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Death by Fire

by Chris Davis Cyber-Thriller based of DOD computers Death by Fire, a "cyber-thriller" based on the vulnerability of Department of Defense computer defense systems to a calculated "soft attack" by a virus that points our nuclear warheads back at us. "The only great enemy left is the computer," Davis says, "and what if the computer is wrong?" Hidden in the pages of this "fictional" account are actual espionage plots and previously hidden political scandals, including a little-known assassination plot against Edward Kennedy. Davis drew from voluminous declassified documents, government reports, and over 400 books to write this scenario. ******************* Introduction At 2:38 a.m. on January 17, 1991, Colonel Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid was awakened from his sleep by the ringing of a red telephone which was on the makeshift night stand next to his cot. He had been sleeping eighty feet underground in a concrete- fortified bunker attached to Factory 10, a top-secret centrifuge production unit in Taji, 50 kilometers northwest of Baghdad which, as chief of the State Organization for Technical Industries, Kamil had been responsible for creating. His call abruptly informed him that several radar sites in Iraq's western border had just stopped functioning, and that it was believed that the allied attack had begun, which, in fact, was true, since a squadron of Apache helicopters had just destroyed the sites with laser-guided Hellfire missiles, followed by clusters of Hydra rockets. As Hussein Kamil spoke on the telephone, nearly 700 aircraft of the coalition forces slipped undetected through the "radar-black" corridor, including the 415th Squadron of the U.S. 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, consisting of six subsonic F-117A Stealth attack planes, each armed with a single, 2,000-pound, laser-guided smart bomb. The 415th flew in a tight formation under a blank new moon with only the beavertail plumes of their exhaust showing underneath the stars. If detected in daylight the F-117As were no match for an enemy fighter with a maximum speed below Mach 1, but by night they were all but invisible. The only warning the platoon of sentries guarding the Taji Complex had before the plant was hit was the unusual high-pitched whine of the approaching F-117A's General Electric F404-F1D2 turbofan engines. In his bunker below ground Hussein Kamil felt each bomb hit its target in succession. The 415th's final target was Factory 10, and the force of the explosions was enough to cause Kamil's ears to ring for days afterwards, destroying in a moment hundreds of gas centrifuges, spinning lathes, spinning machines, vacuum pumps, and custom valves, all of which he had spent years in acquiring. An hour later, the 416th "Ghostriders" Tactical Fighter Squadron repeated the same bombing pattern, reducing the shattered remains of Taji Complex to flaming rubble and Iraq's nuclear weapons program with it. By dawn the allied bombing had stopped and Colonel Kamil decided to leave the safety of his German-built bunker. A two-foot-thick steel-reinforced concrete slab which separated the three underground levels from the concrete stairwells leading to the basement of the complex had collapsed under the impact of the bombing, so after Kamil had rounded up a few key members of his staff and ordered them to don nuclear protective gear, he had them follow him along a special exit tunnel which surfaced about a hundred yards from Factory 10. Even though he knew only too well that an allied bombing attack had taken place, the Iraqi colonel was not emotionally prepared for the landscape filled with smoking wreckage which he saw for the first time through his visor. Destroyed! Years of work destroyed overnight by the air forces of the very same countries who had been his suppliers! His staff members watched in horror as Kamil fell to his knees and sobbed silently inside his protective suit. Hussein Kamil had begun his career as an errand boy, fielding packages on shopping trips made by the presidential family to Oxford Street when they went to London. Allowed to talk to the women, since he also happened to be Saddam's cousin, Kamil wasted no time in asking the president's permission to marry his eldest daughter, Ragha. After single-handedly stopping an assassin from killing his future father-in-law, Lieutenant Kamil was promoted to full colonel and granted permission to marry Ragha. The war with Iran found him touring the front lines, side by side with his father-in-law Saddam in the official photographs. In fact, they looked more like brothers than in-laws, having the same dark mustaches, full jaws, and dark skins. In 1986 Kamil was given his first real responsibility, when Saddam Hussein put him in charge of the State Organization for Technical Industries (SOTI), the agency responsible for procuring nuclear weapons technology. Through dummy companies set up all over Europe, Colonel Kamil had purchased enough equipment so that by the time the war with the United States had begun, Iraq was simultaneously manufacturing weapons-grade fuel using all four of the presently available processes in secret facilities spaced throughout the country. Only the chance appearance of a defector, coming over to the U.S. Marines in June 1991, revealed the existence of five buried plants which had been untouched during the war. In September 1991, after the war was over, Defense Intelligence Agency analysts drastically revised their prewar estimates of how close Iraq was to obtaining the bomb, from five to ten years, down to six months. Almost two years later after the allied air attack, in the morning of November 4, 1992, Colonel Kamil heard a pounding on the door of his home in Baghdad and was welcomed by a pair of colonels from Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guards who ordered him to get dressed and come with them. They raced along the Military Canal past the bombed-out communications center, swerved suddenly into a side street and slammed to a stop in front of a nondescript two-story restaurant with two sentries holding automatics at port arms stationed at the door. The dining room was empty, save for three men at the center table: Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq; Sabawi Hussein, Saddam's half-brother and long-time head of Iraqi intelligence; and a German nuclear physicist, Dr. Karl Stemmler, who had supervised Iraq's development of gas centrifuge plants to make nuclear bombs. It had turned into a celebratory dinner as the early evening election returns from America showed Bill Clinton a clear winner over George Bush for the office of President of the United States. "He lost! The bastard lost!" Saddam Hussein rose from the table and clasped Kamil's hand, then motioned for him to sit down next to him. For a man who had only two years ago suffered a humiliating military defeat of immeasurable proportions and whose country was presently overrun with UN inspection teams, Saddam Hussein seemed to Colonel Kamil to be in astonishingly good spirits. The Colonel also couldn't help but notice the barely disguised look of satisfaction on the face of the normally taciturn Sabawi Hussein. Kamil asked himself what difference did it make to them whether it was Bush or Clinton? The war had already been lost, and the country's nuclear weapons program still lay in ruins . . . Only the German, Stemmler, seemed unaffected by it all, maintaining the same skeptical expression he had when the Colonel had shown him the stolen blueprints for building uranium gas centrifuges at the Rashid Hotel almost a dozen years ago. In many ways the German scientist was the opposite of the volatile Kamil, who had to be officially reprimanded by his father-in-law for his extravagances during his buying efforts in Europe. Intellectually arrogant and a ruthless manager of his own self- interest, Stemmler resembled nothing so much as a harmless retiree in his battered felt fedora and wrinkled sports coat. Stemmler's saving grace was that at bottom, like many scientists, he was relatively apolitical, which made it easier for him to switch sides if the need arose. Now seventy-five years old, Stemmler had begun his scientific career in ballistic missile manufacture at Hitler's Nordhausen Rocket Works under the aegis of General Walter Dornberger. Dornberger, a career German artillery officer, had recognized two decades before the war that even though the Treaty of Versailles prevented Germany from manufacturing most conventional weaponry, it had not banned the building of rockets, which Dornberger began to add to the Nazi arsenal in 1932. When Stemmler joined Dornberger's staff in 1943, battalions of slave laborers from the nearby Dora concentration camp had just been directed by the SS to hack a square-mile hole out of an abandoned salt mine to begin Nordhausen's construction. By the time the plant was liberated by American troops in April 1945 over twenty thousand prisoners had been systematically starved and worked to death, their bodies finally piling up everywhere in the last months of the Reich, since the ovens were too busy. Far from being charged with war crimes for having been honorary members of the SS and having set production schedules responsible for working thousands of men to death, the talents of Dornberger and his scientific staff were fought over by the Russians and Americans for use in one or the other side's own military research projects. But the day before the Americans' arrival Herr Doktor Karl Stemmler left the plant to avoid being swept up in either Project Overcast or Operation Paperclip, the secret programs which were responsible for bringing 765 former Nazi scientists, engineers and technicians to the United States. Eluding American patrols, Stemmler was passed along a ratline run by former Abwehr officers and escaped to Syria. From there he moved to Cairo and worked for Nasser, until the Mossad found him out and he escaped to Brazil, where he continued his work for that government's ballistic research missile program. Later, Stemmler was asked by the Brazilian National Intelligence Service to become involved in Brazil's nascent secret nuclear weapons program, which was run by its Navy. Since the 1950s, Brazilian scientists had been working with ultracentrifuge technology, the same used in the Manhattan Project by the Americans, to separate the rare bomb- grade isotope from regular uranium, which the Brazilians had in large supply in their local mines. The head of the Brazilian nuclear program was another former Third Reich scientist, Wilhelm Hoth, a man of mixed allegiances, who became Stemmler's mentor and fast friend. When Saddam Hussein signed the top secret ten-year nuclear cooperation agreement with Brazil, Stemmler was instructed by his superior, Hoth, to move to Iraq and become his special representative in Baghdad. There Stemmler oversaw Brazilian shipments of natural and low-enriched uranium, reactor technology, and, more importantly, a special centrifuge project to enrich ordinary uranium to bomb-grade fuel at the Iraqis' first nuclear reactor site in Osirak. After signing the Franco-Iraqi Nuclear Cooperation Treaty, the French, insisting nuclear technology was a question of "national sovereignty," had agreed to export a breeder reactor and a so-called "research reactor" to Iraq and train six hundred Iraqi nuclear technicians. Visiting members of the French Atomic Energy Commission were surprised by the arrival of Brazilian nuclear physicists in the spring of 1981, but were told by Dr. Stemmler to keep quiet or they would be declared persona non grata and sent back to France. But three of the French physicists didn't take kindly to being ordered about by an arrogant old man they suspected was a former Nazi, and upon returning to France, complained to President Mitterand that Saddam Hussein was planning to make a bomb. In Israel, Prime Minister Menachem Begin's chief of staff, General Rafael Eitan, was informed of the French physicists' report by Mossad, who also informed Eitan that the Iraqis' Osirak plant was almost a carbon copy of Israel's own bomb plant at Dimona. On June 7, 1981, Dr. Karl Stemmler suffered his first major reversal in Iraq, when Israeli F-16s crossed Saudi, then Jordanian, airspace and attacked Osirak with precision- guided missiles and 2000-pound "dumb" bombs in Operation Babylon. After the years spent rebuilding the shattered ruins of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, for Karl Stemmler at his advanced age, the American attack in January 1991 was the final straw. The message sent by George Bush and the coalition couldn't have been clearer: it was fine for Iraq to buy uranium gas centrifuges from Brazil and Germany; nuclear reactor cores from the French; and plutonium hot cells and laboratories from the Italians-- but if these discrete components were ever assembled by the Iraqis to create an atom bomb, they would be destroyed or dismantled. The second participant, Sabawi Hussein, Saddam Hussein's middle half brother, had replaced one of the dictator's cousins to become acting head of the General Intelligence Department (or Mukhabarat) at the end of 1989. While police forces in many third-world countries are often poorly staffed and inefficient, Iraq's employed more than one hundred fifty thousand people in its various security services. The Mukhabarat had representatives in over a score of Iraqi embassies abroad, who had been responsible for the elimination of exiled Iraqi dissidents in France, Lebanon, Sweden, England, Egypt, and the United States. Born in the same dirt-poor village of Tikrit as his brother Saddam, Sabawi had been chosen specifically because of the dictator's belief in the family as the key to power. His predecessor, Dr. Radhil al-Barak, had drastically reorganized the department, replacing political favorites with trained professionals, so that by the time Sabawi took it over, the Mukhabarat was quite capable of running successful foreign operations. Under no illusions as to who held the true authority in Iraq and shrewder than many of his other relatives, Sabawi Hussein believed he, more than anyone, understood his half brother's deep-rooted desire to avenge himself for his humiliating defeat at the hands of the Americans and their allies. Saddam Hussein returned to his seat at the table and surveyed his three guests. Each man knew better than to initiate a conversation in his leader's presence so he merely returned his gaze, asking no questions. The dictator now began a long, rambling monologue, citing instance after instance of treachery and betrayal he had suffered at the hands of his previously faithful armaments suppliers, most of whom hadn't hesitated to join the United Nations coalition arrayed against Iraq in the Gulf War. Carefully and methodically he listed plant after plant which had been destroyed in the massive air attacks, stripping the country of its strategic weapons. His three guests glanced down at the floor in shame, their faces growing longer with each recitation. "Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid!" Saddam began, "you know I am always the first to admit I've made a mistake!" "Yes, sir," replied Kamil, now fearing for his life, since Saddam's mistakes had often been rectified in the past by drastic changes in strategy and summary executions. "And Sabawi Hussein al-Tikriti," Saddam continued, turning to his half brother, "your loyalty has never been in doubt throughout this whole ordeal." Then turning to the German, "Nor yours, Dr. Stemmler. Without your help, Iraq could never have come as far as she did . . ." Stemmler silently nodded in appreciation. "But we must simply face the facts--we have taken too many blows to be able to recover, plus it's now impossible for us to start again. Our previous suppliers are now our enemies, and even if they weren't, it would take us years to get where we were before the war. Of course, there will always be the Chinese and the Pakistanis and the North Koreans--if they last that long--but all of you have made it clear to me in the past that they alone were not enough." Saddam's three guests had informed him early on in the development of Iraq's nuclear weapons program that reliance on only those countries which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, e.g., China, North Korea, France and Pakistan, would not be sufficient. Iraq would also have to approach the various signatories to acquire all the components necessary to construct a nuclear device. Now, to go back to Germany for centrifuges, Italy for plutonium cells, France for a new reactor, or the United States for replacement equipment was out of the question. Although each of his three invitees knew this, none dared to interrupt. "I believed before the war, and I believe now, that my two primary aims in attempting to liberate Kuwait were sound: first, to acquire and control Kuwait's oil capacity, and, second, by doing so, to help relieve our enormous debts by reducing their output, thereby raising world oil prices when it suited us. I don't have to tell you how many times we tried to reason with them and the Saudis over this to no avail, while they continued to defy us and ran their wells flat out . . . "Now we have American troops directly across our border, plants overrun with I.A.E.A. inspection teams, and the Saudis and the Kuwaitis laughing in our faces--a state of affairs for which I accept the total blame. What was my mistake? My mistake was to confront our enemies too courageously, too arrogantly on their own terms--and because I made that mistake we lost. "But after talking to one of you, it's now clear to me that there is another way of accomplishing these same objectives--that there always was another way--which was right under our noses if I had only seriously considered it. The Libyans gave us a hint of it over Lockerbie. It is simply this, gentlemen, to use the enemy's own nuclear forces against himself." Kamil and Stemmler looked at each other in horror, each knowing the dictator well enough to have understood exactly the ramifications of what he had just said, guessing immediately that the dictator's half brother, Sabawi, whose face continued to remain impassive, had a surprise in store for them. "But how can we implement such a plan?" interrupted Dr. Stemmler, suspecting encroachment on his territory. "A method exists, I assure you, gentlemen," replied Saddam. "But what I want to know now is if I have your approval to go forward with this new strategy?" Dr. Stemmler and Colonel Kamil quickly exchanged glances. They each knew that the one who protested at this point would not live out the day. "Na'am," Kamil answered in affirmation. "M'leeh." Good, replied Saddam. "Dr. Stemmler?" The former honorary SS Sturmbannfuhrer nodded silently in affirmation. Then, for the first time that day Sabawi Hussein began to speak: "President Hussein has agreed with me that it is of the utmost importance that what I am about to tell you will never leave this room." The chief of the Mukhabarat then paused and rested his gaze on both Stemmler and Colonel Kamil, who again nodded their agreement. "On the day after the American invasion, a certain Lebanese-American, who I hereafter will refer to as GERALD, walked uninvited into our United Nations Mission in New York." GERALD was an obscure systems designer who worked in La Jolla, California, at a software engineering firm whose sole business was a classified contract to update the U.S. military's Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS). "Wimex", as it was pronounced at the Pentagon, was the main circuit cable which ran straight from the White House Situation Room to the State Department's Operations Center, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, as well as several alternate war rooms, plus NSA's own early warning site, the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DESFMAC) and the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) Headquarters hidden in Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain. In case of nuclear war, the President and the Secretary of Defense would issue their orders over the WWMCCS network to the three legs of America's nuclear defense triad: submarines, strategic bombers, and the hardened silos containing ICBMs. Colonel Kamil turned to Saddam Hussein with a look of absolute bewilderment, but the dictator only nodded his head, motioning to his son-in-law to continue to pay attention to Sabawi's story, which, when he heard the rest of it, sent a shiver down his spine. "Being a scientist, he avoided political discussion, but because he was a Lebanese, I had immediately suspected him of being strenuously opposed to the American war effort, though I never said anything about it. "GERALD predicted that the Americans, after taking all our money, would never let us really have the atom bomb, and that either they or the Israelis would betray us. "Naively, I protested. I told him how close we were, that we were using all four processes at once and that Hussein Kamil had solved the problem of the capacitors, but he just laughed. "'Eventually they will destroy you,' he told me, and before I could protest, he grabbed my arm and told me this story:" On his first visit with Sabawi, GERALD slipped a folder from his jacket, whose contents consisted of a thick sheaf of paper filled with rows and rows of three-digit codes and handed it to the Iraqi secret service chief. No one spoke as Sabawi Hussein then handed his cousin, Colonel Kamil, a paper- bound book whose title read, Emergency Action Messages--Single Integrated Operating Plan--SIOP. Emergency Action Messages (EAMs) were a special set of codes used by the American military's Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) to initiate a nuclear attack. Colonel Kamil leafed through the bland-looking book in shock--each page was filled with row after row of three-digit numbers which corresponded to a specific preset target for one of the United States' thirty thousand nuclear warheads. True, to be effective, Kamil knew before it was sent over the Worldwide Military Command and Control System any EAM would have to be both properly encoded and issued by the National Command Authority. Now in a daze, Kamil realized his cousin was still talking. On the second visit, Sabawi had instructed GERALD to meet him at the Iraqi United Nations Mission in Vienna, far from the prying eyes of the FBI. Once in Austria GERALD told Sabawi what he already knew--America's combat systems had all become computerized, since only computers could handle the data loads involved in modern electronic warfare. Communications satellites, radars, jet fighters, SSBNs, naval cruisers--the computers ran them all, hands-free, from target detection to weapons launch. America's new high command was the operating software deep in the center of each of its battle systems computers--a program that could dispatch thousands of orders in a second. Whoever controlled the operating system software could easily control the hardware; GERALD painted scenario after scenario for his stunned Iraqi host: missiles fired from warships which failed to reach their targets, exploding harmlessly in midair instead; fighter planes whose communications systems totally collapsed in the midst of dogfights; and destroyers which suddenly lost their communications links with fleet command. Each situation could easily be accomplished by the insertion of a few extra lines of software, a tiny subroutine added to the operating system, known as a Trojan Horse. GERALD could drop a Trojan Horse through a trap door in the operating system, circumventing the security controls, so that no one would even know of its existence. But GERALD had hardly come all the way to Europe to offer Sabawi a half-dozen malfunctioning missiles or a couple of incommunicado F-15s, he had a much more active imagination than that. He was offering the secret service chief the whole ball of wax, a major rewrite of Wimex, the ultimate national security network. After Sabawi finished, Colonel Kamil turned towards Saddam with a pained expression on his face. "Mr. President, we have no way to even begin to confirm that this, this GERALD is telling us the truth!" "Excuse me," Sabawi interrupted, "I never said we had no way to confirm GERALD's bona fides." Kamil leaned forward in his chair, now letting his full exasperation with his cousin show. "You have absolutely no way of proving it--unless the operation is--" "May I?" Sabawi softly spoke, pulling out a case of cigarettes and casually lighting one, breaking Colonel Kamil's concentration. "I don't profess to be a computer expert," Sabawi explained, exhaling a puff of smoke, "but I would never be so stupid as to pay for something like this sight unseen." "Don't be ridiculous!" protest Kamil. "There's no way to show it works, short of shooting off a missile--which for us even to be discussing is nonsense!" Sabawi Hussein only raised his eyebrows and looked to Saddam Hussein for support, who held up his hand to silence his son-in-law. "Naturally, any buyer would want to see some evidence that what he was purchasing wasn't just a hollow claim," Sabawi sighed, "and dutifully honoring our President's wishes in this matter, I so far have advanced only a small down payment to GERALD, the remainder subject to a small demonstration." Saddam Hussein glanced at his son-in-law for a response, but Kamil was silent. It was obvious Sabawi was now in full control. Sabawi coolly continued, "I believe the U.S. Air Force is now patrolling the so- called no-fly zone with F-15Cs, correct?" "Of course, everyone knows that," snapped Colonel Kamil, "but--" "While our most advanced fighter is the MiG-29, correct?" "This is information you can get from the newspaper!" "And the newspaper has also told anyone who's interested that the coalition's air superiority depends to a great extent on the support the U.S. Air Force's F-15 and F/A-18 fighters receive from the E-3 AWACS and E-2C Hawkeyes, warning them well in advance of the appearance of any of our aircraft into the no-fly zone. "And I believe the F-15Cs of the Air Force 1st and 33rd Tactical Fighter Wings are armed with Sparrow missiles, while F/A-18s from the Saratoga carry both Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles--" "Please!" shouted Colonel Kamil, shooting a look of incredulity towards Saddam. "We already know all this--" "GERALD's prepared, against his better judgment, to give us a single, small demonstration of his good faith. Then, afterwards, if we like, we can discuss his terms. "Mr. President?" Colonel Kamil looked helplessly towards Saddam Hussein, who, much to his surprise, immediately gave Sabawi the order to send up a MiG-29 Fulcrum, Iraq's most advanced jet fighter, as soon as the proper moment presented itself. Chapter 1 During the last month of the Bush administration, Saddam Hussein surprised allied communications and decided to test the will of the U.N. forces remaining in the region by ordering several planes to fly into the Western-imposed no-fly zone over southern Iraq and launch a series of daring forays into Kuwait. In one case Iraqi commandos made off with several crates of Silkworm surface-to-surface missiles. Finally, after the U.S. shot down an Iraqi fighter, Hussein upped the stakes and defiantly deployed several SA-3 mobile surface-to-air missiles inside the zone. George Bush, who had finally had enough of Saddam Hussein's provocations, ordered Generals Chuck Horner and Buster Glosson in Riyadh to conduct two retaliatory strikes against Iraq. Allied air forces subsequently struck four SA-3 missile sites on January 13, followed by a second strike on January 17. The second raid included forty Tomahawk missiles fired from two destroyers, the USS Hewit and the USS Stump, and one cruiser, the USS Cowpens, all stationed in the Persian Gulf. One of the Tomahawks crashed into the courtyard of Baghdad's Al-Rashid Hotel while an Islamic conference was in progress. Another, however, faithfully following the Iraqi terrain with its tiny internal radar preprogrammed by analysts at the Defense Mapping Agency in Washington, located and destroyed a much more strategic target along the banks of the Tigris River, south of Baghdad. An Iraqi defector who had recently passed through allied lines had informed military intelligence about an untouched network of twenty underground buildings at Tarmiya known as Djilah Park. Djilah Park, the plant which had just been obliterated by the Tomahawk, manufactured calutrons, machines used to enrich uranium, and was Colonel Kamil's last hope of Iraq maintaining its own nuclear weapons program. Within twenty-four hours of the second air strike, Air Force Generals Horner and Glosson received word from the White House to launch a third attack, targeting three Iraqi air defense centers and three mobile missile batteries which the allies had missed in the January 13 raid. At dawn on Monday both generals were in the basement of the Royal Saudi Air Force Headquarters building in Riyadh, watching an oversized display originating from a Boeing E-3 AWACS flying lazy 8s just south of the Saudi border. The borders of Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait appeared as dotted green lines glowing on the television screen, a much smaller version of which the radar controller of the AWACS was monitoring while he sat at a tiny desk inside the Boeing. An aide handed General Horner the handset to the special telephone known as HAMMER RICK, the secure communications line to the Pentagon. Twenty-four-hour wall clocks in the background gave the time in Washington, D.C., Greenwich, England, and Riyadh-Baghdad as Horner received the final OK to launch the third attack. "F-4G package up," the AWACS controller's disembodied voice echoed throughout the auditorium. "F-111B package up." The room in Riyadh was ominously silent, since the strike force's orders prohibited any plane-to-plane communication. "EF-111s activated." Six contiguous radial cones blinked on and off--the electronics-jammers from Torrejon AFB in Spain had arrived. "F-15C Four-ship One up." Now, sixty-nine glowing tracks illuminated the display screen, as each of the fighter-bombers sped across the desert in broad daylight to unleash its payload on a preprogrammed target. Far away from Riyadh, inside a nondescript two-story building off Torrey Pines Road in the hills of La Jolla, north of San Diego, California, rows of analysts sat at smaller desks before an identical display screen, which had the words "SITUATION ROOM" printed above it. Twenty-four-hour wall clocks gave the time on San Diego, Washington, D.C., Greenwich, and Riyadh-Baghdad. Five minutes before midnight Pacific Standard Time the display came alive with the same sixty-nine tracks as displayed on the screen in the Saudi Royal Air Force Building in Riyadh. Unbeknownst to the American public who would read about the air attack in the next day's papers, the American and British fighter- bombers (but not the French) were participating in a RAINBOW-clearance simulation of a strategic nuclear strike on Iraq, known as Operation ARCHANGEL. Each fighter- bomber's battle systems computer had been preprogrammed to fly the plane to target and unleash its conventional payload on automatic pilot as a test of the Worldwide Military Command Control Communications System for strategic nuclear war, Wimex. "F-111B package up," repeated the AWACS controller's voice. A line of sweat beads formed across the brow of the analyst whose job it was to monitor the F-111B fighter-bomber squadron's battle systems software. Victor Saleh knew that a simple programming error could cause the F-111's on-board tactical electronic warfare system computer to malfunction, rendering it suddenly and irreversibly impotent in the midst of a bombing mission. Before the mission had begun, each pilot had been handed an encrypted card, which he inserted into his firepower control computer. Firepower control was segregated electronically from the F-111B's other two avionics systems, penetration aids and MTC (Mission and Traffic Control), in order to prevent an enemy who was sophisticated in electronic warfare and computer hacking from sabotaging the mission while the aircraft was in flight. "APQ-110 TFR activated," silently scrolled across Saleh's CRT screen. The F-111B's pilot had just switched on his Texas Instruments automatic-terrain- following computer, freezing his and the WSO's sticks and pushing the F-111B into an automatic dive. The aircraft's inertial navigation system, which had been preprogrammed by the Defense Mapping Agency in Washington, was now flying the plane on autopilot, guiding it just a few hundred feet above ground level, where it bobbed over each slope and dipped into each valley. "BCU activated." The F-111B's navigation-attack system had just informed its ballistics computer unit that it was just about to arrive at the designated targets. Saleh's display window switched automatically, copying the F-111B pilot's main radar display. The moment the aircraft's BCU aligned the approaching target inside the cross-hairs, the light representing the target began to blink on and off on his CRT screen. Two 2000-pound GBU-24 glide-bombs had just dropped correctly over target, destroying a previously untouched nuclear processing plant in Tarimiya and causing yet another setback to Colonel Kamil's program. Now the direction of the F-111B package's tracks was reversed, and the digital readouts on the display screen showed it rapidly regaining altitude, climbing in a matter of minutes from slightly above ground level to a prearranged ceiling of 20,000 feet. Traveling at Mach 1.2 it would return to Saudi airspace in almost fifteen minutes. "Texaco 21, pop-up contact, H-5," the AWACS controller's voice interrupted the silent room. The AWACS had just informed a nearby F-15 squadron leader that an unidentified aircraft had appeared in their midst. The circling AWACS was being protected by a four- ship of American F-15s, whose squadron leader was in the midst of topping up his tanks from a KC-135 refueling tanker. Saleh's stomach tightened. H-5 was the Iraqi field at al-Tagaddum, so any Iraqi interceptors which had been launched from there would only be two hundred miles from the returning F-111Bs. The unidentified aircraft and the F-111Bs were converging on each other at over 2,000 miles per hour, only twenty-five miles apart, while the F-15s racing towards them from the opposite direction were approaching at 45 degrees to the left. Saleh was riveted to the screen, watching the nine different glowing tracks converge. "Pop-up contact. Two hundred miles north of target." The squadron leader of the F-15s heard the message over his intercom, noticing he had picked up a single contact on his radar. He wondered what had prompted the Iraqis to launch a single aircraft after the recent demonstration of allied air supremacy just a few days before. "Two same," replied his wing man. "No I.D. contact," the AWACS controller's voice echoed over the formation's intercoms. "Three same," repeated the pilot of the third F-15. Beads of sweat broke out across the squadron leader's forehead--the unidentified aircraft was approaching his position at Mach 2, cutting through 22,000 feet of airspace every second. Modern air combat tactics necessarily called for each pilot on either side to launch his stand-off missiles well before a visual ID (V.I.D.) was made by either pilot, but the maximum range of the F-15C's Sparrow missile was less than twenty-five miles. "Target 450 for fifty." The pilot of the MiG-29 flipped the Delta-H switch of his No-193 pulse-Doppler radar to the number two position for attack from below, and the radar-warning receivers in the AWACS and in all four of the F-15Cs were suddenly activated, as the MiG-29's radar computer automatically illuminated all five targets. "Hostile! Hostile!" warned the AWACS controller's voice over the American intercoms. Inside the MiG's cockpit, the five targets were now arrayed in threat-priority order on the Plexiglas head-up display. The Iraqi pilot next flipped on the master arm switch in the upper right-hand corner of the instrument panel, arming his Alamo missile circuit, then squeezed his gun trigger and checked its response on the HUD. The flashing of the rings of the multicolored threat lights was mixed with a high-pitched squeal from the SPO-15 radar warning receiver, indicating the MiG was being swept by several enemy radars at once. "Target 330 for forty." In the basement of the Royal Saudi Air Force Headquarters building a small crowd had gathered around the large display screen which was relaying the battle situation from the AWACS near the Saudi border. The oversized television showed everything in the air over most of the Middle East, but all eyes were riveted on the attacking MiG which appeared to be on a suicide mission against the far superior combination of an AWACS and the four F-15Cs. "Target 210 for thirty." "He's approaching them dead-on . . . he's crazy!" muttered General Horner to himself. The digits next to MiG's cursor flipped rapidly, indicating its altitude had dropped in a matter of seconds from 13,500 to 2,000 feet. "Target 100 for twenty-five," confirmed the controller in the AWACS. "Hot right!" the American squadron leader's voice screamed over the public address speaker. The lead F-15 and his wing man suddenly jinked to the right to get a better lock on their attacker. Closing speed between the two opposing fighters was now at Mach 4, about 45,000 feet per second. "Lock fifteen miles, 2,000." "Two same." "V.I.D. Hostile!" "Fox one." The squadron leader had just fired a radar-guided Sparrow. "Fox from two." The wing man had just fired his. General Horner watched the screen in amazement as the MiG's cursor refused to drop off the screen. At 600 feet above the deck, the MiG's pilot pushed the throttles to ninety percent, his airspeed now at five hundred knots. The two Sparrows just fired by the squadron leader and his wing man had sailed right past him, failing to find their target. A target block composed of all four F-15Cs and the AWACS lit up his HUD, its rectangular radar cursor dancing mechanically from one to the other. Straining against the force of his steep climb, the MiG pilot clicked the white button on his inner throttle knob to activate his Alamo missile's radar-seeking computer. "Pusk razrayshon," a synthesized voice responded in Russian. Launch approved. The Iraqis hadn't had the time to reprogram the Russian woman's voice recorded in the warning system. The pilot immediately armed the missile trigger, launching two B-27 Alamos at once in order to keep his load balanced. "Rubege odin," the computer responded. Lock-on target. "Jesus Christ!" General Horner had just seen both the squadron leader's and the wing man's F-15Cs disappear from the Air Force Headquarters display screen. "Hostile! Hostile! Hostile!" the AWACS controller's voice echoed throughout the basement room, now filled with solemn faces. Horner watched in horror as the first of the remaining two F-15s dove in a split S, rushing towards the ground, while the second banked in a diving roll in the opposite direction in a desperate effort to let the MiG rush through the hole. The MiG's pilot flipped his battle computer from "radar" to "combat infrared", switching his HUD's imagery to its Infrared Search and Track System (IRST). He banked hard left to acquire the third F-15, fighting to lock him into the narrow pair of vertical lines in the center of his display. The moment the dark splotch of the third F-15 fell between the ladder, his headset buzzed, and he pressed the trigger, launching an R-73 heat-seeking Archer missile. In seconds, the missile's logic system told it to turn inside its target's flight path, sending it straight up the F-15's tailpipe, so its small warhead exploded inside the fighter's Pratt and Whitney engine. At a higher altitude, its pilot could possibly have survived and bailed out, but at only 1,500 feet he lost control of the aircraft and smashed into the ground. The last remaining F-15 whizzed by the MiG, beginning a high-G arcing turn at medium throttle to keep his radius tight enough to escape the MiG's sharp angle of attack. "Hostile! Hostile! Hostile!" General Horner watched in astonishment as the fourth F-15 disappeared from the basement screen. Something was drastically wrong--the MiG-29 had just chewed up a whole four-ship of F-15s; there was literally nothing to stop the victorious MiG from crossing the Saudi border and shooting down the AWACS. The nearest support was a package of F-16s one hundred miles west at 30,000 feet. At FHI Systems' auditorium in San Diego, as the tracks of the four F-111Bs crossed into the safety of Saudi territory, everyone except Victor Saleh was asking himself what in the world had just happened. The superior numbers of the F-15 four-ship seemed to count for nothing, as the lone MiG downed each of the American fighter jets one after the other. In another fortified bunker deep under Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, Sabawi Hussein, Colonel Kamil, and Dr. Stemmler were seated in front of a set of display screens similar to those inside the Saudi Royal Air Force building in Riyadh. "Gentlemen," proclaimed a triumphant Sabawi Hussein, "I think we have just received adequate demonstration of GERALD's abilities," Saddam Hussein grinned slowly in response, glancing in his brother-in-law's direction. Colonel Kamil knew better than to protest. "What's his price? What does he want?" Dr. Stemmler demanded. "Ten million dollars. Paid in Zurich," replied Sabawi. Colonel Kamil and Dr. Stemmler both unconsciously turned to Saddam, who uttered only two words. "Buy it." Chapter 2 "The computer looks for pattern recognition, and when it finds a fit it gives us a signal," the instructor, David Woodring, intoned, noticing the watch team seemed to be already half-asleep. Woodring was the FBI's recently appointed Assistant Director of Counterintelligence, the Bureau's chief spycatcher, whose chief present worry was that his men no longer believed there were any important spies left to catch. Tall, blond and lanky, Woodring was only thirty-five years old when he was posted to the Manhattan office, he had been a major force in helping the bureau construct its case against John Gotti, the capo of the Gambino crime family. The new FBI Director, Hubert Myers, had specifically chosen Woodring to lead the FBI's counterintelligence department in the new, less than clear-cut era. Woodring was on the eleventh floor of the FBI's Los Angeles regional headquarters, a Kafkaesque-looking high-rise on Wilshire Boulevard not far from UCLA. The eleventh-floor bullpen was headquarters of CI-5, the only division of the FBI on the West Coast whose members could boast of possessing a "sensitive compartmentalized information" clearance, that is, a clearance one level higher than "top secret," giving them the power to investigate not only foreign agents, but also errant members of any of the domestic intelligence services, including both the CIA and NSA. It had been a fast-paced game, chasing men like Christopher Boyce to the former Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, but now much of the crack counterintelligence unit's enthusiasm was gone, since no one believed that their old adversary, the Russians, still posed that much of a threat. But, as they were about to find out, today's subject was a different matter. "Pentagon started up audio recog on the German border back in the seventies," continued Woodring, pointing his swagger stick at the chalk box labeled AUDIO on the blackboard. "Military boys got real good at telling the difference between Warsaw Pact tanks and trucks and NATO stuff coming over bridges and whatnot. Over the years sophistication level was increased. Billboard's Top 40 is done the same way--guy in Kansas City's computers listen to every station in the country and pick out how many times a song is played. "But today," Woodring paused, slapping a second box labeled VIDEO which woke up half the class, "today, gentlemen, we are gonna talk about video." Now the whole class was listening. "Two years ago CI discreetly began a program to re-ID all government personnel with restricted access status. Unfortunately, as we all know, the boys at CI found that included about everyone in the greybook, so at the same time, they have been chopping away at the access lists. Anyway, the new IDs are holographic, stored on both CD and videotape for flexibility, depending on the resolution fit. "Next, CI personnel went around to all their favorite hotspots and retrofitted all the watchstations with new camera technology," Woodring explained, then motioned for someone in the audience to douse the lights. "The list of camera locations is top secret, but I bet you boys can guess where a lot of them might be," Woodring grinned. Members of Counterintelligence Division 5 saw a slide photo of a generic-looking television camera appear upon the screen. "Admittedly, it's not much to look at," Woodring apologized. "But, gentlemen, this is only the antenna of a two-billion dollar piece of hardware, the rest of which is in the basement of this building. "One nice thing about the system is that it can tell us if an RA individual is making multiple visits to unrelated locations, a thing that we always had a problem with before." At that moment a slide appeared of a slim, balding man making his way through a snow- filled parking lot. The next slide showed the same individual in various locations, some foreign, others late at night, which were difficult to make out. "This is RABBIT," Woodring's voice informed them in the darkness. "We named him that because he likes to hop around, especially on vacations. One of RABBIT's trips to Europe could burn up more guys than we've got available worldwide. The interesting thing is that before we got the system up and running, CI would have probably never noticed this individual, since he's never been to the same location more than once," Woodring admitted in a respectful tone. "Anyway, unfortunately for you guys, you don't get to chase RABBIT all over Europe, you're gonna hippety-hop after him right here in your own backyard," Woodring informed them while the lights turned back on. "Where does RABBIT work?" Special Agent Johnson, a tall black man, asked. "FHI