Read Fortunes of War Online

Authors: Stephen Coonts

Fortunes of War (5 page)

“Well, if you have enough missiles…”

“There are never enough.”

“How many Zeros are there?”

“About a hundred. The number is classified and no one mentions it. I have been trying to count nosewheels, so to speak.”

After a bit, the American colonel asked, “So where is the Japanese government planning on using these things?”

“Russia, I think. But no one had confirmed that.”


“Soon. Very soon.”

“Abe is very nationalistic, advocates a larger role for the military in Japanese life. What do the folks in uniform think of all this?”

“Most of them like Abe, like what he is saying. The officers seem to be with him almost to a man.” Jiro paused to gather his thoughts. “The Japanese have much more respect for authority than Americans. They like being part of a large, organized society. It fits them somehow. The American concept of individual freedom…” He shook his head negatively and shrugged.

“What about the Mishima disciples?” These ultra-right-wing nationalists were back in the news again, claiming converts in the military and civil service.

“Mishima was a fanatic zealot, a fossil, a relic of a bygone age. Everybody knows that. But he preached a return to the noble-warrior concept, the samurai spirit, and that still fascinates a lot of Japanese.”

Bob Cassidy rubbed his face hard, then said, “I guess I have trouble taking Mishima, Abe, this samurai warrior shit—I have trouble taking any of that seriously. All that testosterone ranting and posturing…man, that crap went out everywhere else when gunpowder came in.
There is no such thing as a noble death in the nuclear age. The very term is an oxymoron. Didn't Hiroshima and Nagasaki teach the Japanese that?”

A grimace crossed Jiro's face. “Bob, you're talking to the converted,” he said. “My morals were corrupted in Colorado Springs years ago. I'm just trying to explain.”

“The only noble death is from old age,” Cassidy continued, “but you gotta get there to get it, amigo. That's getting harder and harder to do these days.”

Shizuko came out of the kitchen carrying a large dish.

“Thanks, Jiro.”

“I wish Shizuko and I were back in Colorado Springs, Bob, sitting on your patio with Sweet Sabrina.”

“We can't ever go back,” Cassidy told him. “When the song is over, it's over. I know. I wanted to go back so badly, I almost died.”

In the middle of dinner, Jiro said, “The United States is going to have to take a stand, Bob. Atsuko Abe and his friends are crazy, but I don't think they are crazy enough to strap on the United States.”

“I hope to God you're right.”

Shizuko acted as if she didn't understand the English words.

“What if
aren't?” Cassidy asked in a small voice.

Jiro pretended he hadn't heard.

Bob Cassidy's thoughts went to Sweet Sabrina. It was good, he thought, to be with someone who remembered her fondly.


The U.S. ambassador to Japan was Stanley P. Hanratty, who owned a string of automobile dealerships around Cleveland and Akron. He was balding, overweight, and smart. His middle initial stood for Philip, a name he hated, yet he thought his name looked too informal without a middle name or initial or something, so he used the

Stanley P. had spent twenty-seven years of his life getting to Japan. He started out selling used cars, mortgaged his house and soul to acquire a used-car sales lot, and then a second, and a third, finally a new car dealership, then another and another and another.

He was arranging the financing on the second dealership when he made his first big political contribution. Occasionally men from humble backgrounds have large ambitions, and Hanratty did: he wanted someday to be an ambassador to a big country.

For years, he listened to windy speeches, shook hands, wrote checks,
and watched the political hopefuls come and go. By the time he had eight dealerships, he was giving to political parties in a six-figure way. Finally, he was rewarded with an ambassadorship.

Stanley P. had never forgotten the conversation when one of the members of the new president's transition team called him about the position.

“The president-elect would like to send your name to the Senate. Mr. Hanratty, he wants you
on his team

“Guinea-Bis what? How did you say that?”

“Bissau. It's in Africa, I think.”

“North or south of the equator?”

“Well, sir, I don't know. I seem to recall that it's on the west side of the continent, but don't hold me to that.”

