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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - THE LONGEST JOURNEY . . .
Chapter 2 - LABYRINTHS
Chapter 3 - . . . A SINGLE SIT
Chapter 4 - PROMISED LAND
Chapter 5 - CHANGES AND GUARDS
Chapter 6 - MANEUVERS
Chapter 7 - THE CITY OF GOD
Chapter 8 - THE PANDORA PROCESS
Chapter 9 - RESOLVE
Chapter 10 - LAST STANDS
Chapter 11 - ROBOSOLDIERS
Chapter 12 - TINSMITHS
Chapter 13 - PROCESS
Chapter 14 - REVELATION
Chapter 15 - DEVELOPMENT
Chapter 16 - FUELING THE FIRE
Chapter 17 - PROCESSING
Chapter 18 - PROGRESS
Chapter 19 - DEVELOPMENT
Chapter 20 - COMPETITION
Chapter 21 - CONNECTIVITY
Chapter 22 - REPERCUSSIONS
Chapter 23 - OPINIONS
Chapter 24 - REVELATION
Chapter 25 - RESOLUTION
Chapter 26 - INTEGRATION
Chapter 27 - DATA FUSION
Chapter 28 - CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS
Chapter 29 - CROSSROADS
Chapter 30 - EAST ROOM
Chapter 31 - DANCERS
Chapter 32 - CLOSURE
Chapter 33 - PASSAGES
Chapter 34 - PLACEMENT
Chapter 35 - THREE SHAKES
Chapter 36 - WEAPONS EFFECTS
Chapter 37 - HUMAN EFFECTS
Chapter 38 - FIRST CONTACTS
Chapter 39 - ECHOES
Chapter 40 - COLLISIONS
Chapter 41 - THE FIELD OF CAMLAN
Chapter 42 - ASP AND SWORD
Chapter 43 - THE REVENGE OF MOEDRED
Chapter 44 - THE BREEZE OF EVENING
“A whiz-bang page-turner!”
—The New York Times Book Review
“The Sum of All Fears delivers!”
The Gulf War is over. An Israeli nuclear weapon is missing. The balance of power in the Mideast—and the world—is about to change forever . . .
THE SUM Of ALL FEARS
Only Tom Clancy could create an international scenario so real, so dramatic, so brilliantly intense as the epic crisis portrayed in The Sum of All Fears. CIA Deputy Director Jack Ryan returns in this breathtaking tour de force of military action, cutting-edge technology, and raw emotional power.
—Detroit Free Press
“Tom Clancy at his best . . .
This is a book not to be missed.”
—The Dallas Morning News
Novels by Tom Clancy
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
RED STORM RISING
THE CARDINAL OF THE KREMLIN
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS
DEBT OF HONOR
THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON
THE TEETH OF THE TIGER
SSN: STRATEGIES OF SUBMARINE WARFARE
SUBMARINE: A GUIDED TOUR INSIDE A NUCLEAR WARSHIP
ARMORED CAV: A GUIDED TOUR OF AN ARMORED CAVALRY REGIMENT
FIGHTER WING: A GUIDED TOUR OF AN AIR FORCE COMBAT WING
MARINE: A GUIDED TOUR OF A MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT
AIRBORNE: A GUIDED TOUR OF AN AIRBORNE TASK FORCE
CARRIER: A GUIDED TOUR OF AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER
SPECIAL FORCES: A GUIDED TOUR OF U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES
INTO THE STORM: A STUDY IN COMMAND
(written with General Fred Franks, Jr., Ret., and Tony Koltz)
EVERY MAN A TIGER
(written with General Charles Horner, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
SHADOW WARRIORS: INSIDE THE SPECIAL FORCES
(written with General Carl Stiner, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
(written with General Tony Zinni, Ret., and Tony Koltz)
Created by Tom Clancy
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL: OPERATION BARRACUDA
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL: CHECKMATE
Created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: MIRROR IMAGE
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: GAMES OF STATE
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: ACTS OF WAR
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: BALANCE OF POWER
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: STATE OF SIEGE
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: DIVIDE AND CONQUER
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: LINE OF CONTROL
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: MISSION OF HONOR
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: SEA OF FIRE
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: CALL TO TREASON
TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: WAR OF EAGLES
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: HIDDEN AGENDAS
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: NIGHT MOVES
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: BREAKING POINT
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: POINT OF IMPACT
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: CYBERNATION
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: STATE OF WAR
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: CHANGING OF THE GUARD
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: SPRINGBOARD
TOM CLANCY’S NET FORCE: THE ARCHIMEDES EFFECT
Created by Tom Clancy and Martin Greenberg
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: POLITIKA
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: RUTHLESS.COM
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: SHADOW WATCH
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: BIO-STRIKE
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: COLD WAR
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: CUTTING EDGE
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: ZERO HOUR
TOM CLANCY’S POWER PLAYS: WILD CARD
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with
Jack Ryan Enterprises, Ltd.
Berkley mass-market edition / August 1992
Copyright © 1991 Jack Ryan Limited Enterprises, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
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BERKLEY and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
As is always the case, there are people to thank.
Russ, for his excruciatingly patient education in physics (the mistakes are mine, not his);
Barry, for his insights;
Steve, for the mind-set;
Ralph, for his analysis;
John, for the law;
Fred, for the access;
Gerry, for his friendship;
Quite a few others who entertained my endless questions and ideas—even the dumb ones;
And all the men of goodwill who hope, as I do, that the corner may finally be turned, and were willing to talk about it.
For Mike and Peggy Rodgers, a sailor and his lady—and all the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, because the noblest of ideas have always been protected by warriors
Why, you may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together—what do you get? The sum of their fears.
[T]he two contenders met, with all their troops, on the field of Camlan to negotiate. Both sides were fully armed and desperately suspicious that the other side was going to try some ruse or stratagem. The negotiations were going along smoothly until one of the knights was stung by an asp and drew his sword to kill the reptile. The others saw the sword being drawn and immediately fell upon each other. A tremendous slaughter ensued. The chronicle . . . is quite specific about the point that the slaughter was excessive chiefly because the battle took place without preparations and premeditation.
—HERMAN KAHN, On Thermonuclear War
“Like the wolf on the fold.” In recounting the Syrian attack on the Israeli-held Golan Heights at 1400 local time on Saturday, the 6th of October, 1973, most commentators automatically recalled Lord Byron’s famous line. There is also little doubt that that is precisely what the more literarily inclined Syrian commanders had in mind when they placed the final touches on the operations plans that would hurl more tanks and guns at the Israelis than any of Hitler’s vaunted panzer generals had ever dreamed of having.
However, the sheep found by the Syrian Army that grim October day were more like big-horned rams in autumn rut than the more docile kind found in pastoral verse. Outnumbered by roughly nine to one, the two Israeli brigades on the Golan were crack units. The 7th Brigade held the northern Golan and scarcely budged, its defensive network a delicate balance of rigidity and flexibility. Individual strongpoints held stubbornly, channeling the Syrian penetrations into rocky defiles where they could be pinched off and smashed by roving bands of Israeli armor which lay in wait behind the Purple Line. By the time reinforcements began arriving on the second day, the situation was still in hand—but barely. By the end of the fourth day, the Syrian tank army that had fallen upon the 7th lay a smoking ruin before it.
The Barak (“Thunderbolt”) Brigade held the southern heights and was less fortunate. Here the terrain was less well suited to the defense, and here also the Syrians appear to have been more ably led. Within hours the Barak had been broken into several fragments. Though each piece would later prove to be as dangerous as a nest of vipers, the Syrian spearheads were quick to exploit the gaps and race toward their strategic objective, the Sea of Galilee. The situation that developed over the next thirty-six hours would prove to be the gravest test of Israeli arms since 1948.
Reinforcements began arriving on the second day. These had to be thrown into the battle area piecemeal—plugging holes, blocking roads, even rallying units that had broken under the desperate strain of combat and, for the first time in Israeli history, fled the field before the advancing Arabs. Only on the third day were the Israelis able to assemble their armored fist, first enveloping, then smashing the three deep Syrian penetrations. The changeover to offensive operations followed without pause. The Syrians were hurled back toward their own capital by a wrathful counterattack, and surrendered a field littered with burned-out tanks and shattered men. At the end of this day the troopers of the Barak and the 7th heard over their unit radio nets a message from Israeli Defense Forces High Command:
YOU HAVE SAVED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
And so they had. Yet outside Israel, except for schools in which men learn the profession of arms, this epic battle is strangely unremembered. As in the Six Day War of 1967, the more freewheeling operations in the Sinai were the ones that attracted the excitement and admiration of the world: bridging the Suez, the Battle of the “Chinese” Farm, the encirclement of the Egyptian 3rd Army—this despite the fearful implications of the Golan fighting, which was far closer to home. Still, the survivors of those two brigades knew what they had done, and their officers could revel in the knowledge that among professional soldiers who know the measure of skill and courage that such a stand entails, their Battle for the Heights would be remembered with Thermopylae, Bastogne, and Gloucester Hill.
Each war knows many ironies, however, and the October War was no exception. As is true of most glorious defensive stands, this one was largely unnecessary. The Israelis had misread intelligence reports which, had they been acted on as little as twelve hours earlier, would have enabled them to execute pre-set plans and pour reserves onto the Heights hours before the onslaught commenced. Had they done so, there would have been no heroic stand. There would have been no need for their tankers and infantrymen to die in numbers so great that it would be weeks before the true casualty figures were released to a proud but grievously wounded nation. Had the information been acted upon, the Syrians would have been massacred before the Purple Line for all their lavish collection of tanks and guns—and there is little glory in massacres. This failure of intelligence has never been adequately explained. Did the fabled Mossad fail so utterly to discern the Arabs’ plans? Or did Israeli political leaders fail to recognize the warnings they received? These questions received immediate attention in the world press, of course, most particularly in regard to Egypt’s assault-crossing of the Suez, which breached the vaunted Bar-Lev Line.
Equally serious but less well appreciated was a more fundamental error made years earlier by the usually prescient Israeli general staff. For all its firepower, the Israeli Army was not heavily outfitted with tube artillery, particularly by Soviet standards. Instead of heavy concentrations of mobile field guns, the Israelis chose to depend heavily on large numbers of short-range mortars, and attack aircraft. This left Israeli gunners on the Heights outnumbered twelve to one, subject to crushing counter-battery fire, and unable to provide adequate support to the beleaguered defenders. That error cost many lives.
As is the case with most grave mistakes, this one was made by intelligent men, for the very best of reasons. The same attack-fighter that struck the Golan could rain steel and death on the Suez as little as an hour later. The IAF was the first modern air force to pay systematic attention to “turn-around time.” Its ground crewmen were trained to act much like a racing car’s pit crew, and their speed and skill effectively doubled each plane’s striking power, making the IAF a profoundly flexible and weighted instrument. And making a Phantom or a Skyhawk appear to be more valuable than a dozen mobile field guns.
What the Israeli planning officers had failed to take fully into account was the fact that the Soviets were the ones arming the Arabs, and, in doing so, would inculcate their clients with their own tactical philosophies. Intended to deal with NATO air power always deemed better than their own, Soviet surface-to-air missile (SAM) designers had always been among the world’s best. Russian planners saw the coming October War as a splendid chance to test their newest tactical weapons and doctrine. They did not spurn it. The Soviets gave their Arab clients a SAM network such as the North Vietnamese or Warsaw Pact forces of the time dared not dream about, a nearly solid phalanx of interlocking missile batteries and radar systems deployed in depth, along with new mobile SAMs that could advance with the armored spearheads, extending the “bubble” of counter-air protection under which ground action could continue without interference. The officers and men who were to operate those systems had been painstakingly trained, many within the Soviet Union with the full benefit of everything the Soviets and Vietnamese had learned of American tactics and technology, which the Israelis were correctly expected to imitate. Of all the Arab soldiers in the October War, only these men would achieve their pre-war objectives. For two days they effectively neutralized the IAF. Had ground operations gone according to plan, that would have been enough.
And it is here that the story has its proper beginning. The situation on the Golan Heights was immediately evaluated as serious. The scarce and confused information coming in from the two stunned brigade staffs led Israeli High Command to believe that tactical control of the action had been lost. It seemed that their greatest nightmare had finally occurred: they had been caught fatally unready; their northern kibbutzim were vulnerable; their civilians, their children lay in the path of a Syrian armored force that by all rights could roll down from the Heights with the barest warning. The initial reaction of the staff operations officers was something close to panic.
But panic is something that good operations officers also plan for. In the case of a nation whose enemies’ avowed objective was nothing short of physical annihilation, there was no defensive measure that could be called extreme. As early as 1968, the Israelis, like their American and NATO counterparts, had based their ultimate plan on the nuclear option. At 03:55 hours, local time, on October 7th, just fourteen hours after the actual fighting began, the alert orders for OPERATION JOSHUA were telexed to the IAF base outside Beersheba.
Israel did not have many nuclear weapons at the time—and denies having any to this date. Not that many would be needed, if it came to that. At Beersheba, in one of the countless underground bomb-storage bunkers, were twelve quite ordinary-looking objects, indistinguishable from the many other items designed to be attached to tactical aircraft except for the silver-red striped labels on their sides. No fins were attached, and there was nothing unusual in the streamlined shape of the burnished-brown aluminum skin, with barely visible seams and a few shackle points. There was a reason for that. To an unschooled or cursory observer, they might easily have been mistaken for fuel tanks or napalm canisters, and such objects hardly merit a second look. But each was a plutonium fission bomb with a nominal yield of 60 kilotons, quite enough to carve the heart out of a large city, or to kill thousands of troops in the field, or, with the addition of cobalt jackets—stored separately but readily attachable to the external skin—to poison a landscape to all kinds of life for years to come.
On this morning, activity at Beersheba was frantic. Reserve personnel were still streaming into the base from the previous day’s devotions and family-visiting all over the small country. Those men on duty had been so for too long a time for the tricky job of arming aircraft with lethal ordnance. Even the newly arriving men had had precious little sleep. One team of ordnancemen, for security reasons not told the nature of their task, was arming a flight of A-4 Skyhawk strike-fighters with nuclear weapons under the eyes of two officers, known as “watchers,” for that was their job, to keep visual track of everything that had to do with nuclear weapons. The bombs were wheeled under the centerline hardpoint of each of the four aircraft, lifted carefully by the hoisting arm, then shackled into place. The least exhausted of the ground crew might have noticed that the arming devices and tail fins had not yet been attached to the bombs. If so, they doubtless concluded that the officer assigned to that task was running late—as was nearly everything this cold and fateful morning. The nose of each weapon was filled with electronics gear. The actual exploder mechanism and capsule of nuclear material—collectively known as “the physics package”—were already in the bombs, of course. The Israeli weapons, unlike American ones, were not designed to be carried by alert aircraft during time of peace, and they lacked the elaborate safeguards installed in American weapons by the technicians at the Pantex assembly plant, outside Amarillo, Texas. The fusing systems comprised two packages, one for attachment to the nose, and one integral with the tail fins. These were stored separately from the bombs themselves. All in all, the weapons were very unsophisticated by American or Soviet standards, in the same sense that a pistol is far less sophisticated than a machine gun, but, at close range, equally lethal.
Once the nose and fin packages were installed and activated, the only remaining activation procedure was the installation of a special arming panel within the cockpit of each fighter, and the attachment of the power plug from the aircraft to the bomb. At that point the bomb would be “released to local control,” placed in the hands of a young, aggressive pilot, whose job was then to loft it in a maneuver called The Idiot’s Loop, which tossed the bomb on a ballistic path that would—probably—allow him and his aircraft to escape without harm when the bomb detonated.
Depending on the exigencies of the moment and the authorization of the “watchers,” Beersheba’s senior ordnance officer had the option to attach the arming packages. Fortunately, this officer was not at all excited about the idea of having half-live “nukes” sitting about on a flight line that some lucky Arab might attack at any moment. A religious man, for all the dangers that faced his country on that cold dawn, he breathed a silent prayer of thanks when cooler heads prevailed in Tel Aviv, and gave the order to stand JOSHUA down. The senior pilots who would have flown the strike mission returned to their squadron ready-rooms and forgot what they had been briefed to do. The senior ordnance officer immediately ordered the bombs removed and returned to their place of safekeeping.
The bone-tired ground crew began removing the weapons just as other teams arrived on their own carts for the task of rearming the Skyhawks with Zuni rocket clusters. The strike order had been put up: The Golan. Hit the Syrian armored columns advancing on the Barak’s sector of Purple Line from Kafr Shams. The ordnancemen jostled under the aircraft, two teams each trying to do their jobs, one team trying to remove bombs that they didn’t know to be bombs at all, while the other hung Zunis on the wings.
There were more than four strike aircraft cycling through Beersheba, of course. The dawn’s first mission over the Suez was just returning—what was left of it. The RF-4C Phantom reconnaissance aircraft had been lost, and its F-4E fighter escort limped in trailing fuel from perforated wing tanks and with one of its two engines disabled. The pilot had already radioed his warning in: there was some new kind of surface-to-air missile, maybe that new SA-6; its radar-tracking systems had not registered on the Phantom’s threat-receiver; the recce bird had had no warning at all, and only luck had enabled him to evade the four targeted on his aircraft. That fact was flashed to IAF high command even before the aircraft touched down gingerly on the runway. The plane was directed to taxi down to the far end of the ramp, close to where the Skyhawks stood. The Phantom’s pilot followed the jeep to the waiting firefighting vehicles, but just as it stopped, the left main tire blew out. The damaged strut collapsed as well, and 45,000 pounds of fighter dropped to the pavement like dishes from a collapsed table. Leaking fuel ignited, and a small but deadly fire enveloped the aircraft. An instant later, 20mm ammunition from the fighter’s gun pod started cooking off, and one of the two crewmen was screaming within the mass of flames. Firefighters moved in with water-fog. The two “watcher” officers were the closest, and raced toward the flames to drag the pilot clear. All three were peppered by fragments from the exploding ammunition, while a fireman coolly made his way through the flames to the second crewman and carried him out, singed but alive. Other firemen collected the watchers and the pilot and loaded their bleeding bodies into an ambulance.
