As an officer who had once hoped to command a ship like this one, Captain Sanchez was glad he'd chosen to remain aboard instead of flying his fighter off to the Naval Air Station at Barbers Point. Six gray tugboats had nudged USS John Stennis into the graving dock. There were over a hundred professional engineers aboard, including fifty new arrivals from Newport News Shipbuilding, all of them below and looking at the power plant. Trucks were lined up on the perimeter of the graving dock, and with them hundreds of sailors and civilian yard employees, like doctors or EMTs, Bud imagined, ready to switch out body parts.
As Captain Sanchez watched, a crane lifted the first brow from its cradle, and another started turning, to lift what looked like a construction trailer, probably to rest on the flight deck. The gate on the dock wasn't even closed yet. Somebody, he saw, was in a hurry.
Bud turned to see a Marine corporal. He handed over a message form after saluting. "You're wanted at CINCPACFLT Operations, sir."
"That's totally crazy," the president of the New York Stock Exchange said, managing to get the first word in.
The big conference room at the FBI's New York office looked remarkably like a courtroom, with seats for a hundred people or more. It was about half empty, and the majority of people present were government employees of one sort or another, mainly FBI and SEC officials who'd been working the takedown case since Friday evening. But the front row was filled entirely with senior traders and institution chairmen.
George had just taken them through his version of the events of the previous week, using an overhead projector to display trends and trades and going slowly because of the fatigue level that had to affect the judgment of everyone trying to understand what he was saying. The Fed Chairman just then entered the room, having made his calls to Europe. He gave Winston and Fiedler a thumbs-up and took a seat in the back for the moment.
"It may be crazy, but that's what happened."
The NYSE head thought about that. "That's all well and good," he said after a few seconds, meaning that it wasn't well and good at all, and everybody knew it. "But we're still stuck in the middle of a swamp, and the alligators are gathering around us. I don't think we can hold them off much longer." There was general agreement on that point. Everyone in the front row was surprised to see their former colleague smile.
Winston turned to the Secretary of the Treasury. "Buzz, why don't you deliver the good news?"
"Ladies and gentlemen, there is a way out," Fiedler said confidently. His next sixty seconds generated incredulous silence. The traders didn't even have the wit to turn and look at one another. But if they didn't exactly nod with approval, neither did anyone object, even after a seemingly endless period of consideration.
The first to speak, predictably, was the managing director of Cummings, Carter, and Cantor. CCC had died around 3:15 on the previous Friday, caught moving the wrong way, its cash reserves wiped out, and then denied help from Merrill Lynch in a move which, in fairness, the managing director could not really fault.
"Is it legal?" he asked.
"Neither the United States Department of Justice nor the Securities and Exchange Commission will consider your cooperation to be any sort of violation. I will say," Fiedler added, "that any attempt to exploit the situation will be dealt with very severely indeed—but if we all work together, anti-trust and other considerations will be set aside in the interests of national security. That is irregular, but it is now on record, and you all heard me say it. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the intention and the word of the United States government."
Well, damn, the assembled multitude thought. Especially the law-enforcement people.
"Well, you all know what happened to us at Triple-C," the director said, looking around, and his natural skepticism was tempered with the beginnings of genuine relief. "I don't have a choice here. I have to buy into this."
"I have something to add." Now the Fed Chairman walked to the front of the room. "I just finished calling the central-bank heads of Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They're all flying here tonight. We'll get together right here tomorrow morning to set up a system by which they also can cooperate in this effort. We are going to stabilize the dollar. We are going to fix the T-Bill market. The American banking system will not go down on us. I am going to propose to the Open Market Committee that anyone who holds on to U.S. Treasuries—that is, extends the three-month and six-month notes for one renewal cycle—gets an extra fifty basis points as a reward from the U.S. government for helping us through this situation. We will also give the same bonus to anyone who buys T-Bills in the next ten days after the markets reopen."
Smart move, Winston thought. Very smart move. That would draw foreign money into America, away from Japan, and really firm up the dollar—while attacking the yen. The Asian banks that dumped on the dollar would get it in the back of the neck for the move. So two could play the game, eh?
"You need legislation for that," a treasuries expert objected.
