grunted at the pain. Igor sat back down on the bed.
Something caught his eye through the window. A crouched figure walking carefully across the roof. Igor sucked in his breath and pointed it out to Vladimir who was unable to see from his position o the floor.
“Tell Max. Have them shoot him down.” Vladimir hissed furiously.
Igor looked out the window, but neither Max nor the guard was to be seen. He looked back at Vladimir and shook his head.
“Want me to go call them?” he asked.
Vladimir shook his head and handed the gun to Igor. “There is no time. He will get away. Most likely, he is waiting for a chopper. Go back down to the end of the hall. There’s a ladder out on the balcony that leads up to the top of the roof.”
Igor raced out the door and down the hall. The door leading out onto the balcony was already open. The beginning of the ladder was above his head, so he looked around for a chair or something to stand on.
The balcony was empty, but Igor was able to stand on the railing and stretch over far enough to hoist himself up onto to the ladder. He scrambled up to the roof and pulled himself over the top.
He saw the crouched figure of his opponent hunched over at the far end of the roof behind a chimney. He hadn’t yet seen Igor because he was looking off intently into the distance. Igor saw a dark speck moving in their direction. Most likely, the man’s escape chopper.
Igor scanned the yard below for Max or the other guard but didn’t see them anywhere. He wanted to yell for them, but then his enemy would see him coming. If he had Vladimir’s gun, Igor would be a sitting duck up here on the roof with nowhere to hide.
He scanned the distance between them, looking for the fastest and safest way to get to the man. Igor glanced to the side of the house on either side and felt his legs go weak. He didn’t care much for heights.
Igor moved down the far side of the roof a little way and began to move across the roof. He hoped that Max or the guard wouldn’t mistake him for the other guy and shoot at him. He continued moving in the direction he needed while keeping one eye on the ground below.
Looking down made him even more nervous about the distance he would fall if he slipped, but Igor kept hoping to catch sight of Max to point out the crouching figure at the far end of the roof.
The whirring blades of the helicopter could be heard in the distance, and Igor tried to pick up his pace. He still wasn’t sure what he was going to do when he got there. But he knew he couldn’t let the man getaway.
The only good thing about the chopper getting closer was that the noise would cover any sound that his feet made on the roof.
Igor looked up and saw a man in the door of the helicopter letting down a rope ladder. He tried to hurry his nervous shuffle along the side of the roof. The chopper was almost at the edge of the house, and he knew he was still too far to reach his suspect.
There was no reason to keep hiding now, and the sound of the chopper would cover any noise Igor made. So, he moved up to the top edge of the roof to be able to walk more quickly.
The man in the door of the helicopter nodded in Igor’s direction, and his opponent glanced back at him. He grinned and grabbed onto the rope ladder dangling down. Igor cast aside his nervousness and made a last-ditch effort to reach the man, but the chopper was already pulling away from the house.
Just then, Igor saw Max racing around the side of the house below with his gun raised. The pilot saw it too and jerked the helicopter back away from the direction it had been moving in towards the cover of the house directly in Igor’s direction.
It was close enough for Igor to reach out and grab at the man’s legs. His nemesis kicked and struggled against his hold, but Igor squeezed tighter. Afraid that the chopper would lift him off the roof along with the man. Igor threw his weight back and gave a final tug against the man before the helicopter moved on past him completely and dragged him along down the roof.
It threw Igor off balance, and the man on the ladder slipped off. Igor continued to hang on, and it was enough to pull the man off the ropes. He fell to the roof on top of Igor.
The last thing Igor saw before going down was a man in the door of the chopper exchanging shots with Max. He focused his attention on the man who had kicked himself away from Igor and rolled down the roof a ways from the top.
Igor stood shakily to his feet and started moving down to attack the man before he could get to his feet. But his opponent rolled over to the side and pulled out the gun he had shot Vladimir with. Igor threw himself back over onto the side of the roof.
He scanned the roof hastily for a way to escape, but there was nowhere to go but down. He was too far from the other end of the roof to get back down the ladder.
As he tried to think of a way out, his fingers brushed across a loose tile. A shadow fell over him, and he looked up to see the pale-faced figure glaring down at him with a grim smile on his face. Igor gulped as he stared into the barrel of the weapon.
Just then there was a loud ping as one of Max’s bullets connected with the chopper that was still hovering over the house just off to their side. The pale-faced man looked up to see what had happened as the helicopter spun out of control in their direction.
It flew low in the direction of the man who was standing to his full height on the top of the roof. He had to duck out of the way as the heavy metal bird swung overhead and began falling toward the top of the house.
The pilot struggled to keep it up and move it on past the edge, but it was coming down too fast, and he couldn’t control it.
