The Terrorist’s Game
“As a woman, especially when you have children, one gets so good at soldiering on - almost too good.”
Tyrell pushed the stick to the side as hard as he could to make the 90 degree turn putting them in line with the highway below. Clarissa held on to the arms of her fold down navigator seat. Michael did the same in the pilot’s seat.
Tyrell eyed the instruments, but couldn’t understand what was happening. He hadn’t seen anything like it since his years in the military when he flew over the magnetic north pole. It was as though there was an extreme change in the magnetic field around them that rendered the entire instrument panel useless, much the same as the natural magnetism of the poles threw off the compasses in the military planes.
He lined the jet up with the highway. “You chose the correct direction,” the voice said. “Your heading is 90 degrees or due east. Your altitude is less than 1,000 feet, so do not descend at this time, over.”
Tyrell sat back and breathed a little. The compass was spinning out of control the way it would over a pole, but the words of the controller eased his mind a bit. Something unnatural was causing things to happen. He had to find out what that was, as soon as possible.
Clarissa started to relax. It was true that she didn’t leave her house often. She was way out of her comfort zone, but she felt that her only child needed her help and she needed to know that her family was safe. It was the one thing more important than feeling safe in her home. Once Anya was rescued and Talia was ready to go on with her life, she could return home with Tyrell and have a normal life, locked away from the world in Kent, Connecticut. That was her happy place and that’s where she wished to be.
She was glad in a way that the events which she had dreaded for years had finally come to pass. For years, she had looked out for Talia as best she could, but purposely not spoken about her suspicions concerning the Alder Nation and Dmitri to protect her daughter. She couldn’t wait for it to end. She prayed that everyone she loved would be okay, and that her lack of action in times past wouldn’t cause anyone to die. She wouldn’t be able to live with that.
She looked forward to confronting Dmitri. He would pay for abducting her granddaughter, and torturing his father. But most of all, he was going to pay for all the hell he put her baby girl through. She would see to that.
Clarissa remembered the day Dmitri married her daughter. Moments before the ceremony, she left her daughter and party to go across the hallway in St. Barbara Church to the parlor where the men were waiting for the Priest to escort them to the nave where the bride and groom would take their vows.
When Clarissa entered the parlor, Dmitri was with a group of friends from the military and the Detective Administration. He was a stunning man, standing well over six feet tall, with dark brown, nearly black hair and piercing dark brown eyes to match. His body looked as though it had been created through hard work, maybe even steroid use. He moved with the grace of a ballet dancer, yet in a manly fashion. He was suave, yet unsophisticated somehow; the kind of man that parents dreaded their little girls ever meeting. He was the cult of personality that she had worried about her daughter dating, much less spending her life with.
He was surprised to see his new mother in law so close to the ceremony. He knew she didn’t like him. His bride had told him what a recluse and a basket case she was, locked away in the country in her elegant self induce prison. Clarissa enjoyed the shocked expression on his face when he saw her. It made her smile, because she could tell he was uncomfortable around her.
“Hello,” he said. “You look lovely today.”
“Thank you, Dmitri,” she replied, wanting to giggle at how uncomfortable he seemed. “I thought that you and I should have a talk before you marry my little girl. It’s customary where we come from.”
“I see. What can I do for you?” he asked.
“I want to give you some advice about being a member of my family.”
“As you wish,” he snarked. “But, your daughter is becoming a member of my family.”
She nearly twitched at psychotic sudden change in his attitude. She knew that there was something off about the man. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about him was off.
“I’m happy that my little girl is happy with you,” she said. “How can I put this? I only have one daughter. My only child. I lost the only man I’ve ever loved because of the spy game. I don’t like what you do for a living. Irregardless of what you call it; I call it being a spy.”
“I am an agent with the Detective Administration. I am not a spy. I investigate terrorist groups and activities. I am educated and knowledgeable. I am not some kind of thrill seeker who wants to have clandestine meetings with thugs or shootouts in restaurants. That is uncivilized.”
“Whatever you wish to believe,” she snapped. “I need to know that my only living family is safe and happy. That falls to you after today. Can you guarantee that?”
“Okay, but I’ll be watching.”
“From America?” he challenged her.
She scowled at him. “Yes. You know that I gave my daughter the rings that Benji and I were supposed to exchange at our own wedding, yes?”
“Benji’s life made me nervous. Obviously not without cause. The rings were designed by a friend of his at the CIA. They each have a GPS tracking device inside. I can monitor them from home. I can keep track of where my daughter is and can know at any time, if she’s all right.”
“Does Talia know this?” he giggled. “Because she would never forgive you.”
“No, and you won’t tell her. If you do, she will dispose of them. Then she would refuse to talk to me ever again, so I will move here to keep an eye on her. You don’t want that, do you?”
“No,” he replied. “But do you really expect me to lie to my wife? Your daughter? What kind of relationship is that?”
