The dawn came up like thunder in this part of the world, or so the poem went. Sure as hell the sun was hot, Admiral Dubro told himself. It was almost as hot as his temper. His demeanor was normally pleasant, but he had simmered in both tropical heat and bureaucratic indifference for long enough. He supposed that the policy weenies and the planning weenies and the political weenies had the same take on things: he and his battle force could dance around here indefinitely without detection, doing their Ghostbusters number and intimidating the Indians without actual contact. A fine game, to be sure, but not an endless one. The idea was to get your battle force in close without detection and then strike at the enemy without warning. A nuclear-powered carrier was good at that. You could do it once, twice, even three times if the force commander had it together, but you couldn't do it forever, because the other side had brains, too, and sooner or later a break would go the wrong way.
In this case it wasn't the players who'd goofed. It was the water boy, and it hadn't even been much of an error. As his operations people had reconstructed events, a single Indian Sea Harrier at the very end of its patrol arc had had his look-down radar on and gotten a hit on one of Dubro's oilers, which were now racing northeast to refill his escort ships whose bunkers were nearly two thirds empty after the speed run south of Sri Lanka. An hour later another Harrier, probably stripped of weapons and carrying nothing but fuel tanks, had gotten close enough for a visual. The replenishment-group commander had altered course, but the damage was done. The placement of the two oilers and their two-frigate escort could only have meant that Dubro was now east-by-south of Dondra Head. The Indian fleet had turned at once, satellite photos showed, split into two groups, and headed northeast as well Dubro had little choice but to allow the oilers to continue on then base course. Covertness or not, his oil-fueled escorts were dangerously close to empty bunkers, and that was a hazard he could not afford. Dubro drank his wake-up coffee while his eyes burned holes in the bulkhead. Commander Harrison sat across from the Admiral's desk, sensibly not saying much of anything until his boss was ready to speak.
"What's the good word, Ed?"
"We still have them outgunned, sir," the Force Operations Officer replied. "Maybe we need to demonstrate that."
Outgunned? Dubro wondered. Well, yes, that was true, but only two thirds of his aircraft were fully mission-capable now. They'd been away too long from base. They were running out of the stores needed to keep the aircraft operating. In the hangar bay, aircraft sat with inspection hatches open, awaiting parts that the ship no longer had. He was depending on the replenishment ships for those, for the parts flown into Diego Garcia from stateside. Three days after delivery, he'd be back to battery, after a fashion, but his people were tired. Two men had been hurt on the flight deck the day before. Not because they were stupid. Not because they were inexperienced. Because they'd been doing it too damned long, and fatigue was even more dangerous to the mind than to the body, especially in the frenetic environment of a carrier's flight deck. The same was true of everyone in the battle force, from the lowliest striker to…himself. The strain of continuous decision-making was starting to tell. And all he could do about that was to switch to decaf.
"How are the pilots?" Mike Dubro asked.
"Sir, they'll do what you tell them to do."
"Okay, we do light patrolling today. I want a pair of Toms up all the time, at least four more on plus-five, fully armed for air-to-air. Fleet course is one-eight-zero, speed of advance twenty-five knots. We link up with the replenishment group and get everyone topped off. Otherwise, we do a stand-down. I want people rested insofar as that is possible. Our friend is going to start hunting tomorrow, and the game is going to get interesting."
"We start going head-to-head?" the ops officer asked.
"Yeah." Dubro nodded. He checked his watch. Nighttime in Washington. The people with brains would be heading for bed now. He'd soon make another demand for instructions, and he wanted the smart ones to pass it along, preferably with a feel for the urgency of his situation. Pay-or-play time was grossly overdue, and all he could be sure of now was that it would come unexpectedly—and after that, Japan? Harrison and his people were already spending half of their time on that.
The tradecraft, again, was of the bad-TV variety, and the only consolation was that maybe the Russians were right. Maybe Scherenko had told them the truth. Maybe they were not in any real danger from the PSID. That seemed a very thin reed to Clark, none of whose education had encouraged him to trust Russians to do anything pleasant to Americans.
