Polar shift, p.1

Polar Shift, page 1

 

Polar Shift
 



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Polar Shift


  POLAR SHIFT

  DIRK PITT® ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER

  Black Wind

  Trojan Odyssey

  Valhalla Rising

  Atlantis Found

  Flood Tide

  Shock Wave

  Inca Gold

  Sahara

  Dragon

  Treasure

  Cyclops

  Deep Six

  Pacific Vortex

  Night Probe

  Vixen 03

  Raise the Titanic

  Iceberg

  The Mediterranean Caper

  KURT AUSTIN ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER WITH PAUL KEMPRECOS

  Lost City

  White Death

  Fire Ice

  Blue Gold

  Serpent

  OREGON FILES ADVENTURES BY CLIVE CUSSLER WITH CRAIG DIRGO

  Sacred Stone

  Golden Buddha

  NONFICTION BY CLIVE CUSSLER AND CRAIG DIRGO

  The Sea Hunters II

  Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed

  The Sea Hunters

  POLAR SHIFT

  A NOVEL FROM THE NUMA® FILES

  CLIVE CUSSLER

  WITH PAUL KEMPRECOS

  G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS • NEW YORK

  G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

  Publishers Since 1838

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York,

  New York 10014, USA • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand,

  London WC2R 0RL, England

  Copyright © 2005 by Sandecker, RLLLP

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. Published simultaneously in Canada

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cussler, Clive.

  Polar shift / Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos.

  p. cm.

  ISBN: 1-4295-2793-5

  1. Austin, Kurt (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Underwater exploration—Fiction. 3. Marine scientists—Fiction. 4. Polar regions—Fiction I. Kemprecos, Paul. II. Title.

  PS3553.U75P65 2005 2005050911

  813'.54—dc22

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  POLAR SHIFT

  Contents

  PROLOGUE

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  EPILOGUE

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  PROLOGUE

  EAST PRUSSIA, 1944

  THE MERCEDES-BENZ 770 W150 Grosser Tourenwagen weighed more than four tons and was armored like a Panzer. But the seven-passenger limousine seemed to float like a ghost over the cushion of new-fallen snow, gliding with unlit headlights past slumbering cornfields that sparkled in the blue light of the moon.

  As the car neared a darkened farmhouse that lay in a gentle hollow, the driver gently touched the brakes. The car slowed to the speed of a walk and approached the low-slung, fieldstone structure with the stealth of a cat stalking a mouse.

  The driver gazed thoughtfully through the frosted windshield with eyes the color of arctic ice. The building appeared to be abandoned, but he knew better than to take chances. White paint had been hastily slapped over the car’s sculpted black steel body. The crude attempt at camouflage made the automobile practically invisible to the Stormovic ground attack planes that prowled the skies like angry hawks, but the Mercedes had barely escaped the Russian patrols that materialized out of the snow like wraiths. Rifle bullets had cratered the armor in a dozen places.

  So he waited.

  The man stretched out on the spacious backseat of the four-door sedan had felt the car decelerate. He sat up and blinked the sleep out of his eyes.

  “What is it?” he asked, speaking German with a Hungarian accent. His voice was fuzzy from sleep.

  The driver hushed his passenger. “Something’s not—”

  The rattle of gunfire shattered the glassy stillness of the night.

  The driver mashed the brake pedal. The massive vehicle hissed to a skidding stop about fifty yards from the farmhouse. He switched off the engine and snatched the 9 mm Lugar pistol from the front seat. His fingers tightened on the Lugar’s grip as a burly figure dressed in the olive uniform and fur hat of the Red Army staggered out the front door of the farmhouse.

  The soldier was clutching his arm and bellowing like a bee-stung bull.

  “Damn fascist whore!” he bawled repeatedly. His voice was hoarse with rage and pain.

  The Russian soldier had broken into the farmhouse only minutes before. The farm couple had been hiding in a closet, huddling under a blanket like children afraid of the dark. He had put a bullet in the husband and turned his attention to the woman, who had fled into the tiny kitchen.

  Shouldering his weapon, he had crooked his finger and crooned, “Frau, komm,” the soothing prelude to rape.

