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"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
(Oppenheimer in thought, from a Hindu scripture)
"It worked" (spoken comment at the test site)
The terror of nuclear war has been hanging over the heads of all humanity since the first atomic bombs were dropped on August 6 and August 9, 1945 onto the cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, which were both instantly destroyed. The madness of making war should have stopped at this time. With the destructive force of the atomic bomb, war became essentially unsurvivable.
We are now in the 70th anniversary year of the ultimately unsurvivable nuclear-war terror game.
Instead of stopping the game, the game was modified. The game was upgraded with the objective to eradicate the Soviet Union on the model of Hiroshima. As it was, this part of the game was foiled when the Soviet Union defended itself by building its own atom bomb and then the thermonuclear H-bomb. With the West now on the defensive, the era of the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine, of the game, began. At the height of it, in the mid 1980s, 65,000 strategic nuclear bombs were deployed against humanity worldwide.
In today's world the number has been reduced by arms reduction agreements. Some of the older bombs have actually been dismantled. Parts have been transferred to the tactical arsenal that has a limited throw-range of less than 1,200 Km. For these, the numbers are not reported.
Many bombs have also been replaced on missiles, with newer smaller versions, so that a single missile can now carry up to a dozen bombs, or more in some cases.
All this means that our human world is presently facing a deployed destructive force of potentially equal to 500,000 Hiroshima-type blasts.
Since the Soviet Union dissolved itself in 1991, it no longer exists as a target. Consequently the target has been redefined to be Russia and China, which are now militarily defined as the #1 enemy of the West, with probably India likewise. The openly stated goal of the imperial game, is to force the targeted nations to surrender themselves to the will of the western world dictatorship, or for them to be destroyed.
T wards the new objective, the mode of the strategic game has changed somewhat in the 70 years since the atomic threats were first thrust upon the world.
The goal that the imperial club pursues, which includes the American government has committed itself to, is no longer just to maintain a balance of peace under the old Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine. The new declared goal of the western strategic empire, that America as a NATO member is a part of, is now to decisively win a first strike nuclear blitz on the battle field.
This is to be accomplished in part with the new super-stealthy F35 aircraft and the super-accurate B61 model 12 self guided nuclear bomb. Both are massively deployed in Europe. The game plan envisions a secret attack with such speed and stealth in execution that the targeted nations can be defeated before they even know that a war has begun. Any retaliation is planned to be prevented by the far-flung American Anti-Ballistic-Missile Defense shield that surrounds Russia and China.
Three grades of submission to insanity
War: Society destroying itself (ripping up its humanity)
Terror: Society ripping out its heart (ripping up science, culture, good)
Nuclear War: Programs for defeating God (society ripping out its Soul)
With this a new game has begun. It is a terrifyingly dangerous game that now has a large number of players participating. The result that we now have before us, is that the slightest miscalculation in the game plan, from the lowest ranks all the way up to the American President, could unleash Armageddon and ends with the extinction of humanity as a whole.
Evermore people now come to realize that unless the leaders in the West that drive this insane and unpredictable game, are removed from power, the chance for humanity to survive on this planet is exceedingly slim.
The timing too, is critical here. It was likely a deliberate decision for the atomic bombing of Japan to be delayed to the beginning of August when the President is alone at home and Congress is on vacation. The starting gate for the big World Wars, was likewise centered on August, within a day or two. Hence the phrase has been coined, "the guns of August."
However, even without this factor of timing, the present danger for humanity is extremely great. It has been said many times by retired defence officials, that the global nuclear war danger is now greater and more immediate than at any time in the entire history of nuclear war confrontations, especially now that the entire hubbub of madness also intersects with the ongoing collapse of the western financial system, for which typically war is demanded to re-stage the world, for obvious reasons.
It may well be, that we still exist today may be to the credit of the alertness and courage of a few patriots in the past who have successfully prevented nuclear weapons adventures to succeed, often in the final minutes, and at times at the cost of their life. While a few such cases are known, others will likely remain forever unknown. Nor can one count on rational reactions to be consistently happening in every case, by individual patriots, especially when the entire nuclear war game is saturated with manipulative conspiracies of the foulest sort, such as those inspired by the world-depopulation doctrine that calls for six billion, of the seven billion world population, to be eliminated from the planet.
Let's get off the train to desolation
transcripts at: www.ice-age-ahead-iaa.ca
transcripts have video images attached and also the full text
of a chapter of my Cold War novel that concludes this video.
The 70th anniversary of the supreme madness in the world should impel us to ask the question, "why are we doing this? Why has the greatest expression of life on this planet surrendered itself to the supreme madness that prepares for its self-destruction?
The answer is, money, though no one wants to hear this truth. Every empire that ever was has maintained itself by the looting of society in ever-widening circles of thievery. All wars, old and new, are fought for the purpose of stealing and the globalization of the power to steal.
The Soviet Union had resisted. It set up the iron curtain and said to empire, you will not cross this line. The nuclear-war terror was designed to crash this gate. When the curtain fell, Russia and the former Union Republics were looted so intensely that countless millions died of starvation until Russia re-established its sovereignty. China had a similar history of tragedy. In short, wars are staged for stealing and to maintain the power to steal. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed to deliver the message to the entire world, that the world has changed, that resistance to empire and its objective is futile.
The terror bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also delivered the message that America has been successfully hired to supply the muscle and the arsenal for the prepared-for postwar terror campaign.
When President Kenney tried to break the nation away from this terror, such as with the space program for renewed cultural optimism, he was assassinated.
President Johnson was 'educated' to see the writing on the wall. He was forced into the big Vietnam War, with the gun held to his head. He simply capitulated.
President Reagan chose not to hear the message. He spoke of peace and hope, instead, and security for the world by proposing a weapon of technology to block the weapons of war. He was shot for his non-compliance. While the man survived, he survived as an impotent man.
President Clinton, too, had leaned away from empire. He was trapped into the famous sex scandal and the impeachment process that crippled his presidency.
That's what stands behind the 70th anniversary of the supreme terror of the nuclear war threats.
We should also look at what we have already lost in 70 years of nuclear war. We have lost immensely with the grand expansion of the war games in 2001. Just look at the terror orgy that followed the destruction of the World-Trade towers in New York by corrupted governments at the highest levels, against the living of humanity.
Look at the expanding wars that followed, such as the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, both based on lies.
In these terror wars five million kilograms of uranium as been vaporized with weaponry into a fine invisible radioactive dust that is smaller in size than the wavelength of light. This dust has become a deadly part of the air.
The air has become dangerous to breathe, especially for the small and vulnerable.
Since the time that the radioactive war dust has been injected into the air, 875,000 commercial bee colonies have perished, insect populations have diminished, and with them bird populations that feed on insects.
While it is pleasant that one can now sit in the garden all day without protection against insects, it is in the same context shocking to note how silent the springtime has now become. The days when one would awake to the chirping voices of birds in the mornings, are gone forever, so it seems.
Instead the invisible uranium particles from the weapons of war, that now pervade the air, are long-enduring powerful emitters of alpha radiation that has increased lung cancers, in some cases 6-fold, and increased diabetes-2, worldwide, from 30 million cases to 230 million cases.
While no proof is possible to link these types of cases to the radioactive uranium dust, since the dust is too fine to be seen with microscopes, the timing of these cases to the timeframe of the uranium wars, tells us a significant story. The immense effect that this small-scale nuclear warfare has already had, illustrates to some degree that nuclear war in principle is unsurvivable. This is the point that is universally missed, that no one wants to see or is allowed to see.
For 70 years all the peace movements in the world have failed, for this inhibition to halt the nuclear terror. The movements have failed, because they have all addressed merely the symptom and not the disease for the deadly orgy of mass-murdering, that stands behind the symptoms. The peace movements have never addressed the question of what a human being is as the diamond in the sky of life.
Just look into the sky and ask yourself how many quadrillions of miles, or millions of light years one would have to traverse to encounter another world richly pervaded with intelligent life - a world of living marvels of poetry, music, art, literature, song, science, technology, caring, loving, producing and creating, provided that another such world exists at all. By what folly do we stand prepared to destroy the marvel that we have right here? Should we not rather protect what we have, by all possible means, and above all find such great value in ourselves that we draw the line, here and now, against all forms of war, all forms of looting and destroying one-another?
Grades of Actively Building a Renaissance
Loving our 'divinely' capable humanity (as creators, and builders, and achievers of good).
Celebrating the heart with uplifting gems of life (science, art, beauty, literature, music, song).
Honouring Us as the supreme sparkle of joy (brighter than the Sun in the extravagance of Love)
This dedication to recover our humanity, and to raise it up as never before, would be a fit step forward in our 70-year celebration of the miracle that we are still alive in this insane atmosphere of terror, threats, and economic and cultural destruction. While individual patriotic interventions have prevented the final Armageddon in our time in a number of cases, is it sane for society to rely on these emergency responses forever?
Indeed, why do we rely on individual patriots at all, to keep us safe, while we allow the leaders of the world to actively prepare the means for the destruction of our world?
