Read Fortunes of War Online

Authors: Stephen Coonts

Fortunes of War (31 page)

BOOK: Fortunes of War
7.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The engine in the car against the truck had stalled. The five men inside were apparently dead.

The flagman was taking no chances. He fired a shot into every head.

“Do the ones in the other car, too,” Ilin told him.

The man who had driven the truck across the road came over to Ilin. As the single shots sounded, he said apologetically, “We almost pulled it off.”

Ilin shouted at the man in the lift basket, who was on his way down. He had an air-cooled light machine gun cradled in his arms. “Did you shoot at Kalugin?”

“I got off just one burst. I saw sparks where the bullets were striking the armor. I'm sorry.”

“We blew it,” Ilin said with a grimace.

“Maybe we should get the hell out of here.”

“That is probably a good idea.”


As the limo shot along the two-lane road, Aleksandr Kalugin hung on to the strap in the backseat and shouted at the driver. Still shaken
from the assassination attempt, he had already concluded that there was a good chance that his bodyguards, or one of them—perhaps his driver?—had betrayed him. Now he was telling the driver which way to go as they approached each intersection.

It was too dangerous to return to the dacha, so he gave the driver directions for an alternate route into Moscow.

Kalugin pulled the telephone from its storage bracket and dialed an operator. He kept his eyes on the road ahead. He removed his pistol from a pocket and laid it in his lap.

If the driver took a wrong turn, he, Kalugin, would personally put a bullet in the man's brain. He fingered the automatic as if it were a set of worry beads.

An aide in his office answered. Kalugin told him about the ambush in as few words as possible, keeping strictly to the facts. The aide would know what to do with the information.

In odd moments Kalugin made lists of his enemies. The A list included political opponents and rivals in the Congress, bureaucrats who had publicly opposed him in the past, and candidates who had run against him in past elections. The B list included critics, newspaper editors who had printed damaging editorials or news stories, bureaucrats who didn't jump when he growled, businessmen who refused to go along with his suggestions—basically carpers and footdraggers. The C list, the longest, contained everybody else that Kalugin thought less than enthusiastic about his leadership of the nation. Some persons had managed to get on this list by avoiding a handshake at parties or receptions. Several were husbands of women Kalugin thought attractive; some were there simply because he had seen their name in a report or in print and thought that person might someday be dangerous.

He had discussed threats to his power with his top aides on several occasions in the past, developed contingency plans, delegated power to men he trusted, men who owed him for their status, their place, the bread they ate.

Even now, as his car raced along, the aides would be ordering everyone on the A list arrested and interrogated. Perhaps the police would discover the culprits before Kalugin's internal security apparatus did, and if so, fine. Kalugin would proceed on both fronts regardless.

Perhaps something good would come out of this crime against his person. Maybe he could use this event as an excuse to crush some of his most vocal enemies. Their downfall would be a lesson for all the rest.

Three of Kalugin's men were waiting in his office when Janos Ilin arrived for work that morning. The secretary in the outer office gave him the news.

“What do they want?”

“They didn't say, sir. They had a presidential pass, so I put them in your anteroom. They went into the office without my permission.”

When you screw up an assassination, this is what happens, he thought. You walk into rooms wondering if you are about to be arrested and tortured or if they want your help chasing assassins.

Janos Ilin didn't turn a hair. He walked across the anteroom to his office door and opened it. He walked in and stopped. One of them was sitting in his chair, trying to jimmy the locks on the desk drawers. Another was using a pick on the file cabinet's locks.

“What the hell is this?”

“Ah, the man with the keys. Sit down, Comrade Ilin. Sit down. And I'll trouble you for your keys.”

Ilin remained standing.

“Someone tried to assassinate President Kalugin a short time ago. We are investigating.”

“Did they harm the president?”


“Why are you investigating here?”

“Sit, Ilin. Sit. The keys, please.”

They worked for over an hour, flipping through files, reading notebooks, looking at every sheet of paper they could find. All the while, Ilin sat and watched, apparently unconcerned. The only things that he didn't want these thugs to see were the files on agents in place in foreign countries. Fortunately, those files were in the agency's central records depository, under continuous armed guard.

“When did this assassination attempt take place?”

“This morning. The president was on his way to the Kremlin.”

“Have you made any arrests?”

“We are trying to decide if we should arrest you.”

Ilin snorted.

“Your sangfroid is quite commendable.”

“I have nothing to hide. I have not lifted a finger against anyone. You can read those files until doomsday and that fact won't change.”

When the leader was finished, he seated himself again behind the
desk, in Ilin's chair. From his pocket he produced a list. “You will arrest these men. Jail them in the cells downstairs, begin their interrogations. Tape every interrogation. These instructions are from the president.”

When they departed, they left one man, who now parked himself beside Ilin's chair. Ilin began making telephone calls as he examined the list. The leaders of opposition political parties, judges, public men…Marshal Stolypin was not on this list. That meant nothing. He might be on another list.

Kalugin was wasting no time. This list had not been typed this morning.

Ilin called in his deputies, gave instructions.


The Japanese air commander in Siberia, Matsuo Handa, spent a tense night huddled with his top subordinates. The American Squadron was costing them planes and pilots. The missiles that sought out the Zero radar, the invisible F-22s—there was a lot on the plate.

One thing that the Japanese commander knew was that he could not sit idly on the defensive waiting for the Americans' next move. Fighting defensively went against all of his samurai instincts. Attack was the policy that best fit the Japanese spirit, he believed. The men wanted to attack and so did he. The only question was how.

Jiro Kimura's squadron commander took his young ace with him to the headquarters conference. He remembered Jiro's comment about the technical feasibility of electronically changing the color of an aircraft's skin, and he wanted the air commander to hear it, too.

