An excerpt from “Warsaw Pact”



October 8-14
Sochi. Yulia Bolshakova

It all started badly and ended quickly.
Artem has always some vagary, but usually it wasn’t too conspicuous, or maybe he restrained himself. In Sochi he stopped to restrain. Immediately.
Yulia suffered for two days. Nevertheless, Artem really waited this holiday a long time. Artem really dropped a lot of money for tour and tickets — even Spain tour would probably be cheaper, but they both were eager to see, if Sochi actually became such the fabulous, fashionable and right place, as there were trumpeted from all sides. Artem really guessed: Sochi became maybe not the most right but quite pleasant place. And Artem was really nice and kind guy. For the time being.
And then all got down.
Yulia just asked him to slow down a little — for example, not to drink at least in the daytime. Artem was outraged and began to clarify, if she calls him an alky, but calmed down and promised it. Actually, not promised, but said okay, okay, don’t go into hysteric, not anymore, go here. He said that — and he is a man after all.
It turned out, he is not.
At dinner he immediately demanded a glass of beer.
Over lunch, he immediately demanded a glass of beer. Yulia restrained her temper. The beer will be rather than a strong drink, she thought, but it wasn’t rather. He sucked the glass in two sips, glanced at Yulia guiltily and demanded another glass. Yulia stirred lightly, but again said nothing. Maybe it was vain. And maybe it wasn’t.
Artem finished off his beer before a hot meal was served, grunted, not wiping the foam mustache, examined the chop estimating, said “Well, it’s quite impossible without vodka” and called the waitress.
“Artem, don’t,” Yulia said.
“Keep mum,” Artem advised and shouted: “Miss, pay already your highest attention to me!”
“You promised”.
“Listen, don’t go”, Artem warned, turning to her with foam track on strained face, this track was suitable for his blond bang and was very nasty too. Artem lips swelled. Yulia always amused it and seemed nice. Now she wanted to poke these lips with something soft. Or with not soft.
Yulia closed her eyes to see or foam, nor lips and prying people at the next tables, and said at last remnants of excerpts: “Artem, please. I’ll leave now. So…”
“So what?”
“So that’s all,” said Yulia, opened his eyes to found how nasty face Artem made. Apparently, he mimicked her.
Artem shrugged and sang loudly, waving with raising hand: “Mi-iss! I am he-ere!”
Yulia pushed her chair back with grinding sound and walked away.
It seems that everybody looked at her — everybody but Artem. Artem talked with the waitress.
She wanted to fly away immediately, but there were no tickets. At all. The “velvet” season, and Sochi is so fabulous, fashionable and the right place. It is unclear, however, why the people flew out from that right place – but the people in fact flew, swam and left so that the boards overload crackled.
After two-hour phone conversation Yulia gave up and went to reception to ask for split exchange of the room. She waited for vacation no less time then he and had no less right to the rest, the sea and the sun. Let this brute will booze, but we will sun-cure and steep ourself.
“Split exchange” is a good term, thought Yulia almost fun. And “separating” is good term too, the fast and hopeful one. Much better than “divorce”. It’s perfect that I’m not married.
Fortunately, Yulia took the money — although her mother said “Do not put on airs, let the gentleman pay, so you’re as safe as houses with him”. As houses of mercy, yep.
Money did not help — sleek girl at the reception threw up her hands barely and harped on: “Sorry, no vacancies, absolutely,” a reptile. Well, not a reptile: Sleeky fumbled in the computer conscientiously, shuffled the cards and called somewhere, she even offered the option in sister hotels and pensions. Only to apologize again with depressed voice and to say oh no, no more in fact, sorry. Yulia pretended that she’s going into hysteric — and she perhaps really was ready to go into tantrum without feeling anything but blunt exhaustion. She wanted to sit on the suitcase or maybe to lie down next to it, with her back to the sun-drenched hotel veranda, so she would not see or hear the inappropriate happy sea. To lie down and to fall asleep — and let they all decide what to do with her and where to drag her. I’d lie here just down, raise me up if you have enough power.
“Maybe I can call taxi for you?” Sleeky asked and quickly added: “Or you’ll come a little later?” Yulia full of hatred thought at first: “I’ll dispense with your services,” then “Never wait” and then “To hell with all that.” She took the suitcase to chairs in a cool corner of the lobby and sat down thoroughly and conveniently. I will live here. And I don’t care what they do: kick me out, yell at me or buzz above the ear. So persevering.
What’s up?
“How do you look on it?” it was buzzed above the ear. Not buzzed but still asked. A male voice, beautiful and unobtrusive, despite it sounds a long time, like.
You’ll just know how I look on it, thought Yulia angrily, looking up at tiresome person. Tiresome person was even more beautiful than his voice. A stalwart man in his prime, soigne metropolitan: the muscles, the posture, the hairstyle. And the smile, of course. Why are you grinning, handsome?”
So handsome waited for an answer to the question. And so Yulia waited for an answer from herself — while she rewinded frantically the speech slipped past her head, pondered it and fiercely looked for any dirty trick. Because there is no such thing as free lunch. Maybe in the mousetrap, for sure.
She smiled and said politely: “I have the money”.
“Well, great,” handsome delighted. “You’ll stand a treat wuth some compote because of me. Else my aces are terribly obstinate in the dry conditions.”
It would be nice if everybody were so obstinate.
The aces were an old librarian lady dream: cute, skillful, calm and witty. Valera, Valery Nikolaevich, was their Scouter, he called himself so, and Edward, Slava and Misha were, again according to Valery, “temporary incomplete starlet squad”. They arrived in Sochi not at their own expense, but thanks to some non-poor company – “it’s called a social package with a human face,” explained Edward later. “Starlet squad” should have to come in full force, they ordered and paid for three places, one single and two double-room, but the shortage happened somehow, so Misha lived in doble-room alone. And Valerie, hearded about Yulia’s troubles, agreed to give her his number and to move in Misha’s room. Later Yulia came to one’s senses and took the courage, tried to find, are they so noble with any sorts of people, and wasn`t it better to pass a room for rent. Well, she tried to shove them the money, of course. Edward began to laugh and choked with compote, Slava and Misha quickly went to the pier, and Valera looked at her as he can. So Yulia shuts up.
At first she waited that the guys would try to write off her debt with non-monetary, as friend Lyudka would say, methods. Just try, I’ll learn you, thought Yulia, every day more acute and languidly. Not waiting for anything, she suspected, that the guys not the women’s side wizards, and depressed. How can a normal person change the suite-room for a bed in double? But next day her suspicion dissipated with a manner that those sluts just escaped being scratched out their eyes by Yulia – why, it would seem. Yulia confined herself to going into her room early. There were a complete set without her.
In any case Valera returned to his room in half an hour and he hadn’t been like smeared with lipstick. Yulia, watching from the near gazebo, calmed down, scolded herself in the choicest language and decided, let it be as it goes.
So, there were nothing to be.
There was a great vacation in the claim-free happy crew. There were swimming, jumps, dives and two mind-blowing outings to the country, that weren`t ruffled even by Misha’s new girlfriend, who was grabbed by Misha beneath comrades ironic gazes after the first salad and dragged back to the chicken wings in such a way that Yulia became uncomfortable, scary and a little jealous. There was a fresh to sweet strike dumbing sea under the smiling sun. There was Artem too — somewhere near the horizon. First he came across to meet them, walking with one ridiculous girl after another. Then he rolled to Yulia with all apologies and explanations. Yulia examined him, said: “Good for you, that you do not drink,” and went on, not listening to what he was hissed behind her back.
She hurried to the Chess Deathmatch announced by Edik.
Deathmatch, however, did not happen. Valera declined to participate. Mishka escaped to hang round another redhead girl — Yulia feared that this hang could be very tough, may the vaseline and mutual respect help them. Yulia herself stayed on the mode of simultaneous game for five minutes, although she thought herself a good chess player, she studied a year of chess as a child. However, it wasn’t hurt to lose to Edik, it was funny to watch how devastatingly he crushed Slavik, and it was awfully pleasant to have a wise table talk at the same time. Even about a very delicate topic.
“Yulia, do you know what is dualism? Well, Yin-Yang, ice and fire?”
“We studied it”, calmly said Yulia.
“Oh, well, is this taught so far? Vyacheslav Evgenyevich, do you hear?”
“Boss!..” said Slava pleadingly, not taking his eyes off the chess-board.
