Chapter 1

Kuzmin stood outside St Basil's Cathedral, his thick winter coat wrapped around his broad shoulders in an attempt to keep the bitter winter chill at bay. The head of the FSB was waiting for an informant, who had contacted him only two hours ago to discuss some urgent matter. Ivan had insisted they meet in person. The only problem was he hadn't appeared. Kuzmin sighed, brining his collar up around his neck. Just then, his phone rang. He checked the caller ID and answered.

"Ivan, where are you?"

"I can't make it, they know, they know about me." The young man spoke quickly, as if these words would be his last. Kuzmin could hear his ragged breathing, the fear in his voice as he relayed this information.

"They know, Sir, about the partnership I mean. There is talk of an attack on Minister Gavrik to stop it from happening. I – "

"Ivan? Ivan!" Kuzmin pressed the phone to his ear, desperate to hear of any sound, any clue that could tell him what was going on. He heard the sound of several boots and a struggle before the line went dead.

Later that morning...

The three agents sat in Kuzmin's office. The walls were decorated with various medals and awards from his distinguished career as both a military man and a spy. Sasha privately though his collection could rival his fathers, but said nothing. Kuzmin and his father had never been the best of friends, and as a result the older man had never taken to Sasha, despite the young agent's outstanding work as an officer of the FSB. Meetings between Kuzmin and Sasha were never comfortable, and Sasha was glad to have his friend Anatoly there with him.

Kuzmin sat behind his mahogany desk. The expression on his face as he filled the two agents in on the events of the morning showed his anger, and an impatience to find out who had killed concern for Ilya Gavrik was limited only to the extent his career and Russia's future would be impacted by an attack. He kept most of this to himself and pressed on.

"I want you to search Ivan's flat. See if you can find any clues. These are the messages he sent to me over the past three months" he passed them to Anatoly. "This is a file containing what little information we have on this group. It's not much to go on but it's all we have. "

Kuzmin stood to his full height, and looked directly at each agent. "The partnership talks are at an early and fragile stage of development. Sasha, your father will need to be informed, I trust you will do this."

"Of course" Sasha replied. He wondered why Kuzmin was involving him in the operation. Sasha's desire to protect his family compromised him. Kuzmin spoke again and Sasha understood why.

"This goes no further. Sasha, I asked you in here with Anatoly because it was inevitable you would find out. Better to have you on the case, yes?" Sasha nodded, deciding to ignore the insinuation – he was there with Anatoly because of his family ties, not his skills as an agent. "I know the workload his heavy right now. I know that you are both tired, as are the other agents, but this is important. I don't need to tell you what is at stake."