Chapter 8 – Final
Rifling through some papers in Yevgeny Gromov’s lair revealed the list of Russian names Brody had heard earlier in the hub.
“Hey, Carrie, what do you think this is about? Any of these names look familiar to you? I heard them earlier when I first saw Gromov,” Brody asked. “And I heard them mention Saul too.”
“Saul? Yevgeny was talking about Saul?” Carrie momentarily lapsed into the confusion she was swimming in earlier. “This is a list of some of the most nefarious Russian operatives the NSA has in custody.” Her face opened up in realization. “It’s a prisoner exchange list. Saul somehow got the NSA to give up these guys in exchange for me.”
“It took him long enough,” Brody said. “What’d you say? You’ve been here 8 months?”
“Brody, you know this shit takes a lot longer in real life than it does in the movies.”
A commotion outside the door turned their heads. Yevgeny was banging about the hallway, yelling maniacally in Russian.
“Dat’v pyatak to have a Russian boy betray his homeland to take the side of American scum.” Yevgeny had Alex by the collar as he dragged him to the door. He rattled the knob and finding it locked flew into more rage. “What have you done with my guards, boy! Why is this door locked? Tell me now!”
“Yevgeny Gromov,” Alex shouted in Russian. “You have much more to answer to than taking the woman behind these doors hostage.”
Despite the fact that Yevgeny’s hand was holding Alex’s thin body nearly a foot in the air, Alex drew enough breath to spit angrily. “Do you remember a girl named Nina Arkadovna? You attended a young pioneer camp with her near Vladivostok.”
Yevgeny slowly set Alex down and loosened his grip. “Young pioneers? Nina? That was decades ago,” he said.
Alex cleared his throat and continued. “She was fifteen. Her father and your father had a falling out in the last years of the KGB. They were mortal enemies.”
“What do you want, boy? Why are you talking this ancient history?”
“Nina Arkadovna was my mother.”
Yevgeny’s eyes grew wide and realization soon replaced the confusion on his face. He looked carefully at Alex, scanning his features, recognizing more.
“I don’t know what you heard young man,” he started. “I had no choice. My father was insulted. He was raised with red kerchiefs, drums and trumpets, and he tried to raise me the same way, despite the fall of the union. I was about to be conscripted into the military. My father wanted me to be prepared. To do what I needed to do for the motherland. His enemy needed to be punished. He saw the opportunity to prepare me for war and punish his enemy at the same time.”
“So you raped her.”
“It wasn’t like that. The daughter of my father’s enemy was given to me as a birthday gift when I turned 15. She was also 15, and beautiful. Locks of flaming red hair, freckles on her nose and temples. We liked each other. I never saw her again…after.” Yevgeny posture softened and he walked closer to Alex with arms outstretched as if to embrace him. “My son, I had no choice.”
Alex shrunk back from his father’s arms and clenched his fists tight, ready for battle. As Yevgeny drew his arms up to defend himself, they heard noises coming from behind the door.
“Kerri, who is there with you? Dorogoy, let me in,” Yevgeny pleaded at the door. Getting only silence in return, he turned his body into a battering ram and tried to break in. His shoulders didn’t do the trick so he kicked at the door several times until finally the lock flew off and the door swung open.
Spent from the force of knocking the door down, Yevgeny breathlessly searched for Carrie but found no one in the room but Brody. It took a beat to recognize him.
“Sergeant Nicholas Brody, the Langley bomber, in the flesh. How is it you found your way to my little den of trolls?”
“You tell me, buddy. It was your people who brought me here.”
“That they did, welcome, welcome.” Yevgeny bowed grandly. “I must say, that little explosion, all the little explosions you were party to state-side? Sloppy, sloppy work Sergeant. Innocent women and children burned alive? All for a symbolic victory? As far as we all heard, there were no active assets at that memorial service for your Vice President, were there? The head of CIA, sure. But we all know such men are easily replaced. Was it worth it to blow away that building and all those people just to show you could do it?”
“I wouldn’t know. I didn’t do it.”
“Right. Of course you didn’t.” Gromov smiled, barely concealing his frantic search for Carrie hiding somewhere in the room. “No matter. Whoever did it was sloppy. What do you expect for tactics popular among desert dwellers? If it weren’t for the seams of black gold under their sand, those degenerates would have been eliminated decades ago.
“Now here,” Gromov gestured widely. “Here is where soldiers across the world can come to learn state of the art warfare. Much more sophisticated, much less messy. Why worry about taking out bodies when you can control minds? Win over the enemy from the inside out. Don’t you agree Sergeant?”
