These questions, that deep down in our gut feeling, we already knew the answers for, kept coming up again and again. They were more and more tied to Perfidious Albion, the longer we stewed over them.
I told Ivan and Leslie about my infamous meeting with Perfidious Albion. "They are out to destroy your country, maybe four fifth of humanity."
Leslie almost cried. All of their years of training, contemplating the worst scenarios of chemical or biological attacks had left them still totally unprepared for this. They were devastated by it.
With this nagging pain in our hearts we returned to the reindeer center when the Major picked us up at the same place on the arranged day and time. What I had feared, but had hoped I would never have to face, was on the horizon as a tangible reality. We had touched its container. This reality could not be changed now. The thing was real. The only option we had left, was to halt its progression. Unfortunately, this had to wait. We were locked into this place for another three days until the supply plane would take us back.
Leslie approached us the next morning, saying that she would like to show us something.
We got into one of the four snow cats of the base. Three hours later we entered through a large steel door that was set into the side of a mountain. "We used to have full staffing here all the time," Leslie confided to us. "Now, there are only two people present." One of the two came to the door. He recognized Leslie and let us in. He showed us the "great hall" that was still stocked with eighty long-range cruise missiles stored in elevator racks. Everyone was several times larger than the one that had been launched by the Russian fishing boat outside of our bay. The cruise missiles, here, were totally different. They were miniature aircraft powered by a small jet engine. The shape of the craft was like a beautiful bird from an ancient saga. Its lines were smooth, gently curved like a piece of sculpture. Every part was delicately rounded off and smoothed to perfection, according to the principle of stealth aircraft design.
The person in charge showed us one of the launch ports. We climbed out onto a ledge with him that was carved into the rock just outside of the portal. "There!" he said, as he pointed to a nearby mountain, "in this direction lies the North Pole. Canada lies behind that," he said, "and south of it lies the U.S.A.. Our birds fly extremely low, which enables them to penetrate most defenses. They are designed as first strike weapons that can reach their target undetected and with GPS accuracy. They are designed to fly at night and in the worst kind of weather. The strategic plan that they were created for, was to eradicate the opposition in a surprise attack with such a force that they would not be able to retaliate, apart from being shocked into a state of awe and perceived impotence to the point that they will not even think about fighting back, assuming that all is lost."
I simply shook my head when I heard this.
"This is all irrelevant now," said Leslie to us. "That is why the place isn't staffed anymore."
On the trip back to the base, Leslie explained that there are 30 such sites spread throughout a wide area, each with completely self-contained underground living quarters. The only thing they need from the outside, is air for the people to breathe. The rest is stored on site. "Of course, we only maintain a staff of caretakers now. The activation systems have been shut down for security reasons. The whole thing has been put into mothballs."
"That's all irrelevant," Anton repeated.
Leslie nodded, "that is why I showed it to you. I wanted you to understand that humanity has stood at the midnight hour many times before, and we've come through it. We mustn't loose hope now."
Anton nodded. "Still, let us also hope that these mothballed monsters will never be made active again, should we be lucky enough to survive the present crisis." She spoke with a sense of agony in her voice.
The same evening the Major invited Antonovna and me for a snowmobile ride. The snowstorm had passed. She wanted to hear our side of the story. We merely confirmed what she already knew. "But it makes no sense to drop it here," she said.
"It was either dropped in error," I suggested, "or it did overshoot its target."
"This was no miscalculation," said Antonovna. "I believe it was intended to be a test case to verify that animals are not affected by the virus. Some depopulationists insist that animals must not be killed when the human population becomes eradicated."
The Major was shocked by what Anton said, but she couldn't deny the logic of it. "But what can you do about it?" she asked.
Again, we had to explain the phrase "Perfidious Albion" and the policy commitment of the empire to break up Russia.
"To use such a weapon doesn't make sense," the Major replied, "not for this purpose."
I suggested that the weapon might not have been created by the empire itself. I suggested that Perfidious Albion might have merely created the required conditions that enabled someone else to do the dirty work for them. "That's their usual style for doing things. That's the way it has been for two-hundred years."
"This was probably a private venture," said Anton to the Major. "It may have been created by one of the fondi, or anyone else with enough power and influence to keep such a weapon under wraps until the killing begins."
"We were not supposed to have any kind of advance warning," said the Major. "This much is clear."
We talked about this problem for a long time. The Major regretted that there was no way to communicate our findings to Nicolai since all communications were routinely monitored. Nor was there a faster way for us to get back than the way we had come.
"What about using the telephone to phone a friend in Germany?" asked Anton.
"Don't even think of it," the Major replied. "Nobody must know that you are here, or were here. This must never happen. You must wait until you can talk to Nicolai in person."
"But the whole world is in danger," Anton protested.
"That's precisely why we can't risk Nicolai being jailed," the Major impressed upon her.
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|| - chapter index -
|| - Exit -