The Terrorist’s Game
“There’s something about a catharsis that is very important.”
The spy satellite routine indicated that The Alder Nation may be headquartered in Ukraine. Dmitri was killed in Lviv, Ukraine. His family belonged to the Uniate Church, also Ukrainian. Was their leader someone who knew Eduard’s family personally? That would explain why the group focused on them. If their family had ties to Ukraine, then the person who had been doing all the blackmailing and now kidnapping may be someone from Eduard’s past.
“How are your in laws tied to Ukraine?” Cameron asked. “Not in the past, but today.”
Talia looked at him as though he were stupid. “First, I thought everyone in the world knew after all the publicity that Eduard is from Ukraine. His family moved to Russia when he was a baby. They moved from a little town in Ukraine to Moscow. Why would any of that matter now?”
“Everything seems to track back to Ukraine,” he replied. “Dmitri died there, they were all from there, and that’s the general area that I believe we are looking for the Alder Nation.”
She gaped at him. “I never thought of that. But why?”
“Does Eduard still have family there?” he asked.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. Why would that matter?”
“Because, everything seems connected to Ukraine.” He paused. “Once again, Eduard is from there. His family ties are there. Dmitri was killed there. All evidence suggests that the Alder Nation is headquartered there. The family belongs to the Uniate Church, for God’s sake. There has to be a Ukrainian connection. Ukraine is known for its mafia and other subversive groups. What did his family do there? And, what about that picture? Is that in Ukraine? The building in your dream?”
Talia was shocked. She couldn’t believe that had never occurred to her. Cameron was formulating theorems that were plausible in record time. She was, indeed, way too close to the situation.
“Dmitri was investigating The Alder Nation when he was killed. He told me a little bit about it. I thought I was being irrational, because I believed the reason they singled out Eduard was personal. I was right,” she muttered.
“Right about what?” he asked.
“I was married for almost nine years. He worked for the Detective Administration the entire time. He was never in danger before that case. He was always one step ahead of anyone he was investigating. I’m not saying this because I have him on a pedestal. Until that last trip, I never worried about him when he went into the field. He always told me what he was doing and where he was going. He normally bounced his plans off of me before he put them into action.
“That day he told me that he was flying to Lviv to arrest an Alder Nation leader. He was taking a helicopter from Danylo Halytski Airport into Lviv to the precise location of the meeting.” She paused for a moment. “I had a bad feeling about it from the moment he left. It was the only time I ever felt like that.”
“And that was the time he was killed,” Cameron said. “Why would that trip feel different to you?”
Talia pored over everything she could remember. They had a fight, which wasn’t unusual. She couldn’t remember most of what the fight was about. Part of it was about their daughter. She believed that it had been about whether or not Anya was allowed to read a particular magazine, but she couldn’t remember which one. It had been so long that she couldn’t even remember what the argument was about.
“We had a fight before he left that time,” she said finally. “It was about Anya and I think a magazine. I told him she would make the right choices and that he needed to let her learn some things on her own.” She paused. “I remember! I don’t remember the name of the magazine, but it was militant and talked about radical action being necessary to rid the world of terrorists. You know, one of those publications advocating nuking the entirety of the Middle East in order to end terrorism.”
Cameron was confused. “Wasn’t he against terrorism? Wasn’t ending terrorism his job?”
“Yes,” she snarked. “But even he had limits on how much radicalism he believed in. He hated nuclear anything, whether it was a power plant or a warhead. He believed that war was reactionary and that it was emotionally driven, irregardless of what hundreds of historians say. He thought that people were too emotional which made their war doctrines flawed. He thought that I was too emotional. Sometimes he hated that about me.”
“That was the argument you had the day he left?” he asked. “About radicalism in terrorism and anti terrorism. You’re house sounds like fun. Are you sure there was nothing else in that argument that might give us some insight?”
“That’s all I remember arguing about,” she replied. “It’s funny how little I remember after all these years. It was just an argument about beliefs. We had those all the time.”
Talia’s phone rang and startled them both. “I lost track of time. Sorry,” she said into the phone.
She hung up the phone and turned to Cameron. “The skies should be satellite free in our chosen sector. If Percival is true to form, we’ll get a message soon. Eduard thinks we should all be together.”
Cameron picked up the phone. “He’s right. We should all be together when the call comes. We need all the analysis we can get when that call comes through. Maybe we can pick up on something he says. You’ll also need to keep him on the line so I can work.”
She felt a lump form in her throat and heaved an anxious sigh. “Okay, let’s go and find this bastard, so I can kill him.” She saw Cameron’s shocked expression. “Don’t look at me like I’m a vengeful psychotic killer. That bastard killed my husband and stole my baby. I owe him.”
“Remind me never to piss you off,” he said as he opened the door for her.