The nearby fire distracted the ordnancemen under the Skyhawks. One bomb, the one on aircraft number three, dropped a moment too soon, crushing the team supervisor’s legs on the hoist. In the shrieking confusion of the moment, the team lost track of what was being done. The injured man was rushed to the base hospital while the three dismounted nuclear weapons were carted back to the storage bunker—in the chaos of an airbase on the first full day of a shooting war, the empty cradle on one of the carts somehow went unnoticed. The aircraft line chiefs arrived a moment later to begin abbreviated pre-flight checks as the jeep arrived from the ready shack. Four pilots jumped off it, each with a helmet in one hand and a tactical map in the other, each furiously eager to lash out at his country’s enemies.
“What the hell’s that?” snapped eighteen-year-old Lieutenant Mordecai Zadin. Called Motti by his friends, he had the gangling awkwardness of his age.
“Fuel tank, looks like,” replied the line chief. He was a reservist who owned a garage in Haifa, a kindly, competent man of fifty years.
“Shit,” the pilot replied, almost quivering with excitement. “I don’t need extra fuel to go to the Golan and back!”
“I can take it off, but I’ll need a few minutes.” Motti considered that for a moment. A sabra from a northern kibbutz, a pilot for barely five months, he saw the rest of his comrades strapping into their aircraft. Syrians were attacking toward the home of his parents, and he had a sudden horror of being left behind on his first combat mission.
“Fuck it! You can strip it off when I get back.” Zadin went up the ladder like a shot. The chief followed, strapping the pilot in place and checking the instruments over the pilot’s shoulder.
“She’s ready, Motti! Be careful.”
“Have some tea for me when I get back.” The youngster grinned with all the ferocity such a child could manage. The line chief slapped him on the helmet.
“You just bring my airplane back to me, menchkin. Mazeltov.”
The chief dropped down to the concrete and removed the ladder. He next gave the aircraft a last visual scan for anything amiss, as Motti got his engine turning. Zadin worked the flight controls and eased the throttle to full idle, checking fuel and engine-temperature gauges. Everything was where it should be. He looked over to the flight leader and waved his readiness. Motti pulled down the manual canopy, took a last look at the line chief, and fired off his farewell salute.
At eighteen, Zadin was not a particularly young pilot by IAF standards. Selected for his quick boy’s reactions and aggressiveness, he’d been identified as a likely prospect four years earlier, and had fought hard for his place in the world’s finest air force. Motti loved to fly, had wanted to fly ever since as a toddler he’d seen a Bf-109 training aircraft that an ironic fate had given Israel to start its air force. And he loved his Skyhawk. It was a pilot’s aircraft. Not an electronicized monster like the Phantom, the A-4 was a small, responsive bird of prey that leaped at the twitch of his hand on the stick. Now he would fly combat. He was totally unafraid. It never occurred to him to fear for his life—like any teenager he was certain of his own immortality, and combat flyers are selected for their lack of human frailty. Yet he marked the day. Never had he seen so fine a dawn. He felt supernaturally alert, aware of everything: the rich wake-up coffee; the dusty smell of the morning air at Beersheba; now the manly scents of oil and leather in the cockpit; the idle static on his radio circuits; and the tingle of his hands on the control stick. He had never known such a day and it never occurred to Motti Zadin that fate would not give him another.
The four-plane formation taxied in perfect order to the end of runway zero-one. It seemed a good omen, taking off due north, toward an enemy only fifteen minutes away. On command of the flight leader—himself a mere twenty-one-all four pilots pushed their throttles to the stops, tripped their brakes, and dashed forward into the cool, calm morning air. In seconds all were airborne and climbing to five thousand feet, careful to avoid the civilian air traffic of Ben-Gurion International Airport, which in the mad scheme of life in the Middle East was still fully active.
The Captain gave his usual series of terse commands, just like a training flight: tuck it in, check engine, ordnance, electrical systems. Heads up for MiGs and friendlies. Make sure your IFF is squawking green. The fifteen minutes it took to fly from Beersheba to the Golan passed rapidly. Zadin’s eyes strained to see the volcanic escarpment for which his older brother had died while taking it from the Syrians only six years before. The Syrians would not get it back, Motti told himself.
“Flight: turn right to heading zero-four-three. Targets are tank columns four kilometers east of the line. Heads up. Watch for SAMs and ground fire.”
“Lead, four: I have tanks on the ground at one,” Zadin reported coolly. “Look like our Centurions.”
“Good eye, Four,” the Captain replied. “They’re friendly.”
“I got a beeper, I got launch warning!” someone called. Eyes scanned the air for danger.
“Shit!” called an excited voice. “SAMs low at twelve coming up!”
“I see them. Flight, left and right, break NOW!” the Captain commanded.
The four Skyhawks scattered by elements. There were a dozen SA-2 missiles several kilometers off, like flying telephone poles, coming toward them at Mach-3. The SAMs split left and right too, but clumsily, and two exploded in a midair collision. Motti rolled right and hauled his stick into his belly, diving for the ground and cursing the extra wing weight. Good, the missiles were not able to track them down. He pulled level a bare hundred feet above the rocks, still heading toward the Syrians at four hundred knots, shaking the sky as he roared over the cheering, beleaguered troopers of the Barak.
The mission was a washout as a coherent strike, Motti already knew. It didn’t matter. He’d get some Syrian tanks. He didn’t have to know exactly whose, so long as they were Syrian. He saw another A-4 and formed up just as it began its firing run. He looked forward and saw them, the dome shapes of Syrian T-62s. Zadin toggled his arming switches without looking. The reflector gunsight appeared in front of his eyes.
“Uh-oh, more SAMs, coming in on the deck.” It was the Captain’s voice, still cool.
Motti’s heart skipped a beat: a swarm of missiles, smaller ones—are these the SA-6s they told us about? he wondered quickly—was tracing over the rocks toward him. He checked his ESM gear; it had not sensed the attacking missiles. There was no warning beyond what his eyes told him. Instinctively Motti clawed for altitude in which to maneuver. Four missiles followed him up. Three kilometers away. He snap-rolled right, then spiraled down and left again. That fooled three of them, but the fourth followed him down. An instant later it exploded a bare thirty meters from his aircraft.
The Skyhawk felt as though it had been kicked aside ten meters or more. Motti struggled with the controls, getting back level just over the rocks. A quick look chilled him. Whole sections of his port wing were shredded. Warning beepers in his headset and flight instruments reported multiple disaster: hydraulics zeroing out, radio out, generator out. But he still had manual flight controls, and his weapons could fire from backup battery power. At that instant he saw his tormentors: a battery of SA-6 missiles, four launcher vehicles, a Straight Flush radar van, and a heavy truck full of reloads, all four kilometers away. His hawk’s eyes could even see the Syrians struggling with the missiles, loading one onto a launcher rail.
They saw him, too, and then began a duel no less epic for its brevity.
Motti eased as far down as he dared with his buffeting controls and carefully centered the target in his reflector sight. He had forty-eight Zuni rockets. They fired in salvos of four. At two kilometers he opened fire into the target area. The Syrian missileers somehow managed to launch another SAM. There should have been no escape, but the SA-6 had a radar-proximity fuse, and the passing Zunis triggered it, exploding the SAM harmlessly half a kilometer away. Motti grinned savagely beneath his mask as he fired rockets and now 20-millimeter cannon fire into the mass of men and vehicles.
The third salvo hit, then four more as Zadin kicked rudder to drop his rockets all over the target area. The missile battery was transformed into an inferno of diesel fuel, missile propellant, and exploding warheads. A huge fireball loomed in his path, and Motti tore through it with a feral shout of glee, his enemies obliterated, his comrades avenged.
Zadin had but a moment of triumph. Great sheets of the aluminum which made up his aircraft’s left wing were being ripped away by the four-hundred-knot slipstream. The A-4 began shuddering wildly. When Motti turned left for home, the wing collapsed entirely. The Skyhawk disintegrated in midair. It took only a few seconds before the teenaged warrior was smashed on the basaltic rocks of the Golan Heights, neither the first nor the last to die there. No other of his flight of four survived.
Of the SAM battery almost nothing was left. All six vehicles had been blasted to fragments. Of the ninety men who had manned them, the largest piece recovered was the headless torso of the battery commander. Both he and Zadin had served their countries well, but as is too often the case, conduct which in another time or place might have inspired the heroic verse of a Virgil or a Tennyson went unseen and unknown. Three days later Zadin’s mother received the news by telegram, learning again that all Israel shared her grief, as if such a thing were possible for a woman who had lost two sons.
But the lingering footnote to this bit of unreported history was that the unarmed bomb broke loose from the disintegrating fighter and proceeded yet farther eastward, falling far from the fighter-bomber’s wreckage to bury itself fifty meters from the home of a Druse farmer. It was not until three days later that the Israelis discovered that their bomb was missing, and not until the day after the October War ended that they were able to reconstruct the details of its loss. This left the Israelis with a problem insoluble even to their imaginations. The bomb was somewhere behind Syrian lines—but where? Which of the four aircraft had carried it? Where had it gone down? They could hardly ask the Syrians to search for it. And could they tell the Americans, from whom the “special nuclear material” had been adroitly and deniably obtained?
And so the bomb lay unknown, except to the Druse farmer, who simply covered it over with two meters of dirt and continued to farm his rocky patch.
THE LONGEST JOURNEY . . .
Arnold van Damm sprawled back in his executive swivel chair with all the elegance of a rag doll tossed into a corner. Jack had never seen him wear a coat except in the presence of the President, and not always then. At formal affairs that required black tie, Ryan wondered if Arnie needed a Secret Service agent standing by with a gun. The tie was loose in the unbuttoned collar, and he wondered if it had ever been tightly knotted. The sleeves on Arnie’s L. L. Bean blue-striped shirt were rolled up, and grimy at the elbows because he usually read documents with his forearms planted on the chronically cluttered desk. But not when speaking to someone. For important conversations, the man leaned back, resting his feet on a desk drawer. Barely fifty, van Damm had thinning gray hair and a face as lined and careworn as an old map, but his pale blue eyes were always alert, and his mind keenly aware of everything that went on within or beyond his sight. It was a quality that went along with being the President’s Chief of Staff.
He poured his Diet Coke into an oversized coffee mug that featured an emblem of the White House on one side and “Arnie” engraved on the other, and regarded the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence with a mixture of wariness and affection. “Thirsty?”
“I can handle a real Coke if you have one down there,” Jack observed with a grin. Van Damm’s left hand dropped below sight, and a red aluminum can appeared on a ballistic path that would have terminated in Ryan’s lap had he not caught it. Opening the can under the circumstances was a tricky exercise, but Jack ostentatiously aimed the can at van Damm when he popped the top. Like the man or not, Ryan told himself, he had style. He was unaffected by his job except when he had to be. This was not such a time. Arnold van Damm acted important only for outsiders. Insiders didn’t need an act.
“The Boss wants to know what the hell is going on over there,” the Chief of Staff opened.
“So do I.” Charles Alden, the President’s National Security Advisor, entered the room. “Sorry I’m late, Arnie.”
“So do we, gentlemen,” Jack replied. “That hasn’t changed in a couple of years. You want the best stuff we’ve got?”
“Sure,” Alden said.
“Next time you fly to Moscow, look out for a large white rabbit with waistcoat and pocket watch. If he offers you a trip down a rabbit hole, take it and let me know what you find down there,” Ryan said with mock gravity. “Look, I’m not one of those right-wing idiots who moans for a return to the Cold War, but then, at least, the Russians were predictable. The poor bastards are starting to act like we do now. They’re unpredictable as hell. The funny part is, now I can understand what a pain in the ass we always were to the KGB. The political dynamic over there is changing on a daily basis. Narmonov is the sharpest political infighter in the world, but every time he goes to work, it’s another crisis.”
“What sort of cat is he?” van Damm asked. “You’ve met the man.” Alden had met Narmonov, but van Damm had not.
“Only once,” Ryan cautioned.
Alden settled down in an armchair. “Look, Jack, we’ve seen your file. So has the Boss. Hell, I’ve almost got him to respect you. Two Intelligence Stars, the submarine business, and, Jesus, the thing with Gerasimov. I’ve heard of still waters running deep, fella, but never this deep. No wonder Al Trent thinks you’re so damned smart.” The Intelligence Star was CIA’s highest decoration for performance in the field. Jack actually had three. But the citation for the third was locked away in a very safe place, and was something so secret that even the new President didn’t and would never know. “So prove it. Talk to us.”
“He’s one of those rare ones. He thrives on chaos. I’ve met docs like that. There are some, a rare few, who keep working in emergency rooms, doing trauma and like that, after everybody else burns out. Some people just groove to pressure and stress, Arnie. He’s one of them. I don’t think he really likes it, but he’s good at it. He must have the physical constitution of a horse—”
“Most politicians do,” van Damm observed.
“Lucky them. Anyway, does Narmonov really know where’s he’s going? I think the answer is both yes and no. He has some sort of idea where he’s moving his country to, but how he gets there, and exactly where he’s going to be when he arrives, that he doesn’t know. That’s the kind of balls the man has.”
“So, you like the guy.” It was not a question.
“He could have snuffed my life out as easy as popping open this can of Coke, and he didn’t. Yeah,” Ryan admitted with a smile, “that does compel me to like him a little. You’d have to be a fool not to admire the man. Even if we were still enemies, he’d still command respect.”
“So we’re not enemies?” Alden asked with a wry grin.
“How can we be?” Jack asked in feigned surprise. “The President says that’s a thing of the past.”
The Chief of Staff grunted. “Politicians talk a lot. That’s what they’re paid for. Will Narmonov make it?”
Ryan looked out the window in disgust, mainly at his own inability to answer the question. “Look at it this way: Andrey Il’ych has got to be the most adroit political operator they’ve ever had. But he’s doing a high-wire act. Sure, he’s the best around, but remember when Karl Wallenda was the best high-wire guy around? He ended up as a red smear on the sidewalk because he had one bad day in a business where you only get one goof. Andrey Il’ych is in the same kind of racket. Will he make it? People have been asking that for eight years! We think so—I think so—but . . . but, hell, this is virgin ground, Arnie. We’ve never been here before. Neither has he. Even a goddamned weather forecaster has a data base to help him out. The two best Russian historians we have are Jake Kantrowitz at Princeton and Derek Andrews at Berkeley, and they’re a hundred-eighty degrees apart at the moment. We just had them both into Langley two weeks ago. Personally I lean towards Jake’s assessment, but our senior Russian analyst thinks Andrews is right. You pays your money and you takes your choice. That’s the best we got. You want pontification, check the newspapers.”
Van Damm grunted and went on. “Next hot spot?”
“The nationalities question is the big killer,” Jack said. “You don’t need me to tell you that. How will the Soviet Union break up—what republics will leave—when and how, peacefully or violently? Narmonov is dealing with that on a daily basis. That problem is here to stay.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying for about a year. How long to let things shake out?” Alden wanted to know.
“Hey, I’m the guy who said East Germany would take at least a year to change over—I was the most optimistic guy in town at the time, and I was wrong by eleven months. Anything I or anyone else tells you is a wild-ass guess.”
“Other trouble spots?” van Damm asked next.
“There’s always the Middle East—” Ryan saw the man’s eyes light up.
“We want to move on that soon.”
“Then I wish you luck. We’ve been working on that since Nixon and Kissinger back during the ’73 semifinals. It’s chilled out quite a bit, but the fundamental problems are still there, and sooner or later it’s going to be thawed. I suppose the good news is that Narmonov doesn’t want any part of it. He may have to support his old friends, and selling them weapons is a big money-maker for him, but if things blow up, he won’t push like they did in the old days. We learned that with Iraq. He might continue to pump weapons in—I think he won’t, but it’s a close call—but he will do nothing more than that to support an Arab attack on Israel. He won’t move his ships, and he won’t alert troops. I doubt he’s willing even to back them if they rattle their sabers a little. Andrey Il’ych says those weapons are for defense, and I think he means it, despite the word we’re getting from the Israelis.”
“That’s solid?” Alden asked. “State says different.”
“State’s wrong,” Ryan replied flatly.
“So does your boss,” van Damm pointed out.
“In that case, sir, I must respectfully disagree with the DCI’s assessment.”
Alden nodded. “Now I know why Trent likes you. You don’t talk like a bureaucrat. How have you lasted so long, saying what you really think?”
“Maybe I’m the token.” Ryan laughed, then turned serious. “Think about it. With all the ethnic crap he’s dealing with, taking an active role bears as many dangers as advantages. No, he sells weapons for hard currency and only when the coast is clear. That’s business, and that’s as far as it goes.”
“So if we can find a way to settle things down . . . ?” Alden mused.
“He might even help. At worst, he’ll stand by the sidelines and bitch that he’s not in the game. But tell me, how do you plan to settle things down?”
“Put a little pressure on Israel,” van Damm replied simply.
“That’s dumb for two reasons. It’s wrong to pressure Israel until their security concerns are alleviated, and their security concerns will not be alleviated until some of the fundamental issues are settled first.”
“Like . . . ?”
“Like what is this conflict all about.” The one thing that everyone overlooks.
“It’s religious, but the damned fools believe in the same things!” van Damm growled. “Hell, I read the Koran last month, and it’s the same as what I learned in Sunday school.”
“That’s true,” Ryan agreed, “but so what? Catholics and Protestants both believe that Christ is the son of God, but that hasn’t stopped Northern Ireland from blowing up. Safest place in the world to be Jewish. The friggin’ Christians are so busy killing one another off that they don’t have time to be anti-Semitic. Look, Arnie, however slight the religious differences in either place may appear to us, to them they appear big enough to kill over. That’s as big as they need to be, pal.”