We, the human society, should be intensely active keepers of our world. We should protect our world and one another, because this world and one-another is all that we've got that really matters.
The power of our humanity, the dynamic impetus of the human soul, should never have allowed a single atom bomb to be produced, and should, for the same reason, impel us today to eradicate all nuclear weapons universally and dismantle the forces and organizations that wield them, and remove the leaders from power who deploy them.
We, the society of human beings, should be the patriots that actively secure our living and our world. Our world reflects not historic trends, but the immediacy of the now, and our action or inaction in the now. We, the great society of humanity, are the actors in this world. We live here. We build this world into what it is, and do this day by day. When we change direction, the world will change.
70 years ago the world was changed into the direction of terror, almost overnight. We have the power as human beings to change the direction back to sanity, reaching to the very core of the failures that caused us to go wrong.
So, why are we that small that we deny our own humanity, and thereby assure our self-destruction? Russia is not our enemy. China is not our enemy. Iran is not our enemy.
The only real enemy that we face is the cultivated smallness in thinking that bids us to serve as pawns in world-empire games for which the nuclear war supreme terror-threat has been invented in the first place, and has been maintained for 70 years.
We should be the patriots, collectively, that liberate us from this terror, and from the related terrors of depopulation, food burning, and the financial looting of the world that drives the processes for war. The actions of individual patriots cannot carry this burden for us, because they are not immune to the conspiracies of empire, the fog of lies, and are exposed to dehumanized reactions of the heart-wrenching fear that the terror orgies are intended for, to disable resistance in society and assure compliance.
In the context of this failing ourselves, one always comes back to where we were at the height of the Cold War danger when the doomsday clock stood close to midnight. Only now, with the fundamental failure not corrected, the resulting danger is vastly greater and less 'visible.' Thus we 'celebrate' the 70th anniversary of our miraculous survival in the shadow of the supreme madness that is still getting worse. Shouldn't we rather heal ourselves and uplift our humanity to such height that war itself becomes unthinkable, and nuclear weapons become dismantled and destroyed? No other basis for security exists, or can exist.
If we continue to fail ourselves, then, on the path we are going, there won't be anyone left alive on the Earth in 30 years when the Next Ice Age begins, much less as a vibrant industrial society with the kind of revolutionary advances in productive power that enables the vast-scale infrastructures to be built for the continued living of humanity in the tropics when the territories of Russia, Europe, Canada, and parts of India, China, and the USA, become uninhabitable in an extremely short period of time.
Against this background I would like to present the first chapter of my novel, "Brighter than the Sun."
The chapter presents a hypothetical story that deals with the patriotic issue and its danger when patriotism becomes modulated with the conspiracies of insanity. The chapter of the novel is focused on a man that I named, Boris Mikheyev. What stands behind the story, however, the murky world of lies and conspiracies that pervade the modern world in the service of empire, is not addressed in this first chapter, but unfolds in the 11th chapter, named "The Trial of Boris Mikheyev."
Conspiracies and lies are the hallmarks in the Great Game of empires. The players that are caught up in the game are seldom aware of the types of movements they are coerced to facilitate. These games are traps then, that are easily sprung on the unaware, which even includes presidents and kings and the most noble patriots. All are thereby vulnerable.In this wider sense. The story of Boris Mikheyev can be seen to stand in metaphor for many a little man in high position of power who has been infected with the virus of royal insanity, who thereby bows to acts of utter inhumanity that a free, alert, normal human being would never dream of committing, but which the trained puppy dogs on a string have been conditioned to commit with certainty. There may be many candidates in high offices and royal halls who qualify for this description, who have become boxed in by conspiracies and lies to the point that they are no longer in control of themselves.
America's most recent Presidents have been affectionately referred to by some people as the empire's little Nero puppy dogs. They have been given this name as carriers of the type of mental disease that Boris Mikheyev, in the story, illustrates in a mild form. The critical difference is, however, that unlike as in the novel, the consequence in the real world are real.
When the story ends with leaving a bitter taste of insecurity in ones heart, then one should celebrate, because in this one has been touched by the tragic reality that may yet inspire one to act to save our world by intervening with love for our humanity, not with fear and terror, but with an extravaganza of love.
An extravaganza of love, is the kind of love that all alive human beings invariably feel in their heart who have mentally pondered the stars and the universe for an equivalent miracle of life as we have right here in the form of our universal humanity that we all share. By this definition humanity is the unparalleled diamond in the sky of life.
In the flow of the resulting extravagance of love, society will promptly remove all Nero dogs from power for their own protection, who, as gate crashers are no longer in control of themselves for reasons that are inherent in the mental disease for which they were placed into power in the first instance.
The modern geopolitical game pieces are never self-acting, as game pieces are, but are deployed and mastered for strategies that are not their own, which also have become so dangerous that only persons who have surrendered their soul can be trusted with to bring then to conclusion.
The hired actors on the game board of geopolitics, have no sense of what they are doing, even while the actors includes presidents, and royalty, and governments, and even lesser oligarchs.
Increasingly, American Presidents are hired specifically for their conditioned willingness to act as obedient pawns in the larger game of empire politics that they will never know the details of, as pawns on the board are not aware of the objectives that they are played for.
Such was the case of Boris Mikheyev in the first chapter of my novel, 'Brighter than the Sun.'
When night falls, a new dawn begins at some distant place on our planet. A faint hue appears on the horizon. The river is calm. A flock of birds can be seen among the rushes. There is an intense immediacy in the air. Everything happens now. Everything is vital. Everything counts. The bird's voices ring clear and shrill. What happens each morning speaks louder than all that has lingered from the day before, orchestrating new perceptions, feelings, struggles, hopes, victories.
Part 1 - Boris Mikheyev
The night is laden with fears; a wilderness haunted by doubts, insanity, and tired emotions that keep the mind slow, rigid, locked onto tradition. The sound of a siren cuts through the dark of midnight; it cuts into the mind, sharp, harsh, it echoes in thought, but it comes as no surprise to Boris Mikheyev. He raises his head. The practice alert has begun, the one he was awaiting for. He knew it would be called. . .
To the others at Lenin Base the call of the siren is little more than another disturbance in a long train of impositions that the men have taken for granted as a part of life. To Boris its pulsating sound brings on a feeling of being intensely alive. The timing is perfect! The alert came as though it was written into a script. He is alone in the pit. He is ready. For days, every step of the plan has been rehearsed, timed, and re-timed, and then committed to memory. He puts his lunch on the ground, quickly, and then starts running towards the bulldozer. The eerie whine of the siren stirs an uneasy feeling as he climbs into the cab. The feeling is quickly suppressed; he starts the engine. This is no time for emotions, he tells himself. He knows that he has less than five minutes to prevent the shutdown of the automatic firing sequence that he knows will be initiated during an alert procedure. He moves the bulldozer to where a stone marker lines up with the trunk of a tree. He cuts back to idle and waits. . .
The plan has been rehearsed until each move became implanted in the deep recesses of consciousness. Nothing could be allowed to go wrong. In forty-five seconds he will know if the alert is true. Fake alerts were not uncommon. He leans out of the cab window, his stopwatch set. He listens. At forty-seven seconds he hears the faint grunting noise of a silo cover being drawn aside. He resets his watch. He is now in synchronism with the launch sequence. . .
What takes place from this point on is no longer the result of deliberate will. His actions become mindless; mechanical; a series of rehearsed reflexes. The plan is in control. The plan has been in control of his life for the last two weeks. With ever-growing intensity it crowded out his personal feelings. Now it has taken over his life. . .
He accelerates the bulldozer. While the machine gathers speed he struggles with himself for one last time to take control of his actions. He knows that he can still call it all off, scrap the plan if he wants to, and walk away - nobody is forcing this plan on him! . .
At the third marker, the last timing checkpoint, he makes a correction in speed. He notes that the plan is still in control. Its sequence proceeds uninterrupted. Eighteen seconds to go, seventeen, sixteen. The speed should be correct now! With the precision of a finely tuned mechanism the plan is acted out step by step. He verifies his speed and position at a forth marker. This is the starting point of the final, full power run. His timing is now correct. He moves perfectly with all the extreme precision that is required. There is a narrow time slot during the pre-launch sequence in which he must sever the power cable to the Launch Control Complex. The task must be accomplished precisely within the narrow window of time when the missile's internal sequence has been started for its system initialization phase, but before the end of it, when the launch control officer verifies the ready status and aborts the launch sequence. This brief window of time is his window of opportunity to change the world. It is less than three seconds wide. . .
His last cue is the air blast that indicates that the fuel trunks have been jettisoned. This also marks the beginning of the internal launch program. Only the data link trunk remains connected securely nestled inside its slip-off hatch. . .
The mouth of the silo amplifies the air blast, as by a giant trumpet. Boris can easily hear it. It ruptures like a gun shot followed by a noise of rushing air that takes on the sound of a train conductor's whistle at it fades. Boris knows that within six seconds the internal sequence will be aborted. He checks his position against his final marker. He is right of on the mark, infinitely more precise than he needs to be. The bulldozer is now at top speed, racing towards a trough of loose dirt below which lies the cable. He reaches forward to lower the blade. Here he hesitates! . .
