He couldn't help to feel sorry her. She looked so innocent and out of place to be caught up in such a viscous conflict. It was hard to believe this was the same girl he saw only minutes before she attacked him. One of his more recent memories from the operation, he led his squad through the small dark village. They knocked over door after door in search of their target, moving in a well-organized formation and guarding all sides with perfect precision.
Joseph moved swiftly ahead as the rest followed closely behind. The final door he kicked opened was to small hut with a defenseless young woman, clutching onto a boy who looked no older than seven. She looked just as innocent as she did now, yet bravely stared down the barrels of their rifles without so much as a flinch. But despite how innocent she looked on the outside, he knew that she had no regret about trying to kill him.
“Here's what we have on her so far.” Came the voice of Marc, as walked by Joseph's side and handed him a yellow folder.
Joseph immediately grabbed it and wasted no time to look through. He wanted to get as much information as he could before reporting back to the General. After not reporting in for two days, he had to get something useful to avoid an obvious reprimand.
“You know she was actually asking about ya.” Said Marc.
“Wanted to make sure she made her god proud?” Joseph replied in a cynical tone.
Marc chuckled a bit. “No.” he said. “She wanted to know if you were alright. She seemed a bit remorseful.”
Joseph's eyes immediately shifted back to the girl on the screen. Maybe her innocent look wasn't just an appearance after all. Either way, he was planning to get the truth out of her. “So her name is Nadia Ivanov.” He said, referring to the information in the folder. “She's Russian?”
“Her father was.” Marc Answered. “Her mother was Syrian, maiden name Sara Ahmadi.”
“She was his sister.” Marc answered. “From the files we pulled up, her father, Borris Ivanov was a Colonel in the Russian army. After he died she moved back to Syria with her mother and brother, Anton. They, both died back in twenty-fourteen and she's been with her uncle ever since.”
“How'd they die?”
“Terrorist attack, which would make her involvement with the FISS a bit hypocritical.”
“If she even is involved.” Joseph said as he closed the folder.
“Well from what we hear, Hassan can be real persuasive man.”
“Than let's see how persuasive.” Joseph concluded as he walked toward a nearby door, which led into the room.
Nadia couldn’t help her regret, she had never before taken a life and hoped she would never have to. Of course she knew it was naive to think that, in her world, it wasn’t inevitable. This time she saw no choice, Hassan was an innocent man, something that she wouldn’t have been able to convince to the American soldier who was trying to kill him. She saw no other way to save his life. But still, she felt guilty for what she’s done and at this point, whatever sentencing the American soldiers had in store for her was deserved.
She immediately clinched her fingers as she heard the door open, then sighed with relief to see the face of the very solider she had thought she killed stepping into the room, alive and well.
Joseph didn’t take a single step without taking his eyes off of Nadia. She looked a bit coy, given the trouble she was in. And if this was anything like any of his previous interrogations with members of the FISS, he was expecting her to go to the grave with what she knew. A place his colleagues would enjoy sending her. However, even though she did try to kill him, the last memory he really had of her was sincere. That innocent look of courage as she clutched a little boy tightly in her arms, ready to give her life to save his. It almost made it impossible to believe she had any involvement with a group as barbarous as the FISS. And if she hadn’t tried to kill him it would have been easy to vouch for her innocence.
Joseph quietly sat down across the table from Nadia while placing the folder on the table before him, just outside of the reach of Nadia’s restrained hands. “So,” he said, staring straight into her eyes. They seemed a bit wide and relaxed, as if she was relieved to see him. It was probably the relief of finally being able to speak with someone after being held for two long days. “Miss Nadia Ivanov.” He continued. “You know at first glance I didn’t peg you as a terrorist. But I guess I was wrong.”
All Joseph had to do was to make her admit that she was involved with the FISS and he would have had leverage. He waited for her to say some kind of statement of concurrence, but she remained silent. Still staring at him with those large relaxed eyes.
“Do you speak English?” Joseph asked, sarcastically. “Or maybe you just have nothing to say, given the overwhelming thought of the amount of trouble you’re in.” He then mocked her with a smirk. “And I really doubt a girl like you would last a day in Guantanamo. So make it easy on yourself sweetheart, help me find the real criminal and I promise to make your future whole lot easier on you.”
Nadia tuned away and sighed, she didn’t expect him to believe anything she would say, so what was the point of even trying. She also didn’t believe any of his petty promises to help her, how could he call her uncle the criminal when his nation has done more damage then the terrorist themselves.
Nadia finally turned back, this time squinting her eyes a bit and stiffing her stare into Joseph’s. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. “Hassan Ahmadi is not the one you’re looking for.” She said. Although she was half Russian, her strong accent showed that she had spent most of her life in Syria. “If anything, he’s doing more good than you are!” She snapped with anger. Just being around American soldiers reminded her of her mother and brother and America’s involvement. There was no way she would give up the man who saved her to the people who murdered her family.
Joseph gave a loud and obvious sigh; he still couldn’t see her as anything more than the innocent girl from the village that wanted to protect her people. It was apparent that she was brainwashed by Hassan into thinking he was a righteous man. He couldn’t understand how she was completely overlooking the fact that it was an attack by the FISS that caused her family’s deaths. Though in her defense they still had no hard evidence to link Hassan to the FISS, only the suspicions of the United States Congress. He needed to press her more, and get her to say something useful, if even out of anger.
“Good?” He ask, refereeing to her statement about Hassan. “Do think coordinating the murder of thousands of people is good? For whom? If you truly want to do good, help us stop that.”
“You don’t know that you’re talking about!” She replied. “Hassan is helping people, just as he did for me.”
“Well if he’s so innocent than why doesn’t he turn himself in, and explain that himself.”
“Because he doesn’t trust you and neither do I!”
“And you trust him?” Joseph exclaimed with anger, unintentional slamming his palms to the table. He was beginning to get annoyed by Nadia’s stubbornness. “He’s currently roaming free and is leaving you to take the heat for his actions. What kind of noble man does that?”
“I’m here from my own actions, not his.” Nadia answered boldly. She stared him straight in the eyes, showing no regret. “After everything he’s done for me and the others, he doesn’t even need to ask.”
Joseph sighed and stepped back for a moment, sliding his hand away as he tried to calm himself down. In a way he wasn’t too surprised by Nadia’s courage, and a little impressed. However it was her allegiance that was the problem. He kept going back to the when he had first seen her in the village, clutching tightly on to that little boy while boldly staring down the barrel of their rifles. Even then she was willing sacrifice herself for another. He had to admit that of all the time he and his squad spent training the Syrian opposition soldiers, he had never seen a single one display the kind of courage and allegiance to their cause as Naida was. If only they were on the same side.
“Sarge?” Came the unsuspected voice of Marc, from the now half opened door of the room.
Joseph slightly glanced back as Marc and nodded in conformation before Marc stepped back and re-closed the door. Whatever message Marc had to tell him, neither wanted to say anything in front of their prisoner.
Joseph stepped back to the table and grabbed the file. “We’re not done here.” He said before turning and walking out of the door.