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THE DAWNINGA Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness-- Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow.--Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
Michael McCandless stuffed the last of the computer-enhanced photographs in his already bulging briefcase, snapped the catch, and walked out of his office on the third floor of the Central Intelligence Agency complex near Langley."Your car is ready, sir," his secretary said."Right," he mumbled, preoccupied as he passed her desk. He emerged into the corridor, took the elevator down to the subbasement, and was processed through the security post.McCandless, a tall, thin man in his late forties, was deeply worried. But those who knew him would not have been surprised. He always seemed to be worried about something. This evening, however, his concern went deeper than usual, for reasons even he could not completely define.Slipping his plastic identification card in the key slot at the door marked TELEMETRY AND ANALYSIS, he waited impatiently for the lock to cycle. When the door buzzed, he pushed it open and stepped inside.The room was very large, and plunged three stories deeper beneath the building; equipment-filled balconies ringed what was called the pit on three sides. Dominating the far wall were two huge displays. One was an electronic map of the world over which were superimposed a dozen satellite tracks. The Agency's spysatellites. The other was an identical map of the world, superimposed with the computer-enhanced photographic images of the earth as seen from the satellites whirling far overhead."Anything new?" McCandless asked, approaching the chief analyst's console.Joseph DiRenzo, a young man with flowing mustaches and deep, penetrating eyes, turned in his chair. "Are you all set, then?""I have a few minutes yet. I thought I'd stop down to see if anything else has come up."DiRenzo glanced over at the maps. "SPEC-IV is just coming up on Novosibirsk," he said. "You've got the entire package, along with our best estimates. I haven't seen anything to modify what we already know."McCandless set his briefcase down and pulled out his cigarettes, offering the other man one. DiRenzo declined. McCandless lit up and looked at the huge photographic display.To the east of the central Soviet city of Novosibirsk, dawn had come to the land. To the west it was still night. As the satellite continued beaming its photographs down, widely separated pinpoint groupings of lights indicated cities still in darkness. But as the dawn came, the lights went out.It was a strangely lonely, nearly empty view of the world. And McCandless caught himself thinking morosely that they had not come much further than cavemen. The world was still essentially uninhabited. Populations, for the most part, were centered around major rivers, along coasts, or within areas of natural resources. The oceans, and most of the land mass, were barren of people.DiRenzo smiled. "If all of our problems were like this one, we wouldn't have much to worry about." He glanced again at the maps. "I mean, it isn't as if they were building new missile bases, or moving troops. This isn't going to amount to anything more than a social and perhaps minor political problem."McCandless stubbed out his cigarette, his taste for smoking suddenly gone, and shook his head. DiRenzo was called the whiz kid around here, but he had no real understanding of geopolitics. None whatsoever.He picked up his briefcase. "Anything comes up, you know where to reach me.""Sure thing," DiRenzo said, and McCandless turned on his heel, left the pit, went up to the ground floor and signed out with the Marine guard at the front door, and went out into the early May evening.As he was being driven into Washington, McCandless worried that the President would take the same offhanded view that DiRenzo had taken. He tried to marshal his arguments, fighting his underlying fear that he was missing something. Some vital element that would make certain sense of all this.As an assistant DCI, he had had no problem in getting an early appointment with the President. General Lycoming, the director, was away, speaking before the California Bar Association, so there had been no one else to take this information to the top.But now he was almost beginning to worry that he had overstepped his bounds. Paranoia, every Agency officer's constant companion. He sighed deeply, then lit another cigarette.Lycoming would certainly hear about his appointment, but not until tomorrow, after the fact. The seedwould have been planted in the President's mind.At the White House, the President's appointments secretary showed McCandless immediately into the office in the West Wing, where he greeted the President, opened his briefcase, and laid out the photographs and bulky report he had prepared."I'm not going to read this tonight, Michael. You'd better give me an overview of what you've come up with," the President said. He was an old man, and although