Twelve Years ago
Avery Jennings looked out the window of the office on six floor of the United States Embassy as the CIA station chief he oversaw their intelligence operations activities here. He loved the city and the atmosphere itself. There was nothing like walking down old worn, gray cobblestone sidewalks covered with snow while passing by some trees and benches. His training through decades of his fieldwork; had taught him not to miss anything. Question everything. His moniker was the Shadow because one never knew he was behind or remaining invisible.
He pivoted walking back to his desk as his glance slept over the photograph of his daughter Mazie, she moved here after he got assigned to the United States Embassy. Sitting down in his chair behind his desk, he opened the fourth drawer on his desk as his encrypted buner vibrated, and snatched it up before he clicked the accept button on it.
“Avery”, he answered in a low soft tone.
“Avery, we need to meet. I have someone who you should meet,” Alexsander told him over the phone.
“Where should we meet? At our dead drop site?” Avery asked.
“At my mansion why don’t you bring Mazie with you? She’ll love looking out over my balcony at beautiful winter scene here,” Alexander stated in his native Ukraine accent
Avery ended the conversation as he placed it on his desk. They had never met at his mansion before, always at their dead drop site, he wondered why the change of location right away. Whatever it was it had to be vital Plus he was happy to bring along Mazie he knew she loved going to Alexsander’s mansion and standing outside on his balcony. She often told him she just loved the view from there. He rose from where he was sitting, made his way over to his safe on the wall that was behind the painting, and removed it.
He then placed it on his desk. He entered the passcode as the door clicked opened, snatched some spare mags just in case he needed and slid a fresh mag into a silenced tip Glock 21. He slipped it into his hip holster, closed the door on the safe and picked up the painting. He hung the painting back over the safe as he headed out of his office walked over to the elevator, and rode down to the main floor. He strode out and made his way out the automatic revolving doors of the United States embassy where a marine stood alert and on guard outside.
Walking over to his White Toyota Camry grabbed the door handle and opened it as he slid into the driver-side closing the door as he sped out of the embassy parking lot threading through the congested traffic. He passed by 18-century baroque buildings, he glanced sideways into his rearview mirror to see if he was tailed by the FBI surveillance team. Knowing the phones were bugged in the embassy, Avery knew it was best to use their burners if they needed to meet about something classified.
A few minutes later he arrived at his house and parked on the driveway as he waited for Mazie to come out. The front door swung open Mazie sprinted down the sidewalk in her jean jacket wearing a cap, and made her way over to the driveway. She grabbed the door handle as she climbed, closing the door behind her. She glanced over at her father in the driver’s seat and smiled at him.
“Are we going to see Alexsander dad? I haven’t been there a long time,” Mazie asked.
Yes, we are, he knows that you love looking at the view from his balcony,” Avery told her.
As they drove through the snow-covered streets of the city on their way to Alexsander’s mansion, Avery glanced over at her and hoped one day that she would follow his footsteps wherever the path took her. He was sure whatever it was she would be great at there was no doubt about that in his mind. They pulled as they drove to a hilly mansion outside overlooking uptown, stepping out of the vehicle they closed their doors behind them as they made up the pathway to the front entrance.
Armed men patrolled the massive property, MP5 submachine guns clutched in their grip with their fingers on the trigger and hardened faces. Avery figured with The Kremlin trying to retake Crimea and maybe even an attempt on Alexsander life by assassins
ordered by the Russian President. That he was being extremely cautious. The door swung open as Alexsander grabbed the door and stood in the entrance wearing his European-tailored made suit. With a gesture of his hand, he waved for them to come in quickly.
The inside interior of the mansion was elegantly designed in Ukrainian baroque style and of course, expensive paintings hung on the wall from every artist you could imagine. There was a winding carpeted staircase leading upstairs down the corridor was a massive dining room with a leather sofa and some fancy chairs.
“Come in quickly,” He told them, as he closed the door behind them as they stepped inside.
“I see you are very cautious Alexsander, you have your security agents out patrolling the property,” Avery stated.
“Mazie, Why don’t you go check out the view from your favourite balcony While I and your father discuss business,” Alexsander told her.
She glanced over to her father as he nodded at her that it was ok, after that she strolled down the corridor and made her way over to the doors of the balcony. Grabbing the door knob she glanced around the family room and was amazed at how fancy it looked. She stepped out onto the balcony, closing the door behind her. She breathes in the fresh air feeling the cool breeze of the night.
They walked down the fancy corridor heading to his den where his office was located, he grabbed the door handle as they entered his office closing the door behind them. Avery froze seeing an agent with a worn, weather face in a sports jacket. His eyes narrowed on the 50 calibre pistol in the hip holster, he knew right that it was Desert Eagle.
Without hesitation, Avery whipped out his Glock 21 and trained at the agent as he says. “ Goddammit, Alexsander he’s a foreign agent for The KGB and the GRU we can’t trust him you know that.”
“Avery, lower your pistol, please. I assure you that we can trust him. He’s an old friend, an old colleague of mine who’s risking his life to come here with something vital.”
“ My name is Roald Ivanovich Popov,” the foreign agent said in his native Russian accent as he pressed on. “ I’m an agent for the KGB.”
“Since when do you foreign agents for the KGB or the FSB carry Desert Eagle 50 calibre pistols,” Avery inquired with a skeptical tone.
“I’m not just any KGB agent, I’m a black operator and If I wanted to kill you. I would do it from an extreme distance with a 338. Lapua or 50 calibres. But I didn’t so I guess you’re going to have to trust me,” Popov stated.
Avery nodded as he lowered his pistol and slipped it back into his hip holster sat down on the chair across from the desk and asked.” So what is so vital?”
“Crimea, The Kremlin wants it and they are planning bigger t and more dangerous that’s all I can tell you,” Popov tells Avery.
“What you do means that you can tell us, Popov, There has to be more to it. Because my agents haven’t any chatter or intel suggesting anything like,” Avery inquired in a mock tone.
Popov reached into his pocket in his jacket and removed an encrypted disc as he placed it on Alexsander’s desk and says.
“Calina Ekaterina Bychov, does that name mean anything to you?”
No, it doesn’t,” Avery replied in a curious tone.
“She’s a foreign agent for the GRU, a very efficient and lethal one too,” Popov stated as he paced back and forth… Listen, the Kremlin considers her their top spymaster for a reason because she stays in the shadows and lets her agents do the dirty work.”
Avery rubbed his chin, Interesting, he thought to himself. But he could trust this black ops operator. That was the question on his mind right now. He’d known a lot of black operators when he was an agent. If what Popov said was true about Calina Ekaterina Bychov, then he knew bigger than Rick Hansen and Aldrich Ames that were two of the biggest traitors in the CIA who had sold the CIA network to the Russians. But if this intel was accurate he needed to know where she would be operating from.
“If this Calina Ekaterina Bychkov is the Kremlin top spymaster where she is running her spy network?” Avery inquired.
Popov chose his next words carefully before he spoke again. “ Everything you need to know about Bychkov is on the disc I placed on Alexander’s desk.”