6. Lost Kitten

Kirika and Mireille are off to Russia for their next assignment; their target- Yuri Nazarov, an ex-KGB agent. During the Cold War, Nazarov ran a concentration camp where he ordered the slaughter of members of an ethnic minority known as the Tashkil. Only a few Tashkil survived, and now their descendants want revenge.

But Nazarov, now an old man, seems to be a changed person. Having disappeared after the slaughter of the Tashkil, he now lives in anonymity. The local people know him only as a benevolent and saintly person, who has devoted himself to helping those in need. Even so, Noir has a job to do, and whether or not Nazarov is a changed man does not make a difference to that.

Whilst Mireille works on her laptop at their hotel, Kirika decides to take a walk. She has been preoccupied by a small white cat that has been hanging around the hotel; the cat appears to have no owner, and so Kirika feels compelled to bring it home. Like her, the cat appears to be lost, however, it may be that the cat has a name and a home somewhere, whilst Kirika has none- only the lie that she is “Kirika Yumura”. And both she and Mireille are caught up in a much bigger lie, one that is linked to the mysterious Soldats. Even with what little they have to go on, Mireille is resolved- she will find out the truth…

The next morning, Kirika sits outside with the cat, wishing that she at least knew its name. Passing by, Nazarov overhears, and tells her that the cat is called Prince Myshkin- it belongs to him. After thanking her for taking care of the cat, Nazarov walks away, only to collapse to the ground.

Back at his house, a doctor examines the unconscious Nazarov whilst Kirika looks on. The old man has been pushing himself too hard- and now he does not have long to live. After the doctor leaves, Kirika spots a photo frame that has fallen to the floor. Inside the frame are two pictures- on top, there is a image of a cat, but underneath is a photo of a young Nazarov with his family. On the back are the words “Balkutsk, 1951”. Taking the photo, Kirika leaves.

Back at the hotel, a curious Mireille tries to find out more about Balkutsk, but according to her information, no such place exists. Whilst Mireille tries to solve the mystery, Kirika goes out again. She approaches Nazarov’s house, resolved to kill him; aware that if she cannot do it now, she may never again pluck up the nerve to do so.

Nazarov is awake now, and all the local people have started to visit their “saint”. Crouched outside the window, Kirika aims her gun at Nazarov, but cannot bring herself to pull the trigger. Hearing something outside, Nazarov looks up, but Kirika has left. However, he does notice one thing- his childhood photo has gone.

Kirika returns to the hotel, where Mireille has figured out the mystery of Balkutsk. The village was once home to the Norga people, until the Tashkil destroyed it. Nazarov was a Norga, and his slaughter of the Tashkil was just yet another act of aggression and revenge in an ancient feud.

But, more important than history is Kirika and Mireille’s next move. Should they go ahead and kill the old man, or just leave him to spend his last days in peace? Can his recent good works even begin to make up for his earlier atrocities? Kirika knows they cannot- and she realises that Nazarov knows it too. Noir can no longer avoid fulfilling its contract- and so Kirika will go to Nazarov’s house and finish the job.

Whilst Mireille waits outside, Kirika once enters Nazarov’s house for the last time. Standing outside in the new-fallen snow, Mireille hears a gunshot. With another job concluded, Noir leaves…

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