he normally looked years younger than his age, this evening he seemed wan, tired."In a nutshell, Mr. President, the Russians are preparing seemingly every square inch of their land for planting.""Planting?" The president looked up from the dozens of photographs."Yes, sir.""I don't mean to seem cavalier about this, but so what? Don't they do that every spring?""Not to this extent, Mr. President. What they are doing amounts to the most massive agrarian reform in the history of mankind."The President ran a hand across his forehead. He seemed vexed, and McCandless suddenly was very uncomfortable. "Give me the upshot.""The results could be devastating not only to our farmers, but to the entire world economy. If the weather holds, they'll have massive surpluses."The President sat back in his thickly padded leather chair. "If the weather holds. If they actually plant the acres you say they've prepared. If they can harvest such a massive crop. If they can distribute it." He shook his head."I'm worried, Mr. President. We've had our troubles in the Middle East and now in Central and South America. Such surpluses could be a political bombshell.""I'm worried, too, Michael," the President said, getting to his feet. "And I want to thank you for coming to me with this. I'll look it over in the next few days and get back to you. We'll probably get Curtis Lundgren in on it. Meanwhile, I want you to keep on top of things.""Yes, sir," McCandless said, disappointed. He had tried.When he was gone, the President's National Security adviser, Sidney Wellerman, came in."What was McCandless all het up about this time?""The Russians have given their farmers carte blanche, and he's worried about surpluses."Wellerman's right eyebrow rose as he slumped down in a chair across the desk from the President. He eyed the photographs and report. "Ship it over to Lundgren. He'll love it. Meanwhile, have you had a chance to look over the material I brought you this afternoon?"The President nodded tiredly. "Do we get the rest of the Cabinet in on this?"Wellerman shrugged. "Not yet, I don't think. But something big is happening, or is about to happen. Lycoming tells me that the Russians haven't had such a run on hard Western currencies since 1981, when they needed operational funds to hit Afghanistan.""Give me the bottom line, Sid.""No way of telling for sure, but the run'll be in the billions of dollars, unless I miss my guess.""What the hell do they need it for?""The sixty-four-dollar question, Mr. President."1No one had all the pieces to the puzzle, certainly not that summer. Afterward, though, when conversations came around to Kenneth Newman's response to the summons from the Russians, there were those who said it was due in large measure to his frustration at the time.Other, less charitable souls, who perhaps didn't know Newman quite as well, simply shrugged it off, saying that Newman was "the Marauder" after all. The man could hardly not respond as and when he had.Some people who did not know Newman at all, except by reputation, maintained that Newman's response wasn't significant. Anyone could have done what he had. The fact that the Russians called at all, was the sole important factor.The people who were charged with picking up the pieces didn't give a tinker's damn about the puzzle.They were more interested in repairing the damage.But the very few who were in the know pointed to a certain dark, brooding Friday evening in Moscow, when two incidents inseparably bonded the lives of two diametrically opposed Russians with that of Newman.The weather had been almost too warm all week, culminating in a record high for June second of eighty degrees Fahrenheit. It was still in the seventies, with a humidity to match, when Colonel Vadim Leonid Turalin stepped outside the service entrance and cautiously sniffed the air. He was a small, intense man, not given to hurrying under any conditions, especially in such warmth, so he lingered by the door for a moment. His eyes were large and very dark--penetrating, his peers said--and his complexion swarthy. He was dressed in uniform.The two guards on the door snapped to attention, but he ignored them. He strode across the Lubyanka courtyard and passed the black statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, which was the forerunner of the KGB.Turalin was in a foul mood. Over the past weeks he had been getting the distinct impression that his department was being interfered with. And he did not like it. From the beginning of his career with the GRU, and more recently with the Komitet, Turalin had always been .a hard man, in the parlance, but an accurate one. He brooked absolutely no meddling by outsiders, either above or below him in rank.In his mind at this moment was the nagging concern that whoever was looking over his shoulder was doing so as a direct result of the operation he had begun putting in place more than two years ago."From flights of fancy to the harshness of reality is often an unbridgeable gap," they had been taught at 101 