Igor took advantage of the distraction to rip out the tile his hand was still on. He backhanded it up to knock the gun away from his direction. The weapon flew off to the side and landed on the roof. It clattered down the tiles a short way.
The landing skids of the helicopter began to grind into the roof off to the side with a loud crashing and splintering sound while the pilot fought to control the helicopter enough to get it over the edge of the house.
Igor made a break back toward the ladder at the far end of the house. As long as the man didn’t have any other way to get down, they could catch him there later. He paused to slide down toward the gun to make sure his nemesis wouldn’t be able to use it against them later.
But as he stooped to scoop it up, the man tackled him from behind. They both slid and rolled down the roof toward the edge. The helicopter continued to gouge down deeper into the roof on the side.
There didn’t seem to be much way for it to escape now. It was definitely coming down here on the roof. And the tail rotor blades were slowly swinging in their direction. Igor had to pause to duck back down and roll to the side.
The man was just ahead of him and scrambling back up toward the gun. Igor scrambled after him, but the man’s lighter frame was nimbler and faster.
He reached it first and scooped it up with Igor still behind him. Igor knew he didn’t stand a chance if the man turned on him.
Igor grabbed onto another tile and wrapped his hands around it. Trying to slip his fingers under it to loosen it. It wasn’t as easy to pull out as the previous one, but he got it just in time. He pulled it out as he brought his feet up under him.
Igor flung it angrily with all his might in the man’s direction just as he turned around with the gun pointing in Igor’s direction. He didn’t have much time to aim the tile and almost missed. But the edge of the tile still clipped him on the chin as it went on by. The sharp, jagged edge slicing through his cheek as it made it’s way past him.
The pale man’s face turned red with pain and splattered blood as he went down with an angry scream. Igor thew himself on top of the man’s body to keep him down and struggled to push his hand with the gun down onto the roof.
It didn’t take much of a struggle for Igor to wrestle the gun away from him. Between his superior weight and the pain he was in, Igor had the upper hand. The man still managed to land some kicks and blows before Igor pulled away with the gun and stood to his feet. Igor pointed the gun in the man’s face and dared him to make another move.
“Kick me one more time, and it’ll be the last thing you ever do,” Igor hissed.
He backed away a few feet. Igor wouldn’t have put it past the desperate man to throw himself over the edge just to take Igor with him. But the man had given up when he saw the chopper sinking and crashing down through the roof at the side of the house.
They both threw themselves down behind a chimney onto the roof as the rotor sliced and diced bits of tile on its way down through the building. Igor hoped everyone had managed to get out of that section of the house before it was too late.
Igor stood back up and watched the energy and fire drain from the eyes of his opponent when the man realized there was no way out. The pale-faced man slid back down onto the roof with a sigh and threw his head between his legs.
“Why did you do it?” Igor asked. “Kill Mr. Romanov and attack his daughter.”
The pale-faced man didn’t answer. He just spat blood from his mouth and scowled at Igor who wanted to threaten him. But he was too tired. There would be plenty of time to figure that out later. Right now, he just wanted to get down off the roof.
“Why did you try to frame me last night and this morning?” he asked out of curiosity when the thought struck him.
That brought a smile to pale-faced man’s eyes.
“You don’t know, do you?” he asked.
Igor shook his head.
“Your father sent me. He wanted you to see how a man should treat his enemies. You were always weak. He wanted to make sure you were here when you’re old enemy died.”
“I told my father I wasn’t going to come even though he insisted. And you had no idea I would walk in on you in the bathroom.”
The pale-faced man spat more blood and grinned. “Romanov would have used you to his own filthy ends. Your father found out you were coming, so he sent me to protect you and make sure that didn’t happen.”
So, what did Romanov want me to do?” Igor asked.
“What did he tell you?” the pale-faced man asked.
“Nothing. Just that he needed my help to resolve a problem. I assumed you were the problem.” Igor stated.
“Romanov thought you might be the leverage he could get over your father. He knew we were coming for him.”
“My father? But why?” Igor asked. “Are you the one he called the Rusalka?”
The pale-faced man started to smile before grimacing at the pain in his cut cheek. He spat out a mouthful of blood before answering.
“We are Rusalka. You included. Romanov wanted your DNA. He and his partner are in cahoots with some strange science experiments. You showed up, and he saw his opportunity. So, I had to act before it was too late.”
Igor was furious. This couldn’t be true. And even if it was, he couldn’t let this pale-faced turkey tell Max, Vladimir, or Alexandra about it. No telling what they would do for revenge.
His first thought was to shoot the man in the face. Or push him over the edge. Igor’s finger itched to pull the trigger while he still had the chance. But the man just smiled and flicked his eyes to the end of the roof. Igor followed his line of sight and saw Max pulling himself up over the edge of the roof.
