In Rick Campbell’s newest thriller, a military coup in Russia leads to a swift invasion of former Soviet territorieswhile the U.S. has been rendered powerless to respond.
In Russia, the military is anxious to assert its military strength and regain its role as a superpower. The Russian President refuses to greenlight a bold plan to disable American strategic nuclear capability and retake Ukraine and the Baltic States, fearing the potential consequences of involving nuclear weapons. But the generals won't have it and at the first opportunity, they overthrow the president in a military coup. Then they use a narrow window to initiate their bold planthe Zolotov optionwhich will render all of America's B2 bombers and ballistic missiles useless. With the U.S. off the board, they swiftly invade Ukraine with an overwhelming force, an invading Army that even NATO can't hope to resist.
Now, it's game on. Without their primary weapons, the U.S. has to find a way to fight back on multiple fronts. If they're to have any chance, they'll have to overcome the malware that has grounded their ballistic missiles and planes, as well as secretly land a SEAL team to help rescue the imprisoned Russian President, and help retake control from the forces that are driving Europe into a continental war.
Rick Campbell, one of the finest young military thriller writers, returns with his biggest and boldest novel to date.
About the Author
RICK CAMPBELL is a retired Navy Commander who spent more than twenty years on multiple submarine tours. On his last tour, he was one of the two men whose permission was required to launch the submarine’s nuclear warhead-tipped missiles. Campbell is the author of Empire Rising, Ice Station Nautilus, and Blackmail. He lives with his family in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
Read an Excerpt
Russian President Yuri Kalinin entered the Kremlin conference room, joining his advisors seated around the table. The six men stood, then returned to their chairs after the president took his position at the head of the table. To the president's right sat Defense Minister Anton Nechayev and Foreign Minister Andrei Lavrov. On the other side of the table were four military officers: Chief of the General Staff Sergei Andropov, joined by the commanders of the Russian Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, and Navy.
Kalinin had assembled his senior civilian and military advisors to review the results of their disastrous initiative — Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Lithuania, along with their blackmail attempt to prevent NATO from intervening. Their effort had failed, however. The Americans had soundly defeated the Russian Navy and NATO had begun preparing a counterattack into Lithuania and Ukraine. Russia had withdrawn its troops and peace now prevailed across Europe, but the sting of Russia's failure remained.
Diplomatic relations had returned to normal and it was time to discuss the way forward. Kalinin turned first to his new minister of defense. "Proceed."
Nechayev began with his prepared summary. "The Navy has finished its assessment. The water depth where the battle occurred is too deep to raise the sunken ships; they are a complete loss. Fortunately, the battle cruiser Pyotr Velikiy and aircraft carrier Kuznetsov remained afloat after the battle. Both restored propulsion and have arrived at our nearest shipyard. However, they are heavily damaged and it will take at least two years to return them to service."
Now that the bad news had been delivered, Nechayev shifted gears. "Our submarine fleet remains a viable asset, especially in light of the American losses during their war with China and the additional casualties they suffered at our hands. Although we lost most of our guided missile submarines, we still have thirty-five diesel and nuclear-powered attack submarines, while America has only eighteen fast attack submarines remaining in service. However, the United States raised twenty-seven of the submarines lost during their war with China, and the first of those will begin exiting the shipyards within the year. Our submarine advantage will not last long.
"We are in an even better situation regarding our land and air forces. The army suffered only minor losses in Ukraine, so we are in excellent shape on the ground. In the air, we lost all tactical fighters assigned to the Middle East, but the bulk of our Aerospace Force remains intact. After factoring in our anti-air assets, we can deny any NATO attempt to achieve air superiority."
With his update complete, Nechayev sat back, letting Kalinin absorb the information.
General Andropov, Kalinin's senior military advisor, joined the discussion. "Our basic strategy was sound. NATO cannot defeat our land and air forces without the United States. What failed was our strategy to keep the United States from intervening. If we fix that, we will succeed next time."
"Next time?" Kalinin asked.
Andropov's eyes narrowed. "America humiliated us. The images of our warships adrift and on fire have been shown repeatedly on the news, and public support for your administration is at an all-time low. If you want to be reelected next year, you'll have to make a bold move."
Kalinin replied, "It was the bold move you and Defense Minister Chernov recommended that created this situation. The plan failed, and I shouldn't have to remind you that Minister Chernov was assassinated by the Americans." He eyed his new defense minister, who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"It was a flawed plan," Andropov insisted. "We were supposed to blackmail the United States, keeping them from entering the conflict, but they blackmailed us instead. If we correct this flaw, we will prevail next time. The Zolotov option is finally ready to implement, and if the updates to the Alexander submarine class are adequate, America won't dare risk intervening."
