Tom Clancy – Op Center 7 – Divide And Conquer

“Battat,” said Hood.

“Yes,” Herbert said. He seemed a little uneasy.

“David Battat was the head of the CIA’s New York City field office. He was the man who hired Annabelle Hampton.”

“The junior officer we busted during the UN siege?” Rodgers said.

Herbert nodded.

“Battat was in Moscow at the time. We checked him. He’s clean. One of our CIA contacts told me he was sent to Baku to do penance for the New York screw up.” Hood nodded.

“All right. You’ve got Battat in Baku.”

“Battat goes out to a target area to watch for the Harpooner and gets taken down,” Herbert said.

“Not taken out, which the Harpooner could have done with no problem.

Battat was apparently infected with a virus or chemical designed to drop him at a specific time. Something serious enough so that he’d be taken to the hospital.”

“Under guard from his fellow CIA operatives,” Hood said.

“Exactly,” Herbert replied.

“Pretty maids all in a row.”

“Which leaves the Harpooner free of CIA interference to do whatever he’s planning,” Hood said.

“That’s what it looks like,” Herbert said.

“No one but the United States, Russia, and probably Iran has any kind of intelligence presence in Baku.”

“Because of the Caspian oil?” Rodgers asked. Herbert nodded.

“If the Harpooner also hit operatives from Moscow and Teheran, we haven’t heard about it.” Hood thought about that.

“Iran,” he said softly.

“Excuse me?” Herbert said.

“That’s the second time we’ve been talking about Iran today,” Hood said.

“But not for the same–” Herbert said, then stopped.

“Not for the same reason?” Hood asked.

“Aw, no,” Herbert said after a moment.


“Hold on,” Rodgers said.

“What am I missing?”

“You’re thinking the game of telephone could go from the Harpooner to Teheran to Jack Fenwick to the NSA to the CIA,” Herbert said.

“It’s possible,” Hood said.

“That would put Fenwick in bed with them on something involving the Harpooner,” Herbert said.

“Something he would not want the president to know about,” Hood pointed out. Herbert was shaking his head.

“I don’t want this to be happening,” he said.

“I don’t want us working with the sonofabitch who killed my wife.”

“Bob, I need you to calm down,” Hood said. Herbert was glaring at Hood’s desk.

“If the Harpooner is up to something in Baku, we might still be able to get him,” Hood said.

“But only if we stay focused.” Herbert did not respond.


“I hear you,” Herbert said.

“I’m focused.” Hood looked at Rodgers. A minute ago. Hood wanted to lash out. Now that one of his friends was hurting, the desire had subsided. All he wanted to do was help Herbert. Why did he never feel that way about Sharon when she was angry?

“Mike,” Hood said, “we really need to pin down what Fenwick’s been up to and who, if anyone, he’s been working with.”

“I’ll get that information,” Rodgers said.

“But I can tell you this much. I found two e-mails in my computer files from six months ago. They were written by Jack Fenwick and Burt Gable.”

“What were the memos about?” Hood asked.

“They were responding to a Pentagon white paper,” Rodgers said.

“The paper was about me minimal threat of possible Russian military alliances with neighbors who were not part of the former Soviet Union.

Fenwick and Gable took issue with that.”

“The head of the National Security Agency and the president’s chief of staff both took issue to the report, independently,” Hood said.

“Correct,” said Rodgers.

“The memos were sent to all the members of congress and various military leaders.”

“I wonder if the two men met philosophically online,” Hood said.

“What was the time code on the memos?”

“A few hours apart,” Rodgers said.

“They didn’t appear to be part of a concerted effort. But they both shared an aggressive disapproval of the report.”

“I guess it doesn’t matter whether Fenwick and Gable issued those memos independent of one another or whether they found out they had something in common when they read them,” Hood said.

“The question is whether they did something about it. Whether they got together and did some plotting.”

“What makes you think they might have?” asked Herbert, easing back into the conversation.

“Gable’s name came up today in my talk with the president,” Hood said.

“He and Fenwick’s assistant Don Roedner were responsible for keeping the CIOC in the loop about that UN initiative.”

“And didn’t,” Herbert said.

“No, they didn’t.” Hood tapped the desk slowly.

“We’ve got two issues here,” he said a moment later.

“Fenwick’s activities in New York and the Harpooner’s activities in Baku.”

“Assuming they are separate,” Herbert said.