“I don’t trust you,” she said. “I’ll take my chances.”
“Whatever you say,” he replied.
“Then we understand each other?” she asked.
He was stunned and impressed with his new mother in law. “You intend to spy on both of us.”
“I need to know that she’s okay. The rings monitor body heat as well as having a GPS in them. If, God forbid, she were to die, I would know,” she said. “I need that.”
“Whatever makes you feel better,” he said, nervous at the idea that she was so much smarter than he thought. He had to make this woman trust him. “Do not worry about Talia. I will never let any harm come to her. I swear. She is safe with me.”
“I’m sure she will be,” she said. “You don’t want to deal with me if anything ever happens to her.”
“Are you threatening me?” he asked.
“I don’t make threats,” she replied.
“Then what are you saying?”
Clarissa walked to Dmitri. She put one hand on each arm of the chair in which he sat. She looked straight into his eyes. She was not the woman Talia had told him about, and contrary to belief, she wasn’t scared of anything in that moment.
“You’re a dangerous man,” she said, staring straight in his eyes from just inches away. “My daughter doesn’t understand that, but I do. Let me be perfectly clear. If you ever hurt my daughter; if you ever harm one hair on her head or make her cry, you will have to deal with me.”
He pushed her aside and stood up and looked down from his elevated position into her face. “And if I do not do as ordered, mother in law?”
“My daughter thinks I’m fragile. Don’t you make the same mistake.” She poked him in the chest with her finger and pushed him away. “Don’t screw with your mother in law.”
“And if I do?” he asked.
“If you ever harm my daughter, I’ll kill you,” she replied.
“What will you do, crazy woman, hire a hit man?” he queried.
“No,” she said, smiling. “I’ll kill you myself.”
Clarissa shook her head and rejoined the current situation and looked out the small side window of the cockpit at the Ukrainian countryside.
“Aren’t we flying awfully low?” she asked Tyrell
“There’s a little snow storm going on, and visibility is so low that it’s easier to stay low and follow the road,” he replied.
Michael, had always reminded Clarissa of Dmitri, therefore she never liked him. He sat in the copilot seat and studied the malfunctioning control panel while Tyrell handled the plane.
“I think that someone is messing with us,” Michael said, after running several rounds of diagnostics.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Tyrell snapped.
“I read about this in one of Talia’s trade magazines a while back,” he replied. “There’s a device created by a Middle Eastern Separatist group that emits electromagnetic pulses, by remote control. This acts like an EMP.”
Michael had a point. Tyrell didn’t understand Michael. He was a graduate of MIT and an ex-marine. He was a genius and had gone to college at 14. Talia seemed to pull his name out of a hat when she hired him. Tyrell told her that she needed to vet him carefully, but she didn’t listen. Despite her cavalier attitude about hiring, Michael had been a great assistant and bodyguard. He had eventually become comfortable entrusting her to Michael. He still saw Michael as a kid, however. It was difficult for someone his age to accept that young Michael might know something that he did not. It was merely pride, but pride is important to any real man.
“You may have a point,” Tyrell admitted. “How did they install a remote on this plane though?”
“You can do it with an app on a phone,” Michael replied.
Tyrell scoffed. “These people are in hiding. That seems pretty sophisticated.”
“It’s just programming. It’s basically a virus.”
“If they can set it up to work remotely, how does it activate?” Tyrell asked. “The plane was fine when we took off.”
“It must have an audible activation. A key word activates it. They would have to know the make and model of the phone, however. It’s high tech stuff.”
“If this happened, why now?”
“Once it’s infected, which happens by contacting the phone and most likely hearing the word hello, it can be used at the discretion of the person who controls the programming,” Michael explained. “You literally hijack the phone. It’ll work any time the phone is turned on.”
“Then one of us would have to have spoken to Percival, right?”
“Yes,” Michael agreed.
Tyrell looked at Clarissa. “Have you talked to him?”
The radio interrupted them. “You are very low I see. You should see the runway lights in front of you.”
Tyrell saw that the runway for the Danylo Halytskyi International Airport was right in front of him. He activated the landing gear.
“I’ve got it tower. I’m lowering the landing gear now. I still have no instruments, so I need altitude and distance readings.”
“Two kilometer distance and altitude 300 meters.”
“Have you talked to him?” Tyrell asked her again.
“Yes. I talked to him before I landed in Krakow.”
Tyrell glared at her. “Give me the phone.”
She handed him her phone.
He grabbed the phone and handed it to Michael. “Throw it out the window. We’re barely above the ground.”
Michael forced open the side cockpit window and threw out her phone.
Tyrell heaved a heavy sigh, but then looked at the control panel. The landing gear wasn’t moving. He didn’t hear it, so he knew the readings were true.
“The landing gear isn’t coming down.”
“Are you sure?” Michael asked.
“I didn’t hear it.” Tyrell grabbed the mike. “Tower, we have no landing gear, and we’re on final approach. Please advise.”