Unto the breach pos 4, p.16

Unto the Breach pos-4, page 16

 part  #4 of  Paladin of Shadows Series


Unto the Breach pos-4

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  “No, I don’t expect that,” Chechnik said. “No one expects you to give it back, although I have been assured if you do that we will destroy it.”

  “Right,” Mike scoffed. “Just like you did for the last, what? Twenty years?”

  “But Dr. Arensky knows the proper protocols for destroying it,” the Russian continued as if he wasn’t listening. “He will show you how to destroy it. You must recover Arensky, alive.”

  “I’m tempted to put a bullet through his head,” Mike snarled.

  “Don’t,” Chechnik said, shaking his head. “Arensky is very much a victim in all of this.”

  “Huh?” Mike replied, frowning. “More stuff you haven’t told us?”

  “Arensky is a patriot,” Chechnik said. “A good man. Yes, he works on biological and chemical weapons. But he has come up with more cures, more defenses, than assaults. He also is a… a universalist, yes? He thinks of his country first, but then of the good of the world. He prefers playing the defense, yes? You have people in your own military who work on these things. Are they all evil?”

  “So why’d he defect?” Mike asked. “And take this shit with him?”

  “Probably his daughter,” Chechnik said with a sigh. “He dotes on Marina. We now believe that Marina disappeared well before Dr. Arensky. It is probable that she was kidnapped and used to force him to do this. Arensky is also a genius in the entire field. He is expert on chemical and biological production methods. He even has much knowledge of details of nuclear weapons production. We believe the smallpox was only the tip of the iceberg. He took discs with him with details on various forms of production, including nuclear. We believe that he is being traded to a major country. They probably were the funding source for this operation. One assumes that they can continue to use Marina as a method to force him to assist them in their WMD efforts. And the smallpox is probably not for use. Some country, Iran, yes? They will get it, prove that they have it, and hold it to prevent the Americans from taking action against them. Mutual Assured Destruction, yes? If you over throw the mullahs, they destroy the world.”

  “Your security is a nightmare,” Mike said. “You know that, right?”

  “We are aware of that, yes,” the Russian said with a frown. “In this case… we are aware of this, yes. We are, as they say, working on it.”

  “Work faster,” Mike replied. “I’m getting tired of cleaning up your messes for you. The Keldara are not prepared to handle chem-bio. Hell, we haven’t even trained them on MOPP gear!”

  “If this gets loose, it won’t matter,” Chechnik said, shrugging. “But the vials are in very sturdy containers. As long as those are not breached, and you cannot do that with a rifle or even an RPG, then everything will be fine. He took containers as well. They are about ten centimeters high and eight across and made of steel and depleted uranium, yes? You cannot even penetrate one with one of your Barrett sniper rifles. But you must recover Arensky, yes? It would be good if you could recover Marina. Then destroy the vials and this nightmare is over.”

  Mike thought about what was being asked of him for a moment and then shrugged.

  “I’m going to do this anyway,” he said, carefully. “And I don’t want to sound mercenary. But… Bob pointed out that if I recovered nukes, I’d get the vig on those. If you guys don’t even want me to tell the US what I got… ”

  “How are you going to get paid?” Chechnik asked.

  “That and… They’re going to want to know what I got,” Mike pointed out. “If I turn up empty handed, there are going to be lots of unpleasant questions.”

  “We will give you two nukes,” Chechnik said. “If you destroy the smallpox and… ”

  “Keep my mouth shut,” Mike finished for him.


  “So… ” He started to chuckle and just couldn’t stop for a second. “So what you’re telling me is that you’re going to hand me nuclear weapons? Atomic bombs? Da Big Ones?”

  “Well, we’re pretty sure you won’t use them,” the Russian pointed out. “And then you can sell them to the Amis and everyone is happy. Also, they will be very small nukes,” the intel officer added with a grin.

  “Four,” Mike said. “For this op, I’d better be paid a pretty penny. And it’s not like you don’t have a shitload lying around.”