Turning back to his new defense minister, Kalinin asked, "What is the status of the Zolotov option and the Alexander class?"
Nechayev responded, "As General Andropov mentioned, the Zolotov option can now be fully implemented. But, as you know, it is a high-risk, high-reward plan. Regarding the Alexander class, the equipment aboard Alexander has been upgraded and is scheduled for another test this afternoon. If it performs as intended, I'd have to agree with General Andropov. The American fleet would be at our mercy. Even if they chose to intercede in Europe, they couldn't risk transporting their troops or equipment by sea. Any effort to oppose us would be seriously hampered."
"Alexander's test is this afternoon?"
Nechayev nodded. "Yes, sir."
"We will meet again tomorrow," Kalinin said, "and then I will decide."CHAPTER 2
Standing in the Central Command Post of his Yasen class attack submarine, Captain Second Rank Anatoly Mikhailov surveyed his crew. They were at Combat Stations, tracking Hydroacoustic two-one, a submerged contact lurking off Kazan's starboard beam in the Barents Sea. It was quiet in the command post as Mikhailov stood near one of the two lowered periscopes, occasionally glancing at the admiral beside him. Admiral Leonid Shimko, commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, displayed no hint of what he was thinking as he watched Kazan's crew prepare to attack.
Captain Third Rank Erik Fedorov, Kazan's First Officer, stood behind two fire control consoles, peering over the shoulders of the two operators, each wearing the rank of michman on their uniform. He tapped one michman on the shoulder. "Set as Primary." The michman complied and Fedorov announced, "Captain, I have a firing solution."
Mikhailov examined the target parameters. The enemy submarine was six kilometers off Kazan's starboard beam, headed west at ten knots. It was mirroring Kazan.
"Prepare to fire," Mikhailov announced, "Hydroacoustic two-one, tube One."
"Solution updated," Fedorov called out.
"Torpedo ready," the Weapons Officer reported.
"Countermeasures armed," the Watch Officer announced.
Mikhailov examined the target solution again. Satisfied it was accurate and all torpedo search settings were optimal, he gave the order.
"Fire tube One."
The torpedo was impulsed from the tube, and Mikhailov's ears popped when the impulse tanks were vented, refilling them to supply water for another shot. He moved behind his Weapons Officer, monitoring the status of their outgoing torpedo as it descended to the estimated target depth of 150 meters. The torpedo closed on its target, and at the predetermined range, went active.
"Torpedo One has enabled," the Weapons Officer announced,
The torpedo began pinging, and not long thereafter the Weapons Officer reported, "Detect!"
The next report arrived seconds later, once the torpedo verified the detected contact was indeed a submarine.
On the Weapon Launch Console, the parameters updated as the torpedo increased speed.
Mikhailov's eyes shifted to the nearest fire control console, looking for indication their target had begun maneuvering. The contact remained steady on course and speed. This, of course, was expected. The contact they had fired at was Kazan's sister ship Alexander, a modified Yasen class, built and launched in secrecy from the Sevmash shipyard in the White Sea.
The torpedo Kazan had fired was an exercise version, its warhead explosive replaced with inert material. This was the fourth time Kazan had tested its torpedoes against Alexander, and Mikhailov wondered whether leadership suspected there was a problem with their torpedo inventory. After launch, the torpedo's artificial intelligence controlled every aspect of target prosecution. It wouldn't be the first time a software bug had rendered their torpedoes ineffective in some way. Thus far, however, Kazan's torpedoes had performed as designed. This one appeared to be functioning properly as well.
"Exploder armed," the Weapons Officer announced.
The exploder had rotated into the firing position, preparing to detonate the warhead. This torpedo wouldn't explode, however, since the explosive had been removed.
Mikhailov watched the torpedo close the remaining distance to Alexander, then the Weapons Officer made the expected report. "Exploder has fired!"
There was no explosion, though. Instead, Hydroacoustic reported, "Weapon impact."
Normal exercise torpedoes had a turn-away feature or depth interlocks so the torpedo didn't impact the submarine and break into pieces, or even worse, damage the submarine's propulsor or screw during a shot from astern. However, the torpedo Mikhailov had fired against Alexander ran to termination, smashing into the submarine's hull.
The result was anticlimactic. The torpedo had operated perfectly. When Mikhailov turned to Admiral Shimko, he was surprised to see a frown on the admiral's face.