“True, I guess,” the Chief of Staff agreed reluctantly. He thought for a moment. “Jerusalem, you mean?”
“Bingo.” Ryan finished off his Coke and crushed the can before flipping it into van Damm’s trash can for two. “The city is sacred to three religions—think of them as three tribes—but it physically belongs to only one of them. That one is at war with one of the others. The volatile nature of the region militates toward putting some armed troops in the place, but whose? Remember, some Islamic crazies shot up Mecca not that long ago. Now, if you put an Arab security force in Jerusalem, you create a security threat to Israel. If things stay as they are, with only an Israeli force, you offend the Arabs. Oh, and forget the UN. Israel won’t like it because the Jews haven’t made out all that well in the place. The Arabs won’t like it because there’s too many Christians. And we won’t like it because the UN doesn’t like us all that much. The only available international body is distrusted by everyone. Impasse.”
“The President really wants to move on this,” the Chief of Staff pointed out. We have to do something to make it look like we’re DOING SOMETHING.
“Well, next time he sees the Pope, maybe he can ask for high-level intercession.” Jack’s irreverent grin froze momentarily. Van Damm thought he was cautioning himself against speaking badly of the President, whom he disliked. But then Ryan’s face went blank. Arnie didn’t know Jack well enough to recognize the look. “Wait a minute . . .”
The Chief of Staff chuckled. It wouldn’t hurt for the President to see the Pope. It always looked good with the voters, and after that the President would have a well-covered dinner with B’nai B’rith to show that he liked all religions. In fact, as van Damm knew, the President went to church only for show now that his children were grown. That was one amusing aspect of life. The Soviet Union was turning back to religion in its search for societal values, but the American political left had turned away long ago and had no inclination to turn back, lest it should find the same values that the Russians were searching for. Van Damm had started off as a left-wing believer, but twenty-five years of hands-on experience in government had cured him of that. Now he distrusted ideologues of both wings with equal fervor. He was the sort to look for solutions whose only attraction was that they might actually work. His reverie on politics took him away from the discussion of the moment.
“You thinking about something, Jack?” Alden asked.
“You know, we’re all ‘people of the book,’ aren’t we?” Ryan asked, seeing the outline of a new thought in the fog.
“And the Vatican is a real country, with real diplomatic status, but no armed forces . . . they’re Swiss . . . and Switzerland is neutral, not even a member of the UN. The Arabs do their banking and carousing there . . . gee, I wonder if he’d go for it . . . ?” Ryan’s face went blank again, and van Damm saw Jack’s eyes center as the light bulb flashed on. It was always exciting to watch an idea being born, but less so when you didn’t know what it was.
“Go for what? Who go for what?” the Chief of Staff asked with some annoyance. Alden just waited.
Ryan told them.
“I mean, a large part of this whole mess is over the Holy Places, isn’t it? I could talk to some of my people at Langley. We have a really good—”
Van Damm leaned back in his chair. “What sort of contacts do you have? You mean talking to the Nuncio?”
Ryan shook his head. “The Nuncio is a good old guy, Cardinal Giancatti, but he’s just here for show. You’ve been here long enough to know that, Arnie. You want to talk to folks who know stuff, you go to Father Riley at Georgetown. He taught me when I got my doctorate at G-Town. We’re pretty tight. He’s got a pipeline into the General.”
“The Father General of the Society of Jesus. The head Jesuit, Spanish guy, his name is Francisco Alcalde. He and Father Tim taught together at St. Robert Bellarmine University in Rome. They’re both historians, and Father Tim’s his unofficial rep over here. You’ve never met Father Tim?”
“No. Is he worth it?”
“Oh, yeah. One of the best teachers I ever had. Knows D.C. inside and out. Good contacts back at the home office.” Ryan grinned, but the joke was lost on van Damm.
“Can you set up a quiet lunch?” Alden asked. “Not here, someplace else.”
“The Cosmos Club up in Georgetown. Father Tim belongs. The University Club is closer, but—”
“Right. Can he keep a secret?”
“A Jesuit keep a secret?” Ryan laughed. “You’re not Catholic, are you?”
“How soon could you set it up?”
“Tomorrow or day after all right?”
“What about his loyalty?” van Damm asked out of a clear sky.
“Father Tim is an American citizen, and he’s not a security risk. But he’s also a priest, and he has taken vows to what he naturally considers an authority higher than the Constitution. You can trust the man to honor all his obligations, but don’t forget what all those obligations are,” Ryan cautioned. “You can’t order him around, either.”
“Set up the lunch. Sounds like I ought to meet the guy in any case. Tell him it’s a get-acquainted thing,” Alden said. “Make it soon. I’m free for lunch tomorrow and the next day.”
“Yes, sir.” Ryan stood.
The Cosmos Club in Washington is located at the corner of Massachusetts and Florida avenues. The former manor house of Sumner Welles, Ryan thought it looked naked without about four hundred acres of rolling ground, a stable of thoroughbred horses, and perhaps a resident fox that the owner would hunt, but not too hard. These were surroundings the place had never possessed, and Ryan wondered why it had been built in this place in this style, so obviously at odds with the realities of Washington, but built by a man who had understood the workings of the city so consummately well. Chartered as a club of the intelligentsia-membership was based on “achievement” rather than money—it was known in Washington as a place of erudite conversation and the worst food in a town of undistinguished restaurants. Ryan led Alden into a small private room upstairs.
Father Timothy Riley, S.J., was waiting for them, a briar pipe clamped in his teeth as he paged through the morning’s Post. A glass sat at his right hand, a skim of sherry at the bottom of it. Father Tim was wearing a rumpled shirt and a jacket that needed pressing, not the formal priest’s uniform that he saved for important meetings and had been hand-tailored by one of the nicer shops on Wisconsin Avenue. But the white Roman collar was stiff and bright, and Jack had the sudden thought that despite all his years of Catholic education he didn’t know what the things were made of. Starched cotton? Celluloid like the detachable collars of his grandfather’s age? In either case, its evident rigidity must have been a reminder to its wearer of his place in this world, and the next.
“Hi, Father. This is Charles Alden, Father Tim Riley.” Handshakes were exchanged and places at the table selected. A waiter came in and took drink orders, closing the door as he left.
“How’s the new job, Jack?” Riley asked.
“The horizons keep broadening,” Ryan admitted. He left it at that. The priest would already know the problems Jack was having at Langley.
“We’ve had this idea about the Middle East, and Jack suggested that you’d be a good man to discuss it with,” Alden said, getting everyone back to business. He had to stop when the waiter returned with drinks and menus. His discourse on the idea took several minutes.
“That’s interesting,” Riley said when it was all on the table.
“What’s your read on the concept?” the National Security Advisor wanted to know.
“Interesting . . .” The priest was quiet for a moment.
“Will the Pope . . . ?” Ryan stopped Alden with a wave of the hand. Riley was not a man to be hurried when he was thinking. He was, after all, an historian, and they didn’t have the urgency of medical doctors.
“It certainly is elegant,” Riley observed after thirty seconds. “The Greeks will be a major problem, though.”
“The Greeks? How so?” Ryan asked in surprise.
“The really contentious people right now are the Greek Orthodox. We and they are at each other’s throats half the time over the most trivial administrative issues. You know, the rabbis and the imams are actually more cordial at the moment than the Christian priests are. That’s the funny thing about religious people, it’s hard to predict how they will react. Anyway, the problems between the Greeks and Romans are mainly administrative—who gets custody over which site, that sort of thing. There was a big go-round over Bethlehem last year, who got to do the midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity. It is awfully disappointing, isn’t it?”
“You’re saying it won’t work because two Catholic churches can’t—”
“I said there could be a problem, Dr. Alden. I did not say that it wouldn’t work.” Riley lapsed back into silence for a moment. “You’ll have to adjust the troika . . . but given the nature of the operation, I think we can get the right kind of cooperation. Co-opting the Greek Orthodox is something you’ll have to do in any case. They and the Muslims get along very well, you know.”
“How so?” Alden asked.
“Back when Mohammed was chased out of Mecca by the pre-Muslim pagans, he was granted asylum at the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai—it’s a Greek Orthodox shrine. They took care of him when he needed a friend. Mohammed was an honorable man; that monastery has enjoyed the protection of the Muslims ever since. Over a thousand years, and that place has never been troubled despite all the nasty things that have happened in the area. There is much to admire about Islam, you know. We in the West often overlook that because of the crazies who call themselves Muslims—as though we don’t have the same problem in Christianity. There is much nobility there, and they have a tradition of scholarship that commands respect. Except that nobody over here knows much about it,” Riley concluded.
“Any other conceptual problems?” Jack asked.
Father Tim laughed. “The Council of Vienna! How did you forget that, Jack?”
“What?” Alden sputtered in annoyance.
“Eighteen-fifteen. Everybody knows that! After the final settlement of the Napoleonic Wars, the Swiss had to promise never to export mercenaries. I’m sure we can finesse that. Excuse me, Dr. Alden. The Pope’s guard detachment is composed of Swiss mercenaries. So was the French king’s once—they all got killed defending King Louis and Marie Antoinette. Same thing nearly happened to the Pope’s troops once, but they held the enemy off long enough for a small detachment to evacuate the Holy Father to a secure location, Castel Gandolfo, as I recall. Mercenaries used to be the main Swiss export, and they were feared wherever they went. The Swiss Guards of the Vatican are mostly for show now, of course, but once upon a time the need for them was quite real. In any case, Swiss mercenaries had such a ferocious reputation that a footnote of the Council of Vienna, which settled the Napoleonic Wars, compelled the Swiss to promise not to allow their people to fight anywhere but at home and the Vatican. But, as I just said, that is a trivial problem. The Swiss would be delighted to be seen helping solve this problem. It could only increase their prestige in a region where there is a lot of money.”
“Sure,” Jack observed. “Especially if we provide their equipment. M-1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, cellular communications. . . .”
“Come on, Jack,” Riley said.
“No, Father, the nature of the mission will demand some heavy weapons—for psychological impact if nothing else. You have to demonstrate that you’re serious. Once you do that, then the rest of the force can wear the Michelangelo jump suits and carry their halberds and smile into the cameras—but you still need a Smith & Wesson to beat four aces, especially over there.”
Riley conceded the point. “I like the elegance of the concept, gentlemen. It appeals to the noble. Everyone involved claims to believe in God by one name or another. By appealing to them in His name . . . hmm, that’s the key, isn’t it? The City of God. When do you need an answer?”
“It’s not all that high-priority,” Alden answered. Riley got the message. It was a matter of official White House interest, but was not something to be fast-tracked. Neither was it something to be buried on the bottom of someone’s desk pile. It was, rather, a back-channel inquiry to be handled expeditiously and very quietly.
“Well, it has to go through the bureaucracy. The Vatican has the oldest continuously-operating bureaucracy in the world, remember.”
“That’s why we’re talking to you,” Ryan pointed out. “The General can cut through all the crap.”
“That’s no way to talk about the princes of the church, Jack!” Riley nearly exploded with laughter.
“I’m a Catholic, remember? I understand.”
“I’ll drop them a line,” Riley promised. Today, his eyes said.
“Quietly,” Alden emphasized.
“Quietly,” Riley agreed.
Ten minutes later Father Timothy Riley was back in his car for the short drive back to his office at Georgetown. Already his mind was at work. Ryan had guessed right about Father Tim’s connections and their importance. Riley was composing his message in Attic Greek, the language of philosophers never spoken by more than fifty thousand people, but the language in which he’d studied Plato and Aristotle at Woodstock Seminary in Maryland all those years before.
Once in his office, he instructed his secretary to hold all calls, closed the door, and activated his personal computer. First he inserted a disk that allowed the use of Greek characters. Riley was not a skilled typist—having both a secretary and a computer rapidly erodes that skill—and it took him an hour to produce the document he needed. It was printed up as a double-spaced nine-page letter. Riley next opened a desk drawer and dialed in his code for a small but secure office safe that was concealed in what appeared to be a file drawer. Here, as Ryan had long suspected, was a cipher book, laboriously handprinted by a young priest on the Father General’s personal staff. Riley had to laugh. It just wasn’t the sort of thing one associated with the priesthood. In 1944, when Admiral Chester Nimitz had suggested to Francis Cardinal Spellman, Catholic Vicar General for the U.S. military, that perhaps the Marianas Islands needed a new bishop, the Cardinal had produced his cipher book and used the communications network of the U.S. Navy to have a new bishop appointed. As with any other organization, the Catholic Church occasionally needed a secure communications link, and the Vatican cipher service had been around for centuries. In this case, the cipher key for this day was a lengthy passage from Aristotle’s discourse on Being qua Being, with seven words removed and four grotesquely misspelled. A commercial encryption program handled the rest. Then he had to print out a new copy and set it aside. His computer was again switched off, erasing all record of the communique. Riley next faxed the letter to the Vatican and shredded all the hard copies. The entire exercise took three laborious hours, and when he informed his secretary that he was ready to get back to business, he knew that he’d have to work far into the night. Unlike an ordinary businessman, Riley didn’t swear.
“I don’t like this,” Leary said quietly behind his binoculars.
“Neither do I,” Paulson agreed. His view of the scene through the ten-power telescopic sight was less panoramic and far more focused. Nothing about the situation was pleasing. The subject was one the FBI had been chasing for more than ten years. Implicated in the deaths of two special agents of the Bureau and a United States Marshal, John Russell (a/k/a Matt Murphy, a/k/a Richard Burton, a/k/a/ Red Bear) had disappeared into the warm embrace of something called the Warrior Society of the Sioux Nation. There was little of the warrior about John Russell. Born in Minnesota far from the Sioux reservation, he’d been a petty felon whose one major conviction had landed him in a prison. It was there that he had discovered his ethnicity and begun thinking like his perverted image of a Native American—which to Paulson’s way of thinking had more of Mikhail Bakunin in it than of Cochise or Toohoolhoolzote. Joining another prison-born group called the American Indian Movement, Russell had been involved in a half-dozen nihilistic acts, ending with the deaths of three federal officers, then vanished. But sooner or later they all screwed up, and today was John Russell’s turn. Taking its chance to raise money by running drugs into Canada, the Warrior Society had made its mistake, and allowed its plans to be overheard by a federal informant.
They were in the ghostly remains of a farming town six miles from the Canadian border. The FBI Hostage Rescue Team, as usual without any hostages to rescue, was acting its role as the Bureau’s premiere SWAT team. The ten men deployed on the mission under squad supervisor Dennis Black were under the administrative control of the Special Agent in Charge of the local field office. That was where the Bureau’s customary professionalism had come to a screeching halt. The local S-A-C had set up an elaborate ambush plan that had started badly and nearly ended in disaster, with three agents already in hospitals from the auto wrecks and two more with serious gunshot wounds. In return, one subject was known dead, and maybe another was wounded, but no one was sure at the moment. The rest—three or four; they were not sure of that either—were holed up in what had once been a motel. What they knew for sure was that either the motel had a still-working phone or, more likely, the subjects had a cellular “brick” and had called the media. What was happening now was of such magnificent confusion as to earn the admiration of Phineas T. Barnum. The local S-A-C was trying to salvage what remained of his professional reputation by using the media to his advantage. What he hadn’t figured out yet was that handling network teams dispatched from as far away as Denver and Chicago wasn’t quite the same thing as dealing with the local reporters fresh from journalism school. It was very hard to call the shots with the pros.
“Bill Shaw is going to have this guy’s balls for brunch tomorrow,” Leary observed quietly.
“That does us a whole lot of good,” Paulson replied. A snort. “Besides, what balls?”
“What you got?” Black asked over the secure radio circuit.
“Movement, but no ID,” Leary replied. “Bad light. These guys may be dumb, but they’re not crazy.”
“The subjects have asked for a TV reporter to come in with a camera, and the S-A-C has agreed.”
“Dennis, have you—” Paulson nearly came off the scope at that.
“Yes, I have,” Black replied. “He says he’s in command.” The Bureau’s negotiator, a psychiatrist with hard-won expertise in these affairs, was still two hours away, and the S-A-C wanted something for the evening news. Black wanted to throttle the man, but he couldn’t, of course.
“Can’t arrest the guy for incompetence,” Leary said, his hand over the microphone. Well, the only thing these bastards don’t have is a hostage. So why not give ’em one? That’ll give the negotiator something to do.
“Talk to me, Dennis,” Paulson said next.
“Rules of Engagement are in force, on my authority,” Supervisory Special Agent Black said. “The reporter is a female, twenty-eight, blond and blue, about five-six. Cameraman is a black guy, dark complexion, six-three. I told him where to walk. He’s got brains, and he’s playing ball.”
“Roger that, Dennis.”
“How long you been on the gun, Paulson?” Black asked next. The book said that a sniper could not stay fully alert on the gun for more than thirty minutes, at which point the observer and sniper exchanged positions. Dennis Black figured that someone had to play by the book.
“About fifteen minutes, Dennis. I’m okay . . . okay, I got the newsies.”
They were very close, a mere hundred fifteen yards from the front door of the block building. The light was not good. The sun would set in another ninety minutes. It had been a blustery day. A hot southwesterly wind was ripping across the prairie. Dust stung the eyes. Worse, the wind was hitting over forty knots and was directly across his line of sight. That sort of wind could screw up his aim by as much as four inches.
“Team is standing by,” Black advised. “We just got Compromise Authority.”
“Well, at least he isn’t a total asshole,” Leary replied over the radio. He was too angry to care if the S-A-C heard that or not. More likely, the dumbass had just choked again.
Both sniper and observer wore ghillie suits. It had taken them two hours to get into position, but they were effectively invisible, their shaggy camouflage blending them in with the scrubby trees and prairie grass here. Leary watched the newsies approach. The girl was pretty, he thought, though her hair and makeup had to be suffering from the dry, harsh wind. The man on the camera looked like he could have played guard for the Vikings, maybe tough and fast enough to clear the way for that sensational new halfback, Tony Wills. Leary shook it off.
“The cameraman has a vest on. Girl doesn’t.” You stupid bitch, Leary thought. I know Dennis told you what these bastards were all about.
“Dennis said he was smart.” Paulson trained the rifle on the building. “Movement at the door!”
“Let’s everyone try to be smart,” Leary murmured.
“Subject One in sight,” Paulson announced. “Russell’s coming out. Sniper One is on target.”
“Got him,” three voices replied at once.
John Russell was an enormous man. Six-five, over two hundred-fifty pounds of what had once been athletic but was now a frame running to fat and dissolution. He wore jeans, but was bare-chested with a headband securing his long black hair in place. His chest bore tattoos, some professionally done, but more of the prison spit-and-pencil variety. He was the sort of man police preferred to meet with gun in hand. He moved with the lazy arrogance that announced his willingness to depart from the rules.
“Subject One is carrying a large, blue-steel revolver,” Leary told the rest of the team. Looks like an N-Frame Smith. . . . “I, uh—Dennis, there’s something odd about him . . .”
“What is it?” Black asked immediately.
“Mike’s right,” Paulson said next, examining the face through his scope. There was a wildness to his eyes. “He’s on something, Dennis, he’s doped up. Call those newsies back!” But it was too late for that.
Paulson kept the sight on Russell’s head. Russell wasn’t a person now. He was a subject, a target. The team was now acting under the Compromise Authority rule. At least the S-A-C had done that right. It meant that if something went badly wrong, the HRT was free to take whatever action its leader deemed appropriate. Further, Paulson’s special Sniper Rules of Engagement were explicit. If the subject appeared to threaten any agent or civilian with deadly force, then his right index finger would apply four pounds, three ounces of pressure to the precision set-trigger of the rifle in his grasp.
“Let’s everybody be real cool, for Christ’s sake,” the sniper breathed. His Unertl telescopic sight had crosshairs and stadia marks. Automatically Paulson reestimated the range, then settled down while his brain tried to keep track of the gusting wind. The sight reticle was locked on Russell’s head, right on the ear, which made a fine point of aim.
It was horridly comical to watch. The reporter smiling, moving the microphone back and forth. The burly cameraman aiming his minicam with its powerful single light running off the battery pack around the black man’s waist. Russell was speaking forcefully,, but neither Leary nor Paulson could hear a word he was saying against the wind. The look on his face was angry from the beginning, and did not improve. Soon his left hand balled into a fist, and his fingers started flexing around the grips of the revolver in his right. The wind buffeted the silk blouse close around the reporter’s bra-less chest. Leary remembered that Russell had a reputation as a sexual athlete, supposedly on the brutal side. But there was a strange vacancy to his face. His expressions went from emotionless to passionate in what had to be a chemically induced whipsaw state that only added to the stress of being trapped by FBI agents. He calmed suddenly, but it wasn’t a normal calm.
That asshole S-A-C, Leary swore at himself. We ought to just back off and wait them out. The situation is stabilized. They’re not going anywhere. We could negotiate by phone and just wait them out. . . .
Russell’s free hand grabbed the reporter’s upper right arm. She tried to draw back, but possessed only a fraction of the strength required to do so. The cameraman moved. One hand came off the Sony. He was a big, strong man, and might have pulled it off, but his move only provoked Russell. The subject’s gun hand moved.
“On target on target on target!” Paulson said urgently. Stop, you asshole, STOP NOW! He couldn’t let the gun come up very far. His brain was racing, evaluating the situation. A large-frame Smith & Wesson, maybe a .44. It made big, bloody wounds. Maybe the subject was just punctuating his words, but Paulson didn’t know or care what those words were. He was probably telling the black guy on the camera to stop; the gun seemed to be pointing more that way than at the girl, but the gun was still coming up and—
The crack of the rifle stopped time like a photograph. Paulson’s finger had moved, seemingly of its own accord, but training had simply taken over. The rifle surged back in recoil, and the sniper’s hand was already moving to work the bolt and load another round. The wind had chosen a bad moment to gust, throwing Paulson’s aim off ever so slightly to the right. Instead of drilling through the center of Russell’s head, the bullet struck well forward of the ear. On hitting bone, it fragmented. The subject’s face was ripped explosively from the skull. Nose, eyes, and forehead vanished into a wet red mist. Only the mouth remained, and that was open and screaming, as blood vented from Russell’s head as though from a clogged showerhead. Dying, but not dead, Russell jerked one round off at the cameraman before falling forward against the reporter. Then the cameraman was down, and the reporter was just standing there, not having had enough time even to be shocked by the blood and tissue on her clothing and face. Russell’s hands clawed briefly at a face no longer there, then went still. Paulson’s radio headset screamed “GO GO GO!” but he scarcely took note of it. He drove the second round into the chamber, and spotted a face in a window of the building. He recognized it from photographs. It was a subject, a bad guy. And there was a weapon there, looked like an old Winchester lever-action. It started moving. Paulson’s second shot was better than the first, straight into the forehead of Subject Two, someone named William Ames.
Time started again. The HRT members raced in, dressed in their black Nomex coveralls and body armor. Two dragged the reporter away. Two more did the same with the cameraman, whose Sony was clasped securely to his chest. Another tossed an explosive flash-bang grenade through the broken window while Dennis Black and the remaining three team members dove through the open door. There were no other shots. Fifteen seconds later the radio crackled again.
“This is Team Leader. Building search complete. Two subjects down and dead. Subject Two is William Ames. Subject Three is Ernest Thorn, looks like he’s been dead for a while from two in the chest. Subjects’ weapons are neutralized. Site is secure. Repeat, site secure.”
“Jesus!” It was Leary’s first shooting involvement after ten years in the Bureau. Paulson got up to his knees after clearing his weapon, folded the rifle’s bipod legs, then trotted toward the building. The local S-A-C beat him there, service automatic in hand, standing over the prone body of John Russell. It was just as well that the front of Russell’s head was hidden. Every drop of blood he’d once had was now on the cracked cement sidewalk.
“Nice job!” the S-A-C told everyone. That was his last mistake in a day replete with them.
“You ignorant, shit-faced asshole!” Paulson pushed him against the painted block walls. “These people are dead because of you!” Leary jumped between them, pushing Paulson away from the surprised senior agent. Dennis Black appeared next, his face blank.
“Clean up your mess,” he said, leading his men away before something else happened. “How’s that newsie?”
The cameraman was lying on his back, the Sony at his eyes. The reporter was on her knees, vomiting. She had good cause. An agent had already wiped her face, but her expensive blouse was a red obscenity that would occupy her nightmares for weeks to come.
“You okay?” Dennis asked. “Turn that goddamned thing off!”
He set the camera down, switching off the light. The cameraman shook his head and felt at a spot just below the ribs. “Thanks for the advice, brother. Gotta send a letter to the people that make this vest. I really—” And his voice stopped. Finally the realization of what had happened took hold, and the shock started. “Oh God, oh, sweet merciful Jesus!”
Paulson walked to the Chevy Carryall and locked his rifle in the rigid guncase. Leary and one other agent stayed with him, telling him that he had done exactly the right thing. They’d do that until Paulson got over his stress period. It wasn’t the sniper’s first kill, but while they had all been different incidents, they were all the same, all things to be regretted. The aftermath to a real shooting does not include a commercial.
The reporter suffered the normal post-traumatic hysteria. She ripped off her blood-soaked blouse, forgetting that there was nothing under it. An agent wrapped a blanket around her and helped to steady her down. More news crews were converging on the scene, most heading toward the building. Dennis Black got his people together to clear their weapons and help with the two civilians. The reporter recovered in a few minutes. She asked if it had really been necessary, then learned that her cameraman had taken a shot that had been stopped by the Second Chance vest the Bureau had recommended to both of them, but which she had rejected. She next entered the elation phase, just as happy as she could be that she could still breathe. Soon the shock would return, but she was a bright journalist despite her youth and inexperience, and had already learned something important. Next time she’d listen when someone gave her good advice; the nightmares would merely punctuate the importance of the lesson. Within thirty minutes she was standing up without assistance, wearing her backup outfit, giving a level if brittle account of what had happened. But it was the tape footage that would impress the people at Black Rock, headquarters of CBS. The cameraman would get a personal letter from the head of the News Division. The footage had everything: drama, death, a courageous (and attractive) reporter, and would run as the lead piece for the evening news broadcast for this otherwise slow news day, to be repeated by all the network morning shows the next day. In each case the anchor would solemnly warn people that what they were about to see might disturb the sensitive—just to make sure that everyone understood that something especially juicy was about to screen. Since everyone had more than one chance to view the event, quite a few had their tape machines turning the second time around. One of them was the head of the Warrior Society. His name was Marvin Russell.
It had started innocently enough. His stomach was unsettled when he awoke. The morning jobs became a little more tiresome. He didn’t feel quite himself. You’re over thirty, he told himself. You’re not a boy anymore. Besides, he’d always been vigorous. Maybe it was just a cold, a virus, the lingering effects of bad water, some stomach bug. He’d just work his way out of it. He added weight to his pack, took to carrying a loaded magazine in his rifle. He’d gotten lazy, that’s all. That was easily remedied. He was nothing if not a determined man.
For a month or so, it worked. Sure, he was even more tired, but that was to be expected with the extra five kilos of weight he carried. He welcomed the additional fatigue as evidence of his warrior’s virtue, went back to simpler foods, forced himself to adopt better sleep habits. It helped. The muscle aches were no different from the time he’d entered this demanding life, and he slept the dreamless sleep of the just. What had been tough became tougher still as his focused mind gave its orders to a recalcitrant body. Could he not defeat some invisible microbe? Had he not bested far larger and more formidable organisms? The thought was less a challenge than a petty amusement. As with most determined men, his competition was entirely within himself, the body resisting what the mind commanded.
But it never quite went away. Though his body became leaner and harder, the aches and the nausea persisted. He became annoyed with it, and the annoyance first surfaced in jokes. When his senior colleagues took note of his discomfort, he called it morning sickness, evoking gales of rough laughter. He bore the discomfort for another month, then found that it was necessary to lighten his load to maintain his place in front with the leaders. For the first time in his life, faint doubts appeared like wispy clouds in the clear sky of his determined self-image. It was no longer an amusement.
He stuck with it for still another month, never slacking in his routine except for the additional hour of sleep that he imposed on his otherwise tireless regimen. Despite this, his condition worsened—well, not exactly worsened, but did not improve a bit. Maybe it was merely the increasing years, he finally admitted to himself. He was, after all, only a man, however hard he worked to perfect his form. There was no disgrace in that, determined though he might have been to prevent it.
Finally he started grumbling about it. His comrades were understanding. All of them were younger than he, many having served their leader for five years or more. They revered him for his toughness, and if the toughness showed a few hairline cracks, what did it mean except that he was human after all, and all the more admirable because of it? One or two suggested home remedies, but finally a close friend and comrade told him that he was foolish indeed not to see one of the local doctors—his sister’s husband was a good one, a graduate of British medical schools. Determined as he was to avoid this abnegation of his person, it was time to take what he knew to be good advice.
The doctor was as good as advertised. Sitting behind his desk in a laboratory coat the color of starched white, he took a complete medical history, then performed a preliminary examination. There was nothing overtly wrong. He talked about stress—something his patient needed no lectures about—and pointed out that over the years stress claimed an increasing heavy forfeit on those who bore it. He talked about good eating habits, how exercise could be overdone, how rest was important. He decided that the problem was a combination of various small things, including what was probably a small but annoying intestinal disorder, and prescribed a drug to ameliorate it. The doctor concluded his lecture with a soliloquy about patients who were too proud to do what was good for them, and how foolish they were. The patient nodded approvingly, according the physician deserved respect. He’d given not dissimilar lectures to his own subordinates, and was as determined as always to do things in exactly the right way.
The medication worked for a week or so. His stomach almost returned to normal. Certainly it improved, but he noted with annoyance that it wasn’t quite the same as before. Or was it? It was, he admitted to himself, hard to remember such trivial things as how one felt on awakening. The mind, after all, concerned itself with the great ideas, like mission and purpose, and left the body to attend its own needs and leave the mind alone. The mind wasn’t supposed to be bothered. The mind gave orders and expected them to be followed. It didn’t need distractions like this. How could purpose exist with distractions? He’d determined his life’s purpose long years before.
But it simply would not go away, and finally he had to return to the physician. A more careful examination was undertaken. He allowed his body to be poked and prodded, to have his blood drawn by a needle instead of the more violent instruments for which he had prepared himself. Maybe it was something almost serious, the physician told him, a low-order systemic infection, for example. There were drugs to treat that. Malaria, once pandemic to the region, for example, had similar but more serious debilitating effects, as did any number of maladies which had once been serious but were now easily defeated by the forces available to modern medicine. The tests would show what was wrong, and the doctor was determined to fix it. He knew of his patient’s purpose in life, and shared it from a safer and more distant perspective.
He returned to the doctor’s office two days later. Immediately he knew that something was wrong. He’d seen the same look often enough on the face of his intelligence officer. Something unexpected. Something to interfere with plans. The doctor began speaking slowly, searching for words, trying to find a way to make the message easier, but the patient would have none of that. He had chosen to live a dangerous life, and demanded the information as directly as he would have given it. The physician nodded respectfully, and replied in kind. The man took the news dispassionately. He was accustomed to disappointments of many kinds. He knew what lay at the end of every life, and had many times helped to deliver it to others. So. Now it lay in his path also, to be avoided if possible but there nonetheless, perhaps near, perhaps not. He asked what could be done, and the news was less bad than he had expected. The doctor did not insult him with words of comfort, but read his patient’s mind and explained the facts of the matter. There were things to be done. They might succeed. They might not. Time would tell. His physical strength would help a great deal, as would his iron determination. A proper state of mind, the physician told him, was highly important. The patient almost smiled at that, but stopped himself. Better to show the courage of a stoic than the hope of a fool. And what was death, after all? Had he not lived a life dedicated to justice? To the will of God? Had he not sacrificed his life to a great and worthy purpose?
But that was the rub. He was not a man who planned on failure. He had selected a goal for his life, and years before determined to reach it regardless of cost to himself or others. On that altar he had sacrificed everything he might have been, the dreams of his dead parents, the education which they had hoped he would use for the betterment of himself and others, a normal, comfortable life with a woman who might bear him sons—all of that he had rejected in favor of a path of toil, danger, and utter determination to reach that single shining goal.
And now? Was it all for nothing? Was his life to end without meaning? Would he never see the day for which he had lived? Was God that cruel? All these thoughts paraded through his consciousness while his face remained neutral, his eyes guarded as always. No. He would not let that be. God could not have deserted him. He would see the day—or at least see it grow closer. His life would have meaning after all. It had not been all for nothing, nor would what future he might yet have be for nothing. On that, too, he was determined.
Ismael Qati would follow his doctor’s orders, do what must be done to extend his time, and perhaps defeat this internal enemy, as insidious and contemptible as those outside. In the meantime he would redouble his efforts, push himself to the limits of physical endurance, ask his God for guidance, look for a sign of His will. As he had fought his other enemies, so would he fight this one, with courage and total dedication. He’d never known mercy in his life, after all, and he would not start showing it now. If he had to face death, the deaths of others paled even further than usual. But he would not lash out blindly. He would do what he had to do. He would carry on as before, waiting for the chance that his faith told him must lie somewhere beyond his sight, between himself and the end of his path. His determination had always been directed by intelligence. It was that which explained his effectiveness.
The letter from Georgetown arrived in a Roman office, scarce minutes after transmission, where, as with any bureaucracy, the night clerk (what intelligence agencies call a watch officer) simply dropped it on the proper desk and went back to his studies for an exam on the metaphysical discourses of Aquinas. A young Jesuit priest named Hermann Schorner, private secretary to Francisco Alcalde, Father General of the Society of Jesus, arrived the next morning promptly at seven and began sorting the overnight mail. The fax from America was third from the top, and stopped the young cleric in his tracks. Cipher traffic was a routine part of his job, but was not all that common. The code prefix at the top of the communication indicated the originator and the priority. Father Schörner hurried through the rest of the mail and went immediately to work.
The procedure was an exact inversion of what Father Riley had done, except that Schörner’s typing skills were excellent. He used an optical scanner to transcribe the text into a personal computer and punched up the decryption program. Irregularities on the facsimile copy caused some garbles, but that was easily fixed, and clear-text copy—still in Attic Greek, of course—slid out of the ink-jet printer. It had required merely twenty minutes, as opposed to Riley’s three laborious hours. The young priest prepared morning coffee for himself and his boss, then read the letter with his second cup of the day. How extraordinary, Schörner reflected.
Reverend Francisco Alcalde was an elderly but uncommonly vigorous man. At sixty-six, he still played a fair game of tennis, and was known to ski with the Holy Father. A gaunt, wiry six-four, his thick mane of gray hair was brush-cut over deep-set owlish eyes. Alcalde was a man with solid intellectual credentials. The master of eleven languages, had he not been a priest he might have become the foremost medieval historian in Europe. But he was, before all things, a priest whose administrative duties chafed against his desire for both teaching and pastoral ministry. In a few years he would leave his post as Father General of Roman Catholicism’s largest and most powerful order and find himself again as a university instructor, illuminating young minds and leaving campus to celebrate mass in a small working-class parish where he could concern himself with ordinary human needs. That, he thought, would be the final blessing of a life cluttered with so many of them. Not a perfect man, he frequently wrestled with the pride that attended his intellect, trying and not always succeeding to cultivate the humility necessary to his vocation. Well, he sighed, perfection was a goal never to be reached, and he smiled at the humor of it.
“Guten Morgen, Hermann!” he said, sweeping through the door.
“Bongiorno,” the German priest replied, then lapsed into Greek. “Something interesting this morning.”
The bushy eyebrows twitched at the message, and he jerked his head toward the inner office. Schörner followed with the coffee.
“The tennis court is reserved for four o’clock,” Schörner said as he poured his boss’s cup.
“So you can humiliate me yet again?” It was occasionally joked that Schörner could turn professional, contributing his winnings to the Society, whose members were required to take a vow of poverty. “So, what is the message?”
“From Timothy Riley in Washington.” Schörner handed it over.
Alcalde donned his reading glasses and read slowly. He left his coffee untouched and, on finishing the message, read through it again. Scholarship was his life, and Alcalde rarely spoke about something without reflection.
“Remarkable. I’ve heard of this Ryan fellow before . . . isn’t he in intelligence?”
“Deputy Director of the American CIA. We educated him. Boston College and Georgetown. He’s principally a bureaucrat, but he’s been involved in several operations in the field. We don’t know all of the details, but it would appear that none were improper. We have a small dossier on him. Father Riley speaks very highly of Dr. Ryan.”
“So I see.” Alcalde pondered that for a moment. He and Riley had been friends for thirty years. “He thinks this proposal may be genuine. And you, Hermann?”
“Potentially, it is a gift from God.” The comment was delivered without irony.
“Indeed. But an urgent one. What of the American President?”
“I would guess that he has not yet been briefed, but soon will be. As to his character?” Schörner shrugged. “He could be a better man.”
“Who of us could not?” Alcalde said, staring at the wall.
“How is my calendar for today?” Schörner ran over the list from memory. “Very well . . . call Cardinal D’Antonio and tell him that I have something of importance. Fiddle the schedule as best you can. This is something that calls for immediate attention. Call Timothy, thank him for his message, and tell him that I am working on it.”
Ryan awoke reluctantly at five-thirty. The sun was an orange-pink glow that back-lit the trees, ten miles away on Maryland’s eastern shore. His first considered course of action was to draw the shades. Cathy didn’t have to go into Hopkins today, though it took him half the walk to the bathroom to remember why. His next action was to take two extra-strength Tylenol. He’d had too much to drink the previous night, and that, he reminded himself, was three days in a row. But what was the alternative? Sleep came increasingly hard to him, despite work hours that grew longer and fatigue that—
“Damn,” he said, squinting at himself in the mirror. He looked terrible. He padded his way into the kitchen for coffee. Everything was better after coffee. His stomach contracted itself into a tight, resentful ball on seeing the wine bottles still sitting on the countertop. A bottle and a half, he reminded himself. Not two. He hadn’t drunk two full bottles. One had already been opened. It wasn’t that bad. Ryan flipped the switch for the coffee machine and headed for the garage. There he climbed into the station wagon and drove to the gate to get his paper. Not all that long ago he’d walked out to get it, but, hell, he told himself, he wasn’t dressed. That was the reason. The car radio was set to an all-news station, and he got his first exposure to what the world was doing. The ball scores. The Orioles had lost again. Damn, and he was supposed to take little Jack to a game. He’d promised after the last Little League game he’d missed. And when, he asked himself, are you going to do that, next April? Damn.
Well, the whole season, practically, was ahead. School wasn’t even out yet. He’d get to it. Sure. Ryan tossed the morning Post on the car seat and drove back to the house. The coffee was ready. First good news of the day. Ryan poured himself a mug and decided against breakfast. Again. That was bad, a part of his mind warned him. His stomach was in bad-enough shape already, and two mugs of straight-dripped coffee would not help. He forced his mind into the paper to stifle that voice.
It is not often appreciated how much intelligence services depend on the news media for their information. Part of it was functional. They were in much the same business, and the intelligence services didn’t have the brain market cornered. More to the point, Ryan reflected, the newsies didn’t pay people for information. Their confidential sources were driven either by conscience or anger to leak whatever information they let out, and that made for the best sort of information; any intelligence officer could tell you that. Nothing like anger or principle to get a person to leak all sorts of juicy stuff. Finally, though the media was replete with lazy people, quite a few smart ones were drawn by the better money that went with news-gathering. Ryan had learned which bylines to read slowly and carefully. And he noted the datelines, as well. As Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he knew which department heads were strong and which were weak. The Post gave him better information, for example, than the German desk. The Middle East was still quiet. The Iraq business was finally settling out. The new arrangement over there was taking shape, at long last. Now, if we could just do something about the Israeli side. . . . It would be nice, he thought, to set that whole area to rest. And Ryan believed it possible. The East-West confrontation which had predated his birth was now a thing of history, and who would have believed that? Ryan refilled his mug without looking, something that even a hangover allowed him to do. And all in just a brief span of years—less time, in fact, than he had spent in the Agency. Damn. Who would have believed it?
Now that was so amazing that Ryan wondered how long people would be writing books about it. Generations, at least. The next week a KGB representative was coming into Langley to seek advice on parliamentary oversight. Ryan had counseled against letting him in—and the trip was being handled with the utmost secrecy—because the Agency still had Russians working for it, and the knowledge that KGB and CIA had instituted official contacts on anything would terrify them (equally true, Ryan admitted to himself, of Americans still in the employ of KGB . . . probably). It was an old friend coming over, Sergey Golovko. Friend, Ryan snorted, turning to the sports page. The problem with the morning paper was that it never had the results of last night’s game. . . .
Jack’s return to the bathroom was more civilized. He was awake now, though his stomach was even less happy with the world. Two antacid tablets helped that. And the Tylenol were working. He’d reinforce that with two more at work. By six-fifteen he was washed, shaved, and dressed. He kissed his still-sleeping wife on the way out—was rewarded by a vague hmmm—and opened the front door in time to see the car pulling up the driveway. It troubled Ryan vaguely that his driver had to awaken far earlier than he to get here on time. It bothered him a little more who his driver was.
“Morning, doc,” John Clark said with a gruff smile. Ryan slid into the front seat. There was more leg room, and he thought it would insult the man to sit in back.
“Hi, John,” Jack replied.
Tied it on again last night, eh, doc? Clark thought. Damned fool. For someone as smart as you are, how can you be so dumb? Not getting the jogging in either, are you? he wondered on seeing how tight the DDCI’s belt looked. Well, he’d just have to learn, as Clark had learned, that late nights and too much booze were for dumb kids. John Clark had turned into a paragon of healthy virtue before reaching Ryan’s age. He figured that it had saved his life at least once.
“Quiet night,” Clark said next, heading out the driveway.
“That’s nice.” Ryan picked up the dispatch box and dialed in the code. He waited until the light flashed green before opening it. Clark was right, there wasn’t much to be looked at. By the time they were halfway to Washington, he’d read everything and made a few notes.
“Going to see Carol and the kids tonight?” Clark asked as they passed over Maryland Route 3.
“Yeah, it is tonight, isn’t it?”
It was a regular once-a-week routine. Carol Zimmer was the Laotian widow of Air Force sergeant Buck Zimmer, and Ryan had promised to take care of the family after Buck’s death. Few people knew of it—fewer people knew of the mission on which Buck had died—but it gave Ryan great satisfaction. Carol now owned a 7-Eleven between Washington and Annapolis. It gave her family a steady and respectable income when added to her husband’s pension, and, with the educational trust fund that Ryan had established, guaranteed that each of the eight would have a college degree when the time came—as it had already come for the eldest son. It would be a long haul to finish that up. The youngest was still in diapers.
“Those punks ever come back?” Jack asked.
Clark just turned and grinned. For several months after Carol had taken over the business, some local toughs had been hanging out at the store. They had objected to a Laotian woman and her mixed-race kids owning a business in the semirural area. Finally she had mentioned it to Clark. John had given them one warning, which they had been too dense to heed. Perhaps they’d mistaken him for an off-duty police officer, someone not to be taken too seriously. John and his Spanish-speaking friend had set things right, and after the gang leader had gotten out of the hospital, the punks had never come near the place. The local cops had been very understanding, and business had shown an immediate twenty-percent increase. I wonder if that guy’s knee ever came all the way back? Clark wondered with a wistful smile. Maybe now he’ll take up an honest trade. . . .
“How are the kids doing?”
“You know, it’s kinda hard to get used to the idea of having one in college, doc. A little tough on Sandy, too . . . doc?”
“Pardon my saying so, but you look a little rocky. You want to back it off a little.”
“That’s what Cathy says.” It occurred to Jack to tell Clark to mind his own business, but you didn’t say that sort of thing to a man like Clark, and besides, he was a friend. And besides that, he was correct.
“Docs are usually right,” John pointed out.
“I know. It’s just a little—a little stressful at the office. Got some stuff happening, and—”
“Exercise beats the hell out of booze, man. You’re one of the smartest guys I know. Act smart. End of advice.” Clark shrugged and returned his attention to the morning traffic.
“You know, John, if you had decided to become a doc, you would have been very effective,” Jack replied with a chuckle.
“With a bedside manner like yours, people would be afraid not to do what you said.”
“I am the most even-tempered man I know,” Clark protested.
“Right, no one’s ever lived long enough for you to get really mad. They’re dead by the time you’re mildly annoyed.”
And that was why Clark was Ryan’s driver. Jack had engineered his transfer out of the Directorate of Operations to become a Security and Protective Officer. DCI Cabot had eliminated fully twenty percent of the field force, and people with paramilitary experience had been first on the block. Clark’s expertise was too valuable to lose, and Ryan had bent two rules and outright evaded a third to accomplish this much, aided and abetted by Nancy Cummings and a friend in the Admin Directorate. Besides, Jack felt very safe around this man, and he was able to train the new kids in the SPO unit. He was even a superb driver, and as usual, he got Ryan into the basement garage right on time.
The Agency Buick slid into its spot, and Ryan got out, fiddling with his keys. The one for the executive elevator was on the end, and two minutes later, he arrived at the seventh floor, walking from the corridor to his office. The DDCI’s office adjoins the long, narrow suite accorded the DCI, who was not at work yet. A small, surprisingly modest place for the number-two man in the country’s premiere intelligence service, it overlooked the visitor-parking lot, beyond which was the thick stand of pines that separated the Agency compound from the George Washington Parkway and the Potomac River valley beyond. Ryan had kept Nancy Cummings from his previous and brief stint as Deputy Director (Intelligence). Clark took his seat in that office, going over dispatches that pertained to his duties, in preparation for the morning SPO conference—they concerned themselves with which terrorist group was making noise at the moment. No serious attempt had ever been made on a senior Agency executive, but history was not their institutional concern. The future was, and even CIA didn’t have a particularly bright record for predicting that.
Ryan found his desk neatly piled with material too sensitive for the car’s dispatch case, and prepped himself for the morning department-head meeting, which he co-chaired with the DCI. There was a drip-coffee machine in his office. Next to it was a clean but never-used mug that had once belonged to the man who’d brought him into the Agency, Vice Admiral James Greer. Nancy took care of that, and Ryan never began a day at Langley without thinking of his dead boss. So. He rubbed his hands across his face and eyes and went to work. What new and interesting things did the world hold in store this day?
The logger, like most of his trade, was a big, powerful man. Six-four and two hundred twenty pounds of former all-state defensive end, he’d joined the Marines instead of going to college—could have, he thought, could have taken the scholarship to Oklahoma or Pitt, but he’d decided against it. And he knew that he would never have wanted to leave Oregon for good. A college degree would have meant that. Maybe play pro ball, and then—turn into a “suit”? No. Since childhood he’d loved the outdoor life. He made a good living, raised his family in a friendly small town, lived a rough, healthy life, and was the best damned man in the company for dropping a tree straight and soft. He drew the special ones.
He yanked the string on the big, two-man chain saw. On a silent command, his helper took his end off the ground as the logger did the same. The tree had already been notched with a double-headed ax. They worked the saw in slowly and carefully. The logger kept one eye on the chain saw while the other watched the tree. There was an art to doing this just right. It was a point of honor with him that he didn’t waste an inch of wood he didn’t have to. Not like the guys down at the mill, though they’d told him that the mill wouldn’t touch this baby. They pulled the saw after completing the first cut, and started the second without pausing for breath. This time it took four minutes. The logger was tensely alert now. He felt a puff of wind on his face and paused to make sure it was blowing the way he wanted. A tree, no matter how large, was a plaything for a stiff wind—especially when nearly cut in half. . . .
It was swaying at the top now . . . almost time. He backed the saw off and waved to his helper. Watch my eyes, watch my hands! The kid nodded seriously. About another foot would do it, the logger knew. They completed it very slowly. It abused the chain, but this was the dangerous part. Safety guys were monitoring the wind, and . . . now!
The logger brought the saw out and dropped it. The helper took the cue and backed off ten yards as his boss did the same. Both watched the base of the tree. If it kicked, that would tell them of the danger.
But it didn’t. As always, it seemed so agonizingly slow. This was the part the Sierra Club liked to film, and the logger understood why. So slow, so agonizing, like the tree knew it was dying, and was trying not to, and losing, and the groan of the wood was a moan of despair. Well, yes, he thought, it did seem like that, but it was only a goddamned tree. The cut widened as he watched and the tree fell. The top was moving very fast now, but the danger was at the bottom, and that’s what he continued to watch. As the trunk passed through the forty-five-degree mark, the wood parted completely. The body of the tree kicked then, moving over the stump about four feet, like the death rattle of a man. Then the noise. The immense swish of the top branches ripping through the air. He wondered quickly how fast the top was moving. Speed of sound, maybe? No, not that fast . . . and then—WHUMP! The tree actually bounced, but softly, when it hit the wet ground. Then it lay still. It was lumber now. That was always a little sad. It had been a pretty tree.
The Japanese official came over next, the logger was surprised to see. He touched the tree and murmured something that must have been a prayer. That amazed him, it seemed like something an Indian would do—interesting, the logger thought. He didn’t know that Shinto was an animistic religion with many similarities to those of Native Americans. Talking to the spirit of the tree? Hmph. Next he came to the logger.
“You have great skill,” the little Japanese said with an exquisitely polite bow.
“Thank you, sir.” The logger nodded his head. It was the first Japanese he’d ever met. Seemed like a nice enough guy. And saying a prayer to the tree . . . that had class, the logger thought on reflection.
“A great pity to kill something so magnificent.”
“Yeah, I guess it is. Is it true that you will put this in a church, like?”
“Oh, yes. We no longer have trees like this, and we need four huge beams. Twenty meters each. This one tree will do all of them, I hope,” the man said, looking back at the fallen giant. “They must all come from a single tree. It is the tradition of the temple, you see.”
“Ought to,” the logger judged. “How old’s the temple?”
“One thousand two hundred years. The old beams—they were damaged in the earthquake two years ago, and must be replaced very soon. With luck, these should last as long. I hope they will. It is a fine tree.”
Under the supervision of the Japanese official, the fallen tree was cut into manageable segments—they weren’t all that manageable. Quite a bit of special equipment had to be assembled to get this monster out, and Georgia-Pacific was charging a huge amount of money for the job. But that was not a problem. The Japanese, having selected the tree, paid without blinking. The representative even apologized for the fact that he didn’t want the GP mill to work the tree. It was a religious thing, he explained slowly and clearly, and no insult to the American workers was intended. The senior GP executive nodded. That was okay with him. It was their tree now. They’d let it season for a little while before loading it on an American-flag timber carrier for the trip across the Pacific, where the log would be worked with skill and due religious ceremony—by hand, the GP man was amazed to hear—for its new and special purpose. That it would never reach Japan was something that none of them knew.
The term trouble-shooter was particularly awkward for a law-enforcement official, Murray thought. Of course, as he leaned back in the leather chair he could feel the 10mm Smith & Wesson automatic clipped to his waistband. He ought to have left it in his desk drawer, but he liked the feel of the beast. A revolver man for most of his career, he’d quickly come to love the compact power of the Smith. And Bill understood. For the first time in recent memory, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a career cop who’d started his career on the street, busting bad guys. In fact, Murray and Shaw had started off in the same field division. Bill was slightly more skilled at the administrative side, but no one mistook him for a headquarters weenie. Shaw had first gotten high-level attention by staring down two armed bank robbers before the cavalry’d had time to arrive. He’d never fired his weapon in anger, of course—only a tiny percentage of FBI agents ever did—but he’d convinced those two hoods that he could drop both of them. There was steel under the gentlemanly velvet, and one hell of a brain. Which was why Dan Murray, a deputy assistant director, didn’t mind working as Shaw’s personal problem-solver.
“What the hell do we do with this guy?” Shaw asked with quiet disgust.
Murray had just finished his report on the Warrior Case. Dan sipped at his coffee and shrugged.
“Bill, the man is a genius with corruption cases—best we’ve ever had. He just doesn’t know dick about the muscle end of the business. He got out of his depth with this one. Luckily enough, no permanent damage was done.” And Murray was right. The newsies had treated the Bureau surprisingly well for saving the life of their reporter. What was truly amazing was the fact that the newsies had never quite understood that the reporter had had no place in that particular arena. As a result, they were grateful to the local S-A-C for letting the news team on the scene, and grateful to the Hostage Rescue Team for saving both of them when things had taken a dangerous turn. It wasn’t the first time the Bureau had reaped a PR bonanza from a near-catastrophe. The FBI was more jealous of its public relations than any government agency, and Shaw’s problem was simply that to fire S-A-C Walt Hoskins would look bad. Murray pressed on. “He’s learned his lesson. Walt isn’t stupid, Bill.”
“And bagging the Governor last year was some coup, wasn’t it?” Shaw grimaced. Hoskins was a genius at political corruption cases. A state governor was now contemplating life in a federal prison because of him. That was how Hoskins had become a Special-Agent-in-Charge in the first place. “You have something in mind, Dan?”
“ASAC Denver,” Murray replied with a mischievous twinkle. “It’s elegant. He goes from a little field office to head of corruption cases in a major field division. It’s a promotion that takes him out of command and puts him back in what he’s best at—and if the rumbles we’re getting out of Denver are right, he’ll have lots of work to do. Like maybe a senator and a congressman—maybe more. The preliminary indications on the water project look big. I mean real big, Bill: like twenty million bucks changing hands.”
Shaw whistled respectfully at that. “All that for one senator and one congresscritter?”
“Like I said, maybe more. The latest thing is some environmental types being paid off—in government and out. Who do we have better at unraveling a ball of yarn that big? Walt’s got a nose for this sort of thing. The man can’t draw his gun without losing a few toes, but he’s one hell of a bird dog.” Murray closed the folder in his hands. “Anyway, you wanted me to look around and make a recommendation. Send him to Denver or retire him. Mike Delaney is willing to rotate back this way—his kid’s going to start at GW this fall, and Mike wants to teach down at the Academy. That gives you the opening. It’s all very neat and tidy, but it’s your call, Director.”
“Thank you, Mr. Murray,” Director Shaw said gravely. Then his face broke into a grin. “Remember when all we had to worry about was chasing bank bandits? I hate this admin crap!”
“Maybe we shouldn’t have caught so many,” Dan agreed. “We’d still be working riverside Philly and having a beer with the troops at night. Why do people toast success? It just screws up your life.”
“We’re both talking like old farts.”
“We both are old farts, Bill,” Murray pointed out. “But at least I don’t travel around with a protective detail.”
“You son of a bitch!” Shaw gagged and dribbled coffee down his necktie. “Oh, Christ, Dan!” he gasped, laughing. “Look what you made me do.”
“Bad sign when a guy can’t hold his coffee, Director.”
“Out! Get the orders cut before I bust you back to the street.”
“Oh, no, please, not that, anything but that!” Murray stopped laughing and turned semiserious for a moment. “What’s Kenny doing now?”
“Just got his assignment to his submarine, USS Maine. Bonnie’s doing fine with the baby—due in December. Dan?”
“Nice call on Hoskins. I needed an easy out on that. Thanks.”
“No problem, Bill. Walt will jump at it. I wish they were all this easy.”
“You following up on the Warrior Society?”
“Freddy Warder’s working on it. We just might roll those bastards up in a few months.”
And both knew that would be nice. There were not many domestic terrorist groups left. Reducing their number by one more by the end of the year would be another major coup.
It was dawn in the Dakota badlands. Marvin Russell knelt on the hide of a bison, facing the sunrise. He wore jeans, but was bare-chested and barefoot. He was not a tall man, but there was no mistaking the power in him. During his first and only stint in prison—for burglary—he’d learned about pumping iron. It had begun merely as a hobby to work off surplus energy, had grown with the understanding that physical strength was the only form of self-defense that a man in the penitentiary could depend upon, and then blossomed into the attribute he’d come to associate with a warrior of the Sioux Nation. His five feet eight inches of height supported fully two hundred pounds of lean, hard muscle. His upper arms were the size of some men’s upper legs. He had the waist of a ballerina and the shoulders of an NFL linebacker. He was also slightly mad, but Marvin Russell did not know that.
Life had not given him or his brother much of a chance. Their father had been an alcoholic who had worked occasionally and not well as an auto mechanic to provide money that he had transferred regularly and immediately to the nearest package store. Marvin’s memories of childhood were bitter ones: shame for his father’s nearly perpetual state of inebriation, and shame greater still for what his mother did while her husband was passed-out drunk in the living room. Food came from the government dole after the family had returned from Minnesota to the reservation. Schooling came from teachers who despaired of accomplishing anything. His neighborhood had been a scattered collection of government-built plain block houses that stood like specters in perpetual clouds of blowing prairie dust. Neither Russell boy had ever owned a baseball glove. Neither had known a Christmas as much other than a week or two when school was closed. Both had grown in a vacuum of neglect and learned to fend for themselves at an early age.
At first this had been a good thing, for self-reliance was the way of their people, but all children need direction, and direction was something the Russell parents had been unable to provide. The boys had learned to shoot and hunt before they’d learned to read. Often the dinner had been something brought home with .22-caliber holes in it. Almost as often, they had cooked the meals. Though not the only poor and neglected youth of their settlement, they had without doubt been at the bottom, and while some of the local kids had overcome their backgrounds, the leap from poverty to adequacy had been far too broad for them. From the time they had begun to drive—well before the legal age—they’d taken their father’s dilapidated pickup a hundred miles or more on clear cool nights to distant towns where they might obtain some of the things their parents had been unable to provide. Surprisingly, the first time they’d been caught—by another Sioux holding a shotgun—they’d taken their whipping manfully and been sent home with bruises and a lecture. They’d learned from that. From that moment on, they’d only robbed whites.
In due course they’d been caught at that, also, red-handed inside a country store, by a tribal police officer. It was their misfortune that any crime committed on federal property was a federal case, and further that the new district court judge was a man with more compassion than perception. A hard lesson at that point might—or might not—have changed their path, but instead they’d gotten an administrative dismissal and counseling. A very serious young lady with a degree from the University of Wisconsin had explained to them over months that they could never have a beneficial self-image if they lived by stealing the goods of others. They would have more personal pride if they found something worthwhile to do. Emerging from that session wondering how the Sioux Nation had ever allowed itself to be overrun by white idiots, they learned to plan their crimes more carefully.
But not carefully enough, since the counselor could not have offered them the graduate-school expertise that the Russell boys might have received in a proper prison. And so they were caught, again, a year later, but this time off the reservation, and this time they found themselves dispatched to a year and a half of hard time because they’d been burglarizing a gun shop.
Prison had been the most frightening experience of their lives. Accustomed to land as open and vast as the Western sky, they’d spent over a year of their lives in a cage smaller than the federal government deemed appropriate for a badger in a zoo, and surrounded by people far worse than their most inflated ideas of their own toughness. Their first night on the blocks, they’d learned from screams that rape was not a crime inflicted exclusively on women. Needing protection, they had almost immediately been swept into the protective arms of their fellow Native American prisoners of the American Indian Movement.
They had never given much thought to their ancestry. Subliminally, they might have sensed that their peer group did not display the qualities they had seen on those occasions when the family TV had worked, and probably felt some vague shame that they had always been different. They’d learned to snicker at Western movies, of course, whose “Indian” actors were most often whites or Mexicans, mouthing words that reflected the thoughts of Hollywood scriptwriters who had about as much knowledge of the West as they had of Antarctica, but even there the messages had left a negative image of what they were and from what roots they had come. The American Indian Movement had changed all that. Everything was the White Man’s fault. Espousing ideas that were a mix of trendy East Coast anthropology, a dash of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, more than a little John Ford Western (what else, after all, was the American cultural record?), and a great deal of misunderstood history, the Russell brothers came to understand that their ancestors were of noble stock, ideal hunter-warriors who had lived in harmony with nature and the gods. The fact that the Native Americans had lived in as peaceful a state as the Europeans—the word “Sioux” in Indian dialect means “snake,” and was not an appellation assigned with affection—and that they had only begun roaming the Great Plains in the last decade of the 18th century were somehow left out, along with the vicious intertribal wars. Times had once been far better. They had been masters of their land, following the buffalo, hunting, living a healthy and satisfying life under the stars, and, occasionally, fighting short, heroic contests among themselves—rather like medieval jousts. Even the torture of captives was explained as an opportunity for warriors to display their stoic courage to their admiring if sadistic murderers.
Every man craves nobility of spirit, and it wasn’t Marvin Russell’s fault that the first such opportunity came from convicted felons. He and his brother learned about the gods of earth and sky, beliefs in which had been cruelly suppressed by false, white beliefs. They learned about the brotherhood of the plains, about how the whites had stolen what was rightfully theirs, had killed the buffalo which had been their livelihood, had divided, compressed, massacred, and finally imprisoned their people, leaving them little beyond alcoholism and despair. As with all successful lies, the cachet to this one was a large measure of truth.
Marvin Russell greeted the first orange limb of the sun, chanting something that might or might not have been authentic—no one really knew anymore, least of all him. But prison had not been an entirely negative experience. He’d arrived with a third-grade reading level, and left with high-school equivalency. Marvin Russell had not ever been a dullard, and it was not his fault either that he’d been betrayed by a public school system that had consigned him to failure before birth. He read books regularly, everything he could get on the history of his people. Not quite everything. He was highly selective in the editorial slant of the books he picked up. Anything in the least unfavorable to his people, of course, reflected the prejudice of whites. The Sioux had not been drunks before the whites arrived, had not lived in squalid little villages, had certainly not abused their children. That was all the invention of the white man.
But how to change things? he asked the sun. The glowing ball of gas was red with yet more blowing dust from this hot, dry summer, and the image that came to Marvin was of his brother’s face. The stop-motion freeze-frame of the TV news. The local station had done things with the tape that the network had not. Every frame of the incident had been examined separately. The bullet striking John’s face, two frames of his brother’s face detaching itself from the head. Then the ghastly aftermath of the bullet’s passage. The gunshot—damn that nigger and his vest!—and the hands coming up like something in a Roger Corman movie. He’d watched it five times, and each pixel of each image was so firmly fixed in his memory that he knew he’d never be able to forget it.
Just one more dead Indian. “Yes, I saw some good Indians,” General William Tecumseh—a Native American name!— Sherman had said once. “They were dead.” John Russell was dead, killed like so many without the chance for honorable combat, shot down like the animal a Native American was to whites. But more brutally than most. Marvin was sure the shot had been arranged with care. Cameras rolling. That wimp pussy reporter with her high-fashion clothes. She’d needed a lesson in what was what, and those FBI assassins had decided to give it to her. Just like the cavalry of old at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee and a hundred other nameless, forgotten battlefields.
And so Marvin Russell faced the sun, one of the gods of his people, and searched for answers. The answer wasn’t here, the sun told him. His comrades were not reliable. John had died learning that. Trying to raise money with drugs! Using drugs! As though the whiskey the white man had used to destroy his people wasn’t bad enough. The other “warriors” were creatures of their white-made environment. They didn’t know that they’d already been destroyed by it. They called themselves Sioux warriors, but they were drunkards, petty criminals who had labored and failed to succeed even in that undemanding field. In a rare flash of honesty—how could one be dishonest before one of his gods?—Marvin admitted to himself that they were less than he. As his brother had been. Stupid to join their foolish quest for drug money. And ineffective. What had they ever accomplished? They’d killed an FBI agent and a United States Marshal, but that was long in the past. Since then? Since then they had merely talked about their one shining moment. But what sort of moment had it been? What had they accomplished? Nothing. The reservation was still there. The liquor was still there. The hopelessness was still there. Had anyone even noticed who they were and what they did? No. All they had accomplished was to anger the forces that continued to oppress them. So now the Warrior Society was hunted, even on its own reservation, living not like warriors at all, but like hunted animals. But they were supposed to be the hunters, the sun told him, not the prey.
Marvin was stirred by the thought. He was supposed to be the hunter. The whites were supposed to fear him. It had once been so, but was no more. He was supposed to be the wolf in the fold, but the white sheep had grown so strong that they didn’t know there was such a thing as a wolf, and they hid behind formidable dogs who were not content to stay with the flocks, but hunted the wolves themselves until they and not the sheep were frightened, driven, nervous creatures, prisoners on their own range.
So he had to leave his range.
He had to find his brother wolves. He had to find wolves for whom the hunt was still real.
. . . A SINGLE SIT
This was the day. His day. Captain Benjamin Zadin had enjoyed rapid career growth in the Israeli National Police. The youngest captain on the force, he was the last of three sons, the father of two sons of his own, David and Mordecai, and until very recently had been on the brink of suicide. The death of his beloved mother and the departure of his beautiful but adulterous wife had come within a single week, and that had only been two months before. Despite having done everything he’d ever planned on doing, he’d suddenly been faced with a life that seemed empty and pointless. His rank and pay, the respect of his subordinates, his demonstrated intelligence and clearhead-edness in times of crisis and tension, his military record on dangerous and difficult border-patrol duty, they were all as nothing compared to an empty house of perverse memories.
Though Israel is regarded most often as “the Jewish state,” that name disguises the fact that only a fraction of the country’s population is actively religious. Benny Zadin had never been so, despite the entreaties of his mother. Rather he’d enjoyed the swinging life-style of a modern hedonist, and not seen the inside of a shul since his Bar Mitzvah. He spoke and read Hebrew because he had to—it was the national language—but the rules of his heritage were to him a curious anachronism, a backward aspect of life in what was otherwise the most modern of countries. His wife had only accentuated that. One might measure the religious fervor of Israel, he’d often joked, by the swimming suits on its many beaches. His wife’s background was Norwegian. A tall, skinny blonde, Elin Zadin looked about as Jewish as Eva Braun—that was their joke on the matter—and still enjoyed showing off her figure with the skimpiest of bikinis, and sometimes only half of that. Their marriage had been passionate and fiery. He’d known that she’d always had a wandering eye, of course, and had occasionally dallied himself, but her abrupt departure to another had surprised him—more than that, the manner of it had left him too stunned to weep or beg, had merely left him alone in a home that also contained several loaded weapons whose use, he knew, might easily have ended his pain. Only his sons had stopped that. He could not betray them as he’d been betrayed, he was too much of a man for that. But the pain had been—still was—very real.
Israel is too small a country for secrets. It was immediately noticed that Elin had taken up with another man, and the word had quickly made its way to Benny’s station, where men could see from the hollow look around the eyes that their commander’s spirit had been crushed. Some wondered how and when he would bounce back, but after a week the question had changed to whether he would do so at all. At that point, one of Zadin’s squad sergeants had taken matters in hand. Appearing at his captain’s front door on a Thursday evening, he’d brought with him Rabbi Israel Kohn. On that evening, Benjamin Zadin had rediscovered God. More than that, he told himself, surveying the Street of the Chain in Old Jerusalem, he knew again what it was to be a Jew. What had happened to him was God’s punishment, no more, no less. Punishment for ignoring the words of his mother, punishment for his adultery, for the wild parties with his wife and others, for twenty years of evil thoughts and deeds while pretending to be a brave and upstanding commander of police and soldiers. But today he would change all that. Today he would break the law of man to expiate his sins against the Word of God.
It was early in the morning of what promised to be a blistering day, with a dry easterly wind blowing in from Arabia. He had forty men arrayed behind him, all of them armed with a mixture of automatic rifles, gas guns, and other arms that fired “rubber bullets,” more accurately called missiles, made of ductile plastic that could knock a grown man down, and if the marksmen were very careful, stop a heart from blunt trauma. His police were needed to allow the law to be broken—which was not the idea that Captain Zadin’s immediate superiors had in mind—and to stop the interference of others willing to break a higher law to keep him from his job. That was the argument Rabbi Kohn had used, after all. Whose law was it? It was a question of metaphysics, something far too complicated for a simple police officer. What was far simpler, as the Rabbi had explained, was the idea that the site of Solomon’s Temple was the spiritual home of Judaism and the Jews. The site on Temple Mount had been chosen by God, and if men had disputed that fact, it was of little account. It was time for Jews to reclaim what God had given them. A group of ten conservative and Hasidic rabbis would today stake out the place where the new temple would be reconstructed in precise accordance with the Holy Scriptures. Captain Zadin had orders to prevent their march through the Chain Gate, to stop them from doing their work, but he would ignore those orders, and his men would do as he commanded, protecting them from the Arabs who might be waiting with much the same intentions as he was supposed to have.
He was surprised that the Arabs were there so early. No better than animals, really, the people who’d killed David and Motti. His parents had told all of their sons what it had been like to be a Jew in Palestine in the 1930s, the attacks, the terror, the envy, the open hatred, how the British had refused to protect those who had fought with them in North Africa—against those who had allied themselves with the Nazis. The Jews could depend on no one but themselves and their God, and keeping faith with their God meant reestablishing His Temple on the rock where Abraham had forged the covenant between his people and their Lord. The government either didn’t understand that or was willing to play politics with the destiny of the only country in the world where Jews were truly safe. His duty as a Jew superseded that, even if he’d not known it until quite recently.
Rabbi Kohn showed up at the appointed time. Alongside him was Rabbi Eleazar Goldmark, a tattooed survivor of Auschwitz, where he had learned the importance of faith while in the face of death itself. Both men held a bundle of stakes and surveyor’s string. They’d make their measurements, and from this day forward a relay of men would guard the site, eventually forcing the government of Israel to clear the site of Muslim obscenities. An upwell of popular support throughout the country, and a flood of money from Europe and America, would allow the project to be completed in five years—and then no one would ever be able to talk about taking this land away from those to whom God Himself had deeded it.
“Shit,” muttered someone behind Captain Zadin, but a turn and a look from his commander stifled whoever had blasphemed the moment of destiny.
Benny nodded to the two leading rabbis, who marched off. The police followed their captain, fifty meters behind. Zadin prayed for the safety of Kohn and Goldmark, but knew that the danger they faced was fully accepted, as Abraham had accepted the death of his son as a condition of God’s Law.
But the faith that had brought Zadin to this moment had blinded him to what should have been the obvious fact that Israel was indeed a country too small for secrets, and that fellow Jews who viewed Kohn and Goldmark as simply another version of Iran’s fundamentalist ayatollas knew of what was happening, and that as a result the word had gotten out. TV crews were assembled in the square at the foot of the Wailing Wall. Some wore the hard hats of construction workers in anticipation of the rain of stones that surely was coming. Perhaps that was all the better, Captain Zadin thought as he followed the rabbis to the top of Temple Mount. The world should know what was happening. Unconsciously he increased his pace to close on Kohn and Goldmark. Though they might accept the idea of martyrdom, his job was to protect them. His right hand went down to the holster at his hip and made sure the flap wasn’t too tight. He might need that pistol soon.