"The wheel may be crooked," he whispered to himself—in English, damn it! In any event, what they'd done was laughably simple. Nomuri had parked his car in the same lease-garage that the hotel maintained for its guests, and now Nomuri had a key to Clark's rental car, and over the left-side visor was a computer disk. This Clark retrieved and handed to Chavez, who slid it into their laptop. An electronic chime announced the activation of the machine as Clark headed out into the traffic. Ding copied the file over to the hard-disk and erased the floppy, which would soon be disposed of. The report was verbose. Chavez read it silently before turning the car radio on, then relayed the high points in whispers over the noise.
"Northern Resource Area?" John asked.
"Da. A curious phrase," Ding agreed, thinking. It occurred to him that his diction was better in Russian than English, perhaps because he'd learned English on the street, and Russian in a proper school from a team of people with a genuine love for it. The young intelligence officer dismissed the thought angrily.
Northern Resource Area, he thought. Why did that sound familiar? But they had other things to do, and that was tense enough. Ding found that while he liked the paramilitary end of being a field officer, this spy stuff was not exactly his cup of tea. Too scary, too paranoid.
Isamu Kimura was at the expected meeting site. Fortunately his job allowed him to be in and out a lot, and to sit down with foreigners as a matter of routine. One benefit was that he had an eye for safe places. This one was on the docks, thankfully not overly busy at the moment, but at the same time a location where such a meeting would not be overly out of character. It was also a hard one to bug. There were still harbor sounds to mask quiet conversation.
Clark was even more uneasy, if that were possible. With any covert recruitment there was a period during which open contact was safe, but the safety diminished linearly over time at a rapid but unknown rate, and there were other considerations. Kimura was motivated by—what? Clark didn't know why Oleg Lyalin had been able to recruit him. It wasn't money. The Russians had never paid him anything. It wasn't ideology. Kimura wasn't a Communist in his political creed. Was it ego? Did he think he was worthy of a better post that someone else had taken? Or, most dangerously of all, was he a patriot, the eccentric personal sort who judged what was good for his country in his own mind? Or, as Ding might have observed, was he just fucked up? Not a very elegant turn of phrase, but in Clark's experience not an unknown state of affairs, either. The simple version was that Clark didn't know; worse, any motivation for treason simply justified betraying your country to another, and there was something in him that refused to feel comfortable with such people. Perhaps cops didn't like dealing with informants either, John told himself. Small comfort, that.
"What's so important?" Kimura asked, halfway down a vacant quay. The idle ships in Tokyo Bay were clearly visible, and he wondered if the meeting place had been selected for just that reason.
"Your country has nuclear weapons," Clark told him simply.
"What?" First the head turned, then the feet stopped, then a very pale look came over his face.
"That's what your ambassador in Washington told the American president on Saturday. The Americans are in a panic. At least that's what Moscow Center has told us." Clark smiled in a very Russian way. "I must say that you've won my professional admiration to have done it so openly, especially buying our own rockets to be the delivery vehicles. I must also tell you that the government of my country is decidedly displeased by this development."
"The rockets could easily be aimed at us." Chavez added dryly, "They make people nervous."
"I had no idea. Are you sure?" Kimura started walking again, just to get his blood flowing.
"We have a highly placed source in the U.S. government. It is not a mistake." Clark's voice, Ding noted, was coldly businesslike: Ah, your car has a scratch on the bumper. I know a good man to fix it.
"So that's why they thought they could get away with it." Kimura didn't have to say any more, and it was plain that a piece of the puzzle had just dropped into place in his mind. He took a few breaths before speaking again: "This is madness."
And those were three of the most welcome words John had heard since calling home from Berlin to hear that his wife had safely delivered their second child. Now it was time for real hardball. He spoke without smiling, fully into his role as a senior Russian intelligence officer, trained by the KGB to be one of the best in the world: "Yes, my friend. Any time you frighten a major power, that is truly madness. Whoever is playing this game, I hope they know how dangerous it is. Please heed my words, Gospodin Kimura. My country is gravely concerned. Do you understand? Gravely concerned. You've made fools of us before America and the entire world. You have weapons that can threaten my country as easily as they can threaten America. You have initiated action against the United States, and we do not see a good reason for it. That makes you unpredictable in our eyes, and a country with nuclear-tipped rockets and political instability is not a pleasant prospect. This crisis is going to expand unless sensible people take proper action. We are not concerned about your commercial disagreements with America, but when the possibility of real war exists, then we are concerned."