"Return to port immediately," Shimko ordered.CHAPTER 3
Seated in his cubicle on the fourth floor of the Clark Curtain Laboratory building, Steve Kaufmann stared at his computer display, doing his best to stay focused. It was almost quitting time, in more ways than one. After replying to the latest email, he heard his division director's voice, calling for everyone's attention. Kaufmann looked over his cubicle, joined by several dozen other heads popping above the matrix walls. Jacinta Mascarenhas was exiting the elevator. Her executive assistant, Rich Underwood, followed behind, pushing a cart filled with champagne bottles and glasses.
Mascarenhas headed to an open area in the center of the cube farm, stopping beside a conference table where Underwood hastily unloaded additional glasses from beneath the cart.
"Gather round, everyone," Mascarenhas said. "We have some celebrating to do."
Kaufmann joined his colleagues, forming a semicircle around Mascarenhas. Kaufmann, tall and gangly, towering above most of his coworkers, watched from the last row of the crowd.
"Today marks the final shipment," Mascarenhas began, "the last set of spares for a decade-long project. Many of you have been here since the beginning, and Clark Curtain Laboratory thanks you for your dedication and hard work." She lifted a champagne bottle, peeling the foil and wire muselet from the cork. "I want to congratulate you on a job well done, completed on-schedule and on-budget, a rare accomplishment in the defense industry."
Mascarenhas popped the cork from the bottle, bouncing it off the ceiling. Underwood caught the overflowing champagne in a glass, which he handed to Mascarenhas, who raised it high.
"Here's to the successful end of one contract and the beginning of many more."
Underwood filled the champagne glasses, and several employees passed them through the crowd until everyone had one. Kaufmann took a sip of champagne, savoring the bittersweet achievement.
The current contract expired at the end of the month and Clark Curtain Labs hadn't won enough new government contracts to keep everyone employed. Kaufmann looked around, figuring that over half of those present would be looking for work by the end of the month unless the oft-promised replacement contract materialized. Kaufmann reckoned he'd be among those unemployed.
For the last ten years, Kaufmann had been assigned to the contract, developing the initial software, then tweaking the middleware as various microprocessors and other components went obsolete and were replaced with new versions. As the effort drew to a close, he'd seen the writing on the wall and had asked to be transferred to another contract, but Mascarenhas had disapproved each request. Kaufmann was far too valuable; no one knew the software code better than he did.
Kaufmann tilted his head back, emptying the glass. He hadn't been happy, stuck to a dying contract. But at least he'd gotten a glass of champagne out of it.CHAPTER 4
The mid-afternoon sun filtered through the windows of his West Wing corner office as Chief of Staff Kevin Hardison reviewed the document on the table. Across from him, also reviewing a copy of the proposal, sat his White House nemesis, Christine O'Connor, the president's national security advisor, while an aide on Hardison's right took notes. Hardison braced himself for Christine's rejection of his latest recommendation. Instead, she nodded her agreement. Hardison pulled back slightly, examining the woman across from him — the only person from the opposite political party on the president's staff — more closely.
During the past three years, Christine had opposed him on almost every key proposal. The perennial thorn in his side was an incredibly obstinate woman. Even more irritating, her attempts to persuade the president to her point of view were quite effective. Hardison had stopped tracking who the president sided with more often once the trend became clear. However, during the past two months, Hardison had experienced a reversal of fortune. Christine had suddenly become agreeable.
Following the events at Ice Station Nautilus, Christine had buried herself in her work, staying late into the night and working every weekend. After she returned from Russia, however, the pattern had reversed. She left early when possible and no longer worked on weekends unless the matter was urgent. Her interactions with Hardison and the rest of the president's staff had grown distant, and Christine had surprisingly agreed to several proposals Hardison was certain she'd vehemently oppose. Hardison took advantage of Christine's unusual pliability this afternoon, circling back to a proposal she'd refused to endorse three years earlier: a reorganization of the nation's numerous intelligence agencies.
As much as Hardison relished his newfound success, he missed the old Christine. Without her infuriating opposition on almost every issue, coming to work each day had become less ... fun. As he reviewed the document before him, he realized he'd scheduled this meeting for opposing purposes. If Christine's new trend held, he'd obtain her endorsement for a key policy proposal — one the president would be sure to push forward with Christine on board. However, she'd made her position on the issue clear during previous meetings, practically throwing Hardison out of her office the last time he brought it up. He was certain Christine's bona fides would surface this afternoon when he pressed the matter.
"So," Hardison said. "I take it you agree with the restructuring?" "I'll consider it," Christine replied, with no hint of the icy tone he expected.