"We'll get it, we'll have ink on paper by Friday-a-week. For the moment, that is the policy of the Federal Reserve, approved and supported by the President of the United States," the Chairman added.
"They're giving us our life back, people," Winston said, pacing up and down again in front of the wooden rail. "We have been attacked by people who wanted to take us down. They wanted to cut our heart out. Well, looks like we have some pretty good doctors here. We're going to be sick for a while, but by the end of next week it's going to be okay."
"Friday noon, eh?" the NYSE asked.
"Correct," Fiedler told him, staring hard now and waiting for a response.
The executive gave it another few seconds of thought, then stood. "You will have the full cooperation of the New York Stock Exchange."
And the prestige of the NYSE was enough to overcome any doubts. Full cooperation was inevitable, but speed in the decision cycle was vital, and in ten more seconds the market officials were standing, smiling, and thinking about getting their shops back together.
"There will be no program trading until further notice," Fiedler said. "Those 'expert systems' nearly killed us. Friday is going to be exciting under the best of circumstances. We want people to use their brains, not their Nintendo systems."
"Agreed," NASDAQ said for the rest.
"We need to rethink those things anyway," Merrill Lynch announced thoughtfully.
"We will coordinate through this office. Think things through," the Fed Chairman told them. "If you have ideas on how to make the transition go more smoothly, we want to know about it. We will reconvene at six. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in this together. For the next week or so we are not competitors. We are team members."
"I have about a million individual investors depending on my house," Winston reminded them. "Some of you have more. Let's not forget that."
There was nothing like an appeal to honor. It was a virtue that all craved, even those who lacked it. Fundamentally, honor was itself a debt, a code of behavior, a promise, something inside yourself that you owed to the others who saw it in you. Everyone in this room wanted all the others to look and see a person worthy of respect and trust, and honor. An altogether useful concept, Winston thought, most particularly in time of trouble.
And then there was one, Ryan thought. The way it always seemed to work at this level, you took care of the simple jobs first and saved the really tough ones for last.
The mission now was more to prevent war than to execute it, but the latter would be part of the former.
The control of Eastern Siberia by Japan and China would have the effect of creating a new-what? Axis? Probably not that. Certainly a new world economic powerhouse, a rival to America in all categories of power. It would give Japan and China a huge competitive advantage in economic terms.
That in and of itself was not an evil ambition. But the methods were. The world had once operated by rules as simple as those of any jungle. If you got it first, it was yours—but only if you had the strength to hold it. Not terribly elegant, nor especially fair by contemporary standards, but the rules had been accepted because the stronger nations generally gave citizens political stability in return for loyalty, and that was usually the first step in the growth of a nation. After a while, however, the human need for peace and security had grown into something else—a desire for a stake in the governance of their country. From 1789, the year that America had ratified its Constitution, to 1989, the year that Eastern Europe had fallen, a mere two centuries, something new had come into the collective mind of mankind. It was called by many names—democracy, human rights, self-determination—but it was fundamentally a recognition that the human will had its own force, and mainly for good.
The Japanese plan sought to deny that force. But the time for the old rules was past, Jack told himself. The men in this room would have to see to it.
"So," his briefing concluded, "that's the overall situation in the Pacific."
The Cabinet Room was full, except for the seat of the Secretary of the Treasury, whose senior deputy was sitting in. Around the roughly diamond-shaped table were the heads of the various departments of the Executive Branch. Senior members of Congress and the military had seats against the four walls.
The Secretary of Defense was supposed to speak next. Instead of rising to the lectern as Ryan went back to his place, however, he flipped open his leather folder of notes and scarcely looked up from them.
"I don't know that we can do this," SecDef began, and with those words the men and women of the President's Cabinet shifted uneasily in their chairs.
"The problem is as much technical as anything. We cannot project sufficient power to—"
"Wait a minute," Ryan interrupted."I want to make a few items clear for everyone, okay?" There were no objections. Even the Defense Secretary seemed relieved that he didn't have to speak.
"Guam is U.S. Territory, has been for almost a century. The people there are our citizens. Japan took the island away from us in 1941, and in 1944 we took it back. People died to do that."
"We think we can get Guam back through negotiations," Secretary Hanson said.
"Glad to hear that," Ryan replied. "What about the rest of the Marianas?"
