The Sequel to Zhena
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A normal life, Susan truly wondered if she’d ever have one again. A year ago she discovered the truth, that everything she believed about herself and her entire life was a lie. Up until that fateful day, she was an ordinary housewife who was raised in an orphanage, had attended Purdue University and was happily married to a Naval Officer with two children. Then she received a mysterious phone call and nothing was the same. She began to have flashbacks to events she didn’t remember and also seemed to suddenly have amazing martial arts and weapons skills. Most importantly, she discovered “the voice”, a mysterious person inside her head who began giving information and advice in stressful situations. All of this forced her to look into her past only to discover nothing about her childhood was real, at least not for her. At one time Susan Carlisle had existed. After leaving for college she was “replaced” by Sasha, a trained agent from the Soviet Union. Now Susan knew that she was originally Sasha and the Russians wanted her to start working for them again. She was barely able to keep her family safe as well as ignorant from the truth while she fought the Russians off.
A year later, things seemed to have returned to normal. Her family still doesn’t know the truth and Susan has neither heard nor seen any indication that they are still looking for her. That is until she receives a mysterious communiqué from Vladimir her old handler and her life is once again thrown into turmoil. She will quickly discover that the agents after her this time are better equipped, trained, and organized than before. It will take all of her skills, many of which she still doesn’t fully understand, to protect her secrets, keep her family safe and rescue her friends from danger. She will also gain further insight into the true nature of the voice, the mysterious mission it keeps talking about, and her past.
Jonathan was growing impatient. He was unsure how he felt about his current situation. Up until a few days ago, he was living peacefully in retirement. Then he received a very surprising message. A message from someone he was certain was dead. Many years ago Vladimir was his contact on the other side. They often shared information when it was tactically profitable. At first, they even kept count. It was almost a game to see who could outdo the other. They both realized that while they were enemies, neither wanted the other side to gain too significant an advantage. A bal-ance of power prevented the political entities on either side from getting any crazy ideas. Plus, it ensured they both kept their jobs.
However, that all ended on that fateful day. He still remembered sitting at home watching the news. The cold war was over and America was victorious. It was the most bittersweet day of his life. Later that same day he re-ceived a communiqué. Vladimir was dead. The analysts believed it was the KGB attempting to tie up loose ends. That night he went out to dinner alone at a restaurant where they sometimes traded information. He returned on the same day every year to have meal in honor of his fallen friend.
It wasn’t long afterwards that he was removed from field work. Significant budget cuts meant he was no longer needed. Luckily, he was senior enough to keep his job until he reached retirement age. Having some dirt on his superiors didn’t hurt either. In retrospect, he decided his time was passed and he should pass the torch on to the next genera-tion. He spent a few years at a desk training younger opera-tives and ensuring all his reports and other affairs were in order. Then he left the agency and for the first time in thirty years needed to decide what to do each day. Now he ran a successful security consulting firm for private companies. He enjoyed spending free time with his grandchildren.
The previous day he was walking home when he saw it. He nearly missed it. It was a mark on a wall that, to a casual observer, would appear to be a few stray marks, pos-sibly the remaining bits of some well-worn graffiti. To him, it meant much more. It was the symbol he and Vladimir used to use to contact each other when they needed to meet. In disbelief he ran to the nearest newsstand and bought a lo-cal paper. When he turned to the classified section his heart both leapt and sank. There was the ad he was looking for, a personal looking for a particular type of woman. In reality, it simply told him what time and place to meet. No one else knew their codes. It meant either Vladimir was alive, or someone knew more than they should.
Vladimir was now nearly thirty minutes late. Jona-than was just finishing his third cup of coffee. He wondered if maybe the marks and the ad were a coincidence. No, the odds of someone leaving those marks on the same day someone asked for a woman with those precise measure-ments were too astronomical to contemplate. Either Vladimir was alive and something happened to him, or Jonathan was being set up. In the old days, he would have taken more precautions. Now, he began realizing the several mistakes he made. No one knew he was here and he wasn’t able to conduct the checks he normally would prior to such a meet-ing. He scanned the room but didn’t see anything or anyone that was out of place. However, that gave him little comfort. He’d been out of the game so long he was relying more on instinct than memory. He decided it was best to leave. He left enough cash to cover his bill and the tip without waiting for a check.
While he was walking to the car he tried to decide how best to report this odd incident to someone still in the agency. Then he noted the odd red light on his right knee. It wasn’t until he saw his knee cap blow apart that he realized what it was. He fell to the ground a few feet from his car. The parking lot was dark and no one else was around. Whoever planned this made sure they picked a night when there was little auto or pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood. Jonathan pulled out his cell phone and then screamed as his hand was blown apart. Whoever had him in their sites was a crack shot. He heard footsteps approaching.
“Hello, Jonathan. Please stay quiet or I’ll make sure your family suffers the same fate as you. In a few minutes that won’t matter anyway. The sedative I arranged to be put in your coffee should be taking effect by now.”
Jonathan fully expected to see Vladimir as he rolled over. To his surprise, it was a young man with an athletic build whom he never saw before. His blond hair was stylish-ly cut. He was wearing a dark blue suit and a trench coat to protect him from the autumn chill. The weather in Washing-ton was colder than normal lately. Both his clothes and his demeanor indicated wealth and arrogance.
“Who the hell are you?”
“My name isn’t important. The only reason you aren’t dead yet is that I have respect for you. I’ve spent the last several months studying your reports and accomplish-ments. You’ve had a very impressive career. Unfortunately, you were the best choice.”
“Best choice for what?”
“To become a martyr. You didn’t know the agency knew about your meetings with Vladimir did you? It was kept under wraps because they decided they could use you to pass only the information they wanted the Soviets to know. Did you even realize that most of what you were passing the last few years was false? I understand why you did it. Those fools we work for don’t understand how sometimes you have to work with your enemy to preserve the greater good.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“No, I suppose you don’t. However, I feel I owe you this much.” He stooped down and leaned close. “You are going to die for a greater purpose. You spent your entire life trying to keep the other side in check, which of course means keeping our side strong. Now, in your death, you will be able to do just that, along with Vladimir.”
“You’re not making any sense, Vladimir’s dead.”
“Oh, I’m afraid not. We were just as surprised as you when we found out. In fact, he helped derail some plans we were putting in place. Now, he has forced us to create an alternate plan, which unfortunately for him includes his family. Don’t worry, your family will be safe and they’ll believe you died protecting your country, which in some sense is true.”
Jonathan tried to speak again but his speech became slurred. The sedative was working. As he watched the streetlights begin to fade, the last thing he saw was the young man point his gun.