Hardison contemplated his next move as the aide typed notes into her laptop. He focused again on Christine, who was staring out one of the triple-paned, bomb-resistant windows in his office. The fresh scar across her cheek was faintly visible. His eyes went to her wrists; the cuts had likewise healed. Although Christine hadn't shared the details, the CIA report had painted a clear enough picture: Christine handcuffed to a pipe above her head as she was tormented by Semyon Gorev, the director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service. Hardison wondered what Christine had thought when Gorev slid his pistol barrel into her mouth. The emotions that must have flooded her body as he slowly squeezed the trigger.
There had been no bullets in the pistol, part of Gorev's sadistic torment. A few hours later, Christine had somehow reversed the roles, jamming a gun into Gorev's mouth. Then she blew his brains out.
The aide finished her notes and looked up. Christine was still staring out the window.
Hardison turned to the aide. "Excuse us for a few minutes. I need to talk with Miss O'Connor privately."
The aide pushed back from the table and the movement caught Christine's attention, interrupting her reverie.
When they were alone, Hardison said, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Why do you ask?"
"You haven't been yourself the last few weeks."
She folded her arms across her chest. "I'm fine." This time, her voice had an edge to it.
"You're not fine. It's obvious you're still dealing with what happened in Russia. It's affecting your work."
"I don't have time for this." Christine's eyes went to the aide's empty seat. "Are we done?"
"We're not done. I know you don't consider me a friend —" "Because you're not."
"— but I do care about you a tiny bit. You need to take some time off. Clear your head."
Christine leaned forward, placing her hands on the edge of the table. "I don't need your psychoanalysis. I'm doing just fine."
Hardison collected his thoughts. It was pointless to continue. There was too much animosity between them. Deservedly so, he had to admit.
"You're right," Hardison said. "You're doing just fine. That's all I have for today."
Christine stood and grabbed her notepad, then left without a word.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Treason"
Copyright © 2019 Rick Campbell.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Three Weeks Earlier,
1. Moscow, Russia,
2. K-561 Kazan,
3. Cambridge, Massachusetts,
4. Washington, D.C.,
5. Moscow, Russia,
6. Arlington, Virginia,
7. Moscow, Russia,
8. Moscow, Russia,
9. Washington, D.C.,
10. San Jose, California,
11. Moscow, Russia,
12. The Black Sea,
13. Moscow, Russia,
14. Moscow, Russia,
15. Gelendzhik, Russia,
16. Kubinka Air Base, Russia,
17. Gelendzhik, Russia,
18. Gelendzhik, Russia,
19. Offutt Air Force Base,
20. Gelendzhik, Russia,
21. The Spirit of Kitty Hawk,
22. Omaha, Nebraska,
23. Washington, D.C.,
24. Washington, D.C.,
25. Gelendzhik, Russia,
26. The Pentagon,
27. Fort Bliss, Texas,
28. Uss Michigan,
29. Cambridge, Massachusetts,
30. Gelendzhik, Russia,
31. Gelendzhik, Russia,
32. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
33. Air Force One,
34. Brussels, Belgium,
35. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
36. Cambridge, Massachusetts,
37. The Black Sea,
38. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
39. Air Force One,
40. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
41. Moscow, Russia,
42. Cambridge, Massachusetts,
43. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
44. Washington, D.C.,
45. Uss Michigan,
46. Kings Bay, Georgia,
47. Washington, D.C.,
48. Moscow, Russia,
49. Kiev, Ukraine,
50. Fort Bliss, Texas,
51. Casteau, Belgium,
52. Arlington, Virginia,
53. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
54. Uss Michigan,
55. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
56. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
57. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
58. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
59. Uss Michigan,
60. Krasnodar Krai,
61. Moscow, Russia,
62. B-268 Velikiy Novgorod,
63. The Black Sea,
64. Uss Michigan,
65. Uss Michigan B-268 Velikiy Novgorod,
66. Uss Michigan,
67. Washington, D.C.,
68. Uss Michigan,
69. Krasnodar Krai, Russia,
70. Uss Michigan,
71. Beregovoy, Russia,
72. Uss Michigan,
73. Beregovoy, Russia,
74. Uss Michigan,
75. Moscow, Russia,
76. Hamburg, Germany,
77. Casteau, Belgium,
78. Uss Michigan,
79. Washington, D.C.,
80. Yasenevo, Russia,
81. Moscow, Russia,
82. Uss Michigan,
83. The Black Sea,
84. Moscow, Russia,
85. Moscow, Russia,
86. Moscow, Russia,
87. Moscow, Russia,
88. Washington, D.C.,
89. Moscow, Russia,
90. San Jose, California,
91. Washington, D.C.,
92. Uss Maryland Siberia, Russia,
93. Washington, D.C.,
94. Moscow, Russia,
95. Arlington, Virginia,
Complete Cast of Characters,
Also by Rick Campbell,
About the Author,