Systems, San Diego. He's a design engineer in charge of battle systems software. Worked for AT&T before that." The mere mention of RABBIT's job was enough to bring the membership of the watch team alive. Each agent knew FHI Systems was responsible for updating the telecommunications of America's national security computer network, the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS). "Why hasn't RABBIT been picked up?" asked another agent. "Because Mr. RABBIT isn't retailing anything as far as we can tell, he's just picking up real big chunks of change," replied Woodring. "How big?" another agent asked. "Last I heard, he was looking to buy a Mercedes." "A Mercedes!" Johnson exclaimed. Even the Sovs never paid that much, thought the Special Agent. "Who's he working for?" someone demanded next. "We have no idea," Woodring replied, "no idea at all." Woodring's assistant, who had been quietly sitting in the back row during the presentation, left the room before the lights came back on to wait for Woodring in a nearby office. "We just got a call from CI-4 in New York," his assistant told him when Woodring appeared. He handed Woodring a donut with one hand and a cup of coffee with the other. "What's wrong?" "They won't say on the phone, but they want you up there." "When?" "Right now. FBI jet's fueled and waiting to pick you up at LAX." "They want me that fast? Why?" His assistant raised his hand, as if to say, don't ask me, it wasn't my idea. "Thanks for the coffee," Woodring replied, then left the room. K/JH-3A 7 Chapter 3 A week later, the same pair of colonels who had picked up Colonel Kamil the night of the American election arrived to fetch him at his hastily rebuilt office on Anter Square. Fully aware that the penalty for failure in the President's eyes was death, Kamil was filled with foreboding that he was being summoned by Saddam in order to explain the loss of the plant at Tarmiyah. The driver said nothing during the whole trip, but followed the Military Canal to the outskirts of the city, finally stopping at the gates of a quiet villa surrounded by a high wall. Two sentries at the wooden gate immediately waved them through, and Kamil noticed the grounds were more heavily patrolled than usual, even for the protection of Saddam Hussein. At the villa's front door, a second pair of sentries checked Kamil's papers, then let him through the doors, telling him to go to the dining room on the right. Seated around a large lacquered table were Saddam Hussein, his middle half brother, Sabawi, and Dr. Stemmler. "Hussein Kamil Hassan al-Majid! Keef halahk!" Saddam greeted the Colonel with the same joviality he had shown him on the night of November 2nd, slapping his son-in- law on the shoulder. "M'leeh, shookran." "Good! Good!" Saddam motioned for Kamil to join the others at the table, then sat down and let his brother, Sabawi, open up the meeting. "Sabawi has brought us good news from Zurich." "Shookran, Mr. President. TRAPDOOR is ours." Sabawi carefully handed a slim folder to Colonel Kamil, who, in turn, passed it to his father-in-law, Saddam. Without opening the file, Iraq's president handed it back to his son-in-law, Hussein Kamil. . . . it couldn't be possible, thought the colonel, finding himself now holding the separate, plain-white sheet of paper in his hand with the two code groups written on it. "This is the trigger? For the Trojan Horse?" "Na'am," Yes, Sabawi whispered. "So," resumed President Hussein, "we need someone with the expertise to break into the American nuclear arsenal, launch one of their missiles at the target, yet leave no trace of our involvement." "The target?" gasped Colonel Kamil, realizing for the first time how far things had gone. "The target," emphasized Saddam. "Sabawi tells me Dr. Saleh has already preprogrammed it for us." Colonel Kamil looked at first one man then another, afraid to ask the question. "Warren Air Force Base," whispered Sabawi. "It's a missile base in Wyoming with 150 Minutemen III and fifty Peacemakers." It was madness! Sheer madness! thought the Iraqi physicist. But at the same time there was a compelling element to Sabawi's plan: if the attack were successful, the American military would be disgraced, and demands from its opponents for further disarmament would turn into a chorus. In addition, once the damage had been done, the ensuing chaos would leave the governments of the coalition members too weak to respond to any future Iraqi aggression. "Surely, gentlemen, amongst ourselves we will be able to locate someone whom we can trust, but who is unknown, to carry on the struggle for us and to help us finally accomplish what we set out to do originally. And it absolutely can't be anyone we've used before, anyone we've been sheltering here like the Abu Nidal Organization," Saddam continued. "Sending him out again would be tantamount to leaving my signature on the event, and, besides, he's not even competent enough for what I want. No, I want to use someone who isn't known to Western security services, but on the face of it would have nothing to do with us -- this is the problem, isn't it? We all know what happened after Lockerbie -- Palestinians and Jordanians were running across Europe like a bunch of cockroaches on a kitchen floor!" "An absolute professional, then," murmured Kamil, playing along until he could find out exactly how much further things had gone. "But -- " began Colonel Kamil. "-- if he fails?" Stemmler laughed. "He won't have had any tie to us then, will he?" "So you can see now, gentlemen," Saddam almost whispered, "there can be no question of taking this matter before the party, even to the Revolutionary Command Council which has over sixty members -- besides, I've already learned my lesson once in this regard -- no, the only way this will work is if we keep it amongst the four of us in this room. I think you can all see that." The moment Colonel Kamil saw his cousin extract three folders from his carryall, it immediately dawned on him that the candidates had already been selected -- the sole purpose of the meeting was to make the final choice. "Sabawi?" "Yes, Mr. President, as you requested, without mentioning a word of this to anyone at the Mukhabarat, I selected the following three candidates myself from our files." The secret service chief started to hand all three of the thin manila folders to Saddam Hussein, who made a circle with his right hand. "Just give one to each of us, then we'll pass them around." "Yes, Mr. President." "Meanwhile why don't you tell us about the first candidate," Saddam ordered, folding his file open on the table in front of him. His half-brother glanced quickly at the title of the dossier he had just handed Saddam Hussein, then cleared his throat before he began: "Stefano Sinagra, Sicilian. Worked for 'Toto' Riina, the capo di tutti capi of the Sicilian Mafia, and until Riina's arrest by the Italian military, Sinagra was his top enforcer. Sinagra was a contract killer who was never part of the organization, but answered directly to Riina, himself." "What's he done outside of Sicily?" Stemmler questioned. "Needless to say, these things aren't easy to document, but we think Riina sent him to New York to take care of a couple of wayward lieutenants." "Is that all we know about him?" pressed Colonel Kamil. "Men in this line of work tend to be rather circumspect, especially ones who have never been caught." "Good point," muttered Saddam. "Who's next?" Colonel Kamil made a show of handing his folder to President Hussein, saying the name under his breath for the benefit of Sabawi Hussein. "Vitaly Chavchavadze, former spetsnaz commando, recently demobilized from the 5th Division of the old Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces. Chavchavadze was stationed at several tactical nuclear sites in Eastern Europe, also he was trained as a marksman at Zheltyye Vody, the spetsnaz camp." "What's he doing now?" asked Saddam. "Enforcer for Vladimir Kumarin, one of the four top mafiosi in St. Petersburg." "How's his English?" "Only passable." "Passable may not be enough," grunted Stemmler to Sabawi Hussein's annoyance. "The third candidate is an American, whose name listed on your folder is probably an alias, according to our branch in New York. I've saved him until last for the simple reason that he's my favorite. Working on his own for a South American client, he shut down a CIA narcotics smuggling ring known as "Operation BUNCIN" that that agency operated in cooperation with the American Drug Enforcement Administration. "In BUNCIN the CIA used American drug smugglers as sources and exempted them from prosecution by the DEA -- the project was monitored by the CIA's Office of Security. BUNCIN was important enough to be operated out of Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, where classified AFCT planes picked up the results and hand-delivered them to the CIA at Langley." "The CIA doesn't know his face? How is this possible?" objected Stemmler. "Because every last person in the operation the American came into contact with, he liquidated himself." Sabawi couldn't help but notice the small grin that passed across Saddam's face. A man who was ruthless enough to eliminate every possible threat, and in addition wasn't threatened by the CIA . . . Chapter 4 The morning's light splashed across the sea of windshields and polished hubcaps, creating a wave of reflections that were distinctly visible to the pilot of a tiny single- engine plane, which was flying directly over United States Interstate 15. But the pilot's eye wasn't focused on the two-acre lot, lined with row after row of gunmetal gray German sedans, but on a tiny flyspeck of a Toyota, which seemed to be moving on a predetermined path towards the entrance of Aristocrat Motors at the Grand Avenue exit. And no one was surprised when the Toyota's driver left the interstate, took the exit, and drove under the weatherbeaten archway which led to the showroom floor. As Dr. Victor Saleh carefully shut the door of his battered blue Corolla, he debated only for a second whether it was necessary to lock his car door in the midst of so much luxury. The mere thought of this precaution seemed to dent his vanity, and he removed his delicate hand from the old Toyota's door handle as if it were contaminated. "Dr. Saleh, am I right?" asked the black salesman, flashing a row of white perfect teeth as he extended a large, calloused hand. "Yes. You must be Mr. Johnson," replied the Lebanese professor replied, somewhat intimidated by the looming bulk of the black man whose voice had seemed so officious on the telephone. "Ready to go for a spin?" The pilot of a single-engine Cessna yawned, had another sip of coffee, and banked his plane over Lake Hodges, a silver pool below. ". . . taking a black 190D northbound onto Bear Valley Parkway . . ." a voice crackled over the Cessna's surveillance radio. The pilot set down his cup of coffee, banked the Cessna towards the Interstate, and spied the tiny black Mercedes, now hemmed in a box formed by several of the Bureau's automotive fleet. And if anyone were to look upwards from the ground, at the altitude its pilot had been directed to maintain, the little Cessna would only have appeared as a dark speck, or even nothing at all, to the unaided eye. ". . . it's either gonna' be the north or south exit on I-15 . . ." a different voice predicted over the Cessna's radio. "Charlie, you awake up there?" "No, I'm on autopilot." "O.K., just let us know which way he goes." "Roger," the pilot yawned, keeping a firm eye on the new Mercedes below him. "Handles like a dream, huh?" Johnson asked Dr. Saleh, who was driving the 190D. "Very well. Very well, thank you," Dr. Saleh responded. Saleh saw the exit sign for I-15 North and casually swung the Mercedes onto the ramp, as a team of facemen rushed past in an assortment of various automobiles. Johnson's eyes never strayed near the rearview mirror, but somehow he felt the second team jockey into place and confirmed his suspicions as he saw a familiar Buick 88 speed ahead in the passing lane. Over twenty agents had been recruited for this little farce, Johnson thought. Twenty men had abandoned their watch posts to go car shopping all across San Diego. RABBIT lives in Claremont, but, of course, he had to take the Interstate all the way across town to Escondido. Last weekend it had been Chula Vista, Johnson remembered and visibly frowned. "Have I been out too long?" Dr. Saleh asked solicitously, having just seen the cloud pass across the salesman's face. "No! No!" "You're sure?" "Sorry, I got a little stomach acid this morning -- gotta' stop drinking so much coffee," the FBI agent lied. "I think I want to buy it," Dr. Saleh announced without warning. "Is it possible to pay with a money order?" "Money order?" "That's not acceptable?" "Hey, sure, boss'll take American Express, Visa, cash, check -- you name it, whatever makes you happy." Dr. Saleh nodded his head in appreciation, and Agent Johnson noticed the smile of satisfaction which appeared on the professor's face. Chapter 5 While David Woodring's men followed Dr. Saleh in his Mercedes, a handsome American with steel-gray eyes exited his apartment on 62nd Street, walked to Park Avenue, and caught a southbound taxi, giving the driver a downtown address. It was early February and a light snow had begun to coat the streets, mottling the sounds of horns in its mist. Trinity Church hovered like a ghost ship on lower Broadway, where the driver turned on Wall, pulling over to the curb two blocks later as instructed. If anyone had been watching that morning, which they weren't, they would have noticed a rather tall man pull a slip of paper from his jacket pocket, obviously double-checking an address before he discarded it into a nearby trash container. Fourteen Wall was a tall, soot-covered, stone building with a granite facade and two brass-plated revolving doors. The stranger entered the lobby, checked the directory which indicated Room 1514 did indeed belong to Digitel Long Distance Services, the same name his Colombian contact had given him, then walked into the crowded first- floor cafeteria past a row of booths towards the rear, finally sitting across from an overweight woman reading a copy of W and wearing a pair of glasses with transparent frames. One look at her and he guessed she had previously either worked for AT&T or one of its subsidiaries. "I'm glad you're here, I was getting hungry." "Let's order." A harried-looking waitress appeared at their side, holding a pad and pencil in her hand. "What'll it be?" "I'd like a double hamburger with everything, fries, and a chocolate shake." The waitress shifted her glance immediately to her male companion. "A BLT and a Coke'll be fine." The waitress reread their orders to them then went to the next table. The stranger began: "I don't know if Luiz told you what I wanted -- " "He explained it, alright." The stranger blinked. "You sure you can get into the computer?" "Look, let me tell you something. You don't exactly have to be Mata Hari to get into the military's machines -- " the stranger furrowed his brow and the hacker hesitated a moment, taking a sip of Coke. "I know, you've heard they've got passwords, authorization ladders, secret codes, et cetera, et cetera. You gotta understand if everything goes right, none of that really makes any difference." The stranger still looked doubtful, when the waitress returned with their food, slapping the dishes on the table like they were heavy poker chips. The hacker waited until she left to reply. "Look, this is hard to explain to an outsider, but the software, the software the military uses isn't exactly airtight. There's holes in it, holes that if you know they're there you can access and essentially take over the whole machine. For instance, you take the Trivial File Transfer Protocol in Unix -- " The stranger held up his hand, and the hacker immediately rolled a french fry in the blob of ketchup she'd put on her plate, then stuffed it in her mouth. "What if you get caught?" "Look, you saw the company name, right? We're long distance resellers, as in telephone. That's where I used to work. New York Tel, the old Ma Bell. I know my way around the network like an IRT conductor knows the stops on the Red Line -- " The stranger frowned again, he knew nothing about New York Telephone long distance switching network. "What I mean is, it's no trouble for me to grab a bunch of numbers and leave no trace that I was even there. I can go over satellite and downlink into Tymnet, and then through a couple of cutouts hook into Milnet -- that's what all the bases use -- " she stopped to take a large bite out of her hamburger. "They all run on Unix -- that's AT&T software -- like I said, it's got enough holes in it it's not that hard to become a superuser and collect people's passwords. You just need to give me the files you want." "Here." The stranger pulled a single notepad-sized sheet of paper from his shirt pocket and slid it across the table. The hacker scooped it up and stuffed it in her pocket without looking at it. "I work late all the time. I've got nothing better to do. Come back here tonight and tell the guard you want to see me. That all right with you?" Her visitor nodded affirmatively. "Luiz told me you don't want to use your own name. When you come back tell the guard you're Fred Daniels -- he used to work here before they switched security services, OK?" The stranger nodded a second time, finished his BLT, and left. That evening, just as she had told him, there was a single guard on duty who readily accepted that he was Fred Daniels and notified the hacker, who told the guard that Daniels was expected. The stranger took the elevator to the fifteenth floor and found himself in a deserted lobby, lit by humming fluorescent lights and carpeted in a faded corporate gray. To the right a door was open and he walked in, finding the hacker in the middle of a row of otherwise empty offices, sitting in front of a computer terminal with a fresh soft drink in her hand. "This one took a while," confessed the hacker. "No one logged onto the department you gave me until an hour ago." "Could you tell who it was?" the stranger pressed, humorless. "Couldn't follow him upstream," she replied, typing in a command. "He didn't leave a trail. Used a funny password though." The stranger looked over the hacker's shoulders as she typed in the base's name, C- H-I-N-A L-A-K-E. The China Lake Naval Weapons Center is a huge, 1,122,177-acre missile testing base located at Ridgecrest, California, lying between the Sierra Nevada on the west and the Panamint Range on the east. Airspace over its 1,800-square-mile area is restricted exclusively for military use all the way past 20,000 feet. The base principally functions as the Navy's center for research, development, testing, and evaluation for air warfare and missile weapons systems and takes its name from an expanse of dry lakebed which was named after the coolies who worked the local mines in the 1880s. But in the middle of the southern half of the base lies a separate facility, not guarded by Marines like the rest of the base, but surrounded by a special contingent of Federal Protective Service bluejackets rotated out of Camp Glynco, Georgia. This base within a base, the China Lake Special Operations Weapons Center, reports directly to the Director CIA without going through any military channels; its budget isn't recorded in any official governmental department; and for practical purposes, it doesn't exist. To anyone who knows of its existence the reason for all the secrecy is simple: its residents manufacture devices designed to be used in the most sensitive of special operations: miniature telescope infrared night-vision scopes designed specifically for assassination; makeup kits especially designed to avoid close inspection; tiny cryptoanalytic computers for breaking both foreign and domestic codes; spread-spectrum field communications equipment, like the type used by the various special forces; finally, devices which could either trigger or short-circuit various types of nuclear weapons, both U.S. and foreign. The stranger also knew that any user logging onto the Special Operations Center's computers ran the risk of being monitored and traced if he were found to be using a significant amount of computer time. But fortunately for him, his friends from Bogota had already given him a name. "OK, you said you didn't want to be in here long -- you gonna give me the name?" the hacker asked. "Bailey. Edwin D. Bailey." "Just a minute." "Restricted File -- Veil Classification Required," her screen replied. The stranger winced. He knew if the hacker failed to give the right password to climb the next rung in the authorization ladder, alarm bells at the base's computer center would immediately be set off. "Don't worry. I've got the next stage down, too. Thanks to MR. BUNCIN, whoever he was," the hacker breezily informed him. "Seems as if your friend just got out of jail." "BUNCIN asked for Bailey's file?" "Not asked for -- he updated it. I watched him as he did it." Bailey's unusual curriculum vitae scrolled vertically across the CRT screen, then froze still, its most recent entry silently blinking as its text cooked upon the printout. Feb. 5, 1992 : Released from USP Marion, Illinois. Last Known Residence: Memphis. The stranger lifted Bailey's three-page resume from the tray and read it carefully. The hacker had already printed out her own copy when she caught BUNCIN logging earlier in the afternoon, using the CIA's highest clearance, Veil, to access it. What she had read was so frightening she immediately set her copy on fire in the bathroom, then flushed the ashes down the toilet. "Now ask it for Bailey's key," the stranger requested, still looking at the printout. "His key?" "His code key. You'll find it in there somewhere. It's a 56-bit-long binary number, but it could be expressed either way -- in decimal form or 1's and 0's. I'll know it when I see it." "Whatever," sighed the hacker, her fingers dancing on the keyboard, asking for more files. Chapter 6 The slide photo of a swarthy-looking man with a moustache filled a screen in the darkened room. "This is 'Abdul'," a voice explained, slapping the screen with a swagger stick. "Just got on a plane last week and went to Vienna. Didn't say goodbye to anybody." The next slide was of a younger man with short, curly hair. "This is 'Hassan', Abdul's partner. He left yesterday for Athens." "How many others like this?" "About ten." "Ten?" "They've all left the United States?" "That's right." "They just knocked off," repeated the division chief, McDonald. "What do you mean they just knocked off?" demanded Woodring. "Just what I said -- they're not following the UNSCOM people anymore," McDonald replied. He was on the eighth floor of the FBI's district office in New York City, which housed the CI-4 counterintelligence unit, a unit analagous to CI-5 in Los Angeles. Since the termination of the Gulf War, a considerable portion of the New York field office's manpower had been dedicated to following local Iraqi intelligence agents, who were, in turn, following members of the U.N.'s Special Commission on Iraqi weapons, UNSCOM. The U.N. Security Council formed the Special Commission after the Gulf War to investigate Iraq's three most dangerous weapons programs: nuclear, biological and chemical. Post-war nuclear inspections, which had begun in May, 1991, were delegated by UNSCOM to the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) a branch of the U.N. based in Vienna. The I.A.E.A. had the contradictory mission of fostering the use of atomic energy while simultaneously limiting the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Twice-yearly visits by I.A.E.A. inspectors to Iraq for the decade preceding the war had resulted in a complete failure on their part to recognize that Saddam Hussein had been running four separate programs for manufacturing weapons-grade nuclear fuel during the same period. Unfortunately, since many of the I.A.E.A.'s inspectors had been hired from smaller countries, several of them had never seen a nuclear weapons part in their lives. But the intelligence agencies of the coalition members, America's CIA, the British MI6, the French DGSE, and the Russian ISS, weren't so easily misled, and each agency now fed the results of its own analysis directly to the Special Commission in New York, which, in turn, would assign specific sites for surprise inspection by I.A.E.A. employees in Iraq. In Baghdad Sabawi Hussein had been quick to react to these new pressures, realizing the best way to outwit the local I.A.E.A. teams was to intercept the flow of strategic data from the secret services to the twenty-one Special Commission members in New York before it reached I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna. As a result, he instructed his intelligence operatives at the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations to follow the twenty- one commission members and to steal whenever possible any documents they could find, even if it included breaking into a member's private residence. The Finnish representative to the Special Commission, Marjatta Rautio, had recently come out of her bathroom to find a man rifling the contents of her desk, whom she later identified to agents of the CI-4 Division as a member of the Iraqi Mission. Afterwards, Woodring ordered an increase in CI-4's surveillance of the Iraqi Mission, sending reinforcements from the CI-3 Division in Washington, D.C. and additional Arab- language speaking agents from other field offices. Now, Woodring couldn't believe his ears. It was only a month after the January airstrikes, which had been successful in knocking out the previously untouched nuclear fabricating plant in Tarmiya, which, in theory, had put additional pressure on Saddam Hussein to protect whatever secret nuclear processing plants remained. Instead, McDonald was telling him that Iraqi intelligence in New York had just halved the number of agents they had dedicated to surveilling the UNSCOM people. Meanwhile, Woodring had a potential spy at the major WWMCCS contractor in San Diego. Chapter 7 The next day the handsome American who had visited the hacker on Wall Street presented a false passport to the Royal Jordan Airlines desk at Schwechat International Airport in Vienna. He was confirming his seat for the 3:30 p.m. flight which would arrive in Amman, Jordan at 7:30 that evening local time. "Ich mochte meine Fahrkarte fur Amman." "Herr Kluge?" asked the attendant, folding open the passport and double-checking its photograph with his customer's face. All appeared to be in order, so the Jordanian handed Herr Kluge his tickets. "Danke." The first inkling of the Iraqis' interest in his services had come from his previous employers in Colombia. An Iraqi intelligence agent had flown to Medellin, discreetly asking the Colombians about the gringo who had worked for them on Operation BUNCIN. Their visitor exhibited his bona fides by providing his Colombian hosts a crate of Silkworm missiles. The narcotraficantes had refused, of course, to confirm or deny the existence of such a man and had politely shown their Iraqi guest the door. But the next day, the insistent ringing of a certain telephone inside the American's flat alerted him that his previous client was on the line, because, at the moment, only the Colombians possessed its number. A 9,600-bits-per-second, 30,000-Hertz-range, public- key spread-spectrum scrambler modem and multiplexer, the device had been issued by the CIA to one of the operatives in Operation BUNCIN, and was written off at the news of his disappearance. Designed to operate over the 1435-1540 megahertz test-band frequency of the KH- 14A reconnaissance satellite, the special telephone broadcast its signal via spread spectrum over a 5 megahertz-wide band, which, since the bandwidth of the transmission was so wide, would only sound like noise to someone who picked it up. For the same reason the special telephone's signal was hard to jam or intercept, since it intentionally used a much wider band to transmit than was required by the information being sent. When the call from Bogota arrived, he told his Colombian clients to tell the Iraqis he would agree to an initial meeting with one of their representatives, as long as it was somewhere in South America where they would be far from the eyes of the allied secret services, who, he knew, were following the Iraqis' movements in certain cities. Shortly thereafter, a pleasant luncheon was arranged on the open roof restaurant of the Caesar Park Hotel on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, where he was given a suggested itinerary by a very nervous functionary from the tourist bureau of the local Iraqi consulate. That evening, using his special telephone far from his hotel room, he called the Colombians back from an open-air bar on the summit of Corcovado, resetting the date and time of his arrival into Baghdad. Upon his arrival in Amman, the American, whose only baggage was a thin Asprey carryall, found a taxi driver who was more than willing, once he heard the price, to drive his humorless-looking passenger all 520 miles to Baghdad across the Iraqi border with no questions asked. Eight hours later, upon his arrival in the Iraqi capital, the American told the driver to drop him off at the junction of the railroad tracks and Haifa street, where he walked the remaining half-mile to the recently damaged Al-Rashid Hotel. After making a one-word telephone call to a number he had been given in Rio de Janeiro, the American was picked up at the door by a plainclothesman in a nondescript Brazilian Volkswagen Passat sedan, who took him to the same villa where Kamil had just been summoned. A pair of plainclothesmen at the gate waved the Passat through and radioed ahead that the special guest had arrived. Sabawi Hussein appeared immediately at the door and whisked his special guest across a hand-woven rug into a well appointed salon where the Colonel Kamil, Doctor Stemmler, and Saddam Hussein were seated in high-backed chairs. President Hussein motioned casually with a flick of the hand for Sabawi and the American to seat themselves into the two remaining empty chairs. Once he sat down, Sabawi Hussein warily eyed the guest whose candidacy he had promoted, inventorying his physical traits. Unlike Colonel Kamil and Dr. Stemmler, Sabawi Hussein hadn't traveled extensively throughout Europe or America and didn't have the same feel for Anglo-Saxons as the others, but, as head of the Mukhabarat, he had learned quickly to become a good judge of men. The American sitting calmly before him was just under six feet tall, possessing an athletic build without seeming "built-up", and was attractive without having looks that would call undue attention to himself. He also gave no hint of nervousness or panic from being in the presence of Saddam Hussein on his own ground, but remained coolly in his seat, saying nothing and waiting for his hosts to make the first move. "I am Sabawi Hussein, this is my brother, Saddam, my cousin Kamil, and Dr. Stemmler, the head of our nuclear research program. I -- " "You are the chief of the Mukhabarat and Colonel Kamil runs the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, 'MIMI', I believe it's called by the CIA." "A cigarette?" offered Dr. Stemmler. "No thanks, I don't smoke." "You are well informed," Sabawi Hussein replied, raising his eyebrows when he caught his half brother's gaze. "I have to be in my business, but then I doubt you asked me to come here to find out information, since you possess much greater resources for that than I do." An awkward silence reigned in the room, since none of the Iraqis had ever been addressed in such an abrupt manner in the presence of Saddam Hussein. At the same time, each man in the room was aware that no other type of man would have a chance of accomplishing the mission they were about to propose to their guest. Therefore, without further delay Sabawi Hussein rose from his chair, approached the American and offered him a thick paperbound U.S. government-issue book. The American took it and read the title without comment. "Have you ever seen one of these books before?" "No." "Do you know what it is?" "If it's what I think it is, these are the target codes for the U.S. nuclear strategic forces -- they're relatively useless unless the sender can authenticate them." "Exactly," Dr. Stemmler spoke for the first time. "The sender must convince the person who receives an Emergency Action Message that something terrible has happened." "Good luck," snapped the American. "I think it would be nothing short of impossible to knock out all of the States' command and control networks, which is what you'd need to do in order to fool the people in the field. "Look, if this is why you brought me here," the American frowned, getting up from his chair, "I think we can end the meeting now. There's no way -- " "No way a submarine in the middle of the ocean couldn't be made to think that Washington's communications network has been knocked out by a sudden nuclear terrorist attack?" Stemmler asked, holding a single, white sheet of paper in his hand. The American now stood in the center of the room with all eyes upon him. He knew enough about computers to understand immediately what Dr. Stemmler was suggesting. "You are the commander of an American SSBN. You are far away from everyone, underwater for months at a time," Stemmler whispered, still holding the sheet of paper in his hand. "Every tour of duty you engage in war games, communicating with Washington over essentially three different communications networks: ELF, VLF, and blue-green laser. "ELF waves can penetrate the deepest, down to 300 feet, but because their frequency is so low, this system can only broadcast a single bit of information in a minute. A properly encoded and authenticated emergency action message, containing an order for your submarine to launch one warhead would have to contain a minimum of 40 characters, or 250 bits -- which, unfortunately, would take over five hours to transmit. "Thus, in a crisis, ELF transmissions are limited to simple three-letter code groups signifying things like, 'Sub No. 18: ascend to laser depth to receive next message via SSIX.' "You are the commander. You, in fact, have just received such a message. You have heard nothing from Washington to indicate to you that any crisis exists, but then your communications room tells you the ELF transmitter which it continuously monitors has suddenly gone off the air. "You have just lost touch with your command authority and you only have so much time. You then decide to surface, to surface just high enough to confirm your orders with the SSIX satellite that's always overhead. "Trying to stay as deep as possible, you rise to 225 feet, hoping the SSIX satellite's blue-green laser transmission will tell you it's all just been a big mistake. You wait five minutes, and you receive nothing. Your communications room then tells you your sub's photovoltaic sensors are in perfect working order. "Now you go above 50 feet, releasing your antenna, desperately trying to contact the TACAMO over VLF -- very low frequency. The E-6A is the last link in the chain between the airborne emergency command post and the national command authority. "To your horror the TACAMO sends you a succinct Emergency Action Message which, when it's decoded, orders you to launch a single missile towards a target in the Middle East. You have already spent twenty minutes since you received the FLASH- priority message over the ELF. Now you have only ninety minutes left until you must launch. Ninety minutes. "You radio back to the pilot in the TACAMO and demand to be patched through to Washington. Then you get the final shock -- the E-6A tells you he can't reach any of the National Military Command Centers over Wimex -- the NCA is dead. "Now you have eighty minutes left until launch. You quickly review all the possibilities in your head. Has Washington been knocked out by a nuclear terrorist attack? Or are you a victim of sabotage? Has someone somehow gotten control of your communications system's software, stolen the codes, and hijacked TACAMO as part of a massive deception? What if there has been an error, a gigantic miscalculation, leaving you responsible for possibly initiating the Third World War? "At great risk to yourself, you give the order to the XO to rise to just below the surface. You raise your periscope and the ESM antenna. Through the periscope you see nothing. Over the ESM you detect no radar -- no enemy planes overhead looking for you. Next you raise two more antennas, your UHF receiving antenna and your laser transmitter. "You tell the radioman on duty to send a laser burst transmission over the SSIX satellite to Atlantic Fleet Communications in Norfolk, requesting confirmation of your orders. Their response should be almost instantaneous. Instead you hear nothing. You wait. You are running out of time, you only have sixty-five minutes left. An hour and five minutes to launch. Still, no response from fleet communications. "Against the dictates of everything you've been taught, you give the order to surface. Perhaps there is a shortwave receiver on board. It isn't likely, but it's possible. If there is such a radio, more than likely it will have a scanner, which will automatically seek out the strongest transmitting stations, like the BBC. No matter, several major broadcasters will be saying the same thing in several languages: Washington, D.C. has been the target of a nuclear attack. Incoming airliners over a hundred miles distant have reported seeing a mushroom cloud, until their communications suddenly went dead. "Now you are filled with rage, the capital of your country has been obliterated. Your radioman hands you a FLASH-priority message from the TACAMO demanding to know why you're taking so long to launch; forty minutes have passed since he relayed the EAM to you. You send the order from the bridge to the missile control launch center to activate the fire control computers. Two minutes later the trigger is pulled." For several seconds the stranger said nothing, the scenario the Third Reich scientist had just suggested having seized his entire imagination. "The 707 doesn't have a rear stairwell like the 727. How do I exit the plane?" A smile crossed Sabawi Hussein's face; he had anticipated the stranger's question. Unfolding a detailed drawing of an Iraqi Air Boeing 707 jetliner, he handed it to HYDRA, who studied the yellow-shaded space around the pilot's cockpit in silence. "It has a hatch . . ." "Exactly," Sabawi agreed. "The electrical and equipment access door. It's on the underneath of the fuselage so you won't get caught in the tailwing on your way out." "Once I jump, who picks me up?" "Submarine. We pick you up." "Iraq doesn't have a submarine! Your whole Navy's nothing more than a handful of torpedo boats!" "Not quite correct," interrupted Colonel Kamil. "At this moment an Iraqi crew is in Sevastopol, being trained to operate a rather old Foxtrot-class attack boat we have contracted to buy from the Ukrainians. They sold it to us for almost nothing." "Remember," added Sabawi, "we have every desire to get you out of the TACAMO as fast as possible." They both knew that if the American felt he had been abandoned in the TACAMO, the Iraqis ran the risk of his contacting Washington with information about his mission. "Can you fly? Do you know how to fly jet airplanes?" Sabawi Hussein broke the silence. "Yes." "Boeings?" "No." "No matter. We have a 727, it's not that different from the E-6." "Once TRAPDOOR is activated, you will only have six months, after that the one- time codes are obsolete," added Stemmler, guessing their guest already approved of their plan. Sabawi Hussein looked sideways at his brother and raised an eyebrow. Colonel Kamil followed suit. The American stared off into space seemingly without a shred of interest. "Will you accept the mission?" Sabawi asked at last. He had spoken softly but his question hung in the room, taking on a presence of its own. The American briefly returned his glance, then spoke without hesitation. "Yes, but it's going to be very expensive." "What do you want?" demanded Stemmler. "I'm sure you understand, there's a real difference between performing the operation I just did for the Colombians and this. Whoever takes this on can never work in this business again. He will also be pursued with the full force of the combined American intelligence agencies -- nothing will be left uninvestigated -- I'll more than likely be caught. And if I'm not, I'll need enough liquid assets to survive and be able to move at a moment's notice." "How much would that be?" asked Sabawi. "Ten million dollars." Sabawi Hussein cast a quick look at his brother, whose face, to his surprise, remained expressionless. "Don't you think that's a bit much -- " "I'm neither a fanatic nor a true believer, but a professional who has no intention of being caught once it's over." "There are other men, my friend, whom we could also contact," Stemmler added with a touch of insolence. "I'm sure there, Doktor Stemmler," replied the American, staring straight into the Nazi's eyes. "There are many others you could contact. I'm sure you sifted through their dossiers before you decided to call me here." The American kept his gaze focused on the German, speaking without blinking, "and you decided you couldn't trust some of them not to run away with your money, turning you over to the Americans afterwards. You also decided that very few of them had the guts but not the expertise required for this project. And if I'm guessing correctly, you ruled out non-native English speakers . . ." "Enough," replied Saddam Hussein. "We're convinced you're the one we want and we have the money. There's no need to haggle over this like a bunch of traders in a bazaar." "Thank you, Mr. President," responded the American, "now I'd like to give a list of my conditions." "Go ahead." "First, I want every record of this meeting, every file, every dossier, destroyed. And I need to know who, if anyone, outside this room is aware of why I came here." "No one," answered Sabawi Hussein. "Good. Let's keep it that way." "Secondly, after I leave here today I will never meet with anyone representing any of the Iraqi intelligence services again. If you have to contact me in case of an emergency, use this." The stranger slipped what looked like a regular cellular telephone from his pocket and tossed it to Colonel Kamil, who turned it over in his hand. Colonel Kamil had heard of such devices, but had never been able to obtain them, even after repeated requests during his equipment shopping sprees in Europe. "What you're holding's a spread-spectrum, top-of-the-line CIA digital multiplexer that broadcasts over the KH-14A satellite on a bandwidth so wide it's almost impossible to detect. On top of that, it's equipped with a public key encryption algorithm developed by the NSA, so if it is detected, it's virtually impossible to decipher. As you can see it has a small receptacle on its side -- " Colonel Kamil turned the device on its side, finding a female receptacle" -- that's for the keyboard. All messages between ourselves from here on out will be in ciphertext, not voice, for our mutual safety. By the way, if anyone were to find either one of our boxes, he wouldn't be able to retrieve anything from it without our keys. "Third, I'll provide you with a list of twenty nominee accounts, located in a series of offshore banks. Each bank on the list has explicit instructions to forward any deposit received in these accounts to another account and another bank and has no idea who the real holder is. I also want the money broken down into irregular pieces before it's wired and sent from clean accounts which you have never used before and which have been opened by non-Iraqis and non-Arabs. "I also want to be paid half up-front, and half after I finish the job." "What else?" asked Sabawi Hussein, impressed by the stranger's thoroughness. "If you need to send me a message, I want you to begin in clear text with the phrase, 'Who's speaking, please?' I'll respond in plaintext with a simple code name. If you don't receive it, disconnect immediately." "What name do you want to use?" asked Stemmler. "I'm fond of the classics. Why not HYDRA?" "HYDRA, what does it mean?" asked Saddam Hussein, leaning forward in his chair. "He was a creature that was impossible to kill, if you cut off one of his heads, another simply grew back in its place." "I like that," replied the dictator, standing up in his chair. The meeting was over. The American shook hands with President Hussein, his brother, his brother-in-law, and Dr. Stemmler, then a sentry ushered him to the front door. A different plainclothesman was waiting by the same Volkswagen Passat, Baghdad's most common car, and returned him directly to the airport. K/K-3B1B 19 Chapter 8 In his apartment on 62nd Street in New York, HYDRA began a thorough examination of each step in his upcoming mission, desiring to leave no unnecessary portion of it to chance. Far from accepting Stemmler's analysis at face value, HYDRA sought out every publicly available piece of information he could find on America's strategic command and control system, WWMCCS. Sometimes he would grab a taxi and order it to drop him off at the New York Public Library, where he would sit for hours at a time reading old federal government reports. For more recent works, he used a false name and credit card and had them delivered to a remote postal box, where he would pick them up. Parcels poured in from the Brookings Institute, the Rand Corporation, the National Technical Information Service, the Naval War College, and the Government Accounting Office, which he would read until well past midnight. On a few of the documents, the titles alone were enough to increase his faith in Stemmler's story: Worldwide Military Command and Control System -- Major Changes Needed in its Automated Data Processing and Direction; Worldwide Military Command and Control System -- Problems in Information Resources Management; Problems in the Acquisition of Standard Computers -- Worldwide Military Command and Control System. The impetus for Wimex's structural design originated with computer entrepreneur David Packard, who, when he was Acting Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1972, personally