The Trident Deception
- 9 DAYS REMAINING
- 6 DAYS REMAINING
- 2 DAYS REMAINING
- 1 DAY REMAINING
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To my wife, Lynne, who has supported me all these years and sacrificed so much, allowing me to chase my dreams.
To Brett, Caitlin, and Courtney, I pass along the advice that led me to write this novel:
— What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?
Many thanks are due to those who helped me write and publish this novel:
First and foremost, to Ned Steele for the inspiration to pick up the pen; to my wife, Lynne, and my children for their support through the long hours; to Nancy Coffey, without whose assistance I would not be a writer; and to my agent, John Talbot, for his belief in this book and for taking a chance.
To the many wonderful people at St. Martin’s Press. First, to my editor, Keith Kahla, for making this novel twice as good as it was. To the many departments at St. Martin’s Press; editorial is only the beginning: to Young Lim and the art department for the incredible cover, to Rafal Gibek and William Rees and the rest of production, to Steven Seighman and design for the interior layout, to my marketing and publicity team — Paul Hochman, Loren Jaggers, Justin Velella, Cassandra Galante, and Courtney Sanks — for the many hours they’ve dedicated on behalf of The Trident Deception, to Hannah Braaten, for her cheerful assistance as I attempted to navigate my way through a new literary world, and to the countless sales reps I’ll never meet. And finally, to the publisher of St. Martin’s Press, Sally Richardson, and the editor in chief, George Witte, for making this book possible. Thank you all so much.
To those who helped me get the details in The Trident Deception right: to Commander Pete Arrobio, who walked me through the P-3C submarine prosecution procedures, to Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Josh Wilkinson, who guided me through the Australian submarine scenarios, and to U.S. Navy Captains Murray Gero and Steve Harrison for refreshing my memory and helping me get the new technical details right. (Some of it isn’t right, on purpose — see Author’s Note in back.) And to Douglas C. Waller — the nuclear weapon release procedures in The Trident Deception are those authorized for public dissemination in his novel, Big Red.
To my writer friends in Purgatory and The Pit, thank you for your support on this long journey; for sharing the good times and pulling me though the bad times. I wouldn’t have made it without you.
And finally, to the men and women in our armed services, and especially the Submarine Force. My heart and thoughts will always be with you.
(A complete cast of characters is provided in the addendum.)
UNITED STATES ADMINISTRATION
KEVIN HARDISON, chief of staff
CHRISTINE O’CONNOR, national security adviser
STEVE BRACKMAN, senior military aide
DAVE HENDRICKS, deputy director, National Military Command Center, Pentagon
MIKE PATTON, Section Two watchstander, National Military Command Center
LEVI ROSENFELD, prime minister
EHUD RABIN, defense minister
BARAK KOGEN, intelligence minister
ARIEL BRONNER, director, Metsada
JOHN STANBURY, Commander, Submarine Force Pacific
MURRAY WILSON, senior Prospective Commanding Officer Instructor
BRAD MALONE, Commanding Officer
BRUCE FAY, Executive Officer
PETE MANNING, Weapons Officer
TOM WILSON, Assistant Weapons Officer
HERB CARVAHLO, Electrical Division Officer
STEVE PRASHAW, Chief of the Boat
ALAN DAVIDSON, Radio Division Chief Petty Officer
TONY DELGRECO, Sonar Division Leading Petty Officer
BOB CIBELLI, Sonar Division Petty Officer
ROGER TRYON, Missile Division Leading Petty Officer
KEN TYLER, Commanding Officer, USS San Francisco
DENNIS GALLAGHER, Commanding Officer, USS North Carolina
BRETT HUMPHREYS, Commanding Officer, HMAS Collins
EAGLE-FIVE-ZERO (P-3C AIR CREW)
SCOTT GRAEF, Tactical Coordinator
PETE BURWELL, Communicator
As a full moon cast faint shadows across the narrow paths winding through Rock Creek Park, Russell Evans checked over his shoulder again as he ran at nearly a full sprint. The young man almost lost his footing on the rocky path above the creek bed, his dress shoes slipping on the damp stones. Stopping behind a thick copse of trees, Evans rested his hands on his knees as he waited for his exhaustion to fade, his heart racing as he gulped the cool night air. Dropping to one knee, he thought about the poor choice he’d made tonight and the danger he now faced.