At this final instant at the crossroads of history, as if time itself stands still, he hesitates, pulls his fingers back from the lever. In this moment as if all time were frozen like in some galactic vortex of western SCIFI novels, a torrent of thoughts is flooding his mind from all conceivable directions; images of Tania - bright, sad, beautiful - of her waving, crying. She cries bitterly. She begs him. But whom is she crying for? For him? For the children? For mankind? . .
He sees the masses of humanity reaching out to him. He alone knows the secret! He alone has the key to change, the key for mankind to have a future. His plan is perfect! No one is in danger! Not a single person will die. Only the system will be destroyed that is poised to destroy humanity if it is not overcome. . .
Only why is he seeing Tania in tears? Is it a warning? Or is it just a reflection of his own fears, fears of the night, of doubts, of his reaction to emotions....
Part 2 - Tania
Two weeks before this day he was free, unaware of his stupendous involvement with the destiny of humanity.
"Its time to get up, Boris!" Tania said when she woke him that last morning of his vacation, kissing him while he tried to open his eyes. She smiled at him when he saw her.
He pulled her head down and shut his eyes again. "I don't want to go back. I want to stay with you forever!" . .
"Oh you!" she grinned. "Except your wish doesn't count. They'll punish you if you don't get back on time!" She urged him to get up, but in vain. "Hey, you said yourself, they allow no excuses, not even missing the bus. It's four o'clock, Boris! You have no time to waste." . .
He shook his head vigorously and without opening his eyes, said no! . .
She kissed him once more. "I'll make some coffee for you. Would you like a fried egg for breakfast before you go?" . .
He yawned. "You're an angel, you know that," he said. He pulled her onto the bed. He kissed her three times in quick succession. "At least to me you are an angel," he grinned. . .
"Oh, go on!" she answered. She got up and disappeared through the open doorway into the kitchen. . .
"Ah, but you're also cruel," he called after her. "Don't you know they're heartless up there?" . .
"You shouldn't talk like that, Boris," her voice came thinly from the kitchen. Minutes later she came back to his bedside and urged him to get up. . .
"Did I ever tell you how pretty you are and how much I love you?" he said and smiled at her. "You're even lovelier now, than when we first met. Do you still remember that day in Kasli, in the Ural Mountains, that marvelously windy day in the spring?" . .
She smiled. "You really haven't got time for all that, but I love you for saying it." She went back into the kitchen. . .
He got up at her bidding. He paused briefly and looked at the photographs on the family shelf; a portrait of her; a black and white wedding photo; and pictures of the children. The shelf was by the window. There were other wedding pictures, and many small photographs, mostly of the children. . .
The family shelf had long become a sacred spot. Most of their treasured possessions were displayed there. The most notable was an intricately painted vase, a family heirloom. It had been passed down for generations within Tania's family. And between the vase and the wedding photos was another heirloom, a plaque that displayed a Medal of Honor that his father had earned during the Second World War. He loved his father, especially the fact that he had been a hero. Still, their wedding pictures portrayed a shift away from the old values. In contrast to family tradition, he had not worn his military uniform during his wedding. . .
"Do you remember when we went mushroom picking," he called out to Tania who had gone into the kitchen, "when I proposed to you? Did you know that I had tried to pose the question much earlier, but was always afraid you would say no; and when I finally did, you asked me why I waited so long? Do you know what courage that took? Do you realize that I'm still afraid of losing you?" . .
"Oh, you!" she called back. "You'd better hurry!" . .
During breakfast Boris reached across the table and put his hand in hers. "Things are not right at the base," he said. He looked straight into her eyes. "There are times when I fear I will never see you again." . .
"You shouldn't worry so much," she replied and turned back to the stove where the coffee water was boiling. . .
"No, you don't understand," he said, "I'm serious. You can't imagine what goes on at the base!" . .
He told her about the practice alerts. At times there are two a week. "You can't imagine what it is like. The siren goes off. You get up, half asleep. You tell yourself it isn't real, because it never is, but you don't know. Your stomach turns every time you sit at the console and turn the ignition key for the missile firing sequence to start." . .
Boris loved fried eggs, but eggs had been hard to get. Tania had found only two, one for a cake, and one for his breakfast. It hurt to see him in that frame of mind that had come over him, triggered by his worries. He gulped that one precious egg down without so much as a smile. . .
"A month ago we had the biggest scare ever," he said to her as the last bite disappeared. "Normally we end the exercise immediately after fuel transfer and pressurization. At this point the silo hatches are open. Coolant is flowing. That's seconds before the ignition begins. That's when the launch is usually called off. But it wasn't that day! I stood there. I could hear the engines firing. I had only one thought; to run to the control panel and to somehow shut the whole thing down, stop the launch, close the silo hatch, do anything!!! . .
But I didn't do it. I couldn't move. I looked at the commander; I yelled at him; 'Self-destruct!' But the commander just shook his head. The self-destruct command wasn't given. I would have cried if I had been able to. We launched a SX-29-C with sixteen high yield warheads that could have wiped out a dozen cities." . .
Tania came and stood behind him. She began to stroke his hair. This had always helped to calm him in the past. . .
He talked more softly now. "Who wasn't there can imagine what it means seeing this... this 'thing' burn itself into the sky...." . .
He said the words much more relaxed now, and turned around to hug her. He explained that it wasn't fear that he had felt, but pain, an overwhelming pain of knowing that what he had consistently tried to shut out of his thinking was now reality. He told her that he closed his eyes in order not to see it, but instead saw millions dying in its flame. . .
"What crime have these people committed that we should kill them?" he said to her. He suggested that there might have been countless Tanias, people like her, who had no hope of survival, and technicians like himself, at American bases, following orders like he did, possibly with the same efficiency, the same obedience, and the same pain. Suddenly the Cold War had taken on a human dimension. He told her that he could have intervened and stopped the missile. But even in his pain he couldn't act except to follow orders. The missile was five minutes down range when the self-destruct command was given. "Do you know how long five minutes can be?" he said. . .
He told her that the commander stood up the next day and told everyone that the launch had been intended to test their stamina, to allow each one to prove to himself that he was MAN enough to take the final step. He was lying. I found out later that the launching was needed for a radar penetration test, to test the boost phase detection at low altitudes. . .
"I had no idea," Tania replied and kissed him across the table. "Can't you resign?" . .
"Resign!" He began to laugh. "No one ever resigns from any top secret technical post. No one has ever done this. No one resigns from a missile base. If I were a common soldier I might have gotten a transfer to another outfit, but once you're stuck in secret technical services there is no way out. You don't even dare think of it out of fear that they'll find out somehow!" . .
Tania got up and stroked his hair again, then poured another cup of coffee. . .
"If I had only taken the trouble to find out what I was getting into!" he said. . .
"But you were so happy when you were offered the job," she reminded him. . .
"Oh I could never get that kind of pay any place else, and after five years, doors would open to high career positions in government, limousines, a bigger apartment; five years didn't seem like anything, then, Tania. How could I have known that a single year would be, well, an eternity." . .
While they cleared the dishes away he apologized to her for dragging her into all this, telling her that it could be dangerous if anyone found out. . .
She turned and kissed him; "I won't say anything, it's all right." . .
"No!" he replied, "I've spoiled our holiday now. But I couldn't help myself. I had to tell someone. There are things a person just can't keep inside forever. You know, our commissar - yes, they still call him the commissar - he told us we should be proud to have carried out our assignment unhampered by personal feelings! I shuddered as my comrades cheered him. The whole affair stinks. It's rotten to the core. And then the commissar had the gall to say: 'what makes you strong as a pillar in our new and free society, is your unquestioning willingness to serve the cause of Mother Russia! At Lenin Base - we are called Freedom Base One now - this means letting the end justify whatever it takes!' So it isn't all right Tania. What's happening scares me. There is more tension now in the air than there has ever been during the Soviet era." . .
Boris told her that one thing scared him most of all, namely his realization that the old commissar's arguments were the very same as those under which he had joined the army years ago; to let the end justify whatever it takes. "If only the old commissar could see to where this approach leads, and whom he gives his loyalty to! But an old man like the commissar would never see such a fine point. His blabbering of worn out slogans about serving faithfully and unquestioningly is rooted in the old patriotism that once built the Soviet Union. But all this is gone. Who knows who is giving the orders now? London has more control over our lives than Moscow has. When it comes to the crunch, who knows where the loyalties will lie? Well, I tell you, this devout servant of the military was fast asleep that day when the damn test-launch happened. He had not the faintest idea of what he was talking about. We live in an era of increasing insanity." . .
Tania smiled and raised a hand to stop him. "Calm down my love. Nothing would have moved your old man anyway, even if he had been there." . .
"That's what worries me, Tania. Once a man is becoming dead as a human being, his actions become increasingly irresponsible. And what's more; this is the kind of mentality he is also determined to impress on everyone else. What if he succeeds? Maybe he has already succeeded without me feeling it." . .
