It is 1993 as the head of a secret section of the British Ministry of Defense begins to execute a masterful plan he feels is the only way to break the cycle of violence in Northern Ireland and pave the way for a united country.
Major Kevin MacAllister is not the man everyone believes him to be. Because he is a highly regarded expert on small-scale nuclear weapons on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a well-respected family man, no one suspects that MacAllister is planning to implement in just seventeen days the first act of nuclear terrorism on the world—or that he has had a beautiful mistress for quite some time. As MacAllister’s plan unfolds, emotions run high and tensions mount as he prepares to sacrifice his friends, upstanding career, and the love of his life—all to pursue his dream. Now only one question remains: Will he be successful, or will his dream die with him in the open sea?
In this international thriller, an extraordinary nuclear terrorist unfurls a plan with the power to instill fear in millions of Londoners and bring the British government to its knees.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.67(d)|
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London, England, August 20, 1993
Major Kevin MacAllister backed his restored '57 Jaguar out of the garage, swinging around the front of the house. His wife, Shelia, and their dog, Max, stood by the front door, so Kevin waved as he turned right at the corner onto Willoughby Road, and then he turned left on Rosslyn Hill, shifting into top gear as he headed south toward Camden Town. He smiled as he thought about his beautiful, sexy mistress, Jenny Laster, whom he would see later in the day. Then his thoughts came back to the task in hand. He frowned in concentration as his mind ran over his carefully worked-out plans for replacing the nuclear-missile firing mechanisms with the duplicates he had made. He knew he had to be super careful so as not to arouse the slightest suspicion at the Ministry that morning.
It was only quarter to eight, so traffic was still moving steadily without too much stop and go. Kevin turned on the radio and picked up a report on BBC: "Another bomb exploded in the Lower Falls area of Belfast at 1:00 a.m. today, killing two soldiers and wounding five others. The IRA claimed responsibility in a statement reiterating their demands for the removal of all British soldiers from Northern Ireland and the reunification of the province with the Republic of Ireland."
Kevin headed down Albany Street alongside Regents Park. The news reinforced his conviction that the execution of his ultimate solution, which he planned to implement in just seventeen days, could prove to be the only way to break the cycle of violence in Northern Ireland and pave the way for a united Ireland. He felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension as the culmination of his plan to use nuclear blackmail to achieve a united Ireland drew near.
Kevin focused on the road ahead. The traffic became extremely heavy as he drove, stuck in first gear, across Euston Road and down Portland Place to Regent Street. It would now be stop and start all the way to the office. It was always like this, Kevin thought, and it had become steadily worse over the many years he had made this morning drive. Slowly rounding Piccadilly Circus and turning right on Haymarket, he reached the last bottleneck at Trafalgar Square. Picking up speed as he turned onto Whitehall, he quickly passed the Admiralty and Downing Street on his right and then turned left onto Richmond Terrace and left again down the ramp to the underground parking at Mews Park.
From the exterior, the Ministry of Defense was a massive Victorian-style structure, occupying almost an entire block overlooking the River Thames, but, in contrast, the interior had the trappings of an ultramodern military establishment with all the sophisticated computer and electronic equipment necessary to direct operations in the age of nuclear warfare.
"Good morning, sir," Corporal Jones said and saluted smartly as Kevin nodded his thank you, got out, and left Jones to park the car. Entering the lift, he punched the button for the twelfth floor.
His secretary, Margaret Bloomington, greeted him, handed him a folder, and said, "Here's the file for your meeting with Sir Ian."
"Thank you, Margaret. You're a marvel of efficiency."
"Thank you, sir," she said, a glow of pride on her face as she left the room. Kevin knew her loyalty to him was absolute, and while he always maintained a most proper relationship with Margaret, he never failed to remember her on her birthday and at Christmas and always brought her back some small token of his esteem from his many trips overseas.
Kevin quickly reviewed the contents of the folder. His familiarity with the details of the biannual military maneuvers and his role in the security and coordination of the mobile tactical nuclear weapons used in these exercises made for rapid reading of the file. It was standard Ministry procedure that the firing mechanisms, a complex microelectronic circuit board the size of a postage stamp, were removed from all the mobile missiles armed with nuclear warheads and kept at the unit bases to prevent a nuclear accident during their war games. As a further precaution, each firing mechanism was programmed to work only on the single nuclear missile to which it belonged. Kevin had personally devised this system and the backup procedure whereby an exact duplicate of all firing mechanisms were maintained in the vaults in the nuclear shelter basement of the Ministry. Of course, a complete file record indicating the missile code number and unit to which it was assigned was kept with the duplicate firing mechanism. Only two people, Sir Ian and Kevin, had direct access to them.
Margaret popped her head around the door and said, "It's five minutes to ten."
"Thanks, Margaret. I'm on my way." Kevin gathered up all his papers and put them in the folder.