School. "Often the simple idea, put in place with ease, will have the most telling effects."The rear door of a Zil limousine opened as he approached, and a tall, heavy-set man, dressed in civilian clothes, climbed out."Good evening, Comrade Colonel," he said. His voice, like his manner, seemed oily.One of Brezhnev's aides, Turalin thought, but he wasn't sure. "It was you who telephoned?""My office, but permit me to introduce myself. I am Shumayev. Anatoli Andreyevich." He held out a pudgy hand. Turalin ignored it."What do you want with me this evening?"Shumayev smiled, then stepped aside, motioning for Turalin to get in the car.When a summons came, one never refused it. Turalin nodded and climbed in. Shumayev joined him, and a few minutes later their driver was heading briskly out Yaroslavskoye Road. An army jeep joined them as an escort.Shumayev poured a small glass of vodka from his flask and handed it to Turalin. Then he poured himself one and raised his glass in toast."To operation ..." He hesitated a moment. "Is there a name for your plan?"Turalin drank his vodka and put the glass back in its slot on the seatback rack. "What is this all about, Comrade Shumayev?" he snapped. "Why have you come for me like this?"As chief administrator for the KGB's First ChiefDirectorate, Turalin enjoyed a certain power within the Soviet hierarchy. But his long, hard years with the Komitet, and his reputation for being an unpleasant man, lent him even greater power.It was said of him, although certainly never to his face, that he was a man with an iron will, steel muscles, a heart of granite, and the mind of a computer.His wife had never been seen at any Party functions, nor had his three children, who were stowed away at school in Leningrad all but the summer months.Shumayev, as close to Brezhnev and the reins of government as he was, had power too. But for this moment he bowed to Turalin."There is someone who wishes to speak with you," Shumayev said."Then we will proceed?""It would appear so. But it depends upon you. Do you feel convincing this evening?"Turalin shook his head in exasperation. The man was a pompous, arrogant fool."I'm with you, Vadim Leonid, in other words," Shumayev said. He leaned closer. "And no matter what you may think of me, I am a man to have as a friend in this."Shumayev's chauffeur drove fast but skillfully through the deserted Moscow streets. The smell of the lovely spring that had been and of the summer that was approaching lay thick in the air. And a haze, or a light fog, had settled in over the great city. Turalin wondered who he was supposed to meet tonight.If too many people knew what he was involved in, it would ruin everything. There were bound to be leaks. And it was such a delicately balanced operation, thateven the slightest leak could be deadly.As First Directorate chief, Turalin was responsible for all Soviet clandestine activities abroad, and he ran a very tight ship, accepting absolutely no excuses from those beneath him. An operation either succeeded brilliantly, as planned, or he knew the reason why, and heads rolled.But in dealing with those outside the First Directorate his control was less than absolute, and then he often became frustrated. He was frustrated now."How did you come to learn of this operation?" he asked sharply."Comrade Brezhnev asked me to look in on it.""As a control?" Turalin asked, concealing fury. He knew that he should maintain civility. But he found it difficult."Don't overstep your bounds," Shumayev said harshly.Control. Turalin sank into his own thoughts. Control was everything within the Soviet hierarchy, from the lowliest corporal stationed on the Chinese border to Brezhnev himself who answered to the Central Committee.Control in itself was an intrinsically sound idea. But in practice the bureaucracies it spawned were monstrous, and o ten self-defeating.Control, he would accept. A committee he would not. And yet ... another thought came to him. Brezhnev himself did not know all of the pieces of this puzzle, nor would anyone until the operation was firmly in place. By then it would be too late. Far too late, he thought with satisfaction.As they passed the All-Union Agricultural Exhibitionon the north side of town and continued out into the country, Turalin turned the operation over in his mind.It was all a vast game of chess. Only the pieces were real men, and the stakes actual life or death. But, as in a game of chess, the king played no part in the attack. Other pieces, such as the knights, were far more powerful.A dangerous game, he cautioned himself. The risks were high, but the rewards ... . He smiled.It was dark now in the car. Through the haze outside he could see the sparse birch forests on both sides of the road, white on black. And he imagined that he could hear the wind sighing through the upper branches. A sound that was at once lonely, yet comforting; cold, yet gently warm.Indeed, he thought. The board had been laid out, the chess pieces set in place. This evening would see the opening moves.
