seriously injured and are receiving treatment in the carrier’s onboard
“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.”
“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
“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,”