Sir Ian Sinders's office was on the same floor as Kevin's but on the opposite corner of the building, where Sir Ian had a commanding view of Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, and the entrance to Downing Street. The office was more than twice the size of Kevin's, with a large round conference table at one end where Sir Ian conducted staff meetings with the heads of all branches of the armed services. Naturally enough, Kevin was usually in attendance, as an independent nuclear deterrent was still the cornerstone of British military strategy, despite rumblings to the contrary from some Labour MPs in Westminster.
"Good morning, Jane," Kevin said to Jane Hawley, Sir Ian's confidential secretary, a rather prim and proper tall woman in her midfifties.
"Go right in, Major. Sir Ian is waiting for you."
Sir Ian sat behind his antique desk and cheerfully greeted Kevin. "Good morning, Mac. Pull up a chair. This shouldn't take long."
Kevin laid his folder on the desk, and the two men spent the next hour or so reviewing some of the final details for the upcoming military exercises. At last, Sir Ian leaned back in his chair and said, "Well, Mac, everything's in place for a productive week at Salisbury. I see from your schedule that you'll be at the Pentagon all next week getting the latest update from our American allies on their proposed further nuclear arms reduction talks with the Russians. It should be very interesting, as it's certain to have a profound effect on the nuclear arms balance in Europe, particularly for the French and ourselves. Then, as you are off for your annual week's fishing in Scotland, you can bring me up to date when we meet at Salisbury in a couple of weeks or so. Okay?"
"Absolutely, sir, and by then I should have prepared the impact report of different scenarios on our forces."
"Enjoy your trip to Scotland. I wish I could join you. Certainly, you deserve the break away from it all!"
"Yes, I'm looking forward to it. Thank you, sir. I always enjoy the remoteness I feel in Scotland. Good-bye, sir!" Kevin got up and headed out to the elevators, deciding this would be a good time to go down to the vaults in the basement.
As Kevin stepped out of the elevator on basement level four, Sergeant Jack Pedley said, "Good morning, sir," as he stood to attention behind his desk.
"At ease, Jack," Kevin said as he signed the security register and recorded the time: 11:15 a.m.
The two soldiers by the main vault entrance stood at arms ready with their eyes looking straight ahead as Kevin slipped his hand into the computer-controlled fingerprint identification reader located in the wall.
An electronic voice intoned, "You are cleared to proceed," as the door slowly opened, allowing Kevin fifteen seconds to enter before the door automatically closed behind him. This area of the vaults held top-secret documentation and other sensitive records to which as many as fourteen people in the Ministry had access. Kevin paid little attention to the rows and rows of locked filing cabinets as he walked hurriedly to the back right corner to another steel vault door with another ID reader. He repeated the procedure as before and was admitted right away. Only Kevin and Sir Ian could gain access here.
Along with the entire level-four basement area, this small, sparse room was five hundred feet underground and constructed as a nuclear bomb shelter. The level-four area was designed to be one of several command posts in the event Britain was under nuclear attack. Here on neat, high-tech plastic racks were all the duplicate firing mechanisms for Britain's entire nuclear arsenal, each with clearly marked identifying code numbers on the outside of its individual case. Kevin went straight to the Mobile Missile Launcher (MML) section and quickly located the row for field battery three of the Royal Welsh Guards Regiment. Each field battery consisted of four MMLs, and each contained two medium-range (0–1,000 miles) Penguin-class nuclear missiles. Each firing mechanism was enclosed in an airtight, clear plastic case. Kevin pulled out a sealed envelope from his left inside pocket and, carefully opening it, withdrew eight encased firing mechanisms. Quickly he inserted all eight under their correct codes in the eight empty slots. This had been one of the riskier elements of his entire plan but a calculated one, as he knew Sir Ian rarely came down here. Kevin had removed them only a week earlier to minimize the risk of discovery, but a week had been necessary for the complex task of duplication, the most critical element to the ultimate success of his plans.
Kevin was in and out of the inner vault within three minutes. Back by the elevator, Sergeant Pedley saluted smartly as Kevin signed out at 11:21 a.m.
"Cheerio, Jack, at ease!"
"Thank you, sir."
A few minutes later, Kevin was back in his office, and Margaret brought him a cup of tea and a plate of her own home-baked oatmeal biscuits, a particular favorite of Kevin's.
"You really spoil me, Margaret, but then I am rather partial to your oatmeal biscuits. Any calls?"
"No, but here are your airline tickets, and everything is checked and confirmed, including your hotel reservations."
"Thank you, Margaret," Kevin said as he took the tickets and slipped them into his left inside coat pocket with his passport. "I won't be seeing you until Monday, September 13, after the week in Salisbury.
I know you'll take care of everything here with Captain Smithers. Of course, he'll be with me for the week at Salisbury."