The dacha was set on several hundred acres beside a small manmade lake. It was a large, very old house, with etched-glass windows, a half-dozen massive brick chimneys, dormers, and a large porch, the roof of which was supported by ornately carved wooden pillars.There were no other automobiles in sight when the Zil pulled up in front and the chauffeur jumped out to open the rear doors. Turalin stepped out, his boots crunching on the loose gravel of the driveway.It was quiet out here. The fog's wispy tendrils among the trees, and low across the lake, lent the place even more isolation and detachment than it actually had.Turalin stared up at the house. He recognized this place. He had seen it before. But when?"Lovely old place, isn't it?" Shumayev asked good-naturedly."Lovely," Turalin agreed absently.Shumayev took his arm, and as they mounted the steps to the porch, the memory suddenly came to Turalin. He did know this place; he had seen photographs of it. And the realization was startling."He requested your presence here," Shumayev said, sensing Turalin's sudden understanding and emphasizing the first word, almost as if he spoke of a god.Inside they went directly into a large room with floor-to-ceiling bookcases along three walls and a massive fireplace in the fourth. A fire blazed in the grate, making the room almost unbearably hot.Several deeply padded leather chairs were grouped around a massive oak coffee table. Shumayev directed Turalin to take a seat."Vodka?" he asked. "Or perhaps a little cognac?""Cognac," Turalin said sitting down.Shumayev poured his drink and then set down.There was a large painting above the mantel, a Van Gogh perhaps, and the bookcases held numerous statues, medals encased in frames, and other bric-a-brac as well as books. The floor was covered with a huge Persian rug, and in a far corner was a standup writing table, such as accountants might have used long ago."You have done a fine job with your directorate, Vadim Leonid," Shumayev said almost casually.
In the light now Turalin could clearly see the man. He was large but shapeless, like a sad lump of clay. His eyes were set deep beneath a simian ridge of bone, and his puffy cheeks were crisscrossed with broken veins. He was disgusting."We manage," Turalin grumbled."I have an admission to make to you."Turalin said nothing to the man's inane prattling. Instead he was listening to the sounds of the house. Somewhere in the distance, he thought he could hear someone talking. From elsewhere came the sound of an electric motor running, and he also thought he could hear music."You have been presented for promotion twice in the last two years. Each time I've recommended no. You have been doing such valuable work where you are, it would have been a shame to remove you.""Promotion to what?" Turalin asked."To the third floor, of course.""As a Komitet deputy?"Shumayev flared. "You would do well to curb your tongue ..." he had begun, when the library door opened and the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union walked in, bringing both Shumayev and Turalin to their feet.He was a tall man, husky, with a wide face and large peasant eyes set beneath bushy eyebrows. He was not smiling."Leave us now, Anatoli Andreyevich," he said. His voice came from deep within his chest. But it was soft."Of course," Shumayev said, and he left the room, gently closing the door behind him."Have a seat, comrade," the First Secretary said, his voice cold. He poured himself a small cognac. "Your family is well?""Yes, they are, Comrade First Secretary. I will tell them you asked.""You will not," the First Secretary said, sitting downacross from Turalin. "No one will know that we have spoken.""Of course," Turalin said, looking the man in the eyes. He felt as if he were very near a high-tension line. The slightest wrong move on his part would be instantly fatal."It is not too warm in here for your liking?""It is fine, comrade."The First Secretary shook his head, then took a small, delicate sip of his drink. "We must not begin on the wrong foot, Vadim Leonid. I am an old man, and not well, but I still have full use of my faculties, unlike poor Shumayev who is afraid for his own skin."Turalin was silent. That the First Secretary admitted weakness was disappointing.The First Secretary spoke again. "What is it exactly that you hope to accomplish?""I don't understand, comrade.""Come, Vadim Leonid, let us not play games. Please. It is late and I am tired. I want to know what you are up to in your dark building. What are you doing? What is your operational goal?""Revolution on the North American continent," Turalin replied."You are either incredibly naive, or you have something up your sleeve. Something that you have omitted from your daily summaries. Something even that ferret Shumayev cannot discover.""Yes, comrade," Turalin said.The First Secretary sat forward and very carefully set his glass down on the