Chapter 10: Revelations
2 months earlier:
Milena stood quietly by her father’s grave, her eyes red and brimming with tears. Above her, dark clouds overlaid the night and the full moon cast its pale shadow on the cemetery. Norvan’s tombstone towered over the bouquet of flowers she’d left there hours before. The epitaph was engraved with the words, Julian “Norvan” Blagueur-Ohanyan. Husband. Father. Son. Over a month had passed since his death and still, she was no closer to the truth than she had been at the beginning. Throughout the past few days, doubt and hesitation had begun to take hold of her mind. Milena looked up at the darkened sky and sighed. “Oh Daddy…I’ve” she sniffed. “I’ve tried to learn the truth about your…” she trailed off, unable to say the words. “But it seems that I can’t. I’ve done everything I can…but now I’m starting to think that maybe Loren’s right. Maybe I’ll never know what happened and I should just move on. But part of me just can’t…I…I don’t know what to do. I just wish you were here with me.” She knelt on the ground and cried.
“You obviously loved your father very much Milena,” a voice remarked from behind her. Milena, startled by the voice, looked over her shoulder in its direction. Behind her, she saw an older gentleman standing. He was tall and lean with angular features. He wore a black, three-piece suit, tailored to fit him exactly, along with a wool overcoat. He held a black walking stick with a polished gold knob on the top in his left hand. His hair was jet black except for white streaks that ran from both temples to the back of his head. In addition to most of his hair, his mustache and Vandyke beard were also jet black. He had an air of familiarity to Milena like she had met him before, yet she couldn’t quite recall who he was.
She quickly stood up from the ground and turned to face him. “Who are you?” she asked.
“Let’s just say an acquaintance of your father.”
“A rather ancient one I assume. I don’t recall meeting you or seeing you conducting business with him.”
“I suppose it would be only natural for you not to recall seeing me. It has been over twenty years after all since your father and I last conversed. Unfortunately, our last meeting did not end how I hoped and we fell out of contact. I heard you became his business partner a few years ago.”
“Nearly ten,” Milena added.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of his tragic passing, I had hoped to reconcile with him. I’m certain his death must have been almost unbearable for you.”
Milena sighed “It has been difficult. My father he…” she paused and took a breath. “He was everything to me. I wish that I could take some solace in the fact that his murderers have paid for their actions. But instead, they’re somewhere…out there..free, while my father’s lying six feet below the ground” she remarked bitterly.
For a moment no words were exchanged between the two of them. The only sound was the wind blowing and scattering fallen leaves across the grass. Finally, Blackgaard spoke as he walked closer to Milena. “What if you had the chance to know. What would you be willing to give up.”
Milena eyed Blackgaard suspiciously, a look of realization flashed across her eyes. “Alright, let’s just stop with these games. I’m a businesswoman. I know when someone’s about to try to make a deal with me and let me guess…you have an offer which I can’t refuse” she snapped.
“I must say Ms. Ohanyan you are quite perceptive, like your father” Regis noted.
“It’s the only way to be successful in a world as cutthroat as the oil business.”
He stepped even closer to her “Unfortunately what your father possessed in perception he lacked in judgment. He never knew when to cut his losses. The last time we saw each other I told him that we were each determined to see our desires through to the end no matter what. That perhaps we weren’t so different as we thought. However, unlike your father, I know when to alter my course. How to achieve my aspirations while taking a different path. Sadly, your father never would veer from the path he had set upon and that cost him his life.”
Milena’s eyes darkened with anger and her voice rose “I don’t know who you are but if you’re insinuating that my father is partly responsible for his own murder then we’re done here.” She turned to walk away when Blackgaard spoke.
“Your father said you never ceased to amaze him. I find it hard to believe that you would be able to live the rest of your life without him having the justice he deserved.”
Milena stood still for a moment, torn whether to hear what Blackgaard had to say or continue walking away. Finally, she relented and turned around to face her uncle again.
“What’s your price?” she demanded.
Blackgaard retrieved a sealed envelope from the inside pocket of his overcoat and handed it to Milena. Milena opened the envelope and pulled out the paper concealed inside. She unfolded and read it. After she was finished she looked up at Regis.
“This is much higher than what I was expecting.”
“The great cost of my current research necessitates such a high asking price.”
Milena’s expression hardened.“I’m not in the custom of giving such an amount to a complete stranger. Let alone, someone, I’m not sure I can trust.”
“My dear trust is a fickle thing. It comes. It goes. In life, I’ve found it to be rather overrated. Knowledge, however, is the one thing in the world in which its value cannot be underestimated.”
Milena relented “Fine. I agree to your terms.” She opened her coat and pulled out an envelope from her inner pocket. She held the package out to Blackgaard.
He took the envelope and opened it, quickly scanning the money it contained.
“I didn’t realize oil men, or women, were in the habit of carrying such a substantial amount with them” he commented.
“Not usually. But you never know who you’ll be able to get to talk, for a certain price. You should know.”