“Sir, I do not understand how the American fighters found the Zeros over Zeya,” Jiro Kimura said to Colonel Handa. “The surviving pilot states that at no time did he receive an ECM warning that American planes were in the area. A postrlight check of his electronic countermeasures equipment showed that it was functioning properly. Apparently the Americans were not using radar. How did they find our planes?”

“They must have visually acquired the Zeros,” Colonel Handa said. Most of the senior brass seemed to share this opinion. Jiro didn't believe it.

“Sir, if I may express my opinion,” Jiro said. “Waiting in ambush with radars off, relying on the ECM to inform us of the enemy's presence, is the wrong way to employ the Zero. This airplane was designed as an offensive weapon. We must search with radar, find the enemy
before he can find us, and launch our missiles first. Closing to short range with F-22s is a fatal error.”

“We waited in ambush with our radars off because the F-22 can detect our radar emissions before we can detect the F-22.”

“I understand, sir. Our challenge is to make the Americans fight our fight. We must lure them to a place where we can engage at long range.”

“That's a wonderful proposal, Kimura,” Handa said. “But it isn't practical. We have not been aggressive enough. That is why we find ourselves in this deplorable situation.”

The conference, Jiro thought, went downhill from that point.

After a discussion of possible options, Colonel Handa decided to lead a daytime strike on Chita. Half the planes would go in low, on the deck, to drop cluster bombs and strafe. The other half would go in high, use their radars for a few seconds out of each minute, and attempt to engage the American fighters while the low planes struck the base. The flight would launch from Khabarovsk, so it would need tankers coming and going.

“Colonel Handa,” Jiro suggested, “perhaps we should try a night attack first, to further feel out the American capabilities.”

“The planes strafing and dropping cluster weapons need daylight and decent weather to be effective,” the colonel answered. “We are facing a capable, aggressive enemy who has drawn first blood. We must attack, force him to parry our blows or he will seize the initiative and we will find ourselves on the defensive.”

“We must strike first,” the squadron commanders agreed. Like Colonel Handa, their hearts and minds were geared to the offensive.

When Jiro left the meeting at midnight, he was profoundly discouraged. The colonel was playing right into the Americans' hands, he thought. The enemy expected the Japanese to attack Chita, he argued, so they should not. The colonel's mind was made up. Cassidy already had Handa on the defensive, and Handa didn't want to admit it.

Jiro wandered over to the most dilapidated hangar on the base, where one of his friends, a helicopter pilot, was quartered. “Tell me, Shoichi, do you people have any of those infrared headsets, the kind you wear when you fly at night?”

“Yes, we have four of them. They are helmets, with earphones, visors, and so on. They will not take an oxygen mask, however.”

“May I borrow one tomorrow?”


“I want to fly with it. I have a theory and wish to test it.

“For you, Jiro, of course. Here, have a beer.”


When the chief of Asian intelligence at the Japanese Intelligency Agency, Toshihiko Ayukawa, received agent Ju's message, it had already been decoded and translated. It now rested in a new red file folder. He opened the folder and perused the short, neat columns of Japanese characters. The message read:

Russia has ten atomic warheads

Kalugin has ordered contingency planning for their use against Japan

At least four of the warheads will be delivered by submarine, target unknown

Ayukawa felt the hairs on the back of his neck tingling. Good ol' Agent Ju. He was the one who said Russia had destroyed the last of its nuclear weapons. Only a fool would bet on that as gospel truth, but no doubt that message had been a factor, one of many, in the Abe government's decision to invade Siberia.

Now Ju had changed his tune. Was he lying then or lying now?


Pavel Saratov was the last man to leave the cockpit on top of
Admiral Kolchak
's sail. He took a final look at the four containers welded to the deck, ensured the boat was stationary in the middle of the small lagoon, pointed at the underwater entrance, then went down the hatch and dogged it after him.

Esenin was in the control room. He seemed a bit less imperious than he usually was, or perhaps it was Saratov's imagination.

“This is the tricky part,” Saratov said to the chief, who nodded. “We must get steerageway on the boat before it drifts. Let's dive.”

The chief gave the order while Saratov examined the sonar image on the oscilloscope.

Esenin's executive officer was a major, or at least he wore a major's uniform. He looked pale, Saratov thought, as air gurgled from the tanks and seawater rushed in.

Saratov shook his head in annoyance. He should ignore these two
and concentrate on the task at hand, which was getting this boat safely out of the mountain.

A half hour later the boat had cleared the tunnel and the shallow water. It was dark up there, and overcast, so Saratov took the boat to snorkel depth and started the diesels.

Two hours later when he went to his tiny cabin, Esenin was already there, sitting in the one chair.

“Ah, Captain, come in. And please close the door.”

The compartment was very small. Saratov squeezed by the chair and sat on the bunk.

“I thought this a good time to discuss our mission, Captain.”

Esenin picked up the rolled-up chart from the desk, removed the string that held it, and spread it out. Saratov looked over his shoulder.

“You know Tokyo Bay? The sound to the south of it?”

“I recognize it.”

“As you can see, marked on this chart in red are a number of major geological faults. You can see where they run.” His finger traced several of the longest. “The fault in which we are interested is this one.” His finger came to rest. “It will not be necessary to tie up to a pier and steal a truck.”

BOOK: Fortunes of War
7.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Seven Shades of Grey by Vivek Mehra
Good as Dead by Billingham, Mark
Sudden Impact by Lesley Choyce
Cut Throat Dog by Joshua Sobol, Dalya Bilu
Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann
All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher
Fatal Greed by Mefford, John W.
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer Copyright 2016 - 2023