reviewed America's C3I capabilities and quickly came to the conclusion that the nation's strategic command system would more than likely collapse under a serious attack. Antennas, radars, and command centers were all redesigned to make them more immune from the immediate aftereffects of a nuclear explosion, including massive doses of electromagnetic radiation, known in the jargon as EMP -- electromagnetic pulse. Aging EC-135 aircraft, previously used as airborne command posts, were replaced with custom-built hardened Boeing 727s, known by strange names like Looking Glass and NEACP. But Melvin Laird, Packard's successor, later testified to Congress that additional protective shielding for the various nuclear command posts, power supply systems, computer rooms, and leased telephone networks would have prohibitively high costs, well beyond the resources of even the United States. Meanwhile, early warning satellites to detect close-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles were installed, which would automatically alert ground-based bomber crews to take off at the first sign of an offshore launch. Unfortunately, all this effort failed to guarantee that a well-timed and well-planned launch of enemy SLBMs against U.S. strategic C3I targets and ground-alert forces still wouldn't totally succeed in neutralizing America's command authority, so the chain of command for the use of nuclear weapons in an emergency was drastically simplified. Now those authorities still remaining after a first strike were empowered to execute valid action orders in the absence of the original set of commanders. More than ever, America's submarine missile force was viewed as its last-ditch line of defense, linked to whoever remained in command by the single thread of the TACAMO. It was precisely these two countervailing forces which give GERALD's Trojan Horse its devastating power. HYDRA lay on his back in bed for hours at a time, reviewing Stemmler's outline of the operation over and over in his mind, trying to find any flaw in it he could, before he actually decided to act. After several weeks spent viewing the operation through his own eyes, a sudden thought struck him like a thunderbolt: if they were to by chance become aware of the operation, the combined U.S. intelligence agencies would have no choice but to engage in a massive coverup, just like they had put into place after the Kennedy assassination. For if even a hint of his existence and his mission were to leak out, the world would be plunged into unimaginable chaos. On the other hand, he didn't underestimate the expertise of or the lengths to which the American security services would go to stop him if they were to get wind of his mission. Eliminating a handful of personnel in Operation BUNCIN was child's play compared to being pursued by the entire counterintelligence forces of the United States. This reality reinforced HYDRA's already firm belief that in order to succeed, each step of his operation would have to resemble an isolated act of criminal violence, giving the least hint of his existence. The silence in his bedroom was suddenly broken by the soft ringing of his spread spectrum telephone. He hadn't been expecting any calls and watched its printer activate with veiled apprehension. "Who's speaking, please?" Sabawi Hussein's question came across the line. "HYDRA," HYDRA typed back. "I'll be brief. You may want to cancel the mission. It's why we haven't sent the money yet." "Why? What's happened?" "GERALD's under surveillance." "When did you find this out?" "Earlier today." "I'll call you back in ten minutes," HYDRA immediately typed back, then abruptly and hung up. HYDRA sat up on his bed and faced the wall. He was furious, but at the same time, he told himself, the Mukhabarat was simply not a first-class intelligence operation, and he should have known that something like this would happen. But there was nothing that he knew of that would tie him to GERALD, and with some luck, things would stay that way. Besides, even if the American secret services now suspected that a Trojan Horse had been inserted into their software, based on what HYDRA had read so far, if GERALD could be silenced, it would take them months, if not years, to locate it . . . HYDRA flipped open the tiny laptop keyboard and punched in the Iraqis' number. Sabawi Hussein responded almost immediately. "Who's speaking, please?" the text scrolled out. "It's HYDRA. If you take care of GERALD, I'm still in." There was a brief pause on the line. "Done." Chapter 9 The Assistant Director of Counterintelligence, David Woodring, walked into the FBI Director's outer office and smiled at the receptionist. The buzzer's sound always startled him, no matter how many times he'd heard it. "He'll see you now, Mr. Woodring," the girl smiled. Woodring got up and prepared to walk the full length of Hoover's fifty-foot-long corridor, when he saw Director Hubert Myers waiting for him outside the thick, oaken door to the large conference room with its impressive fireplace. Woodring noticed Hoover's old oil painting of Harlan Fiske Stone had been removed from the mantlepiece. He waited for Director Myers to press the special button under his desk which told the receptionist he wasn't to be disturbed and also initiated a sophisticated series of electronic counter-measures designed to defeat any nearby bugs. Myers, a recent Clinton appointee, was an unimposing lawyer who had previously worked in the Justice Department under Jimmy Carter, something, he knew, which did not endear him to his staff in an intelligence community which automatically feared Democratic liberals. "What brings you back to Washington so fast?" Myers asked. "I'm not sure," Woodring answered hesitantly. "I thought I was making a routine visit to CI-4 on the UNSCOM case, but when I get there they tell me that half the Mukhabarat goons just up and left the country. In and of itself that's bad enough, but combined with our problem in San Diego, it has the makings of a real disaster." Director Myers was only too well aware of the facts; Woodring had briefed him about RABBIT before Woodring had made his presentation to the CI-5 Division in California. Myers had also just read the Senate Intelligence Committee's report taken in executive session about the I.A.E.A.'s failure to produce intelligence leads in its post-war inspections in Iraq. The chief inspector, Maurizio Zifferero, an Italian, had no concept of security and frequently discussed upcoming visits in bugged hotel rooms. Zifferero also had the cute habit of leaving his backpack filled with documentation of Iraqi nuclear sites behind in his hotel room. Meanwhile, on orders from Vienna, Zifferero would give the Iraqis up to twelve hours advance notice of each inspection, allowing them enough time to hustle pieces of strategic equipment out of one plant to another. "You think I ought to bring this up with the NFIB?" Myers asked. The National Foreign Intelligence Board was chaired by the Director of Central Intelligence (the DCI), and included the heads of the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the DIA, the State Department's own intelligence branch, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and representatives from other agencies and departments. "Yes, sir," answered Woodring. "Get your coat and let's go." "Excuse me, sir?" "The meeting's in ten minutes, you can ride with me in my car to F Street." "But -- " "You're as ready as you'll ever be, Dave. Come on, we're already running late." Even in morning traffic it only took Myers's limousine a few minutes to arrive in front of a separate gray building a block away from the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House. The moment the Cadillac stopped, Director Myers was out of the door, almost jogging to the building's entrance, making it difficult for Woodring to keep up with him. Once inside Myers and Woodring silently took their seats, since the meeting was already in progress and representatives from more than a dozen agencies were in the room. "Well, Fred, I see you've brought a sidekick," uttered the DCI, Lincoln Daniels. Daniels had been Myers' predecessor at the FBI, before being appointed by Clinton as the new DCI. He had started as a fieldman under Hoover in the fifties and actually looked more like a patrolman than an agent -- no neck, strong shoulders, and a large head framed with wavy silver hair. All eyes were focused now on Woodring. Since Woodring had just been appointed Assistant Director after the election, he was an unknown quantity in the intelligence fraternity, a clannish group where reputations often hinged on the opinions of a relatively small group of people. "Woody, why don't you just tell the group what you told me in my office?" prompted Myers. "Ah, yes, sir." Woodring cleared his throat, inventorying the various faces at the table: Frank Chalmers, Director of the National Security Agency, who had already been informed of RABBIT's existence; General Martin Praeger, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military's equivalent of the CIA; Daniels's Deputy Director of Counterintelligence (DDCI) at CIA and Woodring's counterpart, Keith Axe; Air Force General Haywood Ford, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the "black" Air Force division charged with operating the community's fleet of surveillance satellites; plus representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Justice, Treasury, and Commerce Departments. "As a matter of policy, we normally don't disclose ongoing CI investigations unless requested by Justice to do otherwise for national security purposes, and generally that only happens when there's a conflict with another agency. "That said, I felt the board might be interested in the following two situations which I'll relate to you without any analysis on my part, so you can draw your own conclusions: "First, about two weeks ago we received a set of photographs from INTERPOL taken at various European airports of a subject we'll call RABBIT." Woodring opened up his briefcase and handed a sheaf of surveillance photographs to Director Myers, who began to pass them around the table. "In the last thirty days, RABBIT's made three two- day-long trips to Europe. RABBIT's an analyst at FHI Systems in San Diego, and his real name is Victor Saleh. Saleh's a Lebanese-American, totally bilingual in English and Arabic, and is presently shopping for a new Mercedes on a G-10 salary. FHI systems is the chief contractor on the DCA's Wimex update. "Second story: yesterday I got an urgent call from our CI-4 counterintelligence office in New York -- they're covering the Mukhabarat agents assigned to the Iraqi Mission. When I arrived in Manhattan, I was informed the Iraqis had just cut the number of people in half they were devoting to reconnaissance of the Special Commission members -- " "They what?" demanded Keith Axe, the CIA Deputy Director Counterintelligence at CIA. Axe was Daniels' hatchet man, and his favorite pasttime was crossexamining his associates at official meetings. "Like I said, the Iraqis cut their New York force in half." "How do you know that for sure?" "Because my guys at CI-4 photographed them waiting for their planes at Kennedy." While Axe sat back in his chair with a grimace, the Director of NSA, Frank Chalmers, raised his eyebrows at his tablemate, General Martin Praeger, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Praeger was more than happy to see "the Ax" put back in his place by the newcomer, Woodring. Unlike the directors of CIA and FBI, Praeger was not a new appointee as Director of DIA, and had managed to survive the transition from a Republican to a Democratic administration with his job intact. Utterly underwhelmed by Clinton's new team, and thinly masking his distaste for them, Praeger couldn't wait to see how they would all react to their first major crisis. "Well now, I would say that's a very fascinating coincidence, wouldn't you, Keith?" Praeger grinned. Woodring furrowed his brow and exchanged glances with Hubert Myers, his superior, who nodded for him to continue. "Ah, there's one more thing." The silence was deafening as all eyes returned to the new FBI ADCI. "I had the boys at CI-4 in New York go through our old photo files, checking the stuff we took before we went to digital holography. RABBIT was a walk-in at the Iraqi Mission on January 18, 1991." "Shit!" cursed General Praeger. "There's no telling what he's done! There's over 20,000,000 lines of programming in the whole system!" "Frank? Anything to add to this?" asked Daniels, still trying to maintain his calm. The Director of the National Security Administration, paused significantly before he replied: "If Dr. Saleh has indeed tampered with a part of Wimex, he may have just committed the one act of sabotage to which we are the most vulnerable -- attacking our communications software." "I thought our system was designed with safeguards to prevent exactly this type of situation from occurring!" objected Daniels. "The system's safeguards were designed mainly to prevent unauthorized use of the hardware," Chalmers rebutted. "What are you telling me, Frank?" "Just what I said. The Wimex system wasn't designed with this type of thing in mind -- it's over twenty years old, for god's sakes." "You mean a single disgruntled engineer can shoot off a full complement of ICBMs just by altering the software? The system's that weak?" "Not exactly." "Not exactly? What do you mean 'not exactly'?" Chalmers was silent for a moment, then spoke, "The representatives from Treasury, Justice, Commerce, INR, and DEA are going to have to leave the room." "Gentlemen." Daniels motioned for the stunned members of the aforementioned departments to wait outside the door. A full three seconds after the last representative filed out and the door was reclosed, Chalmers answered Daniels' question. "The system is designed so that no nuclear missile will ever be fired automatically, without a human interface between the NCA and the device. That means any emergency action message sent from the NCA has to be decoded and authenticated by a human being, not a computer, before any launch order's going to be initiated. Since Dr. Saleh doesn't have access to the one-time codes for the EAM's, there's no way he can issue anyone a legitimate order to launch anything." "So what else could this guy have done, Frank?" "Something almost as bad," Chalmers replied. For the next fifteen minutes he gave the remaining members of the NFIB a crash course in trapdoors and Trojan Horses. "Wait a minute!" Keith Axe protested. "That means a missile silo, or a strategic bomber, could suddenly become incommunicado!" "Right," Chalmers agreed. "Then how would we know what they were doing?" "We wouldn't." "What if Dr. Saleh had the codes, sent off an EAM, then activated one of these Trojan Horses -- how would we be able to stop him?" "You wouldn't, but Dr. Saleh doesn't have the authentication codes, so why worry about it?" "Because someone else might try to get them. Someone a lot harder to catch than Victor Saleh," interrupted Woodring. "Gentlemen?" Daniels spoke, trying to bring the discussion back to earth. FBI Director Myers immediately responded: "I say we burn Saleh as quickly as possible and find out if we've got a problem." "Everybody agree on this?" Daniels surveyed the dozen faces at the table, and all were silent. "Woody, he's yours." A telephone next to Daniels unexpectedly rang and the DCI picked it up, furrowed his brow, then looked quizically at Woodring. "Woody, it's for you." Woodring stood up, walked to the head of the table, and took the phone. "Woodring." Lincoln Daniels glanced worriedly at Hubert Myers as if to say, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" Woodring dropped the handset on the cradle, the color gone from his face. "Dr. Saleh . . . he's dead." "He's been hit?" Daniels demanded. "They blew his whole house. Saleh was standing outside. They said it killed him." "Surprise, surprise," muttered General Praeger. "We've got to be careful, Lincoln. If people even start to think we might have lost control of just part of our nuclear arsenal, there could be a panic," Chalmers worried aloud. "Woody, take my car and go back to your office and get in touch with CI-5 in LA and tell them to put a lid on this story. Keep our guys away from there for a couple of days and have the San Diego police say it's a gas explosion -- anything but a terrorist bomb," Myers ordered. "Yes, sir." Once Woodring left the room, Daniels turned to his own Deputy Director, Keith Axe. "By tomorrow morning I want a full-scale but quiet background check on Saleh's family in Lebanon. Use whoever you have to and give a copy of everything you find to Hubert." Next, he turned to the Director of the National Security Administration. "Frank, I want you to review everything you've got from Iraq, the Mideast, UNSCOM and whatever else you feel is pertinent and see if your people can find any mention of something unusual." "Yes, sir." Next, Daniels looked at General Praeger. "Who's in charge of Wimex?" "General Vaughn at DCA." "Have him come to my office this time tomorrow. As far as the Pentagon's concerned, he's got a sick relative somewhere. I want a full briefing on how the system works." "Lincoln, what do you want to tell the Joint Chiefs about Saleh?" Praeger asked. "For the moment, nothing, if that's OK with you, General." "I can wait twenty-four hours, but, after that, we're going to have to talk." "Fine. I expect to see you all in my office tomorrow at one o'clock," Daniels said, then immediately left the room, accompanied by Keith Axe. Chapter 10 In December of 1978 a special investigator delivered a secret 280-page report to the House Select Committee on Assassinations regarding the activities of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City from late September to early October 1963, directly prior to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. A copy of the document was also immediately made available to the then President, Jimmy Carter. Included in the report were several photographs of individuals whom both the CIA and FBI had represented as being Oswald visiting both the Cuban and Soviet embassies. Also included were eight written transcripts of telephone conversations between a man representing himself as Oswald and various Soviet officials which had been secretly taped during the same period. Finally, a lone tape-recording which had been retrieved by James Jesus Angleton from the home of the former station chief of Mexico City on the day of his funeral was also unearthed from the CIA's files and attached. It was immediately clear to any one who read the report and the transcripts, looked at the photographs, then listened to the tape that neither the faces in the photographs nor the voice on the tape recording belonged to Lee Harvey Oswald, but to someone else. Upon receiving solid evidence that Oswald had been impersonated in Mexico City by others only a month and a half before the assassination, evidence which was deliberately withheld from the Warren Commission, a furious President Carter ordered his director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Stansfield Turner, to clean house. For, far from implicating either Russian or Cuban intelligence in Kennedy's death, the Lopez Report indicated that Oswald had been deliberately and unwittingly sent to Mexico City by the American intelligence services as part of a counterespionage mission, where he would claim to be a disenchanted leftist interested in assassinating John F. Kennedy, perfectly positioning him as a prime suspect if an actual assassination were to occur. Many of those in the CIA's covert operations staff who were let go had trouble adjusting to civilian life and found it difficult to find employment; many more were rehired by the subsequent DCI, William Casey, after President Reagan was elected; and others, like David Blond, found being self-employed much more rewarding and learned to welcome their sudden change in status. Blond, himself, who had only been fifteen years old in 1963 and had had nothing to do whatsoever with Kennedy's demise, was later employed under contract by the CIA's Directorate of Operations as a tailor, a trade which he had learned from his father. During the Second World War, Blond's father, whose real surname was Stetzko, happened to have been a member of a Ukrainian nationalist group which called itself the "Nightingales" and whose members wore Wehrmacht uniforms and performed nasty tasks handed to them by the SS. Located in a displaced-persons camp by State Department intelligence agents, Stetzko was given new identification and recruited to fight communism in Eastern Europe, finally settling in New York. At his shop on 53rd Street in Manhattan, Blond's father would receive envelopes filled with cash attached to pictures of foreign uniforms -- Italian carabinieri, the Greek postal service, French delivery men, Guatemalan highway patrol, Iranian naval officers, and Cuban marines -- accompanied by a list of required quantities and sizes. In September 1963, he was surprised by a sudden request to make up two dozen various different uniforms based on pages torn from Texas law enforcement magazines. Two months later, Blond's father realized the implications. In the meantime, the father-son team, with the help of their special friends, had built up a sizable portion of legitimate sales to local New York-area police agencies and private security forces, enough to easily allow them to do without the custom orders from Virginia. But David Blond, who finally took over the business entirely after his father retired at age sixty-five, would from time to time still fill certain orders whose origins were obviously illegitimate. Now, instead of limiting himself in this regard to Langley's true believers, he had decided that he would entertain clients of almost all persuasions if, of course, their references checked out. In fact, at one point, Blond had provided over a score of different uniforms resembling those worn by various guard personnel at Kennedy Airport to certain gentlemen of Sicilian background, which had occasioned a subsequent visit by investigators from the New York Police Department. The NYPD had previously suspected Blond of similar endeavors, but had never been able to catch him at it. So David Blond was hardly surprised to receive a call from a former client, a Colombian drug distributor who had found it was much easier to make his rounds disguised as a UPS deliveryman, who told Blond that a certain American was interested in his services and would arrive at noon, carrying a large package. The moment HYDRA entered the waiting room, Blond guessed who he was and led him back to his private office. "I assume you don't want to linger here any longer than's necessary," Blond suggested, taking a closer look at the man in front of him, "so let's get your measurements then." After setting the package on Blond's desk, HYDRA unfolded an advertisement he had torn out of Skin Diver magazine, handing it to Blond. It contained a lengthy list of measurements, allowing whoever filled it out to order a diving suit by mail from a firm based in Des Moines, Washington. HYDRA removed his jacket while Blond pulled a tape measure from his pocket and waited for his guest to turn around before pressing against his shoulder with his finger. "Left arm out, please." HYDRA did as he was told and stretched out his left arm. "Good. Stand still." Blond held one end of the tape to HYDRA's belt and measured his pants length. "Legs apart. Sorry, have to do the inseam." HYDRA felt Blond pinch the tape to the bottom of his crotch. "Arms up for a second." The tailor next stretched the tape tautly around HYDRA's chest. "You don't know your neck size, by any chance, I suppose, do you?" Blond asked. Something about his new customer restrained him from asking to be allowed to put the measuring tape around HYDRA's neck. "Sixteen." "Good. We'll stick with that, then." Blond went over and wrote 16 on the advertisement from the diving magazine, then spent the next several minutes measuring HYDRA's wrist to elbow, wrist to armpit, ankle to crotch, ankle to waist, shoulder to waist and shoulder seam to crotch. Now standing in front of his guest, the tape dangling in his hand, Blond asked, "Now how can I help you?" "Luiz told you I was coming?" "Yes, certainly." "And did he tell you what about?" "No, he only said that I could rely on your discretion and that you were a friend of his father's in Bogota." "Then you're aware of who Luiz's father is, I take it?" The American paused for a moment, catching the look in Blond's eyes. "Yes, I know who he is." "Good," replied HYDRA, pulling three patterns from his pocket. "I'd like you to take a look at these." The first pattern was actually a series of drawings, containing two separate patterns of a winter flight parka and a diving suit plus mechanical drawings of an ICOM IC-MI5 handheld waterproof VHF marine transceiver and an ACR personal man-overboard strobe light. Blond recognized the second pattern immediately as a uniform of the Naval Investigative Service, a counterintelligence unit of the U.S. Navy. Blond knew, of course, that counterfeiting such a uniform was a federal offense, which, if found out, could easily attract an investigation by the FBI, something he didn't want. On the other hand, whatever friendliness there had been in his new customer's manner had suddenly evaporated, having been replaced by an almost palpable chill which gave Blond butterflies in his stomach. The was tailor under no illusion as to what fate could easily befall him were he to refuse the implacable stranger, forcing him to go somewhere else to fill his order. "Normally," Blond spoke slowly with great hesitation, "I don't do this type of work; there's just too much risk." His customer's eyes narrowed in response. "But if I do do this for you, I don't want to ever know your name or be given any information about where you live. You understand?" The stranger nodded in response. "The two naval uniforms will cost you twenty-five thousand dollars each. The parka I'll do for a thousand." "That's extortionate!" HYDRA protested. Blond's index finger lightly touched the part of the pattern which illustrated the uniform's lapels. "These aren't just the insignia of an investigator. You're aware of that, of course?" HYDRA paused a moment, while a cool grin formed itself on his face. "Twenty thousand, then?" "All right, twenty thousand, but nothing less." "And I'd like it ready in thirty days." "I can do that," Blond replied, folding up the pattern and slipping it into his jacket pocket. "I'd like you to return once and only once for the fitting. You can wait here and I'll adjust them on the spot. Is that all right?" HYDRA nodded affirmatively, then left the shop and hailed a taxi, disappearing into the noonday Manhattan traffic. After HYDRA left Blond carefully opened the box, extracting a regulation winter flight parka, ACR man-overboard strobe, ICOM handheld radio, and a pair of rubber fins which he spread out on his work table. Unconsciously rubbing his chin with his hand, Blond glanced at the first pattern, realizing all too well what it meant. Chapter 11 The taxi soon dropped HYDRA off at an electronics discount house in midtown which regularly ran full-page ads in the Sunday issue of the New York Times. HYDRA asked a salesman to show him a Hewlett-Packard Model HP-100LX palmtop computer, which, after examining carefully for several minutes, he told the salesman he wanted to buy. He paid for it in cash, then walked the few blocks to the post office branch he used for his mail drop and checked his box. A thick envelope from the Family Service Center Relocation Assistance Program Office at the Patuxent Naval Air Base was folded in half along with a brochure from Boeing on the specs of the E-6A, the modified 707 known as the TACAMO. He extracted them both and returned via taxi to his apartment on 62nd street, where he placed a discreet call to a local travel agent, asking her about flights to Baltimore, San Diego, and Seattle. After he hung up, he spent the rest of the afternoon reading. At 6:00 p.m. he walked to a neighborhood French restaurant and ordered a steak au poivre with a red Merlot, then caught a cab outside the Regency Hotel, telling the driver to take him to the United Airlines terminal at Kennedy Airport. After successfully concluding the Operation BUNCIN affair for the Colombians, HYDRA had correctly guessed that someone outside the cartel was consulting it over its use of high-speed communications and cryptography, given the advanced level of the telecommunications equipment he had seen in Bogota. The Colombians' planes and helicopters were fitted with state-of-the-art over-the-horizon radars; their cellular telephone calls were digitally encrypted using unbreakable algorithms; and their bank-to- bank money transfers were wired through a maze of international accounts with the aid of sophisticated software programs, challenging even the relatively unlimited resources of the U.S. intelligence agencies to track them. During an expensive dinner at an Italian restaurant Luiz had admitted to him that certain experts were, indeed, on his family's payroll. Some had formerly occupied cushy posts at companies a majority of whose revenues came from defense contracts, only to find themselves laid off as the military shrank in response to a lessening Russian threat. Others had previously been at firms which were unaffected by the federal government's shrinking military budget, but had succumbed to personal problems of their own, including, of course, drug abuse. There were so many candidates that the cartel had found it necessary to hire several talent scouts to work the Silicon Valley, Boston, and Los Angeles areas to help it choose its new hirees. A few days after his dinner with Luiz HYDRA received a plain-white envelope addressed to Russell Matthews which bore no return address and contained only a single sheet of paper: the resume of a certain Alex Castor. Castor's credentials fit HYDRA's needs to a tee: Stanford undergrad; grad work at MIT where Castor received dual masters of science in computer science and electronic engineering; five years at Bell Labs, followed by five more at GTE; then a stint at Mitre Corp in crypto, then nothing for two years. The next time HYDRA saw him Luiz explained the nothing part by tapping his nose with his index finger and laughing. By evening, the mist had turned into light drizzle, making rings around the halogen lamps on the Van Wyck Expressway, and a faded orange glow hung in the sky like an electric cloud. Outside the terminal, swarms of taxis fought for precious road space, trying to unload their passengers in a small area crowded with waiting limousines, police patrol cars, and private automobiles. HYDRA allowed his driver to let him out on the sidewalk opposite the terminal, resulting in a brief series of angry honks and catcalls from passing cars who had been temporarily backed up behind him; he ignored them, paid the driver, then walked to the nearest crosswalk. Giving his name as Russell Matthews at the United Airlines desk, HYDRA paid cash for a ticket on UAL Flight #5479 nonstop to San Francisco and boarded the plane thirty minutes later. Arriving a little after 10:00 p.m. local time, HYDRA took a taxi to the nearest airport motel, where he registered under his own name, prepaying for a one- night stay in cash. The next morning HYDRA had breakfast at the airport motel, checked out, got in his rental car and took the Junipero Serra Freeway south, the state Highway 92 at the reservoir, and crossed 92 to reach Pacific Coast Highway 1. Castor lived south of Stanford in the Santa Cruz mountains in a town with the picturesque name of Bonny Dune. Bonny Dune was an isolated subdivision that ran all the way from the Pacific Ocean to two thousand feet in the nearby mountains and was crisscrossed by meandering roads interspersed with stands of tan oak and redwood. After rechecking his map, HYDRA took the turn after Davenport, following Empire Grade Road along the northern boundary of U.C. Santa Cruz. Castor lived up in the mountains off an unmarked road just past the sign to Felton, the next town. HYDRA wound up a gravel road bordered by madrone trees, stopping at a battered gate made of old cyclone fence. He got out of his car and shoved it aside, driving another mile until he reached a clearing. An old stucco house with a shingled roof sat in the middle surrounded by six oak trees. HYDRA pressed the doorbell twice and waited. It was about 10:00 a.m. in the morning and the suburban street was deserted, which made him feel better about renting the car in his own name. There was still no answer at the door, so he pressed the buzzer again, this time leaving his finger on the button, remembering how Luiz had tapped his nose when describing Castor. He heard a rumbling, then a voice. "Yeah, just a minute!" The door swung open, and a man with disheveled hair, rings under his eyes, and a stained shirt which had obviously been slept in stood before him. "It's the man with no name," the man behind the door offered in greeting, chuckling nervously to himself. Alex Castor had no idea who HYDRA was, and had only been told a certain visitor would be arriving the next day around noon using the name Russell Matthews. HYDRA said nothing. "Come on in, Mr. No-name. Luiz told me you'd be coming." HYDRA followed Castor through a living room littered with half-empty soda cans, old magazines, and dirty plates. A huge big-screen TV had been situated in the center, and CNN was playing with the sound off. "You want a Pepsi or anything?" "Sure." Castor opened a filthy refrigerator and fished out two cold cans of Pepsi. HYDRA noticed Castor's hands slightly quivered as he handed him his, and that he sniffed involuntarily about every ten seconds. Castor swept a heap of debris to one side of his kitchen table and pulled out two chairs, then sat down. HYDRA followed suit, setting the HP-100LX in front of him. "That's a nice machine," Castor spoke, nodding toward the laptop. "Luiz says you want me to do something with it for you." "Yeah." HYDRA reached into his jacket pocket and extracted what at first resembled a .38- caliber pistol. "Hey!" Castor involuntarily shoved his chair back, raising his hands in the air. HYDRA slid the gun across on the table, slowly turning it so the barrel faced his own chest. "Calm down. It's not a weapon." Castor blinked in fright as the realization painted itself on his face. "How'd you get this? You know what this thing is?" "Luiz told me you'd know how this thing works. Do you?" HYDRA pressed. "Yeah. I know how it works. I also know you didn't get it from him. What exactly in hell do you want?" Castor was still standing behind his chair. "I want you to make me an adapter for the computer that'll keep the gun from zeroizing after it's been downloaded." Avoiding looking HYDRA in the eyes, Castor gingerly picked the gun up off the table and turned it over in his hands. "Listen, No-name, I'm gonna be up front with you, since Luiz sent you here and I don't want any trouble with him or any of his kind. What I do for them is simply modify the boxes they give me to work a little better and a little faster, but I don't need a security clearance for any of the stuff they bring me." Castor held the gun so that its barrel pointed at the ceiling and shook it for emphasis. "If I touch this, if I'm even found with this thing in my house and the feds say that I stole it -- I could get 10, 20 years no-parole. Easy," Castor sniffed and wiped his sleeve across his nose. "I'll call Luiz then, and tell him you're not interested," replied HYDRA as if it wouldn't be a problem, pulled the special telephone out of his pocket, and flipped it open. Castor took a deep breath. "Man, this is gonna cost you." "How much?" HYDRA replied, still holding the open handset. "Fifty thousand, and I want twenty-five of it right now. Up front." HYDRA reached into his inside jacket pocket, slipping out a thick white envelope, tossed it on the table, stood up, and began to leave the room. "You keep calling Luiz on that telephone of yours, No-name, and eventually they're gonna find you." HYDRA stopped in the kitchen door, his head half-cocked in Castor's direction. "The BUNCIN boys all had telephones just like that. I know 'cause I tracked them for Luiz. True, spread spectrum's pretty hard to find if you're not looking for it -- but once someone knows you're using it, that thing'll act just like a beacon." HYDRA now faced Castor, the telephone still in his hand. "It's the codes. The codes inside that thing that'll give away your position. "Look, even GPS -- the Global Positioning System -- the satellites for navigation -- use spread spectrum. If they're looking for you and you're talking on that thing NSA'll pinpoint you within 10 meters." HYDRA furrowed his brow; Castor's unsolicited speculations were getting on his nerves. "You're the guy, aren't you?" Castor asked. "You're the guy they sent down there. Jesus, I should have known." "If I were you, I'd keep speculations like that to myself," HYDRA replied, then walked out the door. On his return to New York he gave his cab driver the hacker's address on Wall Street, deciding not to stop first at his apartment. The same guard on duty told the hacker that Fred Daniels was in the lobby, and HYDRA again took the elevator to the fifteenth floor, walking directly into the deserted office where the hacker worked. "I've been working a lot of late nights for you," the hacker announced without preamble. "Come on around, I want you to look at this -- we don't have time to print it out." HYDRA walked around the desk and peered over her shoulder as she grabbed a sack of McDonald's french fries off her desk. "Want one?" "No thanks." Green letters all in capitals flickered on the monitor, NAV PAX RIV TDY ROSTER, ALL DIVISIONS. "Which division do you want?" "TACAMO Command." "Hold on a second." The hacker set the sack of french fries on the edge of the keyboard and typed in the password she'd stolen. The screen blinked, then was filled with a list of acronyms, one of which was TACAMOCMD. "That's it," she muttered to herself and entered the term with a second command. "TDY ROSTER -TACAMOCMD -NAV PAX RIV," the screen answered back. HYDRA carefully read each entry as the hacker scrolled through the list. Regular TACAMO crew members, none of whom HYDRA wanted, rotated out of Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma to either Pax River or Travis in California. "Wait. Stop there," he ordered. "Where? On Barton?" "No, Gereke, right below." "Just a minute." The hacker punched two keys, and Naval Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Junior Grade Jack Gereke's orders filled the screen. "Can you print that?" "Sure. Hold on." She punched a different key, then glanced back at HYDRA. "How can we find out if he's ever gotten orders for Pax River before?" "Easy. We just ask," replied the typist, and entered Gereke's name into a general search of the last twelve month's TDY. Three full seconds later the words File Not Found blinked reassuringly on the screen. Gereke the weekend warrior. Meanwhile the hacker handed HYDRA a printout copy of Air Force Lieutenant Gereke's orders to report to Pax River on March 15 from his residence in Kansas City. "I need his personnel file," HYDRA spoke in a tone, indicating it was an order. "No problem," chirped the hacker. She typed in a command that automatically cleared the screen, then hit carriage return and typed in NAV PAX RIV MIL PERS. "Welcome to Pax River Naval Base, login," the base's computer immediately responded. The hacker just as quickly entered the password for the base's personnel files and in seconds retrieved a printout, listing a complete record of Lieutenant Gereke's military history, age, salient physical characteristics, base and home address and relevant telephone numbers. "You want NIS next, right?" HYDRA nodded affirmatively and in seconds the hacker logged onto the Naval Investigate Service computer system at its headquarters in Suitland, Maryland. "Personnel again?" "Right," HYDRA answered. The words "Enter your password," appeared on the CRT screen, and the hacker accordingly typed in an eight-digit alphanumeric sequence. A menu containing an alphabet soup of acronyms popped up next. "What department?" "Courier transfer." The screen blinked, and a second menu scrolled across it. "Subdepartment?" "Technical services." "O.K.," replied the hacker, grabbing her Coke. "You wanna print this out?" "If it's O.K." "O.K? Like I told you they don't even know we're there, honey." She hit the carriage return, causing twenty-five resumes to slowly drop out of her HP laser printer into HYDRA's hands. "What's next?" the hacker prompted, breaking HYDRA's concentration. HYDRA looked up from the sheaf of papers, paused a moment, then spoke, "Let's run every one of these through Bangor's TDY, as far as you can so we can find who's already been there and who hasn't." "Yes sir." Just as the hacker logged off the NIS computer, HYDRA spoke up, holding one resume in his right hand. Technical Sergeant Peter Koester had just joined the NIS a month ago. "Wait, try this name first," HYDRA said, giving her Koester's rank and serial number. "No problem." The computer operator cross-checked Koester's name with all previous visitors to Bangor Naval Submarine Base and came up dry. "You wanna try anybody else?" "No." "What's next?" "I need credit cards for those two identities, plus a third one," HYDRA spoke, looking up from the printout. "The third man's name is Russell D. Matthews." Before the hacker could protest, he held up his hand to stop her. "Not the actual cards themselves, just the numbers. Matthews probably doesn't have any, so go in and give him whatever you can. I'll leave it up to you. You can find Gereke's and Koester's in TRW credit reports -- I'd like the files, too. But, whatever you do, don't get anything mailed out to any of them -- I don't want to raise any unnecessary red flags." "No problem. You want me to call you when I get them?" "No," HYDRA firmly replied. "Just drop them in an envelope to this address." He handed her a plain white card, with his post office address written in pencil on it. "By the way, what's all this costing me?" "Nothing. It's on the house. Courtesy of Luiz," the operator grinned. HYDRA feigned mild surprise, but they both had known from the outset that the job was a courtesy of the boys from Bogota, and that there would be no haggling over the price or conditions. HYDRA reached inside his jacket pocket, "I understand that you've been instructed to do me a favor and I want you to know how much I appreciate your cooperation . . ." The hacker turned in her seat and watched him silently count out ten hundred dollar bills and lay them in her hand. ". . . on the other hand I want to be up front with you and tell you that if you ever repeat anything about what you saw or did here today to anyone -- " "Hey, don't worry -- I -- " HYDRA held up his hand, again, interrupting her. " -- I'll come back here and kill you myself. You understand me?" "Yes." "You sure?" "I got the message, mister, believe me." Chapter 12 General Curtis Vaughn, Director of the Defense Communications Agency, sat nervously beside General Praeger who was driving his wife's Toyota, as both men stopped at the security checkpoint outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. All Vaughn had been told was that he was to prepare a rush briefing on the present status of the Worldwide Military Command and Control System for presentation to the Director of Central Intelligence at 1:00 p.m. that day; that General Praeger would pick him up; that the meeting was classified and that he was to wear civilian clothes. At first, Vaughn hadn't an inkling as to what the fuss was all about until he got a telephone call at his house that evening from one of his subordinates. Dr. Victor Saleh had died in an explosion at his home just as he was about to be arrested by the FBI. Even though local San Diego police were insisting there was no foul play, local newscasters had already found out that FHI Systems was involved in secret defense computer work. The security guard made a brief telephone call to Daniels' security staff, then handed both men back their identification with two passes and waved them through. Praeger drove directly to the main entrance, parked, and motioned for Vaughn to follow him through the door. They entered a cavernous lobby with marble walls, the right chiseled with thirty-eight stars for agents who'd died in the line of duty, the left engraved with a quote from Saint John, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." After showing their passes to a second guard, they were met by a receptionist who ushered them into a small private waiting room furnished with an Oriental carpet, chest and several matching vases. An elevator door opened slightly, and a young man in plainclothes said, "General Praeger, General Vaughn, please come with me." The two generals entered a small, private elevator, which Daniels's assistant took to the seventh floor, and ushered them into a second suite of similarly decorated waiting rooms. The security guard disappeared through a side door, leaving both generals momentarily alone. For the next ten minutes neither general spoke to the other since neither had the desire, under the circumstances, to engage in idle chitchat. Finally, a secretary with a pleasant smile on her face appeared and ushered them into a large and disconcertingly bright, spacious office framed by a forty-foot-long floor-to-ceiling window with a spectacular view of the forest below. The Oriental decor with its subdued rose and light mauve motifs gave the room a somewhat misleading air of comfort and tranquility. But whatever pleasant feelings the room's interior might have normally instilled in Daniels's guests were not felt by General Vaughn the moment he caught sight of the meeting's other participants. Seated on two sofas were the Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Administration, National Reconnaissance Office, and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, plus a face Vaughn didn't recognize, which, Daniels informed, him, belonged to a certain David Woodring, who was the Assistant Director of