“Have you spoken to Matthias?”
Ya’ara and Aslan were sitting in the dimly lit bar of the Swissotel. The cadets had been released for the evening and the two of them were meeting to review and analyze the information they had gathered thus far.
“Yes, I’ve spoken to him,” Ya’ara said, stifling a yawn, her face pale and drawn. “He’s still hung up on knowing if Martina is okay. He’s refusing to face the facts—his girlfriend is mixed up in something radical and dangerous, with a Russian intelligence official running things. He still sees her through the eyes of a middle-aged lover, which is what he was in fact.”
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?” Aslan asked in amazement.
“God, what kind of a question is that?” Aslan shrugged his shoulders and Ya’ara decided to leave the internal debate about her feelings for some other time. “I sent him the picture of Ivan. We’ll see if he comes up with an ID.”
“We’ve done some pretty good work so far, but perhaps it’s time now to bring in the police, special forces, God knows who, to conduct a raid on the farm, arrest everyone there, seize the weapons, and put an end to this whole thing, which doesn’t paint a very pretty picture right now.”
“I’m not sure if the information we have is enough to convince them to take action,” Ya’ara said, ignoring the bits she didn’t want to hear. “And besides, if they apprehend Martina, her relationship with Matthias will come to light. And that would mean the end of his career.”
“Maybe it’s inevitable. He got himself into this mess by behaving like a fool. And now he has to pay the price.”
“Matthias aside, if we bring in the police at this stage, they’ll only dispatch a patrol car with two polite officers, and then they won’t find a thing at the farm. That, or the small army there will simply eliminate them.”
“But even a visit from a patrol car would deter them. They’d realize they’ve been exposed and they’d put a hold on whatever they’re planning—if anything at all.”
“And what if they don’t necessarily think like you? It could spark them into action. Make them bring things forward. What we really need is incriminating material. We can’t make do with tenuous scraps of information and conspiracy theories.” And I do still want to try to save Matthias, she thought.
“What do you suggest?”
“We need to get into the farm.”
“There are six of them. The chances of their all being away from the farm at the same time are slim. They were today, but we don’t have sufficient time or the resources to wait for the farm to be empty again.”
“You’re right. And today, too, four of them were just a ten-minute walk away.”
“We could try to waylay them if they were to return unexpectedly from the firing range.”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Ya’ara said. “If they’re coming back from the range, they’ll be armed. I don’t want any of us to have to encounter them under such circumstances. We’ll wait until we see four of them leaving, and then we’ll try to draw the other two out. We can manufacture a window of opportunity for a quick search through the living quarters.”
“What do we do if there’s a dog at the farm, or dogs?” Aslan asked. “I heard barking on our first stakeout.”
“A good piece of meat could do the trick . . .”
“That’s a gamble. A well-trained dog won’t fall for that.”
“Okay, so I don’t have answers for everything. We’d be risking it. But you’re right, the operational conditions are undoubtedly extreme.”
“Ultimately, Ya’ara, we’re here to train cadets. Don’t you think we’ve gone too far?”
“I think it’s a lot more than a training exercise. I think we’ve stumbled onto something big.”
Aslan looked out the window. Outside was as dark as the bar in which they were sitting. He wasn’t someone who tended to overthink things, yet he couldn’t help but wonder if their improvised operation wasn’t going to turn suddenly into a quagmire, and if it wasn’t time now to fill in their mysterious superiors on what they had been up to. After all, no one was expecting them to come to the aid of a German intelligence officer. Or perhaps they actually were. His acquaintanceship with Ya’ara and the time they had spent working side by side in the past hadn’t confused him or led him to believe that he truly knew her. He loved her, but he didn’t know her, not to the core. He looked again now at her determined chin. He knew she was going to press on with or without him. With him would be best.
“Listen,” he said, “the Christmas festivities are just four days away. I don’t think the timing is coincidental. My guess is that if they’re planning something, it will go down on Christmas or New Year’s Eve. A terror attack during a period that is all about celebration and family and tradition could really rock the boat. So let’s give ourselves another two days. And if we aren’t able to come up with anything, we’ll find a way to spark the police into action.”
“Agreed. I’m buying the last drink.”
“Cheers, my bro,” she said, softly and with a great deal of affection, after their drinks were served.
“To you, my sister,” Aslan responded, clinking glasses with her and downing his whiskey in one gulp.