The Terrorist’s Game
“I love to see other women in pink. It’s good for every shade of skin and hair.”
Talia was so exhausted that once again she dozed off. Cameron didn’t know how far they had yet to go, so he let her sleep on his shoulder. He looked out the window of the Niva silently at the thick gray clouds hovering over the hills that separated them from Percival and Lviv.
She dreamed she was standing in an office. Her phone rang.
“Grandfather?” Anya queried.
“Anya!” Talia exclaimed.
“Mother? Where is Grandfather?”
“He’s waiting for us in Poland. Where are you?”
“I am so sorry, mother. I am in Lviv, and it is awful,” she sobbed.
“Your father is alive?” Talia surmised.
“How did you know?”
Talia looked up as Dmitri walked into the office where she stood. “Are you in his house?”
“No, I found a way out,” Anya sniffed. “I am at a carnival in Rynok Square.”
Talia smiled. “Wait for me there.”
“What?” her daughter asked. “Where are you?”
“If you have any questions, call 2-112-765-8890.” She spoke as though she were speaking with a client so as not to alert Dmitri that she was talking with their daughter. “Cameron can assist you at that number. He is my current assistant.”
Talia woke with a start, and felt the heat rising off of her face. She was mad, because she suddenly realized that everything made sense, except that it came to her in dreams. Her subconscious was feeding her information that her conscious had blocked out. Dmitri was always a radical and wanted her to join him in his revolution. He lobbied her to forego everything Eduard believed, and ally with him alone. She had her own mind and agreed with Eduard on most things, causing a permanent rift between her and her husband.
Was it any wonder that Dmitri had hated her enough to run out on her? He believed that she was against him, because he was out of his mind with hatred against his own father. He believed in everything that his own father was fervently opposed to, simply because he felt an uncontrollable need to disagree with him. He wanted so badly to be nothing like his father, that he developed radical political beliefs to prove his point. Betrayal. Dmitri was a radical separatist, and he believed his wife and father were his enemies.
He was a deluded man, and she felt that she always should have known that he left her with aspirations of ruling the world. It fit perfectly with his personality, but she refused to see it at the time. She wanted the man that she loved, but he was but a fabrication created by the insane monster who years later held her daughter captive.
In her mind, she had been widowed by evil people with crazed ideas about ruling the world. Now, the more she thought about the conversations that they had when they were married, the more she realized that he may well not only be a member of the Alder Nation; he may be their leader, Percival.
Cameron watched her as she startled to consciousness. He waited to see what she was going to do next. She looked past him out the window. He had no way to analyze what was going through her mind. She silently watched the landscape roll by as the Niva fast approached the border at Krakovec.
The clouds were dark gray and thick as mud. The air looked cold, as though winter had already arrived, and it was only September. Snow began to fall and stick to the tall brown grass along the side of the highway, leaving the pavement black and wet, barely distinguishable from the darkened sky. It was just the beginning of the most feared season in the world. Soon Russian Winter would descend upon all of the Motherland, with blizzards, snow fog, high winds, and unbelievably low temperatures. For centuries, wars were interrupted for the Russian winter when the only winner was the cold. Even blood can’t melt Russian snow. Ukraine was no different, still a reluctant part of the harsh country even though they flew a different flag. The two countries and others would forever share the brutal winter that Russia is famous for, and it lasted for several months each year.
“You didn’t scream,” Cameron noticed. “Are you okay? Did you have a different dream?”
“Same dream. Where are we?” she asked. “How far to the border?”
“Border? No border, Jaroslaw,” the driver replied, as they passed an exit for Jaroslaw. “Ukraine, 20 kilometer. Krakovec, border.”
“It won’t be long now,” she said. “I hope there’s no problem crossing. It’s a low traffic crossing, so that’s helpful.”
“Why would there be a problem?” Cameron asked. “We have passports. That’s all we need to cross a border, right?”
She leaned toward the driver. “Passport?”
“Yes, passport,” he replied.
“Thank God.” She looked at Cameron. “That will help.”
“Are you sure about this?” he asked her.
“I had my dream, or part of it,” she said. “It was different. It’s starting to freak me out. It’s like every time I fall asleep, I have a premonition.”
“I don’t believe in mysticism,” he scoffed. “Different how?”
“Anya called Eduard’s phone this time. She told me about her father. She knew that he was alive. She said that she snuck away. I told her to call you on your phone.”
“That won’t work,” he said. “My phone just died and I haven’t got a charger. See? You aren’t psychic.”
“I gave her a number to call,” she said. “2-112-765-8890. I don’t understand, I dreamed it. Stranger still, I remember it.”
“My phone,” the driver announced, holding it up.
“Is that your phone number?” she asked him.
“Yes. You borrowed it to look at weather app,” he replied. “It was on the phone.” He pointed out the front window. “Krokovec, two kilometer.”
Cameron sat back and didn’t say a word. “How did she remember that phone number having only seen it one time?” he thought. “She’s fascinating, and apparently a numbers sevant. I wonder if I’ll ever get to meet her mother and see where she gets it from.”