"My people think it's unlikely that we will get them back through diplomatic means. We'll work on it, of course, but—"
"But what?" Jack demanded. There was no immediate answer. "All right, let's make another thing clear. The Northern Marianas were never a legal possession of Japan, despite what their ambassador told us. They were a Trust Territory under the League of Nations, and so they were not war booty to us when we took them in 1944 along with Guam. In 1947 the United Nations declared them a Trust Territory under the protection of the United States. In 1952 Japan officially renounced all claims to sovereignty to the islands. In 1978, the people of the Northern Marianas opted to become a Commonwealth, politically unified with the United States, and they elected their first governor—we took long enough to let them do that, but they did. In 1986 the U.N. decided that we had faithfully fulfilled our responsibilities to those people, and in the same year the people of those islands all got U.S. citizenship. In 1990 the U.N. Security Council closed out the trusteeship for good.
"Do we all have that? The citizens of those islands are American citizens, with U.S. passports—not because we made them do it, but because they freely chose to be. That's called self-determination. We brought the idea to those rocks, and the people there must have thought that we were serious about it."
"You can't do what you can't do," Hanson said. "We can negotiate—"
"Negotiate, hell!" Jack snarled back. "Who says we can't?"
SecDef looked up from his notes. "Jack, it could take years to rebuild…the things we've deactivated. If you want to blame someone, well, blame me."
"If we can't do it—what's it going to cost?" the Secretary of Health and Human Services asked. "We have things we have to do here—"
"So we let a foreign country strip the citizenship rights of Americans because it's too hard to defend them?" Ryan asked more quietly. "Then what? What about the next time it happens? Tell me, when did we stop being the United States of America? It's a matter of political will, that's all," the National Security Advisor went on. "Do we have any?"
"Dr. Ryan, we live in a real world," the Secretary of the Interior pointed out. "All those people on those islands, can we put their lives at risk?"
"We used to say that freedom had a greater value than life. We used to say the same thing about our political principles," Ryan replied. "And the result is the world which those principles built. The things we call rights—nobody just gave them to us. No, sir. Those ideas are things we fought for. Those are things people died for. The people on those islands are American citizens. Do we owe them anything?"
Secretary Hanson was uncomfortable with this line of thought. So were others, but they deferred to him, grateful to be able to do so. "We can negotiate from a position of strength—but we have to go carefully."
"How carefully?" Ryan asked quietly.
"Damn it, Ryan, we can't risk nuclear attack over a few thousand—"
"Mr. Secretary, what's the magic number, then? A million? Our place in the world is based on a few very simple ideas—and a lot of people lost their lives for those ideas."
"You're talking philosophy," Hanson shot back. "Look, I have my negotiating team together. We'll get Guam back."
"No, sir, we're going to get them all back. And I'll tell you why." Ryan leaned forward, looking up and down the table. "If we don't, then we cannot prevent a war between Russia on one side and Japan and China on the other. I think I know the Russians. They will fight for Siberia. They have to. The resources there are their best chance for bootstrapping their country into the next century. That war could go nuclear. Japan and China probably don't think it'll go that far, people, but I'm telling you it will. You know why?
"If we cannot deal with this situation effectively, then who can? The Russians will think they're alone. Our influence with them will be zero, they'll have their backs against a wall, and they'll lash out the only way they can, and the butcher's bill will be like nothing the world has ever seen, and I'm not ready for another dark age.
"So we don't have a choice. You can name any reason you want, but it all comes down to the same thing: we have a debt of honor to the people on those islands who decided that they wanted to be Americans. If we don't defend that principle, we don't defend anything. And nobody will trust us, and nobody will respect us, not even ourselves. If we turn our back on them, then we are not the people we say we are, and everything we've ever done is a lie."
Through it all, President Durling sat quietly in his place, scanning faces, most especially his Secretary of Defense, and behind him, against the wall, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the man SecDef had picked to assist him in the dismantlement of the American military. Both men were looking down, and it was clear that both men were unworthy of the moment. It was also clear that their country could not afford to be.
"How can we do it, Jack?" Roger Durling asked.
"Mr. President, I don't know yet. Before we try, we have to decide if we are going to or not, and that, sir, is your call."
