The Ring of the Queen
Discovery of the Ring
Stacie was becoming less afraid and more angry. She walked directly past the police cars, as though she had not a worry in the world. The rest of the group followed her; shocked that nothing happened to her. She walked through the ticketing area of the train station, and directly to the parking lot area on the opposite side of the building. No one batted an eye. No one seemed to recognize any of them. Stacie thought that maybe the dye job on her hair had done the trick. No one seemed to recognize the guys either. Stacie had been prepared for a fight for trying to enter the station at all and had been greatly disappointed. She wondered if things would change when she tried to climb into the truck. There could have been no mistaking the giant monster truck as a part of Elizabeth Godunov's collection. How many monster trucks could there be in Russia? Immediately after thinking that, Stacie realized that she probably didn't want to know the answer to that.
Oleg watched the group walk across the train station. He couldn't believe that they would walk directly past the police the way that they obviously had. He stood perfectly still, watching them walk all the way through the station and out the opposite doors. He didn't know if he should follow them. He didn't know if they expected him to board the train and wait for the girls. He had absolutely no idea what to do, but he believed that the country's best option was to reinstate a tsar, so he waited for a sign.
Outside, Stacie walked right past another group of police vehicles. These were SUV's instead of just cars. She wondered if they thought that she would try to outrun them. She wondered where they got their ideas about American behavior. She figured that they must watch an awful lot of You Tube. She ignored the group of police vehicles. She walked straight to the truck, pulled down the driver's side ladder and climbed up into the truck. Tania shrugged her shoulders and followed her. The two men decided to follow along and climbed into the passenger seats. The police stood and watched with some shock and curiosity.
"What do you think you are doing?" Peter asked Stacie.
"Give me the keys," Stacie ordered him.
"Stacie, do you have any idea what you are doing?" Steve asked.
"This doesn't look good," Tania chimed in.
"I'm sick of this," Stacie said in a scary sounding monotone. "Give me the keys, and let me take care of this. I'm a tsar, remember? If that's so damn true, then let me handle this."
"What do you intend to do?" Peter asked.
"I intend to give them something to talk about," Stacie replied. "Does this thing have a PA system?"
Peter didn't reply. He pointed to the PA system and handed her the keys. For the first time during the recent travels, he put his seat belt on.
Stacie started the truck, turned on the PA system, picked up the microphone for the PA, and put the truck in gear. She sat still revving the engine with the clutch still on, trying to get a reaction out of the police. They didn't move. She put it back in neutral and put on the four wheel drive, setting it in low gear for rough terrain. She revved the engine again. They didn't move. She let off the clutch a little and the truck surged forward a little. They still didn't move.
"I can't believe that anyone would want to rule a country with people this thick in it," Stacie mumbled as she sat and considered her next move.
"Tania, what do you think?" Stacie asked.
"I think that these people don't know when to get out of the way," she answered, smiling.
Peter sat and stared at Stacie. Steve sat in the back, silently wondering what this girl was going to do next. He had studied the tsars most of his life, and he decided right then and there that Stacie was the real deal. She was easily as brave and crazy and any Romanov in history.
Stacie spoke into the microphone, blasting out into the parking area. "Please leave this area immediately. There is nothing to see here. It is dangerous to stay in your current positions. Please leave."
The cars did not move. The police did not move.
"How many people in this country know what Catherine the Great really looked like?" Stacie asked the group.
"This is Tver," Steve said. "They have all seen pictures of her in the museum. Everyone in town has most likely been there."
Stacie put the truck back in neutral. Then she did something that no one expected. She climbed out of the passenger compartment and onto the hood of the truck. Peter, Steve, and Tania all watched in horror. They all expected the police to shoot her. They were afraid for her, but they had no intention of following. Despite the overall size of the truck, there wasn't much room on the hood. They did all open their doors and stick their heads outside in support of whatever Stacie was about to do. What that was, they had no idea.