Kimura was still pale at the prospect.
"What is your rank, Klerk-san?"
"I am a full colonel of the Seventh Department, Line PR, the First Chief Directorate of the Committee for State Security."
"Yes, the new name, the new designation, what rubbish," Clark observed with a snort. "Kimura-san, I am an intelligence officer. My job is to protect my country. I'd expected this posting to be a simple, pleasant one, but now I find myself—did I tell you about our Project RYAN?"
"You mentioned it once, but—"
"Upon the election of the American President Reagan—I was a captain then, like Chekov here—our political masters looked at the ideological beliefs of the man and feared that he might actually consider a nuclear strike against our country. We immediately launched a frantic effort to discern what those chances were. We eventually decided that it was a mistake, that Reagan, while he hated the Soviet Union, was not a fool.
"But now," Colonel Klerk went on, "what does my country see? A nation with covertly developed nuclear weapons. A nation that has for no good reason chosen to attack a country that is more business partner than enemy. A nation which more than once has attacked Russia. And so the orders I received sound very much like Project RYAN. Do you understand me now?"
"What do you want?" Kimura asked, already knowing the answer.
"I want to know the location of those rockets. They left the factory by rail. I want to know where they are now."
"How can I possibly—" Clark cut him off with a look.
"How is your concern, my friend. I tell you what I must have." He paused for effect. "Consider this, Isamu: events like this acquire a life of their own. They suddenly come to dominate the men who started them. With nuclear weapons in the equation, the possible consequences—in a way you know about them, and in a way you do not. I do know," Colonel Klerk went on. "I've seen the briefings of what the Americans were once able to do to us, and what we were able to do to them. It was part of Project RYAN, yes? To frighten a major power is a grave and foolish act."
"But if you find out, then what?"
"That I do not know. I do know that my country will feel much safer with the knowledge than without. Those are my orders. Can I force you to help us? No, I cannot. But if you do not help us, then you help to place your country at risk. Consider that," he said with the coldness of a coroner. Clark shook his hand in an overtly friendly way and walked off.
"Five-point-seven, five-point-six, five-point-eight from the East German judge…" Ding breathed when they were far enough away. "Jesus, John, you are a Russian."
"You bet your ass, kid." He managed a smile.
Kimura stayed on the dock for a few minutes, looking out across the bay at the dormant ships. Some were car carriers, more were conventional container ships, with seamanlike lines to slice through the waves as they plied their commerce on the seas. This seemingly ordinary aspect of civilization was almost a personal religion for Kimura. Trade drew nations together in need, and in needing one another they ultimately came to find a good reason to keep the peace, however acrimonious their relations might be otherwise. Kimura knew enough history to realize that it didn't always work that way, however.
You are breaking the law, he told himself. You are disgracing your name and your family. You are dishonoring your friends and co-workers. You are betraying your country.
But, damn it! whose country was he betraying? The people selected the members of the Diet, and their elected representatives selected the Prime Minister—but the people really had had no say whatever in this. They, like his ministry, like the members of the Diet, were mere spectators. They were being lied to. His country was at war, and the people didn't really know! His country had troubled itself to build nuclear arms, and the people didn't know. Who had given that order? The government? The government had just changed over—again—and surely the time involved meant…what?
Kimura didn't know. He knew the Russian was right, to some extent anyway. The dangers involved were not easily predicted. His country was in such danger as had not existed in his lifetime. His nation was descending into madness, and there were no doctors to diagnose the problem, and the only thing Kimura could be sure of was the fact that it was so far over his head that he didn't know where or how to begin.
But someone must do something. At what point, Kimura asked himself, did a traitor become a patriot, and a patriot a traitor?
He should have been resentful, Cook thought, finally getting to bed. But he wasn't. The day had gone exceptionally well, all things considered. The others were praying for him to step on his weenie. That was plain enough, especially the two NIOs. They were so damned smart—they thought, Cook told himself with a broad smile at the ceiling. But they didn't know diddly. Did they know they didn't know? Probably not. They always acted superior, but when crunch time came and you hit them with a question—well, then, it was always on one hand, sir, followed by on the other hand, sir. How the hell could you make policy on that basis?
