The Bad Guy Wins in This One - Prologue (Mirkov)

Doctor Mirkov sat in his office staring at a bottle of Whiskey, contemplating how much of it he could down before becoming unfit for work. The news reports certainly warranted most of the bottle, but even at his level of intelligence and drinking experience it might be hard to get away with that. Well, won’t hurt to have a glass at least. He reached out for the tumbler when the office phone rang.

He paused, wondering who it might be. The Director had already spoken to him ten minutes ago, which was part of why he now wanted a drink so badly. It would be unlike his boss to want a follow-up so soon. The man was prideful. Even if he’d forgotten to tell Mirkov something important, he would wait a while so as to try and pretend it was a new idea.

Mirkov contemplated ignoring the phone as it continued to ring, but then sighed in resignation and lifted the receiver. “Hello, this is Mirkov,” he said curtly.

“All these years working for your home country and you still answer the phone in Consolidated Standard,” said a familiar voice. It was soft, gentle, and chilled Mirkov to the bone. He was glad the caller couldn’t see the look of surprise on his face.

“Old habits are hard to break, and all that. Now to what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. Killjoy?” he asked, feeling no pleasure at all hearing his old, far too appropriately named associate. Not that there was any joy left today to kill.

“You always have a hard time just calling me Alan. Surely there is no need to be so formal Mikhail, aren’t we old friends?” Killjoy said lightly. Mirkov scarcely thought of himself by his first name and hearing others use it grated him. He grimaced a bit, biting back a snide remark, knowing it was unwise to make this a point of contention.

“It has been over a decade since I’ve heard from you, Alan. I assume you have contacted me for more reasons than a friendly a catch up,” Mirkov said in a measured tone. He heard a sigh.

“I suppose I have, though a friendly catch up would have been nice. You don’t really have the time for one though. I presume you’ve seen the news?” Alan said. His words were spoken without the slightest hint of threat, but an uncharacteristic current of alarm shot through Mirkov. What does he mean I don’t have time?

“If someone in my job position hasn’t already, they should be fired,” he said. “I doubt there’s been a greater catastrophe in human history, at least not one on such a short time scale.”

“You’re correct. I also assume you know, at least in a general sense, what the cause of this catastrophe was. I’m about to email you coordinates, Mikhail. In one hour there will be a bus passing through those coordinates. On that bus there is a passenger who, given the right circumstances, can cause the same levels of damage as what we’ve just witnessed. I felt obliged, for the sake of our old friendship, to warn you of this. Given the nature of your position, I think you may also be interested in some other passengers on this bus. That is all I had to say. Good luck, Mikhail.” There was a click and the phone went dead.

An email popped up in Mirkov’s inbox and he didn’t even bother to wonder how Alan had gotten such a private address. He surveyed the coordinates and noted they were away from any major population centers. He glanced towards a TV screen in the corner of his office and once again saw the gaping crater that was being shown over and over again on the news. He shuddered. If Alan’s right, he’s handed me the safest place to deal with the problem. But why does he care?

Mirkov didn’t believe for a minute that Alan Killjoy held the slightest concern about what happened to any of Mirkov’s people, no matter how many lives were at stake. Nor did he believe Alan really considered his old coworker a friend. He shook his head, really wishing he’d had that whiskey before taking the call. Whatever Killjoy’s ulterior motives, they didn’t matter right now. The man’s information was rarely wrong and he couldn’t afford to miss an opportunity like this. He hit an intercom button.

“May, tell Krieg he has five minutes to get the carrier ready. We have a mission.”