The Bear and the Dragon
- CHAPTER 1 Echoes of the Boom
- CHAPTER 2 The Dead Goddess
- CHAPTER 3 The Problems with Riches
- CHAPTER 4 Knob Rattling
- CHAPTER 5 Headlines
- CHAPTER 6 Expansion
- CHAPTER 7 Developing Leads
- CHAPTER 8 Underlings and Underthings
- CHAPTER 9 Initial Results
- CHAPTER 10 Lessons of the Trade
- CHAPTER 11 Faith of the Fathers
- CHAPTER 12 Conflicts of the Pocket
- CHAPTER 13 Penetration Agent
- CHAPTER 14 (dot)com
- CHAPTER 15 Exploitation
- CHAPTER 16 The Smelting of Gold
- CHAPTER 17 The Coinage of Gold
- CHAPTER 18 Evolutions
- CHAPTER 19 Manhunting
- CHAPTER 20 Diplomacy
- CHAPTER 21 Simmering
- CHAPTER 22 The Table and the Recipe
- CHAPTER 23 Down to Business
- CHAPTER 24 Infanticide
- CHAPTER 25 Fence Rending
- CHAPTER 26 Glass Houses and Rocks
- CHAPTER 27 Transportation
- CHAPTER 28 Collision Courses
- CHAPTER 29 Billy Budd
- CHAPTER 30 And the Rights of Men
- CHAPTER 31 The Protection of Rights
- CHAPTER 32 Coalition Collision
- CHAPTER 33 Square One
- CHAPTER 34 Hits
- CHAPTER 35 Breaking News
- CHAPTER 36 SORGE Reports
- CHAPTER 37 Fallout
- CHAPTER 38 Developments
- CHAPTER 39 The Other Question
- CHAPTER 40 Fashion Statements
- CHAPTER 41 Plots of State
- CHAPTER 42 Birch Trees
- CHAPTER 43 Decisions
- CHAPTER 44 The Shape of a New World Order
- CHAPTER 45 Ghosts of Horrors Past
- CHAPTER 46 Journey Home
- CHAPTER 47 Outlooks and All-Nighters
- CHAPTER 48 Opening Guns
- CHAPTER 49 Disarming
- CHAPTER 50 Thunder and Lightning
- CHAPTER 51 Falling Back
- CHAPTER 52 Deep Battle
- CHAPTER 53 Deep Concerns
- CHAPTER 54 Probes and Pushes
- CHAPTER 55 Looks and Hurts
- CHAPTER 56 March to Danger
- CHAPTER 57 Hyperwar
- CHAPTER 58 Political Fallout
- CHAPTER 59 Loss of Control
- CHAPTER 60 Skyrockets in Flight
- CHAPTER 61 Revolution
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As always, some friends were there to help:
Roland, the screw in Colorado,
for the superb language lesson-
good luck looking after your wayward children-
Harry, the kid in the ether world,
for some unexpected information,
John G., my gateway into
the world of technology,
And Charles, a fine teacher from long ago,
and probably a pretty good soldier, too.
History admires the wise, but it elevates the brave.
— EDMUND MORRIS
The White Mercedes
Going to work was the same everywhere, and the changeover from Marxism-Leninism to Chaos-Capitalism hadn’t changed matters much-well, maybe things were now a little worse. Moscow, a city of wide streets, was harder to drive in now that nearly anyone could have a car, and the center lane down the wide boulevards was no longer tended by militiamen for the Politburo and used by Central Committee men who considered it a personal right-of-way, like Czarist princes in their troika sleds. Now it was a left-turn lane for anyone with a Zil or other private car. In the case of Sergey Nikolay’ch Golovko, the car was a white Mercedes 600, the big one with the S-class body and twelve cylinders of German power under the hood. There weren’t many of them in Moscow, and truly his was an extravagance that ought to have embarrassed him … but didn’t. Maybe there were no more nomenklatura in this city, but rank did have its privileges, and he was chairman of the SVR. His apartment was also large, on the top floor of a high-rise building on Kutusovskiy Prospekt, a structure relatively new and well-made, down to the German appliances which were a long-standing luxury accorded senior government officials.
He didn’t drive himself. He had Anatoliy for that, a burly former Spetsnaz special-operations soldier who carried a pistol under his coat and who drove the car with ferocious aggression, while tending it with loving care. The windows were coated with dark plastic, which denied the casual onlooker the sight of the people inside, and the windows were thick, made of polycarbonate and specced to stop anything up to a 12.7-mm bullet, or so the company had told Golovko’s purchasing agents sixteen months before. The armor made it nearly a ton heavier than was the norm for an S600 Benz, but the power and the ride didn’t seem to suffer from that. It was the uneven streets that would ultimately destroy the car. Road-paving was a skill that his country had not yet mastered, Golovko thought as he turned the page in his morning paper. It was the American International Herald Tribune, always a good source of news since it was a joint venture of The Washington Post and the New York Times, which were together two of the most skilled intelligence services in the world, if a little too arrogant to be the true professionals Sergey Nikolay’ch and his people were.
