The Terrorist’s Game
“I know what I do and what it means to me and where its sources lie, and that’s mine. It still is mine.”
Talia went to the living room, phone in hand. Cameron watched her out of the corner of his eye as she entered the room. There was a knock at the door, which Talia silently approached and answered. Eduard entered the room. He and Cameron shot each other a look as both of them looked at the phone in her hand.
“What?” she asked and tossed Eduard his phone. “I don’t want to know why my mother is calling you. It’s probably best that you don’t try to explain that.”
Eduard didn’t respond, and he didn’t want to tell her that her mother called him regularly to discuss her. He didn’t want his daughter in law to believe that he actively spied on her like her mother did.
Eduard and Clarissa had discussed their lives and families on a regular basis since the wedding of their children. They were both widowed parents, they got on well, and they became close over the years. Clarissa gave him good advice about his public image and politics that he would have gotten from his wife had she lived. Talia’s mother was a wonderful publicist by default of her years in Hollywood and in the public eye. Whether it was in the movie business or in Moscow political circles, Clarissa Anderson had good advice for those who needed to speak carefully in public. She knew exactly how to say something without offending any of the groups who vied for “equal” treatment around the world in the modern era. Over the years, the two had become close friends and allies in the area of handling their combined families in a dangerous world.
Eduard had long since guessed that Talia would fly off the handle over him talking to her mother, but he felt it was a necessary connection. He kept up with the happenings in the younger woman’s life. She was like a daughter to him, and he was raising her daughter. Her mother told him many things over the years to assist him as he tried to relate to both Talia and Anya. He was at a loss being male, widowed, and for lack of a better term; a dude. Talia’s mother was his advisor on how to relate to the women in his family. He and Clarissa would sometimes talk for hours about the girls and the world, but the minute the Alder Nation or Percival was mentioned, she excused herself and got off the line. He had never decided whether it upset her, or if she was keeping something from him. She was an enigma to say the least, and he had accepted that as part of her unique personality. After Talia’s discovery of the tracking device in her ring, he wanted to know what her mother’s secrets were, and why she would do something like track her daughter, but he didn’t want his daughter in law to know of his personal concerns about her mother, he promised to keep them to himself.
“She calls me sometimes,” Eduard replied.
“Sometimes? How often is sometimes? Holidays? Special occasions? Three paranoid calls a day? What is sometimes, Eduard?”
He hesitated for a moment. “Sometimes. She calls when she knows that we are to see one another. She does not like to ask you how you are or get into a deep conversation with you, because you lose your temper with her easily. Therefore, sometimes she calls me. We also talk about my public image as it relates to my work. You are not the only topic of conversation between good friends.”
Talia had always been harsh with her mother when it came to her personal life. She felt that Clarissa had no right to comment on her personal life, because she was her mother. She felt that at least she had a personal life; at least she used to.
She glared at Eduard. “Why would she call you today?”
“She was worried when I told her about our granddaughter,” he replied.
She was furious. “You told my mother about Anya? Why on God’s green Earth would you do that? Something like this could kill her! She’s fragile!”
Eduard wondered how she put up with her daughter as independent and bull headed as she was most days. Since his granddaughter had been kidnapped, she had become entirely impossible to reason with.
“I informed her that her granddaughter was missing, and presumed to be with the Alder Nation, because I thought that she should know. You should have told her yourself. Anya is her only grandchild, as she is to me,” he said.
“I don’t think she can handle this,” Talia snapped. “Besides, she didn’t seem to know about it. Are you sure she understood when you told her? She takes a lot of meds.”
“She may have decided against mentioning it to you, because of the delicacy of your relationship. She attempts to participate in your life, however you shut her out. She tells me that she does not want to push.”
“Push? That’s not fair!” she exclaimed. “I don’t want her to have another nervous breakdown. She’s my mother, and I love her. I hate her, because she pisses me off, but I love her.”
“As much as I cannot decipher that, I believe you do not understand your mother. You refuse to believe that she has recovered,” he told her. “Her breakdown occurred many years ago when you were but a girl. She is every bit as strong as you at present, maybe stronger. You should let her help you. She is amazingly capable of handling any situation. She also has contacts all over the world, similar to her daughter’s network.”
Talia was fuming. Her mother was not the person that she wanted to help her. She saw her mother as weak.
“I’m going out to get some supplies so we can get on the road. Everyone should be ready to go when I get back. I have an appointment with Percival, and I’m not going to miss it,” she said as she stormed out.
Cameron glanced at Eduard who looked as though he could use a drink. Eduard heaved a heavy sigh and looked up at the ceiling. Cameron saw that he was trying to hold his family together, and they were fighting him the whole way. Hopefully, family wasn’t always that way.
He smiled at Eduard. “That hard headed impossible gene runs in the family, yes?”
“When I met Talia, I wondered where on Earth that personality hailed from. I had never met anyone like her. Then, I met her mother.” He paused, smiled and shook his head. “What is the American saying? The apple does not fall far from the tree.” He looked to Tyrell. “You should go with her. We may be under Percival’s surveillance here. She could be in danger, if he knows her exact location.”