Through the years, Stanley P. had invested a lot of money in his quest, so he didn't hesitate. With feeling, he said, “You tell the president-elect that I'm honored he thought of me. I'll be delighted to serve his administration anywhere he wants.”

After he hung up the telephone, he looked the place up in an atlas.

U.S. ambassador to Guinea-Bissau!

In Guinea-Bissau, Hanratty did more than luxuriate in the ambassador's quarters of the embassy, which in truth were not all that luxurious; he studiously applied himself to learning the business of diplomacy. He attacked the State Department's paper-flow charts and the ins and outs of Bissauan politics with the same common sense, drive, and determination that he used to sell cars. He made shrewd evaluations of local politicians and wrote clear, concise, accurate reports. He didn't once blame conditions in Guinea-Bissau on United States foreign policy, an attitude that State Department professionals found both unusual and refreshing. He also proved to have an extraordinary quality that endeared him to policy makers in Washington: if given instructions, he followed them to the letter.

After he correctly predicted that a military coup would occur in Guinea-Bissau if a certain person won an election, Hanratty was named ambassador to a nation in the Middle East endangered by fundamentalist Islamic zealots. He performed superbly there, too, so when the U.S. ambassador to Japan dropped dead of a heart attack, the secretary of state was relieved that he could send Stanley P. Hanratty to the American embassy in Tokyo.

Hanratty had been in Tokyo for thirteen months when the emperor was assassinated. During his habitual sixteen-hour workdays, he had
become expert in the myriad aspects of U.S.-Japanese relations and made many friends in key places. This evening, just hours after the emperor's murder, with the world still in shock, he was sitting in his office with the television on, putting the finishing touches on a private letter to the secretary of state, when he heard the knocking on the door.

“Come in,” he called loudly, because the doors were thick and heavy.

“Mr. Ambassador, I wonder if I might have a few moments of your time?”

“Colonel Cassidy, please come in.”

Stanley P. liked the Air Force attaché, who occasionally dropped by to inform him firsthand of developments in the Japanese military that he would eventually read about weeks later in secret CIA summaries. The senior CIA officer, on the other hand, never told him anything. It was almost as if that gentleman thought the ambassador couldn't be trusted with sensitive information, which frosted Stanley P. a little.

“It's been a long day, Colonel. How about a drink?”

“Thank you, sir. I'll have whatever you're having.”

Stanley P. removed a bottle of bourbon and two glasses from his lower desk drawer. He poured a shot in each glass and passed one to Cassidy.

“I've been speculating, Colonel. Speculating with no information. Speculate with me a little.”

Cassidy sipped the whiskey.

“Do you think it's possible that a faction, shall we say, in the Japanese government might have had a hand in the emperor's assassination?”

“I had dinner this evening with an officer in the Japanese Self-Defense Force, the air arm, and he said the officers are with Abe almost to a man. They think he's going to save the nation.”

“The killers were soldiers, I believe.”

“That's what the government is telling the press. I suppose some high official might have enlisted some zealots to undertake a suicide mission. There is historical precedence, as I recall.”

“There is precedent by the page,” the ambassador admitted. He concentrated on savoring the golden liquid.

“The assassination is going down pretty hard with the guy on the street,” the colonel said. “I rode the train back to Tokyo. The people in the subways and trains seem pretty upset.”

“Murder is a filthy business,” the ambassador muttered.

“This officer I had dinner with tonight…he told me some things
that he shouldn't have. Perhaps the news of the assassination made him feel that…Oh, I don't know!”

Cassidy brushed the thought away, unwilling to try to analyze his friend or make polite excuses for him. Jiro did what Jiro felt he had to do. “The Japanese have developed, manufactured, and put in service about one hundred new, highly capable fighter planes.” The colonel weighed his words. “They are more capable than anything in our inventory, according to my source.”

“How good is your source?”

“Beyond reproach. One hundred percent credible.”

The ambassador poured himself another drink, offered more to the colonel, who refused. Cassidy could see his and the ambassador's reflections in the window glass. Beyond the reflections were the lights of Tokyo.