Blackgaard chuckled dryly as he placed the envelope in the pocket of his overcoat.
“So who’s responsible?” Milena asked, her patience all but worn out.
“Tell me, have you by any chance heard of a man named Davit Dalmar?”
Milena slowly walked down the hallway of her family home. Her mind was still spinning from Blackgaard’s revelation. For the past month, her whole focus had been on learning the identity of her father’s killer, yet she had been unprepared for the weight of that moment; to learn not only who killed her father but that the person responsible for his death was one of the most wealthy and influential people in Krudia, a leader of his own new political party. Milena had expected to feel a sense of closure, instead, she now had more questions than ever. She couldn’t comprehend why Dalmar would take it upon himself to kill her father. She knew there had to be a motive, a reason why, a story. A missing piece of the puzzle, and she was determined to find it. Milena turned left down the hall and walked into her father’s office. She quickly went to his desk and started rummaging through the dressers. There has to be something…anything here. She frantically scanned all the papers and files but didn’t find anything relating to Dalmar.
Milena turned her attention to the bookcase on the left side of the office and quickly began to rummage through every shelf. She soon came to the last filled shelf and removed every book and file. Milena poured through them but still found nothing. She threw the papers to the side of her and collapsed to the floor sobbing. For a while she stayed on the floor, trying to regain her composure. After some time had passed she wiped her face and began to stand up from the wood floor. At that moment she noticed that one of the screws looked different from the others drilled in place on the back of the bottom right shelf. She scooted closer to the shelf to get a closer look. Upon further inspection, she realized that the screw was actually a keyhole.
Milena’s heartbeat quickened and her eyes widened at the site. She quickly retrieved a lock pick and started desperately picking the lock. After some time and much effort, Milena finally was able to unlock the back of the bookcase shelf. She set the lock pick aside and swung open the back. Milena quickly reached back into the opening of the shelf and pulled out a USB flash drive.
She stared down at the flash drive in her hand for a moment and then hurried to the computer located on the office desk. She turned the computer on and inserted the flash drive into the USB port. Immediately a document file appeared on the screen. Milena read the first few lines and soon realized it was a collection of journal entries by her father over the last seven years. Her eyes widened as one particular name came into view, Davit Dalmar. She felt her throat constrict and a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She took a deep breath and apprehensively continued, carefully reading every word.
In the file, Norvan had meticulously detailed every one of his dealings with Dalmar and various other associates. The document also outlined Dalmar’s objectives and course of action. The words “KFL” and “arms deal” regularly appeared within the journal. To her greatest shock, Milena read detailed plans for the removal of several prominent Krudian figures, whose deaths she recalled being intensively documented and investigated yet never solved.
She took a step back from the computer and glanced through the office window. Nothing made sense to her anymore and she felt as if her world had been shaken to its very core. A wave of conflicting emotions washed over her as she recalled the words spelled out before her eyes. Try as she might to reconcile what she saw with the image of the loving father she had known all her life, she couldn’t. She had questions neither time nor her own reasoning could answer. She needed someone, anyone, to give her the answers she desperately longed for.
Elias walked down the hall of his apartment to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and grabbed the milk container. A sudden feeling washed over him that he wasn’t alone. He slowly turned around and saw a young woman sitting at his kitchen table. She had long flowing brown hair and was dressed in a leather jumpsuit. He couldn’t make out her face as it was obscured by the shadows and the darkness of night.
“Who the heck are you?!” he called out. The woman stood up and walked closer to Elias. Soon they were standing eye to eye.
“Listen, this is what we’re going to do. I ask questions, you answer them. Got it?” she stated assertively. They stared at each other in utter silence for a few moments. Elias suddenly grabbed the woman’s arm and attempted to flip her over to the ground. The woman quickly realized what he was trying to do and brought her right knee to his groin area. Elias screamed and doubled down in pain. He reached behind him and grabbed a knife lying on the kitchen counter. He swung the knife back and forth in the woman’s direction. The woman weaved and ducked to avoid the blade being wielded towards her. She then dove and slid on the tile through Elias’ legs. The woman quickly stood up from the floor and ran towards Elias. Just as she reached him she jumped and flipped in the air, wrapping her legs around his neck. The woman quickly grappled his neck and spun to the side, sending Elias to the floor. The woman walked over to Elias and put her forearm to his neck.
“Understood?” she forcefully asked.
The man swallowed heavily “Understood.”
Elias and Milena sat on opposite sides of the table, the tension between them almost overwhelming.
“So are you one of Dalmar’s people, come to finish the job?”
Milena sat there silent for a few seconds. “I’m not working for Dalmar. I’m here for the truth,” she finally answered.
“Yes. About what happened between Davit Dalmar and Norvan Ohanyan. What their goal was…why Dalmar had him killed.”
“How did you find me?”
“The details aren’t important. I saw your name somewhere and needed answers. That’s why I’m here.”
“Usually a person like yourself, so desperate to have answers to certain questions, is rather close to the person it concerns,” Elias remarked, rather certain of the identity of the young woman seated across from him.
