The Terrorist’s Game
“I’m not boring to be around. Something will always happen.”
The border crossing, as intimidating as it was sat in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It looked more like the entrance to a secret military training ground, and the group wouldn’t have recognized it as a border crossing if it weren’t for the big sign that said it was the Ukrainian-Polish border at Krakovec. The snow was falling fairly steadily and there was no traffic at the border, meaning that the attendants would have plenty of time to focus on them, which was not what Talia was hoping for. Lines would have meant anonymity for them. If they were trying to pass many people through the border crossing, they would pay far less attention to them.
The driver pulled the Niva to the booth as the soldier indicated where he seemed to be alone. There was not another guard visible from the vehicle, and there didn’t seem to be a Polish checkpoint for the opposite direction, which seemed odd. He did, however, have a large rifle over his shoulder that he level at the Niva as it slowly began to move. When the driver pulled up, the large man in the Soviet style military coat, smiled and greeted him politely. Talia sat nervously in the back seat next to Cameron. She hoped that the border check would go smoothly, but she had a gut feeling that it would not be so simple. She glanced down at her purse by her feet, which contained the Baikal 441 pistol. It was loaded and the safety was off.
“Passports please,” the soldier said in Polish.
Talia handed hers and Cameron’s passports to the driver who handed them to the soldier. The man looked at each one, and he looked through the windows at the person in the picture for each. He looked at the driver’s passport last.
“It is expired,” the soldier said.
“Damn,” Talia muttered under her breath.
“What?” Cameron whispered. He didn’t understand Polish.
“His passport is expired,” she replied. “We’re screwed.”
“He is my driver. He won’t be staying in the country,” she explained.
The driver motioned her to quit talking.
“Maybe you should let him handle it,” Cameron whispered.
“I was trying to tell him that he’s my driver. It should work.”
“Has it ever worked before?” he asked, sarcastically.
“I don’t know; I’ve never tried it,” she snapped. “I normally fly. In my plane.”
The driver reached his hand back to Talia. “Diplomatic ID.”
She handed the stolen FSB badge to him, and he handed it to the soldier. They had a brief conversation that she wasn’t able to hear. He asked her, “Where is the President Elect?”
“He traveled ahead to Lviv,” she lied. “We are to meet him there, along with the other parties for the meeting.”
The driver leaned out the window to talk to the soldier. A moment later he turned to Talia again. “Why is he in Lviv? Why not Moscow?”
Cameron grabbed her hand, nearly crushing it. He looked at her with wild eyes. She pulled her hand away with great difficulty and glared at him. She turned to the driver. “I can’t say. Classified.”
The driver stuck his head out the window to speak to the soldier once more. After a couple of minutes, the soldier came to Talia’s window and motioned her to roll down the window.
“Yes?” she asked.
“The driver cannot cross,” the soldier said. “You will have to make other arrangements for travel.”
Cameron grabbed her arm. “What?”
“He says the driver can’t cross.” She looked back to the soldier. “Please let him drop us off at our destination. I have no way to make other arrangements. I am so sorry.”
“He cannot cross,” the soldier repeated. “I have orders. It is my duty.”
She rolled up the window, gesturing to the soldier to wait. “Okay, now what do we do?” she asked the men.
“We could drive away,” the driver suggested.
“Are you crazy?” Cameron gasped. “He’ll shoot us.”
“How far is it to Lviv?” she asked the driver, ignoring Cameron.
“Not far. I have been many times,” he replied. “It is close. A few kilometers.”
“Is the soldier alone?” she asked. “It appears so.”
The soldier was getting impatient, tapping his foot on the ground and grasping his rifle tighter.
“Yes,” the driver told her. “There is nothing here but one guard. That is normal. Not a lot of traffic at this crossing.”
“You said you’ve been to Lviv many times?” she asked. “You are sure you know the area well?”
“Yes. My cousin lives in Lviv,” he said. “Every holiday, back and forth.”
“Do you know a quicker way?” she asked. “Something besides the main road?”
The soldier tapped her window again. She motioned to him to wait a minute again.
She turned to Cameron. “Stay calm, and don’t do anything.” She looked at the driver. “If I get us past the border, can you get us to Lviv, before someone catches us?”
“What?” Cameron gasped. “Have you lost your mind?”
“Yes, I can,” the driver told her. “Especially in snow. Government vehicles have bad tires.”
“Follow my lead,” she said. “Put it in gear and go when I say.”
“You can’t be serious,” Cameron snarked.
“Do you have a better idea?” she asked.
“There has to be one.”
“There’s not,” she said to Cameron. She turned to the driver. “Are you ready?”
“Yes maam.” He slipped the Niva into drive.
Talia turned to roll down her window and found the barrel of a AK-74 rifle tapping on it. “Yes?” she asked.
“Have you made a decision about the matter?” the soldier asked. “I must file a report.”