“The thing my source confided in me that I believe you should know, sir, is this: His squadron is packing for deployment in the near future.”

“Deployment where?”

“Russia, he thought.”

“The appeal for Japanese help by the native minorities—there was a television broadcast about them last night. According to the government, they are the racial cousins of the Japanese.” The ambassador channel-surfed with his television remote. He had picked up more than a smattering of the language.

“Perhaps they will just move your source's squadron to another base here in Japan,” Stanley P. suggested to Cassidy.

“That is possible, sir. My source didn't think so, though. He thinks the squadron is going a lot farther than that.”

Chapter Three

When Masataka Okada returned to his office after lunch everyone in the department was watching television—a day after Emperor Naruhito's assassination, the television types were still microan-alyzing the implications. Okada's office was fairly large by Japanese standards, about ten feet by ten feet, but all the walls above waist level were glass. Apparently the architect believed that the best way to keep spies in line was to let them watch one another.

Okada had spent the morning decoding the message from an agent with the code name of Ten, or Ju in Japanese. Alas, it was forbidden to input messages this highly classified into the computer, so the work had to be done by hand.

He had completed the decoding, a tedious task, then did the translation and typed the result before lunch. Now he removed the file from his personal safe and read the translation again.

The message was important, no question.

Very important. In fact, Masataka Okada suspected that the future of both Japan and Russia hinged on the contents of this two-page message from Agent Ju. Of course, Okada had no idea who Ju actually was, but he obviously had access to the very top leadership in the Russian army. He also had access to the contents of the safes of the top leadership, because some of this information could have come only from official documents.

Boiled down, the message was that the last of the guidance systems had been removed from the Russians' submarine-based ballistic missiles. The Russians had finished removing the guidance systems from their land-based ICBMs last year; their tactical nuclear warheads had been removed from service and destroyed five years ago.

Russia was no longer a nuclear power.

Okada knew that the United States had secretly insisted upon nuclear disarmament as the price of the massive foreign aid needed by the current, elected regime to solidify its hold on power. That fact came
from intercepted American diplomatic traffic. The United States hadn't even briefed its allies.

Well, the secret had certainly been well kept, even in Russia. Not a whisper of this earth-shattering development had appeared anywhere in the public press in Russia or Western Europe: Okada would have seen it mentioned in the agency's press summaries if it had been. Part of the reason was that only the top echelon of military commanders in Russia knew that
the guidance systems had been removed in a series of maintenance programs nominally designed to test and return to service every system in the inventory.

Disarmament was such a political hot potato that the Russian government had kept it a secret from its own people.

By some tangled loop of Kremlin logic, this course of action made perfect sense. As long as no one outside the upper echelons of government knew that the nuclear weapons delivery systems were no longer operational, no one lost face, and no one lost votes. The domestic political crises never materialized. And as long as no one outside Russia knew, the missiles continued to deter potential aggressors, just as they always had. Deterrence
the function of ICBMs, wasn't it?

Now the Japanese knew. And the Russian government didn't know they knew.

That is, the Japanese would know as soon as Masataka Okada signed the routing slip and sent the message to his superior officer, the head of Asian intelligence for the Japanese Intelligence Agency.

From Okada's boss, the news would go to the head of the agency, who would take it to the prime minister, Atsuko Abe.

What Atsuko Abe would make of this choice tidbit was a matter to speculate darkly about. Masataka Okada did just that now as he chewed on a fingernail. Abe's national-destiny speeches leapt to mind, as did the secret military buildup that had been going on in Japan for the last five years. And now there was the assassin's letter, written in blood, which had been leaked to the newspapers by someone in the prosecutor's office investigating the assassination. The letter demanded that the military take over the government and lead Japan to glory. Okada's friends and acquaintances—indeed, the whole nation—could talk of little else. Amazingly, the ritual suicides of the emperor's killers had given the ultranationalistic, militaristic views of the Mishima sect a mainstream legitimacy that they had never before enjoyed.

Watching this orgy of twisted patriotism gave Okada chills.

