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Red Rabbit


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Well, that remained to be seen. And he’d be the man to make that determination, Andropov told himself. All men could be made to disappear. The thought should have surprised him when it leapt into his head, but it didn’t. This building, built eighty years earlier to be the palatial home office of the Rossiya Insurance Company, had seen a lot of that, and its inhabitants had issued orders to cause many, many more deaths. They used to have executions in the basement. That had ended only a few years before, as KGB expanded to include all the space in even this massive structure-and another on the inner ring road around the city-but the cleanup crew occasionally whispered about the ghosts to be seen on quiet nights, sometimes startling the old washerwomen with their buckets and brushes and witch-like hair. The government of this country didn’t believe in such things as spirits and ghosts any more than it believed in a man’s immortal soul, but doing away with the superstitions of the simple peasants was a more difficult task than getting the intelligentsia to buy into the voluminous writings of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Karl Marx, or Friedrich Engels, not to mention the turgid prose attributed to Stalin (but actually done by a committee formed of frightened men, and all the worse because of it), which was, blessedly, no longer much in demand except to the most masochistic of scholars.

No, Yuriy Vladimirovich told himself, getting people to believe in Marxism wasn’t all that hard. First, they hammered it into their heads in grammar schools, and the Young Pioneers, and high schools, and the Komsomolets, the Young Communist League, and then the really smart ones became full Party members, keeping their Party cards “next to their hearts,” in the cigarette pockets of their shirts.

But by then, they knew better. The politically aware members professed their belief at Party meetings because they had to do that to get ahead. In the same way, the smart courtiers in pharaonic Egypt kneeled and shielded their eyes from the bright-light-emanating face, lest they be blinded-they held up their hands because, in Pharaoh, in the person of their Living God, was personal power and prosperity, and so they knelt their obeisance and denied their senses and their sensibility and got ahead. So it was here. Five thousand years, was it? He could check a history book. The Soviet Union turned out some of the world’s foremost medieval historians, and doubtless some competent antiquarians as well, because that was one area of scholarship where politics didn’t matter much. The facts of ancient Egypt were too distant from contemporary reality to matter to the philosophical speculation of Marx or the endless ramblings of Lenin. And so some fine scholars went into that field. More went into the pure sciences, because pure science was pure science and a hydrogen atom had no politics.

But agriculture did. Manufacturing did. And so the best and brightest stayed away from those areas, opting instead for political studies. Because there success was to be found. You didn’t have to believe it any more than you believed that Ramses II was the living son of the sun god, or whatever the hell god he was supposed to have issued from. Instead, Yuriy Vladimirovich figured, the courtiers saw that Ramses had numerous wives and even more numerous progeny, and that, on the whole, wasn’t a bad life for a man to have. The classical equivalent of a dacha in the Lenin Hills and summers on the beach at Sochi. So, did the world ever really change?

Probably not, the Chairman of the Committee for State Security decided. And his job was largely to protect against change.

And this letter threatened change, didn’t it? It was a threat, and he might have to do something about the threat. That meant doing something about the man behind it.

It had happened before. It could happen again, he decided.

Andropov would not live long enough to learn that in considering this action, he would set in motion the demise of his own country.

CHAPTER 1

RUMBLINGS AND DREAMS

WHEN DO YOU START, JACK?” Cathy asked in the quiet of their bed.

And her husband was glad it was their bed. Comfortable as the New York hotel had been, it is never the same, and besides, he’d had quite enough of his father-in-law, with his Park Avenue duplex and immense sense of self-importance. Okay, Joe Muller had a good ninety million in the bank and his diversified portfolio, and it was growing nicely with the new presidency, but enough was enough.

“Day after tomorrow,” her husband answered. “I suppose I might go in after lunch, just to look around.”

“You ought to be asleep by now,” she said.

There were drawbacks to marrying a physician, Jack occasionally told himself. You couldn’t hide much from them. A gentle, loving touch could convey your body temperature, heart rate, and Christ knew what else, and docs hid their feelings about what they found with the skill of a professional poker player. Well, some of the time.

