CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

or as a free homeland.

Those demands, Tombstone reflected, would muddy the waters a bit but had

no chance at all of being realized. Neither the Russians nor the

Ukrainians were willing to relinquish the embattled little triangle of

land, and for damned sure they weren’t going to turn it over to the


Looking up, Tombstone watched as soldiers picked up one of the bodies of

the would-be assassins. “You think they tried to kill the general to get

their homeland back?”

Abdulhalik tried to shrug and winced with the pain. “Ah! Well, it makes

sense, yes? There are several radical Tatar independence groups. Any

could have done this to further their cause.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean they did it.” He shook his head. “What

would they achieve by killing Boychenko? Besides getting themselves

stepped on, I mean?”

Abdulhalik didn’t answer. He was unconscious. Tombstone finished his

bandaging job and signaled for a stretcher team as they approached the

stage. Joyce joined him a moment later.

“You look thoughtful,” she said.

“Hmm. Abdulhalik thinks this was the work of a Tatar nationalist



“Yeah. But it just doesn’t make sense.”

“Terrorism doesn’t make much sense.”

“No, I mean, this is really far-fetched. What could they hope to achieve

with this? If I were a terrorist group who wanted the Crimea back, but

with no chance in hell of seeing my aims realized. ..”

His voice trailed off as he followed the chain of logic.

“Come on,” he said.

“Where are we going?”

“The helicopter. That’s probably where they’re taking Boychenko, and I

want to get there before they take off.”

“Why? Are you hitching a ride back to the Jeff?”

It was a tempting thought, though Tombstone and the other Navy personnel

ashore, except for Tarrant’s staff, of course, were all supposed to

remain in Yalta while the UN people took charge. But Tombstone had other


“No. I want to get on the radio. I think we may have problems.”

She had to hurry to keep up with his long pace as he strode toward the

east side of the palace. “What kind of problems?”

“I think Boychenko was only one of several targets,” he told her. “And

I’m afraid the Jeff might be next on their list!”


Thursday, 5 November 0954 hours (Zulu +3)

Black Leader Over the Black Sea Major Yevgenni Sergeivich Ivanov divided

his attention between the radar display and the view out the cockpit.

Flying a high-performance attack aircraft at extreme low altitude was

always a challenge; he was skimming the waves of the Black Sea at an

altitude of less than fifty meters, where the slightest hesitation, the

least miscalculation would slam him and his aircraft into the sea at

Mach 1.1.

He was flying a Mig-27M attack aircraft, hurtling along at just above

the speed of sound, the variable-geometry wings swept back along the

aircraft’s fuselage like the folded wings of a stooping hawk.

Ivanov was an experienced pilot, as experienced as any in Soviet Frontal

Aviation. At thirty-eight, he was old for a combat aviator, but he’d

been flying a fighter of one type or another for over fifteen years. His

first combat missions had been over Afghanistan. Later, he’d volunteered

for a special Frontal Aviation program that transferred him temporarily

to navy command, and he’d spent five years learning how to land on the

deck of the new Soviet nuclear aircraft carrier Kreml, then teaching

other, younger aviators how to do the same.

With that experience, he was part of a very special fraternity, one of

the smallest and most demanding in the world, the brotherhood of pilots

trained to operate off the deck of an aircraft carrier. He’d flown off

the Kreml in the Indian Ocean, during the India-Pakistan crisis, and

again in the great naval battle off the Norwegian coast, the engagement

during which the carriers Kreml and Soyuz had both gone to the bottom.

With his ship shot out from beneath him while he was in the air, Ivanov

almost hadn’t made it home. Short on fuel, he’d nursed his damaged

aircraft back across Norwegian and Finnish territory to land at a small

airstrip outside of Nikel.

Page: 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

Categories: Keith Douglass