'Flaps 25', ordered the pilot.
'Flaps 25', answered the co-pilot.
The Tu-154 slowed to its landing speed of 250km/h as it flared over the Bereznia airport perimeter fence, touching down with a screech of tires. As the Aeroflot jet taxied slowly to the terminal, Filipp Lukin rose out of 3A, ran his hand through his hair and adjusting his jacket, stepped out of the seats into the aisle, taking his carry on luggage from his travelling partner.
'Ready?', he asked
Yes', came the reply.
With that he walked down the aisle and followed his fellow first class passengers through the cabin door. Descending down the stairs, and walking quickly across the apron, he entered the main terminal. Passing quickly through customs, he walked outside in the main car park.
Glancing at his companion, he walked quickly towards a rather shabby looking green Yugo sedan. The driver hopped out and shaking hands, hopped back in the car.
'Ready Mr Ivanov?'
'Yes. Please go'
With that the car accelerated slowly away from the kerb, and towards the airport exit, as a black Mercedes E class limousine pulled up behind it. Emerging from the terminal, Nikolai Zaitsev adjusted his glasses, and waving his bodyguards and female companion forward, headed for the Mercedes rear door.
25 metres away, Victor Nowiki, a 36-year-old Security Service officer pretending to be a man on holidays with his wife, glanced over at the Mercedes, careful not to let his eyes linger as he eyeballed the target.
There he is. Looks younger though. Oh well, the camera will get him and we'll examine it later.
Pulling his eyes away from the target he let them sweep over the rest of the area, taking in as many details as he could in that brief amount of time, continuing to load his travel bags into the boot of his car.
Ahead of him, the Mercedes powerful engine roared to life, and headed for the exit, a chase and lead car accompanying it.
'Ready honey?', Victor asked his wife.
'Sure', she replied.
Reaching down he started his Yugo, a dark blue colour, and moved onto the road, in pursuit of the Mercedes. All around him, various other cars were doing the same, while overhead, an Mi-8 helicopter tracked the Mercedes, its crew giving directions to the ground crews, while its instruments recorded its every move.
Heading south on the National Highway 2, the small convoy of three cars moved rapidly, its tail in ever-present contact, although hanging back on the more sparsely occupied highway.
High above, a Kh-11 satellite, owned by the US Government and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), recorded the proceedings in real time from its cameras as it passed overhead, its signal being relayed by communications satellite to Northern Virginia, where it was forwarded to CIA headquarters at Langley.
'Ok, what do we have here exactly?', asked the senior person in the room, an analyst with 28 years experience.
'Well it seems like Mr Lukin has left Russia as we feared, and is either going to ground for awhile, or more likely, setting up shop in Novistrania.' replied her counterpart. 'The key is of course, what for, do the Russians know, and whether they told the Novistranians, or they have to figure it out themselves.'
'Yeah looks like that to me. Draft a report and send it up to the boss', she answered before heading down the hall to the toilet, as her fellow analyst selected the high resolution photographs, which although not providing the flow of real time imagery, where much better for detail.
While the Mercedes carrying Nikolai Zaitsev headed south along National Highway 2, the green Yugo carrying Fillip Lukin headed east along National Highway 1, and after passing through Eraliev, turned north onto the road to Nazran.
'Where did you get his car?', Fillip asked the driver as they drove through the rolling countryside.
'It blends in does it not? Isn't that what you require?', replied his bodyguard.
'But yes, not in this shitbox', he answered with a laugh.
'Well it's the best I can do on such short notice', furthered the driver from the front seat.
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