“Yeah, long day.” It was short of five in the evening in New York, but his “day” had lasted longer than the normal twenty-four. He really had to learn to sleep on airplanes. It wasn’t as though his seat had been uncomfortable. He’d upgraded the government-issue tickets to first class on his own American Express card, and soon the frequent-flyer miles would build up so much that such upgrades would be automatic. Yeah, great, Jack thought. They’d know him by sight at Heathrow and Dulles. Well, at least he had his new black diplomatic passport and didn’t have to be troubled with inspections and such. Ryan was technically assigned to the U.S. Embassy at London’s Grosvenor Square, just across the street from the building that had housed Eisenhower’s WW2 office, and with that assignment came the diplomatic status that made him a super-person, untrammeled by such inconveniences as civil law. He could smuggle a couple pounds of heroin into England, and no one could so much as touch his bags without permission-which he could summarily withhold, claiming diplomatic privilege and urgent business. It was an open secret that diplomats didn’t trouble themselves with customs duties for such things as perfumes for their wives (or significant others) and/or booze for themselves, but to Ryan’s Catholic measure of personal conduct, these were venial sins, not mortal.

The usual muddle of thoughts in a fatigued brain, he recognized. Cathy would never allow herself to operate in this mental state. Sure, as an intern they’d kept her on duty for endless hours-the idea being to get her accustomed to making good decisions under miserable circumstances-but part of her husband wondered how many patients were sacrificed on the altar of medical boot camp. If trial lawyers ever managed to figure out how to make money off of that. .

Cathy-Dr. Caroline Ryan, M.D., FACS, her white lab coat and plastic name tag announced-had struggled through that phase of her training, and more than once her husband had worried about her drive home in her little Porsche sports car, after thirty-six straight hours on duty in obstetrics, or pediatrics, or general surgery, fields she wasn’t interested in herself, but about which she had to know a little in order to be a proper Johns Hopkins doc. Well, she’d known enough to patch up his shoulder that afternoon in front of Buckingham Palace. He hadn’t bled to death in front of his wife and daughter, which would have been pretty ignominious for everyone involved, especially the Brits. Would my knighthood have been awarded posthumously? Jack wondered with a stifled chuckle. Then, finally, his eyes closed for the first time in thirty-nine hours.

“I HOPE HE likes it over there,” Judge Moore said, at his end-of-the-day senior staff get-together.

“Arthur, our cousins know their hospitality,” James Greer pointed out. “Basil ought to be a good teacher.”

Ritter didn’t say anything. This Ryan amateur had gotten himself a lot of-way the hell too much-publicity for any employee of the CIA, even more so since he was a DI guy. As far as Ritter was concerned, the Directorate of Intelligence was the tail wagging the Operations Directorate dog. Sure, Jim Greer was a fine spook and a good man to work with, but he wasn’t a field spook, and-Congress to the contrary-that’s what the Agency needed. At least Arthur Moore understood that. But on The Hill, if you said “field intelligence officer” to the representatives who controlled appropriations, they recoiled like Dracula from a golden crucifix and collectively went ewwwwwww. Then it was time to speak.

“What do you suppose they’ll let him in on?” the DDO wondered aloud.

“Basil will regard him as my personal representative,” Judge Moore said, after a moment’s consideration. “So, everything they share with us, they will share with him.”

“They’re going to co-opt him, Arthur,” Ritter warned. “He’s into things they don’t know about. They will try to squeeze things out of Ryan. He doesn’t know how to defend against that.”

“Bob, I briefed him on that myself,” Greer announced. The DDO knew that already, of course, but Ritter had a real talent for acting grumpy when he didn’t get his way. Greer wondered what it had been like to be Bob’s mother. “Don’t underestimate this kid, Bob. He’s smart. I’ll wager you a steak dinner that he gets more things out of the Brits than they get out of him.”

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