  “Now that was mercenary,” Chechnik said, frowning.

  “I’ve got a very high overhead,” Mike replied. “Welcome to capitalism.”

  “Four,” the intelligence specialist agreed.

  Mike suspected by the quick capitulation that he could have gone higher. But, hell, he was going to get that damned shipment even if it meant expending every last Keldara and no payment. On the other hand, if the Russians stiffed him they weren’t going to like the repayment. That assumed that he wasn’t being handed another bill of goods.

  “We will get the nukes to you, here, as soon as you send word that the material has been captured and eliminated. The Georgians have agreed to let an American team pick them up. We can sneak the nukes in easily enough.”

  “Got it. Do I need anything special to destroy this stuff?” Mike asked.

  “There are various ways,” Chechnik said with a shrug. “But I would suggest carrying some carboys of acid. Very strong acid.”

  “Great,” Mike grumped. “Just what I need to be carrying on a combat op.”

  * * *

  “Katya,” Anastasia said with a slightly malicious smile, “this is Mr. Jay.” She’d called Katya into her office to introduce the Kildar’s newest associate.

  “Just Jay, please,” the man said, looking the girl up and down. “Just… Jay.”

  “Hello, Jay,” Katya said, looking the apparent Keldara up and down. She was smiling and ducking her head, coquettishly. “I’m Katya. How are you?”

  “English, please,” Jay said in British accented English. “Anastasia, could I borrow your office for a moment?”

  “Certainly, sir,” Anastasia replied, getting up and going to the door. “You two have fun.”

  “Could you say that for me again?” Jay said, walking up to the girl and starting to circle her from just beyond arm’s reach.

  “Who are you?” Katya asked, still smiling pleasantly. “And could you stop circling me? It’s making me nervous.”

  “Then you need to learn to use more than your eyes to track me,” Jay replied. “Say it again. In English. I will choose the language, you will reply. And you are my padwan, and I am your Jedi Master. You may call me Jay.”

  “I do not have a master,” Katya said, somewhat less coquettishly. But it was in English.

  “Well, in this case, it’s an honorific,” Jay replied. “And we’ll need to work on the accent. You should be able, at your age, to learn to turn it on and off. After nineteen, for some reason, it becomes nearly impossible. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

  “Nur Bisschen,” Katya said. She’d taken to looking straight ahead rather than following him in his circling.

  “Definite accent there,” Jay said in Russian. “Try something a little longer.”

  “Gottverdammte teilzeit schmierfink,” Katya said, smiling pleasantly.

  “Yes, we’re definitely going to have to work the accent out,” Jay continued, ignoring the rather personal curse. “There are only three major remaining regional dialects in German. At least in Deutschland. Austrian and Swiss German are slightly different. We’ll see how many you can absorb. And Arabic, well, there are so many variants of that it’s funny.”

  “I can’t pass in Arab countries,” Katya said, lifting up her hair. “Blonde, see?”

  “There are some blondes to be found,” Jay replied. “And there’s this thing I don’t think you’ve ever heard of called ‘hair dye.’ Oh, no, I take that back. You’re not nearly as light a blonde as you would like to appear. Closer to dishwater than platinum, babe. Your dye job’s showing through at the roots. Nice touch making sure the carpet matches the drapes, though.”

  “You’re a spy master,
Katya said in English, dropping the coquettishness.

  “No, I am a master spy,” Jay replied. “There is a difference. A spy master runs multiple spies but is not necessarily a good spy. A master spy is a master spy. Part of my job will involve training you. Part of that will be teaching you to see what is really in front of you instead of what you want to see. There are two main purposes to that; reporting accurate information and developing the ability to recognize and assimilate every detail of a culture so that you can disappear into that culture in an instant. You’d like to learn to disappear in an instant, wouldn’t you, Katya?”

  “Yes,” Katya admitted.