Cook, on the other hand, did know, and the fact that Ryan was aware of it, had instantly elevated him to de facto leadership of the working group, which had been met with both resentment and relief by the others around the table. Okay, they were now thinking, we'll let him take the risks. All in all, he thought he'd managed things rather well. The others would both back him up and distance themselves from him, making their notations on the positions he generated to cover their asses should things go badly, as they secretly hoped, but also staying within the group's overall position to bask in the light of success if things went well. They'd hope for that, too, but not as much, bureaucrats being what they were.
So the preliminaries were done. The opening positions were set. Adler would head the negotiating team. Cook would be his second. The Japanese Ambassador would lead the other side, with Seiji Nagumo as his second. The negotiations would follow a pattern as structured and stylized as Kabuki theater. Both sides of the table would posture and the real action would take place during coffee or tea breaks, as the members of the respective teams talked quietly with their counterparts. That would allow Chris and Seiji to trade information, to control the negotiations, and just maybe to keep this damned-fool thing from getting worse than it already was.
They're going to be giving you money for providing information, the voice persisted. Well, yes, but Seiji was going to be giving him information, too, and the whole point was to defuse the situation and to save lives! he answered back. The real ultimate purpose of diplomacy was to keep the peace, and that meant saving lives in the global context, like doctors but with greater efficiency, and doctors got paid well, didn't they? Nobody dumped on them for the money they made. That noble profession, in their white coats, as opposed to the cookie-pushers at Foggy Bottom. What made them so special?
It's about restoring the peace, damn it! The money didn't matter. That was a side issue. And since it was a side issue, he deserved it, didn't he? Of course he did, Cook decided, closing his eyes at last.
The engineers were working hard, Sanchez saw, back at his chair in Pri-Fly. They'd repacked and realigned two bearings on the tailshaft, held their collective breath, and cracked their throttles a little wider on Number One. Eleven knots, edging toward twelve, enough to launch some aircraft for Pearl Harbor, enough to get the COD aboard with a full collection of engineers to head below and help the ChEng make his evaluation of the situation. As one of the senior officers aboard, Sanchez would learn of their evaluation over lunch. He could have flown off to the beach with the first group of fighters, but his place was aboard. Enterprise was far behind now, fully covered by P-3's operating out of Midway, and Fleet Intelligence was more and more confident that there were no hostiles about, enough that Sanchez was starting to believe them. Besides, the antisubmarine aircraft had deployed enough sonobuoys to constitute a hazard to navigation.
The crew was up now, and still a little puzzled and angry. They were up because they knew they'd make Pearl early, and were no doubt relieved that whatever danger they feared was diminishing. They were puzzled because they didn't understand what was going on. They were angry because their ship had been injured, and by now they had to know that two submarines had been lost, and though the powers-that-were had worked to conceal the nature of the losses, ships do not keep secrets well. Radiomen took them down, and yeomen delivered them, and stewards overheard what officers said. Johnnnie Reb had nearly six thousand people aboard, and the facts, as reported, sometimes got lost amid the rumors, but sooner or later the truth got out. The result would be predictable: rage. It was part of the profession of arms. However much the carrier sailors might disparage the bubbleheads on the beach, however great the rivalry, they were brothers (and, now, sisters), comrades to whom loyalty was owed.
But owed how? What would their orders be? Repeated inquiries to CINC-PAC had gone unanswered. Mike Dubro's Carrier Group Three had not been ordered to make a speed-run back to WestPac, and that made no sense at all. Was this a war or not? Sanchez asked the sunset.
"So how did you learn this?" Mogataru Koga asked. Unusually, the former prime minister was dressed in a traditional kimono, now that he was a man of leisure for the first time in thirty years. But he'd taken the call and extended the invitation quickly enough, and listened with intense silence for ten minutes.
Kimura looked down. "I have many contacts, Koga-san. In my post I must."
"As do I. Why have I not been told?"
"Even within the government, the knowledge has been closely held."