  The soldier’s vodka-soaked brain failed to warn him that he was in danger. The farmer’s wife hadn’t begged for mercy or burst into tears like the other women he had raped and murdered. She had glared at him with hot eyes, whipped a carving knife out from behind her back and slashed at his face. He had seen a flash of steel in the moonlight streaming through the windows and h
ad thrown up his left arm to defend himself, but the sharp blade sliced through his sleeve and forearm. He punched her to the floor with his other hand. Even then she had lunged for the knife. Consumed with white-hot fury, he cut her in half with frenzied bursts of his PPS-43 machine gun.

  As he stood outside the farmhouse, the soldier examined his wound. The cut was not severe, and the blood flow was down to a trickle. He pulled a pint of homemade vodka from his pocket and drained the bottle. The fiery hundred-proof liquor trickling down his throat helped numb the searing pain in his arm. He tossed the empty bottle into the snow, wiped his mouth with the back of his glove and set off to rejoin his comrades. He would brag that he’d been wounded fighting a gang of fascists.

  The soldier trudged a few steps in the snow only to stop as his sharp ears picked up the tick-tick sound of the car’s engine cooling down. He squinted at the large grayish smudge in the moon shadows. A suspicious scowl appeared on his broad peasant face. He slipped his machine gun from his shoulder and brought it to bear on the vague object. His finger tightened on the trigger.

  Four headlights blazed on. The powerful in-line eight-cylinder engine roared into life and the car sprang forward, its rear end fish-tailing in the snow. The Russian tried to dodge the oncoming vehicle. The corner of the heavy bumper caught his leg, and he was thrown to the side of the road.

  The car slid to a stop, the door opened and the driver got out. The tall man walked through the snow to the soldier, his black leather overcoat slapping softly against his thighs. The man had a long face and a lantern jaw. His close-cropped blond hair was uncovered even though the temperature was below zero.

  He squatted next to the stricken man.

  “Are you hurt, tovarich?” he said in Russian. His voice was deep and resonant, and he spoke with the detached sympathy of a physician.

  The soldier groaned. He couldn’t believe his bad luck. First that German bitch with the knife, now this.

  He cursed through spittle-covered lips. “Damn your mother! Of course I’m hurt.”

  The tall man lit a cigarette and placed it between the Russian’s lips. “Is there anyone in the farmhouse?”

  The soldier took a deep drag and exhaled through his nostrils. He assumed that the stranger was one of the political officers who infested the army like fleas.

  “Two fascists,” the Russian said. “A man and a woman.”

  The stranger went inside the farmhouse and emerged minutes later.

  “What happened?” he said, again kneeling by the soldier’s side.

  “I shot the man. The fascist witch came after me with a knife.”

  “Good work.” He patted the Russian on the shoulder. “You’re here alone?”

  The soldier growled like a dog with his bone. “I don’t share my loot or my women.”

  “What is your unit?”

  “General Galitsky’s Eleventh Guards army,” the soldier replied with pride in his voice.

  “You attacked Nemmersdorf on the border?”

  The soldier bared his bad teeth. “We nailed the fascists to their barns. Men, women and children. You should have heard the fascist dogs scream for mercy.”

  The tall man nodded. “Well done. I can take you to your comrades. Where are they?”

  “Close by. Getting ready for another push west.”

  The tall man gazed toward a distant line of trees. The rumble of huge T-34 battle tanks was like distant thunder. “Where are the Germans?”

  “The swine are running for their lives.” The soldier puffed on the cigarette. “Long live Mother Russia.”

  “Yes,” the tall man said. “Long live Mother Russia.” He reached into his overcoat, pulled out the Lugar and placed the muzzle against the soldier’s temple. “Auf Wiedersehen, comrade.”

  The pistol barked once. The stranger slid the smoking pistol into its holster and returned to the car. As he got behind the wheel, a hoarse cry came from the passenger in the backseat.

  “You killed that soldier in cold blood!”

  The dark-haired man was in his mid-thirties, and he had the handsome chiseled face of an actor. A thin mustache adorned a sensitive mouth. But there was nothing delicate about the way his expressive gray eyes burned with anger.

  “I simply helped another Ivan sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Mother Russia,” the driver said, speaking in German.

  “I understand this is war,” the passenger said, his voice tight with emotion. “But even you must admit the Russians are human, like us.”

  “Yes, Professor Kovacs, we are very much alike. We have committed unspeakable atrocities against their people, and now they are taking their revenge.” He described the horrors of the Nemmersdorf massacre.