table. His hand shook as if he had a slight palsy."You have stetched many rules, Vadim Leonid. That in itself is no mean feat. You have been a difficult manto watch. But watch we have."Turalin found that he was becoming angry with this old fool who obviously was on his way out. Angry that something might be going wrong and a scapegoat being chosen.He had worked so hard, these past twenty-four months, with a dozen bureaucracies in a dozen regions, each of them independent of the others; with a hundred ministries; with a thousand factories and distribution networks for cover; and with thousands of people who all were made to feel that Turalin's ideas were their own.He started to speak, but the First Secretary held him off with a gesture."It may take us years to come to a complete knowledge of how you have operated, so that such a thing cannot happen again. From what I understand, you have single-handedly created at least three hundred conduits for Western funds.""It is for the Party, Comrade First Secretary. Certainly not for personal gain.""Nothing you have caused by your ingenious manipuations has occurred without the tacit approval and cooperation of your chairman, of the Politburo, and, indeed, of me. But, Vadim Lenoid, you failed us. You neglected to reveal your ultimate goal."The First Secretary looking longingly at his unfinished drink. He shook his head. "The American workers shall rise and a new socialism will sweep the land, all because of the Soviet farmers' willingness to believe a new promise.""No, comrade, nothing like that."The First Secretary's eyebrows rose. "You do surpriseme. What then?""An economic revolt of the consumer.""And how will this come about?""When American food prices rise, as oil and gasoline prices have risen, there will be a revolt of the American people that will demand a change in their government. A change in their government's basic structure.""Nonsense.""No, comrade, not nonsense. Hard, true fact. We almost accomplished it in the early seventies, when my predecessor manipulated the grain market. There was chaos worldwide.""Is that what you desire? Chaos?""The breeding ground for revolution.""Explain then to me. Explain it well, because you have caused us to embark on a path that is fraught with danger.""There are three vital elements to my operational plan, Comrade First Secretary. The first is the creation of a surplus of wheat and corn.""Such a mundane beginning," the First Secretary said with some sarcasm."Yes, comrade. The second is a surplus of Western currencies. We will have the grain and the money.""Certainly nothing in comparison to the wheatfields of Kansas or the pampas of Argentina.""By the time we are finished, perhaps.""And the third?" the First Secretary asked.Turalin had to smile inwardly. Even now he would not reveal the third corner of the triangle. He had his deceptive answer ready."And the third is the ruination of the American farmer by the manipulation of the market."For a long time the room was silent, except for the music still playing somewhere in the house and the crackling fire on the grate.The First Secretary reached out for his cognac and drank it in one swallow. He slammed the glass back on the table, then got to his feet."Rubbish, Turalin. Pure rubbish! You are maneuvering us into madness."Turalin looked up at the man. At that moment he felt very much alone. There was no one to turn to."I'm giving you a choice, now, of either abandoning your scheme, or returning here within forty-eight hours with the details for its implementation."Turalin got to his feet. "I will return in forty-eight hours, Comrade Secretary.""See that you do. And the next time we meet, there will be no lies. No half-truths. Nor will we be alone."
Outside, alone as he waited for Shumayev's car to take him back into the city, Turalin tried to think out his next moves. It seemed almost chilly outside after the oppressive heat in the study, and he shivered.He had done well over the past two years, and would probably have continued to do well if not for Shumayev's snooping. There were leaks within his own directorate that would have to be plugged. And yet the next phase of the operation would of necessity have to be expanded outward. More people would have to be included. More resources committed.He turned and looked back at the house. Had he underestimated the First Secretary?The car came, and the driver jumped out and opened the rear door. "Comrade?" he said respectfully.Turalin looked at him, then shook his head. "I will not be returning just yet," he said. He went back to the house and let himself in, just as Shumayev was coming from the parlor."Vadim Leonid. You forgot something, perhaps?"Turalin nodded. "Will the First Secretary see me again?""Of course. I'll just tell him you've returned."The truth, Turalin thought. Or at least enough of it to insure Brezhnev's cooperation.Copyright © 1983 by Sean Flannery, Ltd.