Edik, sitting opposite, winked at Yulia an said: “Distract, distract him! I still have to steal a queen from the board.”
“Queen”, Slava significantly extended, swung and repeated in a different tone: “Queen. Oh queen…”
“He noticed,” whispered Edik tragic. “I so hopes that he never notices it. But he is our sniper, he’ll…”
Valera waved his hand at them and said strong and low, so that something stretched in the middle of the Yulia body: “So, Yulia, you studied dualism not in vain. There are male and female — that follows thence the life, right?”
Yulia shrugged, trying not to blush, and yelled at herself so that her head was too tight: don’t be so silly, don’t fluster, don’t grin, your canine is skew, sit quietly! To no avail. Well, he sees through her anyway – so let see. Yulia tried to relax and even to smile, was scared that it maight be completely out of place, and desperately heard only the end of the phrase:
“…Work and rest too. The moral: do not confuse a resting person with a working one. Also here I’m drunk cad in karaoke, but at home I’m responsible “grade six” mechanic, exemplary and party man. So don’t take offence at your — Artem, right? — please…”
“Yeah, you’re just drunk cads,” Yulia quickly agreed and giggled apparently too loud, but no one did not seem to notice.
“Sure, I’m not, but Edik,” calmly began Valera, and all seeing and hearing Edik interrupted just so calmly: “Boss, it is not good to envy. If you can’t carry not only a tune but also a shot in basket…”
“You’re in check!” Slava exclaimed, and Edik interrupted immediately, lifted his finger and said: “O!”
“What’s up?” Slava worried.
Edward sang gently: “Let’s see it… Hands away, in your lap, as thus, good boy… Are you prepared?”
“Always prepared,” Slava grumbled.
“Well, it was the king in check, right? And now we are moving here this little pawn, right? Nothinh in check, right? And it’s your move, right?”
“Hah,” Slava said contemptuously, holding out his hand to the board. The hand frozen in the air, rised to the head and grabbed the crow’s nest, which was an elegant hairstyle half an hour ago. “Oh shi-it.”
“What’s up?” startled Edik, winking at Yulia. “Have a headache?”
Yulia giggled. Valerie, grinning, said: “That’s the way every day. Shahanshah gentlemen, let’s go to the beach at last. The sun is setting”.
Shahanshahs nodded with varying degrees of readiness. Slava leaned with relief back in his chair, which twitched threateningly, and drawled languishing: “I’m bored, boss”.
Then Valera’s cell sang.
Yulia stood up, putting her dress, and leaned against the railing, squinting at the ray with that the sea pierced the foliage. Yulia took no heed to conversation, even more so it was indistinct and difficult to hear, though Valera never seemed to lurk. But she is not deaf enough.
Yulia wanted to ask as soon as Valera finished speaking and cautiously put the phone on the table, but decided to wait. It is wrong to interrupt the serious reflection – so Valera obviously meditated on something. Edik and Slava stared at him silently as if awaited his command.
They waited up.
“That’s all, guys, our leave ended. We’re called up.”
“That’s what I call a good rest,” said Slava.
Edik rattled the remaining pieces from the board and began to put them in a box.
“And the point of destination?” Slava asked.
“Well, won’t boreYulia with all this,” said Valera and continued, turning to Yulia and so gently that she was empty inside. “Yulia, I’m sorry, but our dualism seems to be running out. The bugle sounds…”
“That’s not certain, by the way,” Yulia blurted.
Valera raised his eyebrow. Yulia realized that he can mistake her meaning and explained hurriedly: “Are you going to go in Chulmansk, right? You said “Baytakovo» – but it is an Chulmansk airport. And I’m just …”
Valera exchanged glances with the guys. Yulia was funny, so she continued: “Sabirzyan Mineevich, well, he’s my chief, it can’ t be a coincidence, there are no more such name combinations. Our rookie-idiots calls him Obey-Then-Minet-ovich, but he’s a good gaffer, though almost an oligarch.
“Your chief?” Valera repeated.
“Well, not my immediate superior, anyway, I’m working in HR department of “Potrebtechnika”, and he is CEO and, well, the owner of it. That’s all.”
“That’s all,” repeated Valera again and confidently continued: “It just cannot be.”
“Want me to bring my permanent pass in “Potrebtechnika”, in head office, with the Sabirzyan Mineevich signature? It lays in my room, wait a minute.”