"Yes, this is frightening," Tania replied. But that was all she could say. The depth of the experience was obviously far beyond anything that had ever come into her life that could have given her a measure by which she could judge Boris' struggle. She actually smiled at him when he spoke of his deep anguish that she couldn't feel. . .
"Frightening?" he repeated her response. "It's much more than that. We call ourselves men, but without being aware of it we've become mindless tools; it's terrifying to realize that about yourself. And by God it's damn real!" . .
Boris' hands were shaking by the time he put his coat on to leave. He told Tania that he wouldn't kiss the children good-bye; that he couldn't bear it; that he could never say good-bye again. His eyes began to fill with tears. . .
"I'll give your greetings to the children when they wake. I won't come to the window either, to wave. We will never say good-bye to each other. My thoughts will be with you for as long as we live, there won't be a need for any good bye." . .
Boris approved. He left after one last, long embrace. . .
Tania kept her word. There was no one waving good-bye at the window as he walked away. The street was empty. Oh, it would have been far easier if he could have seen her face, her smile. How stupid he had been to deny himself that! Still, he did notice her outline behind the lace curtains that were partially drawn open. Her thoughts were with him as she had said. . .
At the place where he usually crosses the street, he turned around once more and waved back to her anyway. At this moment the window flew open. Tania leaned out as far as she could and waved to him. . .
He grinned now. "I love you!" he shouted unabashed through the stillness of the morning, "and I always will." . .
"I love you too!" she called out to him. . .
Minutes later he boarded the bus. . .
Part 3 - Alexei
The airport was crowded, like it had been years ago. He remembered fondly, how in those days, even when it was still early, it seemed that all of Russia was on the go - soldiers, farmers, party executives. There were few soldiers now and no farmers. In the new society the soldiers had become outnumbered by foreign visitors, and of course, also by the new-rich civilians.
In a corner of the departure hall a group of businessmen were gathered together, possibly for a trip to Moscow. Years ago these would have been farmers going to sell their products in the big city. They used to be organized into delegations, with a few individuals going as well. . .
At the center of the hall an official was organizing a group of tourists. In the early days, crowds like these would have been construction or factory workers, many of which, perhaps, had never traveled before and were proud of the opportunity they then had. The rest of the crowd, now as then, was ordinary folk with destinations to possibly any place in Russia or abroad. . .
Air travel had become popular in the Soviet Union after its cultural awareness focus had been implemented. It had been intended to draw the different regions closer together; to make people more appreciative of their national heritage, their identity, their land, and to give them a feeling for each other's strengths and ideals. . .
The cultural programs that came out of it had caught on instantly. They had become so popular that the original aim was soon superseded. They also brought economic benefits as people discovered not only each other's strengths, but also each other's problems. The sense of unity that resulted sparked a spirit of sharing, especially ideas. While the new freedom could have threatened the system, it didn't. It became no threat. The renewal of pride among the people had brought a genuine feeling that they lived in one of the best countries on earth. . .
Naturally, the emphasis on individual autonomy required corresponding investments in civil projects. The Kiev airport was a typical result of it. It became a monument to the Soviet way. Also, it ranked equally in style, comfort, and efficiency with any of the great airports of the world. In the deeper sense, though, nothing had really changed; not then; not now. Russia was still Russia, and the Cold War that had been an overbearing reality had prevented the victory that should have been felt in the country's struggle towards a new life that had even been achieved to some degree. . .
On the way to the gate Boris noticed an old woman, aimlessly moving through the crowd. "Babushka?" he inquired. . .
She was looking for the gate to Sverdlovsk. "...I am visiting my daughter's family there," she said with noticeable pride in her voice, and added, "My daughter has been promoted to an important position at the Hospital. She is a fine doctor, you know. I stay with them every year for the summer..." . .
"The flight to Sverdlovsk leaves over there," Boris explained, pointing to a sign in the distance that indicated gate 26. "I'll be on the flight myself," he said, and wished her a pleasant journey. . .
A long line of people had already queued up at the gate. Standing in line was not to Boris' liking, however, so he went on to the coffee shop to have a piece of hot apple pie, served with ice cream. He had learned this combination from an American businessman at this same coffee shop on a previous trip. He had come to love it. While eating his pie, he suddenly felt himself nudged from behind. . .
"Hey, comrade Mikheyev," a voice said. . .
He turned. . .
"Alexei, the king of the games! What a surprise! But isn't Kiev a bit out of your way? Aren't there more direct flights from Minsk? You're going to the base, aren't you?" . .
Alexei nodded. "I'm here because my flight out of Minsk was over-booked. I was in Moscow last week." . .
"In Moscow!" . .
"That's right! I was ordered to testify before the military security commission. That's Chernyakov's department!" . .
"My God! Not before Chernyakov himself?" . .
Alexei nodded and smiled. . .
"You mean you actually met the man?" . .
"He was interested to find out how closely the 'incident' had been kept secret. He never actually referred to it as an accident, or as a practice-launch, just like the commissar. He had referred to it as 'the incident.' Does that tell you anything?" . .
Boris shook his head. . .
"How long were you in Moscow?" . .
"My session had lasted for four days. I had come down with an Air Force cargo plane. You know, the commissar was also kind enough to give me four extra days for a visit home." . .
"Well, I'm certainly pleased to see you," Boris replied through a mouthful of pie. "If I hadn't been on leave myself, I would have missed playing games with you, or should I say, loosing games to you? How is Naya?" . .
"Oh, Naya is fine, she was happy to see me." . .
"By the way, did you tell Chernyakov what we thought about the new safety procedures. Did you tell them that they've got it all wrong?" . .
Alexei nodded again and grinned; "I did, Boris." . .
"Well...?" . .
"No! Not here, Boris. It's too crowded to talk..." . .
Boris pointed to the half-eaten pie. "...Want some?" . .
Alexei declined. Still he helped himself to Boris' coffee. . .
"Oh You! ...Ah, never mind," he mumbled to himself while Alexei burst out laughing. . .
"Mamushka, another coffee please for my friend," he shouted across the half-filled room. The older waitress smiled and obliged him. . .
"Did they like our idea?" Boris asked again. . .
"Yes, and No. That's all I can tell you here. I also met Sasha there, the fellow who always beats me playing the FT13 game over the Internet. I should have realized that he works for the security service. He's slick, and he's good. He destroyed thirteen of my civilizations in a single night's playing. I guess, this makes him a champion." . .
Boris took another bite in haste while Alexei spoke about the game, and then another one before he had fully finished the last. As soon as he had stuffed down the last bit of his pie, they left. Boris pointed to the clock. It was five minutes to eight. "We don't have long," he said to Alexei. . .
"Didn't they tell you, we've got one hour delay? The flight was late getting out of Odessa. As you can see," he grinned, "we are right up with the best in the world. We've got over-booked flights American style, delays like in London, and everything else the West has that goes with sophisticated air-travel. We are part of the West now." . .
Boris smiled. . .
Near the entrance of the main hall, a tall and well-dressed gentleman came towards them. The man had an air of distinction about him, a lean face, blue eyes that blended in tone with his gray hair. The blue eyes strengthened his stern look. . .
Boris recognized the man immediately. "That's my old mathematics professor from the University!" he nudged Alexei. "Remember I told you about him, Sashi Ivanov...." . .
"That's him?" Alexei chuckled. . .
"Hello there! You are Boris Mikheyev, am I correct?" the professor addressed him as he came near. . .
"Yes I am, Professor Ivanov...." . .
There was a slight gesture of satisfaction in the professor's looks as Boris greeted him with his proper title. At the university this kind of respect had been demanded, now it was by choice and most appreciated by him. One could see it on his face. . .
"Are you going to Moscow?" the professor asked. "If so, you may join me if you like." . .
"Unfortunately not. We're on the way to Lenin Base, via Sverdlovsk." . .
"I am sorry to hear that." The professor hesitated for a moment. "I would never have approved of this," he said, "this waste of your fine talent," he remarked acidly. "But I'm not angry at you," he added. "It's the system. It gets me down you know, to see all the fine scholars like you put into the army after I've spent years molding their minds, making them into keen analytical thinkers." . .
"I'm not in the Army," Boris protested. "I am a part of the Strategic Rocket Forces, stationed at Freedom Base One, the most modern installation of our country's nuclear defense system. It used to be called Lenin Base." . .
"You have intercontinental missiles, no doubt," the professor added. . .
"Indeed; and that's all we have. I'm a fully qualified Fuel Systems Specialist!" Boris boasted. . .
"Well, that's far from the academic career I had envisioned for you. You should have become an educator. You could have made a contribution to the development of our people and their potential. You would have ennobled society, enriched its culture, increased its potential. But now, all that seems irrelevant. It seems you've made your choice. Still, I must urge you to be careful, comrade Mikheyev, you're treading a dangerous ground by having chosen a mindless profession." . .
The Professor shook Boris' hand before he rushed on and disappeared into the crowd. . .
Boris was shaking. A mindless profession? How dare he! . .
