John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY PEARLY GATES by Field C. Ruwe
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY
Field C. Ruwe
e-mail: Field C. Ruwe
BOOKS IN PRINT BY THE AUTHOR
Synopsis A Crime Fiction novel of 121,689 words by
A Crime Fiction novel of 121,689 words byField C. Ruwe
Ellis Prison, Texas: Condemned Death Row inmate Fisha Bayu is a thirty-year-old African male. He is on his way to Walls Unit execution chamber after being incarcerated for eight years for the murder of his foster mother, Caristo Thomas. Outside the Huntsville execution chamber, anti-death advocates call for his release and the New Black Panther clash with the Ku Klux Klan. Inside the chamber, Murdock the executioner is indignant. He is feeling anxious because he is about to execute a man he believes is innocent. As the prison van cruises to Walls Unit in Huntsville, a memory flashes in Fisha's mind, a picture of his childhood.
Tika, Zedoba (The Sudan): While herding goats in the Savannah young Fisha Bayu defeats the strongest boy in a pugilistic contest (Knuckle fighting) and assumes the leadership of the herd boys. Meanwhile in village, the Tikans are in a festive mood when a band of Moslem militias led by the most dreaded northerner called Brownbeard launch an attack. What follows is most devastating. Houses and the only church are shelled and hundreds of people are enslaved, and massacred, including the chief and Father Pompalier, a Marist priest who taught Fisha and the Tika boys how to speak English.
Four years later: Fisha is an altar boy at "Chartres Cathedral" named after the greatest of the French Gothic cathedrals due to similar occurrences. It is Palm Sunday. Hundreds of people follow a course along the main road to the church stamping their feet and singing with gusto. Fisha and the priest in-charge of the parish have disagreed over people walking en masse. The BBC has been reporting that the Moslem militias have declared jihad on the Christian south. Fisha fears that another invasion would be catastrophic while the priest wishes to uphold the traditions of celebrating Palm Sunday, even in time of war.
True to Fisha's word, militias, using Russian-made Antonov jets bombard the village. Reminiscent of the previous raid, panic sets in as hundreds of people flee in all directions. Fisha does not flee. He wishes to take a glimpse at the pilots. From underneath the jet he watches as the pilot targets the church in which hundreds are praying and releases the bomb. Miraculously, the bomb fails to explode.
The Great Trek: The war between government militias and the Zedoba Liberation Army has escalated. Another attack is eminent. The people of Tika decide to allow their children to leave the village for the peaceful country of Moshe. Fisha leads five hundred children between the ages of six and twenty-one across undulating tropical and desert ground. As they cross the River Tana the sun completely disappears. It is a weird sight, fitted to daunt even the boldest heart. In the panic some youngsters drown. Survivors trek on. After three weeks they finally arrive at the UNHCR Freedom Refugee Camp.
Two years later: The UNHCR, working with in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, agrees to resettle three hundred of the youth in the United States. An agency called Refugee Resettlement International is given the task. Its Director is a white woman called Bessie Cowrie. She originates from Houston, Texas. Known as Miss Bessie by all the refugees, she is a woman of total compassion, who provides love and comfort to the young refugees. After inheriting her mother's estate worth millions of dollars Bessie has devoted her time, energy and resources in uplifting the plight of refugees in Africa.
Fisha Bayu becomes Bessie's favorite. She has found the force of his intellect extraordinary and his moral authority immense. When Fisha informs her that he wishes to become a lawyer and confront racial tension and injustice in his country, Bessie has big plans for him. Keeping her intentions a secret she refers him to her childhood friend Caristo Thomas in Houston. The chartered flight to the United States is filled with screams, exhilaration and fear, with a lot of oohs and aahs to the amazement of a documentary maker who is filming with live narration.
Houston, Texas: At the airport, Fisha is met by Caristo and her husband Harry. Fisha immediately hands Caristo a letter from Bessie. The letter turns to be a gratuitous donation of $120,000 dollars to Fisha Bayu for his living expenses and college tuition. Bessie has attached a letter of authority and a copy of her mother's will of $24 million! According to her instructions the donation should be withdrawn and deposited in a joint account of Fisha and Caristo or Harry.