“The two operations do have Iran in common. The Harpooner has worked for Teheran before.” Hood nodded.

“What if he’s working for them again?”

“Against Azerbaijan,” said Herbert.

“It’s possible,” Rodgers said.

“The Iranians have two potential areas of conflict with Azerbaijan. The Caspian oil reserves and the bordering Nagorno-Karabakh region.”

“But why would Fenwick want to be involved in something like that?” Herbert said.

“Just to prove the Pentagon wrong? Then what?”

“I don’t know,” Hood said. He looked at Rodgers.

“Get to him and make him open up. Not only about Iran but about why he lied to the president.”

“Tell him you’ve got information you can only tell him face-to-face,” Herbert said.

“Right,” Hood said.

“Have Liz work out a psych profile of the president. One based on firsthand observations, including my own, that makes it look as though Lawrence is losing his grip. Bring that to Fenwick, ostensibly on the Q.T. Ask if he’s heard anything about this.” Rodgers nodded and left.

Hood looked at Herbert.

“If Iran has any military adventures on the drawing board, they may have moved troops or materiel. The NRO may have noticed something. Has Stephen Viens gone back to work there?”

“Last week,” Herbert said. The NRO was the National Reconnaissance Office, the top-secret facility that manages most of America’s spy satellites. An agency of the Department of Defense, the NRO is staffed by personnel from the CIA, the military, and civilian DOD personnel. The existence of the NRO was declassified in September of 1992, twenty years after it was first established. Stephen Viens was an old college buddy of Op-Center’s computer chief Matt Stoll. He had been extremely helpful getting information to Op-Center when more established groups like military intelligence, the CIA, and the NSA were fighting for satellite time. Viens had been accused of hiding money in a black ops situation but was later vindicated.

“Good,” Hood said.

“See if Viens can find anything. The NRO may have spotted activity in Iran without perceiving any immediate danger.”

“I’m on it,” Herbert said. The intelligence chief wheeled his chair from the office. Hood sat back. He looked at the phone. He wanted to hear from Oriov. He wanted to hear that the Russian had someone in place and that Battat would be all right. He wanted to hear that they had managed to put the brakes on the bad news and could start turning this situation around. We have to. Hood thought. There was something out there.

Something big and dangerous. He did not know what it was or who was behind it. He did not know if the pieces Op-Center had collected would fit together. He only knew one thing for certain: Whatever it was, it had to be stopped.

Baku, Azerbaijan Tuesday, 5:01 a.m.

David Battat felt frigidly cold and light-headed. He could hear his heart in his ears, feel it in his throat. He was aware of being wheeled somewhere. There were faces over him. Lights flashed by. Then he felt himself being lifted. He was placed on a bed, still experiencing a sense of forward motion. He was not strapped down, but there were raised metal gates on the side of the bed. Battat shut his eyes. He did not know what had happened to him. He remembered waking up at the embassy, perspiring and shaking. Moore and Thomas brought him to the car, and then he must have slept. The next thing he knew, he woke up on a gurney. He heard people moving around him. He coughed and opened his eyes. There was a white-haired man looking down at him.

“Mr. Battat, can you hear me?” the man shouted. Battat nodded.

“We are going to undress you and put you in a gown,” the man said to him.

“Then we need to get an-IV into you. Do you understand?” Battat nodded.

“What… happened?”

“You’re ill,” the doctor told him as a pair of male nurses came over.

They began lifting and undressing him.

“You have a very high fever. We have to bring it down.”

“Okay,” Battat said. What else could he say? He could not have resisted if he wanted to. But he did not understand how he could have gotten sick. He had felt fine before. The medical team worked on him for several minutes. Battat was not entirely aware of what they were doing. He only knew that he was being shifted and turned and poked. He felt a pinch in his right arm, at the elbow, and then there was no further pain. He was also shivering, and he felt cold. Sweat had soaked into Battat’s pillow. His fever warmed it quickly. His head sank into the down, muffling the sounds of the people and whatever it was they were doing. He shut his eyes again and allowed his mind to go wherever it wanted. Soon it was quiet and dark. Battat began to feel a little warmer, more comfortable. He no longer heard drumming in his ears. He was awake, but his thoughts were dreamlike. His mind went back over the days. He saw short, blurry visions of the embassy in Moscow, the trip to Baku, the seashore, the sudden pain of the attack. A pinch in his neck. He was unaware of time passing or the hospital room.

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