The Arabs were there. It was a disappointment that there were so many, like fleas, like rats in a place they didn’t belong. Just so long as they kept out of the way. They wouldn’t, of course, and Zadin knew it. They were opposed to the Will of God. That was their misfortune.
Zadin’s radio squawked, but he ignored it. It would just be his commander, asking him what the hell he was up to and ordering him to desist. Not today. Kohn and Goldmark strode fearlessly to the Arabs blocking their path. Zadin nearly wept at their courage and their faith, wondering how the Lord would show his favor to them, hoping that they would be allowed to live. Behind him, about half his men were truly with him, which was possible because Benny had worked his watch bill to make it so. He knew without looking that they were not using their Lexan shields; instead, safety switches on their shoulder weapons were now being flicked to the Off position. It was hard waiting for it, hard to anticipate the first cloud of stones that would be coming at any moment.
Dear God, please let them live, please protect them. Spare them as you spared Isaac.
Zadin was now less than fifty meters behind the two courageous rabbis, one Polish-born, a survivor of the infamous camps where his wife and child had died, where he had somehow kept his spirit and learned the importance of faith; the other American-born, a man who’d come to Israel, fought in her wars, and only then turned to God, as Benny himself had done so brief a span of days before.
The two were barely ten meters from the surly, dirty Arabs when it happened. The Arabs were the only ones who could see that their faces were serene, that they truly welcomed whatever the morning might hold for them, and only the Arabs saw the shock and the puzzlement on the face of the Pole, and the stunned pain on the American’s at the realization of what fate had in mind.
On command, the leading row of Arabs, all of them teenagers with a lengthy history of confrontation, sat down. The hundred young men behind them did the same. Then the front row started clapping. And singing. Benny took a moment to comprehend it, though he was as fluent in Arabic as any Palestinian.
We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
The TV crews were immediately behind the police. Several of them laughed in surprise at the savage irony of it. One of them was CNN correspondent Pete Franks, who summed it up for everyone: “Son of a BITCH!” And in that moment Franks knew that the world had changed yet again. He’d been in Moscow for the first democratic meeting of the Supreme Soviet, in Managua the night the Sandinistas had lost their surething election, and in Beijing to see the Goddess of Liberty destroyed. And now this? he thought. The Arabs finally wised up. Holy shit.
“I hope you have that tape rolling, Mickey.”
“Are they singing what I think they’re singing?”
“Sure as hell sounds like it. Let’s get closer.”
The leader of the Arabs was a twenty-year-old sociology student named Hashimi Moussa. His arm was permanently scarred from an Israeli club, and half his teeth were gone from a rubber bullet whose shooter had been especially angry on one particular day. No one questioned his courage. He’d had to prove that beyond doubt. He’d had to face death a dozen times before his position of leadership had been assured, but now he had it, and people listened to him, and he was able to activate an idea he’d cherished for five endless, patient years. It had taken three days to persuade them, then the fantastic good luck of a Jewish friend disgusted with the religious conservatives of his country who’d spoken a little too loudly about the plans of this day. Perhaps it was destiny, Hashimi thought, or the Will of Allah, or simply luck. Whatever it was, this was the moment he’d lived for since his fifteenth year, when he’d learned of Gandhi and King, and how they had defeated force with naked, passive courage. Persuading his people had meant stepping back from a warrior code that seemed part of their genes, but he’d done it. Now his beliefs would be put to the test.
All Benny Zadin saw was that his path was blocked. Rabbi Kohn said something to Rabbi Goldmark, but neither turned back to where the police were stopped, because to turn away was to admit defeat. Whether they were too shocked at what they saw or too angry, he would never learn. Captain Zadin turned to his men.
“Gas!” He’d planned this part in advance. The four men with gas guns were all religious men. They leveled their weapons and fired simultaneously into the crowd. The gas projectiles were dangerous and it was remarkable that no one was injured by them. In a few seconds, gray clouds of tear gas bloomed within the mass of sitting Arabs. But on command, each of them donned a mask to protect himself from it. This impeded their singing, but not their clapping or resolution, and it only enraged Captain Zadin further when the easterly wind blew the gas toward his men and away from the Arabs. Next, men with insulated gloves lifted the hot projectiles and threw them back toward the police. In a minute, they were able to remove their masks, and there was laughter in their singing now.
Next Zadin ordered the rubber bullets launched. He had six men armed with these weapons, and from a range of fifty meters they could force any man to run for cover. The first volley was perfect, hitting six of the Arabs in the front line. Two cried out in pain. One collapsed, but not one man moved from his place except to succor the injured. The next volley was aimed at heads not chests, and Zadin had the satisfaction of seeing a face explode in a puff of red.
The leader—Zadin recognized the face from earlier encounters—stood and gave a command the Israeli captain could not hear. But its significance became clear immediately. The singing became louder. Another volley of rubber bullets followed. One of his marksmen was very angry, the police commander saw. The Arab who’d taken one fully in the face now took another in the top of his head, and with it his body went limp in death. It should have warned Benny that he had already lost control of his men, but worse still was that he was losing control of himself.
Hashimi did not see the death of his comrade. The passion of the moment was overwhelming. The consternation on the faces of the two invading rabbis was manifest. He could not see the faces of the police behind their masks, but their actions, their movements, made their feelings clear. In a brilliant moment of clarity he knew that he was winning, and he shouted again to his people to redouble their efforts. This they did in the face of fire and death.
Captain Benjamin Zadin stripped off his helmet and walked forcefully toward the Arabs, past the rabbis who had suddenly been struck with incomprehensible indecision. Would the Will of God be upset by the discordant singing of some dirty savages?
“Uh-oh,” Pete Franks observed, his eyes streaming from the gas that had blown over his face.
“I got it,” the cameraman said without bidding, zooming his lens in on the advancing Israeli police commander. “Something is going to happen—this guy looks pissed, Pete!”
Oh, God, Franks thought. Himself a Jew, himself strangely at home in this barren but beloved land, he knew that history was occurring before his eyes yet again, was already composing his two or three minutes of verbal reporting that would overlay the tape his cameraman was recording for posterity, and was wondering if another Peabody might be in his future for doing his tough and dangerous job supremely well.
It happened quickly, much too quickly, as the captain strode directly to the Arab leader. Hashimi now knew that a friend was dead, his skull caved in by what was supposed to be a nonlethal weapon. He prayed silently for the soul of his comrade and hoped that Allah would understand the courage required to face death in this way. He would. Hashimi was sure of that. The Israeli approaching him was a face known to him. Zadin, the name was, a man who’d been there before often enough, just one more Israeli face most often hidden behind a Lexan mask and drawn gun, one more man unable to see Arabs as people, to whom a Muslim was the launcher for a rock or a Molotov cocktail. Well, today he’d learn different, Hashimi told himself. Today he’d see a man of courage and conviction.
Benny Zadin saw an animal, like a stubborn mule, like—what? He wasn’t sure what he saw, but it wasn’t a man, wasn’t an Israeli. They’d changed tactics, that was all, and the tactics were womanly. They thought this would stand in the way of his purpose? Just as his wife had told him that she was leaving for the bed of a better man, that he could have the children, that his threats to beat her were empty words, that he couldn’t do that, wasn’t man enough to take charge of his own household. He saw that beautiful empty face and wondered why he hadn’t taught her a lesson; she’d just stood there, not a meter away, staring at him, smiling—finally laughing at his inability to do what his manhood had commanded him to do, and, so, passive weakness had defeated strength.
But not this time.
“Move!” Zadin commanded in Arabic.
“I will kill you.”
“You will not pass.”
“Benny!” a levelheaded member of the police screamed. But it was too late for that. For Benjamin Zadin, the deaths of his brothers at Arab hands, the way his wife had left, and the way these people just sat in his way was too much. In one smooth motion he drew his service automatic and shot Hashimi in the forehead. The Arab youth fell forward, and the singing and clapping stopped. One of the other demonstrators started to move, but two others grabbed him and held him fast. Others began praying for their two dead comrades. Zadin turned his gun hand to one of these, but though his finger pressed on the trigger, something stopped him a gram short of the release pressure. It was the look in the eyes, the courage there, something other than defiance. Resolution, perhaps . . . and pity, for the look on Zadin’s face was anguish that transcended pain, and the horror of what he had done crashed through his consciousness. He had broken faith with himself. He had killed in cold blood. He had taken the life of someone who had threatened no man’s life. He had murdered. Zadin turned to the rabbis, looking for something, he knew not what, and whatever he sought simply was not there. As he turned away, the singing began again. Sergeant Moshe Levin came forward and took the captain’s weapon.
“Come on, Benny, let’s get you away from this place.”
“What have I done?”
“It is done, Benny. Come with me.”
Levin started to lead his commander away, but he had to turn and look at the morning’s handiwork. Hashimi’s body was slumped over, a pool of blood coursing down between the cobblestones. The sergeant knew that he had to do or say something. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. His mouth hung open, and his face swung from side to side. In that moment, Hashimi’s disciples knew that their leader had won.
Ryan’s phone rang at 2:03 Eastern Daylight Time. He managed to get it before the start of the second ring.
“This is Saunders at the Ops Center. Get your TV on. In four minutes CNN is running something hot.”
“Tell me about it.” Ryan’s hand fumbled for the remote controller and switched the bedroom TV on.
“You ain’t gonna believe it, sir. We copied it off the CNN satellite feed, and Atlanta is fast-tracking it onto the network. I don’t know how it got past Israeli censors. Anyway—”
“Okay, here it comes.” Ryan rubbed his eyes clear just in time. He had the TV sound muted to keep from disturbing his wife. The commentary was unnecessary in any case. “Dear God in heaven . . .”
“That about covers it, sir,” the senior watch officer agreed.
“Send my driver out now. Call the Director, tell him to get in fast. Get hold of the duty officer at the White House Signals Office. He’ll alert the people on his end. We need the DDI, and the desks for Israel, Jordan—hell, that whole area, all the desks. Make sure State’s up to speed—”
“They have their own—”
“I know that. Call them anyway. Never assume anything in this business, okay?”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
“Yeah, send me about four hours’ more sleep.” Ryan set the phone down.
“Jack . . . was that—” Cathy was sitting up. She’d just caught the replay.
“It sure was, babe.”
“What’s it mean?”
“It means the Arabs just figured out how to destroy Israel.” Unless we can save the place.
Ninety minutes later, Ryan turned on the West Bend drip machine behind his desk before running over the notes from the night-duty staff. It would be a day for coffee. He’d shaved in the car on the way in, and a look at the mirror showed that he’d not done a very good job of it. Jack waited until he had a full cup before marching into the Director’s office. Charles Alden was there with Cabot.
“Good morning,” the National Security Advisor said.
“Yeah,” the Deputy Director replied in a husky voice. “What do you suppose is good about it? The President know yet?”
“No. I didn’t want to disturb him until we know something. I’ll talk to him when he wakes up—sixish. Marcus, what do you think of your Israeli friends now?”
“Have we developed anything else, Jack?” Director Cabot asked his subordinate.
“The shooter is a police captain, according to the insignia. No name on him yet, no background. The Israelis have him in the jug somewhere and they’re not saying anything. From the tape it looks like two definitely dead, probably a few more with minor injuries. Chief of Station has nothing he can report to us except that it really happened, and we have that on tape. Nobody seems to know where the TV crew is. We did not have any assets at the site when all this happened, so we’re going exclusively from the news coverage.” Again, Ryan didn’t add. The morning was bad enough. “Temple Mount is shut down, guarded by their army now, nobody in or out, and they’ve closed access to the Wailing Wall also. That may be a first. Our embassy over there has not said anything, they’re waiting for instructions from here. Same story for the others. No official reaction from Europe yet, but I expect that to change within the hour. They’re at work already, and they got the same pictures from their Sky News service.”
“It’s almost four,” Alden said, wearily checking his watch. “In three hours people are going to have their breakfasts upset—what a hell of a thing to see in the morning. Gentlemen, I think this one’s going to be big. Ryan, you called it. I remember what you said last month.”
“Sooner or later the Arabs had to wise up,” Jack said. Alden nodded agreement. It was gracious of him, Jack noted. He’d said the same thing in one of his books several years earlier.
“I think Israel can weather this, they always have—” Jack cut his Director off.
“No way, boss,” Ryan said. Someone had to straighten Cabot out. “It’s what Napoleon said about the moral and the physical. Israel depends absolutely on having the moral high-ground. Their whole cachet is that they are the only democracy in the region, that they are the guys in white hats. That concept died about three hours ago. Now they look like Bull—whoever it was—in Selma, Alabama, except he used water hoses. The civil-rights community is going to go berserk.” Jack paused to sip at his coffee. “It’s a simple question of justice. When the Arabs were throwing rocks and cocktails, the police could say that they were using force in response to force. Not this time. Both the deaders were sitting down and not threatening anybody.”
“It’s the isolated act of one deranged man!” Cabot announced angrily.
“Not so, sir. The one shot with a pistol was like you say, but the first victim was killed with two of those rubber bullets at a range of more than twenty yards—with two aimed shots from a single-shot weapon. That’s cold, and it wasn’t any accident.”
“Are we sure he’s dead?” Alden asked.
“My wife’s a doc, and he looked dead to her. The body spasmed and went limp, probably indicating death from massive head trauma. They can’t say this guy tripped and fell onto the curb. This really changes things. If the Palestinians are smart, they’ll double-down their bets. They’ll stay with this tactic and wait for the world to respond. If they do that, they can’t lose,” Jack concluded.
“I agree with Ryan,” Alden said. “There’ll be a UN resolution before dinner. We’ll have to go along with it, and that just might show the Arabs that nonviolence is a better weapon than rocks are. What will the Israelis say? How will they react?”
Alden knew what the answer was. This was to enlighten the DCI, so Ryan took the question. “First they’ll stonewall. They’re probably kicking themselves for not intercepting the tape, but it’s a little late for that. This was almost certainly an unplanned incident—I mean that the Israeli government is as surprised as we are—otherwise they would have grabbed the TV crew. That police captain is having his brain picked apart now. By lunchtime they’ll say that he’s crazy—hell, he probably is—and that this is an isolated act. How they do their damage control is predictable, but—”
“It’s not going to work,” Alden interrupted. “The President’s going to have to have a statement out by nine. We can’t call this a ‘tragic incident.’ It’s cold-blooded murder of an unarmed demonstrator by a state official.”
“Look, Charlie, this is just an isolated incident,” Director Cabot said again.
“Maybe so, but I’ve been predicting this for five years.” The National Security Advisor stood and walked to the windows. “Marcus, the only thing that has held Israel together for the past thirty years has been the stupidity of the Arabs. Either they never recognized that Israeli legitimacy is based entirely on their moral position or they just didn’t have the wit to care about it. Israel is now faced with an impossible ethical contradiction. If they really are a democracy that respects the rights of its citizens, they have to grant the Arabs broader rights. But that means playing hell with their political integrity, which depends on soothing their own extreme religious elements—and that crowd doesn’t care a rat’s ass about Arab rights, does it? But if they cave in to the religious zealots and stonewall, try to gloss over this thing, then they are not a democracy, and that imperils the political support from America without which they cannot survive economically or militarily. The same dilemma applies to us. Our support for Israel is based on their political legitimacy as a functioning liberal democracy, but that legitimacy just evaporated. A country whose police murder unarmed people has no legitimacy, Marcus. We can no more support an Israel that does things like this than we could have supported Somoza, Marcos, or any other tin-pot dictator—”
“Goddamn it, Charlie! Israel isn’t—”
“I know that, Marcus. They’re not. They’re really not. But the only way they can prove that is to change, to become true to what they have always claimed to be. If they stonewall on this, Marcus, they’re doomed. They’ll lean on their political lobby and find out it isn’t there anymore. If it goes that far, then they embarrass our government even more than it already is, and we’ll be faced with the possible necessity of overtly cutting them off. We can’t do that either. We must find another alternative.” Alden turned back from the window. “Ryan, that idea of yours is now on the front burner. I’ll handle the President and State. The only way we can get Israel out of this is to find some kind of a peace plan that works. Call your friend at Georgetown and tell him it’s no longer a study. Call it Project PILGRIMAGE. By tomorrow morning I need a good sketch of what we want to do and how we want to do it.”
“That’s awful fast, sir,” Ryan observed.
“Then don’t let me stop you, Jack. If we don’t move quickly on this, God only knows what might happen. You know Scott Adler at State?”
“We’ve talked a few times.”
“He’s Brent Talbot’s best man. I suggest you get together with him after you check with your friends. He can cover your backside on the State Department flank. We can’t trust that bureaucracy to do anything fast. Better pack some bags, boy, you’re going to be busy. I want facts, positions, and a gold-plated evaluation just as fast as you can generate it, and I want it done black as a coal mine.” That last remark was aimed at Cabot. “If this is going to work, we can’t risk a single leak.”
“Yes, sir,” Ryan said. Cabot just nodded.
Jack had never been in the faculty residence at Georgetown. It struck him as odd, but he shoved that thought aside as breakfast was served. Their table overlooked a parking lot.
“You were right, Jack,” Riley observed. “That was nothing to wake up to.”
“What’s the word from Rome?”
“They like it,” the President of Georgetown University replied simply.
“How much?” Ryan asked.
“Alden told me two hours ago that this is now on the front burner.”
Riley accepted this news with a nod. “Trying to save Israel, Jack?”
Ryan didn’t know how much humor was in the question, and his physical state did not allow levity. “Father, all I’m doing is following up on something—you know, orders?”
“I am familiar with the term. Your timing was pretty good on floating this thing.”
“Maybe so, but let’s save the Nobel Prize for some other time, okay?”
“Finish your breakfast. We can still catch everybody over there before lunch, and you look pretty awful.”
“I feel pretty awful,” Ryan admitted.
“Everybody should stop drinking about forty,” Riley observed. “After forty you really can’t handle it anymore.”