Caristo and Harry are oil magnets. Harry Thomas is the Financial Director of Welso Trading, a subsidiary of Wells Group of Companies. Carrots is a computer scientist and founder of chacer, a leading company-to-company trading site for over three hundred oil companies. But lately life has not been rosy for the Thomas's. Wells is teetering on the brink of collapse. Its company executive Director Irving Crooks has been accused of earning millions of dollars by evading US oil price controls. Oil that was supposed to be regulated has emerged through Wells Tracing's financial report as unregulated, sparking protests from competing companies. The blow occurred three months ago when Welsh's CEO fled the US, evading prosecution on numerous counts, including tax fraud and racketeering charges amounting to millions of dollars.
Harry has been caught in a web. FBI investigators have discovered that the fraud was muted by his office. The FBI have accused Harry of scheming to generate millions of dollars in unregulated oil sales. Later, an agreement is reached between Harry and the FBI that his name would be cleared if he stands witness and testifies against his boss, who happens to be his relative. Caristo's mother Clara is married to Irvin's older brother Jasper. It is due to this relationship that Harry finds himself at Welso. There is another problem, IRS has pounced on Harry, accusing him of tax invasion amounting to six million dollars. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Harry could face up to forty years in prison if convicted. Harry has been ordered to pay the money within twelve months or go to jail.
Fisha and Harry open a joint account and Fisha is enrolled at the Houston Pre-Law College. But living with the Thomases is not easy. Fisha begins to sense mounting tension. Harry is hot-tempered and abusive. One night Fisha witnesses something he has never seen before. Harry slaps Caristo in the face, causing her to bleed. Fisha opts to move out and finds himself living alone in a middle-class neighborhood of predominantly white. When three Mexicans attack him in the elevator, Fisha decides to join the Clear Lake Seidokan Club and Caristo, herself a black belt, becomes his trainer (sensei). The training coincides with Caristo's marital problems. Caristo finds herself spending more time with Fisha and their interaction has people around them talking.
Meanwhile, Harry has found a way of drawing money from Bessie's account. Using the joint account he transfers a total sum of six million dollars into his personal account before Fisha is able to tell Caristo about it. Caristo hires a private investigator. His findings point to forgery. Caristo files for divorce and moves into a condominium in the heart of Houston.
Recognition Day at Houston Pre-Law. The school would honor eighty students at a dinner sponsored by the Law Association. Fisha Bayu is about to receive an award for academic excellence. Caristo is in attendance. At the end of the ceremony there is an air of familiarity coming from Caristo like never experienced before. She is tipsy and is holding on to Fisha's arm like a lover. When she suggests that they proceed to her apartment and continue with the celebration, Fisha hesitantly agrees, but not before he drives to his apartment first. Fifteen minutes later, Fisha arrives at Caristo's apartment only to find Caristo sprawled on the bedroom floor, bleeding from the chest. When Fisha reaches for her, Harry emerges from the closet with his gun pointed at Fisha. Harry is a man gone insane. His eyes are full of terror and his mouth is foaming. He accuses Fisha of sleeping with his wife.
The police arrive on the scene and Sergeant Brown sides with Harry Thomas and both accuse Fisha of murder. Fisha finds himself in a six-by-ten cell-his new accommodation. The following day, his hands cuffed, Fisha is driven to the Houston District Court to face a vigorous federal prosecutor known for fighting homicide in Houston. Fisha is defended by his professor. When Fisha pleads not guilty, Clara Crooks (Caristo's mother) rises in support of Fisha and points the finger at Harry to the annoyance of the judge who charges her with contempt of court.
After the arraignment, Fisha is transferred to 1301 Franklin Facility to face some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. His presence in the dining hall ignites a deadly fight between black and white inmates that takes a battalion of prison guards to contain.
After over a year of deliberations, Mrs. Crooks appears as the last witness and maintains that Harry killed Caristo. But the jury finds Fisha guilty of murder in the first degree. Fisha is sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Eight years later: Execution Day. In the death chamber, Murdock orders Fisha to lie on the gurney and proceeds to cinch the straps. In the witness room an argument is going on between Mrs. Crooks and Harry in the presence of the press. When Fisha turns his head to take a last look at Harry and utters the words "Good-bye Mr. Harry Thomas, God bless you," Harry can't take it any more. He confesses to have killed his wife, to the relief of the entire world.
