Near the Lithuanian Border
15:32 (12:32 GMT)
Adriana drove while Blake thumbed through the notebook he had removed from Oleg. There were notes about the president’s speech and where his podium was located. Notes about the presentation and the fanfare he and Aleksandr were to give at the power plant. There were different scribbling’s about when other parties were to start, contact names and numbers. They all had to do with the Independence Day celebration. There was nothing incriminating about the supposed terrorist attack or his speech as president after the attack.
Adriana asked, “Have you found anything that can help you with your investigation?”
“Not yet, I’m still looking.”
“Blake, we passed through the border five minutes ago. Did you want me to stop?” Adriana asked.
When the last Soviet soldier left Lithuania in August of 1993, the State Border Guard Service was already well established. It took five years to establish treaties on delimitation between all of their neighboring countries. In February of 1996, after a considerable diplomatic effort, a treaty was signed between Lithuania and Belarus. Crossing the border on major thoroughfares was as simple as showing an ID and on mostly untraveled country roads, a simple wave; and that was if they had someone on duty.
Blake had been studying the notebook so intently; he hadn’t realized how the time had flown-by. He pulled out his cell and called the president’s number.
“President Pennington’s phone, this is Kendall Price speaking.”
Kendall was the president’s personal assistant and would answer the president’s cell phone for her if the president was busy on another call or in a meeting, but didn’t want the caller to go to voicemail.
“This is Blake MacKay. I need to—”
“I’m putting you on speaker.”
Blake heard the phone clunk as she placed it on the table.
“Blake, I’m here with the Joint Chiefs and Directors Slocum, Thomas and Brennan. Where are you and what’s your status?”
“I am in Lithuania, just across the border from the power plant. I am assuming that the EMP was successful since no one can communicate via cell in Belarus. All the cell relay towers in Minsk that are down have disrupted most of the communications.”
“Yes Blake, the EMP was successful in stopping the attack. Were you able to apprehend Prime Minister Shorets?”
“No Ma’am, he decided that he wouldn’t give up without a fight and that fight ended up being fatal for him.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m afraid we have some more bad news.”
“We don’t know if it was a backup plan of Shorets’ or maybe another plan we just didn’t know about, but someone still assassinated the president at fourteen hundred hours.”
Blake was completely taken off guard. “What? How?”
“A sniper from the opposite side of Gorki Park shot him and killed him instantly.”
Blake’s thoughts turned to Roshenko. Could this have been his plan all along? Could he have arranged the sniper and to turn-in Prime Minister Shorets? He’s third in line and now he will become president.
Blake went back to searching through the notebook. He looked for any possible clues when his boss, Mike Brennan came on the line. “Blake, you did a great job. We need you to come home now for a full debriefing. We need you here tomorrow.”
Blake then came to a page in the notebook that stopped him in his tracks. He felt the blood drain from his head. Veronica Slocum then came on the line. “Blake, when can we expect you?”
Blake looked at the numbers and tried to remember where he’d seen them before. Veronica asked again, but firmer. “Blake! When will you be home?”
Lost in the implications of what he suspected, Blake was oblivious to everything until a gentle hand caressed his leg. Adriana stared at him with a frown. Was he as pale as he felt? “Sorry, I can’t make it. I have something to take care of first.”
“Blake, you’re ordered to be back here tomorrow! Blake?” barked Veronica.
The line went dead and Veronica stood up and lost it. “Goddammit! That did it! His ass is getting arrested when he gets home if he’s not here tomorrow.” She pointed a red nailed finger at Mike’s face. “Do you understand me, Director Brennan? No more protecting your boy. He has to learn to obey orders! He has to follow protocol!”
President Pennington sternly chastised her, “Director Slocum, I strongly suggest that you get control of yourself. Let’s see where this leads us. He obviously thinks there is something that warrants this and I personally, will wait to pass judgment until he returns. If he had obeyed your orders to come to D.C. instead of go to Cuba, this whole scheme never would have been uncovered. If you can’t handle this, I can certainly find someone who can. Do I make myself clear, Director?”
Veronica stared at the president liked a schoolgirl who had been scolded and then turned to the others around the room. All eyes were on her. Her cheeks almost throbbed as the blood rushed to them from embarrassment. “Yes, Madam President. I apologize. May I be excused, please? I have some things that I need to attend to.” The president nodded.
While Veronica picked up her things, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Andrew Thomas excused himself from the room. He closed the double doors behind him and thought about the news he heard regarding the assassination of President Solonovich. He smiled to himself, pulled out his encrypted cell and entered an empty room. When the voice on the other end answered, he said, “It’s done.”