Counterintelligence at the FBI. Vaughn knew that Woodring's presence could mean one thing only -- spies. Daniels showed Vaughn and Praeger to a pair of armchairs next to his, then began: "Curt, I know that General Praeger here has already told you that anything we discuss here today, must be kept absolutely secret from anyone. Repeat, anyone." "Yes, sir," Vaughn responded, partially clearing his throat. "I'm sure you're by now aware of the recent killing of Dr. Saleh," Daniels continued. Vaughn blinked at the word "killing", no one had told him for sure that Saleh had been a murder victim. "Unfortunately, Director Myers has informed us that what took place might involve something much worse than a simple act of terrorism." Now the muscles in Vaughn's back involuntarily tightened, creating a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. He fought to maintain his self control as the words seemed to march out of Myers' mouth. ". . . after a thorough review of our old photographic files, we discovered that Dr. Saleh had visited the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in Vienna more than two years ago." The words Operation ARCHANGEL popped into his mind, and Vaughn felt almost physically ill. Saleh was the one who had run the battle systems of the F-15 four- ship that had disappeared. Now there would be no way to tell what damage he had done, until it was too late, and Vaughn didn't have to be told who would take the blame for it all. He guessed they would keep him on through the investigation, but, after it was over, his military career would be finished. "Yes, sir. I see." "Curt, what we'd like you to do right now is give us a quick briefing on the present status of the Wimex network, before we get into what Dr. Saleh may or may not have done while he was at FHI," Daniels ordered. Vaughn fumbled with the legal-sized file folder he had brought with him, dropping a sheaf of papers to the floor. After he picked them up, he cleared his throat and began: "The Worldwide Military Command and Control System is an integrated computerized communications and battle system designed to provide the President and the Joint Chiefs -- or whoever's in control of the NCA at the time -- control over our military forces. The Wimex data-processing system was designed for use under all conditions -- peacetime to nuclear war -- but, of course, has been augmented with many specialized capabilities designed specifically for use in a nuclear exchange. "The system was designed both to provide downward communications connecting to the various forces, and also verified warning of attack to forces on alert in order to convince the enemy that our forces can and will be used against him if we are, in fact, attacked. "Pre-attack operations are handled by Honeywell DPS 8 and 6000 computers, command center display systems are handled by Univac 1100s; war planning's on IBM 3080s and intelligence data handling's on VAX 11/780 front ends . . ." General Vaughn paused a moment, surveying the faces before him, hoping someone would ask a question, but no one did. As far as everyone in the room was concerned, he had said nothing so far of any great importance. Vaughn resumed, "Wimex's two basic components are the National Military Command System, that is, the President and Joint Chiefs; the command centers of each of the services: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines; and other agencies, such as your own. The system's also designed to operate under a series of shifting commands, in case one or more is lost during an attack. "The system's primary mission is to support the NCA during an attack, i.e., provide as much information as quickly as possible for a fast response. With this in mind an integrated set of programs called the Joint Operation Planning System -- or JOPS -- was developed to provide data support. Similarly, software was developed for a strategic nuclear war plan, the Single Integrated Operating Plans to be used by the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at SAC." At this point several of the attendees had begun to shift in their seats; Vaughn still wasn't telling them anything that anyone couldn't have read in the Joint Staff Officer's Guide. "Curt," General Praeger interrupted. "I think everybody here's pretty familiar with how our communications work, and, if it's alright with Director Daniels, I think our time would be better spent having you tell us more about the exact duties of the late Dr. Saleh." Vaughn glanced at Director Daniels who nodded his approval. "Yes, sir. FHI Systems was hired by us to review overall system architecture and response interfaces between communications and battle systems -- " "What's a response interface?" broke in Hubert Myers, tired of the endless jargon. "A measure of how well and how fast the various individuals at the battle stations carry out the orders they're given by their commands." "So what you're saying here -- and correct me at anytime if I'm wrong -- is that there's a Chinese wall between the people issuing the orders and the ones who carry them out, am I right?" "Generally, yes." "So Saleh's job was to review both the battle systems software and the communications software to see if one meshed with the other?" "Yes, sir." "What did you mean by 'generally'?" Woodring interrupted. "Uh, that's what I wanted to bring up," Vaughn stammered, his face tensing up. "There was one instance after Desert Storm where we simulated a remote-directed nuclear strike -- " "What's 'remote-directed' mean?" "Each plane's battle systems software was operable from a remote command via its communications hardware." "Operation ARCHANGEL?" Woodring asked, raising some eyebrows in the room. "Yes, sir." "Weren't there some planes lost during ARCHANGEL?" "Yes. But it wasn't any of the F-111Bs -- the actual bombers, it was a -- " "Four-ship of F-15s?" "Yes, sir." "Was Saleh on the panel when the planes went down?" "Yes." "Exactly what other battle systems software did Dr. Saleh have access to, General?" asked Myers. "Most of it." "What's 'most of it'?" "ICBM, Navy, sub fleet, SAC, Army artillery tactical nukes, you name it." "To the best of your knowledge could Saleh have put a Trojan Horse or trapdoor in one or more of these programs?" "Yes." "How long do you estimate it would take your guys to find it, if one of these things had been put in there?" "It could take months. Maybe years, depending how well it was done." "And it wouldn't be necessary for Dr. Saleh, himself, to activate one of these programs, would it?" "No. Not at all. Anyone with a little computer knowledge could do it, but what makes you so sure he did that, too?" The fact that no one would respond to Vaughn's question made him all the more worried. "Curt," Daniels prompted, "Frank assured us in executive session at yesterday's meeting of the NFIB that all nuclear battle systems have been designed to prevent a computer override. You go along with that?" "Yes." "Why?" "The way each of them's set up, there's no way to load and launch without the aid of a human operator. In each case, it's a multi-step operation -- it's not like a gun where you just pull the trigger." "Thanks, Curt," Daniels spoke, cutting Vaughn off from further comment. "We may need you to talk to us again, so, in the meantime, do me a favor and stay in the Washington area until further notice." Vaughn's neck was flushed and he was about to protest, but thought better of it. "No problem, sir." After Vaughn left Daniels' office each of the attendees sat in momentary silence rolling the implications of what Vaughn had just told him over in his mind. Four F-15s were turned to butter, then disappeared off the radar, all because of an errant computer programmer in San Diego. "My guess is the F-15s were just a demonstration," Praeger broke the silence. "Otherwise why should the Iraqis pull their men from the embassy three months later?" "Why are we so sure there's a connection?" Myers asked. "We're not," Praeger sighed. "Keith," Daniels asked, turning to his deputy. "We have anybody inside Hussein's command?" "No, sir. We don't. They're all Tikritis, relatives from his hometown -- it's almost impossible to get anyone in there. Plus, Saddam's even killed some of them." "How hard would it be to get someone in the country, then?" "Into Iraq? It depends on what you want them to do," Axe replied. "I'd want them to find somebody who'd know something more about Saleh and get them out." "Snatch one of their top people? That could take months -- if it's even possible. We'd probably have to bring in the Israelis. Besides, if the Mukhabarat's being pulled out, the operation, if there is one, might only be known to a handful of individuals -- all very close to Saddam Hussein." "Frank?" Daniels prompted, turning next to the NSA director. "Most of our stuff's space-based -- and Saddam got smart and converted all his command center communications with fiber optics, enclosed in gas-filled metal pipelines for security. Plus, if he's pulled his own men out, I doubt they're been told anything anyway, so we don't even know what we're looking for." "I still think we have to look," Daniels spoke, almost as if to himself. "Woody's welcome to come over to Ft. Meade any time it's convenient and we can show him what we've got." "Hubert?" "It's fine with me, if Woody wants to go." Myers glanced at his ADCI, who nodded his head affirmatively in Director Chalmers' direction. "Gentlemen," Daniels spoke, "unless anyone's opposed I suggest we meet again on F street in one week to discuss any new developments. Agreed?" As the DCI surveyed the faces in the room, he received each man's murmured assent. As Woodring walked out the door, Frank Chalmers strode alongside him and put a hand on his shoulder, "We have someone we use on special projects, that, if it's OK with you, I'd like you to liaise with him when you come over. You have any problem with that?" "No. No, sir." "Here's his name," Chalmers said, passing Woodring a blank white card with a name and number written on it. "I think it would be best for obvious reasons for me to skip the introductions -- but I told him you'd be calling. He's expecting your visit about now, if that's alright?" Woodring looked at the name and address on the card. Dr. Glen Hockaday, National Photographic Interpretation Center -- Washington Navy Yard. "He's not at Ft. Meade?" "You meet him there and he'll give you a ride up, OK?" "Sure. No problem. Let me clear it with Myers and I'll go right over." K/K-7A 56 Chapter 13 Woodring's feeling that Lincoln Daniels and the other members of the NFIB were already controlling the investigation of Saleh's death was confirmed the moment Chalmers handed him the card with the address of the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) on it. To outsiders, its headquarters was an old windowless yellow box in the Washington Navy Yard, but the highly secret National Photographic Interpretation Center was the child of the CIA and the equally nonexistent NRO, the National Reconnaissance Office, itself a joint-venture between the Air Force and CIA. Satellite intelligence generally came in two forms, signals intelligence, called SIGINT, and photographic, called imagery. While the NSA at Ft. Meade concerned itself with the analysis of SIGINT, NPIC's major function was to process thousands of electronic photographs. And since the boys at Langley didn't like rubbing elbows with the DIA analysts at NPIC, the CIA had its own private imagery analysis section in Virginia with some long name like Imagery Analysis Service, so Woodring immediately realized that by sending him to NPIC Daniels was already going outside his own organization. Woodring showed his pass, and the bluejacket at the door let him in, gave him a cup of coffee and escorted him right away into a darkened office. Its occupant, Dr. Glen Hockaday, was busy pinning what looked to Woodring like a dental x-ray onto an illuminated box. Having done a quick background check on Hockaday before his trip to NPIC, Woodring found that Hockaday wasn't an imagery analyst at all, but a former Harvard classics professor and polyglot who knew ten languages. Before being posted to NSA, Hockaday had been at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, a prestigious think tank which was filled to the brim with former Ivy League professors. Which made Hockaday's presence at NPIC all the more suspicious, since NSA employees usually concerned themselves with signals intelligence at their own offices in Ft. George G. Meade. Hockaday also read Homer in the original Greek, Virgil in the original Latin, Proust in the original French, followed the libretto to Tristan und Isolde in the German, mused over the sexual habits of Bedouin potentates in classical Arabic, and followed the dialogue of undubbed Visconti films in the original Italian. Within a six-week period during a sabbatical to Istanbul, with the aid of a cab driver, he had constructed enough vocabulary from his knowledge of the probable Indo-European roots of Turkish to be fluent in that language, also. "So you must be Woodring, am I right?" asked Professor Glen Hockaday of Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. "Yes." Such an intellectual type, Woodring thought, looking at the academic's tweeds and penny loafers. But Professor Hockaday, always in a rush, cut further musings short. "Just got these," Hockaday said, pointing at a set of gray transparencies hanging in the air like mounted butterflies. "That's heat. That's not." Hot spots were white. Cold was black. Sometimes it was the reverse. "There's been a change, right," Woodring agreed, peering through the second set of transparencies mounted directly over the first. Still, it all looked like dots and splotches to Woodring, who wasn't used to seeing reports from the Directorate of Intelligence. "Don't worry, we've already colorized them. Just for you." The white dots had turned pink, surrounded mostly by green and gray. The pink blotches were more obvious. "Weapons crates?" Woodring guessed, but he could tell by the shocked look on Dr. Hockaday's face that he had guessed wrong. "Nooo," the professor paused, "weapons crates are orange. These are pink." "Came over this week?" "Look at this." Hockaday handed a ship movement sheet to Woodring, who, at first, was confused by the lines of ETA's and ETD's and foreign names. Someone had taken it off Lloyd's computer -- it wasn't from NRO's. "I still don't get it," admitted Woodring in defeat. "No major flag freighters this time -- just neutral and Japanese," hinted the roly- poly analyst, forcing Woodring to guess again as if he were a schoolboy. "I don't get it." Woodring knew that several of the major arms-exporting nations often disguised their weapons shipments on neutral shipping, but that obviously wasn't the point. As Hockaday frowned, he refocused first on the ship movements chart and then on the infrared transparencies. "The volume is heavy . . . like if, if they're weapons crates," sputtered Woodring. He was at a total loss. So many shipments on both Japanese and neutral shipping, so what was going on? Hockaday smiled annoyingly, giving nothing away, "It's not just the color," his didactic impulses overwhelmed him, "there are many more than that. More than even you could imagine." "But you just told me they were pink." "Anything with that density would be pink," Hockaday replied. His smile had a bit of a sneer to it this time. "If this is a joke -- " "Joke? The joke is on the Germans, I assure you. These little crates are singing their heads off like a Southern gospel choir," Hockaday replied, peering down at Woodring's pass as if it were a dunce cap. "I thought it was all based on light. I mean, on the heat. The relative heat waves -- " Woodring stopped, when he saw a Cheshire cat's smile spread across the professor's face. "You do want to know what it is, don't you?" For a short man, Dr. Hockaday moved quickly, toodling through the huge corridor past the beige doors. "Wait!" Woodring shouted after him and bolted out of the cubicle and startled a couple of passersby, whose eyes were immediately drawn to the color of his pass. He barely saw the door shut in time and grabbed the cheap metal knob. "I'm not really NPIC, I guess Chalmers told you that already," uttered Hockaday, his voice lost in the cold wind racing across the yard. "Why hasn't anyone given this stuff to NSC?" "Oh, let's not discuss that here, too many little birdies in the air. Here it is!" Hockaday was pointing at an Oldsmobile so old that Woodring winced before he could catch himself. The engine barely turned over and the White House messenger clapped his hands in the biting cold, while his breath began to fog the windshield. "Where're we going?" "To my real office, of course," laughed the Ph.D. It was Hockaday's idea of a joke. Woodring raised his eyebrows and stared at the man who looked like a character from Alice in Wonderland. At first, the car lurched forward, struggling against the weather, but within a few minutes they had arrived at the entrance to the somnolent Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Each of them knew better than to make conversation on the way. "No trucks," Woodring mused. The beginnings of a snow flurry began to reduce their visibility. "No. None at all. Only bureaucrats and spies I'm afraid," Hockaday supplied, then they both lapsed back into silence. "The tower. The jewels are in the tower," spoke Hockaday, nodding to their left. Woodring almost missed it in the snow, the outline of a nine-story government building, stripped of personality and abandoned in the countryside. As they drew closer, he saw the Federal Protective Service guard teams wearing winter uniforms behind the cyclone fences. "They've picked up our scent." Woodring winced as a pack of attack dogs surrounded the black sedan and pressed their snouts against its windows. The car had just slammed to a stop outside a gatehouse with a single number on its front, 4. "I don't have a -- " "Now you do." Hockaday slipped a pass out of his pocket, which had been properly labeled with Woodring's name and picture on it. The pass was attached to an elastic cord, so it could dangle under the wearer's neck, and Woodring put it on. "Professor!" a guard saluted Dr. Hockaday, while a second bluejacket tapped the window for Dr. Hockaday to roll it down. A bayonet came into view as the beefy, FPS guard had a look at the doctor's special guest. The guard took the pass, checked Woodring's face again, then waved to the men inside the house. "This is Mister Holland. He's quite all right," lied Hockaday in his patronizing way. The bayonets dropped, and Woodring marveled how Hockaday acted as if he had handpicked the guards himself. The moment both men crossed the threshold, a second group of bluejackets, who had been idly milling about several golf carts, snapped to attention and await the professor's order. Hockaday motioned to Woodring to join him in the golf cart which had just wheeling up next to them and hopped on the vinyl seat. Startled passersby flattened themselves to the walls as the cart raced through the vanilla-colored corridors towards DEFSMAC, the Defense Special Missile & Aeronautics Center, the NSA's electromagnetic nerve center. "Death-smack" is an electronic stethoscope whose input depends on the fleet of satellites directed by the Air Force's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Any sign or indication of a nuclear launch would be relayed immediately by DEFSMAC's analysts to the White House Situation Room, the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, and finally, the underground headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). A second squad of bluejackets stood outside DEFSMAC's unmarked doors, awaiting the arrival of the pair of visitors. Woodring couldn't help but be intimidated, since, until his arrival, no FBI personnel had ever been allowed to enter them. Inside, a moving tableau of two hundred fifty technicians monitored an array of oscilloscopes, trajectory maps, country maps, ocean maps, space debris charts -- all fed by a multibillion dollar system of satellites and listening stations which stretched across the world. In the center of the room a ray of light raced across the wall map, leaving hundreds of illuminated specks in its wake, which subsequently disappeared, until the light ray reswept the map and the pattern was repeated once again. Woodring noticed that country boundaries, indicating various states around the Persian Gulf, remained permanently lit in a soft, orange light. Perhaps Hockaday was pulling it raw off the satellite, Woodring guessed, in direct contravention of the UKUSA treaty -- the secret sharing agreement between the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Hockaday ushered Woodring outside and jumped back on the waiting golf cart, whose driver rushed them down the corridor to an elevator. They exited on the fifth floor and walked one hundred feet to the right. "This is my office," said Hockaday, pointing at the door. Woodring nodded silently as Hockaday fiddled with the keys and opened the door to his cubicle. He noticed a computer cursor blinking on and off like a lonely firefly at summer's end, before the professor flipped on the light. The corridors were deserted, except for the gray-uniformed Federal Protective Service guards at each end. "It's not a G-war, is it? So why all the equipment?" Hockaday, now the tutor, tested Woodring, his unwilling tutee. "That was MILSTAR, wasn't it?" Woodring asked. The SIGINT satellite had told quite a story, but meanwhile Daniels hadn't told the White House or the JCS a thing. "No. That was our own little star. In an orbit all its own." "But the disposition, it was electronic, wasn't it?" Woodring didn't understand the discrepancy; the photographs at NPIC had told such a different story. Clearly, the deliveries of whatever it was had been disguised from infrared photography, but were somehow broadcasting a signal just the same. And the electronic map! The one at DEFSMAC had so many more dots than the one he had just seen at NPIC -- they were all over Iraq! Woodring unconsciously rubbed the hair on the back of his neck, which felt as if it had stood up on end. "It's sad, isn't it? None of the engineering students these days are ours -- but at least the parts still are." At first Woodring didn't know whether to take it as a joke, then quickly realized he had missed it. "Who?" "No one knows about it yet . . . only Director Daniels and us," Hockaday replied, the friendly tone now gone. Saddam Hussein had just been sold a bill of goods, hardwired with special chips. "It's nuclear, isn't it?" Woodring prompted. "They're centrifuges for a nuclear separations plant -- the parts are being warehoused all over the country." "So why haven't the Iraqis ripped the bugs out?" "Oh, they only sing upon command," Hockaday assured him. "They only oscillate when our bird comes over." "But, the Germans -- " "Shouldn't reexport things they don't understand, should they?" Hockaday quipped, turning the lights back on. The professor's bonhomie vanished once again like a passing breeze. He leaned forward in his chair and stared straight into Woodring's eyes. "Saleh's dead; the Mukhabarat's suddenly gone home; and Saddam's keeping a centrifuge plant in cold storage. That strikes me as a bit more than coincidental. "If we're lucky -- and I mean very lucky -- someone else is going to have to be sent over to activate Saleh's second Trojan Horse, if there is one. Otherwise, we'll just have to wait it out." Before Woodring could reply Hockaday turned in his swivel chair, quickly opened the Mosler wall safe, and pulled out a black notebook. Each page was identical in its pristine state, exhibiting the standard single-column of words in the original language for each topic. "RAINBOW GOLD," Hockaday tapped into the computer terminal. He spent the next minute climbing the system's authorization ladder, then waited for it to double-check his clearance. "You're cleared to the end of the RAINBOW," the message flashed across the screen for a split second and disappeared. Another security measure he had devised, just in case anyone were to leave an open terminal cleared to RAINBOW status, NSA's highest clearance. "LIST ALL KEY SELECTION FILES," he requested next. His computer terminal asked Hockaday the proper medium for such a voluminous request. "DISK, RAINBOW GOLD-GH," he told the system and logged off. He had set it up, an electronic monster so powerful it could simultaneously monitor, analyze, and file into memory the thousands of telecommunications transmissions in over one hundred languages. The system's computers had been geared to detect keywords and their synonyms, automatically picking out the relevant conversations from thousands of transmissions for the auditors. Who, if they heard anything interesting, would label it and send it to Transcription. But that was the problem -- No one had been looking for a telltale message -- until now. "LIST ALL KEYS," Hockaday punched in the terminal, which immediately complied with his request. A list of various topics began to scroll across the screen from left to right. "Here, take a look at this," urged Hockaday, handing the fresh printout over his desk to Woodring. The titles of each Selection File struck Woodring with their brutal simplicity: PANIC, TERROR, ASSASSINATION, EXPLOSION, SURPRISE, CRASH . . . Before Woodring could respond, someone knocked softly on the door. "Come in!" ordered Hockaday. A man larger than Woodring and almost twice the professor's size entered, stroking his mustache. "Jackson, this is Assistant Director Woodring from the FBI. David Woodring, F. Jackson Tice." Woodring got up from his chair with a worried look on his face. "Don't worry, David, Lincoln and Hubert know all about this -- it's their idea. You're just here to watch and learn." Tice handed Hockaday a file which the professor unceremoniously folded open and read its contents. "This is the complete list?" "Why, yes, sir," Tice, his assistant, hesitated, knowing immediately Hockaday wasn't satisfied. "It was all that -- " "-- I know, don't tell me: it was all that the Romance Languages Department could bring itself to produce." "This is charming," the professor mused, scanning the single sheet of paper, "absolutely charming." "So it's -- " "Worthless," Hockaday replied, neatly feeding the list of synonyms for the noun "hysteria" into what he called "his toaster." "Now I'm going to lunch. Care to join us?" Dr. Hockaday commanded, in an accent, which if pressed, even he would have to admit was more than a bit affected for someone originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Tice, not considering for a moment that refusal was an option, immediately agreed. Two hours later, after having listened to a luncheon discussion between Hockaday and his assistant about the existence of pagan shrines in late Byzantium, Woodring silently followed Hockaday, who was purposely ten minutes late, into the Transcription Department conference room. Each departmental head was seated before him, representing each language group in which the National Security Agency's monumental computerized eavesdropping project had an interest: Oriental, Slavic, Teutonic, Romance, Arabic, Scandinavian, Latin, Hebrew, Farsi, Urdu-Hindic, and Malay-Indonesian. "When I taught Latin to Harvard undergraduates," Hockaday began without any introduction, "it was common to make a distinction between the basic literary idioms -- classical Latin, for example, as represented by Virgil, varied considerably from silver Latin and also the idiom of the streets, latina vulgaris, exemplified by Petronius' Satyricon, which by the way was made into an excellent film by Fellini." The head of Slavic languages department nodded slightly towards his associate from the Teutonic department and allowed his eyes to dart back and forth in derision. "So, I was somewhat shocked this morning, when my assistant gave me the key- list from a certain department for the noun 'hysteria.'" Upon hearing Hockaday's last word, the head of Romance Languages felt an unwanted surge of adrenalin shoot through his body, making his head feel light. "I'm afraid it's pretty third-rate stuff, which seems to have been culled from a college-level thesaurus," continued Hockaday, ignoring the looks of increasing shock on the face of each department head, but pausing a moment to focus on the chief of Romance Language's frozen grin. "Not only can one synonymously suffer from delirium, or agitation, or feverishness, or convulsions, in our language, but as you all don't need to be told -- isn't it quite possible to go nuts, get crazy, or just to lose it, to boil over, if you will? Or, panic in low English, just as in high English one can be harrowed or psychoneurotic?" "Excuse me, Dr. Hockaday, but by just whose authority have you been empowered to chair this meeting?" demanded the chief of Teutonic languages in an Austrian accent. "My status is RAINBOW GOLD, which, if I have been informed correctly, gives me more than adequate authority to run this meeting as I see fit," Hockaday replied tersely, raising quite a few sets of eyebrows in the process. No one in Transcriptions had ever obtained RAINBOW status . . . and no one at the table needed to be told that RAINBOW GOLD was NSA-speak for "White House messenger." "So vat do you vant?" the chief of the Hebrew Department kvetched. "I don't half all day." "Don't worry, Hyman, this meeting is about over," Hockaday informed them. "By five o'clock I wish to see new key-lists with a minimum of fifty synonyms from each department." "By five o'clock, this would be impossible!" the head of the Slavic Department protested. "I'm responsible for ten language groups, dialects -- ." "Major languages only by today. Secondary in two days. Dialects within the week," Hockaday interrupted. "Just what are we looking for, Dr. Hockaday?" the head of the Oriental Language Department questioned. "Une aiguille dans une botte de foin," Hockaday replied, repressing a grin of triumph as he saw the look of horror on Romance Language chief's face. A needle in a haystack. Chapter 14 The morning after his second visit to the hacker, HYDRA made himself breakfast in his flat, carefully reading the printouts on each subject as he sipped his morning coffee. Koester, the NIS technician, was a few years younger than he was, but he thought it wouldn't make too much of a difference, since Koester had never visited the Bangor Submarine base before. Gereke, the reservist, on the other hand, was in his middle thirties, and therefore a few years older than HYDRA, which, again, HYDRA thought shouldn't be a problem because no one had ever seen Gereke at Pax River before, either. But Russell Matthews, in his middle forties, was considerably older, and HYDRA had to weigh the not unimportant matter of how closely he wished to resemble Matthews versus how much disguise he, himself, could afford to wear. HYDRA also guessed that Matthews' hair, which was listed as "drk brn" in his file, had grayed somewhat after his stretch in Marion, and he should adjust his appearance accordingly. After rereading each of the three files, HYDRA carried his dishes to the sink, walked down the four flights of stairs to the street and hailed a passing taxi on 62nd, giving the driver an address on the lower West Side near the theater district. Carefully dividing his purchases amongst several different shops, HYDRA bought a salt-and- pepper colored wig at one, a matching moustache at a second, and a strawberry blond wig at yet another, then caught a taxi, having it drop him off at the post office branch near his apartment. At the counter the clerk notified him that a package had just arrived from Washington State. HYDRA showed him Matthews' ID, waiting patiently while the clerk fetched it from storage. Holding the package under his arm, HYDRA walked the few blocks to his apartment, deciding he looked no different than any other pedestrian who had been out shopping. After entering his room, he drew the curtains shut, tore the wrapping off the box, and unfolded a nylon-lined diving suit. Stripping off all his clothes, HYDRA donned the Farmer John-style pants and matching jacket, zipping up its banana collar. He took several paces back and forth, bent over and stretched, then paced around some more, checking the fit. Satisfied, he removed the diving suit and repacked it in its box, deciding he would send it later by messenger to David Blond. Now wearing only his briefs, HYDRA went to his bedroom closet, shoved the suits aside, and extracted a Samsonite metal suitcase, a camera bag and a collapsible metal tripod. He dropped the camera case and the tripod on the sofa in his living room, and took the suitcase to the bathroom, setting it on the counter. He returned to the living room, counted out six paces, and set up the tripod in front of the sofa. Next, he opened the camera bag, removing a Polaroid Mini-Portrait Model passport camera. The Mini- Portrait model was constructed with four lenses instead of one, so that the user would receive a series of four identical photographs of the subject for each picture that was taken. HYDRA returned to the bathroom, which he had redesigned with a large sink and matching mirror, and sat down on a padded vinyl stool of the variety found at makeup counters in department stores. He opened the metal case he'd left on the counter, unfolding it like a tackle box. A large, stamped manila envelope lay in the middle, which HYDRA extracted and slit open, taking out several color photographs. He propped the photographs in front of him against the mirror, and began to apply a dark makeup base on his face and neck and a layer of spirit gum on his neck. One look at Matthews' face and he decided that the nose would be first. He scooped some putty out of the can and warmed it by kneading it in his fingers, giving it shape, until its surface was smooth, and positioned it upon his nose. He checked his handiwork from each angle, deciding to leave his face unshaven, since it would go better with the color. Now he feathered in the edges with the skin, alternately using a brush handle and an orange stick. He blended some base color in his left hand, mixing it for a long time until he felt he had it right, then applied a dab of it to his nose with his fingertip. Now his hands moved quickly, spreading and applying it across his face before the colors changed. Shadow was next, which he applied to the nose by gently tapping it with his fingertips. He opened the hatbox containing the salt and pepper wig and carefully positioned it over his head, glancing first at the row of Matthews' pictures, then at his own reflection in the mirror. He pressed his forefinger firmly against his forehead, then eased the wig gently down in back. Donning a blue denim workshirt he had purchased at Brooks Brothers, HYDRA returned to the living room, set the built-in delay timer on the Polaroid for ten seconds and pressed the shutter button. Returning to the stool, he sat down and faced the camera, which, after a short delay, automatically took his picture. Counting out the seconds to himself, HYDRA yanked out the film strip and peeled off the negatives. A quartet of Russell Matthews' stared impassively forward. Satisfied with his work, HYDRA photographed himself as Matthews three more times, just in case he needed any extra photographs. When he had finished, he went to his kitchenette, grabbed a dish, and picked up the vinyl chair on his way back to the bathroom. He poured a moderate amount of acetone into a dish which he had set next to the sink and quickly screwed the cap back on the bottle. Dipping the cloth into the solvent, HYDRA dabbed it carefully on the edge of his scalp where the spirit gum had come loose. To free each adhesion point without harming his scalp was a laborious process, because the acetone was harsh on the skin and could cause burns, leaving dangerously visible marks on his head and limiting his ability to adopt another disguise. After gently removing Russell Matthews' wig, HYDRA dabbed more solvent across his scalp, forehead, and temples, until all traces of spirit gum were gone. In the medicine cabinet he found some cold cream, applied it to his scalp to reduce the risk of burning. He picked the blond wig out of the sink, and put it back in its hatbox. Now, because applying a second wig would irritate his scalp too much, he would be himself, and photograph himself without makeup as both Peter Koester and Jack Gereke. With the cold cream on his scalp, HYDRA returned to his bedroom closet, where he pulled out a shirt on a hanger plus a large, blue hatbox and laid them carefully on the bed. He opened the hatbox and extracted a surplus naval cap. Stripping off his shirt, he donned the white tunic and returned to the living room and sat on the padded stool, repeating the same process with the Polaroid passport camera he had performed disguised as Matthews. He shot several sets of pictures, both with and without the dress cap, since he didn't know which pose was required for proper identification purposes. After he had finished shooting, HYDRA carefully packed up the equipment and accessories, redressed, and went to lunch at the French restaurant next door. Waiters were running back and forth carrying large plastic menus in their hands while the owner was busy taking reservations on the telephone. HYDRA, a regular, was quickly shown to an empty table and given his standard glass of wine, while he put in his order. After lunch HYDRA walked to Madison Avenue and hailed a taxi, giving the driver an uptown address. Chapter 15 Entering Manhattan's uptown traffic, his taxi exited East River Drive and in another minute came to a halt at the corner of 93rd Street and Third Avenue. HYDRA paid the Korean driver and walked the rest of the distance to a quiet bookshop in the middle of the block. A battered sign over the locked wire-mesh door read, The Military Bookworm. HYDRA pressed the service buzzer, then a loud solenoid switch was activated, and he let himself inside. Rows of twelve-foot-high shelves were crammed with vertical and horizontal stacks of remaindered books, which dealt with a wide range of military matters as far back as the Roman legions to recent works on Operation Just Cause in Panama. A slim man with florid cheeks, sporting a blond moustache, stood behind the counter talking to a customer on the telephone, hanging up when he saw HYDRA. "How can I help you?" "I'm a friend of Luiz's. He told me he would give you a call about me," replied HYDRA. At the mention of Luiz's name, the manner shifted and the eyes above the moustache narrowed. Recommendations from the Cali Cartel were taken very seriously for obvious reasons. "Just a minute," the bookstore owner muttered, left the counter, and flipped over the Open-Closed sign hanging on the door. "Come on back." HYDRA followed him through a corridor of metal shelves into a tiny, cramped office. "What do you need? A clean passport for Bogota? I can have it for you in a week -- " "It's a little more than that," HYDRA replied, flattening out a copy of the pattern he had just showed to Blond and slid it across the forger's desk. "You recognize this uniform, of course?" Even though the Military Bookworm was filled with pamphlets and illustrated works devoted to various uniforms and insignia, the forger's knowledge of certain costumes came from a different source: a training course at Camp Peary in the early sixties. "I recognize it," replied the forger, now training his eyes on HYDRA's. "It hasn't changed a bit." The forger smoothed out the pattern with the palm of his right hand, waiting for his customer to speak. "I need a clean set of orders to visit Bangor on this date," HYDRA said, carefully handing the forger a slip of paper with Lieutenant Gereke's name and rank on it. "Bangor?" "Washington. Plus a full set of ID. Driver's license, credit cards, everything on the list." The forger said nothing. Whoever had given his guest Gereke's legend obviously knew his way around the military. "Next, I want a similar package on this man," HYDRA spoke, giving no hint to the forger that he was aware that this portion of his request was at all unusual. HYDRA handed him a second 8 1/2-by 11-inch sheet of paper, containing the relevant information on Sergeant Peter Koester, NIS's technical consultant. The forger took the list and began to read it. Every piece of paper Koester could possibly possess was listed: MasterCard. Diners Club. Amoco Motor Club. Even Blockbuster Video Rental. "Plus a visitor's pass for Gereke." The forger carefully set down the sheet with Koester's specs on it. "What for?" "Trident tour at Bangor." "Base passes are on regular paper, so printing them's no problem," replied the forger, eyeing the remaining printout in HYDRA's hand. "But if your guy's not expected, there's no way my codes are gonna match the Pentagon's." HYDRA handed the proprietor a slip of paper from his shirt pocket. "These will be in each base's TDY." The forger quickly examined the three sixteen-digit-long alphanumeric sequences which had been separately and simply entitled Gereke-Bangor, Koester-Bangor, and Gereke-Pax River. "What's next?" "Full ID package on this one too." HYDRA laid Matthews' file down like a hand of cards, spreading it on the table. "All these people gonna look just like you, or what?" demanded the forger, shoving the printouts aside. "Relatively, yes." The forger reached into his shirt pocket for a cigarette and offered one to HYDRA. HYDRA held up his hand to decline, then reached into his jacket pocket and slipped out a letter-sized envelope, sealed with a piece of clear plastic tape. He handed the envelope to the forger, who carefully slit the envelope open with his index finger and spread the photographs across his desk, comparing them with the man in front of him. Except for the facial structure, HYDRA had managed through a change in hair color and other tricks to create a successfully misleading divergence from his normal appearance in each case. "This is good work," the forger murmured, sifting through the documents. "These will be fine." "Luiz told me you could do it," HYDRA smiled. "Now why don't you tell me what your terms are." "I'll be frank with you, just the way I am with anyone Luiz sends me. You and I both know the work itself will be no problem -- it's the risk in this case that I'll want to be compensated for. "I have no idea who these three men are, but it's obvious from their orders where Gereke and Koester are visiting -- and whatever you're going to do there in their place may attract more than the normal amount of attention -- to put it mildly." "Meaning what?" "Meaning that I want twenty-five thousand for the lot. In cash and up front." HYDRA reached slowly into his opposite, inside jacket pocket, extracting a European-style wallet the size of a small checkbook and counted out twelve thousand five hundred dollars in fifty dollar bills. "Compromise -- I won't quibble over price and I'll pay you the rest upon delivery." The forger stroked his mustache and sighed. The man in front of him scared him more than any other client he had ever had, and he thought better than to continue the discussion over terms with someone who had been referred to him by Luiz. "Done." Chapter 16 Once he left the Military Bookworm, HYDRA walked up 93rd Street to Madison and hailed a northbound taxi, telling the driver to take him to Kennedy Airport. For the second time HYDRA gave his name as Russell Matthews and paid in cash for a non-stop ticket to San Francisco on UAL Flight 4820, which departed in forty-five minutes. Arriving in San Francisco at approximately 3:00 p.m. local time, he rented a car in his own name for the drive to Bonny Dune. Less than an hour later, he pulled to a stop outside Castor's rundown redwood-shingled ranch house. As he neared the door, HYDRA heard strains of rock music wafting across Castor's lawn. Pressing his finger on the doorbell, HYDRA hoped for his sake that Castor was relatively sober. Waiting a full thirty seconds, he pressed the bell a second time, doubtful that Castor could hear it amidst the din. Now worried that following Luiz's recommendation of one of the cartel's retreads had been a mistake, HYDRA tried the doorknob, finding to his surprise it was unlocked. Inside, the music was even louder, and CNN was playing soundlessly on the big- screen TV in the debris-filled living room just as it had before. When the music stopped abruptly, filling the house with an eerie silence, HYDRA reached inside his jacket pocket and slipped out a Heckler & Koch P-9 9mm pistol, carefully checking his surroundings, before he called out Castor's name. "I'm down here, down in the basement!" HYDRA sighed to himself, shoved the pistol back inside his jacket, and found the open door leading to the shallow basement. At the bottom of the stairs he found Castor sitting on a high metal stool, hunched over an illuminated magnifying glass on a swivel arm made of stainless steel. Various pieces of electronic test equipment were stacked across a long C-shaped worktable, whose surface was littered with small plastic bins filled with electronic parts, tools, bits of circuit boards, and various handheld remote controls. Light green patterns danced up and down on a pair of spectrum analyzers. "So, Mr. No-name, you finally decided to come back," Castor chuckled to himself as he peered through the glass without bothering to look up. "Any problems?" HYDRA asked. "I used to work on these babies, remember?" Castor sniffed, then wiped his nose with his shirt sleeve. On the bench, the HP palmtop lay disassembled, its chassis covered with alligator clips, looking like an acupuncture patient. The laser gun he had given Castor was held vertically by a metal clamp, its point aimed directly at a tiny solar cell set in plastic. Behind the gun and computer were three television monitors whose screens glowed with a solid blue light. "I wanted you to see this first," Castor spoke. "I managed to download the gun you gave me into my own computer without zeroizing it. Just a second -- " Castor typed a brief command on the keyboard, and the screens of all three monitors were suddenly filled with text. Endless rows of 1's and 0's were each preceded by a date, expressed as MONTH: JANUARY; DAY: 05; YEAR: 1993. "Those are the old keys for last semester's tour of duty. Each of 'em's 56 bits