Sample Chapter PROLOGUE
Ellis Prison, Huntsville, Texas. Fisha looked through the small window of his cell, his dream of one day becoming president shattered. He sighed. A choking feeling washed over him. A tear trickled from his left eye. He sniffed as if to hold back the emotions that continued to run through his soul like a scythe.
It wasn't that he feared death: no. It was because he knew he was going to die without ever proving his innocence. Overcome, he shut his eyes. He felt as if a great weight was pressing down on his head. He tried, as he had done on several occasions on that day, to slip into a meditative trance. Unfortunately, as before, he wasn't able to.
"Someone help me!" he muttered and thought he heard a reassuring voice. He looked around the cell and saw no one. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, Oh please! he admonished himself. I'll not become mad. Now I'm beginning to hear voices. I must be strong. He drew himself together and took a deep, controlled breath. He wanted to walk back to his bed, but he changed his mind and stood there, expecting the cell door to open at any minute.
Fisha Bayu was a thirty-four-year-old African male with skin the color of ebony. Standing at six-seven, he was lean and healthy, like many men from Tika, found mostly along the Nile River in the southern part of a country called Zedoba. He had an oval face on which sat a straight nose. His eyes were small and white and his hair was short and tightly kinked. He had been fasting for a week now, refusing to go to the dining hall, instead choosing to spend most of his time looking for answers through the Plexiglas window of his five-by-nine cell.
Dressed in a red jumpsuit, the standard attire for death row inmates, Fisha was still looking through the small window of his cell, replaying, perhaps for the last time, how he had come to be here.
After the sentence eight years ago, Fisha was hurtled into a prison van from Houston to Huntsville's Estelle prison, the first stop for newly condemned prisoners. He remembered how, when he finally arrived at Ellis Prison, he was kept on a suicide watch in his cell for two weeks, and how the prison doctor made frequent visits to see if he was taking the prescribed antidepressants on time. He smiled mildly when he recalled how Murdock, the executioner at Huntsville, began to frequent his cell and read scriptures from the Bible with him. His mind was still on Murdock when the cell door opened and six beefy men in helmets and caged face shields walked in.
"It's time to go, boy." The husky voice echoed in his ears.
Obediently, Fisha walked over to the door and immediately recognized the point man on the squad, a sadistic and brutal burly correctional officer called McArthur - Sergeant Peter McArthur. Sudden fear and rage glowed inside Fisha as his eyes met the fiery eyes of the sergeant. McArthur was a muscular giant who used his strength to subdue inmates. Only three nights ago, Fisha had watched him wrestle with a notorious inmate called The Terminator in the cell across from his. He had watched Sergeant McArthur, in the company of five other guards, overpower the inmate and pepper gas him repeatedly. Fisha later heard that the inmate's lungs were damaged so severely it was feared he wouldn't survive.
In hopes of avoiding a similar treatment, Fisha did not put up any resistance. He extended his hands to be cuffed.
"He's a yellow-belly," McArthur said fiercely. "Search him."
As the guards stripped him naked, he seemed motionless as a statue, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. He opened his mouth and ran his fingers through his hair; he showed them the bottoms of his feet. He lifted his testicles and spread his buttocks before getting dressed. Earlier he had been given a clean uniform, underwear, socks and a towel. He had taken a shower, but had refused to eat.
"How are you today, boy?" McArthur asked as he handcuffed Fisha.
Fisha cast a contemptuous look at him. "Fine," he replied firmly.
McArthur burst out laughing. "Fine, fine? Don't give me that bull. You can't possibly be fine on a day such as this. You must be scared to hell."
The chains rattled as two guards hobble-chained him ankle-to-ankle.
"See, you're trembling like a leaf," McArthur teased, and again laughed, his beer eyes sparkling in the dimness.
Fisha shook his head and smiled frostily. "No. I am not. Not one bit. I'm not afraid to die for a crime I did not commit. I'm innocent. But if it is God's wish that I should die, so be it."
McArthur sneered. "Oh, don't start that bullshit. You punks are all the same. You kill and then believe the man upstairs will forgive your bloody sins. That's the problem with this world. You have all these southern Bible-crazy rednecks hanging around jails trying to convert killers. They're all just a bunch of hypocrites who go overboard so they can fill up their churches."