Durling weighed Ryan's words, and weighed the desirability of polling his cabinet for their opinions, but the faces told him something he didn't like.
He remembered his time in Vietnam when he'd told his troopers that, yes, it all mattered, even though he knew that it was a lie. He'd never forgotten the looks on their faces, and though it was not widely known, every month or so now, in the dark of night, he'd walk down to the Vietnam Memorial, where he knew the exact location of every name of every man who had died under his command, and he visited those names one by one, to tell them that, yes, it really had mattered somehow, that in the great scheme of events their deaths had contributed to something, and that the world had changed for the better, too late for them, but not too late for their fellow citizens. President Durling thought of one other thing: nobody had ever taken land away from America.
Perhaps it all came down to that.
"Brett, you will commence negotiations immediately. Make it clear that the current situation in the Western Pacific is in no way acceptable to the United States government. We will settle for nothing less than a complete restoration of the Mariana Islands to their antebellum condition. Nothing less," Durling repeated.
"Yes, Mr. President."
"I want plans and options for the removal of Japanese forces from those islands should negotiations fail," JUMPER told the Secretary of Defense. The latter nodded but his face told the tale. SecDef didn't think it could be done. Admiral Chandraskatta thought it had taken long enough, but he was patient, and he knew that he could afford to be. What will happen now? he wondered.
It could have gone more quickly. He'd been a little slow in his methods and plans, trying to learn the thought patterns of his adversary, Rear Admiral Michael Dubro. He was a clever foe, skilled at maneuvering, and because he was clever, he'd been quick to think that his own foe was stupid. It had been obvious for a week that the American formation lay to the southwest, and by moving south, he'd cajoled Dubro into moving north, then east. Had his assessment been wrong, then the American fleet would still have had to go to the same spot, east of Dondra Head, forcing the fleet oilers to cut the corner.
Sooner or later they would pass under the eyes of his air patrols, and, finally, they had. Now all he had to do was follow them, and Dubro couldn't divert them except to the east. And that meant diverting his entire fleet to the east, away from Sri Lanka, opening the way for his navy's amphibious division to load its cargo of soldiers and armored vehicles. The only alternative was for the Americans to confront his fleet and offer battle.
But they wouldn't do that—would they? No. The only sensible thing for America to do was to recall Dubro and his two carriers to Pearl Harbor, there to await the political decision on whether or not to confront Japan. They had divided their fleet, violating the dictum of Alfred Thayer Mahan, which Chandraskatta had learned at the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, along with his classmate, Yusuo Sato, not so many years before, and he remembered the theoretical discussions they'd had on walks along the seawall, watching the yachts and wondering how small navies could defeat big ones.
Arriving at Pearl Harbor, Dubro would confer with the intelligence and operations staffs of his Pacific Fleet command and they would do their sums, and then they would see that it probably could not be done. How angry and frustrated they would be, the Indian Admiral thought.
But first he would teach them a lesson. Now he was hunting them. For all their speed and cleverness, they were tied to a fixed point, and sooner or later you just ran out of maneuvering room. Now he could force them away, and allow his country to take her first imperial step. A small one, almost inconsequential in the great game, but a worthy opening move nonetheless because the Americans would withdraw, allowing his country to move, as Japan had moved. By the time America had built its strength back up, it would be too late to change things. It was all about space and time, really. Both worked against a country crippled by internal difficulties and therefore robbed of her purpose. How clever of the Japanese to see to that.
"It went better than I expected," Durling said. He'd walked over to Ryan's office for the chat, a first for both of them.
"You really think so?" Jack asked in surprise.
"Remember, I inherited most of the cabinet from Bob." The President sat down. "Their focus is domestic. That's been my problem all along."
"You need a new SecDef and a new Chairman," the National Security Advisor observed coldly.
"I know that, but the timing is bad for it." Durling smiled. "It gives you a slightly wider purview, Jack. But I have a question to ask you first."
"I don't know if we can bring it off." Ryan was doodling on his pad.
"We have to take the missiles out of play first."
"Yes, sir, I know that. We'll find them. At least I expect that we will one way or another. The other wild cards are hostages, and our ability to hit the islands. This war, if that's what it is, has different rules. I'm not sure what those rules are yet." Ryan was still working on the public part of the problem. How would the American people react? How would the Japanese?