Still, the Professor was one of the few men in his life that he instinctively looked up to. "You should have seen the 'prof' in the classroom," he said to Alexei. "That man was like a commander in battle. There was no fooling during his lectures. You'd let your attention slip one second, and you'd miss a vital point. And believe me, he would get you for it. He seemed to sense if someone wasn't right with him." . .
The two walked on silently. "You have no idea," he said later to Alexei, "how I wish I had followed his advice." . .
"Let's go across the street," Alexei suggested once they were outside the terminal building. . .
Facing the terminal was a newly created park that featured a large reflecting pool, which also doubled as heat sink for the terminal's air conditioning system. At the far side of the reflecting pool, a row of flags welcomed the arriving travelers on their way to the busses and the train station. The bright colors were mirrored in the surface of the water. Each republic that had remained in the Union was represented. There had been more flags before. . .
"We're alone now. We can talk freely here. Also, I won't be talking about computer games," said Alexei in a serious tone once they reached the pool. "I was in Moscow as you know." He said this as if it explained his caution. . .
He paused for a moment, looking back and across the pool as if to assure himself that no one was near. . .
"The first day in Moscow was uncomfortable," he continued. "I was asked a lot of tricky questions. I was never certain what exactly we were allowed to know at the base, and how much of it I was allowed to reveal, even to them. They wanted to know every detail of everything that has happened. I hope I didn't incriminate anyone. They wanted to know what our reactions would be in a real situation. They asked specifically if anyone was reluctant to do his job during the launch or immediately afterwards. They even wanted to know to what extent the guys talked about it afterwards, among themselves..." . .
"Speak softly, Alexei, there's someone by the flags," Boris interrupted him. . .
"You're right," Alexei said, looking towards the flags and back down the path they had come. He spoke on, quietly. "When I presented our plan, I told them what you had said about the likelihood of an accidental war, with all those missiles being fully targeted in their silos. You should have seen the big boss! He became white in the face. I didn't know at first what to make of it." . .
The two men stopped. Boris looked thoughtfully across the pool, observing the reflection of the flags while Alexei continued. "I explained that the situation would be a great deal safer if our missiles were pre-targeted to fall into the ocean, which would then be electronically re-targeted if an intended launch had been confirmed. A hot missile wouldn't harm anyone then without this post launch in-flight targetting." . .
"Well? Did they like the idea, Alexei?" . .
"Not at first. They made a lot of excuses, like it being impractical, and the cost being prohibitive. Ah, but I was ready for that. I told them that no new exotic hardware would be needed. One would simply use the existing equipment in a different way." . .
"I think we had better move on or talk softly until this group gets past the flags," cautioned Boris who pretended to study the flags and their reflection in the water. . .
Alexei spoke on, but more quietly, still. He said that he suggested to them that the existing data link could be used to transmit the target parameters. It wouldn't take much to make a few program changes in the on-board computer. In case of a false launch this procedure could save millions of lives, he had assured them. He said they just shook their heads. "'Capitalist lives!' Chernyakov corrected me." . .
"Capitalist lives? My God, Alexei what are you saying!" . .
"They said that an accident might be a good thing, that it would wake the capitalists up!" . .
"Didn't it ever occur to them that we are all taking the same risks, Alexei? If we hit the US, they'll hit us back, city for city. Don't they realize the immense risks we take every time we play those alertness games with live missiles?" . .
"Hush, someone's coming, Boris." . .
"Who cares, Alexei! Let them hear us. If our leaders can't see the security advantage of pre-targeting all missiles into the Arctic Ocean, what else can't they see?" . .
"Quieter Boris! Remember we're discussing national security information here. You know that even in the open, someone might be listening." . .
"I wish the whole world could hear us," replied Boris angrily, though somewhat toned down. "Far too few people know what's really going on. If people knew what games are being played with their life, things might be different. Maybe someone ought to tell them." . .
"You're right," said Alexei, "I agree with you. But not everyone would agree. In fact, hardly anyone would listen to you if you spoke up on these issues, unless, of course, you represented the government. The people at the committee simply wouldn't listen to the proposal I had made, with one exception, a fellow, named Zalygin. He approached me after the hearing and apologized for his colleagues. He explained a lot of things that really opened my eyes. Possibly the man had said more than he was allowed to. He confided to me that our proposal had already been implemented. It is reality, now! It has even been tested. It is fully operational. It works!" . .
Boris stopped Alexei and looked at him questioningly. . .
"Now, can you imagine what a bind I have put everyone in?" said Alexei. "They had to comment on something that was top secret, something that absolutely no one was supposed to know about. They weren't prepared for the bombshell I put in their lap." . .
"So the man felt he should say something to keep you quiet, and me, too?" said Boris. . .
Alexei nodded. "He gave me a quick overview of what they had built so that we would stop pushing our idea." . .
Alexei told Boris that the man, personally, felt that every officer at the base should know about what he is working with. . .
Alexei motioned Boris to sit down at a bench. There was a woman not far from where they stood. "Zalygin told me," he said in a hushed voice, "that not even the technicians who had modified the missiles during normal maintenance knew what their work had accomplished. They all follow procedures, and know nothing more. Not even the base commander knows as much about it as we do now. Only a very few select people in high places know that our 'incident' had been the final test to verify the practicality of the in-flight targeting process. He said that all of our missiles are now targeted at the Mojave Desert, somewhere south in the US. That's their default target." . .
Boris stood up and shook his head. "That's essentially what we had in mind, isn't it?" . .
"Except their way is cheaper. It required only minor changes in the guidance sequence. Defaulting to the Arctic Ocean, as we wanted, would have required greater inertial variances. These could not be achieved. The bottom line is, they've come up with a parallel invention to our own, and a more practical one. If a missile gets away, it simply blows a hole into the desert!" . .
Boris said that this was very good news. He could well imagine how shocked the people in Moscow must have been when Alexei presented the very plan to them that no one was to know about. . .
"Just think, if the Americans had found out," said Alexei, "what a great advantage they would have gained. They would know, that if they destroyed our communication system, they would render all of our missile forces harmless!" . .
"That's one aspect I never considered," said Boris. . .
"But they have, and they are doing something about it. In two or three months they will have several additional long-range transmitter stations in operation far away from the base. Anyone of them can do the re-targeting then, and this as far away as 700 KM beyond our borders. Once the stations are operational, nothing that we launch will reach a real target on the American continent that is not intended to do so." . .
"This gives us a great advantage," Boris observed. "This allows us to launch two minutes earlier than before. We won't need to be as cautious anymore." . .
"That makes a big difference, Boris, in a process where everything is counted in seconds. Under these new conditions everyone will be safe no matter what happens, and that's where the tragedy lies," said Alexei and paused for Boris' reaction. . .
"Tragedy?" Boris repeated. . .
Alexei nodded. "They want to use the advantage to make a point that might save humanity from a real nuclear war. They are hoping for an accidental launch. This would hurt no one, but it would scare the hell out of the world. It might scare the world to its senses. At least this is what the current perception is, in the Bureau. That is as crazy and frightening, Boris, as it is brilliant." . .
Boris shook his head and looked around. "This is not brilliant, this is insane," he almost shouted to Alexei. "It's absolute madness that the Bureau favors the idea of a nuclear accident, now that things are finally safe. How can anyone hope for an accident to occur? How can you, of all people...." . .
Alexei cut him off. "Isn't it obvious? With the new procedure in place no one will be hurt, while something that comes so close to being real would bring immense pressure to bear on the world's governments to agree to a real and meaningful solution. Nobody has ever talked about a real solution until now, Boris." . .
Boris took his time answering, and he did so with a smile as if he found the solution for preventing the whole madness. "They must realize," he said, "that this will not be possible when the long range stations are ready. These stations will then be able to transmit the self-destruct orders." . .
Alexei nodded, "They are aware of this." . .
Boris became more thoughtful now. "Tell me why did this fellow, Zalygin, reveal so many of these secrets to you?" asked Boris after a minute of silence. He didn't look up as he spoke, but started nervously checking his watch. "Could it be that the man is hoping for more than just keeping us quiet? Is he asking us to do this? Is this what the whole charade is all about? You didn't meet me here by accident. You were looking for me. This is why your flight was re-routed through Kiev, and why my flight was delayed. God, this is all crazy!" He shook his head and looked up. "That's insane, Alexei." . .
Alexei got up from the bench. "I didn't like Zalygin's attitude either," he said quietly, "at least no at first. I said to myself that even if it were possible to stage such an accident, how could anyone be certain that the other side would react in a rational manner? I asked myself how such an accident would have to be regarded from their perspective. They would see a missile coming towards them. Would they believe us that the launch is an accident and that the missile is technically secure, that it won't harm anyone? Or will they fire their own missiles long before we can demonstrate our case?" . .
Boris made up his mind on their way back to the terminal entrance. "I think the people at Bureau are responsible people," he said to Alexei, "they wouldn't contemplate taking such risks. This renders Zalygin a traitor." . .
