The Terrorist’s Game
“I’m just an ordinary person who has an extraordinary job.”
We call it the mama bear mentality. Mothers will do virtually anything to protect their young. This was the mode that Talia’s mind inherently went into immediately at hearing that someone had abducted her only child. She was speechless, but her mind was racing with thoughts of finding Percival and killing him with her bare hands. She imagined putting her own hands around his neck and choking the life completely out of him as she watched it drain from his eyes and body.
She couldn’t think about anyone harming her daughter, because it was too painful a thought as her mind bounced from phase to phase of anger and fear. The belief that Percival would harm or kill her daughter was only in a futuristic arena. She couldn’t think that bad things may already have happened. That would cause her mind to cease functioning altogether, and she didn’t have time for that.
Random thoughts flew through her head at a million miles a second. She owned a gun. She didn’t have to touch him to kill him, and it would leave no fingerprints. She owned a semi automatic 9mm Beretta. Had she brought it with her? Did she have ammunition? How many shots would she have to fire to make sure that the monster was dead? Could she find and rescue her daughter? Of course she could. She had to. There was no other option.
Where was Percival? Under what rock was he hiding? Where had he taken her daughter? How would she locate them? How long would it take her to get his location? How long would it take her to get to that location and annihilate him to rescue her daughter?
How long would she be in prison for murdering him? No, that wouldn’t happen. He was a terrorist, and no one would prosecute her. That was one thing that wouldn’t be an issue. He had to be someplace in Russia. Or did he? Most terrorists were exiles and lived outside the country which they were trying to change or control. That being the case, he could be anywhere in the world. There had to be a way to find him. Everybody was tracked down sooner or later. Saddam Hussein was found in a hole. Osama Bin Laden was found in a compound. When she found him, she would rescue her daughter and then kill him. It was that simple. The only problem was how?
She blinked her eyes and noticed that Tyrell was snapping his fingers in front of her. “What!”
Tyrell heaved a sigh of relief. “I thought we’d lost you for a moment. You had the same look your mother gets from time to time. It frightens me when she gets that look. You can’t do whatever it is you’re thinking about. You have to be rational.”
She turned to Eduard. “She’s my daughter. I can’t sit here and wait. I have to do something. I want him dead. I’ve waited patiently for years, and he’s survived and thrived. Please, let me find this asshole and kill him. He killed my husband, he’s terrorized us for years, and now he’s kidnapped my daughter. Enough. Let me go after him, Eduard. I need closure. I no longer want to play terrorist games. If he touches one hair on her head, they won’t find all of his parts. I promise you that.”
Eduard watched her and he saw the look in her eyes. She was passionate, and threw herself into everything she pursued. It was her way, and he admired her for it. His son had been the same. He felt that it was what attracted them to one another and also the main cause of the arguments he remembered hearing late at night. Eduard felt at many times that he was the least passionate member of his family, behind his deceased wife and even his granddaughter. He tried to lean toward rational thought based on trusted information. He was a career government servant. He hadn’t become President by being emotional. He couldn’t decide whether that was a good or a bad trait in him.
He wanted to scold her for flying off the handle. He wanted to advise her to let it go and let professional field agents handle the situation. But, his adopted little girl had grown up, and he realized she was the professional most capable of doing the job. No one in the world knew more about the Alder Nation and terrorism than she did.
Eduard sighed. “If I told you to wait, or be patient, or let someone who is not as involved handle this, would you listen?”
Talia scowled at him. “No. That bastard stole my baby.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “I need to find him and kill him. It’s the only solution. No one, but no one steals my baby. No one touches her. She’s all I have left after years of The Alder Nation. I have no reason not to kill him after all he’s taken from me. I don’t care what any of you say, I will end this, and I will never be away from her again. I’ve had enough, and I’ll explain that to Percival before I kill him, so he’s crystal clear about my feelings and will know that his death comes, because he abducted my daughter.”
Cameron was amazed as he listened to them discuss killing Percival like most people would discuss a child running away from home to marry their girlfriend or boyfriend without permission. He couldn’t imagine what she was going through. He didn’t know her well enough to know whether she would do something irrational or something effective. He had no idea where Talia Anderson’s anger would take her. He wanted to run screaming back to the Pacific Northwest where he could work in a familiar environment, but he couldn’t leave her side. There was no turning back and he needed to help her. He was all in and he would stay with her, no matter what. He needed to help her make sure that the world was rid of The Alder Nation and their leader, Percival.