They began to lead Fisha out of the cell. McArthur, who was holding the door for them to pass, was still talking. "You seriously think the man upstairs is as tolerant as to forgive morons like you? No, He's not. He told the world not to kill because life is precious, my friend. Once lost, it's gone. Kaput. Can't be restored. That's why He said He'll throw dingheads like you into the hottest furnace on earth and your death will be worse than tonight's."
They had just left the cell when Fisha suddenly stopped.
"Come on, dimwit, move!" McArthur exclaimed and pushed him. "What the hell are you stopping for?"
Fisha staggered. "I forgot my Bible."
McArthur pushed him again and exploded. "Keep moving. Forget the Bible. You'll get one in hell."
Fisha was immovable. "No please, I need to take my Bible," he insisted, looking McArthur in the eye.
McArthur was going to punch Fisha in the face, but chose not to. "Can someone please get his Bible before I burst his head?"
One of the guards walked back into the cell and quickly emerged with the Bible. McArthur grabbed it from the guard and shoved it into Fisha's hands. "Here you are!" Now move your ass!"
Surrounded by the guards, Fisha shuffled along the catwalk and the sound of the chains aroused the other inmates.
"The African's off to the big jab," yelled a voice from a cell they had just passed. He banged on his cell door and soon everyone was banging and hollering-a show of respect for the condemned man.
McArthur listened to the noise with fascination. "You see how popular you are?" he said, smiling. "All these bastards are gonna miss you."
They descended the metal stairs until they came to Reception, where a white female prison clerk handed him some papers.
"You have to read and sign them," she said, avoiding eye contact.
Fisha didn't bother to read. He quickly signed them and put the pen down.
She lifted her eyes and looked at him. "I'm sorry. You are such a wonderful man."
Fisha knew her by name. "You, too, Joan. You've been wonderful."
In a clear violation of policy at Ellis, the clerk walked around the reception desk and hugged him. "Goodbye, Fisha," she whispered fondly. "We'll all miss you."
"Me too," he said grimly. "I shall miss you all."
Outside Ellis, Fisha took a deep breath, which he held for a moment then slowly released. Sandwiched between the two guards, he walked to the waiting jail van, where four other guards grabbed his arms and legs and tossed him inside. He slammed against the far wall of the van and hung there, his legs akimbo. When the metal doors were shut, he found himself in the valley of death.
In the heart of Huntsville, Texas, at the execution center called Walls Unit, about three hundred black and white students from Sam Houston University were marching down the street chanting, "Stop the lynching!" Along the prison driveway, the last of the ten buses carrying protestors came to a halt. Its occupants disembarked and joined the students gathered before a strip of yellow police tape at the main entrance. Behind the tape, cops dressed in riot gear watched as horse-mounted officers controlled the swelling crowd.
Wednesday morning, the media attention was once again focused on this small Texas town, which housed the largest prison in the country. Positioned not too far from the main entrance of Walls Unit were dozens of satellite dishes and microwave trucks, their generators hissing. ABC, CBS, CNN, and FOX reporters were doing live coverage for the eleven o'clock news. The weather couldn't have been any better for outdoor reporting. It was summer day that allowed the sun to travel across the sky with little obstruction from the scattered clouds.
In the loblollies that surrounded the thirty-foot-tall blood red brick prison sides of the Walls Unit, cardinals and bluebirds watched the thousand demonstrators, which included some sixty members of the New Black Panther Party, the largest organized anti-Semitic black militant group that had taken its name from the original Black Panther Party. Dressed in black fatigues reminiscent of the original Panthers, they marched around the protestors to protect them against a small group of Klansmen who had gathered up the street to counter the protest.
"Don't be afraid of the KKK," the New Black Panther leader instructed his men as they came face-to-face with the Klansmen.
"Get your black faces from our sight," a voice from one of the white hoods growled.
"Stay put, and if anyone attacks you, hit back," the leader of the NBPP announced. "If he's armed, take his goddamn gun and use it. If anyone of those men attack you here today, you take his baton and shove it up his ass!"
"Nigger go home!" another voice was heard.
There was more scorn. "You punks! Murderers! Killers!"
The black men stood expressionless, watching out for any physical attack.
