DEMYAN ZAKHAROV, Special Forces Agent for the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency, stood a ways away from the chaotic scene unfolding on the other side of the Potomac, smoking a Belomorkanal papirosa cigarette laced with a touch of marijuana.
Not too much. But just enough to take the edge off. He needed it. He was feeling the pressure.
Every mission was dangerous. That came with the game. But this one, had already, in its opening phase, taken a disastrous turn. He couldn’t afford any more mistakes.
At the same time, however, as he watched the assembled masses below, he had to admit being amused by the fuss being put on by the local authorities for this particular dead man. Especially, a dead man they considered a criminal and a traitor.
He took a deep drag on the cigarette, a favorite in his very rural homeland of Gvardeyskoye in the Bagrationovsky District of the Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia. He tilted his head backwards and blew the smoke out, letting it drift upwards towards the heavens. If there was such a thing, he thought as he gazed at the silvery twinkling stars shining in a sea of blackness.
He’d long ago abandoned his religious upbringing. His family had been members of the Teutonic Order, up until World War II when the area was taken over by the Red Army and given to the Russian Soviet Federation.
Most of the ethnic German families in the area had fled. But his remained and were forced to capitulate to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Which brought him to where he was, tonight.
He’d been around ten when he’d witness one of the black robed, squalid faced, old priests forcing himself on one of the young choir boys. He’d ran home and told his mother and was overheard by a devote neighbor and it was he, not the priest, who’d been punished.
His boss, Sergei Ivanovich was his brother’s enforcer. A fact not lost on him. He knew that neither Sergei nor his brother, the Russian President, were going to be either satisfied or amused by what he’d had to do. They were going to be trouble.
As he was watched, a black American government SUV pulled up to the scene and a tall gray haired man, whom he recognized as Malcolm Mavis, the White House Chief of Staff, had gotten out and walked slowly over to the person in charge of the night’s operation, the FBI Director.
Zakharov raised a pair of Leica Noctivid binoculars to his eyes and tried to read the Director’s lips. But, obviously, she’d been at her job for a while and was well educated on the dangers of sharing case details in public. She kept her head down while she talked.
Zakharov held the expensive binoculars in his left hand as he drew another puff on his forbidden cigarette.
Come on, he thought, raise your head korichnevyy sakhar (brown sugar).
But Marlene Loudoun continued looking at the ground as she spoke to Malcolm Mavis. That told him that she was aware that there might be News cameras aimed at her and the White House Chief of Staff and that they didn’t want anyone knowing what they were saying. Which meant that there was something to be said.
After a few minutes more, Zakharov yanked the binoculars from his eyes, cursing in Russian.
Tall, close to six feet, with broad shoulders, and dark brown eyes, Demyan Zakharov was often mistaken, even by some of his own countrymen, for the American actor, Vin Diesel. A mistake that he secretly loved and encouraged by shaving his head and doing strenuous daily workouts.
Thinking about what he’d had to do, and what Sergei and his brother would do to his family if he failed, Zakharov raised the binoculars to his face once again before leaving and caught Malcolm Mavis as he turned to the FBI Director and asked, “She shot the poor bastard?”
Zakharov smiled. At least, he’d gotten that right.
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