  “So I’m not going to threaten you with anything but this,” Jay continued, leaning in from behind so he was right by her left ear. “The moment that I think your attention waivers, the moment that you don’t give me every particle of your being, I will simply stop teaching you. When you know it all, feel free to leave. Please. Because it will no longer be worth my time and I will no longer waste my time. There will be no threats, there will be no warnings, there will be no appeal and there will be no more lessons. Do you understand me?”

  “Perfectly,” Katya replied.

  “Then let us begin… ”

  * * *

  Mike had arranged a meeting with the rest of the command group after the private meeting. He could tell that Adams, Nielson and especially Vanner were alive with curiosity about what had been discussed. But he was still trying to figure out how to handle the information so he ignored their curiosity.

  “Baseline:” Mike said as soon as the group was assembled in his office. “I trust Colonel Chechnik with any information we give him. On the other hand, he’s also required to report it to his superiors. And since we got burned by leaks in the Russian military one time, you can ask him any questions you’d like but we’re not giving him our mission plan. You okay with that, Colonel?”

  “Perfectly,” Chechnik replied.

  “So, besides what you gave me, which is not open for discussion at this time, why are you here?” Mike asked.

  “My job is to find out what you need to improve the likelihood of this mission’s success and then get it to you,” Chechnik said. “I have the full support of the Stavka as well as the office of the president. We want these nuclear weapons stopped. But we ask that it be quietly.”

  “Also, Arensky is no longer to be considered a bad guy,” Mike noted. “And we need to raise the profile of recovering his daughter. It’s now believed that she was kidnapped to force him to defect with the… materials.”

  “Okay,” Nielson said after a moment’s pause. “You realize you just said we’re going to have to do a split mission. And it was already hairy as hell.”

  “I’m aware of that,” Mike said. “For various reasons I’m going to handle the side with Arensky and the WMD. Adams will lead the strike team to try to recover Marina. So what do we need, want or desire from Colonel Chechnik.”

  “Sucks to be a hostage,” Adams said, repeating a common SEAL mantra. In most hostage rescue training missions, the “hostage”, invariably a dummy dressed as the hostage, was killed either by the rescuers or the holders.

  “Try to make it suck less,” Mike said. “Anything else?”

  “Well, I could use some better satellite intel,” Vanner said. “Specifically, better than one meter scale shots for the entire area.”

  “You need them for map generation, yes?” the Russian officer said. “Would maps be better? We have high resolution maps for the area.”

  “You do?” Vanner said. “I’ve been looking for maps for forever for this area.”

  “What do you think our Spetznaz use?” Chechnik replied. “We can get you maps, in standard map file systems if you wish. Also the satellite photos. And we can provide real time satellite tasking during the mission.”

  “I was going to ask Washington for that,” Mike admitted. “I’d like a Predator on station in support.”

  “I have been made aware that the US is willing to supply such support,” Chechnik replied.

  “Christ, talk about cooperation,” Adams snorted. “Am I the only one that’s having weird reality distortion here?”

  “I’ve seen it before,” Mike admitted. “Once.”

  “Paris,” the Russian said, nodding. “Yes, when one of our nuclear weapons becomes, as you American’s say it, ‘in play’, we become very cooperative.”

  “We need everything you have on the players,” Nielson pointed out. “And the correlation of forces. Everything. Names of individuals in the battalion in the area if you have it.”

  “Of course,” Chechnik said, opening up his briefcase and sliding a DVD onto the tabletop. “All of what we have is in here. It is everything that my office was able to find, at least. As with your American intelligence agencies, there is often something out there that one group knows that the rest do not. But I swear this is everything that the president of Russia could put his hand on in less than a week. It is in Russian, but I understand you can handle that.”

  “One thing that might or might not be in there,” Mike said, musingly. “We need the name of a slaver that works the area. Preferably one that’s not terribly brutal. I’d prefer one that if he has a good worker doesn’t punch her around just to show her who is boss.”