"You are not telling me everything." Kimura wondered how Koga could know that, without realizing that a look in the mirror would suffice. All afternoon at his desk, pretending to work, he'd just looked down at the papers in front of him, and now he could not remember a single document. Just the questions. What to do? Whom to tell? Where to go for guidance?
"I have sources of information that I may not reveal, Koga-san." For the moment his host accepted that with a nod. "So you tell me that we have attacked America, and that we have constructed nuclear weapons?"
A nod. "Hai."
"I knew Goto was a fool, but I didn't think him a madman." Koga considered his own words for a moment. "No, he lacks the imagination to be a madman. He's always been Yamata's dog, hasn't he?"
"Raizo Yamata has always been his…his—"
"Patron?" Koga asked caustically. "That's the polite term for it." Then he snorted and looked away, and his anger now had a new target. Exactly what you tried to stop. But you failed to do it, didn't you?
"Koga often seeks his counsel, yes."
"So. Now what?" he asked a man clearly out of his depth. The answer was entirely predictable.
"I do not know. This matter is beyond me. I am a bureaucrat. I do not make policy. I am afraid for us now, and I don't know what to do."
Koga managed an ironic smile and poured some more tea for his guest.
"You could well say the same of me, Kimura-san. But you still have not answered a question for me. I, too, have contacts remaining. I knew of the actions taken against the American Navy last week, after they happened. But I have not heard about the nuclear weapons." Just speaking those two words gave the room a chill for both men, and Kimura marveled that the politician could continue to speak evenly.
"Our ambassador in Washington told the Americans, and a friend at the Foreign Ministry—"
"I too have friends at the Foreign Ministry," Koga said, sipping his tea.
"I cannot say more."
The question was surprisingly gentle. "Have you been speaking with Americans?"
Kimura shook his head. "No."
The day usually started at six, but that didn't make it easy, Jack thought. Paul Robberton had gotten the papers and started the coffee, Andrea Price turned to also, helping Cathy with the kids. Ryan wondered about that until he saw an additional car parked in the driveway. So the Secret Service thought it was a war. His next step was to call the office, and a minute later his STU-6 started printing the morning faxes. The first item was unclassified but important. The Europeans were trying to dump U.S. T-Bills, and nobody was buying them, still. One such day could be seen as an aberration. Not a second one. Buzz Fiedler and the Fed Chairman would be busy again, and the trader in Ryan worried. It was like the Dutch kid with his thumb in the dike. What happened when he spotted another leak? And even if he could reach it, what about the third?
News from the Pacific was unchanged, but getting more texture. John Stennis would make Pearl Harbor early, but Enterprise was going to take longer than expected. No evidence of Japanese pursuit. Good. The nuke hunt was under way, but without results, which wasn't surprising. Ryan had never been to Japan, a failing he regretted. His only current knowledge was from overhead photographs. In winter months when the skies over the country were unusually clear, the National Reconnaissance Office had actually used the country (and others) to calibrate its orbiting cameras, and he remembered the elegance of the formal gardens. His other knowledge of the country was from the historical record. But how valid was that knowledge now? History and economics made strange bedfellows, didn't they?
The usual kisses sent Cathy and the kids on their way, and soon enough Jack was in his official car for Washington. The sole consolation was that it was shorter than the former trip to Langley.
"You should be rested, at least," Robberton observed. He would never have talked so much to a political appointee, but somehow he felt far more at case with this guy. There was no pomposity in Ryan.
"I suppose. The problems are still there."
"Wall Street still number one?"
"Yeah." Ryan looked at the passing countryside after locking the classified documents away. "I'm just starting to realize, this could take the whole world down. The Europeans are trying to sell off their treasuries. Nobody's buying. The market panic might be starting there today. Our liquidity is locked up, and a lot of theirs is in our T-Bills."
"Liquidity means cash, right?" Robberton changed lanes and speeded up. His license plate told the state cops to leave him alone.
"Correct. Nice thing, cash. Good thing to have when you get nervous and not being able to get it, that makes people nervous."
"You like talking 1929, Dr. Ryan? I mean, that bad?"
Jack looked over at his bodyguard. "Possibly. Unless they can untangle the records in New York—it's like having your hands tied in a fight, like being at a card table with no money, if you can't play, you just stand there. Damn." Ryan shook his head. "It's just never happened before, and traders don't much like that either."