“Come on Tyrell!′ she yelled into the apartment.
Tyrell appeared from around the corner and walked to the door. “Showtime. I’m here.”
The group waited in Eduard’s apartment, watching TV, pacing the floor, and staring at the water out the wall of windows. Eventually, Cameron found himself alone in the kitchen with Leonid, Eduard’s bodyguard.
“How long have you worked for Eduard?” Cameron asked.
“Twenty years,” Leonid answered. “Why do you ask?”
“That’s a long time,” Cameron responded.
“What is it that you want to know and why?” he snapped. “And why should I help you? I know nothing about you. I have contacts that tell me you are not to be trusted.”
“Let me guess, you received a call from Taheen Sarraf?” he asked.
“How did you know?” Leonid replied.
“He’s called Talia a couple of times,” he said. “She checked me out herself. You can trust her, even if you can’t trust me.”
“We shall see,” he said.
“I’m trying to help Talia with her recurring dream, that’s all,” he said. “Did she have nightmares when she lived in Russia? I’m trying to help.”
Leonid nodded his head. “I know you want to help. It is a sensitive subject for me to discuss with strangers. They are all but royalty. Every tiny piece of their lives is on television or the web.” He paused. “What do you mean nightmare?”
“She’s been having a bad recurring nightmare. She wakes up screaming,” Cameron said. “I’ve been close by when she sleeps. In the next room. I want to help her cast out those demons, but I don’t know how.”
Leonid remembered when Dmitri and Talia lived together in Russia. “I remember no nightmares, only dreadful arguments.”
“You heard them argue?” Cameron asked.
“Yes, frequently,” he recalled. “They should have divorced long before he disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” Cameron quipped. “I thought he was murdered.”
“So they say,” he replied flatly. “I wonder about it.”
“I never told anyone about the fights, because I like Talia, and I want to protect her. Dmitri, I do not care about discussing him. He treated her like a child at best, and at worst, he was a monster,” he explained. “He told her she was stupid and that she had no idea what she was doing as a mom. He wanted to hire a nanny to raise Anya and send her back to America. He spoke as though he hated her, unless they were in Eduard’s presence. He changed like night and day when his father came around. He would never have treated her the way he did in front of his father. Eduard would not have stood for such behavior.”
Cameron was stunned. “He threatened to send her back to the U.S. and take her daughter away? But not in front of his father. Why? Did he fear his father that much?”
“Eduard loves Talia like his own. Dmitri hated that as much as he seemed to hate everything else. He was a jealous man. Jealous of so many things; authority, money, love, affection, intelligence.”
“He hated everything? And he had jealousy issues? Sounds like a man with personal problems.”
“Yes, he was evil, mostly to her. He once told her that he could pick up a better woman off a street corner. He scolded her about cooking skills, having no job skills, her lack of political awareness, lovemaking. The list goes on. The day he left on that assignment, he told her they were over.”
“What?” Cameron gasped.
“He told her they were over. He told her that that she would be forced to leave the country forever once he divorced her. He said that he would raise Anya, and she would never see her daughter again. He ordered her to pack her things by the time he returned, but he never came back.”
Cameron didn’t know what to think. Talia had apparently blocked out everything. She mourned him, even though he was planning to deport her to the U.S. and divorce her. How could she love a man that hated her? What the hell was going on?
“Hey you guys, get in here!” Talia called from the living room. “It’s show time!”
The two men went into the living room. Cameron grabbed the phone which he had set on a coffee table. There was a text from Percival.
“What does it say?” Cameron asked. The message was in Cyrillic.
Leonid took the phone and read aloud. “I have Anya. She is safe. Do not look for her. If you come for her, I will kill her. I will contact you with instructions for your presidency, following the inauguration. Do not contact the press. I will contact you at regular intervals. There will be a call soon for you to ask questions about my vision for Russia’s future.”
“Can you track that?” Talia asked. She kept glancing at the photo on the wall. “What was the connection?” she wondered.
Cameron worked with the phone, deep within the programming, where only he knew what happened. “How can this be?” he snapped, staring at the phone.
“What?” she asked.
“Did you tell anyone where you were going?” Cameron asked Eduard.
“No,” he replied. “Why?”
“Did you tell anyone?” he asked Talia.
“No,” she answered. “What’s going on?”
He stared at the phone. “Is there any way that any of you can think of that Percival could possibly know you are in Reykjavik?”
“He kidnapped my daughter,” Talia snarked. “Maybe she told him.”
“No,” Eduard said. “I taught her well not to give out information about anything.”
“He must have anticipated our capabilities,” Cameron told them. “This must be a fake GPS program of some kind. Damn, how can that be?”
“What makes you say that?” Talia asked. “Talk to me.”
“Because, his phone’s location is right here in Reykjavik,” he said.