Deep in the bowels of this old prison, Donald Murdock, whom workmates had nicknamed "Mad Dog," turned the large knob and pulled the heavy metal door open. A mild chloride smell wafted from the room, smothering the prison's deathly aroma. Inside, a single florescent light fixture illuminated the aqua walls and gray tiles. A mattress pad topped the steel pedestal gurney that was bordered by leather straps and transparent plastic tubes. Murdock, dressed in a white shirt with sleeves folded up to his elbows, connected three large injections to the tubes and placed them on a small table at the head of the gurney. He took one step back and stared at the killer needles. A frown etched itself across his face.
Approaching fifty, Murdock was heavy-jawed, big-boned and red-haired. He had been working as an executioner for twenty-six years. He treated his job seriously and believed that the death penalty offered society the illusion of finality in the service of justice. A man who takes a life gives up his. "When you kill someone, you too must die," he often said in his interviews with the media. "I only execute the sentenced, those the jury has found guilty. I feel no pleasure in my job, but when I execute, I feel I'm helping to make the world a safer place to live in."
But today a sense of loss seemed to cloud Murdock's thoughts. He had in fact been feeling anxious the entire week. He had been experiencing rare rapid heart palpitations. Earlier in the morning he woke up at five to recite his favorite prayer:
Lord, you've bestowed upon me a tough responsibility, to execute the law up to its bitter end. It may be the worst job in the world, but someone has to do it, and of all the people you've chosen me. I pray that you make my children understand that as much as a pathologist has to conduct an autopsy, so an executioner has to conduct an execution. We're all your servants . . .
And this time he added:
Lord, I've a strong feeling that the young man I'll be putting to sleep today is innocent. But you, the highest judge of them all, will lead him beyond the pearly gates to sit at the table with the chosen few.
When he left home at eight o'clock, for the first time in his life, he felt like quitting his job. The recent releases of large numbers of death row inmates exonerated by DNA evidence in various jails in the country had begun to worry him. His worry had been building since 2000 when a prisoner who had spent two decades on death row in a Pennsylvania jail was cleared. Murdock became even more uncomfortable when in 2002, over one hundred people, among them twelve death row inmates, were set free after passing the DNA test.
He began to smell blood on his hands.
It was not the FBI or the police, or the juries, or judges, or pardon boards and governors, or the president of the United States, who felt the pain of seeing an innocent person die. It was he, Donald Murdock, who tonight would walk with his head down because he had executed Fisha Bayu, a man he believed was innocent.
As he continued to stare at the large syringes, he thought about his children again-what he would tell them when they grew up and accused him of being part of a murder squad. Suddenly he felt like breaking the entire chamber to pieces and walking outside to join hands with the demonstrators. A minute passed before he could gather himself and continue with his work-preparing the highly lethal solutions of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. He thought about the many lives extinguished by the deadly cocktail. Names of inmates he had executed popped up in his mind: Brooks, Taylor, Williams, Pinch, Brown, Laws, Allen, Jones, Moore . . .
A moment later there was movement at the door. The prison warden, a short man called Roy Stevens, stepped into the chamber dressed in his gray uniform.
"009667 is heading this way," he announced and rested his hand on the gurney. "I drove over to Ellis and found McArthur had booked him out."
Murdock felt his heart pound.
"Did you see him?" he asked Stevens.
"Yes, I did."
"What mood was he in?"
"He was perfectly at ease," Stevens replied. "I've never seen a man so prepared to face death. He's so pumped up about it because he believes he will go to heaven. He's insane."
Murdock did not look up at Stevens. Instead, he pretended to arrange the belts on the gurney. He didn't want him to see the tears in his eyes. He took a deep breath, trying to empty his mind of everything except his work, but it was hard. He shook his head. "You know, I've spent the past three years going to his cell to pray with him. There were times when we would joke and laugh and times when I would get really serious and ask him why he committed the murder. And each time I asked him, he would look into my eyes and tell me that he didn't do it."
"And you believed him?" Stevens, who had now sat on the gurney asked.
Murdock nodded. "Yes. I had doubted him at first, but as I got used to him, he became more and more credible." He paused and shook his head. "It still beats me how he was found guilty when it had become clear that he didn't do it."
