The Terrorist’s Game
“I’m not a passive person by any stretch of the imagination.”
Eduard Sokolovsky sat in the living room of his apartment at Vatnstiggur, waiting to talk with Talia. His relationship with his daughter in law was complicated. They had disagreed for many years about how to handle the threats and instructions put forth by the Alder Nation and the demon, Percival. He allowed himself be used for years by the separatists, and she believed the entire time that they should fight. He felt foolish letting the Alder Nation run his life, however, that was the accepted rule around the world for the last several years. He hated feeling that the only daughter he had ever known saw him as weak.
Eduard had liked Talia immediately when he met her at the U.N. so many years ago. He was delighted that his son married her. She had been the daughter he had never had, and his deceased wife had always longed for. Anya’s birth was a gift of such enormity that he never imagined he deserved, but it had made him forever grateful. His only granddaughter helped him live through several monumentally challenging times in his personal and professional life. He loved her, and she gave his life purpose. That was a life saving gift after his only son was killed while on assignment.
Eduard’s life wasn’t all power and glory. He was born on a communal farm outside of Sklyn, not far from Luc’k in western Ukraine. His ancestors had lived in many places throughout the years in what was currently known as Ukraine, but had been many countries over the decades and centuries of its history. His parents moved to Moscow when he was a baby. He learned to speak Muscovite Russian, as well as the Ukrainian dialect that his parents spoke. While at University, he was groomed for politics. He served in the military, where he formally filed for Russian citizenship. He went from nationally required service into intelligence with the FSB, and later became an ambassador to the United Nations. That was where he met Talia Anderson.
Eduard’s success in politics was the balance to the disasters in his personal life. He married just after joining the Navy. His wife, Anya (who his granddaughter was named after), was abducted by terrorists. Dmitri was barely eight years old at the time. Eduard wanted to chase them down and kill them the way that Talia wanted to eliminate Percival, but he was bound by official policy. As a representative of Russia, he could only follow the policies put forth by the United Nations and Russia. It was the government way. Historically, countries didn’t tolerate or negotiate with terrorists. Once the groups became separatists, however, the rules changed. The groups made puppets out of leaders and in Eduard’s opinion fools out of entire government systems. The Alder Nation enacted their demands, and they set specific time lines for compliance. Eduard waited until he got authorization from his superiors before complying with the group’s demands. Despite all of his efforts, they killed his wife, because he didn’t fulfill their demands in the allotted time. Eduard never saw her again.
Anya’s death caused a rift between Eduard and his only child that was never bridged. Dmitri blamed him for his mother’s death. Father didn’t know how to make his eight year old understand, and by the time his son grew older, they were almost completely estranged. Talia entered the picture when family get togethers were few and far between. Obligatory meetings were all that kept them in contact during those years. She was the patch that made things better between father and son if only for a while.
Dmitri was raised primarily by staff following his mother’s death until he went away to the Russian Naval Academy. When he returned home, he took a position with the anti terrorism division of the Detective Administration. He had flown MiG 29K’s while in the military; therefore he had a top secret clearance and viewed as trustworthy as an investigator of terrorism incidents. Eduard worried about his son’s dangerous position, but his success calmed the rocky waters on his side and forced him to accept his son’s chosen career.
When Dmitri married Talia, he was the happiest father ever. It was the best thing that happened to them in years. His wife would have been so proud of his son’s choice of wife. It was as though all the unpleasantness never transpired, and he and his son had never been estranged. Once Talia and Dmitri married, they were a real family. Eduard loved his family and believed that they should always be family.
When the young couple named his granddaughter after his late wife, he felt honored. The years that he spent with Dmitri, Talia and Anya around him were the happiest years since the death of his wife. The two argued over political issues which they held decidedly different opinions on, yet he was happy with life during his son’s marriage.
Then, with one helicopter crash, that happy life vanished.
A tear slid down his cheek. He snapped back to the present at a knock on his door. He stood, wiping the tear from his wrinkled face. He stopped in front of a mirror to check his personally designed suit by Alexandre Plokhov to make sure everything was straight and smooth. Alexandre had designed the suit for his personal station. Eduard ran a comb through what was left of his gray streaked hair. He had to look his best for a visit with his only daughter. She had taught him about high fashion and he didn’t want to disappoint her by looking less than perfect. He and his daughter in law, were family and not distance nor the death of Dmitri, could ever change that.
Eduard pulled open the door anxious and smiling. “Talia! It has been too long. I miss my girl.”
Talia ran into Eduard’s open arms. She loved him like a father, which she’d never had.
Clarissa Anderson had only loved one man in her life; Benjamin Wentworth. She found herself pregnant and widowed before she walked to the altar. Talia had never seen anything of her father except pictures. Benji, as her mother called him, was an imposing man who towered over her mother in every photo. Her mother claimed that he stood six and a half feet tall. He had broad shoulders, and in all of the photos, he had a shoulder length dark brown haired mullet. It worked at that time, but no man would be caught dead with a mullet in modern times. In every picture that she had ever seen of Benji, he wore a t-shirt and jeans or a uniform, and he always had a mustache, but no beard. He worked for the CIA as a field agent, and he was killed while on assignment in an undisclosed location one week before their nuptials were scheduled.
Clarissa never dated again. She told their daughter about her father, but it was difficult for her to discuss. She was heartbroken when her fiancé died. She hated to talk about it, because it hurt too much. It was a wound that never healed. Talia only finally understood when it happened to her. The one wound that never healed for Anderson women it seemed, was the sudden loss of a spouse. The irony being that they both chose the same manly men in similar covert services. They had a type, and that type risked their lives every time they went to work; and eventually paid for playing the game.
Talia always believed that the death of her father had been the first piece to fall out of the puzzle that eventually crumbled altogether and caused her mother to have a nervous breakdown and become a hermit. There were the paparazzi and the crowds and the constant pressure of the public, but it was the questions. Someone inevitably would ask about her daughter’s father, and eventually it was too much for her mother to take. She was raised by staff, such as Tyrell during her mother’s time in rehab, and after that life was never the same.
After Clarissa came home, she refused to leave the house, like a modern day Emily Dickinson, lacking poetic grace and white dresses. As a result of her mother never dating or leaving the house, and Talia’s grandfather also passing away before she was born, she hadn’t had anyone but Tyrell as a father figure in her life until Eduard came along. She loved him like a father and hated that they couldn’t see each other more often.
She wanted her family back together. The reason that she kept up with separatism was because she hoped that she could free her family of them someday, and they could continue their lives together. She had been studying it for years, since before Dmitri was murdered. Her business was U.N. security, but her personal clients came to her as a consultant, because she was well educated on the topic of international separatist groups. She continued to study separatists after she was ordered to leave Russia by Percival. She hadn’t found out how to defeat him yet, but someday, she would.
“Eduard!” Talia exclaimed, as she hugged him with all her might. “It’s great to see you! Have you lost more hair? You never had to worry about losing your hair when I was around. Why don’t I come home? I’m sick of living alone in New York. It’s boorish to say the very least. I would much rather take over your security than listen to a bunch of U.N. Ambassadors talk down to me.”
Cameron watched from the doorway with Tyrell. She never ceased to amaze him. He was growing accustomed to her tough exterior. Now he saw her acting like a little girl with her daddy. He would never have believed it if he wasn’t seeing it with his own eyes. He cleared his throat to get her attention.
She stopped and looked at Cameron and blushed. “I’m sorry. Eduard, this is Cameron Walker. He’s a computer tech that ended up traveling with me. Long story. Cameron, this is President Elect of all Russia, Eduard Sokolovsky.”
The two shook hands. Eduard smiled. “Someone has finally caught my little girl’s attention. I am surprised.”
“I wouldn’t say that. I would say that I couldn’t get away without him tagging along. He’s stubborn and opinionated and has no idea what he’s gotten into. Tyrell didn’t help.”
She shot Tyrell a look. He smiled back at her.
“Anyway, we’re not a couple,” she insisted. “We’re friends I guess.”
“Well friends, come in and get out of the hallway,” Eduard suggested.
Tyrell and Cameron stepped inside. They shook hands with Eduard. Tyrell flopped down on one end of a plush dark brown leather sofa, while Cameron gingerly sat on the other. Cameron wasn’t sure how to behave. He’d never been in the same room as a President.
Eduard’s apartment was northern rustic and was indicative of both Icelandic and Russian décor. Icelanders were descended from Vikings, as were Russians and Ukrainians. They worked hard, played hard, and were fiercely loyal to family and country. Eduard was much like his ancestors before him.
Talia sat down in a recliner opposite the two men. Eduard stood by the floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the water.
“How is everyone feeling?” Eduard asked. “Is everyone healthy?”
Talia wasn’t in the mood to catch up at the moment, and she certainly had no time for small talk. She had things on her mind that needed to be discussed before small talk started. She didn’t know how to approach the subject.
“I’m fine,” she grumbled.
Eduard knew that tone. “Talia, dear; please understand.”
She couldn’t hold her tongue. “You’re right, I don’t. Of all the positions that you could have put yourself in, you did as they said all the way to the Kremlin? Why?”
“They said they would kill Anya,” he replied. “You know that I will not risk her life. I waited too long once. I will never ponder a decision involving my family’s lives again. I can’t.”
“So, you went ahead and became President?”