Tyrell, upset that his moment with Clarissa was interrupted, sat in the copilot seat in Talia’s commandeered pink Lear jet. He looked at the instrument panel, but nothing made sense. The instrument readings were impossible. The altimeter couldn’t have been right, because it read 72,000 feet. The horizon read nearly vertical, but he could see that they were perfectly horizontal. The air speed was going up and down radically, yet he felt no change. A sensor flashed announcing engine failure, but they all were obviously working. The fuel gauge that Michael reported was currently showing half full and dropping.
Clarissa followed him into the cockpit. “What is it? What’s happening?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “None of the instruments are giving true readings. Maybe the mother board is bad. It’s not the individual instruments.”
“That can’t be,” Michael argued. “There’s more than one mother board. They can’t all be failing. Maybe a power supply? There’s not a lot of things that could cause this.”
“Would that cause intermittent malfunctions?” Tyrell asked. “Because these readings aren’t staying steady. They’re all over the place.”
“I’m not sure about that, but it can’t be a single mother board,” Michael argued.
“CPU?” Tyrell asked.
“Doubt it,” Michael answered. “Once again, inconsistency.”
All Clarissa knew was that she needed to be in Lviv. She didn’t care what part needed to be changed. She only cared about actually getting the jet to the airport. She wasn’t about to stop and get parts along the way. She had more important things to take care of than fixing the indicators. The men would just have to fly by sight. She only wanted to hear that they could land, so she could get on with her business.
“Enough!” she snapped. “Where are we? Are we really outside of Lviv? I need to find the girls! We’ll fix the plane later.”
Tyrell donned a headset. “Tower, this is Alpha 977564 Bravo, do you read?”
The reply came back in English. “We read you Alpha.”
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, Alpha; LWO. Lviv.”
“Yes!” he exclaimed. “We filed a plan from Krakow; John Paul II. Are we clear for landing? We’re having trouble with our instruments, they are not functioning accurately, and we are guessing about speed, horizon, altitude, and fuel. We need to land and quickly. I can’t get a true reading on anything. Can you give us a hand and help guide us down?”
“Roger, you are clear and I have you on radar,” the controller said. “You are showing at final approach altitude. Conditions are thick fog. Can you see anything? Do you see the airport at all? You read zero degrees, due north.”
Tyrell saw nothing that looked like a metro area. All he could see were hills and farmland with geometric fields divided by country roads and small highways. He saw the ground intermittently through the fog, but nothing of a beacon or a runway. “I see nothing that resembles an airport or a city. All I see is farms and hills.”
“That is all there is. Look for the main highway, for traffic lights,” the controller said. “You are west of the city, over cooperative farms. You will not see city lights until you are nearly on the tarmac.”
Tyrell and Michael looked out the window, but saw nothing that the controller had described. Tyrell looked out the window as straight down as he could, and finally saw life.
“I see the highway,” he announced. “We’re crossing it.”
“You must turn and follow it,” the controller instructed. “It will lead you to the airport.”
“Which way do I follow it?” he asked, as he took over the controls from Michael, and started to fly the plane.
“I have you on radar moving North. Change heading to 90 degrees,” the controller said. If you veer off course due to faulty instruments, I can reevaluate for you from here.”
He grabbed the stick and started to turn. He glanced up at Clarissa. “You should probably sit down. You might want to fasten your seat belt too.”
She did as Tyrell told her. She was frightened, and also concerned that if the jet had been tampered with, it was meant for her daughter. She worried about her girls, and was feeling a bit jealous of Eduard for being able to sit in a single location and wait on information to come to him. She much preferred sitting at her estate in Kent, gathering information through sources to running around the world experiencing the mess that was her family’s life.
Eduard was sick of sitting in his hotel suite, staring out at Krakow’s Old Town. He called Talia again.
“Hello,” Talia said.
“Thank God, I thought that something terrible had happened to you,” he exclaimed.
“Cameron sat on the phone and turned it off,” she replied. “We’re approaching the border of Ukraine. After that we should be in Lviv in less than an hour. Is there any news?”
“Tyrell spoke with your mother. She claims that Dmitri is somehow involved with all of this. What do you believe?”
“Don’t think about it,” she lied. “My mother is a crackpot, and the idea that he’s involved in this is ridiculous. I will take care of everything. Stop worrying.”
“That crackpot, as you put it, sent Tyrell after you,” he explained. “He left here about an hour ago.”
She was instantly angry. “It will all be over soon. If he calls, tell him to stay out of it. It’s my problem. I’ll take care of it. I’m a big girl now.” She ended the call and threw the phone on the seat.
“What now?” Cameron asked.
The Niva slowed down as it pulled up to the booth at the Ukrainian border. It looked like something out of the movies, with soldiers in Soviet style uniforms carrying rifles over their shoulders and wearing old military ushankas on their heads and scruffy thick beards on their faces . There was a gate with spiked strips across the road and a fence topped with barbed wire heading off into infinity from either side of the road. Talia took out her passport.
“We’re crossing the border, that’s what’s going on,” she replied. “Get your passport ready.”