"You want some input from your commander in chief?" Durling asked.
That was good enough to generate another smile. "You bet."
"I fought in a war where the other side made the rules," Durling observed. "It didn't work out very well."
"Which leads me to a question," Jack said.
"How far can we go?"
The President considered. "That's too open-ended."
"The enemy command authority is usually a legitimate target of war, but heretofore those people have been in uniform."
"You mean going after the zaibatsu?"
"Yes, sir. Our best information is that they're the ones giving the orders. But they're civilians, and going directly after them could seem like assassination."
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, Jack." The President stood to leave, having said what he'd come in to say.
"Fair enough." A slightly wider purview, Ryan thought. That could mean many things. Mainly it meant that he had the opportunity to run with the ball, but all alone, unprotected. Well, Jack thought, you've done that before.
"What have we done?" Koga asked. "What have we allowed them to do?"
"It's so easy for them," responded a political aide of long standing. He didn't have to say who them was. "We cannot ourselves assert our power, and divided, it's just so easy for them to push us in any direction they want…and over time—" The man shrugged.
"And over time the policy of our country has been decided by twenty or thirty men elected by no one but their own corporate boardrooms. But this far?" Koga asked. "But this far?"
"We are where we are. Would you prefer that we deny it?" the man asked.
"And who protects the people now?" the former—that word was bitter indeed—Prime Minister asked, leading with his chin and knowing it.
"Goto, of course."
"We cannot permit that. You know what he follows." Koga's counselor nodded, and would have smiled but for the gravity of the moment. "Tell me," Mogataru Koga asked. "What is honor? What does it dictate now?"
"Our duty, Prime Minister, is to the people," replied a man whose friendship with the politician went back to Tokyo University. Then he remembered a quote from a Westerner—Cicero, he thought. "The good of the people is the highest law."
And that said it all, Koga thought. He wondered if treason always began that way. It was something he'd sleep on, except that he knew that he wouldn't sleep at all that night. This morning, Koga thought with a grunt, checking his watch.
"We're sure that it has to be standard-gauge track?"
"You can resection the photos we have yourself," Betsy Fleming told him. They were back in the Pentagon headquarters of the National Reconnaissance Office. "The transporter-car our people saw is standard gauge."
"Disinformation, maybe?" the NRO analyst asked.
"The diameter of the SS-19 is two-point-eight-two meters," Chris Scott replied, handing over a fax from Russia. "Throw in another two hundred seventy centimeters for the transport container. I ran the numbers myself. The narrow-gauge track over there would be marginal for an object of that width. Possible, but marginal."
"You have to figure," Betsy went on, "that they're not going to take too many chances. Besides, the Russians also considered a rail-transport mode for the Mod-4 version, and designed the bird for that, and the Russian rail gauge—"
"Yeah, I forgot that. It is larger than our standard, isn't it?" The analyst nodded. "Okay, that does make the job easier." He turned back to his computer and executed a tasking order that he'd drafted a few hours earlier. For every pass over Japan, the narrow-focus high-resolution cameras would track down along precise coordinates. Interestingly, AMTRAK had the best current information on Japanese railroads, and even now one of their executives was being briefed in on the security rules pertaining to overhead imagery. It was a pretty simple briefing, really. Tell anyone what you see, and figure on a lengthy vacation at Marion, Illinois.
The computer-generated order went to Sunnyvale, California, from there to a military communications satellite, and thence to the two orbiting KH-11 satellites, one of which would overfly Japan in fifty minutes, the other ten minutes after that. All three people wondered how good the Japanese were at camouflaging. The hell of it was, they might never find out. All they could do, really, was wait. They would look at the imagery in real-time as it came in, but unless there were overt signs pointing to what they sought, the real work would be done over hours and days. If they were lucky.
Kurushio was on the surface, never something to make a submarine commander happy. They wouldn't be here long. Fuel was coming aboard through two large-diameter hoses, and other stores, mainly food, were lowered by crane to crewmen waiting on the deck. His navy didn't have a proper submarine tender, Commander Ugaki knew. Mainly they used tank-landing ships for the purpose, but those were fulfilling other purposes now, and he was stuck with a merchantman whose crew was enthusiastic but unfamiliar with the tasks they were now attempting.
