“Dark Alliance” — Excerpted from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus, Book #4)
“This is unacceptable.” Red Widow seethed with fury as she paced angrily around the small lab. She hated this goddamned jungle, the heat and humidity. She hated these people. She hated everything about this. She spun toward her gathered minions, ignoring the woman seated at the lab table. The girl was the one constant reminder of her own failure, and she wasn’t about to acknowledge her existence.
“Why can none of you numbskulls get anything right?” She fumed, though her glare fixed directly on Rurik Babin. She’d loose her ire on Lapinov, as well, except the Tarantula Brigade leader wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of a fight. Most times, she appreciated his icy demeanor, but she was spoiling for a fight.
“I did what I was ordered to do!” Babin shot back, giving her exactly what she wanted – a target.
“You were supposed to kill her, you incompetent arse!” She snapped the words out as she stalked the cockroach. “So, tell me why she’s still breathing.”
“She has more lives than a damned cat, is why. And the poison’s effectiveness is wearing off, too.”
That was news to her. Red Widow spun on her heel to confront the scientist who sat in one of the room’s only two chairs. “Is this true?”
He shrugged. “It’s possible, at any rate.”
“How?” Red Widow demanded.
“Hard to say. There are numerous reasons. Environmental factors, exposure, incorrect dosing…”
“It is none of those things.” The room’s other female occupant spoke for the first time, drawing everyone’s attention. Then, as if she wasn’t the focal point of the room, she made tiny clicking noises as she stroked her fingers over the hairy body of the tarantula crawling slowly across the back of her hand.
“Magdalena,” Lapinov finally spoke, his tone coaxing and indulgent, as if speaking to a child.
“There is a reason the poison is failing.” Her voice was soft and serene, as if she was in a trance.
Red Widow rolled her eyes with a snort. Clearly, the centuries had warped the girl’s mind, turning it to sponge. “Do tell.”
Magdalena didn’t look up, or give any indication she was aware of the sarcasm. “The Musir built in a failsafe.”
Red Widow’s eyes widened, and her gaze whipped to the scientist in the next chair. “Did you know about this?”
He nodded. “But we took care of it.”
Her eyes narrowed. “How?”
A cold grin split his face as his hand raised to the series of long scars that grooved his cheek from eye to jaw. The bitch had nearly taken his eye out, but he won in the end. “We introduced our own ingredient, of course.”
Red Widow leaned back against the table and studied the scientist with interest. Could she have found the one American capable of actually doing his job? Rachel hadn’t had the staying power, once Sargon was awakened, and so far, Daniel Cook was proving incompetent beyond compare.
But this man’s icy lack of emotion made him formidable, and gave her the first burst of confidence in his ability to get the job done. This wasn’t a man easily distracted by personal vendettas, and he bore the evidence of how far he’d go to sate his brutal desires on his face, like a badge of dishonor. She heard he left the native woman who gave him those scars for dead, deep in the Peruvian jungle. A chilly smile tugged at her lips. Aye, this man wouldn’t let anyone get in his way.
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