The Terrorist’s Game
“Let’s just say that I have a tendency if I am uncomfortable in a situation to speak my mind.”
“I realize you do not approve, but I decided to accept the position,” Eduard said. “I was the best candidate. I have experience with The Alder Nation; their maneuvers, their demands. I am the most experienced man for the job. I am well aware that an election is simply a gesture and that the President is chosen. I had to make a decision. I value your input, but I can make this decision without you. You know as well as I do, that if this had happened under any other circumstances, you would approve.”
“Of course I would approve if it were under other circumstances,” she replied. “You should not put yourself in such a powerful position under these circumstances, however. The Alder Nation governs every aspect of your life. When they tell you to jump, you ask ‘how high?’ Do you actually believe you can break free of that? They mean to run the whole damn country, using you as a puppet. Do you want that? What if they ruin the progress that has been made in modernizing and financially stabilizing Russia? I don’t see how you can sit back and let them call the shots. Russia is your adopted country, not the country of your birth, which makes it imperative that you represent the people accurately. The Alder Nation, using you as a puppet could ruin everything, and could still get you or Anya killed.”
“I believe I can manage the situation.”
“They already forbade you from bringing her to see me,” she snapped. “You obeyed them. It’s getting worse, and that will continue. Not only will they be running our personal lives, they will also be the force behind the government of Russia. That is their end game of years of persecuting you. They’ve made you into their personal political voice. The country will become theirs, not yours; not the people’s. I have remained silent about the connection between you and these people. I didn’t want any harm to come to you or my daughter, but I think the time has come when we have to take this to the intelligence community. Something has got to be done to end the influence of this group and its leader. Something has to happen and now is the time.”
Eduard stared at her for a moment. “If my unreported compliance with the Alder Nation becomes known, it will be the ruination of my entire career.”
Talia paused. She didn’t want to appear as a bitch, but someone had to be practical. She couldn’t let a separatist group take over the world starting with Russia and her family. Russia was the largest country in the world. It would give The Alder Nation far too much power. She had lost enough to Percival and company, and she wouldn’t lose any more.
“I don’t want that,” she scoffed. “If they blackmail you into doing what they want you to do, it will also inevitably ruin your career. We’ll say that it started with the election. No one will know the extent of their threats. We need to stop this now. Russia is power. If we don’t stop them, they will end up ruling the world, and you’ll be an accessory to that.”
“What about your safety?” Eduard asked. “What about Anya’s safety? Do you want to lose another loved one? If I had done as I was instructed all those years ago, I would have a son who respects me and my wife. I am a broken man inside, and to me it does not seem as though fighting The Alder Nation is the right thing to do.”
Talia saw the frightened look on Eduard’s face. She hated that look. She knew that he couldn’t stand to lose anyone else. If anything happened to her or Anya, he would blame himself. She respected him, but it couldn’t continue. The Alder Nation had done enough damage, and gained more than enough power. Their plan appeared to be to continue to push world leaders to their limits until they conquered the globe. The threats and the terror and the personal attacks. It was too much. She couldn’t think about the possibility of the entire world being governed by a separatist group. It had to stop, and it had to stop with Eduard and Russia.
“You’re in a position where these animals can’t hurt you or Anya,” she said. “You are the President. You are in charge. You have the best security in the World. If you need an upgrade of any kind, I will provide that. No one can hurt you without going through the very best of the best. She is in your care, and she has the same security as you. Now is the time to take them on. Now is the time for you to take action. I’ve wanted to take them down for years, but I’ve done nothing out of respect for you. Give me the word, Eduard. I’ll find them and put them out of business.”
Eduard worried about her state of mind. He heard arguments between her and Dmitri throughout their marriage. The couple hadn’t been happy in his opinion, but when Dmitri was killed, Talia nearly went mad with grief. In his opinion, she had never recovered. He could not comfortably approach her about issues, concerned that she would collapse. His daughter in law had seemed angry at the world, and he believed that it may cloud her judgment about what was best for the family or Mother Russia. He also knew that Talia Anderson was one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about terrorism and separatists. She was the expert that every leader around the world consulted.
Eduard let out a heavy sigh. “Maybe you are right. I do not wish to allow these monsters to take over the world.”