His was the last boat into Agana Harbor because he'd been the one farthest away from the Marianas when the occupation had begun. He'd fired only one torpedo, and was gratified to see how well the Type 89 had worked. That was good. The merchantmen didn't have the equipment to reload him properly, but, the captain told himself, he had fifteen more, and four Harpoon missiles, and if the Americans offered him that many targets, so much the better.
Those crewmen not on duty loading stores on the afterdeck were crowded forward, getting some sun as submariners often did—as indeed their captain was doing, bare-chested atop the sail, drinking tea and smiling for everyone to see. His next mission was to patrol the area west of the Bonins, to intercept any American ship—more likely a submarine—that attempted to close the Home Islands. It promised to be typical submarine duty, Ugaki thought: dull but demanding. He'd have to talk to his crew about how important it was.
"So where's the patrol line?" Jones asked, pushing the envelope again. "Along 165-East for the moment," Admiral Mancuso said, pointing at the chart. "We're thin, Jonesy. Before I commit them to battle, I want them to get used to the idea. I want the COs to drill their people up. You're never ready enough, Ron. Never."
"True," the civilian conceded. He'd come over with SOSUS printouts to demonstrate that all known submarine contacts were off the screen. Two hydrophone arrays that were operated from the island of Guam were no longer available. Though connected by undersea cable to the rest of the network, they'd evidently been turned off by the monitoring facility on Guam, and nobody at Pearl had yet been able to trick them back on. The good news was that a backup array off Samar in the Philippines was still operating, but it could not detect the Japanese SSKs shown by satellite to be replenishing off Agana. They'd even gotten a good count. Probably, Mancuso thought. The Japanese still painted the hull numbers on the sails, and the satellite cameras could read them. Unless the Japanese, like the Russians and then the Americans, had learned to spoof reconnaissance efforts by playing with the numbers—or simply erased them entirely.
"It would be nice to have a few more fast-attacks, wouldn't it?" Jones observed after a minute's contemplation of the chart.
"Sure would. Maybe if we can get some direction from Washington…"
His voice trailed off, and Mancuso thought a little more. The location of every sub under his command was marked with a black silhouette, even the ones in overhaul status. Those were marked in white, showing availability dates, which was not much help at the moment. But there were five such silhouettes at Bremerton, weren't there?
The Special Report card appeared on all the major TV networks. In every case the hushed voice of an anchorperson told people that their network shows would be interrupted by a speech from the President about the economic crisis with which his administration had been dealing since the weekend. Then came the Presidential Seal. Those who had been following the events were surprised to see the President smiling.
"My fellow Americans, last week we saw a major event take place in the American financial system.
"I want to begin my report to you by saying that the American economy is strong. Now"—he smiled—"that may seem a strange pronouncement given all that you've heard in the media and elsewhere. But let me tell you why that is so. I'll start off with a question:
"What has changed? American workers are still making cars in Detroit and elsewhere. American workers are still making steel. Kansas farmers have their winter wheat in and are preparing for a new planting season. They're still making computers in the Silicon Valley. They're still making tires in Akron. Boeing is still making airplanes. They're still pumping oil out of the ground in Texas and Alaska. They're still mining coal in West Virginia. All the things you were doing a week ago, you are still doing. So what has changed?
"What changed was this: some electrons traveled along some copper wires, telephone lines like this one"—the President held up a phone cord and tossed it aside on his desk—"and that's all," he went on in the voice of a good, smart neighbor come to the house to offer some kindly advice. "Not one person has lost his life. Not a single business has lost a building. The wealth of our nation is unchanged. Nothing has gone away.
"And yet, my fellow Americans, we have begun to panic—over what?
"In the past four days we have determined that a deliberate attempt was made to tamper with the U.S. financial markets. The United States Department of Justice, with the assistance of some good Americans within those markets, is now building a criminal case against the people responsible for that. I cannot go further at the moment because even your President does not have the right to tamper with the right of any person to a fair and impartial trial. But we do know what happened and we do know that what happened is entirely artificial.
"Now, what are we going to do about it?" Roger Durling asked. "The financial markets have been closed all week. They will reopen at noon on Friday and…"