“Stop,” Valera ordered and looked back at the guys.
Yulia was turned to him, but Valera already seems to have recovered himself.
“Listen, in fact, it turns out so funny. I am perplexing indeed about this Chulmansk, what is it, how to go there, and here we have a live guide, it appears. Well, Yulia, we will ask you before leaving, I’ll just get more specific information about our official duty, otherwise we are as a prince in folktale, going to Neverland for neverthing. Slava, take the ticketing…”
“Look, let me go with you!” blurted Yulia unexpectedly, horrified and immediately became infected with this idea. “In fact, let us, eh?”
“Well…” said Valera hesitantly, failing to follow her train of thought.
“Well, sure: I have three vacation days left, it is the merest trifle, I still wanted to leave earlier, but did not have tickets. So you can, and if you can take four tickets, you can take one more ticket in the same way, right? And I’ll tell you all you need, I’ll show you everything, and guide you, and introduce you to all!” chattered Yulia enthusiastically, soaring up to dreams about what she would able to show, with whom and on what occasion to acquaint. You never know where girl dreams soar up while the girl is jabbering.
Eventually Valera agreed. He decided – and started to enforce it. In a masculine way.
He said: “Okay. Just, Yuille, we have an another case. Maybe take a walk?”
“Where?” asked Yulia startling, feeling that she turns purple cheekbones and generally looks obscene.
“Well, there are a couple of questions,” answered Valera evasively, downcast eyes, like a little boy, then he apparently understood, that looks like fun, and appealed to Edik and Slava busily: “Drag our Casanova here, quickly. Well, then… The tickets and anything else, you know. I’ll be after an hour or so.”
There are grave doubts about “after an hour, hard thought Yulia with a rush of blood.
They returned two hours later. Yulia remembered those two hours almost to the end. And she do not regret about any minute — almost to the end.
It all started badly and ended quickly.
But then Yulia did not even have time to get scared.

Chapter 2

November 21
Moscow. Leonid Sobolev

“Come to me,” Egorov said and disconnected.
“Good morning to you too, dear Andrey Borisovich,” said Sobolev to beeping phone, shut down the computer, put the papers in a safe and went, not expecting anything good.
Of course, he was right.
“What about the States?” asked Egorov, still greeting in return.
“Completely staffed,” Sobolev wanted to answer, but silently shrugged. Egorov was looking. Sobolev reluctantly said: “No change.”
Sobolev breathed a bit and said: “Andrei Borisovich, let me go there to start searching and so on.”
“You have already gone to Norway,” Egorov reminded. He thought it was a good joke. Sobolev did not think so, but it was pointless and humiliating to argue.
“Okay, I’m sorry,” Egorov said. “It wasn’t your fault, it all was bithes fault, we can’t get that bitches, you has a travel ban these two years, you understand that, I understand that too, that’s over. But what can we do with our bosses in the result?”
Sobolev shrugged again — now he had the right. Egorov, without waiting for updates frightened, began to chafe. However, he would began in any case.
“With our bosses, I ask you, what can we do? They required, therefore, an information about technical amendments of security systems for military bases and special facilities in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. “Heimdall” and “Sumuqan” systems, specifically. What is it, they say, why, which suppliers, concepts, cost, degree of novelty, neutralization means. They require me, you know, right? FIIK what to say.
Egorov looked at Sobolev and added: “The option “They require you, so you answer, please” not accepted, okay?”
Sobolev laughed embarrassedly.
“Leonid Alexandrovich, it would be charming of you to stop your laughing, I’m not a Late Night Show for you,” offered Egorov tender. “You’d better prepare me a note on all that themes, and take it not from your own head, not even from the Internet or from any “Jane`s Defence”, but from the field, by the reliable, unique and authentic source. That’s when I have a look, to laugh or not. The matter would be taken at 10. December, respectively a deadline for you must be 6. December. Two weeks. It’s enough, I think.”
It was moving in that direction, but Sobolev confused at first however, then outraged, then wanted to play dumb. As a result he said quietly: “Andrei Borisovich, how can I do it?”