"How can people so smart get so panicked?"
"What do you mean?"
"What did anybody take away? Nobody blew up the mint"—he snorted—"it would have been our case!"
Ryan managed a smile. "You want the whole lecture?"
Paul's hands gestured on the wheel. "My degree's in psychology, not economics." The response surprised him.
"Perfect. That makes it easy."
The same worry occupied Europe. Just short of noon, a conference call for the central bankers of Germany, Britain, and France resulted in little more than multilingual confusion over what to do. The past years of rebuilding the countries of Eastern Europe had placed an enormous strain on the economies of the countries of Western Europe, who were in essence paying the bill for two generations of economic chaos. To hedge against the resulting weakness of their own currencies, they'd bought dollars and American T-Bills. The stunning events in America had occasioned a day of minor activity, all of it down but nothing terribly drastic. That had all changed, however, after the last buyer had purchased the last discounted lot of American Treasuries—for some the numbers were just too good—with money taken from the liquidation of equities. That buyer already thought it had been a mistake and cursed himself for again riding the back of a trend instead of the front. At 10:30 A.M. local time, the Paris market started a precipitous slide, and inside of an hour, European economic commentators were talking about a domino effect, as the same thing happened in every market in every financial center. It was also noted that the central banks were trying the same thing that the American Fed had attempted the previous day. It wasn't that it had been a bad idea. It was just that such ideas only worked once, and European investors weren't buying. They were bailing out. It came as a relief when people started buying up stocks at absurdly low prices, and they were even grateful that the purchases were being made in yen, whose strength had reasserted itself, the only bright light on the international financial scene.
"You mean," Robberton said, opening the basement door to the West Wing. "You mean to tell me that it's that screwed up?"
"Paul, you think you're smart?" Jack asked. The question took the Secret Service man aback a little.
"Yeah, I do. So?"
"So why do you suppose that anybody else is smarter than you are? They're not, Paul," Ryan went on. "They have a different job, but it isn't about brains. It's about education and experience. Those people don't know crap about running a criminal investigation. Neither do I. Every tough job requires brains, Paul. But you can't know them all. Anyway, bottom line, okay? No, they're not any smarter than you, and maybe not as smart as you. It's just that it's their job to run the financial markets, and your job to do something else."
"Jesus," Robberton breathed, dropping Ryan off at his office door. His secretary handed off a fistful of phone notes on his way in. One was marked Urgent! and Ryan called the number.
"That you, Ryan?"
"Correct, Mr. Winston. You want to see me. When?" Jack asked, opening his briefcase and pulling the classified things out.
"Anytime, starting ninety minutes from now. I have a car waiting downstairs, a Gulfstream with warm motors, a car waiting at D.C. National." His voice said the rest. It was urgent, and no-shit serious. On top of that came Winston's reputation.
"I presume it's about last Friday."
"Why me and not Secretary Fiedler?" Ryan wondered.
"You've worked there. He hasn't. If you want him to get in on it, then he'll get it. I think you'll get it faster. Have you been following the financial news this morning?"
"It sounds like Europe's getting squirrelly on us."
"And it's just going to get worse," Winston said. And he was probably right. Jack knew.
"You know how to fix it?" Ryan could almost hear the head at the other end shake in anger and disgust.
"I wish. But maybe I can tell you what really happened."
"I'll settle for that. Come down as quick as you want," Jack told him. "Tell the driver West Executive Drive. The uniformed guards will be expecting you at the gate."
"Thanks for listening, Dr. Ryan." The line clicked off, and Jack wondered how long it had been since the last time George Winston had said that to anyone. Then he got down to his work for the day.
The one good thing was that the railcars used to transport the "H-11" boosters from the assembly plant to wherever were standard gauge. That accounted for only about 8 percent of Japanese trackage and was, moreover, something discernible from satellite photographs. The Central Intelligence Agency was in the business of accumulating information, most of which would never have any practical use, and most of which, despite all manner of books and movies to the contrary, came from open-source material. It was just a matter of finding a railway map of Japan to see where all the standard-gauge trackage was and starting from there, but there were now over two thousand miles of such trackage, and the weather over Japan was not always clear, and the satellites were not always directly overhead, the better to see into valleys that littered a country composed largely of volcanic mountains.