“I do not want any harm to come to you. You are family and I love you. You are not to fight this battle alone. You will take security. If you do not have enough, I will send my men with you. Do you understand?” Eduard said to her.
“Yes,” she muttered. “I must end this. I’ll do it however you allow me to. I have to do this, Eduard. I have to put an end to it now.”
“Let’s make a game plan,” Tyrell said. “I refuse to do this without a plan. Right now, we don’t know where Percival is, or where Anya is. We don’t even know that they’re together. It won’t help her if we move before we have the information necessary to enact a rescue. A premature move could get her killed. No one wants that.”
“Tyrell is right,” Cameron said. “We need to find a way to track Percival. He claims that Anya is with him, so it’s him we need to locate and track. If we can locate him, the rest should fall into place. Am I right?”
Talia looked at Cameron. “Are you saying that you want to come along? It’s a dangerous situation. People die when they stand up to The Alder Nation. They operate as though separatist acts of war are games. They’re dangerous and unpredictable to those of us trying to analyze and thwart them.”
“I know that,” he replied. “I might be useful. A logical tech brain is a wonderful thing to have along for the ride. I might think of things that you’re too close to the situation to think of. Puzzles are where I shine.”
He absent mindedly glanced at the picture on the wall. He wondered if that was the place in her dream, and if that picture might help them. He didn’t want to bring it up with everyone around. He wanted to wait until he could discuss the photo with Talia alone.
She watched him for a moment, noting that he seemed a bit distracted. “I didn’t mean to imply that you couldn’t handle yourself. I don’t know you well enough. You’re right. Analytical brains are good to have in a situation such as this. Unfortunately, you can’t handle yourself in a fight.”
“That’s true. I’m terrible at it, and I’m not trained to fight at all,” he replied. “But, you do need help tracking a shadow. Maybe I can help you find him. I probably understand any technology he may be using better than you. I never met anyone I couldn’t track.”
“I don’t know enough about you,” she said. “What kind of software did you design?”
“Some of it was tracking,” he replied. “Some of it was to hide from tracking. Either way, I’m your man.”
“We’ve tried to track him for years,” Tyrell said. “Maybe you can help, Cameron. We need to find him and fast. Kidnappers don’t generally have a lot of patience, and terrorists have even less.”
Talia wondered what kind of tracking, he designed. “Okay, Cameron. There’s no time to waste. What’s your idea? How can we track Percival?”
He looked to the man who’d come in with the message. “How does he send messages?”
Leonid Kirov had been the head of Eduard’s security team since the inception of him requiring one. He was the definition of Russian that you would get in a movie in the outside world. He was large, brooding, dark hair, thick eyebrows, dressed in a black suit with a white shirt. He was a cross between Secret Service and Men in Black. He was currently in his mid 50′s, but he looked as though he could still kick some serious ass. He was the President Elect’s most trusted staff.
“He sends a text message,” Leonid said to Cameron as he handed him a Samsung Galaxy phone. “He contacts this phone. We have not been able to track his location because we presume he is blocking us in some way. When he calls, he distorts his voice, so we cannot use voice recognition to identify him. He emails, but there is no retrievable address for the sender. He is a ghost who only uses electronic communication. We have no history of Percival or The Alder Nation beyond news reports and the demands which they make of us. We have no reconnaissance for this group. Percival crawled out from under a rock one day, then immediately disappeared into the digital universe. When they attack, they come out of nowhere and return to nowhere. There are no known independent cells and no known headquarters. There is no trail to follow.”
Cameron unlocked the phone and started to investigate its system and apps. Everyone watched him for several minutes. Finally he looked up. “Why don’t you all go and get something to eat. This could take a while.”
“Do you think you can do something?” Talia asked.
“If he hides with advanced technology, I can find him. I invent advanced technology. I solve puzzles. Most of the programming I’ve invented was to either solve a problem or create a problem for others. It’s a matter of analyzing his program so that I can undo it. Go and eat. I’ll get started solving the puzzle. By the time you get back, I may know where he is.”
“Are you serious?” Tyrell asked. “Our programmers have worked at this for years. They spent countless hours in labs with no results. They found nothing.”
“Well, you never called me,” he replied. “Go, eat, and bring me back something not fish. I hate fish.” He stood and walked over to Talia. He looked her straight in the eye. “Have I ever lied to you?”
“Not yet. But, I’ve only known you for two days.”
He grinned at her. “Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”