“I wouldn’t know!” said joyfully Yegorov, who was clearly uncomfortable. “How do I know? You are deputy chief operative officer, you’re in a better position to judge”
Sobolev twitched, Egorov preempted: “Two months, Leonid Alexandrovich, is very enough time. Even taking into account the circumstances it is a normal term, so no need to fume. No, no. You have to train about five informants already. Or to recruit. Or to use blindly. In general, I don’t know – crawl through UK or Canadian net, if you like, shake the colleagues, maybe they be able to share something.”
“What colleagues?” asked Sobolev darkly.
“Don’t come the innocent with me. Ukraine, Lithuania, Venezuela. They have diaspora, they are not crushed, and you must be establish the relations long ago. Try now, while you have time. At least search, FIIK it all, in Khodynka (Headquarter of Russian foreign military intelligence main directorate), in a brotherly way. That’s all, I’m waiting for your preliminary report at 29. November, and your finally note at 6. December. You can go.”
Sobolev went obediently and even began to implement the recommendations of the authorities, not dropping out of the terminal states. For two hours he combed sources, interviewed wherever possible, sniffed out when conversation was impossible, was nearly poked in Khodynka, scattered the hint queries, climbed, of course, to “Jane`s”, in the Jamestown Foundation and in the pastures of Armageddon heralds like DEBKA. Finally he leaned back in his chair and hately glared out the window. The window was gloomy, the future too. No hope, no clearance.
During last year the department was defeated twice, completely and devastatingly: first with Moteev betrayal, then with Panchenko death. The first one leaked to enemy all net of agents, the second on carried to his grave whole data about off-network “Soloist-agents” – if the Service saved any “Soloists”.
Sobolev have nothing to complain in fact. After the Norwegian failure he thought that will be oldman as the analyst, and then will learn Scandinavian languages to senility. His transfer into deputy chief’s chair in the Atlantic Division seemed a jackpot. But it turned out landing on the waste ashes, where there was not a house, nor a blade of grass — only a confused young people gathered on the principle that not calculated mathematically. By the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service in Russian) standards even Egorov was too young, despite ten years in the Australia and the British Commonwealth Department. He was to become deputy of Panchenko, the only one of the Service commanders, fully extracted from under suspicion and was to have a new network from Panchenko’s store-rooms. By the same store-rooms principle — even departments heads were withdrawn from the Service staff, being strong secretly registered in innocent Moscow and St. Petersburg companies and offices, not related to Forest (unofficial name for SVR headquarter).
But Panchenko died on the day of signing the order to liquidate the three old divisions and to creation of two new ones on their basis. It was a solid reason because he has not entered into a new office, office of the Vice President of a certain “Exportconsulting” company. By same reason Egorov not headed the “Exportconsulting” Technical Inventory department, that Panchenko managed past three years. Egorov occupied at once the chair of Vice President, with all its intricate specifications.
And he took his deputy Sobolev at once. It is not clear why. On start-up meeting Sobolev mostly dissented from Egorov’s opinions.
Egorov sang about buying ideas, technologies and brains, what is a priority task for any state. Some countries like the US and Israel, Egorov said, does it by open way, others have to do quietly. So we, me and you, Leonid Alexandrovich, must provide the quiet efficiency.
We have no resources, said Sobolev at that time. Egorov seriously objected: there are alwais resources at the right place. Remember Eitingon and Sudoplatov who created in a couple of years on nothing, on the Jewish origins and on ideological pumping, qualified agent network all over the world. We left no origin, no pumping or other resource, answered Sobolev. China has it — it presses and just pays. Iran has it too — it is the type of main anti-American. “Al Qaeda” has… Egorov grinned, Sobolev grinned also and specified: well, now they exists. So he continued: any source starts the cooperation with other state to earn the money, to change his country for different one or because he believe it’s a noble act. But no one wants to live at our country, it is a shame to collaborate with us, we are nothing.
Money, Egorov reminded. Sobolev grinned. Egorov nodded and continued: Russian origin. W-well, yes, Sobolev said. Our last trump. However, the spoiled one. Moreover six months after we let this trump card in the course, our brothers in mind will catch all the abroad Russians. All of them, with the fine-tooth comb. Egorov replied dismissively, they would be engaged with the Chineses for longest time. But in general you’re right: after Moteev we have to sit silently a bit and to let the situation calm down, if the things goes so awry. Let the traitors chance to betray with minimal damage. And then we’ll remember about the immortal Russian soul.