What would be the consequences to Japan if military force was used against Russia?

Okada well knew that there would be consequences, mostly unpredictable and, he feared, mostly negative. He certainly didn't share Abe's faith in Japan's destiny.

Okada's father's first wife died at Hiroshima under the mushroom cloud. He was a son of the second wife, who had been severely burned at Hiroshima but had survived. As a boy, he had examined his mother's scars as she bathed. When he was ten she died of leukemia—another victim of the bomb. Forty years had passed since then, but he could still close his eyes and see how the flesh on her back had been burned, literally cooked, by the thermal pulse of the explosion.

He fumbled for his cigarettes, lit one, and tried to forget his mother's back as he inhaled deeply, savoring the smoke.

What if…

What if this message merely reported that some of the guidance systems had been removed?

Masataka Okada scrutinized the message carefully. Well, it would be easy enough to write another translation. If he deleted this third sentence, changed this phrase, added a sentence or two at the bottom, he could make it appear that the Russians were still years away from complete disarmament.

His superiors would catch him eventually.

Or would they?

It wasn't like the head of the agency was going to Moscow any time soon for a personal chat with Agent Ju.

The other people in the office were still intently watching the television set.

I must be going mad. Crazy. The pressure is getting to me. The first rule, the very first rule, is never, ever put anything in writing that creates the least suspicion. Leave no tracks

But what I'm contemplating is not espionage; it's sabotage

He intertwined his fingers and twisted until the pain brought tears to his eyes.

At some point, a man must make a stand,

This is insane! You are merely buying time

Okada scrolled a sheet of paper into his typewriter, glanced yet again at the backs of his colleagues, and began to type.

You are buying time at the cost of your own life, fool. No one will care. Not a single, solitary soul will care one iota

After two lines, he stopped and stared at the words he had written.

This wouldn't work.

Ju was certain to send follow-up reports; indeed, he might have already sent other reports on this subject. It was probable that he had. Both previous and future reports might be given to another cryptographer to decode. It was just a stroke of good fortune that Okada had been handed this particular message.

He took the sheet of paper from the typewriter and inserted another.

The best way to discount the message wasn't to change the facts related, but to change the way they were related. Okada knew his boss, Toshihiko Ayukawa. The man had an uncanny ability to separate gold from dross. Intelligence agencies inevitably gathered huge amounts of dross: idle rumors, wild speculations, inaccurate gossip, outright lies, and, worst of all, disinformation passed as truth.

Through the years, Okada had become a connoisseur of intelligence reports. As he had first typed it, Agent Ju's report seemed to be pure gold—it contained eloquent facts, lots of them, crammed into as few words as possible, yet the source for each fact was carefully related. What if the style was changed, not too much, but just enough?

It would be dicey—the message would have to appear to someone who knew Ju's style to be indubitably his, yet the tone had to be wrong—not clearly wrong, just subtly wrong, enough to create a shadow of doubt about the truth of the facts related in the mind of a knowledgeable reader. The tone would be the lie.

God knows, Toshihiko Ayukawa was a knowledgeable reader!

Okada lit another cigarette. He flexed his fingers.

His colleagues were still glued to the television in the common area.

He took a last drag, put the cigarette in an ashtray to smolder, and began to type quickly.

The thought shot through his head that Ayukawa might ask another cryptographer to decode the original of this message again.

True, he might, if he thought Okada had done a sloppy job.

And if he did that, Okada would be in more trouble than he could handle.

He would just have to rely on his reputation, that's all. He was the best. The boss damn well knew it.

Oh well, every man's fate was in the hands of the gods. They would write a man's life as they chose.

His fingers flew over the keyboard.

When he finished the message, he read it over carefully. He had it the way he wanted it.

He put the fake message into the official envelope and signed the routing slip in the box provided for the cryptographer.

The people outside were still watching television, milling around, talking. No one seemed to be looking his way.

Okada held the copy of the real message under his desk and folded it carefully. He then slipped the small square of paper into a sock.