Stevens shrugged and pursued his lips. "Well, maybe he's just a good actor. Perhaps there's an animal side to him that is beyond our eyes. It's the people you least expect that turn out to be real beasts, you know."
Stevens jumped off the gurney to allow Murdock to raise it to a required height. Murdock's foot pressed on the pedal and the mechanism worked.
"I still find it hard to believe," Murdock remarked morosely.
"Well, you should know better," Stevens countered. "You've been in this business long enough not to be so naïve. The jury had a good reason for convicting him-beyond all reasonable doubt. I remember them telling me on my first day here that it's not an eye for an eye, but an eye for justice. I'm fine with that."
"Yeah. It's just this creepy feeling I have that we might end up executing the wrong man. Can you imagine that?"
Stevens nodded. "It would be awful, I agree. But look, we would only be doing our job."
The warden's job required him to stand at the head of the gurney and signal Murdock to release the sedative and lethal chemicals through the syringe.
"It's a bad job if we kill innocent people," Murdock complained, bitterly. "It's bad enough for those judges and juries to send innocent people to us to do the dirty job for them. They are the killers. And yet the world does not see it that way. It's we the hangmen who walk with blood on our hands."
"Calm down," Stevens tried to console him.
Murdock responded thickly. "You don't understand. You have no idea how I feel. Tonight I'll execute a young man who I strongly believe didn't commit the murder. I've looked deep into his eyes. I've searched for the sign of the devil in him and I've found none."
"Maybe you're right."
"I know I am."
"Well, there's nothing you can do about it, is there?"
Murdock looked up, and for the first time Stevens saw tears in his eyes.
"I'm sorry," Stevens apologized, patting him on the shoulder. "I know how you feel."
Murdock reached for his handkerchief and wiped tears from his face and blew his nose.
"You're right," Murdock muttered. "There's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I'm just the executioner, the killer of killers."
Murdock continued to grumble as they both walked out of the chamber, leaving the heavy metal door open and the cold fluorescent light on.
The prison van was cruising at sixty miles per hour, keeping up with the lead car. The entire convoy had roof lights flickering in sync with the speed at which they were traveling. Inside the prison van, Fisha Bayu stuck his nose between the bars of the small window to catch some fresh air. The antiseptic smell of Dettol was killing him. From where he stood, he could see that they had entered a bushy area. Then he saw the rows and rows of white crosses of Captain Joe Byrd Memorial Cemetery, where the bodies of unclaimed prisoners were buried.
Tomorrow morning the service of Fisha Bayu would be held here. A blue coffin bearing his remains would be placed in the grave and mounds of soil would be piled on it. Unable to watch any more, Fisha sat down. Something seemed to be stirring in the back of his mind that he couldn't quite understand. He pushed deep into his past, into his childhood.
Books in Print by the Author
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Dyeing of Colors: From Diabolical Experiments to the Human Genome by Field C. Ruwe
During his childhood, Nigel's experience with racism leads to the exposition of the bio-terrorism that occurred in the 1970s in the countries of southern Africa at the height of the liberation struggle. Nigel and his friend Hubert expose the diabolical experiments and pseudoscience aimed at undermining the intelligence of black people and the genocidal attempts to reduce the black population via germ warfare. In his youth, Nigel travels to the U.S. to study robotics. He creates a robot that can win virtual wars with other virtual robots. Through his robotics work, he wins the mind and heart of Bellamy, a retired Harvard professor of robotics, and together they work to perfect the art that eventually prevents a nuclear catastrophe.
Alluvial Reflections: Devastating Power of Diamonds by Field C. Ruwe
1992: The Cold War is over but still driving conflicts in Africa. CIA agent Tucker Zulu, born in the African nation of Tango and educated at Harvard University, pursues his wife Denise and his once best friend Charles Dibango, a KGB agent, who have fled from Boston to Moscow after a DNA paternity test shocker. Three years later, a Soviet-backed coup in Tango installs Charles as a dictator who engages in the illegal diamond trade. In this conflict, hundreds of people are brutally murdered or maimed, many by having their hands or arms hacked off. Tucker's CIA team plans a countercoup. He meets Sally Kofi, a former KGB officer who is also Charles's mistress and is serving as Tangon ambassador to the U.S. They fall in love and plot to oust Charles.