Tyrell had no idea where she went. He called her repeatedly, but she wouldn’t answer. She was angry and, most likely, ignoring her phone. Cameron tracked her by the app on her phone against his better judgment, and they waited hoping that she would calm down and return safely to the hotel.
Talia returned after quite some time and announced that she had called every agency and there wasn’t a single place in Krakow that would rent her a car. She did not have an international driver’s license, and she was openly suggesting that they would cross the border with Ukraine. Given the instability of Ukraine, the Poles considered such a trip a high risk to the vehicle. She was so exhausted, that she couldn’t think any more. She needed a way to drive to Ukraine, and she couldn’t figure out how to do it. Her continuing exhaustion wasn’t helping her solve the problem in any way either.
Cameron wanted to help her. The pained expression that had settled onto her face triggered many feelings including his machismo. Against his better judgment, he would help her, even though he wasn’t sure that it was in her best interest at that point. It was a difficult decision for him to make to help her, when it might destroy her. She was indeed the most fascinating woman he had ever met, and he needed her to win this battle and rescue her daughter. They all needed that. It was the only solution to the Alder Nation and all of their family problems. To him, personally, it would be one less separatist organization wreaking havoc in the world. He was well aware that it would destroy her if she failed, and he couldn’t allow that. She was far too important to him.
Tyrell listened to her vent for a few minutes. “I knew that wouldn’t work.”
She glared at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t have a chance to,” he replied. “You ran off like always. I swear, sometimes I don’t know why I bother to try and take care of you. You are determined to get yourself killed.” He pulled a Russian Baikal 441 pistol out of his belt and tossed it to her. “Why don’t you put that up to your head and pull the trigger. It would be quicker.”
She looked at the gun, and put it in the pocket on the leg of her authentic military fatigue pants. Cameron barely noticed her secret away the pistol, but couldn’t help but realize that the pants were the only non designer clothing that he had ever seen her wear.
“That man loves you like a daughter,” Eduard said. “You should treat him with respect.”
Her head dropped. Cameron found the relationship between Talia and Eduard fascinating. She reacted to him like a young girl would to her father. He treated her precisely as a man would treat his teenage daughter.
Tyrell had his back to her as she entered the kitchen. He was staring out the window, and didn’t so much as flinch when he heard her come through the door. He was tired and she had taken him for granted. She didn’t know what she would ever do without him. He was her strength and wisdom. He was her protector and her adviser. She probably would have lost her mind as her mother had without him at her side, even when she fired him.
“I’m sorry,” Talia said. “I just can’t take this anymore. I need to find my daughter.”
“Do you want to find Anya, or do you want to kill Percival?” he asked.
“I just want my daughter,” she replied, barely above a whisper.
“I’m glad. I was afraid the hate was going to eat you up inside.”
“Percival needs to die,” she said. “He doesn’t have a single redeeming quality. He’s kidnapped Anya. I want my daughter back, but I feel like he won’t stop unless I stop him. Does that make sense?”
“I guess so. Motive is an important part of any operation. Focus on the objective. If you kill Percival in anger, you’ll never be sure whether or not you did the right thing. You have to be sure that killing someone is the only answer. You don’t get a second chance to do the right thing when death is involved.”
“I understand. I don’t know how else to end this. He has to go. He killed my husband. He ruined our lives. He stole my daughter,” she said. “What do you really expect me to do?”
“I expect you to do what is right,” Tyrell replied. “I’ve taught you the difference between right and wrong. I can’t make your decisions for you. You’re a big girl now. It’s time for you to do what you have to do. All the decisions are yours now. I have to go.” He kissed her on the forehead and left the room.
As he walked away, she jumped up from her chair. “What’s going on here?”
He turned to look at her. “I think your mother is right. You’re too close to this situation. You should let someone else take over.”
“I can’t do that,” she sobbed.
“I understand, but I can’t go with you. I love you like a daughter. You’re the only child I’ve ever raised. I hope that you don’t get hurt or killed, but I can’t go any further. I’m sorry.”
“You’re just going to let him kill my daughter?”
“I think that you may inadvertently get her killed by being too close to it,” he said. “I can’t be part of that.”
“Please, don’t leave me!” she pleaded. “I don’t know what to do without you.”
“Please, let me call someone in to help that isn’t personally involved.”
“Then I can’t stay any longer.” He walked out the door.
“I can’t believe he left me,” she thought. “I can’t believe that he just walked out on me. I thought he loved me. I thought that we were family. Now what do I do?”
Talia took the Baikal 441 out of her pocket and set it on the table. She sat stared at it. It was the gun of choice for Russian elite services. Dmitri had owned one exactly like it. Percival probably owned one too. After careful thought, she made her decision, and that decision was to find a way to Lviv and rescue her daughter. She had to focus on that single objective. The rest would have to become secondary.
“I guess it’s time I grow up, face all of my demons by myself, and take care of my own problems,” she thought.