Thus they agreed, among other things. Thus Sobolev agreed. He quietly studied, loosened and sublimed the ground, which will gradually become the raw material base and then the industrial production. There are a several hundred people on the ground who came to build relationships, different types, but not exclusiving a future development. Of course, an attempt to get quickly any information from this people will ruin the relationship. But the long-term outlook was good. That’s the thing.
Now it turned out that the thing is not the outlook but the note. Not the case but the office. As usual, as sad.
If only it was the respectable office.
Sobolev received the Panchenko apartments intact and with the wish not to touch it on. Thanks for the fact that he was allowed to deport that antediluvian computer from his table on the far desk, re-adapting to it the wires, including obviously superfluous ones. Sobolev did not mind. Well, the coffin is rustling, why no? It don’t ask for food, no need to argue.
Now old computer rustled loudly. Sobolev distracted from the hopelessly tin window and caught the fading red lights on the system unit, apparently blazed up second earlier.
Hello, we go again. Is it an agony or what? It will come to no good if this coffin start the fire in agony way, indifferently thought Sobolev, wondering whether is it possible to turn off the computer, not getting up. For example, with an aptly thrown diary.
The computer beeped. Sobolev had to stand up, come to desk and see, what happened. There wasn’t a smell of burning. Sobolev turn on the monitor. On the screen along the gray grid of the arcaic file manager crept the lilac two cursors high strip.
The screen is broken, understood Sobolev — and straight away lilac strip blinked and showed the gray letters: “Hello uncle” . In English.
Sobolev looked around, thought a moment, pulled out of the desk a keyboard, settled it next to the monitor and printed “hello” in return. The word appeared on the unbearably bright emerald line, crossed the screen below the lilac one.
More below a new lilac line accrued, twinkled and stamped with next portion of gray letters, this time in a patternless assortment: “4 bca ncuy g5u mtyw 601 mno7 tz6 pfxx 9q9 s221” .
Sobolev bit his lip, looking at the numbers. The interlocutor on the opposite side printed with the paragraph: “Cntn ????” His lip ached. Sobolev realized that it was just a continuation request, bent down and typed with one finger in English: “Error, can not read.” It came out as a report of an electronic device, but the charm of style was outside of his interests.
“4, see 4,” the gray letters flickered on lilac strip. Immediately with a new line: “Confirm, quickly.”
He had no option. Sobolev quickly snapped at four.
Computer beeped, colored lines became brighter for a moment and disappeared. There was remained the grid dividing the screen into three columns with a pair of meaningless combinations of letters on each part. Combinations of letters were the same as before the communication session, Cyrillic and long, like the name of the old file snatch in wrong encoding. Unlike the files, these letter combinations have not been opened. In any way.
Sobolev dragged a chair, sat down, hardly recalled the way to work with MS-DOS files and tried at least to find a description of the objects, or in any other way to get into the fourth of them, the visible part of which reads “~РйЙяпачЧфЫДэПРгрекнапЖД-да” . Maybe this is the Four-Encoder.
He had no choice. Sobolev probes other objects, tried to understand computer OS or to dig in a directory tree, convinced that a machine does not understand human methods, and thought onerously, what is better: to give it a kick or call to special staff. But there was no special stuff here: computer set and rearranged Forest officers, and here was not a Forest, but a Cover, so any Cover employees hadn’t a permit to pass in this wing. Elsewise, what can understand the system administrator from “Exportconsulting” IT department in antediluvian hardware and in scrambled software?
Computer beeped again, the screen crossed by lilac strip with the inscription: “What’s the uncle?”
“Gone,” printed Sobolev without pause. “200. Heart.”
He saw no reason to lie.
“In September.”
“You instead of him?”
“Know me?”
Sobolev immediately filled:
“I just suggest”.
“Do you know 1, 2, 3?”
“Nothing of it.”
“Office number, quickly. 15 seconds.”
Sobolev hesitated — at first did not understand the point, then frantically recalled the number of his office phone, which had never be used, then thinked, whether it isn’t a classified information, then incorrectly pressed the second digit.
But in time, it seems. Exactly in time. Isn’t he disconnecting, bastard?
The screen cutted his eyes as a striped vest in poisonous tones — and it alived with the phone simultaneously. Phone bleated, the display shows: “After sixth call on of. — call back later.”