long, that's why there's so many 1's and 0's." HYDRA nodded silently as Castor scrolled several pages of keys across the multiple monitors. "Now, the day you want to transmit to whoever you're gonna transmit to, you're gonna have to use that day's key so you'll be sending an authenticated message, or else whoever you send it to's gonna decrypt a bunch of garbage. "The second thing is this gun you gave me only's gonna work in one place -- an SSBN -- and somehow I don't think that's exactly where you plan on going -- right?" HYDRA paused a moment, then murmured without emotion, "Go on." "So you're gonna have to know how to input that day's code into whatever box is in front of you -- you may even have to print yourself out a physical key, depending where you're at -- the technology's all different -- or you may have to hand input it, and this adapter I just made you can't do all that for you. You realize that, of course?" HYDRA nodded affirmatively. Castor displayed a grin filled with yellow teeth. "I see." "Let's get on with it," HYDRA pressed, not wanting to give Castor's imagination any more time to dwell on the operation. "There's not much more to it," Castor continued, with more than a hint of worry now in his voice. "To bring up the program, all you have to do once you've activated the machine is type in the password, T-E-S-T." Castor entered the letters in himself and two seconds later the blank CRT in front of him came to life, filled with diagnostics. "This is just boilerplate, in case anyone's looking over your shoulder -- it doesn't mean squat. "Next, you ask them for the gun and insert it into the adapter -- " Castor disconnected the laser gun HYDRA had brought him and handed it to HYDRA. "Here, you do it." After HYDRA took the gun from Castor's hand and gently shoved it into the female receptacle, the CRT screen went blank, then was filled with a different set of diagnostics. "Same deal here -- all this is just for show." Castor pointed at the keyboard, "here, you type it in." HYDRA looked at him as Castor said the word "BULLSEYE," then entered it into the laptop. Once again, the three large twenty-seven-inch monitors in front of them displayed a six-month's supply of authenticated codekeys. "One thing," Castor said, turning on his swivel chair so that he was face-to-face with HYDRA, "don't forget to tell them once you've downloaded their gun that it's been zeroized. If you forget, there's a small chance that one of them may wonder why, then mention it to someone else." "Right," HYDRA murmured in assent. "Now, when you want to pull up the codes again, I've wired the HP so that they're stored inside a chip, not on its disk, in the small chance that someone decides to dump your disk to see what's on it. You'll need to protect it with your own seven-letter codeword which you can enter now." Castor hit the return key and all three screens went blank with a single question mark appearing on the furthest one to the left. "I don't want to know what it is for obvious reasons." HYDRA thought to himself for a moment, then entered a seven-letter-long word which had special significance to only him. "All right," Castor sighed, swiveling back around in his chair. "We're done and you owe me twenty-five thousand dollars." "Right." Without a hint of warning HYDRA slipped the P-9 out of his inside jacket pocket and shot Caster once in the sternum. The P-9's 9mm slug slapped into the technician like a hammer blow, toppling him off his chair into a cardboard box full of equipment. When HYDRA bent over the body, Castor's eyes were still open and his mouth was moving soundlessly and blood trickled across his chin. This time HYDRA aimed the P-9 squarely at Castor's forehead, uttering the word "BULLSEYE" as he fired his second shot. Still holding the P-9 in his right hand, HYDRA slipped a plastic baggie out of his side pocket with his left and jerked it open, showering the worktable with a half-ounce of pure, high- grade Colombian cocaine. HYDRA stuffed the empty baggie back into his pockets, then extracted a clear pair of disposable surgical gloves, slipped them on and sat on the vinyl stool, its seat still warm from Castor's body. One by one HYDRA removed the alligator clips from the HP- 100LX's chassis, then carefully reassembled the computer into one piece. He released the laser gun from its metal clamp and clipped the leads to the solar cell under it with a pair of wire clippers, stuffing the gun and the cell into his pocket. He next removed the two floppy disks stored on Castor's own computer and methodically searched the workroom for any others he could find, stuffing all of them into a discarded paper sack he found in Castor's wastebasket. Now the screens of all three monitors were blank, save for a cursor and an automatic clock blinking at the bottom margin. Local time was 5:08 p.m. People were returning home from work, children were already home from school, and neighbors would be walking across their lawns. HYDRA decided to spend the remaining time until nightfall searching Castor's house for stray computer storage disks, in addition to the ones he had already located in the workroom. A little after half past seven HYDRA walked out Castor's front door, wiping the doorbell clean with a tissue before he left. He drove past Felton, on local Highway 9, the cool mountain rushing through his open windows. In seconds, he reached the Pacific Coast Highway and retraced his path back to the San Francisco International Airport. K-13A 70 Chapter 17 The morning after his return from San Francisco, HYDRA took a taxicab to 53d Street in midtown Manhattan, giving the driver an address not far from the tailor, David Blond. Before leaving his apartment, HYDRA had telephoned ahead, so the tailor was expecting him and immediately ushered HYDRA to his private office upon his arrival, after hanging a closed sign on his door. When Blond turned around, HYDRA realized the tailor was wearing a pair of thin, transparent rubber gloves. He opened a large armoire, pulled out a long plastic bag, set it on a work table in front, and unceremoniously unzipped it, while HYDRA took off his sport coat. "If you wish, we can try on the flight suit first," Blond suggested, awaiting HYDRA's approval. "Fine." Blond handed HYDRA a pilot's coverall, directed him to a changing booth and waited, hoping everything would meet his mysterious client's specifications. When HYDRA stepped out of the booth, Blond's only worry was that the normally loose-fitting flight suit would look too tailored on his physique, since HYDRA was in such good physical condition. HYDRA stood before the mirror, admiring the tailor's work. Blond had cut everything exactly as the diagram indicated, including the pair of four-color unit patches on the right and left breasts and the tricolored American flag patch bordered in yellow on the left shoulder. HYDRA tried each of the diagonal zippered pockets which were placed asymmetrically below the breast patches, then the others on the midsection, thigh, and below the knee. "It's not too tight in the shoulders?" Blond asked. HYDRA stretched out both arms like a scarecrow. "No." "Good." Blond flipped the lid off a cardboard shirt box, extracting two folded canvas bags--one olive drab and the size of a briefcase with cloth handles, the other, a dark blue, the size of a camera bag with longer straps. "These are regulation pilot's carryalls," Blond explained, snapping open first one bag then the other and handing them to HYDRA. "I thought you might like them." "Excellent," HYDRA mused aloud. "I'd forgotten all about -- " "Now we should try on the shoes," the tailor interrupted, relieved now that his customer seemed satisfied with his initial work. Blond tore open a second box, pulling out a pair of all black, lace-up, rubber-soled regulation boots. "You want to try them on?" HYDRA kicked off his calf-skin slipons. Blond held each boot as HYDRA stuck in his foot, then laced them up. "Go ahead, walk around in them." HYDRA did as he was told, amazed at how light each boot felt, even though it was a perfect replica of the Navy model. "Special plastic," Blond smiled, "completely waterproof. It won't get heavier even if it's submerged for hours." "Perfect." Blond turned to the open plastic bag, carefully extracting a matching walking-out blue uniform and shirt on a hanger for a reserve naval officer traveling in the winter. HYDRA grabbed the hanger, returned with it to the changing booth, stripped off the pilot's coverall and slipped on the uniform and shirt. Looking at it first in the mirror in the booth, he had already decided it was a perfect fit, when he showed it to Blond. "How is it?" "Good, good," HYDRA murmured. "Not too tight in the crotch?" "No, not at all." "How about the sleeve length?" HYDRA shot his sleeves, then looked back at Blond and nodded. "Cuff length?" "Fine." The plastic ID tag on his left breast read, Lt. Jack Gereke. "Are you ready to try on Sergeant Koester's then?" Blond asked, pleased with himself. "Yes." Blond pulled a second long zippered plastic bag from his closet and set it, too, on the work table, slowly opening it, He handed it to HYDRA, who held it up in front of him, examining its detail. Then he produced a second coverall, similar in shape to the one he had designed for the pilot, Gereke. This time there were no dramatic four-color unit patches over the breasts and American flag patch on the left shoulder, but only a plastic ID tag, which read Sgt. Peter Koester. HYDRA took the garment and returned to the changing room, where he stripped off Gereke's coveralls, then donned Koester's, stepping outside for Blond to have a look. "As you can see, it's the same size as Gereke's, just a different design, that's all." HYDRA's eyes were immediately drawn to the pair of slim copper-colored felt bars sewn on the top of each collar -- this was the NIS Technical Services classified ID patch for work in top-secret military installations. He also noticed the zippers on the pockets ran horizontally instead of diagonally as before, and that the breast pockets themselves were symmetrical instead of asymmetrical. Also, the color of Koester's maintenance uniform was a dark navy, whereas Gereke's had been olive drab. "Same fit in the shoulders?" Blond asked. HYDRA stretched out his arms again. "Fine." Blond knelt to the floor, looking at HYDRA's shoes. "Cuff length looks the same," murmured the tailor to himself, then stood up. "You can use the shoes for both, if that's all right. There's no specific regulation requirement for NIS." "Good," replied HYDRA, thinking it would be easier to wear in only a single pair of boots. "Let's try the parka next." Blond handed HYDRA the hooded parka he'd brought with him on his first visit, and HYDRA held it in his outstretched hand, checking the garment's increase in weight. Satisfied, he put it on over Koester's uniform and looked at himself in the mirror. Perfect. "Well, I think that's it, then." HYDRA nodded, handed the parka back to Blond, and returned to the changing room, where he stripped off the custom boots and Koester's overalls, then redressed in the pants and sport coat he'd worn into the shop. He handed the pair of coveralls and boots to Blond, who, still wearing his rubber gloves, hung the uniforms back in the plastic bags and repackaged the boots in their box. "I believe you owe me eleven thousand dollars," Blond stated flatly, stacking the bags and the parka on the table. The hint of a smile passed across HYDRA's face. He reached inside his jacket pocket, fished out an envelope of moderate thickness, and set it on the table. "One hundred and ten one hundred dollar bills. You can count them if you want." "I don't think that will be necessary in this case," Blond replied, handing HYDRA the pair of plastic bags and then the shoe box. HYDRA carried the packages through the stacks, flipped over the open-closed sign, unlatched the door and stepped out into the cool spring air. He walked several blocks before hailing a taxi, telling the driver to drop him off at 62nd Street and Madison. Chapter 18 Satisfied with Blond's work, HYDRA hung the plastic bags in his closet, then walked to lunch at a neighborhood French bistro. After consuming a fresh lamb chop and washing it down with a glass of Vouvray, he took a taxi to 93rd Street and had the driver let him off at Third Avenue. Like the first time, he walked the rest of the distance, until he stopped under the Military Bookworm's battered sign. This time the proprietor saw him from behind his desk and immediately activated the solenoid switch which worked the lock. Before HYDRA could enter, a heavy-set Latino with a pockmarked face shoved past him, almost knocking him over, before disappearing into a waiting Lincoln Mark IV. In his wake, the Colombian had dislodged volume six of Die Heere und Flotten der Gegenwart, part of a monumental series edited by Major General Graf von Zeppelin himself, which HYDRA picked up off the floor and handed to the thin proprietor with the large moustache. "Sorry about him -- but he had to catch the next plane to Cali -- some problem, I guess. You want to come in back?" HYDRA nodded affirmatively and the owner flipped the Open-Closed sign just as he had before, then ushered HYDRA through a row of shelves into an office filled with cardboard boxes in various stages of unpacking, stacked in no apparent order. "Excuse the mess," sighed the proprietor. Then, pointing at an oblong wooden crate whose top lay on the floor next to a crowbar. "Description de l'Egypte, ever heard of it?" HYDRA shook his head no. "Just got it in from Amsterdam. Hard to get a complete set, because the previous owners stripped out the plates and sold them. Before his invasion Napoleon had it commissioned to impress the ancien regime, only a few hundred sets were ever made. Would you like to see a volume? The prints are beautiful." "Sure." The forger scooped out an oversized flat package, showering the floor with scores of plastic pebbles. He balanced it precariously on a small table laden with several uneven stacks of books and proceeded to unwrap it, revealing a large folio with a faded red leather cover. HYDRA watched silently as the forger deftly flipped through the first few pages, stopping at an engraving of an obelisk. "Cleopatra's needle at Luxor: this one's usually torn out. Nice, isn't it?" HYDRA admired the engraving's detail, never realizing until then how much the First Consul thought of himself as another Alexander. "Alright, enough of this," said the forger, slapping the book shut. "You've come here to admire my work, not Napoleon's." The forger turned to a small floor safe, spun the lock, and extracted a letter-sized file pocket. He pulled a thick wallet out first and spread its plastic pockets on the desk. Each pocket was filled with a different credit card. "You can keep the wallet. It's for you. There're twenty-four cards inside it, based on the lists you gave me for Matthews, Gereke, and Koester." The forger slipped Gereke's Visa card from its pocket and handed it to HYDRA, who twisted it slowly in the light. "Hologram's an exact copy -- although I doubt anyone will ever check -- it's the information embedded on the strip on the back that works the card." HYDRA shot the forger a worried glance. "Don't worry -- strips on these babies are exact dupes of the ones on the list -- if you're worried, try making a ten dollar purchase somewhere and let them run it through." HYDRA felt the brown strip on the card's back with his forefinger, while the forger nervously twisted the top of his long moustache. HYDRA pulled each card, one after the other out of its plastic sheath, and checked it off a small list he had retrieved from his shirt pocket. "These look good," he murmured. "I can't tell the difference." "You can't tell the difference because they're real," the forger chided. "Blanks are from a friendly bank down in Colon." HYDRA blinked in admiration. The cartel covered every detail of its operations, even down to smuggling blank credit cards from its banks in Panama to its forger in Manhattan. The forger slipped a second, thinner wallet from the file pocket and handed it to HYDRA. "Driver's licenses for all three, plus some other miscellaneous picture ID you wanted." HYDRA opened the wallet, examining each license under a nearby pharmacy lamp, then reinserted each piece and put the wallet in his pocket. Next, the forger handed him an 8 1/2-by 11-inch file folder, tab unmarked. Inside were two typewritten memoranda from Washington, D.C. with a series of code numbers in their upper right- hand corners, addressed separately to Gereke and Koester, instructing each to report to his respective base no later than a certain time and date. Maximum travel pay also given, with a note to inform base command whether recipient had decided to fly or drive. "Now, I believe you owe me twelve thousand five hundred dollars," the forger uttered. HYDRA grimaced, reached into his jacket pocket, and counted out the second payment in one hundred dollar bills, the forger twisting his moustache as he watched. "Done." HYDRA said nothing in response, watching the forger stuff everything back into the file pocket which he then took and let himself out the door. Chapter 19 Instead of returning to his apartment after he left the Military Bookworm, HYDRA caught an uptown cab and told the driver to take him to La Guardia Airport, where he boarded USAir nonstop Flight 11 to Kansas City, the home of Naval Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Gereke. The flight was filled with a set of provincial-looking, middle managers in cheaply-tailored clothes mixed with a crowd of unattractive parents with even less attractive children. The only single women on the plane were the pair of overworked and slightly angry stewardesses who quickly informed HYDRA the only magazines on board were the airline's own publication inside his seat pocket. HYDRA walked towards the rear of the plane, choosing a seat by himself. He listlessly flipped through the inflight magazine, avoiding a testimonial on chemical dependency by a famous country singer; skipping a piece by Shirley MacLaine on one of her previous lives; and ignoring an article on the town billed as the next Nashville: Branson, Missouri. Tossing the magazine in the empty seat next to him, HYDRA reconsidered the forger's advice regarding Gereke's orders to report to base. HYDRA realized, of course, that simply murdering Gereke would not be acceptable if the reserve pilot's corpse were somehow discovered and its existence reported to the Navy before the time of his arrival at Pax River. On the other hand, allowing Gereke to leave Kansas City for Washington would run the serious risk of losing control of the reservist once he boarded his flight, especially if Gereke left on a Sunday evening and decided to go straight from National Airport to base BOQ without even checking into a motel. A course of travel, HYDRA thought, that would be more than likely if Gereke were on a limited budget. A second risk was that Gereke would complicate his trip to Washington, leaving early and making a layover stop that HYDRA wouldn't know about until the last minute. The sound of the Boeing's landing gear being lowered into place was followed by a brief announcement that the plane was descending into Kansas City International Airport and would land in less than twenty minutes. From his window seat HYDRA examined the vast flat runway set alongside three donut shaped terminals surrounded by a sea of parked cars. After the Boeing 737 landed and was taxiing towards the gate, HYDRA noted that no other planes took off or landed during the interim, while several of the gates at the terminal were empty. That the Kansas City airport would be operating far below capacity hadn't occurred to him and he filed the fact away in his mind for future reference. "I hope you enjoyed your flight," the stewardess said automatically to each passenger as he filed out the aircraft, and as he passed, HYDRA nodded politely in return. Upon entering the terminal HYDRA's suspicions of the airport's level of inactivity were confirmed -- except for the passengers debarking from Flight 11, this part of the airport was almost deserted. HYDRA waited patiently by the luggage claim for fifteen minutes, picked up his single bag, found a taxi, and gave his destination as the Ritz Hotel located in the Country Club Plaza shopping center. Forty-five minutes later, after a drive through half-empty streets, he was deposited outside a curved and balconied hotel whose exterior with its Southwestern motif gave no hint of the faux-London-club design of its interior, complete with a large portrait in the style of Sergeant hanging in the bar. HYDRA presented Russell Matthews' American Express card at the desk, telling the receptionist he would be staying in Kansas City for the week to ten days on business. He was immediately led to his room by a friendly bellhop who explained the location of the hotel's various bars and restaurants during the elevator ride, while HYDRA listened in polite silence. For the next ten days HYDRA planned to make a meticulous examination of Gereke's existence, while at the same time maintaining as low a profile as possible at the hotel, so the less he said to anyone the better. When Jack Gereke signed up for the Naval Air Reserve, he had neither requested nor expected to receive orders to report to a squadron of the strategic significance of VQ- 4 at Patuxent Naval Air Base. Before joining the reserves, Lieutenant Gereke had been a transport pilot flying 747s for the United Parcel Service. After he mustered out, he returned to college and studied accounting on the GI Bill, then became the CFO of a regional stock brokerage headquartered in Kansas City. Partly to relieve the tedium of the office routine, partly because he missed flying, and partly to supplement his income Gereke decided a year later to join the Naval Air Force Reserves. He made the usual commitment to report to camp a single weekend per month for the next eight years, in addition to agreeing to report for full-time duty for two weeks each year. Otherwise Gereke's life was utterly predictable in almost every aspect. Every Monday through Friday Gereke would arise at 7:00 a.m., have breakfast, shower, then would walk from his one-bedroom bachelor apartment located in the Country Club Plaza across Brush Creek to the Board of Trade Building. Gereke would almost always leave the office between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00, sometimes stopping to have a drink in the first floor bar, but almost always returning directly home after that. Not being a salesman, he saw no need to attend the various openings and cocktails where the brokers often went, preferring to spend most of his spare time with his own set of friends outside work. Weekends were somewhat less predictable, with Gereke alternating between going out with one of his regular girlfriends on a date or attending various sports functions with his male friends. Thus, Gereke would have been quite shocked if someone had told him that, for more than a week, he had been the subject of surveillance by a professional whose last mission had entailed eliminating an entire crew of contract CIA agents. The Naval Reserve lieutenant would have been even more surprised to learn that not only had his movements been thoroughly watched, but, in addition, the locks to his apartment had been picked, his mail had been read, his personal effects had received a thorough search, and a permanent, encrypted FM digital transmitter which had a range of greater than one mile had been placed on his telephone line. Chapter 20 The next morning HYDRA caught the first nonstop flight to Seattle. He arrived at 10:15 a.m. local time and immediately rented a Pontiac Grand Am at the airport's Avis counter, since Naval Air Reserve Lieutenant Jack Gereke's tour of the Naval Submarine Base at Bangor was scheduled to begin in an hour and fifteen minutes at 11:30 a.m. HYDRA followed Interstate 5 north where he took the exit for Edmond's Way which wound for 12 miles to the ferryport of Edwards. At Edwards HYDRA drove to the terminal area and purchased a ticket for passage to Kingston aboard the Hyak, one of the Washington State Ferry System's shapely triple-deckers. Since it was the middle of a weekday morning, traffic was light enough for HYDRA to board on the next departure. Thirty minutes later the Grand Am drove off the Hyak's car deck into Kingston, a town which lay on the north of the Kitsap Peninsula on the opposite coast of the Puget Sound. HYDRA drove peacefully across the peninsula on a local road bordered on both sides by untouched forests. Turning off Highway 3, he took Trident Boulevard to the main gate, giving the security guard on duty Lieutenant Gereke's ID and telling him he had been scheduled to take the Trident tour. After barely glancing at Gereke's driver's license, the guard rifled through a stack of papers, confirming Gereke was indeed on the Public Affairs Department's list, then issued the Pontiac a temporary pass and directed HYDRA to wait in the pass and ID office to the left of the gate. Ten minutes later HYDRA's group was met by Mary R. Lopez, Lieutenant Junior Grade, and also his tour guide for the day. Lopez, an attractive brunette in her early thirties, led her group outside to a navy-blue, 15-passenger Chevy van, and waited for them to take their seats before she picked up her microphone and began to speak. "First of all, I want to welcome all of you to Naval Submarine Base, Bangor, where we're the home base for a squadron of 560-foot Ohio-class submarines. Today we're going to go on what's called the Trident Tour showing you one of three key elements of our strategic deterrent triad. The nuclear triad is composed of one, land-based missiles, two, manned bombers, and third, the Navy's fleet ballistic missile program, known as Trident. Trident, which takes its name from King Neptune's three-pronged spear, also can be broken down into three key components: the missile, the submarine and the base." The van stopped for a moment in front of a second gate. "Bangor is a closed base and the gate we are about to go through is our first level of security," Lopez informed them as she motioned the security guard to wave them through. The driver took the first left off Trident Road, passing the first building. "On your left is the SUBASE Administration building. It provides offices for the base commanding officer, his staff, and Naval Communications Station, Puget Sound. The tower is used to transmit and receive messages for the commands on the base. Personnel Support Detachment is the next building on your left. This command is responsible for maintaining the records and pay for approximately 5,000 Navy personnel stationed here." HYDRA checked his map, finding Hunley Road. The Public Affairs office had kindly highlighted the van's path with yellow magic marker indirectly that the tour would make a crude circle of the base. The van turned left again onto Tautog Circle which was filled with empty guard huts and abandoned security fences. "This used to be the only entrance to the base and was guarded by Marines," Lopez explained. "Now, the Navy no longer uses Marines for gate guards. The base commanding officer is responsible for administering the Base Operating Services Contract which is currently held by Sharp Controls. The multimillion dollar contract supports the base mission by providing services through one multifunction contract. The contract employs civilians who perform jobs such as security guards, firemen, photographers, ground maintenance, and transportation drivers." HYDRA was relieved to hear that a civilian security force had replaced the Marines. Presenting Gereke's papers to an outsider would be safer than having to show them to a guard from a rival service. They halted at a stop sign, went straight for a block, then turned left on Sculpin, passing a group of white buildings with weather-beaten facades. "The buildings you see on both sides are from the 1940s. We are currently using them as offices. After the Navy purchased more than 7,000 acres in 1942, the base served as an ammunition transshipment point during World War Two, the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict. "Straight ahead is the public works area. Transportation and ground maintenance equipment and the offices for employees are here." As Lopez droned on about the bachelor enlisted quarters to their right, HYDRA stared out the window of the van, realizing that no matter what direction he looked, his view was some part of the 7,000-acre facility. Its sheer size would help minimize the importance of the arrival of any single individual on the base, especially one who only intended to briefly visit the courier transfer shed, make a quick repair, then leave. The van turned and HYDRA noted the street sign indicated they were on Trigger Avenue. Two silver-colored pools of water reflected on his left. "On your left are two man-made lakes. They are used for rainfall flood control and recreational fishing. Covered barbecue/picnic facilities, hiking trail (Boy Scout project), BMX trail and softball diamond are also in this area. As you can see it is an easy walk from family housing. "Coming up on the left is outdoor gear issue. A service member can rent all kinds of equipment such as campers and camping gear, boats and fishing gear, and skiing equipment. Next door is an auto repair shop . . ." HYDRA ignored the descriptions of the auto parts store and gas station accompanying the repair shop and leafed briefly through the brochure that came with the map. Most of the brochure was filled with specs on the Trident submarine, which, HYDRA read, was quieter, faster, larger and more powerful than any submarine the US Navy had ever put afloat. Their 560-foot LOA made the Ohio-class two feet larger than the Russian Typhoon-class boats, but the Ohio-class still could boast a much narrower diameter at 42 feet. The Ohio boats also only displaced 18,750 tons when submerged, compared with the Typhoon's relatively bulky 30,000 tons. Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine's top speed of 30 knots was also three knots faster than the Typhoon's. And the Ohio-class $1.2 billion price tag per boat was a bargain compared with the potential destructive power of each sub's complement of twenty-four Trident ballistic missiles. They passed the community service area on Pompano Street, where the credit union, library and more bachelor quarters were located, then turned right onto Thresher when Lopez resumed her narrative. "On your right is the headquarters of Commander, Submarine Group Nine. He has administrative control of commands and units assigned in the Pacific Northwest and coordinates all submarine matters in the Pacific Northwest. Behind his headquarters are medical and dental clinics. "Next is the Trident Training Facility. While one crew is at sea, the off-crew or crew on shore, spends a lot of time here. The training facility offers initial, advanced and refresher training. All systems aboard a Trident submarine are in this building, except for the nuclear reactor. This equipment is connected to computer systems to simulate at-sea operations and problems. "Directly in front of us is the Off-Crew Administration Building. Each submarine crew has a set of offices and classrooms in this building. One crew has the submarine at sea and the other crew uses this area for their offices while ashore. When the submarine returns, both crews pack up and trade." Lopez clicked off her microphone and the van stopped abruptly in front of a security fence and guardpost which resembled the one at the main gate. HYDRA rechecked the map. The van had completed the first small loop and was returning to the intersection of Trident Road and Trigger Avenue. As the guards waved them through Lopez answered the question which had just formed itself in HYDRA's mind. "The base has several levels of security. The guards at the main gate and perimeter gates provide that first level of security. During heightened defense conditions, security guards are stationed here as a second level. From here we proceed into the operational area, called the lower base. The number of people working in this is limited. There are no cameras allowed in the operational area," Lopez emphasized. "On your right is Strategic Weapon Facility, Pacific. This command is responsible for the assembly, maintenance and storage of the Trident missiles. The buildings you see are for the assembly of the missile by Lockheed and other contractor personnel. This area is the third level of security, as you can see, this area has the highest security on the base. Additional security includes manned guard towers, double fences and numerous sensors. We have about 350 Marines stationed at Bangor. Their sole mission is to protect this area. The blue poles you see adjacent to the buildings are lightning rods." So Lieutenant Gereke would have to pass through three security checkpoints and present his papers each time before he reached the communications shed, HYDRA thought to himself, taking a careful look at the third guardpost as they passed. At the second light, the van made a brief detour to the left off Trigger Avenue and entered a small circular drive, which surrounded an impressive set of missile replicas. "Coming up on your right is a missile display. The Strategic Weapons Facility you just saw was used to produce the smaller Polaris missile in the 1960s, but the Polaris has since been replaced by the larger Trident. The Trident I is 34 feet high, 6 feet in diameter and weighs 71,000 pounds. Each missile costs about $13 million and has a range of 4,000 nautical miles, and each Trident submarine is capable of carrying 24 of these missiles. The Trident submarines are designed to upgrade to the much larger Trident II (D-5) missile. . ." Powered by a solid-fuel rocket engine, possessing more sophisticated navigation equipment than the ICBM, each Trident C-4 carried eight MK 4 100-kiloton multiple independent reentry vehicle warheads (MIRVs) with a circular error of probability of less than 500 yards. Each MIRV warhead could either be aimed separately at eight different targets within the missile's footprint, or combined for a devastating single strike. They exited the circle, returned to Trigger Avenue, then continued their gradual circle of the base, passing through a heavily wooded area, which Lopez informed them was maintained by a full-time forester. In addition a full-time game warden kept the lakes stocked with fish and watched over the base's population of deer, bear, wildcat, and geese. After that they passed a tall building where periscope maintenance was performed, when a muddy canal loomed in front of the van, slicing through the pines. "In front of the bus you can see Hood Canal," Lopez informed them as they turned a sharp right onto Sealion Road. "Hood Canal is deep enough that we could submerge a Trident as soon as it pulled away from the pier. In peacetime, however, the submarines make their transit to the ocean on the surface. "The base owns 5 miles of waterfront. We are 155 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Through the trees on your left is our service pier. This is where the tugboats, security boats and other support watercraft are docked." Passing the salmon ladder, they wound along the canal, then turned left, and went up a steep hill, where the driver pulled over to give the van's occupants a dramatic view of these giant docks, the middle of which was filled with the sleek black hull of the USS Michigan which was in for repairs. "The Delta Refit Pier is controlled by Trident Refit Facility. It is the single largest piece of construction on the base. Each leg of the pier is 700 feet long, and from shore to apex is 1300 feet. Delta pier can accommodate three submarines -- one on the north side, one on the south side, and one in the dry dock. The dry dock, which is parallel to the shoreline, is 700 feet long, 65 feet deep and 90 feet wide and holds about 21 million gallons of water. Each time before the dry dock is flooded with Hood Canal water, it and the submarine in the dock are washed down. The water then goes to a treatment plant above the Delta Pier before going into the county sewage system." HYDRA checked his watch; the tour would be finished in fifteen minutes. Turning left on Seawolf Road, they entered in parking lot, stopping for a better view of a large wharf. Lieutenant Lopez spoke into her handheld microphone, "On your left is the Explosive Handling Wharf. It provides an enclosed, weather protected wharf for missile and torpedo loading and off-loading. The Trident I missile, enclosed in a protective canister, is transported from a bunker to the Explosive Handling Wharf on a flatbed truck. A crane hoists the container to a vertical position and swings it over to the appropriate missile tube on the submarine, then a winch lowers the missile into the hole. By the way, you may be interested to know that the Navy owns over 400 acres on the opposite side of Hood Canal as a buffer zone." Several of the passengers caught the joke, chuckling at the thought of an errant torpedo hissing across Hood Canal and exploding on impact on the opposite bank. The next stop revealed a single pier, similar in construction to one of the Delta piers seen previously with one significant difference -- the whole length of the pier was looped with a semicylinder of cable. Lopez explained its existence to those who didn't already know: "This 700 foot timber pier is built of nonmagnetic materials and looped power cables. Because a submarine is such a large metal object, it will acquire a magnetic charge, and since an electromagnetic charge is something that can be detected by aircraft and ships, giving away the submarine's location, its absence is important to the survival of the vessel. Everywhere else in the Navy, cables are manually wrapped around a submarine, as you can imagine, manual wrapping takes a lot of time. But at Bangor, a submarine can pull into the Magnetic Silencing Facility and in a few hours its degaussing is fully completed. Degaussing is similar to erasing an audio cassette tape. By the way, this procedure is not performed every time the submarine is in port, but periodically, each submarine drives over a range where the amount of magnetism is measured." HYDRA rechecked his map. The tour was finished except for a last look at eastern side of the Strategic Weapons Facility. They were turning around, the driver was returning to the main gate via Flier Road. Halfway to the operational area gate, HYDRA caught a glimpse of an area guarded just as heavily as the Strategic Weapons Facilities, which Lieutenant Lopez pointedly ignored even though it could be seen right outside the window. Armed Marines stood in guard towers behind double cyclone fences, carefully eyeing them as they passed by. HYDRA guessed from the array of antennas and parabolic dishes that it was the home of the base's Naval Communications Station, Lieutenant Gereke's final scheduled destination. Chapter 21 The next morning a spring rain loosened the hard earth, and the Dobermans which patrolled the grounds of the National Security Agency were unusually aware of any new odors or sounds in the air. At 6:59 a.m., the handlers felt their canine sentries struggle against their leashes, before they, the sentries on the grounds, saw the caravan of dark sedans snaking its way towards the guardhouse. The gatekeepers, too, had removed whatever remaining trace of humor they had been allowed to display, and greeted the first car with stiff salutes. "Dr. Holland," the sentry barked, snapping to attention. "Check each car; I know the rules," Woodring replied, rolling down his window. Each automobile in the caravan was halted and thoroughly searched, its passengers and contents checked against a classified list which had just been hand-delivered by White House courier. Instead of the usual single sentry posted at each end of the hallway, the floor housing the Transcription Department had been reinforced with an unnecessary additional platoon of FPS commandos armed with automatic weapons. "This is Dr. Holland," Glen Hockaday announced to the platoon leader, whom the professor distinguished by the medallion on the peak of his SWAT-style cap. "Yes, sir. Our orders are to check the ID of all personnel, Professor," the commando replied, placing Hockaday's plastic badge into what resembled a credit-card verification device. "Alright, sergeant, but let's make it quick," Woodring snapped. "Yes, sir! Hawkins, Montoya, get over here and verify these IDs!" the FPS sergeant barked at two of his men. In a matter of minutes a heterogeneous crew of twenty FBI and NSA personnel had been cleared through the temporary command post and gathered silently in a small cluster, facing Hockaday and Woodring. The ex-classics professor handed each man an identically sized computer printout and a three-by-five inch index card with a number on it. A small key had been scotch-taped to the backside of each man's card, giving him access to one of ten offices. In each office two FBI counterintelligence agents met with the head of each language division in Transcriptions, in order to sift through the translations of the raw computer output. Hockaday's list of trigger words were cross-referenced with the word "Wimex" in all its possible variations, then fed into the largest bank of mainframe computers ever assembled in a single location inside the United States. In anticipation of the arrival of Woodring and his troops, a high capacity data link was also set up between Ft. George and the FBI's Counterterrorism Center to check for correlations between any of the speakers and a previous record of criminal and/or terrorist activity, with a particular emphasis put on Arab and Iranian residents of the United States and their associates abroad. For the next twenty-four hours, the ten teams of specialists sifted through translations of thousands of telecommunications, finding many references to the various key words and their synonyms, but without ever finding a single cross-reference to the word "Wimex" or any of its synonyms. Early the next morning, a young linguist from Harvard who had been assigned to work with F. Jackson Tice and was half-buried in the mass of paper spread across Tice's desk, spoke for the first time in hours. "I think I found something." F. Jackson Tice said nothing, got out of his chair and followed his assistant to the office directly adjacent. "What is it?" asked Hockaday, looking first at Tice, then at the young linguist from Harvard. "Sir, there's no Wimex matchup, but this ciphertext was recorded the day before Saleh was killed," the young Harvard student stuttered. "Ciphertext?" Hockaday queried. "What group is it?" "TCOM, Group 6-11." Hockaday snatched the transcription from the student's hand, then turned to Tice. "Jackson, follow me back to my office." After Tice had shut the door, Dr. Hockaday allowed himself a smile. He immediately sat facing the computer terminal and typed in his password. F. Jackson Tice read the corresponding index number on the computer index. "TCOM Group L-11, 00605054," Tice responded, feeling something wasn't right. Hockaday tapped in the transcription group code numbers and waited for his screen to respond. Seconds later a message in English scrolled from left to right across the screen. F. Jackson Tice winced as he heard Dr. Hockaday's sharp intake of breath. "Bad news?" "Tell Woodring I want to see him in here immediately," Hockaday spoke with a frightening gravity, handing him the transcript. "Then call Czarlinsky and tell him we're coming down." Tice's eyes stopped dead on the neutral-sounding phrase: "Must consult TCOM for decrypt approval." "My God! 