“What I see is a cartoon villain spewing nonsense,” Brody said. “It took me a while but I see what you’re doing with the spread of propaganda and misinformation. Spreading poison among Americans, dividing us, building hate.”
“Yes, poison. Perfectly legal poison and quite lucrative to your fellow countrymen. An enemy welcoming us with open arms. Even you have to admire such an efficient tactic of invasion.” Yevgeny cooed. “Gone are the days when you Neanderthal Marines marched in with your guns blazing. Six inches of kevlar not enough to protect your delicate American hides.”
Yevgeny paced the room, still searching, but gesturing grandly at the same time. “You who come from people who tamed a land of empty spaces, conquering nothing but indigenous savages, unwilling and ill-equipped to fight back. You think that makes you arbiter of all of civilization, policeman to the world. What do you know of the poets, playwrights, genuine sportsmen of a royal lineage like mine? I am great grandson to prima ballerina Mathilda Kschessinka.”
“Kschessinka? The Polish dancer?” Carrie said, appearing from behind a wardrobe. “I’m sure keeping company with Nicholas II had a lot to do with her rise among the intelligentsia.”
Brody turned dramatically to shoot Carrie a look of disbelieving admiration. She met the look with “What? I told you a long time ago. I know things!”
She turned back to Yevgeny. “Russian imperials contributed nothing of lasting importance to this country or to the world. Grand balls and grand gowns and grand palaces, pederasty, inbreeding, excess. There’s a reason they met their fate under Bolshevik bayonets. Just as there is a reason the Cold War met its fate when the Berlin Wall fell. Ruling classes fall for a reason. Power changes hands for the good of everyone.”
“So intelligent, yet so naive, my little Kerri-enka,” Yevgeny mocked. “Power does not move of its own accord, it is lost by stupidity and taken by force. Your Marine knows that all too well, I’m sure.”
“Hey, the only power I had to exert as a Marine was to make it out alive. And we’re not that different, you and I. You’re just one man, despite your bejeweled family tree. One man with one mission. My mission is to get Carrie out of here. Yours is to get your guys out of the States.” Brody softened his tone and pleaded. “Look, you can still get the prisoner exchange you want without ever handing her over. Let her go. And we can all be free of this.”
To the surprise of everyone in the room, Alex came out from behind a curtain holding a cast iron poker, poised to strike Yevgeny.
While Yevgeny was turned towards Alex, Brody noticed several firearms in an array on a large desk. He sidled over a few feet to put himself between Gromov and the guns. Gromov was inches away from the desk himself and from grabbing one of the guns and finishing them all. Carrie silently acknowledged Brody’s motion and moved closer to the door.
Brody picked up a particularly heavy looking gun and struck the barrel of it against the back of Yevgeny’s head. Yevgeny was knocked to his knees. He stumbled up to standing and reached for a gun as well. His movements proved too slow for the lightning fast reflexes of a Marine. Brody knocked Yevgeny’s arm away from the gun, losing his own gun in the process. Their weapons gone, both men were now down to hand to hand combat. In a quick powerful stroke, Brody struck Yevgeny’s throat directly above his larynx. He knocked him on his back, and with one arm firmly lodged over his windpipe, proceeded to pummel with his fist. After several rapid-fire blows to his face, Yevgeny stopped resisting. He lay bloodied and motionless. Alex stood over his father’s body and slowly let the poker fall from his hands.
Brody quickly rose and swung an arm around Carrie’s waist. They both started for the door when Carrie stopped. “Wait, Brody, we need these.” Brody followed Carrie’s gaze to the remaining firearms on Yevgeny’s desk. Carrie handed him one and took one for herself. “Come on, Alex, we have to get out of here.”
Alex held his gaze on his father’s lifeless body for a bit longer. He finally shook himself out of it and scrambled to join Brody and Carrie. As they all headed to the door, Carrie and Brody glanced at each other and without saying anything, pulled a large bookshelf down over Yevgeny’s unmoving body.
“For good measure.” Carrie smiled.
Carrie, Brody and Alex climbed to the stairs up. Leiming met them at the top.
“Brody, you want to tell me who these guys are?”
“Of course, I guess now’s a good time an any for introductions. Please meet my students. Alex and Leiming. They’ve been instrumental in allowing us to blow this joint.”
Brody looked at the boys. “You guys ready to give up the misinformation game?”
Leiming drawled. “Yeah, it’s not as glamorous as it seemed in the brochures.” He opened the door so they could all climb the final flight of stairs to the rooftop helipad.
“Don’t tell me you guys know how to fly a helicopter too?” Brody asked.
They got closer to the whirring machine and saw the shift supervisor behind the controls. “It’s all making sense to me now.” Brody said behind a smile.
They all boarded the helicopter and flew away to freedom.