At the fourth trill Sobolev understood what was wanted of him, and was impressed by the paranoia of Panchenko’s agents. At the fifth trill he agreed with the validity of this approach. At the sixth one he cleared his throat, picked up the phone and said: “Call back later.”
Someone’s attention ached in the tube slightly.
Sobolev really wanted to say “please”, to say “do not worry, I’m friend”, to say “Panchenko did not betray you,” to say “we need you.”
He was silent so long as the handsed clicked and beeped. Hen he hited phone lever, dial short number and said: “It’s Sobolev, twelve-seven-seven. Trace the call to my office phone, everything is possible, extra code. Stop. Zero-ten. Yes, it’s Sobolev, twelve-seven-seven, I confirm: zero-ten, retreat.”
He sat down to the screen and ensured that he correctly saw from the table a new line: “Don’t track, harmful,” and muttered: “Well, I hope you are as useful as dexterous.”
It was a long process to to sell himself this idea. But an hour later Sobolev bursted into the Egorov office almost happy.
“Andrei Borisovich, the Panchenko contact surfaced!”
Egorov did not even flinch. He nodded, not looking up from the monitor, and asked: “Which one?”
“I don’t know, but there is reason to believe that he is important one,” Sobolev said impatiently. “Fingers up, sorry, but competent buddy — and the oldest, as I understand it. He popped from a Panchenko’s game console.”
“So. Yank?”
Sobolev surprised: “No, definitely not. Recruiting emigrant, although it is unlikely, he is too professional. Or… No. NOC (Non-official cover), with high probability.”
“Or a Virginia farm boy.”
Sobolev shook his head and repeated uninventive: “No, definitely not. That is, there is certainly a chance that our confident played the double game and now he is standing by their interest… But the Virginia farm boy – sir, no, sir, no options. Language, context, all at a glance. Andrei Borisovich, with a high proportion … In short, it’s a well-trained uncle from the Soviet Union, that’s style can’t be copycated, no one can be taught so.”
“We can,” said Egorov inattentive.
“Yes, we can. But we use other methods. Only we takes the prisoner for interrogation and only we sends the illegals. Sorry, inappropriate speech. But I dare to recall, among other things, all Virginia farm boys today buys the turkeys – Thanksgiving tomorrow. Andrey Borisovich, this is our illegal.”
Egorov finally raised his eyes and recalled sadly: “Leonid Alexandrovich, there are no our current illegals on the United States of America territory since March. I’m not counting the retirees, they sent us to hell and never sit down to shit with us. Other agents betrayed by our predecessors. So it is impossible a non-registered employees in our service, in principle. Somebody pull the wool over your eyes, Leonid Alexandrovich.”
Egorov was silent, staring into the eyes of Sobolev. Sobolev belatedly realized why his dear boss, who apparently was pressed since the designation about immediate effective result, stared all the while at the monitor. Dear boss suddenly and desperately believed that finally he waited for impossible miracle. He believed, choked, came around and began to take chances. He counted absolutely zero, reported it to Sobolev and now he waits that his young discredited deputy will work another miracle, justifying everything.
Let’s try.
“Andrey Borisovich, I’m not sure that he is originally ours.”
“You must decide something, Leonid Aleksandrovich.”
“No, no, I’m talking about other things. You yourself had said: Lithuania, Ukraine. What about such version: Ukrainians sent their NOC to lumber-men in Canada, but Panchenko recruited him. Or maybe free-lancer was entered into the our spirit and raised. In any case, he’s an old and tried person. He got out from the Panchenko’s grinder with a set of codes that we all forget. And he checked me up harder then our secret servis at last time, to be honest. Do you know where we communicated in the upshot?”
“In public videoconference of the urban district Khimki sexual minorities?”
“Almost. In the social networks of Wola area, Warsaw.”
Egorov stretched, put his hands behind his head and said: “Wola. Voici. The madness.”
“Yup. To be honest, I almost fell while deciphered what means “people’s gmina killed the tsar.” Also SMS-styled, fixed reductions – I thought it was a misunderstanding, maybe. At first I went to Ekaterinburg websites, then to the Bosnian…”
“Why Bosnian??
“So the tsar was killed in the Urals, and then I threw on some reason to Sarajevo…”
“WWI-dot-madness,” said Egorov with delight. “So what means “gmina”?”
