Monday, 29th May 2023 - 15:37:17 pm

Rudmetkyn, the Russian 'business man,' looked for certain qualities in his assistants. They had to be hard workers, loyal and tenacious. If certain jobs came up that were not quite within the letter of the law, they were expected to perform them without question. Rudmetkyn liked to think of the two men he employed full time, the two who lived with him in the villa outside Moscow, as research assistants. Indeed, that was a very close description of the work they did.

But there was a great deal that they had to learn before they became valuable to him. They had to gain a wide circle of acquaintances in the various departments of government in Moscow. They had to know precisely how the wheels of the government turned. They had to know how to listen and how to interpret what they heard. They had to know what would be of value to Rudmetkyn.

There were two qualities that Rudmetkyn did not prize highly in an assistant. He did not like them to be too intelligent. He did not like them to be too imaginative. He, Rudmetkyn, had enough of those qualities to go around. He felt more comfortable having plodders work for him. He could never trust an assistant that was too intelligent.

Rudmetkyn had two vices. It was the job of Shavinsky, his senior assistant, to satisfy one of those vices. Three times a week, Shavinsky brought women to the villa. Sometimes it would be a redhead, sometimes a blonde, sometimes a brunette. Sometimes she would be Asian, or black, or European, or, on one occasion, she was an American. Sometimes he would bring a young girl. Sometimes he would bring a very young girl. Sometimes he would bring two women. Once he brought a mother and daughter. He once brought three women. Almost never would Shavinsky bring the same woman twice.

Shavinsky did not choose these women on a whim. He might inform Rudmetkyn what was available. That was how he happened to bring the American. But it was Rudmetkyn who told Shavinsky what he wanted. Shavinsky always delivered.

On Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday nights he drove the women in through the gates in one of Rudmetkyn's two cars. Shavinsky always used the sedan with the tinted windows. There was no need for the soldiers at the gates, or anyone else, to know who the passengers were. Shavinsky rolled down his window only enough for the soldiers to see who was driving, and he would be waved through. Since this was what Shavinsky did whether he had passengers or not, an observer could not be sure if anyone was with him or be able to draw conclusions about what was happening inside the villa. But this was Russia, the land of spies and informants. Many people in high places knew precisely what was happening inside the villa.

Finding and bringing in the women was only a small part of Shavinsky's job. He spent most of his days in the government offices in Moscow doing Rudmetkyn's leg work. After years of experience, he had become highly skilled in this work.

Rudmetkyn's younger assistant was named Borodnikoff. He spent most of his time at the villa. He was in the process of learning all the skills that Shavinsky possessed. But Borodnikoff was by no means a typical apprentice. He had skills in his own right that Shavinsky could never learn. Borodnikoff was an expert assassin, a silent killer. Rudmetkyn had gained his release from a Siberian prison to work for him.

It was Borodnikoff that catered to Rudmetkyn's second vice. He brought it to him at least six times a day. It was hot tea and sugar cubes. The tea came in a steaming glass. The sugar cubes on a plate alongside. Rudmetkyn placed a cube in his mouth in front of his teeth and drank the tea through and around it. He knew it was ruining his teeth, but it was a vice he could not break. Anyway, he thought, better this than a drug.

He had always considered the taking of drugs the equivalent of suicide. For a man in his position, a man who must live by his wits, he was not far from wrong. He had decided that, when the time came for him to die, when he knew that he was at the end of his rope, that would be the way he would go. Painless and perhaps pleasant.

But that day was far off he thought as he started his days work, a glass of hot tea and a plate of sugar cubes alongside him. There was news from Iran. This Colonel Steven Kincaid had eluded the first trap. Good. The more skilled the quarry, the more satisfying the hunt. He smiled as he thought of the elements he had put together to create this web. All he had started with was the news of the captured American agent in Iran. The facts had been adjusted slightly to make the bait more alluring. A few strings had been pulled in far away places. And everything started coming together. All this and Rudmetkyn had not set foot outside his villa.

The burly man leaned back in his chair, entwining his fingers across the stomach that was starting to bulge. He closed his eyes as he allowed himself a moment of enjoyment. It was like a web, he thought, this trap he had set for the American. It was not unlike his personal vision of his international organization. That more closely resembled a three dimensional spider web than anything else although there were many differences. Threads radiated out from a single point but they were seldom intertwined. The threads varied in length and, although all were fragile, the shorter ones seemed for more substantial that the longer.

At the end of each thread was a globe composed of mineral or metal. This was how Rudmetkyn pictured his key agents around the world. These globes also varied in size and quality according to the strength and value of the individual agent. Some, at the end of short, thick threads, were nothing but solid rock. Large rocks, true, but rock is rock. Others, at the end of the longest, most fragile threads, were globules of pure platinum. It did not follow that all the close globes were of little value. There was a globe of pure gold as near as Moscow. There was another in Warsaw, and... But he didn't want to go through the entire list.

For this bit of action he had used the FSB globe in Los Angeles. That one he had upgraded to copper, but it was much too early to place a value on it. It was an unknown quality. He had used a large rock globe in Iran, but if this operation worked out he might have to upgrade that. He had used a tiny sphere of brilliant diamond at the end of a long, fragile thread. This one was in Washington, DC. It was irreplaceable, but as long as it was there it had to be used. There was another globe in Washington, this one of platinum. It was not nearly as well placed for action, but was an excellent source of information.

At the center of the myriad of threads, this gigantic three dimensional spider web, Rudmetkyn pictured himself, guiding, ordering, manipulating, drawing from.

What was the purpose of this organization? The question would have surprised Rudmetkyn because the answer was so obvious. It was his power base. It existed only to sustain the existence of Rudmetkyn. When he died it would die with him because he would do everything in his power to prevent anyone inheriting it. It was his belief that to groom an heir was to insure an early death. Who could say he was wrong?

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