Tom Clancy – Op Center 7 – Divide And Conquer

“Hello,” Orlov said with a trace of annoyance.

“General Orlov?” said the voice on the other end. It was a man.

“Yes?” Orlov said as he nib bed his eyes vigorously with his free hand.

“Who is this?”

“General, it’s Paul Hood,” said the caller. Orlov was suddenly very much awake.

“Paul!” he practically shouted.

“Paul Hood, my friend. How are you? I heard that you resigned. And I heard about what happened in New York. Are you all right?” Orlov walked over to an armchair while the woman translated. The general had a decent command of English, the result of the years he spent as a goodwill ambassador for the Russian space program after his flying days were finished. But he let the woman translate to be sure he didn’t miss anything. Orlov sat down. Standing just under five-foot-seven, he had the narrow shoulders and compact build that had made him an ideal cosmonaut. Yet he had presence. His striking brown eyes, high cheekbones, and dark complexion were, like his adventurous spirit, a part of his Manchu heritage. He walked with a significant limp due to a left leg and hip badly broken when his parachute failed to deploy in what turned out to be his last space mission.

“I’m fine,” Hood said in reply.

“I withdrew my resignation.” While Turner translated, Orlov turned on the lamp beside the chair and sat down. He picked up a pen and pad he kept on the small end table.

“Good, good!” Orlov said.

“Listen, General,” Hood went on, “I’m very sorry to be calling you so early and at home.”

“It’s no bother, Paul,” Orlov replied.

“What can I do for you?”

“The terrorist who calls himself the Harpooner,” Hood said.

“You and I once spoke about him.”

“I remember,” said Orlov.

“We’ve been looking for him in connection with the terror bombings in Moscow several years ago.”

“General, we believe he is in Azerbaijan.” Orlov’s full lips tightened.

“That would not surprise me,” he said.

“We thought we had him located in Moscow two days ago. A guard near Lenin’s Tomb was very confident in his identification. He summoned police assistance, but by the time it had arrived, the suspect had disappeared.”

“Do you mean the police lost him, or the suspect knew he was being watched and managed to get away?” Hood asked.

“The police are generally good at surveillance,” Orlov replied.

“The subject went around a corner and was gone. He could have changed clothes somehow–I don’t know. The Kievskaya metro stop is near where he was last seen. It is possible he went down there.”

“It’s more than possible,” Hood said.

“That was where one of our embassy people spotted him.”

“Explain, please,” Orlov said.

“We had heard that he was in Moscow,” Hood said.

“The embassy person followed the man he thought was the Harpooner onto the metro. They went to a transfer station, and the Harpooner got off.

He boarded another train, left it at the Paveletskaya stop, then he literally vanished.” Orlov was now very interested.

“You’re sure it was Paveletskaya?” he asked.

“Yes,” Hood asked.

“Is that significant?”

“Perhaps,” Orlov said.

“General Orlov,” Hood said, “however the Harpooner left Moscow, it’s possible that he may be headed back there or toward Saint Petersburg. Do you think you could help us try and find him?”

“I would love to capture that monster,” Orlov replied.

“I will contact Moscow and see what they have. In the meantime, please send whatever information you have to my office. I will be there within the hour.”

“Thank you. General,” Hood said.

“And again, I’m sorry to have wakened you. I didn’t want to lose any time.”

“You did the right thing,” Orlov assured him.

“It was good speaking with you. I will talk to you later in the day.” Orlov rose and went back to the bedroom. He hung up the phone, kissed his precious, sleeping Masha on the forehead, then quietly went to the closet and removed his uniform. He carried it into the living room.