“The Area in Polish. This was my understanding of a point, although there are so many Wola in Poland… Well, I stopped at the Warsaw variant, because it’s the capital in any case, registered — also nearly went crazy out, there wos three dozen of Max Kowalski, and I must be sure about polish writing, ooh. But the account is deleted immediately and without any trace, so it thought out smartly.”
“Yes, and what may be harmless than Polish social network.”
“Mongolian one.”
“This seems to be a next stage. And how he came out on you?”
“Immediately. He told me to put “the Transylvania ferns» in the interests, I did it, he knocked to me at the same time as Lech Nowak. He said the speech, listened my answer, encouraged me and left out.”
“About what he encouraged?”
“About our topic.”
“Yes, sir, the one which must be prepared to 6. December,” reminded Sobolev patiently. “He did not let me finish, sayd: “Ah, “Anti-Morrigan”, it will be possible”, he said. If we’ll contract and decide it, he said, I will be all yours, active and connecting person.”
“Leonid Alexandrovich, I FIIK what is “Anti-Morrigan”.”
““Morrigan”, Andrei Borisovich. I had found out about it. “Morrigan” is a designation for the suppression of active defense systems, in the first place, military facilities, but also of any other. It had developed in Russia, USA and Israel, now all programs had officially errupted and finished as obsolete. It is rumored that it is not true, that our Ministry of Defense orders the protection re-equipment for extant overseas bases exactly against “Morrigan”. It was big scandal when the officials tried to place the order abroad again, not in our plants. Americans, respectively, moved out over their bases. In this connection, as I understand it, we are pressed now. About 6. December, I mean.”
“Oh how beautiful is it,” said Egorov and stared at the monitor again. “Virginia, after all.”
Sobolev almost stamped with emotion and words, but he restrained himself. Egorov very long and quickly chirred the keys and continued: “Leonid Alexandrovich, do you not have the feeling — so, you know, sharp professional, it sometimes … — that thingh like this never happens, anyway, in real life? Well, it’s pitfall, beyond question. Right now, when we have a question of vital importance, there are so magnificent gift for us. There ain’t no such animal, right?”
“There ain’t so, Andrey Borisovich,” Sobolev agreed cautiously. “And everyone knows that there is no such coincidence. And Virginia farm boys knows for certain, too. So for what should they raise doubts immediately? Sure, anything happens, who argues. But we must check out all the options, I believe it.”
“It is still in the air, no wings, no engine,” Egorov muttered. “We must, we must. And what means “if we’ll decide it”?”
“What? Ah. Well, he has exposed some conditions.”
“So serious guy. Warsaw Pact, a conditional type. And what if no conditions?”
“If no conditions, I quote: “You are nobody for me. You’re not my homeland, not my master and not my friend.”
“Ah, it because you guessed about Ukrainians or somebody else. Well, basically… Good. How many conditions?”
“Only one. But quite enough. On the other hand, just the way that he is hardly revealed agent. There is a city Chulmansk — if I not confused with Chelyabinsk, he beat a tattoo in Russian with Latin letters without vowels…”
“It’s called the Polish language,” Egorov said didactically.
“Yes, sir. By the way, he learned on the go – typed “4” instead of “Ч”, “W” instead of “Щ”, spied on my writing. If the language is not native, it is unlikely to come so quickly… Sorry. There is a plant “Potrebtehnika” in Chulmansk. There’s a scandal on this plant, if I understand correctly: the raiders came and made criminal charge for CEO, he was taked into custody, everything as usual. Also, he is busy for this CEO, he said – free the man and return a plant to the man.”
“That’s all. You’ll take all the data immediately, he said, and I’ll be completely yours.”
“Okay. And what is his interest?”
“I can not know. Maybe he’s plant co-owner. Maybe CEO is his brother, or they collected the ferns in Transylvania together.”
“By the way, find out quietly … Okay-okay, I keep quiet. So what’s the catch?”
“What’s the catch?” Sobolev surprised genuinely.
“Leonid Alexandrovich.”
“Well, maybe not a catch – just the fine point. Two points. Firstly, the raiders are the people of OMG. Secondly, it is believed that Chulmansk “Potrebtehnika” is a developer and a potential manufacturer of the basic components of “Morrigan” and “Sumuqan”.”

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