'Consult TCOM for decrypt approval.' What's this supposed to mean, Glen?" demanded Tice, gripping the sheet so tightly his knuckles had turned white, but Hockaday was already at his door motioning for Woodring to come to his office. "What's up?" Woodring asked once inside. "We've got problems," muttered Hockaday under his breath. Hockaday handed Woodring the undeciphered transcript. Then, to Tice, "Jackson, call SWITCHBOARD and have them get a helicopter ready on standby." "Yes, Glen." "What's going on here?" Woodring asked himself aloud, ignoring Hockaday's suggestion. "How come we have to get permission to decrypt?" "Woody?" Woodring looked up at Hockaday as if he were from another world. "Let's go." On the way to the telecommunications group Woodring and Hockaday passed row after row of various type of analysts seated in front of CRT screens connected to an array of sophisticated computing and signals analysis devices. Each man showed his pass to the guard at the desk, then once inside the door, they were immediately met by Ken Czarlinsky, TCOM's chief. After Dr. Hockaday made the introductions, he handed Czarlinsky a copy of the encrypted transcript. "What's Group L? I don't remember ever hearing about it," Hockaday began pleasantly enough. "It's a new spread spectrum group we just put together with the machine processing people, so we're not putting out much product yet." "Then what prompted your group to issue this transcript to my department?" demanded Hockaday. "We didn't issue it to your department; it probably just got sent up there in error. The sweep you ran was pretty broad, you realize." "So what's spread spectrum?" asked David Woodring. "Sorry for the jargon," Czarlinsky apologized. "OK, you understand how a cellular telephone works, right?" "Kind of." "OK, a cellular phone essentially takes an analog signal, the voice, and broadcasts it on a set frequency to a base station. If you happen to be listening to that frequency and you're in range of the device, you can listen in on the conversation unimpeded." "Right." "So, needless to say, there are many people who want the flexibility of cellular but don't like its vulnerability to eavesdropping." "Right." "So they generally do a couple of things to protect themselves -- one, they can digitize the signal, so to an eavesdropper it'll sound like a fax line, second they can encrypt the digital signal, plus they can channel hop, making it harder for their transmission to be caught." "Which type of challenge does all that present to TCOM?" interrupted Hockaday. "Almost none. Remember, this is NSA. Almost every digital transmission generates its own signature, which we can locate and track; most of the encoding chips used in industry are only 16 bits, which we can break; and frequency hopping isn't much of a problem, because we can monitor them all at once and recapitulate the broadcast later." "So why use spread spectrum?" Woodring asked. "Instead of simple channel hopping, which, like I said, we can easily reassemble, a user sending a digital message over cellular spread spectrum just disappears into the ether. Poof!" "Why?" "Spread spectrum is very difficult to track, very tough." "Why?" asked Hockaday. "Well," Czarlinsky grinned, "it's simple, really. Instead of dividing the signal among a discrete number of channels, the users spread it like butter across the whole spectrum, so it more or less just disappears unless you're really looking for it." "Why don't the stronger signals on all the other channels just wipe it out?" queried a perplexed Woodring. "It's spread in the space between them. They don't even do a thing." "Look, each channel's such a small part of the total signal, it only wipes out a millionth of the total bandwidth. That's just a minor bit of interference as far as the receiver is concerned. It'll just cancel it out, not affecting the final signal integrity at all." Woodring blew air out his cheeks in confusion, feeling the beginnings of a slight headache around his temples. "But TCOM has managed to intercept spread spectrum broadcasts, haven't they?" asked Hockaday. "Of course, that's our business." "So what is the intercept technology?" pressed Hockaday. "Basically, high-order cyclostationary processing," replied Czarlinsky, unable to repress a grin. "You mean higher mathematical analysis?" Hockaday shot back, putting Czarlinsky back in his place. "Right. Every signal, no matter how weak, especially if it's encrypted, still has a signature -- even one that's been spectrum spread." "So you'd be able to locate the sender if he sent another message?" Woodring guessed aloud. "Right." "Based on what?" asked Hockaday. "Periodicity, clock synchronization, system artifacts . . . preambles," Czarlinsky ticked off the list in his head, stopping when he saw the two blank faces in front of him. "OK. Sorry. Look, if you have a computer and you encrypt a message into binary code and I have a computer and I have the key to decrypt that message -- the ability to change a meaningless series of numbers back into a meaningful series of numbers -- how does your computer know which number to start deciphering in the chain, so that its key will work? Remember, if your computer starts in the wrong place, it'll just turn the encoded numbers my computer just sent you into a different set of gibberish." "Both computers have a clock," Hockaday mused aloud. "Bingo! That's what we call the synchronicity dichotomy, the key to cyclostationary processing." "So why did you refuse to decrypt this?" "Sorry, Glen, I'm afraid I can't answer that," replied Czarlinsky sotto voce. Before Hockaday could press further, a voice at the door hollered out, "Dr. Hockaday! Doctor Hockaday! Are you in there?" "Yes!" Hockaday testily replied. "Call for you, sir," announced the Federal Protective Service guard, "On SWITCHBOARD!" "I'll take it in here," Hockaday announced through the still closed door. "But, sir -- " "I said, I'll take it in here!" As soon as he saw the extension light flicker on Czarlinsky's telephone, Hockaday punched the button and raised the handset to his right ear. "Yes, Lincoln . . . You what? It's outside now? . . . Yes, we can be on it." Hockaday hung up the phone and looked at it a moment. "What was that?" Woodring asked. "Lincoln's sent his helicopter. It's waiting outside. He knows about the transcript." An electric cart burst out the doors of Building No. 4, sped along Savage Road to the headquarters tower, circled around it, and slammed to a stop next to a Bell Huey HH- 1H twelve-seater with civilian markings. The HH-1H was positioned into the wind with its rotors whining, ready for take off. Ducking to avoid the downwash, Woodring rushed after Hockaday into the open hatch, stumbling into the nearest seat just as the chopper rose off its skids. The pilot had inadvertently left on the intercom, and radio traffic from several nearby civilian and military bases was blaring throughout the cabin, making conversation impossible. After the pilot had adjusted the throttle and collective to maintain altitude and heading, he performed a 360o spot turn to confirm his perimeter was clear, then moved forward, his nose pitched up in the air. At fifty feet of altitude, he crabbed into the wind to maintain a proper ground track, while Woodring stared out the window, watching the shrinking size of the traffic on the Baltimore Washington Parkway. The Huey raced along the northern suburbs from Maryland to Virginia, and in no time Woodring found himself looking at the Potomac, which wound beneath him like a silver snake in the cool noonday sun. Across the Potomac and past the parkway, a single, seven-story, gray-white building rose before them, set like a toy on a lawn cut large square in the middle of a dense pine forest. The pilot banked steeply, giving Woodring a birdseye view of a cantilevered canopy, before they landed on the lawn twenty yards from the main door. A small crew in dark blue uniforms was running across the grass to meet them. Ducking under the rotors, CIA security staff escorted Hockaday and Woodring into the lobby, waved them through the turnstiles at the entrance gate, and led them through the lobby up a short flight of stairs, leaving them in the same sitting room Generals Vaughn and Praeger had visited a week earlier. The door to the DCI's private elevator opened, as if on cue, and the same assistant who had met the two generals before ushered them all inside. When they reached the seventh floor, Daniels' assistant took them directly to the director's office. K/J14-NEWA 82 Chapter 22 Director Lincoln Daniels was sitting stonefaced at his desk, while in two chairs arrayed around him were Keith Axe, his deputy director, and Hubert Myers, Director, FBI. Axe rose from his chair, set a CD player on Daniels's desk, then turned it on. A pair of disembodied, computer-generated voices began to speak. "Who's speaking, please?" "HYDRA." "I'll be brief. You may want to cancel the mission. It's why we haven't sent the money yet." "Why? What's happened?" "GERALD's under surveillance." "When did you find this out?" "Earlier today." "I'll call you back in ten minutes." Woodring glanced at Hockaday in horror, the words "Consult T-COM for decrypt approval" mixed with the text of HYDRA's message swimming in his head. Axe hit the button a second time. "Who's speaking, please?" "It's HYDRA. If you take care of GERALD, I'm still in." "Done." A temporary silence gripped the room, the terrible reality of HYDRA's message holding them in its thrall. Woodring looked from face to face, but no one returned his gaze. Axe walked to the windows and started shutting all the blinds, then the room went dark, and a silent film began to play on a small screen behind Daniels's head. "I'd like each of you to watch this," Daniels spoke in the dark. "The film you're about to see was taken on the afternoon of Chauncey Laudon's death." Laudon had been CIA Deputy Director of Operations under Kennedy, and later became DCI himself. He had perished in a mysterious fire at his home over a dozen years ago. On the screen a grim-faced man in overalls suddenly appeared, jabbing a crowbar into the living room wall of Laudon's house, until he applied enough pressure to rip the panel from the wall. A second man immediately took the broken slab and passed an oval- shaped wand across it, repeating the process several times until he was satisfied it didn't contain any hidden bugs. Behind both men sat a six-foot-high metal rack of sensitive electronic equipment, blinking silently as they went about their work. The scene abruptly switched to an oak-paneled study, where another pair of investigators was busying themselves by pulling every volume off the shelves of Loudon's extensive personal library and passing them through a small pair of stainless steel metal bars, similar to those found at airport security checkpoints. If nothing unusual was found, the book was unceremoniously tossed into a large black plastic lawn bag. Inside the upstairs bedroom, a third pair of technicians was sweeping every surface, while another tech monitored the results on a rack of equipment identical to the set being used downstairs. The picture suddenly jerked, racing towards the equipment rack. A bright red light was flashing on and off on one of the many amplifiers, then several more lights began to flash, and the first technician furiously gestured to his partner with the wand in his hand. The expression on the face of the man holding the wand froze in terror--the neutron scanner to which the wand was connected was frantically indicating the presence of a large concentration of the almost undetectable plastic explosive, Semtex. Daniels' audience watched in horror as one of the techs next threw himself head-first through the second story window and disappeared from view. Then the film went blank. "Jesus Christ," uttered Myers. His face covered by the frozen image of the fallen house, Daniels spoke, "Several months after the film was taken, an anonymous package, containing a small address book was received at the Hoover Building. It was addressed to me, Lincoln Daniels, Director. After further investigation we guessed the address book had most probably been sent by one of Laudon's neighbors, who had found it in his yard and correctly guessed its owner. "As I skimmed through its pages in my office, I immediately recognized several listings belonging to former agents of the Secret Service, CIA and the FBI . . . and listed right along with them were the names of several individuals who at one time or another had been logged into the FBI's national crime databank . . . Almost every one of the individuals in the databank had been prime suspects to one or more murder charges, most of which were never proven. "When I met with the President that evening and explained the situation to him, he immediately ordered this entire group to be eliminated, using whatever means were necessary . . . . . . Of the 15 individuals mentioned in the book, all of them were apprehended--except one." "My God," whispered Myers. "It took us some time to deduce how Laudon had managed to communicate with this group for such a long period and escape detection. We were a small team, but we checked hundreds of telephone logs, interviewed dozens of people, turned NSA upside down, until somebody came across an obscure memorandum from the Atlanta field office--" Suddenly Daniels's telephone rang, startling all of them. "Send him in," Daniels spoke into the receiver and hung up. A moment later, two security personnel escorted a tall black man with slightly gray hair in the door. For the next ten minutes a retired Atlanta police inspector told the astonished group how in 1980 he had interrupted an assassination in progress whose target had been Senator Edward Kennedy. "They all insisted they were federal agents and flashed valid ID at us." "Go on," Daniels urged. "Well, we just didn't buy it--but, then, we didn't have much choice--" "What do you mean 'much choice?'" Myers interrupted. "We, ah, sir, were ordered by both the FBI and CIA, or what we thought was the CIA and FBI, to free the prisoners." For the first time in his carrer the FBI Director felt goose bumps crawl across his skin. "Free the prisoners?" "Yes, sir, all three of them." "Lincoln?" "Neither our nor FBI's records have any mention of the event." "Lieutenant?" prompted Axe. "Yes, sir?" "Why don't you tell these men what happened next." "Well sir, to put it mildly, these boys were pretty well equipped. I mean they obviously came to do the a job--had everything--phony IDs, ski masks, ropes, government papers, pistols, thousands of dollars in hundred dollar bills, well, they even had commando daggers. Then I saw the box." Inspector Rainey abruptly ceased his dialogue and glanced at Daniels for permission to continue. "Tell them." "It was like a briefcase, and before I realized what I was doing, I had my men cover me while I opened it. I thought it was gonna be filled with drugs--it wasn't--it was a telephone." "Tell them what happened next," Axe urged. "Feds called Chief Clark and told him to give all the evidence back, even the diagram of Senator Kennedy's room--so we did. Except one thing, I kept the box. I'd left it at my home by mistake. Once I heard they told the chief to destroy all the evidence I just kept it. Put it in my attic and forgot about it. "Months later I woke up in the middle of the night--thought my house was on fire or something, cause I heard a beeping sound and I thought it was the smoke alert. Then I realized it was the briefcase phone--someone was calling me on the box." "Did you answer it?" Woodring asked. "Yes sir. The caller said 'This is Laudon.' When I said 'Laudon who?', he hung up." "The exact same box HYDRA's using," Axe stated with a grim finality. "9,600- bits-per-second, 30-kilohertz range, our software, our codes, the whole works." Each attendee turned his head as Keith Axe passed him a manila envelope, sealed in wax. Hubert Myers wordlessly began to tear open the seal on his envelope, while the others followed, one by one. No one in the room could believe the contents of the secret table enclosed inside the envelope. This one sheet of paper, seen on the front page of the New York Times would be enough to shake the government to its core, causing the collapse of the entire American intelligence community for decades. On the left side of the list were a series of names and dates, while on the right was a corresponding set of summarized telephone conversations, listed by caller, date, and telephone number. No one in the room needed any further explanation as to the table's relevance, the names in the left-hand column were all too familiar: Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, Federal Judge John Wood, Edward Kennedy. Edward Kennedy's name was listed with a corresponding set of HYDRA's telephone conversations to the right. "As you can see from the record of the telephone transcripts before each of you, whoever was using this device was present before, during, and immediately after each of these . . . events." "Hold on a second, Lincoln! You're saying this same type of device was used to make all these calls?" objected Myers. "Not quite," Daniels replied. "After Lieutenant Rainey sent me his telephone, at the President's request we flew it to Cheltenham and had GCHQ find out what codes it used, then run a non-treaty search on all U.S. telecoms, radio, satellite, everything, looking for any transmissions using these same codes." "You mean--" Myers began. "That's right," replied Daniels, "Laudon changed the equipment but he kept the same codes as he upgraded. Otherwise we would have never found out." For the second time the room fell into total silence. "Gentlemen, Chauncey Laudon was insane," Daniels continued. "We'll never know what his true motivations were, but these tables make clear the extent of the damage he and his band of renegades caused this country. And I don't think I have to tell you that if even a hint that Chauncey Laudon was operating his own personal band of assassins were to get out, the whole national security apparatus of this country would risk being dismantled. "Woody, starting now, you're in charge of tracking this man down and eliminating him," Daniels ordered, astonishing Woodring and the others by the ease with which he had just accepted the strong possibility that HYDRA was a former American intelligence officer. "I've already discussed this with the President and he's just signed an NSDD, which essentially strips any and all suspects in this case of their civil rights." At this point Axe handed each of Daniels's guests a copy of National Security Decision Directive No. 208, while Daniels continued speaking. "According to our in-house counsel, the Federal Emergency Management Act gives us the authority we need to support this, Woody. We've already gone to Judge Sachs and had him issue you enough blank warrants to tap any suspect's phones, read his mail, blackbag his house, hold him without a writ of habeas corpus or whatever else you feel you need to do." "Yes, sir," Woodring replied automatically, then startled everyone by asking, "Sir?" Daniels raised his eyebrows. "I just have one last question for the Lieutenant," Woodring pressed, and Daniels allowed him to continue. "Do you have any idea at this time where any of the three men you arrested might be?" "Yes, sir. I do." "Wait a minute!" Axe protested. "You told us before you let them all go!" "That's what I told you in 1980, Mr. Axe, but two years later I turned on my television set and saw Volz being taken into court by some Federal Marshalls--" "Into court! Jesus! What was he charged with?" "Murder. Harry Volz was charged with murdering a federal judge." "Where is he now?" demanded Woodring. "Volz's in Marion Penitentiary, sir," replied the police lieutenant. "Thank you, Lieutenant," Daniels sighed, then picked up his telephone. A moment later the same two security personnel escorted him out of Daniels's office. The limousine ride back to Washington with his superior, FBI Director Hubert Myers, was possibly the most uncomfortable trips in David Woodring's life. For even though Myers's limousine was swept daily to check for bugs, Woodring didn't think it prudent to discuss the subject of their recent meeting at CIA headquarters in the car, and he was a bit surprised when Myers abruptly broke the silence as they rushed along Shirley Memorial Highway. "Woody, I assume you're familiar with the Hostage Rescue Team?" Woodring nodded affirmatively. He knew the bureau's fifty-man Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) was the chief civilian counterterrorist team available to the executive branch. Members of the HRT normally trained with military counterterrorist units, including the Navy SEALs, Marines, 82nd Airborne, and Delta Force, each of them often engaged in spirited rivalries with their competitors to see who could "neutralize" a terrorist attack first. Like its competitors, the HRT had copied many of the original training procedures and tactics of Britain's Special Air Service, including the SAS's all- black uniforms and balaclava hoods to hide its members' identities. Myers informed Woodring that for the duration of the investigation he would be guarded day and night by a rotating force of twenty-four HRT agents in four six-hour- long shifts of six men each. On days when Woodring was inside the Hoover Building, his security force would be reduced to three men, with the remaining trio stationed at Woodring's house in Falls Church. Travel to cities outside Washington would be accomplished in a GSA-owned Learjet bearing civilian markings. It was understood that newly assigned security force would also accompany Woodring on any such trip. Over the Potomac River Myers also ordered Woodring to immediately move his office from the eleventh floor of the Hoover Building to the FBI's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) on the seventh floor. Originally established by the CIA under William Casey in response to the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985, the CTC was the first time that CIA officers were ordered to cooperate with other government agencies in investigations of major terrorists. The CTC's formation almost caused a civil war between the analysts in the CIA's Directorate of Information and members of the clandestine service in the Directorate of Operations. Analysts in DI claimed their conclusions would be slanted or bypassed altogether if they proved to be unpopular, while covert operations staff in DO complained the formerly inviolate Chinese Wall between field operatives and headquarters was being torn asunder. All of which paled in importance, when, in the early evening of December 21, 1988, a single jet airplane, Pan Am 103, flying to New York from London's Heathrow Airport, exploded in the sky 30,000 feet over Lockerbie, Scotland. Suddenly, the overall agent in charge of the CTC was given unlimited access not only to resources within the CIA, but also at the State Department, Federal Aviation Administration, FBI, Secret Service, and Pentagon. In addition, the CIA's multi-parameter extensive database on terrorism, a system known in intelligence circles as DESIST, was made available. DESIST tracks hundreds of different terrorists and their associates, their sources of funding, and any known contacts between them and the various secret services. After ending the Lockerbie investigation, control of the CTC was passed from the CIA to the FBI, which was a more natural choice, due to the bureau's role as America's major counterintelligence agency. By placing Woodring temporarily in charge of CTC, Myers had cleverly positioned him to be able to request information from any of the CTC's member organizations without raising any eyebrows. Woodring's staff would be able to send cables to CIA offshore stations, liaise with friendly foreign intelligence agencies, demand access to desk officers and operatives at the FBI, FAA, State and the Pentagon, and instruct officers at the National Security Agency to perform communications intercepts. Some of which he might need to do, Woodring knew, if he were, in fact, trying to locate and neutralize a highly capable former American intelligence agent. Director Myers's armored car bounced over the threshold of the Hoover Building's underground garage and sailed down the driveway, stopping suddenly next to a guardpost in front of an elevator bank. Three plainclothesmen with unfamiliar faces and muscular builds who were standing next to the regular sentry approached the car and opened its doors, then followed Myers and Woodring into the director's private elevator. When the elevator stopped at the seventh floor where the CTC's headquarters were located, the three plainclothesmen followed him out. Two of the trio took up preassigned posts at each end of the hallway, while the third accompanied Woodring as he strode past a row of apprehensive analysts seated at their desks. Woodring entered the empty corner office and locked the door behind him, leaving the third agent stationed outside his door, then picked up the telephone and ordered the duty officer to ready his staff for an immediate flight to Marion, Illinois. Chapter 23 Less than fifteen minutes after he had received Woodring's call, Joss Hall, Resident-Agent-in-Charge of the Carbondale, Illinois FBI regional office, leapt in his Oldsmobile 88 with three other FBI agents and raced sixteen miles across State Highway 13, veering off an access road near a tall water tower. Hall swerved left at the water tower, roaring past the parking lot and slamming to a stop, where he and his men were met by a pair of startled guards. Directly behind them was a wall of razor wire which fully encircled the U.S. penitentiary at Marion. USP Marion is America's toughest lockup, the new Alcatraz for incorrigibles, prison gang leaders, escape artists and unmanageable felons so violent they must be separated from inmates in the nation's other prisons. Every one of its prisoners is in solitary confinement in an 8-by-8-by-6-foot cell 23 hours a day 365 days a year. Exercise is restricted to only an hour a day, during which each inmate is only allowed to walk along the corridor in his tier, before he is returned to his cell. Marion USP has no cafeteria, no prison industry, no group recreation, no visiting entertainment and no prison yard for inmates to mingle in. Prisoners amuse themselves by manufacturing alcohol from cornflakes dumped in toilets, carving miniature plastic knives out of toothbrushes, fashioning hacksaws from the metal frames of the air ducts, or by swallowing contraband and storing it inside their intestinal tracts. "FBI, we're here to see Warden Joiner," Hall announced. One of the corrections officers reached for a telephone, but Hall grabbed his wrist, holding it firmly. "We're unexpected," Hall whispered, motioning to the guard to hang up. After repeating the same performance at the security checkpoint in the lobby, the four FBI agents took the elevator to the warden's office on the sixth floor. A male secretary sitting next to a plate-glass window controlled the door with an automatic lock, separating the warden, Ed Joiner, from the outside. "FBI, we're here to see Warden Joiner," Hall announced. "Warden, there's a couple of men from the FBI out --" "Send 'em in!" the intercom blared back. Hall marched into a gold-carpeted room with a pair of green leather couches against the walls and an architectural model of the prison sat a coffee table in its center. "How can I help you?" Joiner's expression hardened when he noticed all his visitors were wearing pins on their lapels. "We have a National Security Intelligence Decision Directive regarding one of your prisoners," Hall responded immediately and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and set it on Joiner's desk. "Volz's in Control Unit--we were told to keep him there by Washington-- look this doesn't mean shit to me, we can't release people out of Marion without a judge's order . . . I've never seen one of these since--" the warden was interrupted by the telephone "--just a minute," At first all Joiner heard was static, then a special operator came back on the line and asked Joiner to hold a moment for Paul Henson, Director, U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Warden Joiner involuntarily cleared his throat every few seconds, while Henson patiently enumerated the legal ramifications of a classified National Security Directive to him. "Yes, sir, uh hmm, uh hmm, yes, sir, I'll have him released from solitary myself--. . . no, no, no. No, sir, if you don't wish me to go personally, I understand of course . . . sure, sure, we've got a couple of extra unif--" Joiner stopped short. "Right," he answered, then hung up. Beads of sweat slipped down his forehead and stung his eyes and his palms felt like sponges. He avoided looking Hall in the eye as he spoke, "O.K., he's yours." Outside the Warden's office, Hall and his men were met by a squad of corrections officers handpicked from the regular staff, who were members of the Strategic Operations Response Team, better known to the inmates as the Goon Squad. Each officer carried a black Lifetime riot bludgeon, a three-foot-long hardwood club with a steel ball on its top, designed especially to tear the intercostal muscles between the ribs without breaking them. Hall and his men followed directly behind, walking along the ranges filled with louvered concrete cells. Hall thought he noticed the smell of burning paint mixed in with general odor of human sweat. "What's that smell?" "Lock's being changed," snapped one of the guards. "Fuckers see the key more than once they go carve themselves a copy." A red-headed guard wearing the uniform of the prison's Strategic Operations Response Team swung Volz's cell door open, stood away from him, so Volz couldn't slam the door on him. Two FBI agents stood behind the guard looking like twins with the same height, same build, and similar impassive expressions. "Harold Volz?" Hall spoke. "I'm Harry Volz, yes." "O.K., let's move it." "Who are you guys?" "I'm Johnson and he's Johnson," Hall lied. "Right. Mind telling me where I'm going, Johnson and Johnson?" asked Volz, getting up off the bunk. "Yeah, Volz, we do mind." Hall motioned with his head towards the corridor then frowned at Volz as if he were wasting their time. Volz made no response. "You ready--or are we going to be here all night?" Volz warily got off his bunk and let Hall lead him up a concrete stairwell to the sixth floor, where they stopped right before the metal door. "Take off your shirt," ordered agent Hall. Volz did as he was told and a second FBI agent handed Volz some civilian clothes. "What are these for? What's going on here?" "Just put them on," snapped Hall, motioning Volz towards a small elevator. Volz entered the elevator to find a second pair of plainclothesmen inside, one holding the door- open button, while the other held a gun. After the elevator doors shut, Volz examined his new clothes. The FBI agents had put him in expensive business suit with a tight-fitting custom-made cotton shirt underneath. The moment the elevator door opened, the four FBI plainclothesmen duckwalked Volz across the asphalt- and gravel-covered roof, where the downwash of an incongruous Navy Sea King was blowing dirt in the air. When he leapt aboard, Volz caught a glimpse of Woodring's grim face through the open main rear door, realizing then what they must have come for. Chapter 24 When Harry Volz awoke everything around him was pitch black, and when he raised up his head it bumped into something. It also felt as if he had the worst hangover of his life. The memory of Woodring's face inside the Learjet, the two black men who had opened his cell door at Marion, the helicopter on the penitentiary's roof, seemed to possess him in some way, repeating over and over in his mind. His hand touched a flat surface, then his other hand felt the same thing. For a moment he panicked--he was dead- -it was over, the men who had picked him up had found out what they wanted and had disposed of him. Or else, he was about to die, but it was too hard to think about; memories flooded his mind without end. His father's fist flew straight at his helpless face inside a gymnasium, missing him, smashing into a wall, and a bathroom was filled with a roaring agony. Police! Police! Keep your hands up! Police! He was a prisoner now, a prisoner of his mind. The sluice gates opened and hundreds of visions rushed out. Hey! You don't have a warrant for that! "Come on, Lieutenant, we're on your team." Woodring watched the interrogator turn off the microphone and slump back in his swivel chair from exhaustion. Volz's incoherent animal groans and screams played over a monitor in a glassed-in room where several grim-faced men sat, waiting for him to break. "How much longer?" Woodring asked in disgust. "He's ready now," the interrogator answered. "Get him out. I want to get this over with." Woodring watched through the one-way glass as Volz was carried into the room with his feet dragging and strapped into what resembled an electric chair, while a specialist attached electrodes to his body. His tongue was slack and hung out his mouth like a dog's. Volz now faced a blank, mirrored wall, and the operator sat next to him at a wooden desk with a control board inserted in its top. A top-of-the-line, five-pen Lafayette polygraph would measure the response of Volz's respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, and electrodermal levels to the questions Woodring had instructed his team to ask. "What is your name?" "Volz . . . Harry Volz." "That's good. Are you happy to be outside?" "Yes, very hap-py." "Where do you live?" "I live in Marion . . . USP." "Good, Harry. That's very good. Do you have dreams?" Inside the hidden control room, a second pair of operators sat next to Woodring in swivel chairs, watching a duplicate set of pens march across the roll of polygraph paper. "EDR's good," murmured one. Two electrodes had been placed on the top of Volz's ring and index fingers to measure his skin's resistance to electricity by means of a galvanometer placed in the circuitry. The second operator busied himself leafing through Volz's extensive medical prison record, reconfirming that no conditions existed which would adversely affect the test. "Will you be telling me the truth today?" "Yes." "Good. Are you afraid I might ask you something you would prefer not to discuss?" "Yes." "That's alright. This won't take long." "Look at his toes." "What?" asked Woodring. "Look at his toes, he's pressing them to the floor," repeated the operator in the control room, pointing at a television camera which had been focused on Volz's bare feet. "Do you hear voices in your head?" "No." Woodring noticed the tip of Volz's big toe turn red as soon as the floor operator spoke. "Check his tongue." "You think he's biting it?" "Have you ever had convulsions?" "No." "Blackouts?" "No." The operator next to Woodring flipped a switch on his console and whispered something into his hands-free headset. The floor operator nodded slightly in response. "Harry, are you squeezing your toes when I ask you questions?" "No." "You're sure of that?" "Yes." "Would you like to see a film of your toes?" "No." "When I just asked you about the film, did you bite your tongue?" "No. Yes. No." "Asshole," Woodring muttered to himself in the control room. "Do you have dreams?" "Yes . . . many." "He's stopped using countermeasures." The control room operator touched the responding chart with his finger, indicating to Woodring where a pattern of jagged sine waves had levelled out to form a regular pattern. "Good. I have dreams, too. What did you dream about today, Harry?" "Sheraton." "The Sheraton Hotel?" "Yeah, the hotel . . . airport." Woodring slipped the small black address book Daniels had given him from his pocket and absentmindedly turned its pages, flattening it with his palm when he found Volz's name. "Were you there in your dream?" "Yeah, me and the others." "Who were the others? Were they your friends?" "Yeah, Colman and Bartel . . . old friends." Woodring found the names of Bartel and Colman next to each other on the page opposite Volz's, while the agent next to him marked the number on the taped transcript which corresponded to Volz's mention of the two names. "Harry, why did you and your friends go to the hotel?" "To kill him . . . to kill the senator . . ." The interrogator shot Woodring a glance, and he nodded for him to continue. Next to Woodring, sat Lieutenant Rainey, who looked on in horror. "Who told you to kill the senator, Harry?" "Bartel . . . Bartel got the job." "Is Bartel your friend's first name, Harry?" "No." "Is Bartel his last name?" "Yeah, Benn-ett. Bennett Bartel. Kinda rhymes." "Yes, it does, doesn't it?" During this exchange Woodring had picked up a headset to a secure telephone and began to issue a series of instructions in a soft voice. "Harry, is Bennett Bartel your friend's real name?" "No." As he spoke Volz's eyes focused and refocused on the plate glass window behind which sat Woodring's interrogation team. Sweat poured off the killer's brow and soaked through his shirt. Woodring noticed Volz was beginning to struggle with his bonds, hung up the telephone and whispered something in the ear of the tech next to him, who relayed the message to the operator on the floor. "Harry, do you know if Bartel was ever in the service?" "Who's back there?" "Back where, Harry?" "Who's behind that glass?" "Harry, do you know if Bartel ever served in the armed forces?" "I wanna know who's behind that window before I answer that." His eyes glistening like an animal's, Volz was now staring directly at the spot where Woodring was sitting. Woodring picked up the microphone in front of him and pressed the transmit switch. "Harry, this is Assistant Director Woodring. I'm sitting in the control room. What seems to be the problem?" "Come on out where I can see you." Woodring sighed and glanced at the operator next to him, then left his chair and made his way to the floor. The interrogator sitting next to Volz noticed Volz's lip was trembling, while the polygraph's five pens began to jump erratically. A door opened and Woodring stepped into the room without his jacket on, revealing a shoulder holster holding a .38. "Give me a pen," Volz demanded. Woodring nodded to the operator who in turn handed Volz a felt-tip pen and a single sheet of paper. Volz wrote out two words, then folded the paper in half and held it in his right hand. Woodring strode forward in three quick steps but Volz was too fast for him and yanked the paper back, holding it near his mouth, causing Woodring to stop short. "What do I get?" Woodring said nothing, but kept his gaze fixed squarely on Volz's hands. "Come on, what do I get?" Woodring remained frozen in place, shifting his glance almost imperceptibly towards the operator. Volz saw the motion out of the corner of his eye, but the electronic charge racing up his spine into his brain arrived at the speed of light. His right hand froze where it was, then shook violently as the slip of paper wafted to the floor. None of those present would ever forget the animal savagery of Volz's cry. "Get him out of here!" Woodring snarled, unfolding the paper in his hand. China Lake. Chapter 25 Lincoln Daniels suddenly glanced at his watch and set down the book he was reading, then picked up the telephone to talk with the sentry who was posted outside his house. "Yes, sir." "David Woodring is coming by with another man, and as far as you're concerned this visit is off the books. You know what Woody looks like, and as long as his guest isn't holding a gun to his back, let 'em pass," Daniels ordered. Inside the sentry's car the words, "WOODRING, DAVID, FBI, ADCI, CHEROKEE BLAZER, VA #555-573", flashed across a small CRT mounted in the dash. A moment later, the sentry saw a pair of headlights belonging to Woodring's Cherokee Blazer rounding the island to the north of Daniels' home. The sentry unsnapped the leather strap which held a mini-Uzi under his armpit, but stayed inside his car as he had just been ordered. He watched Woodring's Cherokee speed down the sidestreet and lurch to an abrupt halt in front of Daniels' white colonial. The ADCI sure seemed seemed to be in a hurry, the sentry thought. Woodring had just left his Blazer parked halfway up the curb and was jogging up the path to the DCI's front door. The second man was unable to maintain Woodring's pace and lagged behind the FBI Assistant Director. The sentry took careful note that both Woodring's and his companion's hands were outside their coats and empty. Lincoln Daniels opened the steel-reinforced front door without a word, let both men inside, and immediately slammed it shut behind them. Daniels had every motivation to keep the identity of Woodring's companion a secret, even from his own security staff, since the very existence of the third man was one of the administration's greatest secrets. The DCI's other visitor was a special White House courier, whose sole function was to relay urgent messages from the Commander in Chief to a restricted circle of individuals in the various intelligence services, usually regarding certain executive directives which specified an existing threat to the national security. In the trade he was known as the Messenger of Death. "Our stress analysis guys just finished looking at Volz's test," Woodring half- gasped, worried by the look on Daniels's face. "They say it's real." Daniels held a thick, spiral-bound notebook in his hand, whose cover read in red and black block letters: RAINBOW CLEARANCE, CHINA LAKE SPECIAL OPERATIONS WEAPONS FACILITY. "You'd better go to China Lake tonight, and take one of our planes. I've already called Andrews and made the arrangements." "Yes sir." Outside Daniels' home a small, red warning light appear on the sentry's dashboard, followed by an earsplitting tone which jolted him in his seat. Next, the words HOMESDALE ETA 1:00 MINUTE flashed across his CRT and the sentry felt his armpits grow moist. Translated into English, the message had just informed him that a helicopter would be landing in Lincoln Daniels's back yard in less than sixty seconds. The agent burst out his car door and shoved his suit coat aside as he ran around Daniels's house. He was just in time to catch Woodring and his two bodyguards jogging towards a HH-1H, which was hovering above the lawn. Chapter 26 Not many aircraft in the government's fleet of civilian transport were capable of making the 2,600-mile-long journey from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to the China Lake Naval Weapons Center in California nonstop. In fact, there were only two, the Gulfstream C-20A and the Boeing C-137. They were modified versions of the Gulfstream III executive jet and the Boeing 707-120 airliner, and had a range of 4,718 and 5,150 miles respectively. Upon boarding Daniels's helicopter, Woodring was informed that a Gulfstream C-20A had already been preflighted by the 89th Military Airlift Wing Command and was waiting for him and his men on the tarmac. When the HH-1H Huey arrived at Andrews' Heliport fifteen minutes later it was met by two vans filled with HRT agents who escorted Woodring to the end of runway 7 whereupon Woodring and his platoon of bodyguards boarded the C-20A. According to a hastily filed and false flight plan, United Airlines Flight No. 5575 from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles had just departed. The first five hours of the flight passed without incident; the Gulfstream passed from one Air Route Traffic Control Center to another, appearing all the while to be strictly maintaining the parameters of its flight plan. Woodring had ordered the HRT pilot to broadcast all radio contacts over the public address system in the cabin, so he would be immediately apprised of any change in the airplane's status, and right before Flight 5575 crossed the Nevada-California border, Los Angeles Center recontacted the plane. "Cherokee Six One Tango, squawk one two zero six and ident." "Cherokee Six One Tango, squawking one two zero six," repeated the Gulfstream's pilot. The controller inside the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center rechecked the position of the plus sign which represented Flight 5575 on his monitor. Below the plus sign, in addition to the jet's four-digit transponder code were two more numbers which indicated its altitude in feet and its speed in knots. Both readouts indicated that Flight 5575 was far north of Las Vegas, way out of its flight path for landing at LAX. The controller had just asked the pilot to push the IDENT button on his transponder to give the controller's radar beacon system more data. He did a double take when the standard 1200 transponder code was replaced with ID number 0101. ID 0101 was an unusual Federal Emergency Management Act code which meant: the flight you have just contacted doesn't exist. Meanwhile, an increasingly nervous controller at China Lake Naval Weapons Center was watching FEMA ID 0101 cross the Panamint Mountains at 500 miles per hour, heading directly into China Lake's 1,800-square mile restricted military operations area. He pressed the toggle switch on his console, then began to speak into his headset. "Aircraft on China Lake, descending to flight level two zero zero, squawk zero three one two." The familiar pattern of a short-range civilian radar transmitter suddenly expanded, indicating whoever was flying ID 0101 possessed unusually powerful transmitting equipment, but the analyst ignored it, he was busy rifling his desk for a special one-time code pad. He nervously flattened the code book in front of him, double checking the three-letter message he had just received. After deciphering Woodring's message, he punched a certain number into his telephone. "Base security," the operator responded. "Give me Sergeant Roberts." "Just a minute." "Roberts," the sergeant said, picking up his telephone. "We've got a zero-one flight ETA here in fifteen minutes and they want you on the tarmac with a ladder and three jeeps the moment they arrive." The sergeant slammed down the phone, jabbed three sentries who were asleep in the guard hut and ordered them to follow him out onto the runway each in a separate jeep. The C-20A roared past, its tires searing the runway as the tiny four-vehicle convoy raced after it. The pilot threw the pair of Rolls-Royce Fll1-RR-100 turbofans in reverse, drastically slowing his runway speed. The plane stopped and as Roberts neared the aircraft in his vehicle, its hatch flew open, framing a pair of plainclothesmen holding Heckler & Koch MP5-5D2 submachine guns. "Jesus," he muttered under his breath, hoping the base controller hadn't misinformed him about their new arrivals. The moment he lined up the ladder to the hatch, two plainclothesmen leapt down it two steps at a time and flashed their IDs in his face. "FBI. Stay where you are. You pull out a weapon and we'll shoot a hole through you." Roberts and his astonished ground crew watched as ten more plainclothesmen filed down the ladder, followed by Woodring, who ordered Robert's men out of the jeeps, leaving them under guard by a pair of agents, before Woodring raced across the runway into the gloom. The first security checkpoint Woodring encountered lay directly outside the airstrip. He raised his hand and the two jeeps behind him screeched to a halt. "My name is Dr. Holland," Woodring told the Marine in the guardhouse without emotion. The sentry jerked alert at the special name, instantly noticing the two plainclothesmen in Woodring's jeep had their hands on their holsters. The fourth passenger, sitting in the front seat next to Holland and dressed as a civilian, said nothing. "Yes, sir." Woodring's jeep sped through the gate, the two sentries watching the dust rise off the road in its wake. Woodring repeated the same procedure at the next four guardposts, until, finally, at the fifth, he handed a wary female sentry a copy of NSDD 208, waited for her to read it, then demanded she escort him to Dr. Brimbecombe's private residence. Dr. Ernest Brimbecombe was the civilian commander of the Special Operations Weapons Facility and also possessed a combined Ph.D. in nuclear physics and engineering. Caught totally unawares by Woodring's arrival, Brimbecombe came to the door of his ranch house in his robe and slippers, since no one in Washington had even called him about an unannounced visit. "Dr. Brimbecombe--" the sentry began to explain. "I know this man, thank you, corporal," muttered Brimbecombe, frightened by the name Holland on Woodring's plastic name tag. "I want my people around the house," Woodring spoke in no uncertain terms, startling Brimbecome even more. "All right," answered Brimbecombe, surprising the sentry with his immediate acquiescence. No one said anything until she left, leaving Brimbecombe alone with David Woodring and Detective Rainey. "Dr. Brimbecombe, I have come here under the authority of National Security Decision Directive