“Don’t you mention a word of this to anyone,” Igor hissed. “What’s your name?”
The man flicked his eyes back to Igor, “Call me Rusalka,” he replied with a grin.
Igor glared at the pale-faced man and motioned for him to start walking. Max was about halfway across the roof when he saw them coming. So, he paused and waited.
“Nice catch,” Max said with a wicked grin. “Vladimir will have fun getting some answers out of him in our little torture chamber later.”
Igor grinned even though his stomach dropped and knotted up.
Max motioned with his head for them to follow him, and turned to take the lead since there wasn’t room for them to get around him.
They walked a few paces while Igor considered his options since he couldn’t risk the chance of Rusalka telling anyone what he had told Igor.
He saw a bar crossing the top of the roof in front of an antenna that had been installed. Igor reached out a hand and grabbed onto Rusalka’s jacket just as the man stepped over it.
Igor kicked him hard in the back of his heel. Smashing his raised heel into his other foot before he could take the step over the bar, which caused him to trip and stumble. He gave Rusalka a hard push from behind at the same time and watched the man tumble and roll down the roof.
Max watched him roll over the edge of the roof and then turned to look at Igor who shrugged.
“I guess the Slavic Mermaid has trouble walking out of the water,” Igor said while indicating the bar in front of him. “His legs turned back into a tail.”
Max smiled humorlessly. “Or he was more afraid of me getting my hands on him in the torture chamber. Did you get anything out of him? You two seemed quite chummy when I came over the top.”
Igor shook his head. “Not really, but he seemed to indicate that there was some sort of falling out with his business partner. What was his name? Andrey something or the other.”
Max gave him a strange look. Then shrugged. “It happens. No partnership lasts forever.”
He turned and kept walking with Igor close behind.
Alexandra was waiting for them below near the guard where Rusalka had fallen.
“Is he dead?” Igor asked, hopefully.
“If he’s not, he’ll probably wish he were,” the guard replied. “He landed on his head and shoulder. So, he’ll be paralyzed even if he lives. Or are you asking because you want me to put a bullet in him to make sure he is?”
That got a smile out of Max. Igor shuffled nervously around Rusalka’s body toward Alexandra who was looking at the fallen helicopter sticking out of the house where it had crashed.
“That’s gonna take some work to fix up,” Igor said to get her attention. “Was that your bedroom?”
She turned to look at him and threw her arms around him. “Thank you, Igor. You found the man who killed my father, as I requested.”
Igor grimaced, and she looked at him quizzically. “What?”
“Nothing, but I destroyed half your house trying to get him. I thought you would be angry.”
She smiled. “It’s just a house. It won’t be the same without my father. I can fix it up and sell it.”
“Hey, I’m the one that shot the helicopter down,” Max growled, not wanting to feel left out.
“Oh, so the damages are your fault,” Alexandra scolded playfully. “Then I will dock the repairs from your paycheck.”
“No, no. I think I missed. It was actually, Nikolay’s shot that brought it down.” Max growled with a sly grin.
The guard waved his hands and denied it. “I didn’t even get a chance to shoot,” he squealed roughly as Max slapped him upside the head.
Igor saw part of the rubble moving and started to walk forward.
“Best not to get too close until the firemen secure the area and make sure there isn’t any danger of explosion,” Max said, holding him back.
Igor nodded down the road toward the blare of sirens in the distance and continued walking. He pushed some of the rubble back and flipped over a bed. Someone stuck a grubby hand out from underneath it and raised his head so covered in dirt that Igor couldn’t tell who it was.
“What’s happened here? Am I dead? Are you the angel of death?”
“Denis,” Alexandra blurted out as she walked over. “What are you doing here?”
“By time the cops let me out of questioning last night, it was really late. And they knew I was drunk, so they wouldn’t let me drive. Hoa saw me standing around and offered to let me sleep in one of the unused guest rooms. I heard all that noise and felt the house shaking. So, I dove under the bed.”
Alexandra and Max helped him up and dusted him off. The firemen told them to leave. So, everyone walked over to the other side of the house.
Hoa and Bian brought out breakfast and drinks onto the far end of the patio where they ate and chatted about the day’s events like old friends.
“Well, I’m gonna see about getting a ticket home,” Igor said.
“No. Please stay,” Alexandra asked. “I owe you a green card and a job with the police.”
Igor was surprised at the change in her voice and attitude from the night before.
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll stick around some more. Things around here have been pretty adventurous these past 24 hours. Besides, I do want to eat some donuts.”
“Good,” Alexandra said with a nod. “I’ll start making calls as soon as the firemen clear the house.”
*** The End (for now) ***
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