  “I only reviewed the information,” Chechnik said, cautiously. “And it focuses on the military groups in the area. I’m not sure what it has about the sex-slavers. Some of them are both, of course.”

  “Everything you can get in a couple of days,” Mike said. “We are getting on short time for this op. And that request for info stays very close to the chest, understood? You don’t even pass it to Vladimir. Just inside your group on a need-to-know basis.”

  “I will do it,” Chechnik said.

  “I think that’s it for now,” Mike continued. “Colonel, we have a lot of planning and prep to do for this mission. I hope you won’t find it remiss if we cut this short. I’d appreciate it if you’d stay for dinner and overnight. I can have Anastasia show you around the area. I’d do it myself but I’m going to be pretty busy.”

  “Of course,” Chechnik said. “I will leave you gentlemen to your business.”

  Chapter Thirteen

  “Okay, Ass-boy, why’s he really here?” Adams said as soon as the door was closed.

  “I’m still assimilating that,” Mike said, looking at the wall. “Among other things, I had to promise to not tell the US government what he told me to get their cooperation. And that goes for you guys, too. I’m willing, not happy but willing, to go along for the time being. But… ”

  “How serious is it?” Nielson asked. “I won’t ask what it is, but how serious?”

  “Not sure I can say even that,” Mike replied. “But there’s a reason that I’m taking the mission to recover the WMD and Arensky. I know the Keldara will keep their mouths shut.”

  “Well… ” Vanner said, uneasily. “I hate to say this, but at this point, American and all that, my primary loyalty is here. If you think we should keep this from the US government… ”

  “I’m pretty sure I should be on the phone to Washington right now,” Mike said. “And I’m going to call them and ask them for a special tasking in case we fail. Put it that way.”

  “Special tasking?” Adams said. “You mean you want them to bomb the area if you can’t get the materials?”

  “Sort of.”

  * * *

  “This is rather unusual, Mike,” the president said over the video connection.

  The secure room in the US Embassy, Tblisi was a windowless shield-room. But it had a video connecton on the securest possible system connected to the American military communications system. Mike simply didn’t have time to go to Washington for the conversation; this was the best compromise under the circumstances.

  “I agree Mr. President,” Mike said, looking at the other connections. The Secretary of State, the former NSA, was on one of the screens, the Secretary of Defen
se on another. “And thank you for your time. But this was something that only you could decide upon.”

  “Go ahead,” the president said.

  “Yes, sir,” Mike said, trying not to swallow nervously. “I have been given some additional information by the Russians. However, I was given the information on the agreement that I would not pass it to the American government.”

  “So why are we here?” the Secretary of Defense asked, angrily. “And how the hell could you agree to that?”

  “Because Colonel Chechnik said I needed it,” Mike said. “And because I hope that I can convince you of something very serious without, in fact, divulging the information.”

  “Do we need the information?” the Secretary of State asked.

  “Probably,” Mike replied. “I’m playing a very hard game here, balancing a wire that’s damned thin. I will say that if my mission succeeds you probably don’t need it anymore. It will be history. And if I fail, well, that’s why I’m here.”

  “Mike… ” the president said then paused. “Mike you’ve done a lot of good things for your country, for the world. I’m not about to sit here and question your patriotism. But I have to wonder about judgement.”

  “So do I, sir,” Mike admitted. “But if my judgement was incredibly hot, I never would have made it to Syria.”

  “Point,” the president said, grinning. “What do you want?”

  “I think it’s what we all need, instead,” Mike replied. “I’m going to insert the Keldara, and an agent, into the area then attempt to intercept the transfer. One of the items I don’t feel bad about passing is that the Russians now think that Arensy is being forced by the terrorists. His daughter was probably kidnapped to get him to go along. That means we’re now trying to intercept the shipment, rescue Arensky and his daughter. With a very small force. The only thing that matters, though, is the shipment. In the event that we are unable to secure the shipment, I’m asking that you task a nuclear weapon to take it out.”

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