Margaret nodded. "Don't worry, Major. Everything will run smoothly, as always, but it will be quiet without you. I hope you have a marvelous week of fishing in Scotland."
"Thank you, Margaret, and with luck I'll have a nice Scottish salmon to send you. Please have Captain Smithers come in."
Two minutes later, Captain Rodney Smithers, in uniform as usual, stood before Kevin's desk, his big mop of sandy hair combed neatly to one side of his freckled face.
"Good morning, Rodney. Have a seat."
"You know the drill while I'm away, Rodney, so no need to discuss it. I've just reviewed final details for Salisbury with Sir Ian. Here's the folder."
"Nothing to worry about, Kevin. I know Margaret can reach you wherever you are if anything should crop up. Effective at noon, the computer will have my handprint on file for emergency access to the vaults while you are away."
"Good, so everything is under control, and I'll see you on Tuesday morning, September 7, at field HQ in Salisbury."
"Have a good trip to Washington and enjoy your fishing," Rodney said, dropping his serious look and offering a boyish smile.
"Thanks, Rodney, and don't work Margaret too hard. Good-bye."
After the captain left, Kevin sat thoughtfully behind his desk as his mind again wandered back to his plans for nuclear blackmail. It was a strange feeling, knowing he would be unlikely to ever see Margaret, Rodney, Sir Ian, or any of the others again, and he certainly would never see this office again. Like any place where one spends a lot of time over the years, Kevin had grown rather fond of his office and the familiar surroundings, the view over the Thames ... but he knew what lay ahead was more important than anything else.
He thought back to a gray, drizzly morning at the end of the previous November. Margaret had brought in the mail, and as usual, she had opened and sorted it in priority, so Kevin had immediately noticed the unopened airmail letter from the States sitting on top and clearly marked "Personal & Confidential." As soon as Margaret left, he had opened it carefully and quickly read the brief letter inside. It was from the New York law firm Driscoll, Hanrahan & Moynihan, and kindly requested Kevin to contact the senior partner, Mike Driscoll, at his earliest convenience in connection with the estate of the late Herbert T. S. MacAllister.
Granduncle Bertie, who was Kevin's paternal grandfather's youngest brother, had died six months earlier at the age of ninety-seven. He had been somewhat of a legend in the family, having immigrated to the States in the 1920s. Penniless and starting out as a bricklayer, he built up a very successful construction business.
Over the next four decades, Bertie had become one of the larger real estate developers between New York and Boston and reputedly amassed a considerable fortune. Kevin had many fond memories of his granduncle from his first visits when Kevin was still a teenager. Apparently Kevin's father had always been the old man's favorite nephew, and Bertie had advanced him the seed money to get started in his own small business in London. Over the years, Kevin would always make the effort to visit Granduncle Bertie at least once or twice a year when on one of his business trips to the Unites States. The old man had always seemed to relish Kevin's visits, and they would spend hour after hour talking about many things but always ended up with two favorite topics of discussion, Kevin's work in the field of nuclear weapons and Bertie's dream of a United Ireland.
As a very young man, Bertie had played a minor role in the 1916 Rising in Dublin and later was an ardent supporter of Michael Collins during the civil war. He had been disgusted with the partition of Ireland and emigrated shortly afterward. Bertie had one favorite Irish ballad that he never lost an opportunity to recite to Kevin, called "A Nation Once Again," written by the young Dublin poet Thomas Davis in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. This ballad personified Bertie's dream for Ireland.
Bertie MacAllister had never married, and he had never confided in anyone, despite his reputation as a notorious womanizer. As far as Kevin had known, he and his two cousins in Dublin were Bertie's closest relatives; however, over the years, Kevin heard vague rumors of an illegitimate son borne by one of his many fancy ladies in the 1930s. But Bertie would never talk about it. Granduncle Bertie had been a man of striking contrasts who, on one hand, would take enormous risks in his real estate business but on the other hand had an innate fear of flying and had also sworn never to set foot on a ship again after a rough passage when he first went to America. The result was that Bertie had never returned to his native land, so Kevin was the only relative he had seen in the last ten years, as Kevin's Irish cousins had never visited the States. However, Bertie had one passion, and that had been horses, and in the late forties he had bought himself an eight-acre estate called Woodlawn in Greenwich, Connecticut. Initially, he had bought the estate as a weekend retreat from the city, but lived there year-round after he finally sold off all his business interests in the late sixties. He had kept horses there right up to his death. Kevin had also grown to love the Woodlawn estate with its gorgeous late nineteenth-century classical mansion and extensive stables surrounding a cobblestone courtyard. The estate around the mansion had reminded both Bertie and Kevin of Ireland, with its undulating grasslands dotted here and there with magnificent old oak trees. Kevin had always thoroughly enjoyed the many horse rides he had taken around the estate with his granduncle.
Excerpted from "Green September"
Copyright © 2017 Ray Vernon.
Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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