  “I’m sorry for those people,” Kovacs said in a subdued tone, “but the fact that the Russians behave like animals doesn’t mean that the rest of the world must descend into savagery.”

  The driver heaved a heavy sigh. “The front is beyond that ridge,” he said. “You are welcome to discuss the goodness of mankind with your Russian friends. I won’t stop you.”

  The professor drew in on himself like an oyster.

  The driver glanced in the rearview mirror and chuckled to himself.

  “A wise decision.” He lit a cigarette, bending low to shield the light from his match. “Let me explain the situation. The Red Army has crossed the border and blown through the German front as if it were made of fog. Nearly all the inhabitants of this lovely countryside have fled their homes and fields. Our valiant army has been fighting a rearguard action as it runs for its life. The Russians have a ten-to-one advantage in men and arms, and they are cutting off all land routes west as they race toward Berlin. Millions of people are on the move to the coast, where the only escape is by sea.”

  “God help us all,” the professor said.

  “He seems to have evacuated East Prussia as well. Consider yourself a fortunate man,” the driver said cheerfully. He backed the car up, threw the shift into low gear and drove around the Russian’s body. “You are seeing history.”

  THE CAR headed west, entering the no-man’s-land between the advancing Russian juggernaut and the retreating Germans. The Mercedes flew along the roads, skirting deserted villages and farms. The frozen countryside was surreal, as if it had been tilted on its side and emptied of all human life. The travelers stopped only to refuel from the spare gas tanks the car carried in its trunk and to relieve themselves.

  Tracks began to appear in the snow. A short while later, the car caught up with the tail end of the retreat. The strategic withdrawal had become a full-fledged rout of army trucks and tanks that lumbered along through the falling snow in a slow-moving river of soldiers and refugees.

  The luckier refugees rode on tractors or horse-drawn carts. Others walked, pushing wheelbarrows piled with personal possessions through the snow. Many had escaped with only the clothes on their backs.

  The Mercedes rode up on the edge of the road, and its deep tire treads dug into the snow. The car kept moving until it passed the head of the retreat. Around dawn, the mud-splattered car limped into Gdynia like a wounded rhino seeking shelter in a thicket.

  The Germans had occupied Gdynia in 1939, expelled fifty thousand Poles and renamed the bustling seaport Gotenhafen, after the Goths. The harbor was transformed into a navy base, primarily for submarines. A branch of the Kiel shipyard was established to turn out new U-boats that were matched with crews trained in nearby waters and sent to sink Allied ships in the Atlantic.

  Under orders from Gross Admiral Karl Doenitz, an eclectic flotilla had been assembled at Gdynia in preparation for the evacuation. The fleet included some of the finest passenger liners in Germany, cargo ships, fishing boats and private vessels. Doenitz wanted his submarine and other naval personnel rescued so they could continue to fight. Eventually, more than two million civilians and military personnel would be transported west.

  The Mercedes made its way through the city. A bitterly cold wind was blowing in fro
m the Baltic Sea, whipping snowflakes into clouds of icy, stinging nettles. Despite the frostbite conditions, the city’s streets were as crowded as on a summer’s day. Refugees and prisoners of war slogged through deep drifts in futile search of shelter. Relief stations were overwhelmed with long lines of hungry refugees waiting for a crust of bread or a cup of hot soup.

  Wagons piled high with passengers and goods clogged the narrow streets. Refugees streamed from the train station to join the throngs who had arrived on foot. Muffled under layers of clothing, they resembled strange snow creatures. Children were pulled along on makeshift sleds.

  The car was capable of speeds reaching 170 kilometers per hour, but it soon became bogged down in traffic. The driver cursed and leaned on the horn. The heavy steel bumper failed to nudge the refugees out of the way. Frustrated at the glacial pace, the driver brought the car to a complete halt. He got out and opened the rear door.

  “Come, Professor,” he said, rousting his passenger. “Time for a stroll.”

  Abandoning the Mercedes in the middle of the street, the driver bulled his way through the crowd. He kept a firm hand on the professor’s arm, yelled at people to make way and shouldered them aside when they didn’t move fast enough.

  Eventually, they made their way to the waterfront where more than sixty thousand refugees had gathered, hoping to get aboard one of the vessels lined up at the piers or anchored in the harbor.

  “Take a good look,” the driver said, surveying the sight with a grim smile. “The religious scholars have been all wrong. You can plainly see that it is cold, not hot, in Hell.”

 
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