Alexei walked quietly beside him, but then ended up telling Boris that he felt exactly like he now feels. . .
"Don't tell me you support the idea of staging a nuclear accident in order to shake the world to its senses?" said Boris. "That's lunacy! That's sheer madness, Alexei!" . .
"No Boris, that not lunacy. They refer to it as a calculated risk, a risk that they feel they must take in order to save the world," Alexei replied calmly. "You are as much a soldier as I am," he continued. "You know the rules of war. You know as I do that a military commander is expected to put his people at great risk if a vastly greater number of people are thereby protected. If you loose ten men to save a thousand, or even ten thousand, the result justifies the sacrifices. Zalygin talks about saving the life of not just a thousand, or a million, but five thousand million people." . .
Boris just shook his head. . .
Alexei turned to him again. "There are other factors involved, Boris, the scope of which is too big for a single person to grasp. They have teams working on the problem, think tanks, computer analysts, and scientists of every description. Just imagine the problem they face of having to cope with space weapons, chemical weapons, terrorism, cultural subversion, economic sabotage, not to mention the determination of the British to break up our country into tiny little pieces. They call us an empire. They stated publicly that they want to eradicate Russia from the face of the earth. Just try to correlate all this into one single, responsible policy. Then add to this mess the latest stealth technology. They got planes and missiles that radar can't see. On top of all that, NATO has now captured some of our previous allies. This enabled them to bring their missiles practically to the doorsteps of Moscow. Tell me, how would you defend the country against such a vast threat and the range of unforeseeable possibilities that goes with it, such as nuclear terrorism? Tell me, how would you deter a terrorist from using the bomb, or the religious fanatics who have shown to have no regard for human life? We have seen their own children being expended by the thousands to clear minefields in front of their advancing tanks? How do you formulate a rational policy in this chaos, and one that one can live with? The fact is, you can't! Nobody can! You've got to change the game in order to have any hope at all. You've got to change it into something reasonable, from the ground up. You need dramatic changes, dramatic actions. Believe me, Boris, Moscow is not alone in wanting this game stopped before it gets out of control. Yes, I want it too, and so do many others. We can't all be crazy, Boris. Hoping for an honest to goodness accident, something crude, something of the old tradition, and something that can be relied upon to be perfectly safe, that's a sane approach to the problem. An untargeted nuclear missile, like the ones we have at Lenin Base, would fit the bill just fine, provided that someone apart from the government sets it off." . .
Boris turned his face away, "Oh God, Alexei, what are you saying? What if it doesn't work? Who can dare take such great a risk?" . .
"No, no, Boris, you must ask yourself; can we afford not to take the risk? Can we afford to let even the faintest chance slip away in the face of infinitely greater risks that are mounting up with every passing day if the present situation is left unchallenged? Think about this." . .
Boris answered nothing. . .
"I know what you are thinking," Alexei replied. "You think the responsibility isn't ours. We are not responsible for the whole world. Humanity should have dealt with this issue. Humanity should have stopped the game long before now. Damn right, it should have. Except, most people are blind, or stupid, or too lazy, or have been made blind, stupid, and lazy, by those who intend to profit thereby. Most people simply don't care. We wouldn't be in this mess, Boris, if people did care. All too few people do, Boris. I think Zalygin does care. I think he cares very much, and he is scared. You should be scared, too, Boris, if for no one else than Tania." . .
Alexei turned around and looked back. He suspected there was a man behind them approaching at a fast pace. He could hear the footsteps on the gravel pathway! Had he overheard their conversation? Alexei nudged Boris. Boris just shook his head, but then nodded slightly. He pushed his coat sleeve back, exposing his watch and pointed to it. He suggested to Alexei that they should run. . .
Alexei nodded, and both started to jog. The two men stopped at the far end of the plaza in front of the main entrance, just briefly, long enough to look back. The man hadn't followed them. After hesitating for just a moment, Alexei whispered to Boris and laughed. "Far greater risks then these are being taken right now, today, and tomorrow again, by all of us together. You may not have heard about the new American super stealth bombers that are considered totally undetectable by radar. And I mean, not a trace! So how do you defend yourself against that? You can't. There is only one defense possible, and that is to inspire mankind by whatever means required, to stop playing with nuclear weapons. There are no physical defense measures possible against stealth bombers and stealth missiles." . .
Boris hushed him. "Alex, you're not supposed to know about these things!" . .
Alexei grinned; "Ah, but one never stops learning?" . .
Boris and Alexei started to jog again. Soon, the crowds slowed them. . .
Alexei was out of breath by then and tried to whisper, but had little success at it. "Can you imagine what this means for national security?" he said to Boris, still trying to catch his breath. "Imagine, the Americans are now able to invade our airspace undetected, anytime they please, from their strategic bases as close as three hundred miles away from Moscow. They've already done it three weeks ago during a test flight from Turkey to Norway, and they can do it again. They took a whole squadron right across our country, right over Moscow, totally undetected. Can you think of a more shocking demonstration that they now possess the capability to destroy our entire country before we know they have come?" . .
Alexei, finally, was beginning to whisper. He whispered into Boris' ear; "I'm certain Zalygin is hoping for something equally dramatic to head off the uncontrollable. Rumors have it that the Bureau is thinking the same way. Of course, their hands are bound. They can't do anything." . .
Alexei scanned the big departure hall for a quiet spot in the direction they had to go. He motioned Boris to follow him. "Zalygin confided in me that at least three top level people at the Bureau are at odds with the policies of our military strategists. The are frightened, Boris! And if they are frightened, we should be frightened, too. In military circles, there is talk about launching a coordinated nuclear-assisted strike against the entire West European complex in order to take the wind out of NATO. Our nuclear forces are strong enough to take Western Europe. It wouldn't take three days, if the world would last three days. Rumors have it, that in order to keep the Americans at bay during the operation, our strategists are calling for a synchronized nuclear barrage against the US mainland that will obliterate 98% of the population in a single blow. The term they use, is saturation coverage - fireball upon fireball, a sea of fire from which no one can escape. Unlike the US, which is of no use to them, our strategists want to keep Europe intact. They need it for a springboard into Africa. Rumors have it; they will go soft on Western Europe with precise surgical strikes, such as with RF weapons that will only stun. Preparations for such a thing may even be under way right now. Things are coming to a head, Boris, at least that's what I heard in Moscow!" . .
"If this ever happens I won't want to survive," answered Boris and urged Alexei to get going. Their flight had already been called. . .
"That's easily said," said Alexei and grinned. "The fact is, it's much easier to do some reasonably promising fighting to protect one's life." He started off into the crowd. Boris followed him. . .
Soon they were engulfed by a mob of people that wasn't easy to move through, very quickly. Still, they reached their plane in time to get on, but not in time for their seat selection to be still valid. That, though, didn't disturb Alexei. A few friendly words with the head stewardess gave them access to the seats the crew normally occupied. . .
"You have always been a charmer," remarked Boris. . .
"Heh, they don't have time to sit down," Alexei explained; "and what's that about me being a charmer? Didn't you see the girls smiling at you? It wasn't me, my friend. It was you and your sharp uniform that got us these seats. She gave them to us to please you," Alexei replied. "The girls love charming men in their fine uniforms!" . .
"No, no," Boris vigorously denied the suggestion, "the only lady I hope to charm is Tania! You of all people should know that, Alexei. If you had any idea of how afraid I was this morning that I might never see her again, you wouldn't say these things! The fact is, I'm still afraid." . .
"That's a healthy sign, Boris!" Alexei assured him. . .
"Not if you want live at the base and stay sane," Boris replied and began to laugh. . .
Alexei smiled, "I think you will learn that, too. That's the challenge that comes with being alive." . .
"Tell me about your friend Zalygin from the Bureau," Boris asked moments later. "Is he married, has he got a family as we have? If he is...." Boris stopped talking for a moment. He watched through the window an Air Force fighter taking off. He envied the pilot. There was such a sense of freedom in this being in control of one's own flight. "Well, is he?" . .
"He didn't say," Alexei replied. "I would guess that he is not a family man. I spent a lot of time with him, often for dinners at fancy restaurants. I never saw the man in female company, or heard him talk about a wife or family. His interests were taken up with more important things." . .
Boris turned the conversation onto a new subject. He mentioned that Zalygin had told him that the base had been granted its request for building a recreation center at the premise. He said that he had even seen the plans during one of the dinner meetings. . .
Alexei spoke of it in glowing term; a glass enclosed sports center, far bigger than anything they had dared to ask for. The crux, however, was that for security reasons they would have to do the construction work themselves, as much as they were able to do this. The base commander has already promised the availability of volunteer manpower. The promise was crucial in getting the funding allocated to Lenin Base, instead of to another base elsewhere. "And this, my friend, means that your assistance with the construction project will be appreciated." He gave Boris a gentle nudge and grinned. . .
"My assistance, Alexei?" . .
"Sure! Weren't you foreman, once, in a construction camp? You told me yourself that you had on the job experience with heavy equipment?" . .