“No we haven’t,” she answered. She reached into her purse and grabbed hold of her Baikal pistol.
“Get out of the vehicle,” the soldier ordered her, stepping back a bit and taking aim with the AK-74.
“What the fuck?” Cameron whispered.
“He wants me to get out of the car,” she snapped, eyeing the soldier carefully. “You need to stay calm.”
“Get out!” the soldier exclaimed. “Now!”
Talia flashed him her most charming smile. “Sorry, but no.”
“I said, now!” he yelled, pointing his AK-74 at her nose. She could see that the safety was still on, so she had to move fast. If he realized that it was on, he would surely turn it off.
“What are you doing?” Cameron asked.
“He said…” she started. The driver watched her in his rear view mirror. She nodded at him. “Now!”
The soldier dropped his AK-74 and fell to the ground in a spray of pebbles from the road, as the Niva bolted past him and into no man’s land through the opening left when the soldier had opened the gate. The Niva fishtailed a bit on the wet road until the driver got it under control. He broke the arm on the crossing gate for entry into Ukraine and held his foot to the floor as he drove away into the snowy abyss.
Cameron was thrown against the seat. He couldn’t see what the soldier was doing. Talia never let go of the window. The soldier ran to a camouflage KRAZ Spartan and chased them into Ukraine.
The Niva was still accelerating and occasionally losing grip on the wet road, but the truck was catching up to them at an alarming rate. The Niva was old and had lost a lot of its horsepower. Talia couldn’t get arrested at the border. She had no time for such trivial matters. She had to get to her daughter and take care of her dead husband.
She looked down. Her gun was there, ready to fire. All she had to do was shoot it.
“That only works in movies,” she thought. “No one can actually lose a pursuer in a car chase by shooting at them.”
She watched Cameron look out the back of the car at the Spartan. The driver concentrated on not crashing the car in the falling snow as he raced the truck down the highway. The Spartan approached from the back and side. She had no time. She couldn’t wait for a good idea to come to her. Neither of the men were watching as she shrugged her shoulders and took the loaded Baikal from her purse.
Cameron glanced over his shoulder at her as she hung her body out the window with the pistol in her hand. Her arm had trouble staying steady in the moving vehicle and he didn’t know what to think.
“What the hell are you doing?” he yelled. “Put that damn thing away!”
The driver took a sudden left turn onto a side road without slowing down, throwing Cameron backwards against the passenger side door, and nearly throwing Talia the rest of the way out the window. Cameron grabbed her legs to keep her from falling out of the car, as she concentrated on holding onto the Baikal 441.
She needed to do something, but she was unable to take aim at anything in the moving vehicle, so fired her gun at the tires of the soldier’s truck as best as she could, the way she had seen characters do in the movies. The border guard was trying to make the turn onto the side road after them as he saw her aiming a gun at him. She was sure she hadn’t hit anything, yet the truck ran off the road and ran head on into a tree with an alarming loud crash.
She kicked at Cameron to let go of her legs, so she could climb back into the Niva. She sat down on the seat and dropped her gun back into her purse. She didn’t know what exactly had transpired during the event, but she knew that she was free to go to Lviv. After all, that was the ultimate goal.
“Well, he’s gone,” she said, trying to catch her breath. She looked at the driver. “You can probably slow down now. He hit a tree. He won’t be going anywhere soon.”
As the driver slowed down a bit, she smiled to herself. “Not bad for my first car chase and shoot out,” she thought.
“You shot him?” Cameron exclaimed. “You can’t just go around shooting people!”
“No, I shot at him,” she snapped. “I’m a terrible shot. I didn’t come close to hitting him. He missed the turn and hit a tree. Now, sit back and relax.”
She looked out the window at the vast empty landscape ahead of them. There was nothing out there, but field after field of barley and wheat. “From the looks of it, no one will find us out here until spring.”
The driver smiled at Talia in his rear view mirror. “I do not know who you are, but this is the most fun I have ever had driving people.”
It wasn’t long before the snow slowed to a flurry. The driver said that they were only 10 kilometers from Lviv. More than a few, but not a lot, so that was good.
Talia was nervous, because it was time to deal with Percival. She wasn’t looking forward to what lie ahead. It was something she had to do. She had no choice. She was fairly certain that her dream was true and that she was going to find Dmitri in Lviv.
The driver stopped at an intersection to turn onto the road that would take them into the city. As they paused at the stop sign, a thunderous roar overhead shook the Niva and blew the crops in the field. The driver threw the Niva into park and looked out the windshield to see where the mighty wind and loud noise came from.
“What the hell was that?” Talia exclaimed.
“A small jet flying extremely low,” the driver said. “It is, how you say? Pink.”
She looked out to see the plane flying ahead of them, following the road. “Jesus Christ!”
“It can’t be,” Cameron muttered.
“What?” the driver asked.
Talia slumped into her seat. “That’s my fucking plane.”