Tyrell, who rarely spoke during visits, commented, “Eduard, I rarely speak my mind, but I think she is right.” He paused to look at her and continued. “She has had evidence for years that could possibly stop The Alder Nation. She didn’t pursue it out of respect for you. If she followed up on some of the leads, she might be able to find them and bring this to an end. They seem to be a single group without independent cells. If they infiltrate the office of the President of Russia, they will effectively be running a major world power. They could become a force in the global community. That would be a disaster. I’d consider giving her the authorization to investigate and bring The Alder Nation to justice. She has the intelligence community in her contacts, and she has the knowledge to bring this to an end. She can do what no one else can. I work with her every day, and I have every confidence in her abilities. Even The Alder Nation knows that she is a threat. They expelled her from Russia, because they fear her.”
“Thanks, Tyrell,” she said.
Eduard had never talked to Talia about evidence or information about The Alder Nation. He avoided discussing anything that might endanger his family, of which she was a part.
“How do I know that this will not end in disaster?” he asked. “How do I know that you or Anya will not be killed because of me?”
Talia smiled at him. “Percival, their esteemed leader, won’t let me into your country. That’s how I know. He’s scared of me, because he knows I’m not stupid. He’s wary of me, and frankly, of my contacts in the intelligence community. If he keeps me at a distance, I’m out of his way. If he can keep me thousands of miles away from my daughter, I’ll be less likely to find him. He knows that I would never do anything to endanger Anya, and if I can’t be near her, I can’t protect her. That leaves me with a weak spot. It’s the ancient divide and conquer mentality. Unfortunately, it still works.”
“She’s right,” Tyrell said. “If he didn’t fear her, he wouldn’t use her family’s safety against her. It’s a distraction. It’s his way to thwart her and make it difficult for her to concentrate on destroying him. If she can’t concentrate, she can’t solve the puzzle. If she’s thousands of miles away, she can’t find clues.”
“What you say makes sense,” Eduard said. “But what if we cannot protect her? What if something happens to her? I cannot think about that. She is like a daughter to me.”
“He’s distracting you as well,” Tyrell said. “You can’t think clearly if you’re worried about your family. Terrorists know that. That’s terrorism 101.”
“You don’t have to protect me,” she said. “I don’t have to protect Anya in these new parameters. Don’t you see? You are the one with the impenetrable security. I can work, because now they can’t hurt her. They’ve put you in power to use you, but they’ve put you in a the position to fight back. They’ve sprung a trap on themselves.”
Cameron listened to the conversation. He was fascinated with her, and she was brilliant. She had a cult of personality that could easily influence every leader around the world. She had him mesmerized in a way that he’d never been before. In front of him, an American woman was swaying the basic beliefs of the President elect of Russia. The implications of that moment were staggering. Fortunately for the world, she was noble and believed in the greater good. A lesser person could derail history with the influence that she wielded.
Cameron listened intently, as he looked around Eduard’s apartment, taking it all in. Anyone who entered his apartment would know that no woman lived there. It was a Russo-Nordic man cave with mostly animal antlers and antique weapons as decor. There were a few pictures on the walls, and one of them caught his attention.
It was an old black and white photo of an ancient building. The building was stone and as far as he could tell, the stone was black. It had wooden doors and leaded windows. It stood in a row of houses as old as it was. There was something white over the doors and over each window.
“That’s the house in Talia’s dream,” he thought. “How can that be?”
He shook his head to refocus and concentrate on the issues at hand, but he wanted to analyze the photo while they were there. In the meantime, he started to listen to the conversation again.
“I regret, I do not have your confidence,” Eduard replied to Talia. “I have lost too much in this world to risk losing any more. I have to contemplate this. I have to be certain that you and Anya will be safe, before I allow you to confront those animals. I am too old to start over. I want to save the few family members I have remaining.”
“Thank you for considering it,” she said respectfully, knowing when to end a confrontation with her father in law.
She decided to let the subject lie for a bit and switched gears. “How about dinner? I love Hofnin, The Harbour. Lamb chops and seafood. They have an amazing chef and a great view of the old harbour. You can see Harpa’s light show at night. What do you say? I’m starving.”
One of Eduard’s security team came into the room. He motioned Eduard to come with him. They left for a moment. Talia didn’t react, because he had been in politics for decades, and she was used to such interruptions.
When they returned, Eduard’s face was completely devoid of color. She knew something was wrong. “Eduard, what is it?”
“I have received word that there has been an incident involving the group that calls itself the Alder Nation,” he replied.
“Oh, God, what happened?” she gasped. She knew it had to be bad from the expression on his face. Her stomach suddenly felt sick.
“I do not understand how it happened, but The Alder Nation has Anya.”