“You didn’t,” Jack noted.
“I’m a priest. I have to drink. What exactly are you looking for?”
“If we can get preliminary agreement from the major players, we want to get negotiations going ASAP, but this end of the equation has to be done very quietly. The President needs a quick evaluation of his options. That’s what I’m doing.”
“Will Israel play?”
“If they don’t, they’re fucked—excuse me, but that’s exactly where things are.”
“You’re right, of course, but will they have the sense to recognize their position?”
“Father, all I do is gather and evaluate information. People keep asking me to tell fortunes, but I don’t know how. What I do know is that what we saw on TV is going to ignite the biggest firestorm since Hiroshima, and we sure as hell have to try to do something before it burns up a whole region.”
“Eat. I have to think for a few minutes, and I do that best when I’m chewing on something.”
It was good advice, Ryan knew a few minutes later. The food soaked up the coffee acid in his stomach, and the energy from the food would help him get through the day. Inside an hour, he was on the move again, this time to the State Department. By lunch he was on his way home to pack, managing to nap for three hours along the way. He stopped back at Alden’s White House office for a session that dragged far into the night. Alden had really taken charge there, and the skull session in his office covered a huge amount of ground. Before dawn Jack headed off to Andrews Air Force Base. He was able to call his wife from the VIP Lounge. Jack had hoped to take his son to a ball game over the weekend, but for him there wouldn’t be a weekend. A final courier arrived from CIA, State, and the White House, delivering two hundred pages of data that he’d have to read on the way across the Atlantic.
The U.S. Air Force’s Ramstein air base is set in a German valley, a fact which Ryan found slightly unsettling. His idea of a proper airport was one on land that was flat as far as the eye could see. He knew that it didn’t make much of a difference, but it was one of the niceties of air travel to which he’d become accustomed. The base supported a full wing of F-16 fighter-bombers, each of which was stored in its own bombproof shelter which in its turn was surrounded by trees—the German people have a mania for green things that would impress the most ambitious American environmentalists. It was one of those remarkable cases in which the wishes of the tree-huggers coincided exactly with military necessity. Spotting the aircraft shelters from the air was extremely difficult, and some of the shelters-French-built-had trees planted on top of them, making camouflage both aesthetically and militarily pleasing. The base also housed a few large executive aircraft, including a converted 707 with “The United States of America” painted on it. Resembling a smaller version of the President’s personal transport, it was known locally as “Miss Piggy,” and was assigned to the use of the commander of USAF units in Europe. Ryan could not help but smile. Here were over seventy fighter aircraft tasked to the destruction of Soviet forces which were now drawing back from Germany, housed on an environmentally admirable facility, which was also home to a plane called Miss Piggy. The world was truly mad.
On the other hand, traveling Air Force guaranteed excellent hospitality and VIP treatment worthy of the name, in this case at an attractive edifice called the Cannon Hotel. The base commander, a full colonel, had met his VC-20B Gulfstream executive aircraft and whisked him off to his Distinguished Visitor’s quarters where a slide-out drawer contained a nice collection of liquor bottles to help him to conquer jet lag with nine hours of drink-augmented sleep. That was just as well, because the available television service included a single channel. By the time he awoke at about six in the morning, local, he was almost in synch with the time zones, stiff and hungry, having almost survived another bout with travel shock. He hoped.
Jack didn’t feel like jogging. That was what he told himself. In fact he knew that he couldn’t have jogged half a mile with a gun to his head. And so he walked briskly. He soon found himself being passed by early-morning exercise nuts, many of whom had to be fighter pilots, they were so young and lean. Morning mist hung in the trees that were planted nearly to the edge of the blacktopped roads. It was much cooler than at home, with the still air disturbed every few minutes by the discordant roar of jet engines—“the sound of freedom”—the audible symbol of the military force that had guaranteed the peace of Europe for over forty years—now resented by the Germans, of course. Attitudes change as rapidly as the times. American power had achieved its goal and was becoming a thing of the past, at least as far as Germany was concerned. The inner-German border was gone. The fences and guard towers were down. The mines were gone. The plowed strip of dirt that had remained pristine for two generations to betray the footprints of defectors was now planted with grass and flowers. Locations in the East once examined in satellite photos or about which Western intelligence agencies had sought information at the cost of both money and blood were now walked over by camera-toting tourists, among whom were intelligence officers more shocked than bemused at the rapid changes that had come and gone like the sweep of a spring tide. I knew that I was right about this place, some thought. Or, How did we ever blow that one so badly?
Ryan shook his head. It was more than amazing. The question of the two Germanys had been the centerpiece of East-West conflict since before his birth, had appeared to be the one unchanging thing in the world, the subject of enough white papers and Special National Intelligence Estimates and news stories to fill the entire Pentagon with pulp. All the effort, all the examination of minutiae, the petty disputes—gone. Soon to be forgotten. Even scholarly historians would never have the energy to look at all the data that had been thought important—crucial, vital, worthy of men’s lives—and was now little more than a vast footnote to the end of the Second World War. This base had been one such item. Designed to house the aircraft whose task it was to clear the skies of Russian planes and crush a Soviet attack, it was now an expensive anachronism whose residential apartments would soon house German families. Ryan wondered what they’d do with the aircraft shelters like that one there. . . . Wine cellars, maybe. The wine was pretty good.
“Halt!” Ryan stopped cold in his tracks and turned to see where the sound had come from. It was an Air Force security policeman—woman. Girl, actually, Ryan saw, though her M-16 rifle neither knew nor cared about plumbing fixtures.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“ID, please.” The young lady was quite attractive, and quite professional. She also had a backup in the trees. Ryan handed over his CIA credentials.
“I’ve never seen one of these, sir.”
“I came in last night on the VC-20. I’m staying over at the Inn, room 109. You can check with Colonel Parker’s office.”
“We’re on security alert, sir,” she said next, reaching for her radio.
“Just do your job, miss—excuse me, Sergeant Wilson. My plane doesn’t leave till ten.” Jack leaned against a tree to stretch. It was too nice a morning to get excited about anything, even if there were two armed people who didn’t know who the hell he was.
“Roger.” Sergeant Becky Wilson switched off her radio. “The Colonel’s looking for you, sir.”
“On the way back, I turn left at the Burger King?”
“That’s right, sir.” She handed his ID back with a smile.
“Thanks, Sarge. Sorry to bother you.”
“You want a ride back, sir? The Colonel’s waiting.”
“I’d rather walk. He can wait, he’s early.” Ryan walked away from a buck sergeant who now had to ponder the importance of a man who kept her base commander sitting on the front step of the Cannon. It took ten brisk minutes, but Ryan’s directional sense had not left him, despite the unfamiliar surroundings and a six-hour time differential.
“Morning, sir!” Ryan said as he vaulted the wall into the parking lot.
“I set up a little breakfast with COMUSAFE staff. We’d like your views on what’s happening in Europe.”
Jack laughed. “Great! I’m interested in hearing yours.” Ryan walked off toward his room to dress. What makes them think I know anything more than they do? By the time his plane left, he’d learned four things he hadn’t known. Soviet forces withdrawing from what had formerly been called East Germany were decidedly unhappy with the fact that there was no place for them to withdraw to. Elements of the former East German army were even less happy about their enforced retirement than Washington actually knew; they probably had allies among ex-members of the already de-established Stasi. Finally, though an even dozen members of the Red Army Faction had been apprehended in Eastern Germany, at least that many others had gotten the message and vanished before they, too, could be swept up by the Bundeskriminalamt, the German federal police. That explained the security alert at Ramstein, Ryan was told.
The VC-20B lifted off from the airfield just after ten in the morning, headed south. Those poor terrorists, he thought, devoting their lives and energy and intellect to something that was vanishing more swiftly than the German countryside below him. Like children whose mother had died. No friends now. They’d hidden out in Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic, blissfully unaware of the coming demise of both communist states. Where would they hide now? Russia? No chance. Poland? That was a laugh. The world had changed under them, and was about to change again, Ryan thought with a wistful smile. Some more of their friends were about to watch the world change. Maybe, he corrected himself. Maybe . . .
“Hello, Sergey Nikolayevich,” Ryan had said as the man had entered his office, a week before.
“Ivan Emmetovich,” the Russian had replied, holding out his hand. Ryan remembered the last time they’d been this close, on the runway of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Golovko had held a gun in his hand then. It had not been a good day for either, but as usual, it was funny the way things had worked out. Golovko, for having nearly, but not quite, prevented the greatest defection in Soviet history, was now First Deputy Chairman of the Committee for State Security. Had he succeeded, he would not have gone quite so far, but for being very good, if not quite good enough, he’d been noticed by his own President, and his career had taken a leap upward. His security officer had camped in Nancy’s office with John Clark, as Ryan had led Golovko into his.
“I am not impressed.” Golovko looked around disapprovingly at the painted gypsum-board drywall. Ryan did have a single decent painting borrowed from a government warehouse, and, of course, the not-exactly-required photo of President Fowler over by the clothes tree on which Jack hung his coat.
“I do have a nicer view, Sergey Nikolayevich. Tell me, is the statue of Iron Feliks still in the middle of the square?”
“For the moment.” Golovko smiled. “Your Director is out of town, I gather.”
“Yes, the President decided that he needed some advice.”
“On what?” Golovko asked with a crooked smile.
“Damned if I know,” Ryan answered with a laugh. Lots of things, he didn’t say.
“Difficult, is it not? For both of us.” The new KGB Chairman was not a professional spook either—in fact that was not unusual. More often than not, the director of that grim agency had been a Party man, but the Party was becoming a thing of history also, and Narmonov had selected a computer expert who was supposed to bring new ideas into the Soviet Union’s chief spy agency. That would make it more efficient. Ryan knew that Golovko had an IBM PC behind his desk in Moscow now.
“Sergey, I always used to say that if the world made sense, I’d be out of a job. So look what’s happening. Want some coffee?”
“I would like that, Jack.” A moment later he expressed approval of the brew.
“Nancy sets it up for me every morning. So. What can I do for you?”
“I have often heard that question, but never in such surroundings as this.” There was a rumbling laugh from Ryan’s guest. “My God, Jack, do you ever wonder if this is all the result of some drug-induced dream?”
“Can’t be. I cut myself shaving the other day and I didn’t wake up.”
Golovko muttered something in Russian that Jack didn’t catch, though his translators would when they went over the tapes.
“I am the one who reports to our parliamentarians on our activities. Your Director was kind enough to respond favorably to our request for advice.”
Ryan couldn’t resist that opening: “No problem, Sergey Nikolayevich. You can screen all your information through me. I’d be delighted to tell you how to present it.” Golovko took it like a man.
“Thank you, but the Chairman might not understand.” With jokes aside, it was time for business.
“We want a quid pro quo. ” The fencing began.
“And that is?”
“Information on the terrorists you guys used to support.”
“We cannot do that,” Golovko said flatly.
“Sure you can.”
Next Golovko waved the flag: “An intelligence service cannot betray confidences and continue to function.”
“Really? Tell Castro that next time you see him,” Ryan suggested.
“You’re getting better at this, Jack.”
“Thank you, Sergey. My government is most gratified indeed for your President’s recent statement on terrorism. Hell, I like the guy personally. You know that. We’re changing the world, man. Let’s clean a few more messes up. You never approved of your government’s support for those creeps.”
“What makes you believe that?” the First Deputy Chairman asked.
“Sergey, you’re a professional intelligence officer. There’s no way you can personally approve the actions of undisciplined criminals. I feel the same way, of course, but in my case it’s personal.” Ryan leaned back with a hard look. He would always remember Sean Miller and the other members of the Ulster Liberation Army who’d made two earnest attempts to kill Jack Ryan and his family. Only three weeks earlier, after years exhausting every legal opportunity, after three writs to the Supreme Court, after demonstrations and appeals to the Governor of Maryland and the President of the United States for executive clemency, Miller and his colleagues had, one by one, walked into the gas chamber in Baltimore, and been carried out half an hour later, quite dead. And may God have mercy on their souls, Ryan thought. If God has a strong enough stomach. One chapter in his life was now closed for good.
“And the recent incident . . . ?”
“The Indians? That merely illustrates my case. Those ‘revolutionaries’ were dealing drugs to make money. They’re going to turn on you, the people you used to fund. In a few years they’re going to be more of a problem for you than they ever were for us.” That was entirely correct, of course, and both men knew it. The terrorist-drug connection was something the Soviets were starting to worry about. Free enterprise was starting most rapidly of all in Russia’s criminal sector. That was as troubling to Ryan as to Golovko. “What do you say?”
Golovko inclined his head to the side. “I will discuss it with the Chairman. He will approve.”
“Remember what I said over in Moscow a couple of years back? Who needs diplomats to handle negotiations when you have real people to settle things?”
“I expected a quote from Kipling or something similarly poetic,” the Russian observed dryly. “So how do you deal with your Congress?”
Jack chuckled. “Short version is, you tell them the truth.”
“I needed to fly eleven thousand kilometers to hear you say that?”
“You select a handful of people in your parliament you can trust to keep their mouths shut, and whom the rest of parliament trust to be completely honest—that’s the hard part—and you brief them into everything they need to know. You have to set up ground rules—”
“A baseball term, Sergey. It means the special rules that apply to a specific playing field.”
Golovko’s eyes lit up. “Ah, yes, that is a useful term.”
“Everyone has to agree on the rules, and you may never, ever break them.” Ryan paused. He was talking like a college lecturer again, and it wasn’t fair to speak that way to a fellow professional.
Golovko frowned. That was the hard part, of course: never, ever breaking the rules. The intelligence business wasn’t often that cut and dried. And conspiracy was part of the Russian soul.
“It’s worked for us,” Ryan added.
Or has it? Ryan wondered. Sergey knows if it has or not . . . well, he knows some things that I don’t. He could tell me if we’ve had major leaks on the Hill since Peter Henderson . . . but at the same time he knows that we’ve penetrated so many of their operations despite their manic passion for the utmost secrecy. Even the Soviets had admitted it publicly: the hemorrhage of defectors from KGB over the years had gutted scores of exquisitely planned operations against America and the West. In the Soviet Union as in America, secrecy was designed to shield failure as well as success.
“What it comes down to is trust,” Ryan said after another moment. “The people in your parliament are patriots. If they didn’t love their country, why would they put up with all the bullshit aspects of public life? It’s the same here.”
“Power,” Golovko responded at once.
“No, not the smart ones, not the ones you will be dealing with. Oh, there’ll be a few idiots. We have them here. They are not an endangered species. But there are always those who’re smart enough to know that the power that comes with government service is an illusion. The duty that comes along with it is always greater in magnitude. No, Sergey, for the most part you’ll be dealing with people as smart and honest as you are.”
Golovko’s head jerked at the compliment, one professional to another. He’d guessed right a few minutes earlier, Ryan was getting good at this. He started to think that he and Ryan were not really enemies any longer. Competitors, perhaps, but not enemies. There was more than professional respect between them now.
Ryan looked benignly at his visitor, smiling inwardly at having surprised him. And hoping that one of the people Golovko would select for oversight would be Oleg Kirilovich Kadishev, code name SPINNAKER. Known in the media as one of the most brilliant Soviet parliamentarians in a bumptious legislative body struggling to build a new country, his reputation for intelligence and integrity belied the fact that he’d been on the CIA payroll for several years, the best of all the agents recruited by Mary Pat Foley. The game goes on, Ryan thought. The rules were different. The world was different. But the game went on. Probably always would, Jack thought, vaguely sorry it was true. But, hell, America even spied on Israel—it was called “keeping an eye on things”; it was never called “running an operation.” The oversight people in Congress would have leaked that in a minute. Oh, Sergey, do you have a lot of new things to learn about!
Lunch followed. Ryan took his guest to the executive dining room, where Golovko found the food somewhat better than KGB standards—something Ryan would not have believed. He also found that the top CIA executives wanted to meet him. The Directorate chiefs and their principal deputies all stood in line to shake his hand and be photographed. Finally there was a group photo before Golovko had taken the executive elevator back to his car. Then the people from Science and Technology, and Security had swept every inch of every corridor and room Golovko and his bodyguard had traveled. Finding nothing, they had swept again. And again. And once more until it was decided that he had not availed himself of the opportunity to play his own games. One of the S&T people had lamented the fact that it just wasn’t the same anymore.
Ryan smiled, remembering the remark. Things were happening so goddamned fast. He settled back into the chair and tightened his seat belt. The VC-20 was approaching the Alps, and the air might be bumpy there.
“Want a paper, sir?” the attendant asked. It was a girl for a change, and a pretty one. Also married and pregnant. A pregnant staff sergeant. It made Ryan uneasy to be served by someone like that.
“What d’you have?”
“International Trib. ”
“Great!” Ryan took the paper—and nearly gasped. There it was, right on the front page. Some bonehead had leaked one of the photos. Golovko, Ryan, the directors of S&T, Ops, Admin, Records, and Intelligence, plunging through their lunches. None of the American identities were secret, of course, but even so. . . .
“Not a real good picture, sir,” the sergeant noted with a grin. Ryan was unable to be unhappy.
“When are you due, Sarge?”
“Five more months, sir.”
“Well, you’ll be bringing your child into a much better world than the one either one of us was stuck with. Why don’t you sit down and relax? I’m not liberated enough to be waited on by a pregnant lady.”
The International Herald-Tribune is a joint venture of The New York Times and The Washington Post. The one sure way for Americans traveling in Europe to keep track of the ball scores and important comic strips, it had already broadened its distribution into what had been the Eastern Bloc to serve American businessmen and tourists who were flooding the former communist nations. The locals also used it, both as a way to hone their English skills and to keep track of what was happening in America, more than ever a fascination to people learning how to emulate something they’d been raised to hate. In addition it was as fine an information source as had ever been available in those countries. Soon everyone was buying it, and the American management of the paper was expanding operations to broaden its readership still further.