Then he went back for the rest of his clothes. He dressed quickly and quietly, then left his wife a note. After nearly thirty years, Masha was not unaccustomed to his comings and goings in the middle of the night. When he had been a fighter pilot, Orlov was often called for missions at odd hours. During his spacefaring years, it was common for him to suit up while it was still dark. Before his first orbital flight he had left her a note that read, “My dearest–I am leaving the earth for several days. Can you pick me up at the spaceport on Sunday morning? Your loving husband, Sergei. PS: I will try to catch you a shooting star.” Of course, Masha was there. Orlov left the apartment and took the stairs to the basement garage. The government had finally given him a car after three years, since the buses were unreliable. And with everything that was going on in and around Russia, from restless republics to rampant gangsterism in major cities, it was often imperative for Orlov to be able to get to his Op-Center’s headquarters.

And it was imperative now. The Harpooner was back in Russia.

Washington, D.C. Monday, 7:51 p.m.

Liz Gordon came to Hood’s office after his conversation with Orlov. A husky woman with sparkling eyes and short, curly brown hair, Gordon was chewing nicotine gum and carrying her ever-present cup of coffee. Mike Rodgers remained for the talk. Hood told Gordon how the president had seemed during their meeting. Hood also gave the woman a brief overview of the possible covert activities that might explain what appeared to be the president’s delusions. When Hood was finished, Gordon refilled her coffee cup from a pot in the corner of the office. Though Hood had been dubious of psychiatry when he had first come to Op-Center, Gordon’s profiling work had impressed him. He had also been won over by her thoroughness. She brought a mathematician’s prooflike manner to the process. That, coupled with her compassion, had made her an increasingly valuable and respected member of the team. Hood did not have any trouble entrusting his daughter to her.

“The president’s behavior does not seem extreme,” Gordon said, “so we can eliminate some very serious dementias, which would indicate a complete or near complete loss of intellectual capacity. That leaves us with dangerous but more elusive delusions, of which there are basically six kinds. First there’s organic, which is brought on by illness such as epilepsy or brain lesions. Second is substance-induced, meaning drugs. Third is somatic, which involves a kind of hyper awareness of the body–anorexia nervosa or hypochondria, for example. What you’ve described doesn’t sound like any of those. Besides, they certainly would have been caught by the president’s physician during one of his regular checkups. We can also rule out delusions of grandeur–megalomania–since that would show up in public. We haven’t seen any of that.

“The only two possibilities are delusions of reference and delusions of persecution,” she went on.

“Delusions of reference is actually a mild form of delusions of persecution, in which innocent remarks are deemed to be critical. That doesn’t seem to apply here. But I can’t be as quick to rule out persecution delusions.”

“Why not?” Hood asked.

“Because the sufferer will go to great pains to conceal them,” she said.

“He or she believes that others are trying to stop them or hurt them in some way. They often imagine a conspiracy of some kind. If the president fears that people are out to get him, he won’t want to confide in anyone.”

“But the stress might come out in little bursts,” Rodgers said.

“Exactly,” Gordon told him.

“Crying, withdrawal, distraction, temper–all of the things Paul described.”

“He seemed to want to trust me,” Hood said.

“That’s true and also characteristic of the illness,” Gordon said.

“Delusions of persecution is a form of para noia. But as a sage once said, “Sometimes even paranoids have enemies.”

“Is there something we should do?” Hood asked.

“The First Lady’s feelings notwithstanding, we have to do something if the president can’t continue to function under these circumstances.”

“Whatever is going on sounds like it’s in an advanced-early stage,” Gordon said.

“The effects are unlikely to be permanent.” Hood’s phone beeped.

“If there is a conspiracy, and you can expose it quickly,” Gordon went on, “there is every reason to believe the president can stay on the job after a short rest. Whatever has happened probably wouldn’t have any effects, long-term or short.” Hood nodded as he answered the phone.


“Paul, it’s Bob,” said Herbert.

“What’s up?”

“A major situation,” he said.

“I just got a call from the CIA suit who relayed Tom Moore’s request to me from Baku. Moore and the CIA guy from Moscow, Pat Thomas, were just wasted. They were taking David Battat to the hospital–the guy the Harpooner attacked during the stakeout. Moore was tagged by a sniper outside the hospital, and Thomas had his throat cut in the lobby.”

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