No. 208, a copy of which I am allowed to show you before we begin our search," Woodring announced, then slipped the sheet of paper into Brimbecombe's hands. Brimbecombe read the document in shock, immediately recognizing the National Security Council crest and the texture of the special paper. "What is this? What do you want?" "We're looking for the man who used this box." Woodring handed the startled base commander a copy of HYDRA's transcript and a matching spec sheet for the spread spectrum multiplexer. "Who's GERALD?" "We're pretty sure it's a reference to Dr. Victor Saleh--" "Saleh? The one in La Jolla at FHI?" "Right." "You're saying one of our people's tied up in his--" "We think he might have worked here." "An employee of ours?" "Probably an ex-employee," Woodring relented a bit. "But since we don't know how far back we're going to have to look, I want to access to the records of everyone who's come through here for the last fifteen years." "The last fifteen years? You mean you don't know his name?" "No. We only have two individuals who may have seen his face. One is in detention, the other is standing right in front of you," responded Woodring, nodding towards Detective Rainey. "We'll have to go to the command center to get the files," sighed Brimbecombe. "Wait here a second while I put on my clothes." Woodring snapped his fingers and the FBI HRT plainclothesman stationed outside came to attention. "Yes, sir?" "I want an escort to the command center--ten men." "Yes, sir." Two jeeps, each packed with four heavily armed HRT agents, sandwiched Woodring and Brimbecombe as they sped to the command center in a third. Brimbecombe began to believe his life might really be at risk, but the short ride through the cold mountain air was uneventful. The column came to a halt outside a manned guard post protected by a twelve-foot-high chain link fence with floodlights on each corner. Woodring leapt out, shoving his ID in the sentry's face. "Bring those with us," Woodring commanded, and two FBI agents hefted two legal-sized record storage boxes from the back of their jeep, following Woodring inside past the startled guard. A second pair of agents motioned for Dr. Brimbecombe to follow them inside. "You've brought a duplicate set of records? Why was that necessary?" Brimbecombe gasped, watching Woodring's agents arrange stacks of yellowed files on the desks. "Doctor Brimbecombe, I'd like you to pull the names of everyone who had any type of disciplinary problem here whatsoever, can you do that on your computer?" "Yes." Ten minutes later the somewhat nonplussed base commander handed Woodring a short, one-page-long printout with ten names on it. "Great. Pull each of their files and give them to him, picture ID showing." Brimbecombe glanced at Rainey, then punched in a series of numbers on an electronic lock which opened the door of an inner room, and disappeared inside. "I want you to pull the same files he pulls and turn them so the picture IDs are showing and hand them to him with the one matching it from the safe," Woodring instructed the two agents. Brimbecome handed Lieutenant Rainey the file folders he had pulled from his safe, as did Woodring's man, and the police detective carefully examined the ID photographs of each pair, before setting them aside. "Nope. Not here," Rainey said, both his hands pressed against the desk. "Figures," muttered Woodring. "All right, hook that thing up and let's see what's next." One of the HRT agents slapped a small laptop computer on a desk, plugged a CD ROM unit into it attached to two small speakers, then inserted a floppy disk which contained the name of everyone who had ever been stationed at China Lake, and typed in a series of commands. The CD ROM contained a master list of death certificates which had been recently created by the Social Security Administration to guard against computer fraud, of which it had been a serious victim. Seconds later, the HRT agent handed Woodring a printout of over a score of names. Edwin D. Bailey had died on May 26, 1951, more than two decades before the Weapons Center had even been in existence. Inside the vault, Brimbecome quickly found Bailey's file and opened it, folding it back so that the ID photograph was revealed, then handed it to Woodring, who in turn handed it immediately to Detective Rainey. "That's him. But--" "But what?" demanded Woodring. "When I saw him in Atlanta he had red hair and a beard, like I told you." Woodring grabbed the file out of Rainey's hands. "Fax this to Daniels over CRITIC," Woodring ordered one of his men, "Then call and have the jet preflighted, we're going back." A quick look at the contents of Bailey's file had been enough. Chapter 27 Generally unknown to the American public is the fact that the White House office complex contains two Situation rooms instead of just one, the endless repetition by the media of the phrase "White House Situation Room" notwithstanding. The original, or older, Situation Room does, in fact, lie in the basement of the west wing of the White House. It is a traditional dark- wood-panelled conference room with a large oval table in the middle which seats twelve and is small enough so that all the participants can hear and speak to one another. Along the room's perimeter another fourteen chairs are arranged so each member of the President's National Security Council can bring along one of his staff for backup. Traditional access to the old Situation Room is through an entrance visible to the omnipresent White House press corps--and anyone else who might choose to make a study of the Executive branch's comings and goings. The second, more recently constructed Situation Room, or "Room 208" as it is known to the White House staff, is found in the Old Executive Office Building, which itself lies directly next to the White House. The Old Executive Office Building traditionally houses the President's National Security Council staff, the group responsible for keeping the chief executive informed on foreign policy (and not to be confused with the National Security Agency at Fort George G. Meade, an intelligence organization). After a raft of terrorist incidents in the 1980s, a certain aggressive former NSC staffer in the Reagan Administration named Oliver North lobbied for and succeeded in having Room 208 outfitted with the latest electronic gadgetry, computers, visual display equipment, and a combination lock on the door. The "crisis center", as Room 208 is sometimes also called, also possesses a long wooden conference table situated in the middle of the room. Meetings of the President's national security advisers which, sometimes by their very nature sometimes demand a clandestine setting, are often held in the Situation Room in the Old Executive Office Building instead of in the White House basement in order both to avoid the prying eyes of the White House press corps and also to allow the participants to arrive at as many different entrances to the complex as possible. And, in fact, before dawn that morning several key members of the Executive branch had received an abrupt summons to do just that--each invitee was told to report to Room 208 at 7:00 a.m. sharp and given a specific entrance to use with no further explanation. And after each participant arrived inside the Old Executive Office Building, exited the elevator on the second floor and walked into the corridor, he found himself immediately surrounded by a full platoon of heavily armed Secret Service agents who, in a highly irregular fashion, were holding unsheathed automatic weapons at port arms. After passing through the throng of Secret Service and entering Room 208 each invitee immediately realized what he had already begun to suspect--that he had been called to an assembly of the President's national security high command: seeing each other in attendance were Al Gore, Vice President; Lawrence Maddox, the President's chief of staff; J. Mark McDowell, National Security Advisor; Lincoln Daniels, Director, Central Intelligence; Hubert Myers, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Frank Chalmers, Director, National Security Agency; Air Force General Haywood Ford, Commander, National Reconnaissance Office, Sunnyvale, California; Air Force General Olsen, Commander, Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC), NSA; General Praeger, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency; and finally, Wesley Reynolds, the FBI official in charge of Command Black, a secret division of the bureau's Hostage Response Team which acts as the federal government's secret nuclear operations commando group. Each attendee was also immediately aware that the combined presence of such an unusual group could mean only one of a few things: either America was about to go to war, a remote possibility given the present geopolitical situation and the noticeable absence of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; or, secondly, a declaration of Condition STARE DECISIS under the Federal Emergency Management Act was about to be made due to an event which each invitee would have preferred to never have to contemplate, e.g., nationwide rioting; or, finally, some other emergency that directly affected the security of the nation. A small spotlight now illuminated the humorless face of Lincoln Daniels, and behind him a large area map of the world slowly revealed itself on a built-in movie screen. Major cities were noted by small red lights which blinked on and off. No one spoke a single word. There was a knock on the door, and Daniels checked his watch, then motioned to the Secret Service agent standing beside him to allow a second set of guests to enter. Each attendee at the table nervously shifted in his seat as a mixed crew of technicians, drawn from several different intelligence agencies, wheeled in several tall metal racks, each packed with obscure electronic instruments, and immediately went to work. "This will only take a moment," Daniels apologized to the group. Every square inch of every surface in Room 208 was subsequently swept and reswept by a range of devices, each one specifically designed to home in on different emanations across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. "Excuse me, General Ford, would you mind standing up?" one of the sweepers asked the Commander of the National Reconnaissance Office. The general grimaced, said nothing in response, and got out of his chair and faced the specialist. "Would you hand me your pen, please, sir?" "Here," Ford replied in open disgust. The specialist gingerly inserted the pen inside a hollow metal cylinder built into one of the devices on the rack. On the other side of the room one of the technicians winced as he passed his bizarrely shaped wand past the door of an innocent-looking console, stationed next to the south wall. "What is it?" muttered his superior, now hovering over his shoulder. "I'm getting something--several milliwatts--can't tell if it's the lamp or the table . . ." the specialist confessed. "Anybody know anything about this table?" the senior specialist suddenly asked the assembly in a loud voice. "This is ridiculous," groaned General Olsen. "I've never seen it in here before," answered McDowell, the National Security Advisor. "Get it out of here, pronto," ordered FBI Director Myers, motioning to two of his own people. The sudden sound of a powerful electric drill only served to heighten the unbearable level of tension in Room 208. Lincoln Daniels held his left index-finger to his lips to indicate that everyone should remain silent. The President's chief of staff bit his lower lip and stared straight into space. It was like a cancer, growing and gnawing at his insides. Specks of plaster flew into the air amidst the unholy racket--now several technicians had gathered about the gaping hole in the wall of the New Situation Room, one drilling, another pointing a long vacuum rod in the same direction, which resembled the shotgun microphone often used by the networks at football games, while a third man now scooped up the debris and fed it into a machine. A single light began to flash on the console of the amplifier which was analyzing the debris. "Bingo!" whispered the senior man. "Shit," Frank Chalmers, Director NSA. "Gentlemen." Lincoln Daniels had just called the meeting to order. The attendees who were sitting nearby noticed that as he broke the seal on the binder in front of him, the DCI's hands were shaking. "As Director of Central Intelligence of the United States, I feel compelled to inform you that a conspiracy involving one or more components of our strategic nuclear forces is believed to exist--" Daniels paused to clear his throat, it was already dry as a bone. Meanwhile each man looked at his neighbor with apprehension. Had the DCI just gone mad? "--each of you will find a summation of what we have found so far spelled out in his binder--" "Director Daniels!" "We believe that one or more Americans have been contracted," Daniels continued, ignoring the objection, "who has had previous involvement with one or more of our intelligence agencies." "Jesus!" "Director Dan--!" "I knew he should have never left that maniac in power," muttered Praeger, openly embarrassing Vice President Gore. "Silence! Gentlemen! Silence! There's no time for interruptions!" McDowell, the National Security Advisor, shouted. Lincoln Daniels took a deep breath, glanced at the Vice President, then sighed. "None of our intelligence regarding this, this--" Daniels stuttered, not wanting to give the incident a name "--all the evidence we have found supports the conclusion that this is much more than just a terrorist operation--" Outside Room 208 a pair of Secret Service agents holding Uzi submachine guns stopped David Woodring at the door. Woodring was holding a small CD player in his hand. "Just a minute, sir." "Excuse me?" Woodring asked. "What's that?" "Classified." "Sorry, sir. We're gonna have to have a look." "No way, pal. Call Daniels and tell him David Woodring's outside. Now!" "Just a minute." One of the Secret Service agents picked up a handset and murmured something into it. "O.K. Sorry, sir." The agent stepped aside and let Woodring enter the Situation Room. The Deputy Director blinked twice when he saw all the faces gathered around the table. "Thanks, Dave," his superior, FBI Director Myers told him and motioned for Woodring to hand the disk player to Lincoln Daniels. The telephone in front of Daniels rang, and he picked it up and grunted a response. A second later, two technicians the group hadn't seen before wheeled in a four-foot high metal rack. Without saying anything Daniels set the tape recorder on the table, then left his chair, so that one of the technicians could take his place. "Who are these guys, if you don't mind my asking, Lincoln?" asked the President's chief of staff. "They're ours," muttered General Praeger, Director DIA. "And ours," sighed Frank Chalmers, Director NSA. The tech in Daniels' chair ignored their conversation and busied himself typing in several commands on a keyboard. A screenful of diagnostics suddenly illuminated a large 27" monitor positioned on the metal rack. Next, his partner pulled a small gray box from the tray and set it next to the tape recorder and plugged it in its side. The diagnostics suddenly disappeared and were replaced by the single word, Ready. Woodring stood behind the tech in Daniels' seat and addressed the group. "The telephone conversation you're about to hear was deciphered last week at NSA. The two speakers were detected using a 9,600-bits-per-second, 30-kilohertz-range, spread-spectrum multiplexer telephone which broadcasts direct to satellite. The date of the transmission is January 15, 1993, the day before Dr. Victor Saleh was murdered at his home in California." Each attendee then turned his head as Woodring passed him a manila envelope, sealed in wax, then pressed the play button on the CD player, activating an artificial simulation of HYDRA's conversation with Sabawi Hussein. Listening in stunned silence, General Praeger wordlessly tore open the seal on his envelope, while the others followed suit, one by one. All eyes were riveted on the FBI Assistant Director, who was still speaking. "As you can see from the record of the telephone transcripts before you, neither speaker could be identified since actual voice transmission never occurred. The individual referred to as HYDRA in the text is believed to have obtained his transmitter from the Special Operations Weapons Facility in China Lake. The encryption method used matches that given to an Edwin D. Bailey in the base's files. "Edwin D. Bailey is a dangerous man--quite capable of carrying out any number of missions Iraqi intelligence may have hired him for. If you haven't done so already, I think if you take a quick look at his resume, you'll agree with me that this individual's received more than enough training to pose a significant threat, if, in fact, he's become involved in a conspiracy related to the death of the late Dr. Saleh." The room was totally silent except for the occasional rustling of paper; Anyone reading Bailey's resume could see how expert his qualifications were: June, 1972, Bailey enrolls in 4th Airbone Training Battalion, United States Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Georgia, then is posted to 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. A year later Bailey receives additional training Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, then sees duty in Guantanamo Bay, Panama and Honduras, after which he joins 5th Special Forces Group. Returns to Fort Bragg where he specializes in weaponry, operations and intelligence, in addition to taking 25-week-long signals course, after which Bailey becomes a member of the Blue Light Operations Group. Reader should note that Blue Light Operations Group is predecessor organization to Special Forces Group Delta, i.e., Delta Force. Reader is advised to refer to Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia for list of any further activities. "Where's Bailey's DO file?" demanded Praeger, holding his copy of Bailey's resume in the air. Woodring nodded at the tech in Daniels chair, who replaced the disk in the CD player Woodring handed him from his briefcase, turned on the machine and the television monitor suddenly came to life, its screen filled with the same pattern of jagged lines. No transcripts were passed out for the conversations the group was about to hear. "FBI! Open up! " "Don't shoot. We're cops!" "Jesus." "Thank God, you guys ar--" "Shut the fuck up!" "He's got the book!" "Shutup, Bartel!" "What book?" "Inspector Rainey, I'm afraid you're going to have to hand over any evidence you may have gathered here today, including this man's appointment book." "Are you crazy? These men are about to kill Senator Edward Kennedy! This here is the floor plan of his hotel!" "Inspector, need I remind you that the Senator is in Washington, D.C., at this moment?" "Bullshit! Mr. FBI, or whoever you really are! We're booking these three right here and right now! And if you have a problem with that, I've got a problem with you, Mister!" "You can't let these cops--" "Shut the fuck up!" Daniels's sonorous voice now filled the darkened room. "The conversation you just heard was recorded by GCHQ in Cheltenham--we just got a copy of it yesterday. It apparently was transmitted accidentally and we wouldn't have even known to look for it, except that we have an eyewitness--" "Eyewitness to what, Lincoln?" demanded National Security Advisor McDowell. "What are you saying here?" "Edwin D. Bailey was attempting to assassinate Senator Edward Kennedy while in the employ of the United States government." "He what?" cried Vice President Gore. "Lincoln, what's going on here?" interrupted McDowell. "So whose side is he working for now?" shouted the chief of staff. Woodring nodded at the tech at Daniels' side who doused the lights, which had the immediate effect of quieting the room. "The film you're about to see was taken when I was Director of the FBI . . ." Daniels began to explain as the screen was filled with the picture of Chauncey Laudon's house. While the silent movie played, Daniels reiterated the story he'd told Woodring and Hockaday in his office about Laudon's secret band of assassins. Again the room fell into a stunned silence as each intelligence chief struggled with the implications of Bailey's role as a paid government assassin. If Bailey was indeed HYDRA, any investigation of his whereabouts would have to be managed with kid gloves, given the risk to the government of his involvement in an illegal assassination team run by the CIA. "This is blackmail! Sheer unadulterated blackmail!" spat out General Praeger after the film had ended. "That's right, gentlemen," agreed Hubert Myers. "That's exactly what this is. The message here is simple. We go public--he goes public." "And ruins all of us," grumbled Chalmers. "Not just us," muttered the chief of staff. Daniels took back control of the meeting with his next comment. "Before we met, I showed the film you just saw to the President at Camp David. His instructions were explicit: we are expressly forbidden from launching any raids into Iraq--since we have no way of knowing how much the Iraqis actually know about Bailey's past, we also obviously have no way to predict what Saddam's reactions would be after an attack. Obviously the President doesn't want to risk the almost certain chaos that would result if Hussein chose to make this thing public. "I also believe everyone in the room has seen a copy of NSDD 208 and is familiar with its contents, and after speaking with the President, he and I and Hubert all agreed that Assistant Director Woodring continue to run the investigation until Bailey is located and apprehended. NSDD 208 grants Mr. David Woodring full power to use whatever resources of the United States government to track Bailey down," here Daniels paused, "and let me emphasize to you, gentlemen, that, in this case, the rules of engagement are unlimited." All eyes returned to the Assistant Director, their new temporary superior. Woodring was the youngest man amongst them, but there was no doubt in anyone's mind what his fate would be if he failed to find HYDRA. Also, the last thing any of them wanted was to be charged with the task of investigating the remnants of Laudon's band of assassins, an investigation which had previously proven to be a fatal endeavor for those who had had the misfortune to be assigned it. Sitting next to Daniels with his hands flat on top of his attache case, Woodring stared straight ahead, avoiding looking at the others. Two HRT watchdogs stood against the wall behind him, increasing his isolation. Nothing in his career could have prepared Woodring for the position he found himself in now--busting up Mafia families and chasing spies could hardly approach being given absolute police power over the whole United States. Daniels paused a moment and took a drink of water, giving anyone who had a question time to ask it. No one did. The next meeting was scheduled at the NFIB offices on F Street two nights hence; all were expected to attend except General Ford who had to return to Sunnyvale. Woodring left the room first, followed by his pair of bodyguards. The platoon of Secret Service agents outside the door immediately parted way for them immediately in a mute demonstration of Woodring's new position. Chapter 28 Fishing boats rocked in the water next to busy crab stalls as Woodring's car limped along the Southwest Freeway in Washington's evening rush hour. Finally, after half an hour of waiting, he took the South Capitol Street exit past the empty Skyline Inn, then turned right, whizzing past the weed-filled junkyards of Anacostia. He skidded to a stop outside the Potomac Electric Power Company plant next to an area crisscrossed by abandoned railroad tracks, shoved open his door and disappeared into the ramshackle building opposite. Inside, he was met by a pair of plainclothesmen, and Woodring barely nodded as all three took the elevator to the eleventh floor. Thirty special agents, the entire membership of the CI-3 Division, breathlessly awaited Woodring's arrival. They were seated amongst ten rows of metal desks in a room whose only feature was an ancient wall map of the United States showing areas once off-limits to Soviet diplomats. Woodring swept into the room accompanied by several HRT agents who took up positions on its perimeter. He slapped Daniels's compact disk recorder on the nearest table, then spoke without introduction: "The pair of telephone conversations you're about to hear were deciphered two days ago at NSA. Transmission was made on a 9,600-bits-per-second, 30-kilohertz-range, spread-spectrum multiplexer telephone which broadcasts direct to satellite. We know a lot about it, because it was made by us. Only one thousand of them were ever produced, and they were then issued to Special Ops Command at China Lake, and whoever was assigned a box was also assigned his own personal code key. Records at China Lake indicate the key used to encrypt this transmission belonged to a certain Mr. Edwin D. Bailey. "This intercept was decoded strictly by accident--the only reason the techs at Ft. Meade did it was because whoever was using the box didn't know his broadcast was being encrypted by an old algorithm, called DES, which dates back to the seventies. DES's key length is only 56 bits, so it didn't take Allo Group that long to run all the possibilities. "One last item--the date of the transmission is January 15, the day before Dr. Victor Saleh was murdered at his home in California." Woodring snapped open a battered briefcase, extracting a set of copies of Bailey's resume, each with an 8 1/2-by 11-inch enlargement of his original ID photograph attached. After passing a set to each attendee, he pressed the play button on the CD recorder. "Who's speaking, please?" "HYDRA." "I'll be brief. You may want to cancel the mission. It's why we haven't sent the money yet." "Why? What's happened?" "GERALD's under surveillance." "When did you find this out?" "Earlier today." "I'll call you back in ten minutes." Woodring snapped off the CD player, pausing to inform his audience that the second conversation was recorded ten minutes after the first on the same night. "Who's speaking, please?" "It's HYDRA. If you take care of GERALD, I'm still in." "Done." The room was totally silent: each special agent was rereading Bailey's resume, already making the connection to Saleh's death. "If Dr. Saleh has, in fact, inserted a Trojan Horse into our command and control system," Woodring spoke, reading his agents' thoughts, "we believe Bailey's the one who's been recruited to activate it. Unfortunately, we also found a little problem with Bailey's records. When I cross-checked Edwin D. Bailey's ID number with the Social Security's master disk at China Lake, the Social Security disk said that Edwin D. Bailey of the same number had died at two months old on May 26, 1951. Then, when I checked with Daniels before I got here, I found out CIA had no Edwin D. Bailey in any of its files." Before anyone could ask a question, Woodring gave them their orders. "Until he is found, I want everyone in this room to drop whatever you're doing and think about nothing else than arresting the man known as Mr. Edwin D. Bailey. "You can go anywhere you want, interview anyone you want, stay at any hotel you want, detain anyone you want, tap any phone, black bag any house, follow any car, go to any military base--you name it, it's covered in this NSDD." Woodring slapped the directive on the table. "And if you find him, don't, I repeat, don't kill him." "Why not?" someone asked. "Because he may not be acting alone," Woodring snapped. After the meeting at CI-3, that morning Woodring returned to the Counterterrorism Center in the Hoover Building and made a routine request to the Pentagon for the records of the 4th Airborne Training Battalion U.S. Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Georgia and the records of 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. Woodring also made a direct call to the commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, requesting records of the 5th Special Forces Group. His third call was to the Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. JSOC is a combined services operation whose real purpose is the responsibility for Navy SEAL Team 6 and Special Forces Detachment Delta (better known as Delta Force), whose predecessor unit was Blue Light, of which Bailey had been a member. Within twenty-four hours over 2,000 computerized files were transferred by the respondents to the CTC over high-speed satellite data link which Woodring, in turn, parcelled out to the staff of CI-3 on Half Street. For the next ten days a team of twenty special agents worked the phones, setting up appointments for their associates, who, in turn, dispersed throughout the United States and its possessions to interview former members of Bailey's various military units. Meanwhile, Woodring decided to review the CTC's extensive files on America's Special Operations Forces, rereading a secret briefing paper on them which had been prepared for the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The Delta Force, the successor unit to Bailey's Blue Light Group, was itself only a small part of the U.S. military's special operations structure which encompassed four separate commands, totaling over 45,000 men. As a result of the lack of inter-service cooperation in Operation URGENT FURY, the codename for the invasion of Grenada, the Joint Chiefs decided to unify all Army, Navy, and Air Force Special Operation forces seven years later in 1987 under a single entity, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), headquartering it at Fort McDill, Florida. Under USSOCOM's umbrella are the Army's Special Operations Command, Air Force's Special Operations Command, the Navy's Special Operations Command, and a separate Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). USSOCOM's largest force is the Army's Special Operations Command (USA- SOC) based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. USA-SOC contains a diverse set of units, including the 74th Ranger Regiment, various Special Forces groups (better known as the Green Berets), 160th Army Aviation Regiment, and 96th Civil Affairs Battalion and 4th Psychological Operations Group. The 75th Ranger Regiment is essentially an elite infantry unit specializing in ambushes, urban warfare and lightning attacks, while the Green Berets and the 160th Aviation Regiment emphasize insertion, extraction, and infiltration behind enemy lines. The 75th Ranger Regiment is divided into three battalions, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, each of which has 606 personnel and is based at a separate location: 1/75 at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; 2/75 at Fort Lewis, Washington; and 3/75 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Training begins with a ten-week-long course conducted at the Ranger School, also located at Fort Benning, Georgia, and students are usually U.S. Army officers and NCOs who have already undergone both Army and Air Force training. The Ranger course emphasizes mountaineering, patrolling, navigation, survival, weapons handling, ambushing, recon, and hand-to-hand combat. Before being allowed to join a Ranger unit, graduates from the school must pass an additional three-week Ranger Indoctrination Program, whose initials, RIP, Woodring suspected, were not entirely a coincidence. Emphasis of the Ranger Indoctrination Program is physical stamina and performance with constant monitoring and supervision. Only between fifty and seventy percent of the applicants survive the program. Graduates then spend 52 months with a Ranger Battalion in the field before returning to the Ranger School for final training. U.S. Army Special Forces, better known as the Green Berets, are essentially the Army's primary counter-insurgency, guerilla-warfare force. Candidates must possess "secret"-level security clearance to receive training, and volunteers are often typically former Rangers or members of 82nd Airborne. Emphasis of SF training is on the individual, with six basic qualification courses available for each man's occupation specialty. Each Green Beret must choose at least one of the qualification courses in order to graduate. The six specialties include: signals, a 25-week course in radiotele- communications and encryption; medicine, a 39-week course in preventative medicine and minor surgery; engineering, a 25-week course in demolition and construction; weapons, a 25-week course in all types of armaments; operations and intelligence, a 16- week course in intelligence techniques; and detachment officer, a required 19-week course for all future SF officers. USA-SOC trains its special forces with every imaginable type of weapon, sight, optics, communications gear, and vehicle which the Army has in its arsenal, essentially sparing nothing in the education of its troops. Special Forces' weapons training also includes the use of other nations' armaments, in case American weapons aren't available in a battle situation. Thus, SF commandos become expert with not only the standard- issue M6A2 assault rifle, but also the Russian AK-47, German G3 assault rifle, Israeli Uzi and the German Heckler & Koch MP5-SD2 submachine gun. Night operations are enhanced by the use of AN/PVS-7A night-vision goggles, AN/PAQ-4 laser aiming lights and AN-TAS-6 thermal acquisition sights. Navy Special Operations Command operates the Navy SEALs (Sea-Air-Land units) which were established in 1962 from a predecessor unit, the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs). Trained like the Green Berets to operate in groups of approximately a dozen men, the SEALs' primary mission is also infiltration behind enemy lines. Required courses, lasting up to two years, include a twenty-five-week-long marathon course, blandly entitled the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, whose rigor is unmatched in the American military. Basic UDT training begins at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, California. Emphasis is put on physical conditioning, field exercises, boat handling, land-warfare tactics, hydrographic reconnaissance, weapons handling, demolitions and communications. Trainees are driven to learn to operate for days on end with a minimum of sleep, while performing exercises like carrying 300-pound boats on long beach runs. The fifty percent of the class who normally graduate go on to Fort Benning, Georgia, for a three-week course in basic static-line parachuting. After that, students return to Naval Amphibious School at Coronado where they are instructed in how to operate small, battery-powered, open submersible swimmer delivery vehicles (SDVs), an underwater version of a motorcycle. After ten weeks of SDV training, students are taught explosives handling and neutralization, and use of biological and chemical munitions in a thirty- three-week-long explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) course which takes place at either Huntsville, Alabama or Indian Head, Maryland. Like the Army, the Navy showers its special forces units with a wide variety of specialized equipment. Weapons used include the CAR-15 assault rifle, the Stoner M63A1 light machine gun, in addition to the more traditional Heckler & Koch MP5, McMillan 7.62mm M86 sniper rifle, and the older but highly accurate M-14. Besides the SDVs, SEALs are also trained to operate seven-man inflatable boats, open-and closed- scuba systems, hand-held sonar and other underwater communications devices. Air Force Special Operations Command's mission is to transport the men and equipment of the first two groups to their battle sites. Long-range transport is provided by the fixed-wing propeller-driven MC-130H Combat Talon II. On short-range hauls or where vertical landing's required, the 42,000-pound MH-53J Pave Low IIIE helicopter is used. Combat support is provided by the AC-130U Spectre gunship, equipped with computerized fire controls to allow its 150mm howitzer and its 25mm and 40mm cannons to saturate specified areas with projectiles. But what interested Woodring most was the highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) headquartered at Pope Air Force Base which had the responsibility for Special Forces Group Delta, Navy SEAL Team 6, and the "Nightstalkers", a special operations helicopter unit that is part of 106th Aviation. The three units under JSOC's command constitute the U.S. military's prime counterterrorist force. Men chosen to serve in any of the three are culled from the best of the other special forces units, and recruits for each are required to endure additional rigorous retraining to qualify. JSOC, itself, was a bureaucratic stepchild of the Joint Task Force (JTF) organized by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown two days after the spectacular failure in April, 1980 of Operation EAGLE CLAW, the mission to rescue the hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Now, for the first time, elements of the three services were told to report outside their normal chain of command to a single Army general at Ft. Bragg. JTF's original command structure was drawn up by Colonel Charlie Beckwith and Commander Richard Marcinko, founders and commanders of Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team 6, respectively. Slow to respond to the terrorist threat and fearful of creating military units with police powers, America's military leadership changed its opinion on the need for counterterrorist units after witnessing events in Europe in the 1970s. In 1977 Colonel Charles "Black Beret" Morrell, Commander 5th Special Forces Group, was instructed by Major General Jack Mackmull, Commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, to create a stopgap unit until Delta Force could be certified for operations. Morrell selected forty men, including Edwin D. Bailey, from the 5th Special Forces Group and codenamed his temporary unit Blue Light. At the same time, Colonel "Chargin' Charlie" Beckwith, a gruff Vietnam SF veteran and commandant of the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg was charged by Army Chief of Staff General Bernard Rogers with the creation of a permanent counterterrorist unit, Special Forces Detachment Delta. Fearful that Morrell's temporary unit would derail Delta's formation, Rogers lent his full weight to the project and backed Beckwith to the hilt. As a result Delta was certified for operations on November 4, 1979. Delta Force recruits are usually senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) drawn from Active Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard units. Training sessions are held only twice a year and are for 100 candidates each, each of whom must have passed stringent background security investigation, been screened for psychological abnormalities, and taken thorough physical and eye examinations. After passing the next stage of intensive physical testing, which includes an 18-mile-long speed march and a 40- mile land navigation exercise complete with 55-pound rucksack, the few remaining volunteers are sent to Fort Bragg to the high-security Special Operations Training Facility. A 19-week course reviews skills learned in former special forces units, plus teaches evasive and aggressive driving, how to manage hostage situations, lock picking, car theft, and weapons improvisation. Realizing that for it to be effective, the Joint Task Force would have to possess the capability to target maritime objectives, Navy action officer and former SEAL Richard Marcinko recommended to William Crowe, who was then deputy chief of naval operations, the formation of a separate SEAL Command, which Marcinko thereinafter referred to as Navy SEAL Team 6. (Confusingly at that time there were only two other SEAL teams in existence, Team 1 and Team 2, six of whose platoons had already received CT training; ergo, the number 6). Marcinko was given his command and went to work designing a special training cycle for volunteers to his unit, almost all of whom were picked from SEAL Teams 1 and 2 and therefore were already graduates of the BUD/S course at Coronado, the airborne course at Fort Benning, and the EOD course taught at Huntsville and Indian Head. Marcinko's recruits were divided into two teams of three platoons each, then ordered to undergo a nonstop schedule of shooting, jumping, diving and CT hostage-rescue exercises. The Navy's budget for SEAL Team 6 was even more liberal than for the other two teams combined, with Marcinko's men receiving more ammunition than that issued by the Navy for the entire Marine Corps. Equipment included rustproof stainless steel Smith & Wesson .357 revolvers, all-weather camouflage suits, Gore-Tex camouflage parkas, British-made reverse-weave nylon lines for fast roping, plus a pair of customized armored Mercedes 500-series sedans and four Mercedes jeeps for use in European operations. The Navy's Office of Security and Coordination had also instructed SEAL Team 6 to create "black hat" units to perform terrorism awareness exercises at U.S. Navy bases both in the U.S. and abroad. One such unit, known as the "Red Cell" according to an unattached report, tested how base personnel would respond to a terrorist threat by "penetrating base outer perimeters by climbing fencelines at day or night, using false ID at gates, commandeering gates, or running them. Terrorist tactics enacted on bases included the bombing of personnel, support assets, and critical strategic assets, and the taking of hostages and barricading within facilities on base." The report concluded: "Navy antiterrorism specialists demonstrated the vulnerability of installations to terrorist tactics at fourteen U.S. Navy bases." A dense footnote at the end of the briefing paper mentioned an Army Intelligence division called Intelligence Support Activity, or ISA. Woodring was astonished to find that ISA had 283 agents in over a score of offices and was designed to support both Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 in their intelligence gathering needs, filling in the gaps for CIA. He skimmed over the history of JSOC's third component, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), also called the Night Stalkers. Headquartered at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the regiment was equipped with the latest in special ops aviation equipment, including the AH & MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. SOAR had recently distinguished itself in operations against Iran in 1987-88, Operation Just Cause in Panama, and, finally in Desert Storm. The final section, which was also separately classified as "compartmentalized top secret", wasn't devoted to a military unit at all, but was a short exegesis on the Department of Energy's little known Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST). NEST is headquartered in Germantown, Maryland, but most of its equipment is based at offsite locations, including Nellis AFB, Nevada. NEST's task is to protect America's nuclear facilities and storage areas and to recover any nuclear material stolen by criminals or terrorists, or to otherwise counter any threat of nuclear terrorism. Created by President Ford during his administration, the unit was so secret Congress didn't learn of its existence until three years later. In case of a nuclear emergency the Nuclear Emergency Search Team has its own fleet of special aircraft, ground vehicles, and radiation detection equipment at its disposal. The unit's rules of engagement are essentially totally unlimited. But HYDRA isn't going to steal a bomb, Woodring thought, he doesn't have to. Now exhausted, Woodring absentmindedly leafed through the briefing paper's extensive bibliography. Endless government documents were cited: congressional reports, training manuals, mission statements, personnel evaluations, CTC profiles of foreign terrorists, basing requirements, and finally reports by various military investigative units, like the Army's CID and the Navy's NIS. He blinked; he didn't remember reading anything in the report which covered illegal improprieties. Flipping backwards in the text, he found mention of a separate document in an obscure footnote, entitled the Criminal Investigations Annex. Apparently, USSOCOM hadn't bothered to include it in its report to the HRT. Woodring grabbed his telephone, placed a direct call to the Special Classified Intelligence Group on the second floor of the Pentagon, and asked to speak to General Ronald Finley. Thirty minutes later the CTC computer operator notified Woodring he had received a transmission from the Pentagon which was over 2,500 pages long and would take twenty minutes to print out. Woodring redialed General Finley, asking him if he'd sent the correct file. Finley told him to read the summary introduction, pages one to seventy-five, then he'd understand. Woodring sighed, picked up his telephone again and instructed the computer operator to temporarily halt the mammoth printout and bring him the first seventy-five pages. Two minutes later the summary introduction to the Criminal Investigations Annex lay on Woodring's desk. After taking a quick glance at its contents, Woodring was surprised to find that all three of the elite CT units, the Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and ISA, had each been the subject of a corruption probe. Department of Defense investigators had uncovered various instances in each unit of financial irregularities, lax discipline, and failed operations that sometimes even resulted in litigation: ISA Lieutenant Colonel Dryden, convicted in 1985 for fraud involving $90,000 in missing funds . . . security director of Naval Weapons Station, Seal Beach, California, kidnapped, beaten, stripped of his clothes by seven members of SEAL Team 6's Red Cell unit, sustains serious injuries, then sues . . . eighty-five members of Delta Force convicted filing false travel vouchers in Beirut . . . finally the founder of SEAL Team 6, Commander Richard Marcinko himself, was convicted for conspiracy and sentenced to twenty-one months at Petersburg. On the other hand there was never any mention of Bailey's old unit, Blue Light. While Woodring was rechecking the annex's table of contents, the computer room called again. The full 2,500-page-long printout was ready. After the six-inch-thick document was dropped on his desk, Woodring carefully lifted it up by the bottom, extracting the last twenty pages. Quickly checking the index he found no reference to the name Edwin D. Bailey. Woodring leaned back in his chair as far as possible, clasping his hands behind his head and yawned, then flipped forward and grabbed the telephone, dialing the extension of Charlie Thompson, CTC's computer programmer. "Chuck, can you come in here a second?" There was a brief knock on the door and Woodring told Thompson to come in and sit down. The analyst was in his late twenties, had big eyes and a friendly disposition. Woodring spoke slowly and calmly, "I want you to take this file and extract every name in it--" Woodring caught the look of concern on the programmer's face, and immediately qualified his request.