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.Probably for what must have been the first time in a very long time.24‘The operation was aborted.’‘What do you mean, “aborted”?’ Vladimir’s temper flared.‘Things changed.’Vladimir yelled into the phone.‘Anatoly, I told you the cop must be eliminated.It was not a situation subject to change.How dare you make such a decision without consulting me?’There was a long pause.‘My old friend, I will permit you to speak to me that way this once, because I understand the pressure you are under.But do not forget what you asked me to do.’Vladimir swallowed.He’d asked him to kill a man.Something Anatoly had arranged many times before - and could do again, should Vladimir push him too far.‘Yes, I am under pressure.’ It was as much of an apology as Vladimir was capable of giving.‘Good.Now let me tell you why the operation was terminated.Our man met Zacharias at Ouranoupolis.’Anatoly is calling him ‘our’ man, thought Vladimir.Once KGB, always KGB.‘At first our man thought him not worthy of further attention and planned to let him walk away.He seemed to have lost his old edge, even allowed our man to bully him into paying a ridiculous bribe.Then, just as our man was about to turn over the package, the true Butcher showed himself.He threatened to wipe our man’s seed off the earth and pulled a gun.But our man was prepared for the worst.The canister carrying the dioxin was equipped to flood a sixteen-square-foot area with an instantly debilitating gas at the press of a button.It took down both Zacharias and our man.’Vladimir wasn’t interested in any of this.He wanted to know why the cop was still alive.But he dared not interrupt.He sensed Anatoly was dragging this out just to let him know that now he was in charge.‘Thankfully, comrades were hidden and watching from a nearby building.They carried both men to a waiting boat, administered the antidote to our man, and made rendezvous with a helicopter at sea.Zacharias awoke in Moscow.’‘Did he say anything?’‘Not at first.’Vladimir didn’t have to ask what that meant.‘Ultimately, he told us everything.’Vladimir couldn’t control himself.‘Anatoly, stop with this.What did he say? Is there a problem?’‘Not for you, my friend.’‘Anatoly.’ Vladimir’s frustration was patent.‘I just learned what happened myself.It took days to break him down.But, as I said, he broke.’Vladimir realized that the more anxiety he showed the more likely Anatoly was to drag this out.It was a torture technique.Old ways never changed.He decided to say nothing and let Vladimir ramble on until his point was made.He’d make it, no doubt he would.It was a trait common to all apparatchiks, an irresistible urge to reinforce their personal illusions of power by revealing information they alone possessed.‘He has made you a hero, my friend.’Vladimir held his tongue.‘The Butcher had followed the traditional route of manyfleeing the world’s attention.He found a perfect place to hide until memories faded enough for him to acquire a different, less isolated exile elsewhere.But the Butcher could not resist his basic nature.He came to believe that God had chosen him to change the world.Whether his thinking was the product of mad, messianic delusions or a fundamentally evil soul, I do not know, nor do I care.What I do know is that he planned on killing the abbot of our Russian monastery on Mount Athos.Our leader’s favorite cleric.’‘My God.’ Vladimir didn’t even realize he’d spoken.‘Well put.Our leader thinks of him as God’s emissary on earth today.He personally called to congratulate me for obtaining the information that saved his friend’s life.Of course, I told him it was you who actually was responsible for saving the abbot’s life.’Yeah, I bet, Vladimir thought.I wonder if you even mentioned my name.‘Under the circumstances I thought it would be unwise to kill the policeman who passed on the information that saved the abbot’s life.Although Zacharias no longer is of concern to this world - the exact words of the order were, “Send that bastard back to his maker in Hell” - passions still are running high on how close he came to killing our abbot [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]