Time to start making problems for Mike.
What, you thought that Katrina was going to be his only issue?
Now, a couple notes. First, for those of you who know Mike, you know he has quite a mouth on him. He starts using it in this chapter, so if you’re offended by coarse language, this might be a good chapter to stop. Second, remember when this was written: 2009-2010-2011. It is definitely a creature of the times, and the political and military considerations are those of that time period. So before I hear from anyone saying, ‘Hey! That’s not the right Russian President!’ Yes. Yes, it is, for when this book is placed.
Okay, enough of me. ONWARD!
A timeless time later…
“Katrina, I mean it.” Mike stood suddenly, dumping Katrina toward the floor. She recovered quickly and landed on her feet, clothes only somewhat mussed. She wasn’t happy, though.
He didn’t allow her more.
“Katrina, I have to talk to the Elders, I have to talk to Daria, and Anastasia, and Adams, and…”
He trailed off, realizing just HOW complicated this might become. With a quick shake, he continued. “And I’m sure you have to make plans too, and, oh, lord, the list just keeps going.”
He was saved by another knock on the door.
“Come!” he cried, gratefully.
Daria entered, Kurosawa at his usual spot by the door.
“Colonel Pierson on the satellite phone for you.” She carefully didn’t comment on his, and her, somewhat rumpled looks. Kurosawa must have warned her. Katrina hadn’t exactly been quiet with her side of the discussion.
“Thanks.” He turned to Katrina.
“I need to take this. I’m sure that you have something to do?” He trailed off hopefully.
“I will be back later, Kildar.” With a quick kiss on his lips, a brilliant smile, and a surprisingly lascivious wink, she turned and followed Daria out of the office. With a sigh, Mike turned to the sat phone.
“Pierson,” came the voice of Colonel Bob Pierson, Mike’s contact at OSOL (Office of Strategic Operations Liaison, or as they sometimes called it, Oh-so-S-O-L).
Mike entered a code. “Go scramble. What’s up, Bob?”
“I know we haven’t had much for you lately, Mike,” began Pierson.
“No worries. It’s actually been nice not having to chase down the scum of the earth for a while.”
”Yeah, well, the new administration isn’t quite sure what to make of you, Mike. You’re neither fish nor fowl -”
“ – nor good red meat, I know. At least the SecDef knows me.”
“True, but he still has to take orders from upstairs. We want to use you for certain, ah, delicate issues. The problem is they’re really reluctant to bring you in on anything not in the States.“
Mike’s antennae twitched. “Level with me, Bob. You know I don‘t do this for the money, I do it because American interests are at stake somewhere. If this isn’t going down in the States, just where are we talking about?”
“Fuck no, Bob, I’m not doing a damned thing for those pricks! They hung me out to dry with the Chechens by withholding their intel. You know how many lives they cost me?”
Mike’s fury was real. The Russian intelligence agencies had known that a large force of highly trained Chechen soldiers, led by one of their varsity, Grigor Sadim, was headed his way on a mission and hadn’t passed on the information. While Mike might still have completed the mission – it was a particularly virulent form of smallpox that they were hunting, one that would have wiped out most of the planet’s population – he still didn’t know if the price the Keldara paid was worth it.
“Tell Vladimir to go fuck himself. You can pass that along with my compliments.”
“Mike, you really need to -”
“All I need to do is figure out what to do with Katrina,” he snapped back. When in doubt, distract, and it continued to be true, throwing Pierson off for a moment.
“Katrina? Mike, what are you talking about? Never mind, I’m sure I don’t want to know. But this ought to be a simpler problem for you than Katrina.”
“Yeah. Mike, the Russians have lost a shipment of nukes.”
That got his attention. Mike had already stopped two attempts by some towel heads to move nukes into populated areas, getting shot up pretty well once.
“Okay, Bob, you’d better tell me this story. I don’t promise anything, but I’ll listen and I won’t hang up on you.”
“President Medvedev has been quietly increasing the rate they’re dismantling their missiles and shipping them to the US to be reprocessed back into fuel.”
“About the only smart thing Vlad’s puppet has done,” added Mike.
“Well, the latest convoy was heading for Novorossijisk, a small port on the Black Sea, where a false-flagged freighter was waiting. Outside the town of Elista, though, they were hit by a good-sized force of Chechens.”
“Let me guess. The Chechens won and made off with as much of the convoy as they could manage.”
Pierson had worked with Mike far too long to be surprised. “Yes. They didn’t take everything, but they did haul off twenty-five warheads.”
Mike exploded. “Twenty-five! How the fuck did they do that? Wasn’t there any security around them?”
“There was a full company of Spetnaz, but this was very well-planned and executed. None of the intelligence agencies, ours or theirs, had the slightest whisper about this until just a couple days before it went down. Even now we don’t know where they’ve taken them or exactly who has them.”
“Spell it out for me. How does this affect us?” Mike asked, although he was afraid he knew the answer.
“You don’t usually want a dog-and-pony show.”
“Fine. Besides the fact that you don’t want the Chechens to be a nuclear power?” Pierson replied sardonically. “They really don’t like you, Mike. You are number one on their hit list, above even Medvedev and Putin, for the ass-kicking you gave them in Pankisi. And with nukes, they don’t have to get all the way to the Valley to take you out. Three of these are in the megaton range. There’s a two, three, and five.”
“If that’s not enough, we have managed to hear enough to figure their other target: Moscow. They’re going to hold the city hostage until Chechnya is recognized and the Russians pull all their forces out.”
“No way can that be good. How can I help?”
“We want you to get those warheads back. It’s in your best interests, along with ours and the Russians.”
“We’re going to need lots of help with this.”
And maybe we can shut down the Chechens for good, he thought.
“I’ve been assured that anything you need, you get. Blank check in terms of personnel and material.”
“That’s what I’ve been told, as high as it goes.”
“What’s the vig?”
“Some more good news there. Ten million per warhead. Double that for the big boys. And double the total if you can recover them all.”
Mike’s eyes widened slightly. “Over half a billion if we get them all? They are serious about this.”
“Never more so. As bad as a single warhead floating around with al-Qaeda was, this is worse. We can’t allow a true renegade nation access to nuclear arms. If you can’t take care of this, then we might have to get in there ourselves, and I’ll be honest with you: after Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t know that our troops are ready to do it again. They’re willing, God knows, but they’re tired. We need some time to recover.”
“I’ll get back to you soon.”
Mike hung up the satellite and picked up the regular phone. “Nielson?”
“Staff meeting. You, Adams, Oleg, Daria, Arensky, Vanner -”
“Either. No, both.”
“Dragon and Valkyrie too. Twenty minutes.”
“Twenty minutes. What’s going on?”
“The Chechens have some nukes. We have to get them back.”
“This’ll be fun.”
Mike grinned. “Not for them.”