For a long time in the dark, all she feels is shame.
Reading the Diluvia manuscript, Irina had known it was the one her sister Elena was seeking- and the one thing she must never find. It is nothing less than Rambaldi's blueprint for the end of the world, and in Elena's hands, his vision would come true.
She can't allow that to happen.
She burned it slowly, setting fire to each page, watching it burn, sifting through the ashes to be absolutely certain nothing is legible. One fragment's survival is too much.
But even with the pages burned and the ashes scattered, she knew she could not afford to think that it was over.
She had been running for almost a year before Elena's men found her. She knew that one day they would; her resources were not inexhaustible, and once they learned whom she was running from, many of Irina's own contacts were unwilling to help her. Most who knew Elena Derevko's name feared her. Her sister Irina was not one of them, but Irina did fear what Elena could do with the knowledge she possessed.
They found her in Moscow, in a neighborhood that still remembered too much of the old days to risk asking questions, or even to risk warning the strange, dark haired newcomer that men with military bearing were watching her apartment.
Irina killed half a dozen before the other six managed to overpower her, and somewhere inside she was laughing. Twelve of Elena's men sent to capture her. Overkill, particularly when one considered that they were Elena's fanatics, those who believed as she did, rather than the mercenaries who worked for pay alone. None of these men would dare to kill the mother of Rambaldi's Chosen One, not for any order her sister might give.
"Hello, sis." She gave Elena a long look, then turned away, meeting the eyes of each man in turn. "You could have knocked."
"Where is the manuscript?"
"I destroyed it."
Elena's eyes narrowed. "You wouldn't dare."
Irina quirked a brow. "Wouldn't I?"
"You fool!" Elena gestured sharply to the men holding her sister. "Bring her."
Elena's first attempts to extract information from her are crude, and easy to resist. It is only pain, and for a woman who has given birth to two children, this is nothing much. But slowly Elena begins to refine her technique, and somewhere in the back of her mind, Irina begins to worry.
Little things begin to slip out, minor points only, but she covers them with lies as quickly as she can. This works for a time; they believe that the pain is making her incoherent, and Irina is allowed to rest.
One of her guards, tending to her with the reverence of a true believer, advises her to cooperate. "You should tell her what she wishes to know."
"And you should remember where your loyalties lie, Sergey. The last time I looked, you worked for me."
He sighs. "She says that you have gone astray, that you must be led back."
Irina chuckles. "Is that what she calls it? You know me, Sergey. You know what I believe."
"Elena says you are blinded by love. That you care too much for Rambaldi's chosen to do what must be done."
Irina sighs. "She never did understand."
"Please- tell me what she wishes to know. I will tell her, and she will stop hurting you."
She shakes her head. "No, Sergey. I will not help her willingly."
It was, she realized later, a mistake to say this.
"Tell me," Elena says after the first time she has stopped Irina's heart, "where you are next meeting Jack Bristow."
Six hours later, she whispers, "Vienna," and it begins.
In the end she tells her sister everything, all that she remembers of the Diluvia manuscript. She tells her how to destroy everything Irina has worked so hard to protect, how to force her children to do battle despite all she has hoped to do to bring them together.
When she has betrayed everything she knows, and all that she loves, Irina is taken to the jungle, to a small dark pit, and tossed into it. She looks up in time to see the last sliver of sky as it is sliced away when they close her in, and then she is alone in the dark. Alone with her shame.
She should have fought harder, longer. She should have defied her sister until Elena's new-found patience wore thin, and she did what Irina had been expecting all along. She should have forced her sister to kill her, long before she ever betrayed those she loves. The power to destroy them, to destroy everything, is in Elena's hands now, because Irina has given it to her.
She wonders if she will ever see the sky again. She wonders if she has any right to.
Muse: Irina Derevko