Stacie stood on the hood of the monster truck, trying to figure out what to say. She hadn't really thought the matter through. The crowd of police and other citizens that were now gathering to see what the excitement was all about did not move. They waited, wondering what on Earth was going on. Stacie saw the looks on their faces. They didn't want to have a scene any more than she did. They didn't want to hurt her. They had no idea what was actually going on. They'd been told to apprehend this woman, because she was a fake. They'd been told that they had to do this to support the president and country. They were doing what they were told. Stacie's grandmother had told her many times that the one thing that Russian's were most generally very good at was doing what they were told to do. She also told Stacie that when the rare occasion occurred in which Russian's didn't wish to do as they were told, that everyone needed to get the hell out of the way. It meant that sooner or later, revolution was coming. That only left one thing in Stacie's mind. Were they still wanting to do what they were told to do, or were they ready for a revolution?
Stacie stood tall. "I am Stacie Zerbst," she announced to the crowd that had now gathered. "I am the woman that the President claims is an imposter to the Romanov family." She motioned to the police in the growing crowd. "These good men have been sent here to arrest me and take me to my destruction. The President believes that I am the last Romanov, and that if I can be destroyed, there will never be another tsar. I do not wish to cause trouble in your country. I did not know that I was a Romanov when I came to your country. I want no trouble here. I do not wish to depose your President. I just want to go home. I need to leave here tonight and make my way home. That is all that I wish."
A half a dozen or so of the police officers drew guns. Stacie found herself shocked. She'd thought that they were more like the English in Russia and that the cops didn't carry guns. She didn't know how to react to them. She looked behind her at her friends, who were staring at the cops in horror. She winked at them. They didn't know what to think.
Stacie suddenly knew what to do. Her grandmother had taught her well. The Communists were all that her mother talked about. She didn't say much about the tsars. Stacie's grandmother had said one thing though. Dazzle them, and they will follow you. Stacie smiled at the crowd and tore the hat off of her head. The crowd froze. Steve had been right. They had all seen pictures of Catherine the Great. They were all stunned at the resemblance that they saw standing in front of them at that moment. It was as though Catherine the Great had been reincarnated in Stacie right before their very eyes. The police put their guns away. The people in the crowd gasped collectively. The people had no doubt that this Romanov was for real.
"I did not choose to be born a Romanov," Stacie yelled to them. "You cannot hold this against me. I must go. Please allow us to leave."
"We cannot," one of the police officers said. "We will be punished. We wish that we could do so, your highness, but the punishment is too grave."
"Then we are at an impasse," Stacie told the police officer. "Therefore, I would get out of my way if I were you."
Stacie climbed back into the truck. The others did the same.
"Now what?" Tania asked.
"Well, Thelma…"Stacie started.
Peter's face went white. "Thelma and Louise? I watched a bootleg of that movie. I know what you are intending. Are you crazy?"
Stacie smiled at him. "Buckle up buddy. I'm an American and a Romanov. You never know what I might do next."
Stacie put the truck in low and let it move forward. The crowd and the police ran for their lives. Stacie drove the truck directly over the crowd of police cars and continued to drive around the train station toward the other side of the building. When she reached the other side of the building, she drove over the now abandoned police cars on the other side. She drove over every single police vehicle that she could find. When she was done, the streets were empty. The frightened people had run away or gone inside to escape the frenzy. There was no one left in view, except Oleg, who stood in the doorway to the train station. He'd had his sign.
Stacie smiled at Peter. "Here you go. I hope I gave you enough of a head start." She opened the door and climbed down the ladder to go and catch her train.
"I hope we get to see the two of you again," Tania said as she followed Stacie out of the truck.
"I will see you again, Stacie Zerbst," Peter yelled out the window. "Be safe, and keep in touch. I know your number."
Stacie smiled. "I'll call. I promise."
Tania and Stacie met Oleg at the door. "Hi, Oleg," Stacie said, smiling at the shocked look on the man's face. "Let's go catch a train."
"Every police officer in the country will be looking for you," Oleg warned her.
"That's all right," Stacie told him. "They think I'm driving a monster truck."
Tania looked at the carnage all around her. "This is nuts." She turned to Oleg. "Do they have booze on this train?"
"There is a dining car that serves vodka," Oleg replied.
Tania took one last look at all the wrecked police cars. "I hope they have enough vodka."