Anton, alone in his office, after Zinovy has left for Canaveral.
Anton Vasiliev sat at his desk and studied the peeling wallpaper beside the large plasma screen affixed to the wall. The week had not gone well. Why did everyone in the agency seem to be at odds with him? His attempts to promote solidarity in the department consistently met with opposition on all fronts. He didn’t understand the resistance. He’d earned the right to be deputy chief. But taking control was proving to be more difficult than earning the right.
He leaned forward and re-read the reports on his desk. One of his moles was dead, his body thrown in the bushes near the apartment building that both Zinovy and Nadya lived in. A simple mugging, from the signs of it—someone after drug money. Anton would have suspected Zinovy of doing it, but the man had been stabbed, and Zinovy’s phobia would have kept him from using a knife.
Then Zinovy had been yanked out from under his jurisdiction—hauled off to the International Space Station before Anton could plan his next move. The reassignment coincided too neatly with the trouble Zinovy was in. Some strings had been pulled, for sure. It would be harder for Anton to accomplish his mission with Zinovy working so far away. Harder, but not impossible. Anton tapped the desk with his pen and turned the page.
And the girl. She was the biggest problem. They’d wasted two days wandering around in the rabbit warren of the local municipal bureaucracy trying to figure out which corner of which municipal landfill her body might be in, then another three days looking for her in mounds of soggy diapers, used condoms and leftover cabbage stew. The girl was obviously still alive, but she’d dropped off the face of the planet.
Anton swore. The proceedings would have gone smoothly if it weren’t for that one incompetent mole and a sleazebag meth addict who couldn’t afford his next fix.
Anton sat back and folded his arms across his belly. His plans could still be accomplished. He’d need to call in some favors, a matter of making a few phone calls, and it would take a little longer than he’d hoped. He looked at the calendar and calculated the time. Three weeks. It could all be over by April. He could start the New Year fresh.
Anton smiled. Three simple phone calls and the Zinovy-era in the FSB would come to an end. His psychological stranglehold over the agency would be broken. With Zinvoy out of the way, Anton’s power in the department would finally be absolute. Anton’s star was rising. But his greatest satisfaction came from knowing that the process would inflict an extreme amount of pain on his enemy.
He picked up the phone to make his calls, one to Babylon, one to Baikonur, and one to Kiev. Then he made a fourth call to Canaveral, just in case