CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

especially if Krasilnikov gets wind of it before everything’s in place.”

“Krasilnikov doesn’t know?” someone asked.

“We don’t think so,” Sykes said. “After all, the Reds have been

funneling what troops and supplies they can into the Crimea for several

weeks now, at least. That suggests they’d like to hang onto the place.

One possible explanation for Boychenko’s move, incidentally, is that

Krasilnikov told him to hold at all costs, or else. Now, Boychenko has a

rep as a humanitarian commander. Always trying to get the best for his

men, that sort of thing. Could be he looked at the Ukrainians getting

ready to pounce and knew that he and his people didn’t stand a chance.

By surrendering to us, all of his people get to go back to Russia and

continue the fight there. Of course, he’ll probably claim amnesty and

defect. He won’t be able to go back to Krasilnikov, that’s for sure. Not

unless he’s eager to face a firing squad.”

“How long will our people be on the ground there?” someone in the back

of the room asked.

“Don’t know,” Tarrant replied. “The Brits, who were originally slated to

relieve our people in Georgia, are going straight into Sevastopol as

soon as the surrender is signed. A battalion of the Black Watch, for

starters. There are pledges for more troops from Britain, France,

Canada, and Italy, but Washington didn’t send me any kind of timetable.

The Marines will be on hand if the Special Envoy decides we need them,

but I think everybody’s hoping they can go ahead with the relief mission

in Georgia as soon as we’ve got the Crimea situation under control.” He

glanced at his notes again. “You’ll all be getting your orders, such as

they are, before you leave. Meanwhile, Commander Sykes and the rest of

my staff will be glad to answer any other questions you might have.”

Eventually, the questions ended and the meeting came to a close.

Tombstone sat for a moment as the other officers stood and began filing

out. Admiral Tarrant had left, but Commander Sykes remained at the


“What do you think, Stoney?” Coyote asked.

“Damn. Hard to know what to think. Looks like Washington just dropped us

into another war zone. I’m beginning to get the feeling that they want

to get rid of us.”

“Captain Magruder?” Sykes called. “Can I talk to you for a moment, sir?”

“Catch you later, CAG,” Coyote said.

“Yeah,” Tombstone turned as Sykes approached. “What can I do for you?”

“Admiral Tarrant wanted me to ask if you wanted to go ashore with him.”

Tombstone raised his eyebrows. “Ashore? What-”

Sykes grinned at his evident confusion. “The admiral will be going into

the Crimea to receive Boychenko’s surrender, of course. Yalta, to be

specific. Wonderful symbolism there, you know. He’ll be sending me and

some of his staff officers in ahead, to lay the groundwork, as it were.”

“Go on.”

“He told me to ask if you’d like to ride along.”

“Did he say why?” Tombstone was genuinely puzzled. Admirals generally

didn’t ask captains if they wanted to do something or not. “I’m not much

of a diplomat, Commander. And I have an air wing to run.”

“Of course. And this is rather irregular, I admit. But, you see, Admiral

Tarrant is concerned about the view the American press will be taking in

regard to the Navy. There was the sinking of that Russian sub. Then the

helicopter shoot-down. Now the press will be wondering just what we’re

doing here, and if we can handle the job.”

“I’d been wondering about that myself, actually.”

“Aren’t we all? But the news people are going to be flocking around the

admiral’s staff as soon as they hit the beach. Admiral Tarrant would

like you to be his special liaison with the media, as it were.”

Tombstone opened his mouth to give a sharp retort, then closed it again.

Damn it, why the back-door approach? “if the admiral wants me to do

this, why doesn’t he-”

“Order you himself Of course. This is strictly a volunteer assignment,

Captain. And very much off the record.”

Tombstone shook his head. “Damn it, Commander. Maybe I’m dense or

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *