"We've still heard nothing from Moscow," said General Laura Kennedy.
President Becerra leaned back in his chair aboard Air Force One and nodded. "I didn't think we would."
"They are, however, beginning to withdraw their forces from Alberta."
"Yes, sir, but it'll still take months to flush out all the special forces. And who knows how many spies could have infiltrated the area."
"Understood. We'll work with Emerson to address that issue and the reconstruction issues. I suspect he'll be quite upset over the highway and the bridge."
She winced. "Oh, yes, sir. I'll update you again in one hour."
"Thank you, General. Now I need to call a very skilled Marine Corps sergeant who got our pilot out."
"He'll appreciate that, sir."
General Sergei Izotov massaged his bloodshot eyes as he sat in President Vsevolod Vsevolodovich Kapalkin's office.
"It's confirmed," said the president, his cheeks growing fiery red as he turned away from his computer screen. "The Romanov Romanov has been destroyed." has been destroyed."
Izotov shook his head. "She had a deal with her brother, and that fool got himself killed."
"She needs to join him in hell. I don't care how many agents you employ. I want her found. And if they can't capture her, they should kill her. Do you understand, General?"
"Completely. They'll return the body to me. I want to look into her dead eyes and be sure."
Kapalkin glanced back to his screen, began tapping away on his keyboard. "Now, there are other ways to gain control of those reserves. Has Vasiliev called you back?"
"Just two hours ago."
Alexi Vasiliev, aka William Bullard, was a Russian mole and member of the Canadian Parliament.
"How much money and time will it take?"
"He's not sure yet, but Prime Minister Emerson's handling of our invasion has been very unpopular. I'm confident that Mr. Bullard will one day become the next prime minister of Canada. But as we discussed, this is the much slower, perhaps even more expensive route."
Kapalkin nodded slowly. "Well, General, I'll leave you to your interrogations."
Izotov nodded and dragged himself from the chair. The conversation could have been handled via video phone, but Kapalkin wanted to punish Izotov for the Alberta debacle and force him down to the office.
Moreover, Kapalkin had ordered that every employee of the GRU be tested once more for loyalty-including Izotov himself. It was an act of sheer paranoia and an insult, but Izotov had his orders-and he had the Snow Maiden to thank for everything. His fingers itched to get around her throat.
At sixty-one, there weren't many things left in this world that truly moved General Sergei Izotov.
War was one of them.
And revenge was another.
The early morning flight to Cuba was thankfully brief-because during the entire time Major Alice Dennison wrung her hands and couldn't stop trembling.
Her pulse raced as she was escorted through security, and by the time she reached the interrogation room, she was sweating profusely and had to excuse herself to the bathroom.
She splashed cold water over her face, glanced up in the mirror. "Be strong."
A minute later, she was escorted inside the interrogation room, where Colonel Pavel Doletskaya was waiting for her, his hands and legs shackled, head lowered.
She took a seat across from him, plopped the file she'd been carrying on the table.
His nose crinkled. "You smell very nice, Major."
"Look at me."
He raised his head, eyes weary, face still unshaven. "Have you been crying?"
"Forget my makeup. I'm going to get you out of here."
He hoisted his brows, the color returning to his cheeks. "Where are we going?"
"Away from here."
"I kind of like it."
"Especially the food, right?"
He grinned and glanced away. "So you've reconsidered my offer?"
"Shut up, Colonel. Look at this."
She shoved the file toward him. He glanced down at it. "Interesting. A pity I can't open it."
She'd forgotten he'd been handcuffed and rose, opened the file, then placed the photograph on the table.
"This image comes from surveillance footage taken two days ago in Banff. That's in Alberta, Canada."
"My God . . ."
"Yes, she cut her hair, but she's still alive, isn't she?"
The colonel was beginning to hyperventilate.
"Calm down. I'm getting you out of here so you can help us find her-before your friends at the GRU do. She double-crossed them and the Green Brigade. She could be working for another organization more powerful than any we've encountered. Colonel, are you listening?"
He stared long and hard at the photograph, reaching out to it with his eyes. Eventually he looked up at her, those eyes now brimming with tears. "Yes, I will help you."
Dennison called for the guards to open the door.
Outside, she dialed a number on her satellite phone. "Hello, Mr. President. He's in. And no, I didn't tell him everything. We'll take it one step at a time."