It had seemed like a wise decision at the time. The man he had chosen to confide in was the one person who had the authority to investigate further. But Evans had misinterpreted the flicker in the man’s eyes when the information had been laid before him, assuming the seasoned government official shared his concern over what he had discovered. Now Evans believed the man’s concern was not for the danger the security breaches represented but for the discovery of the breaches themselves. Evans now realized that had he been older and wiser, had he confided in someone more trustworthy than powerful, he would not be in a desolate park in the middle of the night, fleeing for his life.
Evans pulled out his cell phone and scrolled through his address book, the faint light of the BlackBerry display illuminating his face in the darkness. This time, he selected a person he knew he could trust without question. A draft e-mail appeared. The first line of the message he’d typed was short and cryptic, only seven characters long. He was about to expound when the snap of a twig brought his head up.
Pressing the BlackBerry display against his chest, he scanned his surroundings. But his eyes saw nothing in the dark shadows. He slowed his breathing, keeping it shallow in an effort to listen more closely, but all he heard was the babbling of Rock Creek as it wound south toward the Potomac. As he debated whether to finish the e-mail or resume his flight, a voice reached out from the darkness.
Searching in the direction of the voice, Evans spotted its source. In the trees twenty feet away stood a man, his arm raised, pointing a pistol. Evans stood, then took a step back.
“Stay where you are!”
The man’s voice was familiar, but Evans couldn’t place it. His eyes strained to identify the man, but the moon’s faint illumination was insufficient.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Evans asked.
“Who have you told?”
The man stepped closer, his face becoming clearer. “Tell me who you have told, and I’ll spare your life.”
Evans almost laughed. He knew he would be dead in a few minutes regardless of what he revealed. As he held the cell phone against his chest, he slid his thumb along the keyboard and pressed Send. The message was incomplete, but it would have to do. He had run out of time. He dropped his phone on the ground as he replied to his assailant, hoping the sound of the BlackBerry hitting the path wouldn’t be noticed. “I told no one. You caught up to me too soon.”
Evans crushed the phone between the heel of his shoe and the rocky trail with the full weight of his body, until a sharp, impossibly loud crack echoed through the quiet park.
“What are you doing?” the man asked.
“I stepped on a stick,” Evans replied, with no expectation he’d be believed.
“I can see I’ve wasted enough time with you already.”
It appeared Evans had assessed the situation correctly; he would not leave Rock Creek Park alive. But the e-mail had been sent, offering hope the information he had collected would be successfully analyzed. Not that it mattered, Evans stepped toward his executioner, hoping to determine his identity. As the man’s features slowly materialized into a recognizable face, Evans began trembling. He now understood what was at stake, what they were planning to do.
“It’s a shame I have to kill you,” the man said. “But when we’re about to kill millions, what’s one more.” The man squeezed the trigger gradually, until he felt the firm recoil of the pistol in his hand.
* * *
Standing over Evans’s body, the man verified the single shot had done its work. He then scanned the ground with a small flashlight, spotting the fractured BlackBerry. Stooping down, he retrieved the phone, attempting to turn it on. But the phone refused to energize. Realizing what Evans must have done, the man slipped the broken phone into his pocket, confident it could be repaired enough to reveal whom the young man had contacted and what information had been shared.
10 DAYS REMAINING
Under normal circumstances, the thirteen men and women seated in the conference room would have been dressed in formal attire, the men wearing crisp business suits, the women turned out in silk blouses and coordinating skirts. They would have struck up lively conversations, attempting to persuade their colleagues to accept one proposal or another, their animated faces reflecting off the room’s varnished chestnut paneling. But tonight, pulled away from their evening activities, they wore sports slacks and shirts, their hair wet and windblown, their faces grim as they sat quietly in their seats, eyes fixed on the man at the head of the U-shaped conference table.