But it was also a task with which the Agency was familiar. The Russians, with their genius and mania for concealing everything, had taught CIA's analysts the hard way to look for the unlikely spots first of all. An open plain, for example, was a likely spot, easy to approach, easy to build, easy to service, and easy to protect. That was how America had done it in the 1960's, banking incorrectly on the hope that missiles would never become accurate enough to hit such small, rugged point targets. Japan would have learned from that lesson. Therefore, the analysts had to look for the difficult places. Woods, valleys, hills, and the very selectivity of the task ensured that it would require time. Two updated KH-11 photosatellites were in orbit, and one KH-12 radar-imaging satellite. The former could resolve objects down to the size of a cigarette pack. The latter produced a monochrome image of far less resolution, but could see through clouds, and, under favorable circumstances, could actually penetrate the ground, down to as much as ten meters; in fact it had been developed for the purpose of locating otherwise invisible Soviet missile silos and similarly camouflaged installations. That was the good news. The bad news was that each individual frame of imagery had to be examined by a team of experts, one at a time; that every irregularity or curiosity had to be reexamined and graded; that the time involved despite—indeed, because of—the urgency of the task was immense.
Analysts from the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center (I-TAC) were grouped together for the task, looking for twenty holes in the ground, knowing nothing other than the fact that the individual holes could be no less than five meters across. There could be one large group of twenty, or twenty individual and widely separated holes. The first task, all agreed, was to get new imagery of the whole length of standard-gauge rails. Weather and camera angles impeded some of that task, and now on the third day of the hunt, 20 percent of the needed mapping still remained undone. Already thirty potential sites had been identified for further scrutiny from new passes at slightly different light levels and camera angles which would allow stereo-optic viewing and additional computer enhancement. People on the analysis team were talking again about the 1991 Scud-hunts. It was not a pleasant memory for them. Though many lessons had been learned, the main one was this: it wasn't really all that hard to hide one or ten or twenty or even a hundred relatively small objects within the borders of a nation-state, even a very open, very flat one. And Japan was neither. Under the circumstances, finding all of them was a nearly impossible task. But they had to try anyway.
It was eleven at night, and his duties to his ancestors were done for the moment. They would never be fully carried out, but the promises to their spirits he'd made so many years before were now accomplished. What had been Japanese soil at the time of his birth was now again Japanese soil. What had been his family's land was now again his family's land. The nation that had humbled his nation and murdered his family had finally been humbled, and would remain so for a long, long time. Long enough to assure his country's position, finally, among the great nations of the world.
In fact, even greater than he'd planned, he noted. All he had to do was look at the financial reports coming into his hotel suite via facsimile printer. The financial panic he'd planned and executed was now moving across the Atlantic. Amazing, he thought, that he hadn't anticipated it. The complex financial maneuvers had left Japanese banks and businesses suddenly cash-rich, and his fellow zaibatsu were seizing the opportunity to buy up European equities for themselves and their companies. They'd increase the national wealth, improve their position in the various European national economies, and publicly appear to be springing to the assistance of others.
Yamata judged that Japan would bend some efforts to help Europe out of her predicament. His country needed markets alter all, and with this sudden increase in Japanese ownership of their private companies, perhaps now the European politicians would listen more attentively to their suggestions. Not certain, he thought, but possible. What they would definitely listen to was power. Japan was facing down America. America would never be able to confront his country, not with her economy in turmoil, her military defanged, and her President politically crippled. And it was an election year as well. The finest strategy, Yamata thought, was to sow discord in the house of your enemy. That he had done, taking the one action that had simply not occurred to the bonehead military people who'd led his country down the path of ruin in 1941.
"So," he said to his host. "How may I be of service?"
"Yamata-san, as you know, we will be holding elections for a local governor." The bureaucrat poured a stiff shot of a fine Scotch whiskey. "You are a landowner, and have been so for some months. You have business interests here. I suggest that you might be a perfect man for the job."
For the first time in years, Raizo Yamata was startled.