"No, no, that was a long time ago," protested Boris. "That was in the olden days of the Soviet era when everyone was urged to prove their worth by applying their hands in heavy manual labor. This must have been ten, maybe twenty, years ago, if not more." . .
"Be honest, Boris, wouldn't you like to be driving a bulldozer again or the big concrete pumps, or maybe operate one of those tall cranes? Don't tell me you didn't love that work." . .
Boris nodded slowly. "I suppose it will come back to me. It was fun in those days, driving heavy machines. Did I tell you about those tall cranes and my first encounter with them...." . .
"So you will help with the project?" Alexei interrupted him. . .
"Of course I will, just as I helped the guys in Kiev. Did I tell you that I nearly tipped one of those cranes over?" . .
"No! You didn't." . .
The next hour was spent with Boris recounting to Alexei some of the more hair-raising moments of his days in the construction camps at Kiev. It was intentional. The time passed more quickly that way, but more importantly, it passed without having to come to terms with a nuclear-armed world. . .
Boris was happy now, about the way the day unfolded. Before they reached Sverdlovsk he remarked to Alexei that he was glad they had met at the airport, and that he had told him about the construction job. He said that he now had something nice to look forward to, apart from playing computer games with him. . .
Alexei smiled and added that he was glad, too. . .
"Except, I rarely ever win against you," added Boris. "Before I can think of a strategy to protect my civilizations you find a gap in my defenses and knock them out." . .
Part 4 - The Plan
The tables were turned against him the moment that Boris entered the commissar's office to report his arrival at the base. It was his duty to report in. In fact, it was his first priority the next morning, even before breakfast. . .
It was in the commander's office that morning that it became instantly clear to Boris that Alexei had been serious about everything he said. The nightmare of their talk at the airport was re-kindled. He had barely entered the office when he noticed a large drawing spread out on the table, - the construction plans. Those were the construction plans that Alexei had spoken to him about. Recreation; was all he could read at first glance. He was drawn to the plans like by a magnet.
The base commander was not in the office when arrived. The plans confirmed to Boris that this man, Zalygin, existed, if this was indeed his name. Boris' fears certainly existed. Was Alexei responding to his fears or was he exploiting him? He suddenly felt that he was drawn into something he didn't want to be part of, in spite of his fears for humanity, but was no longer able to back out of. Alexei had even hinted that this might happen. . .
He walked across the room to the commissar's desk, hoping to find nothing in these planes that linked his promised participation with the hopes of the party to do this great and secret thing for the world that would usher in a new era for mankind. He looked at the plans in passing. The word, recreation, stood out now like a bad dream. There, right in from of him on the table lay tangible evidence of a nightmare that now was promised to come but might yet be preventable. Everything that he and Alexei had talked about became instantly alive again in his thoughts. But what about backing out of it? He gave his promise only to Alexei. . .
He sat himself down in front of the commissar's desk, as he was requested when the man entered the room, and listened to the commissar's words. He heard every word, but his mind was at the other table, and the two were somehow intertwined, so it seemed. He recalled the few things he had been able to make out on the drawing, and was puzzled about them and about what he expected to see, or expected not to see. Barely aware of the commissar's routine questions, he answered a mechanical YES whenever it seemed appropriate. Finally the commissar stood up and shook his hand. He vaguely was aware that he had agreed to participate in the construction project as he had already promised Alexei that he would, who had apparently passed the promise on without his knowing. News like these travel fast at the base, he thought. . .
The commissar told him in a proud gesture of approval, as a father might be proud of a son who brought home an excellent report card from school, that he really appreciated his eagerness to help. He told him that his help was especially valuable during the excavation phase. "We've got no one else on the base with actual work experience in handling large bulldozers..." . .
After a lengthy handshake the two men went to the table where the commissar presented to him the plans. . .
Boris took them. He received them out of the commissar's own hands. He spread them out again, bent over them in a frantic search for a clue that would confirm or deny what Alexei had said to him about the Bureau's hopes for a false launch of one of their missiles. This project would be a link. It had to be. Everything did fit. But how? Indeed, how could the whole thing fit together if it wasn't by design and of a manner that he could recognize? He felt that if the Bureau had a secret scheme, it would have to become evident to him in this manner, and would have to be clearly recognizable in these drawings. He searched them carefully, looking for insignificant seeming details, all the while hoping against hope that he would find nothing. . .
Unfortunately, he did find what he was hoping not to find. Ironically, he almost missed it. It was so obvious. One of the drawings showed an underground power line crossing right under the excavation area. It was marked as a steel-wrapped high voltage cable that had been laid ten years earlier. It connected the control center with the power station. If someone were to break the cable at the right moment, someone as familiar with the procedures as he was.... It wouldn't be hard to cause an 'accidental' launch. . .
"Damn!" He hated the idea. He almost choked at the thought of it, but could he do it? Could he do it for Tania? He knew he would. They had died so many times in his dreams. They would die no more. Before him lay the key. . .
He shuddered momentarily as he stared at the thin line across the sheet of paper. He understood what it meant, what the entire construction plan was all about, the timing of the construction, his inevitable involvement, his inability to pull out. It all became totally clear. Before him lay an invitation by the state from the highest levels, to commit an act of sabotage for which he could be executed, but which would save humanity and save his own life, and with it, that of his family. It was an order for great actions. It was a command encoded in a manner that only he would understand. . .
So, the nightmare was true, he thought, it had begun in earnest. The state was making a demand that was taller than any other demand that was ever made on him on anyone at the base. He knew he would have to find a way of coming to terms with that new situation. . .
The plan was as convincingly authentic as any direct order would have been, signed and delivered by the chief himself. There was the location of the building. The location was logical only for its location above the power line. He could see no other imperative for it. And then there were all the other coincidences that fitted together into a web of total consistency. Those were all too well drawn together to be a mere coincidence. For instance, as he had told him already, there was no logic in Alexei taking a flight through Kiev, coming from Moscow, unless there had been a deeper reason behind it that was linked to the plan. Evidently, there was a vast organizational network in operation behind the scenes that had the power to alter airline schedules, allocate huge amounts of funding for frivolous projects while the nation was starving. On the other hand, he found it still hard to believe that anyone would actually devise such a plan, considering the consequences if something went wrong, unless... Perhaps this meant that nothing could go wrong. Perhaps it meant that the entire project was 100% safe. . .
Absorbed in his pondering over the clue that he found, he barely noticed the commissar standing beside him. "Let me give you your own copy. You may wish to study them." The commissar said these things proudly as he handed him a long cardboard container. He could sense that the commissar didn't know what this was all about, but had been given 'recommendations.' This meant that probably nobody else knew about this at the base, except Alexei. . .
Boris thanked the man and left. He took the drawings immediately to his room, hid them, and went back to his post at the control center. Thus began his first day back, which ended an all too short vacation. . .
Since there was never much work to be done at the launch control center, he had ample time to think about what Alexei had said. . .
In one respect the idea of creating an accidental launch seemed too insane to consider, but Alexei's arguments also seemed valid. The new targeting method did guarantee that no one would be hurt by a false launch. He had seen it in action. It was evidently so safe that the commissar didn't even bother to get out of bed to witness it. This strange assurance somehow reshaped this insane concept into a sensible goal. An incident of this magnitude would certainly focus world's attention onto the fragile nature of the so-called nuclear peace. . .
"But what if things were to go wrong?" he kept asking himself, over and over. "What if he missed one crucial point, one minute aspect that perhaps he had no knowledge off?" . .
He sat for hours by himself, looking aimlessly through the large safety glass window onto the missile fields. In the distance, at the bottom of a gentle slope, many dome-shaped objects dotted the landscape. They seemed innocent, while in reality a single one could trigger the end of the world. On the other hand, it also could, with his help, trigger the end of the world's coldest cold war. Except, had he or anyone the right to force this change, to force an issue that no one had been able to deal with for decades upon decades? Shouldn't he let the Bureau do its own dirty work? Or had these people already done as much of it as they could, and now needed his help for the final step. Damn! Why did he have to become a tool to serve their scheme? Was this the reason why he had been offered this lucrative job at the base? . .
If Alexei was correct in one aspect, the odds that a person might succeed in ending the arms race with this plan were greatly in his favor. "Without this, this...." He could not even think the word. All he knew for certain, was that Tania would never forgive him if a single person were killed in the process, regardless of the possibility that scores of millions might be spared the agony of going through a real war. . .
As time went on, many more arguments came to mind, both for and against staging the accident. If only he could ask someone for advise. But whom could he trust? He certainly couldn't talk to Alexei anymore. Once before he had tried to ask Alexei about a secret subject. Alexei simply quoted what his wife had once told him: "If you have a secret to keep, never let me know. Tell me nothing that can't be printed in the papers." . .
God, if only Alexei had regarded this advice back in Kiev. But he hadn't. Could it be that Alexei had actually acted under orders, then? . .
