CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

seriously injured and are receiving treatment in the carrier’s onboard

medical facility.”

“Has this been reported to Novgorod?” The headquarters of Krasilnikov’s

neo-Soviet government was currently in Novgorod, about four hundred

kilometers east of embattled Moscow.

Boychenko did not answer immediately. Though something, in his normally

impassive expression put Dmitriev on his guard.


“It has not been reported, Nikolai Sergeivich. Not yet. I need. .. I

need to discuss something with you first.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Just where is it you stand in the current difficulties?”

Dmitriev thought carefully before answering. “Current difficulties” had

become the catchword recently for all that was wrong with Russia. .. and

most especially for the civil war of Red versus Blue.

“I would like to see them ended.”

“A diplomatic answer. And a safe one.” Boychenko sighed. “Perhaps it

doesn’t really matter. What I am about to do could not seriously be

considered to be treason, no matter which side we stand on. In a way, I

will be acting to save the Crimea. For Russia.”

“What is it you intend to do, Comrade General?”

“Nikolai Sergeivich, the Crimea is doomed. A blind man could see that.

Novgorod has been sending us supplies and men, but not enough. Not

enough by far.”

“The Ukrainians may not attack us here, sir. Not if they see we are dug

in and willing to defend ourselves.”

“They will attack. Intelligence is convinced of that. And so am I.

They have no option, really, if they intend to intervene in our war.”

Turning in his padded chair, he gestured at the wall map with its pins

and colored flags. “They could invade Russia proper, of course, but

Would soon find themselves heavily outnumbered, either by our forces, or

by the Blues. With luck, they might make it as far as Volgograd. And

what would it profit them? Hitler made the same mistake, you may

recall.” Volgograd had once carried another name, before the name had

fallen out of favor–Stalingrad.

“They would be foolish to attack us in any case, with or without

Hitler’s example.”

“Perhaps. They would also be foolish to extend themselves too far to the

east, leaving the Crimean bastion here, in their rear.” Standing,

Boychenko walked to the map. He pointed to the forces near Odessa and

the mouth of the Dnieper River. “You’ve been reading the intelligence

reports, I’m sure. Two army groups stand ready to attack the Crimea,

Nikolai Sergeivich. They have assembled over one hundred landing craft,

and a large number of naval vessels … mostly small combatants, true,

but enough to cover an amphibious operation on the Crimean west coast,

north of Sevastopol. Intelligence believes they will move within a


“A spoiling raid, perhaps,” Dmitriev began. His fleet might be in

tatters, but he could still put together a hard-hitting strike force,

one that might splinter the Ukrainian invasion fleet before it was

loaded and ready to move.

“No. There is another way. A better way.”


Boychenko hesitated. Dmitriev had the feeling that the general was

studying him closely, measuring him.

“I intend,” Boychenko said after a moment, “to surrender the Crimea to

the United Nations. And you, Nikolai Sergeivich, must help me.”

The glass slipped from Dmitriev’s fingers and shattered on the general’s

parquet wood floor.


Saturday, 31 October 0801 hours (Zulu +3)

Flight Deck, U.S.S. Thomas Jefferson Commander Edward Everett Wayne

completed the aircraft checkout. He was strapped into the cockpit of his

F-14 Tomcat, nose number 201, parked in the early morning shadow of

Jefferson’s island, and he’d just brought both engines on-line.

“Clearance to roll, Batman,” the voice of his Radar Intercept Officer,

Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Blake, said over his ICS.

“Here we go, then.” He nudged the throttles, and the F-14 nosed forward,

following the vigorous hand and arm movements of the yellow-jerseyed

plane director who was guiding him out of his parking place, a holding

area behind a red-and-white safety stripe painted on the dark gray deck

just aft of Jefferson’s island. Their destination was Cat Three, the

inboard of two catapults leading across the carrier’s angled flight deck


“The met boys are still calling for CAVU,” Blake, call sign “Malibu,”

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