In another room in the same hotel an admiral, a major, and a captain of Japan Air Lines held a family reunion.
"So, Yusuo, what will happen next?" Torajiro asked.
"What I think will happen next is that you will return to your normal flight schedule back and forth to America," the Admiral said, finishing his third drink. "If they are as intelligent as I believe them to be, then they will see that the war is already over."
"How long have you been in on this, Uncle?" Shiro inquired with deep respect. Having now learned of what his uncle had done, he was awed by the man's audacity.
"From when I was a nisa, supervising construction of my first command in Yamata-san's yards. What is it? Ten years now. He came down to see me, and we had dinner and he asked some theoretical questions. Yamata learns quickly for a civilian," the Admiral opined. "I tell you, I think there is much
more to this than meets the eye."
"How so?" Torajiro asked.
Yusuo poured himself another shot. His fleet was safe, and he was entitled to unwind, he thought, especially with his brother and nephew, now that all the stress was behind him. "We've spoken more and more in the past few years, but most of all right before he bought that American financial house. And so, now? My little operation happens the same day that their stock market crashes…? An interesting coincidence, is it not?" His eyes twinkled.
"One of my first lessons to him, all those years ago. In 1941 we attacked America's periphery. We attacked the arms but not the head or the heart. A nation can grow new arms, but a heart, or a head, that's far harder. I suppose he listened."
"I've flown over the head part many times," Captain Torajiro Sato noted. One of his two normal runs was to Dulles International Airport. "A squalid city."
"And you shall do so again. If Yamata did what I think, they will need us again, and soon enough," Admiral Sato said confidently.
"Go ahead, let him through," Ryan said over the phone.
"But if it makes you feel better, pop it open and look, but if he says not to X-ray it, don't, okay?"
"But we were told just to expect one, and there's two."
"It's okay," Jack told the head uniformed guard at the west entrance. The problem with increased security alerts was that they mainly kept you from getting the work done that was necessary to resolve the crisis. "Send them both up." It took another four minutes by Jack's watch. They probably did pop the back off the guy's portable computer to make sure there wasn't a bomb there. Jack rose from his desk and met them at the anteroom door.
"Sorry about that. Remember the old Broadway song, 'The Secret Service Makes Me Nervous'?" Ryan waved them into his office. He assumed the older one was George Winston. He vaguely remembered the speech at the Harvard Club, but not the face that had delivered it. "This is Mark Gant. He's my best technical guy, and he wanted to bring his laptop."
"It's easier this way," Gant explained.
"I understand. I use them, too. Please sit down." Jack waved them to chairs. His secretary brought in a coffee tray. When cups were poured, he went on. "I had one of my people track the European markets. Not good."
"That's putting it mildly, Dr. Ryan. We may be watching the beginning of a global panic," Winston began. "I'm not sure where the bottom is."
"So far Buzz is doing okay," Jack replied cautiously.
Winston looked up from his cup. "Ryan, if you're a bullshitter, I've come to the wrong place. I thought you knew the Street. The IPO you did with Silicon Alchemy was nicely crafted—now, was that you or did you take the credit for somebody else's work?"
"There's only two people who talk to me like that. One I'm married to. The other has an office about a hundred feet that way." Jack pointed. Then he grinned. "Your reputation precedes you, Mr. Winston. Silicon Alchemy was all my work. I have ten percent of the stock in my personal portfolio. That's how much I thought of the outfit. If you ask around about my rep, you'll find I'm not a bullshitter."
"Then you know it's today," Winston said, still taking the measure of his host.
Jack bit his lip for a moment and nodded. "Yeah, I told Buzz the same thing Sunday. I don't know how close the investigators are to reconstructing the records. I've been working on something else."
"Okay." Winston wondered what else Ryan might he working on but dismissed the irrelevancy. "I can't tell you how to fix it, hut I think I can show you how it got broke."
Ryan turned for a second to look at his TV. CNN Headline News had just started its thirty-minute cycle with a live shot from the floor of the NYSE. The sound was all the way down, but the commentator was speaking rapidly and her face was not smiling. When he turned back, Gant had his laptop flipped open and was calling up some files.
"How much time do we have for this?" Winston asked.
"Let me worry about that," Jack replied.