Boris felt increasingly that he had been set up for this job, framed by the government! There was no question that he could do what they required, and in a way that nobody would find out. It must have been easy for them to recruit him, knowing as they must have known that he was the only person at the base with practical experience in driving a bulldozer. Was this the chance that any patriot would be eagerly waiting for, a chance to come to the aid of his country, to provide a service for his people that only he can provide? And undoubtedly, this chance was as real as Alexei's involvement with the man from the Bureau and the plans he had in his room. . .
The hours at the control center had always seemed long, but never as painfully long as on this first day back. And even after an entire shift of thinking and puzzling, his struggles had yielded no answers. His confusion remained like the landscape he had stared at all day long, through the window of the control center. . .
In the evening he went to the small brook behind the meadow where the forest begins. Maybe he could think more clearly there, he reasoned. But after hours of looking into its fast flowing water, he found no answers. The problem was too great! Already he felt that he was no longer his own master. He felt pushed into something he hated to think about, but he felt pressured by the realization that as soon as the long-range transmitter stations become operational, the chance to do something big for humanity would no longer exist, and perhaps never come again. This was his chance to affect history, to alter the world for the better, to make his being alive meaningful. He finally decided that he would most certainly do it if he could be assured that his conclusions about the project were not just a product of his imagination. . .
Except, how could anyone be sure about a thing like that? He couldn't just ask if it was OK to launch an ICBM with sixteen large warheads against the United States of America. No one would as much as admit that a safety procedure exists. He began to hate that he had offered to serve at the construction project. . .
Angry and disappointed, he walked back to the center from the brook, through stands of tall grass. On the way, he suddenly stopped. It came to him most clearly that he didn't have to do anything, that he was still his own master. No one was demanding anything directly. No one was forcing him against his will. He was a free man! . .
On the day the equipment arrived, however, he felt differently. He felt that by simply going along with the project, he would keep his options open. He could render a final decision later. With these thoughts in mind, he began his job at the construction site the next day. . .
Of course, he worked mostly after dark. His official excuse was that it was cooler at night. The real reason was that he couldn't afford to have people around. The other reason was that practice alerts, so far, always came at night. . .
As it was, he managed his time well. He was always alone at night. He drove both the truck and the bulldozer. The commissar gave him a free hand in this. The second night he spent ten consecutive hours working at the pit, and all this besides his regular duties. The commissar praised him for his "outstanding initiative." . .
Only when the excavation had progressed to the point where the cable could be reached at any moment did he cut his efforts back and began to wait. The project had become a game. He was quite aware, that even at this reduced level of working he had at the very most four days of work left. Once all the bulldozing was complete, his chance would be forever gone. On the other hand, his involvement would also be over at this point. This meant that the practice alert would have to be called within this four-day time frame. . .
"Then, the tormenting will stop," he said to himself, searching for a comforting thought. Strangely, there was no longer any comfort in this prospect either, because then, his nightmares would never end. . .
At the point he was at, he knew exactly where the cable was located. He had uncovered it briefly, and then covered it up again. Oddly, the cable was not nearly as deeply buried as was indicated on the drawing. Was this a clerical oversight, or was it part of the plan that even included an alibi for him? This oversight meant that no one could hold him responsible if the cable were damaged. It wasn't his fault that the plan was drawn up incorrectly. But this argument, too, left a bitter taste. . .
So once again a feeling that he had been systematically set up overwhelmed him. Everything seemed to have been taken care of. The care and precision, with which the plan had been prepared for him, amazed him. Only, who was responsible for all that was happening? Who had drawn up those plans that included these vital combinations of mistakes? Who was that person that now masterminded his life? Or was it all, in spite of the complexity, nothing more than a series of unrelated errors and coincidences? . .
Fortunately the decision did not have to be rendered that day. His work was complete. Every step had been considered. Every move had been planned. Every stage of it had been timed and put before him, but by whom? He felt that he had become but a tool. . .
He realized that the final decision wouldn't have to be made until the moment when the siren signaled the next alert. Maybe there would not be another alert until the construction project was finished. Maybe that dreaded decision would never have to be made. . .
He slowed his activity some more, but didn't quite stop it. He just rested more and attended to trivial tasks. As the time drew on, the agonies of the waiting increased and his mind became once again burdened with weighing the risks of the plan against the merits of his hope. He had time now to contemplate in the quiet of the night. . .
In earlier days he would go to bed tired from his work, but now, he found it hard to sleep. One night, after doing virtually nothing at the pit, which became more and more difficult to conceal, he stayed up until morning. He walked through the forest surrounding the base. He walked until the dawn broke, all the while pondering. He slept briefly, had breakfast and then went back to his normal post where he promptly drifted off into a deep sleep. He slept half way through his period of duty. As it was, the infraction was graciously excused since he had spent all his spare time at the construction pit. . .
When the siren finally did sound the next night, a great relief came over him, though he was no more ready to make a decision than he was on the very first day. He was awake, rested, and alert. The timing was ideal. It was midnight. He was alone. All preparations were finished. . .
The idea was very strong now that the entire game had been set in motion in Moscow, but it wasn't imposed. It was a 'floating' request that he was invited to honor, or disregard if he could. It was an order without any direct authority backing it, something that was totally foreign to him. It had become a plan that has taken over his life. The game had become real, he could feel it, and he was powerless to stop it. It had become his game, his plan. Or more correctly, he had become a prisoner of the game and the plan. . .
The plan had become an entity of its own that had invaded him and had taken control of his mind and body as though he were a machine, an instrument, a tool for a purpose. He, himself, had been reduced to the role of a spectator. He consciously observed his own actions as though they were someone else's actions, actions that he loathed deep in his soul, but which he performed faithfully as he was demanded to do, by the plan. Not the tears of Tania or the cries of humanity, or his own feelings could override what drove his compliance with the plan. . .
+ + + . .
Five meters before the trough of loose dirt was reached he snaps out of his confused stupor and forces his fingers against the lever that lowers the blade. He closes his eyes. That's all he can do. He lets his fingers push the lever down. He feels the hydraulics kick in and thrust the plow blade with its worn down hook towards the earth. This simple task had been done a thousand times before to break up the brittle sand stone formation. Now the blade has been engaged for a different task. Oh, how easily it was done! The last step had been performed without hesitation. . .
He leans back now as he withdraws his hand from the lever, and shudders. For the first time in two weeks he feels a deep emptiness creep into his soul. . .
He is alone, totally alone. The task has been performed that was imposed on him, though no one had demanded it. He performed it by his own volition, but now, it can no longer be undone. What he does from this moment on is no longer a factor in the plan. He is riding the machine like a spectator viewing a sequence of a familiar movie. He is aware of everything that is happening, of every step and of every movement. He knows the outcome, but like viewing a movie he cannot alter it, -- not anymore. . .
A pain churns his stomach as the blade scrapes on rock, then breaks free. The machine dips forward into the loose earth. He can feel how the cable suddenly resists its great weight. A hundred tons of steel, pushed with the momentum of a flying wrecking ball, prying against the tensile strength of the wrapped trunk line that supplies all electricity to the base. An 'eternity' passes before him as the machine lurches forward irresistibly, and then rolls free again! . .
He puts on the breaks, stops the engine, covers his face with his hands, then climbs out of the cab and runs to the crest of a hill. The countdown cannot be stopped. Not now; not by him or by any power known to man. He hears the ignition of a missile. A pillar of smoke shoots from the meadow. For a third time in history the most fearsome weapon ever built by man has been unleashed. The game to save humanity has started! Can its flight fulfill the hopes he has placed on it? What if he has missed one tiny vital point? . .
The pillar of smoke shoots upwards now, pushed by fire, then broadens over the launch site while the dull howl of the power buildup in the engines becomes a roar that begins to vibrate the ground. Moments later the nose cone appears barely visible behind the smoke and fire. As if drawn by the hand of an invisible giant the huge missile rises out of the silo. Then it is clear. A great thunder, now, coming out of the mouths of its rocket engines, shakes the earth. The thunder displaces the stillness of midnight and the earth tremors as though a cavalry of a million horses was invading the base. Soon the noise abates. The missile recedes into the midnight sky. The silence returns. The smoke fades with the wind. . .
Boris stands petrified. He stands in awe of what he has done. He keeps watching the flight of his missile until it is but a faint spark in the sky. Soon, it can no longer be seen. He shudders again as he climbs back into the cab of his machine. "Tania, Tania," he wants to cry, but he can no longer utter her name. His thoughts reach out to her, for her comforting touch, for a forgiving gesture, but he can no longer find her in his thoughts. The world has become chilly, cold. . .
"Now the phones will be ringing," he says to himself, "both in the Kremlin and in Washington. Oh God, let them act prudently for once!" . .
He starts the engine again and begins to work as hard as he can, digging at a large rock near where the cable had been. He tries to dig the rock out; both to cover his tracks and to keep himself occupied so that he may not go mad over it all. Those had been frightful flames that he saw, flames that illumined the night, flames of hope to stop the greatest of all fires! He should be happy. Strangely, this concept seemed foreign now. . .
Be it resolved that the void in the heart that is war,
be supplanted with the universal lateral extravaganza of love that we find in ourselves as we search a trillion stars for the brilliance of life we have right here and are a part of.