He took the envelope in his hand, weighing it one last time. When he walked out of this office with this envelope in his hand, he was irrevocably committed.

He swayed slightly as the enormity of what he had done pressed down upon him. He had to struggle to draw a breath.

Ayukawa knew Ju's work. This fake message might stand out like a police emergency light on a dark night.

If so, Masataka Okada was doomed.

His eye fell upon the old photo of his family that stood on the back of his desk. It was perched precariously there, almost ready to fall on the floor, shoved out of the way when he made room for the usual books and files and reports that seemed to grow like mushrooms on his desk. That picture must be at least ten years old. His daughter was grown now, with a baby of her own. His son was in graduate school.

What would they look like with their skin black and smoking and hanging in putrid ribbons from their backs? From their faces?

Masataka Okada took a firm grip on the envelope and walked out of his office.


At six that evening, Okada's superior officer, Toshihiko Ayukawa, got around to opening the classified security envelope containing the decoded message from Agent Ju. He'd had a feeling when this message first came in that it might be very important, but he had spent the afternoon in meetings and was just now getting to the red-hot matters awaiting his attention in his office. It was a wonder his desk hadn't melted, with a belligerent China, civil unrest in Siberia, and riots in the streets of Hong Kong. Yet the assassination of the emperor and the coming state funeral took precedence over everything.

“No,” he had told the agency director, “we have no indication whatever that any Asian power had anything to do with the emperor's murder.”

As Ayukawa read the message, he frowned. It sounded like Ju, cited the proper codes, yet…He read it through again slowly, his mind racing.

He looked at the envelope for the signature of the cryptographer. Okada.

Then he called his confidential assistant, Sushi Maezumi. He held up the envelope where Sushi could see it.

“Why did you give this to Okada?”

The assistant looked at the signature, then his face fell. “I apologize, sir. I forgot.”

“I had another copy of this message for decoding.” Ayukawa consulted his ledger. He believed in keeping his operation strictly compartmentalized. It was unfortunate that the aide had to know that he occasionally handed out duplicates of the messages to be decoded and translated, but unless he had the time to do everything himself—and he didn't—he had to delegate. The use of duplicates allowed him to check on the competency of his staff. And their loyalty. And if the message was important, he would have two versions to compare, for they were never exactly the same.

“Number three four oh nine,” Ayukawa said. “Where is it?”

“Here, sir.” Sushi removed the envelope from the bottom of the pile.

Ayukawa ripped it open and scanned the message. He didn't even bother to compare this with Okada's short story.

“You disobeyed my order. I told you not to give any sensitive item to Okada without my express approval.”

“I forgot, sir.”

The avoidance of direct confrontation was one of the pillars on which Japanese society rested. Ayukawa had little use for that social more. “That's no excuse,” he said bluntly to his aide, who blanched. “My instructions must be obeyed to the letter.
. I am the officer responsible, not you. And you know that we have a mole in this agency…. But enough—we'll discuss it later. Go see if Okada is still in the building. Now, quickly.”

Speechless after this verbal hiding, Sushi Maezumi shot from the office as if he had been scalded.


In the Shinjuku district neon lights tinted the skins of visitors red, green, blue, orange, and yellow, all in succession, as they moved from
one garishly lit storefront to the next. Beyond the light was the night, but here there was life. Here there was sex.

This was Tokyo's French Quarter, only more so, a concentration of adult bookstores, peep shows, porno palaces, and nightclubs, with here and there a whorehouse for the terminally conventional. The whorehouses ranged from bordellos specializing in cheap quickies to geisha houses where the evening's entertainment might cost thousands of dollars.

The crowds were an inherent part of the district's attraction. A visitor could blend into the mass of humanity and become an anonymous voyeur, savoring sexual pleasures denied by social convention, which is the very essence of pornography.

Masataka Okada moved easily through the swarms of people. He enjoyed the sexual tension, a release from the extraordinary, heart-attack stress he had experienced that day, as he did every day. The flashing lights and weird colors, highlighted on the men's white shirts, seemed to draw him and everyone else into the fantasy world of pleasure.

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