He’d joined the intelligence business when the agency had been known as the KGB, the Committee for State Security, still, he thought, the best such government department the world had ever known, even if it had ultimately failed. Golovko sighed. Had the USSR not fallen in the early 1990s, then his place as Chairman would have put him as a full voting member of the Politburo, a man of genuine power in one of the world’s two superpowers, a man whose mere gaze could make strong men tremble … but … no, what was the use of that? he asked himself. It was all an illusion, an odd thing for a man of supposed regard for objective truth to value. That had always been the cruel dichotomy. KGB had always been on the lookout for hard facts, but then reported those facts to people besotted with a dream, who then bent the truth in the service of that dream. When the truth had finally broken through, the dream had suddenly evaporated like a cloud of steam in a high wind, and reality had poured in like the flood following the breakup of an icebound river in springtime. And then the Politburo, those brilliant men who’d wagered their lives on the dream, had found that their theories had been only the thinnest of reeds, and reality was the swinging scythe, and the eminence bearing that tool didn’t deal in salvation.
But it was not so for Golovko. A dealer in facts, he’d been able to continue his profession, for his government still needed them. In fact, his authority was broader now than it would have been, because as a man who well knew the surrounding world and some of its more important personalities intimately, he was uniquely suited to advising his president, and so he had a voice in foreign policy, defense, and domestic matters. Of them, the third was the trickiest lately, which had rarely been the case before. It was now also the most dangerous. It was an odd thing. Previously, the mere spoken (more often, shouted) phrase “State Security!” would freeze Soviet citizens in their stride, for KGB had been the most feared organ of the previous government, with power such as Reinhart Heydrich’s Sicherheitsdienst had only dreamed about, the power to arrest, imprison, interrogate, and to kill any citizen it wished, with no recourse at all. But that, too, was a thing of the past. Now KGB was split, and the domestic-security branch was a shadow of its former self, while the SVR-formerly the First Chief Directorate-still gathered information, but lacked the immediate strength that had come with being able to enforce the will, if not quite the law, of the communist government. But his current duties were still vast, Golovko told himself, folding the paper.
He was only a kilometer away from Dzerzhinskiy Square. That, too, was no longer the same. The statue of Iron Feliks was gone. It had always been a chilling sight to those who’d known who the man was whose bronze image had stood alone in the square, but now it, too, was a distant memory. The building behind it was the same, however. Once the stately home office of the Rossiya Insurance Company, it had later been known as the Lubyanka, a fearsome word even in the fearsome land ruled by Iosef Vissarionovich Stalin, with its basement full of cells and interrogation rooms. Most of those functions had been transferred over the years to Lefortovo Prison to the east, as the KGB bureaucracy had grown, as all such bureaucracies grow, filling the vast building like an expanding balloon, as it claimed every room and corner until secretaries and file clerks occupied the (remodeled) spaces where Kamenev and Ordzhonikidze had been tortured under the eyes of Yagoda and Beriya. Golovko supposed that there hadn’t been too many ghosts.
Well, a new working day beckoned. A staff meeting at 8:45, then the normal routine of briefings and discussions, lunch at 12:15, and with luck he’d be back in the car and on his way back home soon after six, before he had to change for the reception at the French Embassy. He looked forward to the food and wine, if not the conversation.
Another car caught his eye. It was a twin to his own, another large Mercedes S-class, iceberg white just like his own, complete down to the American-made dark plastic on the windows. It was driving purposefully in the bright morning, as Anatoliy slowed and pulled behind a dump truck, one of the thousand such large ugly vehicles that covered the streets of Moscow like a dominant life-form, this one’s load area cluttered with hand tools rather than filled with earth. There was yet another truck a hundred meters beyond, driving slowly as though its driver was unsure of his route. Golovko stretched in his seat, barely able to see around the truck in front of his Benz, wishing for the first cup of Sri Lankan tea at his desk, in the same room that Beriya had once …
… the distant dump truck. A man had been lying in the back. Now he rose, and he was holding …
“Anatoliy!” Golovko said sharply, but his driver couldn’t see around the truck to his immediate front.
… it was an RPG, a slender pipe with a bulbous end. The sighting bar was up, and as the distant truck was now stopped, the man came up to one knee and turned, aiming his weapon at the other white Benz-
— the other driver saw it and tried to swerve, but found his way blocked by the morning traffic and-
— not much in the way of a visual signature, just a thin puff of smoke from the rear of the launcher-tube, but the bulbous part leapt off and streaked into the hood of the other white Mercedes, and there it exploded.
It hit just short of the windshield. The explosion wasn’t the fireball so beloved of Western movies, just a muted flash and gray smoke, but the sound roared across the square, and a wide, flat, jagged hole blew out of the trunk of the car, and that meant that anyone inside the vehicle would now be dead, Golovko knew without pausing to think on it. Then the gasoline ignited, and the car burned, along with a few square meters of asphalt. The Mercedes stopped almost at once, its left-side tires shredded and flattened by the explosion. The dump truck in front of Golovko’s car panic-stopped, and Anatoliy swerved right, his eyes narrowed by the noise, but not yet-
“Govno!” Now Anatoliy saw what had happened and took action. He kept moving right, accelerating hard and swerving back and forth as his eyes picked holes in the traffic. The majority of the vehicles in sight had stopped, and Golovko’s driver sought out the holes and darted through them, arriving at the vehicle entrance to Moscow Center in less than a minute. The armed guards there were already moving out into the square, along with the supplementary response force from its shack just inside and out of sight. The commander of the group, a senior lieutenant, saw Golovko’s car and recognized it, waved him inside and motioned to two of his men to accompany it to the drop-off point. The arrival time was now the only normal aspect of the young day. Golovko stepped out, and two young soldiers formed up in physical contact with his heavy topcoat. Anatoliy stepped out, too, his pistol in his hand and his coat open, looking back through the gate with suddenly anxious eyes. His head turned quickly.