Milena looked Elias directly in the eyes.
“I suggest you stop talking about me and rather start answering my questions.”
Elias crossed his arms and sat farther back in his chair “Fire away.”
“Why did Norvan and Dalmar partner together? What was their goal?”
He smirked “The goal of any ambitious revolutionary – change, freedom, a better nation. They each saw the state of things in Krudia and thought they were the answer. They each felt that they were much more competent than those in office to run the affairs of the country. Since you’re here I assume you know about the KLF.”
“Yes. I am aware of it.”
“To most of Krudia the KLF has merely just been around for a handful of months but in actuality, it’s existed for years as an underground political faction. Davit Dalmar, Norvan Ohanyan, and I founded it about 7 years ago.”
“How did you all even come about to the decision to start your own political party?” Milena inquired.
“Norvan, Dalmar, and I were acquaintances who would often convene to discuss recent political events and the like. We each firmly believed that Krudia would always be stuck in the past, that the economic and influential state of the county wouldn’t change unless there was a radical change in government. Damar approached Norvan and me and told us that he had decided to form his own political faction and offered us the opportunity to join him in this endeavor. Naturally, we couldn’t say no to such an opportunity. We planned once we had gained enough support to present ourselves to the general public and run for positions in parliament.”
“What I don’t understand is if Norvan and Dalmar were so close, why did Dalmar have him killed?”
“Long story short he viewed Norvan as a threat. As time went on their relationship began to fray. They started to differ on how they thought the KLF should be managed and what their course of action should be. Norvan wanted to move forward as fast as possible while Dalmar was more cautious and believed in playing the long game. Eventually, Dalmar began to believe Norvan was trying to question his authority and thought it best he was removed.” Elias pulled up his shirt and revealed a bullet wound in his abdomen “Dalmar tried to take care of me as well. I barely escaped with my life. Thought it best to stay off the grid…so you understand why I was a bit rattled when you showed up.”
Milena glanced out the window and then back at Elias.
“But what of…” her voice quivered.
“But what of what?” he asked.
Milena reached into her pocket and pulled out a slip of paper, which she slammed on the table in front of Elias.
“This! This list of people!” Milena felt her breath and heart rate quicken, a surge of anger nearly overcoming her.
Elias stared down the paper and then back at her.
“All these men and women you all arranged to have ‘removed.’ What am I supposed to think?” She paused and then continued “All that’s been echoing in my mind is ‘Milena, your Father was a murderer!’”
“None of us ever took any pleasure in the demise of these people” Elias responded.
“Never took any pleasure” Milena replied mockingly, as she found herself in a state of disbelief by his words.
Elias continued, “Rarely has any country changed for the better without sacrifice or bloodshed. Look at the United States, it’s now one of the greatest nations on earth. It didn’t become a nation by King George peacefully agreeing to let colonies form their own country. It became a country because the colonists realized those in power didn’t understand the affairs of America and were indifferent to the voices of its people. They took action. Look at the Boston tea party. They threw millions of dollars worth of tea to protest the government. They fought a war to achieve the country and freedom they wanted more than anything. Would you call the patriots murders or vandals simply for choosing to stand up to their corrupt and incompetent leaders? If you take a close look at the annals of history you’ll see that revolutionaries often pursued a course that would fall out of the straight boundaries of the law for the greater good. Your father was such a man.”
Milena sighed, her mind was spinning. She felt conflicted and confused. She had hoped to have clarity by coming here but now her thoughts and emotions were more muddled than ever. “I always believed in my father, in everything he did. But this…I…I’m not sure what to think or make of it. Over the past few days, nothing seems to make sense anymore.”
“The same way your father wanted the best for you, he wanted the best for his country… no matter the cost. No matter what had to be done. You should be able to understand that.”
“I…I don’t know. When I close my eyes one moment I see his face and then the other…all this.”
They sat in silence for about a minute before Elias spoke.
“You know your father…he would go on and on about how much you were like him. Your spirit, your courage, your tenacity. All of that you inherited from him. He also spoke of how you always strived to follow in his footsteps. To continue his legacy. I can’t help but feel that deep down you know the truth, you know what you have to do, but your reservations and fears keep holding you back.”
“What are you saying, that I should pick up where he left off?”
“Why not? From what your father told me about you, Milena, you have all the capabilities and skills necessary to lead this country. And I would be able to help and advise you in any way you needed.”
“The current situation of Krudia hasn’t escaped my attention. I’ve known that things have had to change for a while. But I never imagined myself in a position of leadership.”
“Most of us never do, but there comes a point in our lives where we can’t sit back anymore. We have to take action.”
Milena sat forward in her chair and placed her arms on the table, “Of that, I am well aware. It’s just that my only goal is to make Dalmar pay for what he has done to my Father, not replace him.”
Elias leaned forward also, matching Milena’s intense gaze with one of his own, “Maybe it’s time you started rethinking that.”