--"I want only the file names, you understand, there's only about two hundred." Thompson grinned a bit. "Cross-file each subject with his social security number, then check the operational file and look for any cover names and ID and cross-file those. We may not have the ops files on a lot of these, so you'll have to make me a list of what you need and I'll wire Finley to get them." "Yes, sir." After Thompson left, Woodring returned to the next section of the executive summary of the investigations annex which was was entitled Psychological Profile--CT Operations Forces. "Army and Navy staff psychiatrists have found most CT operations forces to possess the following common characteristics: nonconformist, physically aggressive, outwardly tranquil, risk-prone. It should be noted by the reader that these same characteristics also fit the profile of the average criminal. Therefore, it should not have come as a great surprise to either JSOC or USSOCOM that a certain minority of applicants were discovered to have indulged in criminal acts." K/K-20B 93 Chapter 29 That same morning HYDRA arose early in his apartment on East 62nd Street; he needed as much time as posible to prepare for his departure. After taking a shower and rinsing himself off with cold water, and still only wearing a towel, HYDRA pulled the vinyl clothing bags and the hatbox from his closet and laid them on his bed. He put on his clothes, dressing in a casual sports jacket and slacks, then slipped the large wallet from the bottom drawer of the nightstand in his bedroom. He took it to the kitchen, setting it on the table and unfolded it with the palm of his hand. He methodically extracted every piece of ID, arranging them in three separate rows, representing Matthews, Gereke, and Koester. Taking his own wallet out of his back pocket, HYDRA replaced his own ID with that of Matthews's, then put his regular wallet back in his pants pocket and the large one in his inside jacket pocket. He found the croissant he had purchased the day before at the next-door bistro and ate it with a simple glass of orange juice. Checking inside his refrigerator, HYDRA took out a carton of eggs, a jug of milk, three oranges, and several bananas, pouring the milk down the sink and putting the fruit and eggs in a trash sack which he left by the door. The last thing he needed during his absence was to upset the landlord with the smell of rotting food. Returning to the bedroom, HYDRA pulled a large suitcase from under the bed and opened it next to the pair of vinyl fabric sacks. He first unzipped the bag containing Gereke's uniform and coveralls and took them out, then neatly folded them in two, setting them each on top of the bag. Pulling up the cloth along the perimeter of the right side of the suitcase, HYDRA found the zipper underneath and pulled it 360o, releasing the suitcase's false bottom. He stuffed Gereke's outfits in the space, then pressed the bottom firmly into place and zipped it shut. Koester's uniform was next, which he simply packed in the regular part of the suitcase on top of Gereke's. Finally, he opened the hatbox, lifting out the hat which was still lodged inside its cardboard protector and set it inside the left half of his suitcase, surrounding it with socks and underwear. In his bathroom he turned off the water to his sink and toilet, then grabbed the suitcase, pausing a moment as he passed the kitchen to reexamine the refrigerator and the freezer. With his other hand he scooped up the sack of fruit before he left, then double-locked the door behind him. Outside he walked to Park Avenue where he caught a taxi in front of the Regency Hotel. "La Guardia Airport," he told the driver. Upon his arrival at National Airport in Washington, D.C. a little over an hour later, HYDRA fetched his bag and entered a stall in the nearest men's room, replacing Russell Matthews's ID with that of Peter Koester's. At the United Airlines ticket counter he picked up Koester's prepaid ticket for Flight No. 95 which was scheduled to arrive at SeaTac International Airport in Seattle at 7:25 p.m. local time. Chapter 30 The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 carrying the passengers on United Airlines Flight 95 arrived at Sea-Tac twenty minutes late due to a rainstorm which had blown in from the southwest, the direction of the area's prevailing storm winds. Occasionally, as it had happened on the evening of HYDRA's arrival, low level winds coming off the ocean split in two at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula; one portion rushing south around the Olympic Mountains, and the other blowing north through the Juan de Fuca Straight. Both fronts had converged in the Puget Sound, causing a violent thunderstorm to ensue. As he waited for his luggage on the airport's ground floor, HYDRA watched the sheets of rain pound against the floor-to-ceiling glass panels, illuminated by occasional lightning flashes. He cursed his luck; he hadn't planned on bad weather, but he feared that arriving a day late at Bangor SUBASE would risk raising some eyebrows. He had booked himself a room at the Nendels Suites hotel in Bremerton and planned to catch the ferry, but due to the weather HYDRA decided to change his plans to drive the whole distance, circling Puget Sound via Interstate 5. Using Sergeant Peter Koester's ID, HYDRA presented himself at the Thrifty Car Rental counter, a different rental agency than he'd used on his previous visit, and rented a Chevy Lumina , telling the agent he'd only need it for one night. Thrifty's lot was outside the airport off the South Pacific Highway so HYDRA waited for the shuttle on the curb, which, even though it was covered, was being swept by rain-soaked gales. When the shuttle arrived, HYDRA threw his luggage in the trunk, then clambered aboard, the only passenger. The van's wipers vainly fought against the wind as the driver maneuvered it through a sea dotted by the airport's lights, blinking on and off in the storm. Once they arrived inside the rental building, HYDRA handed Koester's papers to the agent on duty, who told him that a Thrifty employee could go out into the lot and fetch his car for him. While he was waiting in the office, HYDRA took a local map and reviewed the route to Bremerton. Essentially, he would be circling south and westwards around Puget Sound, crossing the Narrows Bridge at Tacoma to reach the Kitsap Peninsula where the base was located. A flash of lightning lit up the room, immediately followed by a thunderclap as the Chevy Lumina materialized through the glass. A carhop in a yellow slicker and matching hat popped out the door and ran around it, opening the trunk. HYDRA threw his luggage in the trunk and took the wheel. Visibility was at most thirty feet, but since the highway was deserted HYDRA quickly found his way to the interstate without any problems. On I-5 cars headlights came in and out of focus as they rushed past, leaving a spray in their wake. As he neared Tacoma the storm's intensity increased and several drivers had already pulled over to the curb and stopped. Rain pounded on his windshield, and the only thing HYDRA could see in the rearview mirror were his own eyes staring back at him. He sucked in his breath and rechecked the speedometer. His speed had dropped to twenty-five miles per hour. The Lumina was one of the last vehicles still traveling on the interstate. HYDRA could barely read the exit sign at Fife and reminded himself there were only three more between him and 132. Downtown Tacoma was deserted, with traffic lights blinking on and off on empty streets. A mile later HYDRA found Exit 132, Bantz Boulevard-Highway 16, and followed Highway 16 north up the Peninsula. At Port Orchard, where Highways 16 and 3 converged, lightning flashed across the sound, illuminating the turbulence of the waves. He passed through Navy Yard City on 3, carefully watching for the turnoff to Kitsap Way. The town of Bremerton, where he'd booked a room under the name of Sergeant Peter Koester, lay halfway between Tacoma and Bangor SUBASE on the Kitsap Peninsula directly west of Seattle across the sound. Bremerton was also the site of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, a 680-acre Navy overhaul and repair base. In the downpour HYDRA barely found the sign; taking the exit at the last moment, he looped around it, proceeding east parallel to Oyster Bay. Squinting in the gloom, HYDRA saw the red-and-white sign for his motel, Nendels Suites, and pulled into the lot under a covered awning. The rain was still so intense it was almost impossible to make out the other three buildings where the rest of the rooms were. Hanging plants flew violently back and forth, while the drive was littered with overturned potted trees. A lone girl was behind the desk, lit only by a fluorescent light. HYDRA shoved open the car door, and trying to avoid being doused by a gust of wind, he ran around the Lumina and yanked open the lobby door. "How ya' doin'?" "I'm wet," HYDRA told the desk clerk, smiling involuntarily at the combination of red lipstick, nail polish and excessive hair. "Me, too." HYDRA stared at her blouse, made transparent by the rain, revealing a pair of full breasts trapped inside a lace brassiere. "Let me guess?" the clerk teased him, looking at his coveralls, "you're in the Navy." HYDRA said nothing, only grinning in response. The girl's hardened nipples showed clearly behind her blouse and she had a full mouth and a look she learned from fashion photographs. "Sergeant Koester?" she asked, mispronouncing the name, so that it rhymed with "firster." "Sergeant Peter Koester from Washington, D.C.?" "Kester," HYDRA corrected her. "Oh, sorry. We've got your room ready if you can get to it. It's in Building Two." Chapter 31 By early Monday morning virtually every agent in the Washington, D.C. CI-3 field office had already departed for one of the capital's civilian or military airports to begin the search for Edwin D. Bailey. Pairs of agents simultaneously boarded civilian flights at Washington National, Dulles, Berwyn Heights and Baltimore-Washington International airports, while their associates boarded chartered MATS transports at Andrews AFB, Fort Belvoir Military Reservation, Bolling AFB, and Fort George G. Meade. In addition, two teams were given specific orders to fly directly to New York and Los Angeles to parcel out to the counterintelligence units there files relevant to their respective geographical areas. At the same time, Woodring dispatched seven separate teams of Justice Department lawyers, giving each team orders to visit the headquarters of each of the regional Bell telephone companies and inform its top executive of the existence of a FEMA warrant granting the FBI unlimited powers to tap any line it so chose. Leaving nothing to chance, Woodring had instructed his men to install a wiretap on the home and office telephones of every interviewee prior to his interview. Due to the expected volume of intercepted material, all lines scheduled to be wiretapped were doubled up and rerouted to Fort George G. Meade, where employees of the National Security Agency would immediately begin to sort and transcribe every conversation until Bailey was found. Meanwhile, Harry Volz and Police Inspector Lindsay were moved to an undisclosed FBI safe house located in the suburbs of the capital which was guarded day and night by a select team of HRT agents. Woodring had quickly decided that the first interviews would be Bailey's former commanders at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg. On the other hand, he doubted that the instructor in charge of Bailey's company in the 4th Airborne Training Battalion at Fort Benning would remember much, since each of the "Black Hats" in charge of 4th Battalion's four separate companies was responsible for training over 5,000 men per year. Likewise, Woodring didn't expect to hear anything significant from the commander of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division whose normal strength was approximately 3,000 men, or from his instructors at the Special Warfare Center, who were responsible for training not only potential candidates for the Special Forces, but members of all the U.S. armed forces in addition to selected civilians from other government departments. But quite a different situation would apply to Colonel Chuck Morrell, Commander, 5th Special Forces Group. Even though the 5th Special Forces Group included three battalions, a headquarters element and support organizations amounting to over a thousand people, Morrell had handpicked the members of Bailey's Blue Light unit himself, originally limiting strength to only forty men. Woodring had scheduled initial interviews with the commanders of the 4th Airborne Training Battalion, instructors of the Special Warfare Center the colonel in charge of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, and Colonel Morrell at 5th Special Forces Group at approximately the same time to prevent one from tipping off any of the others, in case one or more of them might have any knowledge of Bailey's unusual affliction. Chapter 32 Even though he had been alerted that Woodring had located Bailey's file at China Lake, Ken Czarlinsky, chief of the TCOM Group at Ft. Meade, continued to analyze the HYDRA tape, desperately looking for some anomaly which would tell him more about its origins. On the same Monday morning Woodring's agents were flying out of Washington on both civilian and MATS jets, Czarlinsky told his wife, who hadn't seen him all weekend, that he was still at the office. Czarlinsky then called F. Jackson Tice, who also had been working late that weekend, and invited Tice to share a cup of coffee. "Square root of seven," sighed Czarlinsky, leaning back in his chair. "I dare say," F. Jackson Tice replied, not knowing at all what the department chief had meant. Tice's forte was languages, not random number generation. "It's good equipment, I can say that much." "That's good to know since it's ours." "DOE designed its boxes to key off an irrational number -- insured that they'd have steady supply of truly random digits." "I see." "The ones with the new codes are impossible to crack -- we don't waste much time on actual decryption, but we got lucky on this one." "Thank God," Tice agreed and stroked his moustache thoughtfully, hoping Czarlinsky wouldn't ask him a technical question. "Usually we look for just signatures -- RF, digital, anything we can find." Tice nodded slightly to indicate his continued attentions, even though he had no idea what Czarlinsky meant. "With the quality of reception we've got here, we can amplify any signal, literally pull it apart, then find the anomalies in it, you know, the glitches even a manufacturer doesn't know are there." "Glitches. Right, Ken." "Once we find an anomaly, then the sender has a signature. That's what we look for, the glitch, the bad part that produces its own special static." Tice suddenly understood -- once TCOM had found an anomaly in the sender's transmission, it could identify that sender over and over again, making it easier to locate him. "Also, since HYDRA's not operating over an ILC, he didn't have to slow his message down to 9,600 bps and cram it into a 3,000-kilocycle range for voice like a telephone." "Oh, indeed." "I wish we had more on disk, though." "Too short?" "Too short? It's like a hiccup," Czarlinsky muttered, absentmindedly staring at the knobs and disks on his console. Chapter 33 Early the next morning HYDRA awoke at 6:30 a.m., showered and shaved, then opened his suitcase, pulling out Sergeant Koester's coveralls and regular boots. He slipped on the boots and coveralls, checking his appearance in the bathroom mirror one last time before he left his room to have an early breakfast. Several other visitors dressed in Navy uniforms were already seated in the dining room, having begun their day early in order to be able to report to base by 7:30 a.m., the usual time. No one paid much attention when a blond-headed man wearing coveralls entered the room and found himself an empty table near the front. The waitress who came to HYDRA's table was the same girl who had been at the reception desk the previous night. She grinned at the handsome stranger, knowing he hadn't expected to see her again so soon. "Good morning, Lieutenant. Did you sleep alright?" "No problem, and you?" "I slept all right." Her uniform was stretched tightly across her chest, revealing her ample figure. Like the night before she was wearing red lipstick and nail polish, but this morning, HYDRA noticed, her hair seemed to have more body, falling across her shoulders and down her back. "Is this your first visit? I haven't seen you here before." "No. I've never been to Washington." "Where'd you come from?" "From D.C." "I went there once -- with my parents. I had a good time." HYDRA said nothing. "Oh, I guess you want to order. You know what you want?" "Two eggs sunny side up and bacon with some coffee and orange juice. Make the coffee black." The waitress took his order, turning a few heads as she returned to the kitchen. HYDRA resumed reading the Seattle Times, when a small headline at the bottom of the first page caught his attention. Protestors expected at Bangor SUBASE for arrival of USS Eisenhower. While base security would understandably be heightened, HYDRA guessed the presence of the protestors would have the unintended effect of creating a greater feeling of sympathy on the part of base security for arriving visitors dressed in uniform. If he were lucky an "us against them" mentality would prevail, making his task all the easier. If he were lucky. "Breakfast's here." HYDRA folded up his newspaper as the waitress served him his food. As she set down his plate her hair brushed his face and her breast was only a few inches from his mouth. "Are you coming back tonight?" the waitress asked. HYDRA looked up from his plate into her eyes. Sergeant Koester was going to have a little fun while he was in Bremerton. "Yeah, I'll be back. Why?" "Well, I thought you being new to the area and all you might want someone to show you around." "You're not working tonight?" "No. Tonight's my night off. But I can meet you here if you want." "Meet me at my room at seven." The waitress would have preferred the lobby, but something in Koester's manner made her suddenly go along with him. She smiled slightly, then left his table. After the waitress left, HYDRA quickly finished his breakfast and returned to his room, where he unpacked the HP-100LX palmtop and the spectrum analyzer from his suitcase, carried them to the car and put them in the trunk. Pulling out of the hotel drive, HYDRA followed Kitsap Way along the bay, taking State Highway 3 north to the town of Silverdale on the opposite end of Dyes Inlet. Five miles north of Silverdale HYDRA found the Bangor Exit on the right and followed it across the highway. On Trident Boulevard a few protestors had already arrived, scattered in several small clumps each dedicated to a different sign. HYDRA saw one placard decorated with the outline of a mushroom cloud behind a large "X" and smiled to himself. In just a few more days the anti-nuclear lobby would achieve quite a different status in the public's mind. Just outside the main gate HYDRA turned right and pulled to a stop in front of the Pass and ID Building, where he presented Sergeant Koester's papers to the civilian security guard on duty. "Many protestors out there yet?" "A few," HYDRA replied. "They come here every year about this time. Must be the weather -- there's nothing else for them to do." The guard brought up the TDY roster on his computer, then checked Koester's order number against the base's, and, finding a match, issued HYDRA a temporary pass. Noticing Koester was crypto-cleared, the guard decided to let HYDRA choose how he wanted to check in. "You want to talk to the duty officer or call communications commander yourself?" "It's my first visit. I'd better call my command." "Suit yourself. Strategic Weapons is 4525. Phone's over there. Just dial the extension number to get through." "Thanks." HYDRA walked to the telephone, picked up the handset and dialed the four-number extension. "Strategic Weapons, Sergeant Robinson." Chapter 34 The next morning at Ft. Meade, F. Jackson Tice received a second call from the chief of TCOM Group, Ken Czarlinsky. Czarlinsky refused to divulge his purpose over the telephone for requesting that Tice come down to his office immediately. "Watch this, Mr. Tice." Tice watched the CRT screen of a nearby spectrum analyzer as Ken Czarlinsky replayed the HYDRA fragment. A jumble of luminescent spaghetti performed a meaningless dance before his eyes. "Fascinating, Ken, umm." "Exactly, Jackson. It's so obvious I can't believe I missed it" "It is?" "Look at that screen and tell me what you see!" Czarlinsky pressed the button and the dancing lines on the spectrum analyzer suddenly froze in position. F. Jackson Tice tugged thoughtfully at his moustache, issuing only a knowing murmur. "Look at that! Clear as a bell! They're not a fast Fourier transform at all -- he's got himself a new set of chips!" "Not Fourier?" asked Tice, now totally perplexed. "Why not?" "He almost outwitted us," "How?" Tice asked, capitulating. "Oh. Sorry, Jackson," Czarlinsky apologized, turning away from the screen. "Look, everything these days that involves conversion of analog to digital and back again uses the same technology in its chips called the fast Fourier transform, taken from the nineteenth century mathematician -- " Czarlinsky tapped on the CRT screen with his finger. "Fourier realized that complex waves, no matter how messy, are actually combinations of hundreds of perfect waves -- these regular waves are like the building blocks, and the Fourier transform puts them all together!" "So it's nothing more than a formula?" ventured Tice. "Exactly. But, as my screen shows here, HYDRA's not using FFT at all." "But how does he go from analog to digital then?" asked Tice, feeling like a genius for getting this far. "I would have never seen it, if it hadn't been for Dr. Roy." "The Indian from Bell Labs?" "You know him?" "Well, I've met him a couple of times with Glen, he's really not in my field -- " "I would have never realized." "Thank God." "Wavelets. Just like those chips that Dr. Roy showed to us." "Wavelets?" "From that company in Cambridge. Roy's always into the soft aspects of the problem -- it's unbelieveable what he did with that call-routing formula." Tice vaguely remembered that the famed Dr. Roy of Bell Labs had singlehandedly rewritten the 125-page-long formula which governed how all AT&T's long distance telephone calls were switched, cutting the cost to Ma Bell of switching every call in the United States fifteen per cent without so much as adding a bolt in additional hardware. "The Fourier transform is the exact same thing -- twentieth-century hardware and nineteenth-century software!" F. Jackson Tice took a second look at the frozen image on the CRT screen, trying to divine the meaning of the waves. "So Dr. Roy's developed a new formula for digital conversion, too?" asked Tice. "It's always the Indians. Why is that?" "What, you mean in mathematics?" "Inside the old conversion chips everything but the math was up to date! Every CD player, modem, telcom, its most important chip was working on an ancient formula from the 1800s -- no one gave it a second thought." "Amazing." "It's right on the screen!" Czarlinsky emphasized tapping the glass screen. "Instead of recording every change, each variation like FFT, wavelets just look at enough changes to recreate the image. Don't you see? It's an entirely more efficient formula!" "So how old are they?" "HYDRA's chips?" "Yes, when were they made?" "They're experimental, they're not even being manufactured yet." "But -- " "But don't you get it? HYDRA isn't Bailey -- Bailey would have never retrofitted his box with these chips and not changed his codes." The two sentries stationed in the glass booth outside the Defense and Missile Special Aeronautics building raised their eyebrows as Professor Glen Hockaday raced down the steps two at a time, then suddenly stopped, and desperately fumbled in his coat pocket for his car keys. A second later his old Buick roared down Savage Road, quickly disappearing over the first hill. When he reached the gatehouse at Building No. 4, Hockaday tossed his holographic pass at the startled bluejackets inside, rushing into the reception room. There he was met by Tice who led him directly to Czarlinsky's office. Hockaday summoned up enough energy to shake Czarlinsky's hand, then found the nearest chair. "Jackson just told me you've found something." Chapter 35 HYDRA only had to wait ten minutes at the Pass and ID Building before Sergeant Pat Holt, the officer on duty at the Strategic Weapons Facility, came to pick him up. Holt, a Marine in his early twenties, knew enough to handle any visitor from the Naval Investigative Service with kid gloves, since the NIS had authority to investigate anything it wanted to on the base. "Sergeant Koester? Sergeant Pat Holt at your service." HYDRA returned Holt's firm grip and smiled politely, saying nothing. "Your first time here?" "That's right." "If you give me your papers, I'll take care of security, if that's OK?" "Great," HYDRA said and handed the Marine his papers. Holt nodded at his shoulder bags and the two suitcases on the floor. "You want me to take your equipment and put it in the car?" "Thanks." Holt grabbed all the bags under one arm in bellhop fashion, lugging them outside to a faded olive-drab Chevy station wagon, and shoved them in the rear. HYDRA let himself in the passenger door and waited. "See any protestors?" Holt asked, after he got in the car. "Just a few scattered around." "Colonel says more of them'll show up by this afternoon. With the Cold War over you'd think they'd find something else to bitch about." "Some people never give up." "I guess so." Holt stopped at the second security gate and handed his and HYDRA's passes to the civilian security guard, who looked HYDRA up on his computer, then waved them through. Instead of circling the base as the van had done on the tour, Holt turned off Trident Road onto Trigger Avenue, stopping at the operational area gate, handing their passes for the second time to another civilian guard. Directly ahead were two manned guard towers connected by a double fence topped with barbed wire, which protected the Main Operational Area where the Strategic Weapons Facility was located. The pair of Marines inside the third guardpost took their time looking over the passes Holt just handed them, then one of them left his hut and peered in the passenger window of the station wagon to double-check the picture on Sergeant Koester's ID with HYDRA's face in the car. Satisfied, he waved them through. At Nendels Suites, Pamela Michaud served her last breakfast customer and was walking out the lobby when the daytime manager, Mr. Howard, shouted her name from behind the front desk. "Yes?" "Marcie didn't show up today. I need you here." Marcie was the alcoholic maid from Silverdale who was always late. Pam was furious. She cleaned rooms all day -- she'd be exhausted by the time she was supposed to meet Peter. "Mr. Howard, please. I can't." "Pam, I don't really have any choice." Giving him a look of uncontrolled fury, Pamela stormed off to the tiny employee locker room where she stripped off her waitress outfit, tossed it on the floor, threw open Marcie's locker and yanked out a pair of dark blue slacks and matching blouse. She put them on, grabbing a mop and bucket, then cursed at herself for forgetting the vacuum cleaner and went back and got it. When she returned to the lobby, Pamela slammed the bucket on the floor, spilling some water and startling a customer at the desk. "What rooms am I supposed to clean?" Mr. Howard pretended to ignore her. He was still busy with the customer. "What rooms?" she repeated menacingly. "Second floor -- all of them -- can't you see I'm busy?" Howard snapped, throwing a ring of keys in her face. She was tempted to tell him off and quit right there on the spot, then immediately thought better of it. More than anything, Pamela Michaud wanted out of Bremerton and at the moment was willing to do anything that would speed her departure. It was only when she exited the service elevator that she remembered that Peter was staying in Room 204 down the hall. A smile crossed her face. Sergeant Peter Koester was about to get the cleanest room on the second floor. Now she looked around--the corridor was deserted, which was good, since she didn't want Peter to discover her wearing Marcie's awful uniform. She stopped at the door to Room 204 and had to insert several keys in the lock before she found the one that fit. After that she dragged the bucket, mop, and vacuum cleaner inside and was already in Peter's room, she felt a curious feeling of relief. Peter was from a big city; from the other side of the country; she would make sure he would fall in love with her and take her away with him. She knew she could compete with any woman on the peninsula, but worried what the girls in Washington were like. Maybe they were all young and just as attractive as she was. Pamela let the mop fall to the floor as she stood in front of the full-length mirror on the closet door. Her reflection looked ridiculous -- a girl in thick-soled sneakers and blue pajamas. Impulsively she unbuttoned her blouse, revealing a pair of full breasts straining against a wired-lace bra. She unhooked her brassiere and cupped her breasts in her hand, turning from side to side, admiring their fullness. Bending over, she slipped off her shoes and pants -- she would clean Peter's room wearing only her panties, then tell him about it if things worked out. Pulling the mop and bucket into the bathroom she decided to do the hard part first and clean the bath and tile. Thinking how good it would look that evening, she poured Lysol into the bowl, sprayed and scrubbed it. A toothbrush in a cup and battery-powered Braun shaver on the sink were the only souvenirs Peter had left behind to remind her of his existence. She dropped the scrub brush back in the bucket, telling herself he'd never know if she took a look around, but then she couldn't tell him about cleaning his room with no clothes on. The whole floor was quiet, the guests had departed to the nearby bases, including Sergeant Koester, who most probably wouldn't be back for hours. Pam walked into the suite and turned on the television to mask the sound of drawers being opened and closed just in case anyone was listening outside the room. A couple of pairs of socks. Underwear. Regulation tee shirts and an airline ticket folder. Pam gingerly picked up the folder and opened it, sucking in her breath when a pair of receipts fell upon the desk. A stub remained in one for Peter Koester's return flight, Sea- Tac to National Airport. The second ticket contained only a receipt made out to R. Matthews for a different flight on USAir from La Guardia to Washington. Pam felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. Who was R. Matthews? A girlfriend of his from New York? She was probably staying in his apartment in Washington, D.C., while he was in Bremerton, waiting for him to come back. Angrily, Pam methodically opened and shut all the remaining drawers, looking for anything she could find which would further inform her about the identity of R. Matthews. Finding them either empty or containing only hotel property, she slid back the closet door, found HYDRA's suitcase and threw it on the bed. It was an old Hartmann with combination locks. Locks which most people left at their factory setting of 1-1-1. She turned both dials to triple one, then tried the latch. It popped open automatically. If Peter Koester was fucking Roberta Matthews she wanted to know about it before their date that night. She rifled through the clothing, all folded and neatly arranged in stacks, finding no evidence of letters, pictures or other items lovers normally exchange. While she felt under a pile of shorts, her right hand caught on something sharp which gave her a small cut. Pushing the shirts aside, at first she couldn't find what could have nicked her--the whole interior of the case was lined with light fabric. Curious now, she slowly ran her hand along the inside perimeter when she felt it again. Raising the lining up from the bottom, she found the zipper head and pulled it around all four sides of the suitcase, releasing the double bottom. "TDY said you're headed for the tin can, that true?" Holt asked HYDRA after they'd passed the guardpost. "That's it." Marine Sergeant Holt, deciding to avoid further conversation with the crypto- cleared tech from NIS, drove the rest of the way along Tecumseh Street in silence. He stopped in front of a concrete-block code shack surrounded by its own cyclone fence and guarded by two solemn-faced Marines in front. Holt handed HYDRA back his ID and opened up the trunk for him so he could remove his computer and spectrum analyzer. HYDRA grabbed his equipment, then presented his base pass to the Marine on duty. "Your name, sir?" "Sergeant Koester." "Where'd you TDY out of, Sergeant Koester?" "Washington, NIS." "Why're you here?" "TOD, software change, the rest is classified." "Just a minute." The Marine took HYDRA's papers and entered the code shack, returning a couple of minutes later. "All right, Sergeant, you can go inside." Sitting half-naked on the hotel bed, Pam held the oversized wallet in her hands and slowly pulled out one piece of ID after another, before returning each to its proper slot. Russell Matthews, New York Driver's License. American Express Card, Lieutenant Jack Gereke. Blockbuster Video, Russell Matthews. Missouri Driver's License, Lieutenant Jack Gereke. So who was Sergeant Peter Koester? Her heart racing, she dropped the wallet back into the suitcase's false bottom, and picked up the neatly folded leather holster, discovering it held an almost weightless plastic gun. She unsnapped the leather safety guard, carefully pulling the gun from the holster, turning it over in her hands, then pressed a button and a clip fell out, fully loaded with almost weightless bullets. HYDRA walked inside the communications shed where he was met by a pair of NSA-cleared Navy technicians wearing plain uniforms and holstered sidearms. While he handed one of them his base pass, the other unsnapped the leather safety strap on his holster, leaving his hand on his gun as per regulation. "Who are you?" "Sergeant Peter Koester." "Where'd you TDY from, Koester?" "Washington, NIS Headquarters." "What for?" "Technical Operations Directive -- software mod followed by a TEMPEST check on the laser gun." "Why weren't we notified about this before?" Both men's unblinking eyes were fixed on HYDRA, impatient for his reply. "Motorola delivered the chips late. McPhee just got 'em last week, even though he was supposed to have gotten them two months ago. So he wanted me to haul my ass out here asap before he got a call from Ft. Meade." "Great," sighed the one holding HYDRA's ID and TOD order. "How're Mark's kids doing, anyway? Last time I saw 'em was three years ago." "Sheila's still at Country Day and Bill's on varsity -- Mark says he's a natural athlete." "He still play golf?" asked the one with his hand on the gun. "Oh, yeah, he's got the same old four-handicap he's always had -- " "I thought it was five," the other interrupted. HYDRA's face froze. His eyes involuntarily darted to the unholstered gun. "Jerry, stop fuckin' this guy around, it's his first visit for godsakes." "Sorry," grinned the second tech. "We get pretty bored in here. Come on back and let's get this over with." Pam put the Glock back in its holster, snapped it shut, wrapping the strap around it as she'd found it and set it next to the large leather wallet and the maps, then zipped the false bottom shut. After that she refolded and repacked the clothes on top of it, closed the suitcase, and turned the combination locks to a random setting hoping Peter hadn't memorized where he'd left them. Next she checked all the dresser drawers, making sure all their contents were in reasonable order and that they were all firmly closed. She quickly put on her bra and the rest of her uniform and left, then cleaned the remaining rooms on the second floor in record time, before leaving the hotel without saying a word to anyone. While HYDRA was being watched by the man with his hand on the gun, the second Navy cipher clerk had his back to them. Kneeling in front of a floor safe, he was fiddling with the lock. Scattered around them were teletype machines and CRT monitors, whose blank screens were only occasionally disturbed by random blips. "Here it is." He handed it to HYDRA with a smile who took the laser gun and set it on the nearest desk. HYDRA unpacked the HP-100LX computer and the DKD-1810 spectrum analyzer from their vinyl cases and plugged the analyzer into the palmtop. Next he plugged the DKD-1810's wand into the analyzer, waved it in the air, and hit a key on his computer. "Got to see if the sniffer's working." The Navy code clerk nodded in understanding. He'd been through several TEMPEST checks before. HYDRA silently took the adapter cord Castor had made for him and plugged it first into the HP-100LX, then into the laser gun, an operation the code clerk hadn't seen before, but which didn't surprise him. "Here goes nothing," HYDRA murmured as he pressed the trigger. The palmtop's LED screen momentarily displayed a pattern filled with dancing waves, then went blank. HYDRA opened the gun and deftly removed its original chips, then slipped a UV- resistant plastic case from a pocket in his coverall, set it next to the gun and opened it, revealing an identical pair of chips. "OK, after I put these in, I've got to check them against the first set, but, they're set so I'm not going to zeroize them when I do it, all right?" The clerk nodded appreciatively, watching HYDRA press the trigger a second time to recording stray emissions with the DKD-1810. "That's it, we're done." Chapter 36 The arrival of a Gates Learjet C-21A belonging to the 89th Military Airlift Wing caused barely a stir at Fort Bragg, the base known as the "Home of the Airborne." Its passengers, the four teams of two FBI agents, deplaned without incident, were met by four separate jeeps driven by Army CID officers as requested and driven to their separate destinations. Overhead a squadron of UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters roared past at low altitude, disappearing over the banks of Smith Lake. At 148,000 acres in size, Fort Bragg is one of the largest military bases in the world and is the home of XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, the "Golden Knights" Army Parachute Team, in addition to the 1st Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Assigned to SOCOM's command were several Special Forces Groups, including the 5th commanded by Colonel Chuck "Black Beret" Morrell. Neither of the two agents who had been assigned to interview Colonel Morrell had ever been in the military in his life. Joe Kelly was a former street cop from D.C. and his partner, John Barrone, had joined the FBI directly after college. Even though both agents were in their late thirties and highly experienced in the field, they both felt ill at ease in the foreign environment of the Special Forces Camp. They were used to controlling the field, knowing they always had the option of calling for whatever additional support they needed if a situation required it. But today's visit was different. Chuck "Black Beret" Morrell commanded a force of over one thousand highly-trained men, all of whom were in the immediate vicinity and had been trained to follow the colonel's orders without question. They came to a halt in front of a nondescript two-story barracks building guarded by two MPs who immediately stepped aside once the two CID agents escorting Kelly and Barrone showed them their ID. The MPs told them Colonel Morrell's office was only twenty feet down the corridor to the right, where a corporal, acting as Morrell's secretary, sat outside behind a metal desk. The corporal had a quizzical look on his face as he was saluted by his unexpected visitors. "How can I help you, gentlemen?" "We're here from the FBI. We'd like to speak with the colonel for a moment," replied Agent Kelly calmly. "Just a minute." Before the corporal could pick up his telephone, one of the Army agents leaned forward and grabbed the handset out of his hands. Colonel Morrell walked through his office door, about to give an order to his aide, when he stopped dead in his tracks. Wearing olive drab jungle fatigues and spit-shined jungle boots, Morrell looked every bit the hard-eyed soldier in his green beret. "Can I help you, gentlemen?" "Colonel, we're from the FBI. We'd like to speak to you a second," Kelly repeated. The CID agent released his grip on the corporal's telephone, letting him hang it up. "What about?" "Sorry, sir, but it's classified. We'll have to tell you in private." Morrell looked at his aide, then the pair of CID agents, then Kelly and Barrone. "All right, come on in. Don, hold all my calls." Morrell's office was comfortable enough with its carpeting and wood-paneled walls. The blinds were shuttered, muting the noonday light. "Make yourselves comfortable," Morrell said, pointing to a couple of armchairs. Before Kelly sat down he slipped an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Morrell across his desk. "Colonel, my instructions are to ask you to read this document before we go any further -- " Whatever friendliness remained in Morrell's demeanor vanished as he ripped open the envelope and read the words National Security Decision Directive No. 208 at its top. ". . . authorizes us to ask you any question concerning any personnel present or former and any of their activities and operations no matter what security classification they may carry. Also, -- " "Enough," the colonel snapped. "Why did you come here?" Kelly blinked, then opened an attache case, pulling out a legal-length file with Bailey's photo stapled to its cover and set it on the colonel's desk. Morrell took one look at it, refusing to pick it up. "Where'd you get this?" "I'm sorry, colonel, but our orders -- " In a violent motion Morrell scooped up Bailey's file, then pulled a pair of reading glasses out of his tunic pocket and put them on. "I haven't seen this man in over a dozen years since he was in Blue Light." "So you remember him," prompted Kelly. "Yes, Mr. FBI, I remember Captain Bailey." "Why?" asked Barrone. "Why? Because during the whole time I've been in the Army I've only met a handful of men like him, that's why." "Bailey was exceptional?" "Exceptional? Captain Bailey was the best we ever had. He practically sailed through the Q Course -- and let me tell you, it's a lot tougher than Basic Airborne -- His GT scores were top one percent. You read the file, didn't you?" "Did CIA contact you about him?" Morrell paused a moment, glaring back at the pair of CI-3 agents across his desk. "You don't know where he is, do you? That's why you're here, isn't it?" Kelly and Barrone glanced at each other, before Kelly answered. "No. We don't know where he is. We were hoping you could help locate him for us. We want to talk to him." "One day a man showed up at the Warfare Center. He'd been talking with General Jack, then they sent him over to see me." "Did he give you his name?" "He didn't have to, one look at him and I knew where he was from." "Do you remember his name?" asked Barrone. "Yeah. I remember it. It was a bad joke. Axe. Keith Axe. Chauncey Laudon's hatchet man." "Axe?" Kelly gasped. "Are you sure? At the time he was stationed in Mexico City -- " " -- Where he ran Operation BUNCIN." "What do you know about that?" General Morrell picked up the copy of the NSDD, slowly crumpling it into a wad of paper. "Nobody's bothered to tell you, have they? How many men'd the FBI put on this, anyway, fifty, a hundred, more? Pretty funny, coming here in a Learjet to locate a dead man. "Here, you can take this and stuff it up the ass of whoever wrote it," Morrell snarled, tossing the wad at Kelly, who caught it just before it hit him in the face. "Edwin D. Bailey is dead. You got that. Dead. D-E-A-D. Dead." "He -- " "He was a good officer. The best. He put it all together and they killed him." "Good to see you back," the familiar FPS sentry told Woodring at the gatehouse, taking Woodring's ID and sticking it into the confirmation slot. Woodring merely nodded in reply. He hadn't slept for over seventy-two hours. The guard handed him his card, then he sped along Savage Road to Building No. 4, where he slammed to a stop, leapt out of his car, and rushed up the concrete steps to the glass booth at the door, tossing his pass at the sentry inside before jumping into a waiting golf cart. Woodring ordered the driver to take him to the elevator immediately then grabbed the vehicle's built-in telephone and dialed Czarlinsky's office to warn him of his arrival. Exiting the elevator, Woodring grabbed the clipboard offered to him by the second sentry at the hallway's end, barely scrawling his signature on it before he tossed it back at him. K1/K-24A 138 旼컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴 Electronically distributed via SDN International(sm) Authorization form on file. Decompression authentication: -AV #LCS274 Questions regarding distribution: The SDN Project BBS 1.203.634.0370 SDN.ID and packaging format are (c)Copyright 1989-1995 Ray L. Kaliss 읕컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