their waters or airspace. Has anybody considered the possibility of
putting the MEU-25 Marines ashore at the mouth of the Bosporus?”
“Write it up,” Brandt told him. “All of you, I want a major
brainstorming session out of each man here. Let’s see exactly what our
“I vote we dig a canal through Turkey,” Lieutenant Commander Arthur Lee,
the head of the CAG Department intelligence team, said.
“Nah,” Barnes said, arms folded, shaking his head. He nodded toward the
chart. “Dig it through the southeast corner of Bulgaria and that little
bit of northeastern Greece. Shorter distance. We’re out sooner.”
The others laughed, and some contributed their own outrageous
suggestions, including sinking the entire Crimea to remove that
peninsula as a source of conflict. They’re not licked yet, Coyote
thought with a flash of pride. Not if they can still joke about it.
They were going to need a sense of humor to sustain them for these next
few days. Nothing, not defeat, not fear, not the threat of an enemy
attack, sapped a unit’s morale like being left hanging in the breeze by
one’s own superiors in the chain of command.
What the hell are they thinking about in Washington? he wondered.
Friday, 6 November 0847 hours (Zulu -5)
Cabinet Room, The White House Washington, D.C.
In silence, the men and women at the table watched the screen, where the
hard, drawn-looking face of Vice-Admiral Dmitriev was looking back. He
was sitting in a somewhat shabby-looking office, his hands carefully
folded on the desk in front of him. He was speaking English–very good
English, with only a trace of an accent–and he was speaking
deliberately and with evident precision.
“Accordingly,” he was saying, “I am assuming command of the Crimean
Military District. General Boychenko has been declared an enemy of the
state and will be arrested as a traitor as soon as he can be found.
“American forces in the Black Sea area of operations, specifically the
aircraft carrier Thomas Jefferson and the battle group with it, have
been neutralized. This was necessary because they had already
established contact with the traitor Boychenko and were intervening in
Russian internal and security affairs.”
Admiral Thomas Magruder listened to the tape, like the others, with no
outward show of emotions, but he felt a sharp pang of worry. His nephew,
the last he’d heard, had gone ashore with a party of Navy and UN
personnel to prepare the way for Admiral Tarrant to receive the
surrender of the Crimea and, as far as he knew, they were still ashore,
trapped by Dmitriev’s coup.
Within twenty-four hours of the attack on the Bosporus bridge, this tape
had been delivered to the White House by the Russian embassy in
Washington. The President had seen it. His advisory group was reviewing
it, looking for answers to seemingly unanswerable questions.
“We wish to stress that we have not intentionally fired upon American
ships,” Dmitriev’s image continued. “The tanker sunk during the attack
on the Bosporus bridge was attacked by accident. .. much as happened to
the American helicopter in Georgia a few days ago. We apologize for that
incident. We have also just recently learned that one of your
helicopters was destroyed on the ground near Yalta. Again, that was a
case of mistaken identity. We regret these attacks and stress that they
were accidents, the products of the well-known fog of water.
“At the same time, however, we must stress our resolve. These are
dangerous times for our government, for the safety of our people, our
land. We cannot allow foreign powers to hinder our great purpose or to
intervene in our internal affairs.”
“Watch it,” Herb Waring said, speaking quickly as the figure on the
screen paused to draw breath. “Here it comes.”
“But we do. .. have a proposition for you,” Dmitriev continued. “One
that we hope you will be inclined to accept, Mr. President, as a means
for both of us to resolve this unfortunate and unnecessary confrontation
in which we find ourselves. Boychenko’s mistake, his treason, was in
handing over sovereign Russian territory to foreigners, hoping that they
would guarantee the Crimea’s security. This, you must understand, is no