Kamensky turned on Speaker Ming. “I must protest these idle American threats.”
“Supreme Gamesman Kamensky,” Ming answered. “Miss North was simply clarifying the political situation for you. I believe she is in error on only one point. In my opinion, if the Russian Army invaded Boston and tried to kidnap and torture a little girl, it would have been absolutely impossible to convince the People and Senate of the Republic that you had been acting on your own. We would then have had a full-scale war without limits.”
“In that case,” Kamensky announced, “I prefer to return home. Security!” Kamensky vanished. Krystal felt a flood of relief. If Kamensky had tried kidnapping Jane Caroline, matters would have become extremely unfortunate extremely quickly.
“Interesting company the little girl keeps,” Kurchatov said. “I suppose Miss Wells must have come up with her new move for herself. Though those variations she proposed all looked flawed.”
“Victor,” Grandmaster Hornpiper said, “I had had the same thought, but then decided that if I were in her predicament I would have been delighted to tell you about many variations on my move…the bad variations. In her position, if I’d been asked about chess openings, I would have talked at length about the Horns of Hattin opening, or mayhaps the Glorious Shield of Sarnath.”
“You’re mean, Honarius,” Ming said, not at all seriously. “Surely this sweet little girl would not pull such an underhanded trick?”
“This sweet little girl,” Kurchatov said, “forced me to offer a tie when we played, a tie she gleefully accepted. She had good chances of winning, too, but preferred the certainty of a draw. That put her ranking up very considerably. She is highly underhanded.”
“Good for her,” Ming said. “She embodies the highest aspects of the American gaming spirit.” The two Grandmasters nodded affirmatively.
“Gentlemen,” Krystal said, “I am happy to have both of you teleported home, it being late indeed, but I need to have a watch put on the Wells residence and on all three children. And their parents. Baron Kamensky might be smart enough to back off, but some of his backers are decidedly less cautious.” All we need, she thought, is a war with Russia, on top of whatever outcome the Namestone and its bearer create. “Mister Speaker, I fear we need to have a short private conversation. Please?” Ming nodded. ~~