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Cyclops One DeFelice Jim




17

Luksha nodded. Their high-altitude spy plane — a Myasishchev M-55 dubbed the Geofizia, because its “cover” mission was as an environmental tester — had been a thousand miles from the actual test area, using its long-range sensor array to gather electric transmissions from the Americans as they tested their aircraft. With the exception of a few rather incidental voice communications, the telemetry from the test craft was coded and essentially indecipherable. Nonetheless, it gave experienced analysts considerable information about the types of systems involved and some of the procedures for using them. Coupled with the spy satellites, Luksha knew enough about the American system to know it represented a turning point in airborne warfare.

He had suspected from the first that the accident was actually part of a deception campaign, though if so, he couldn’t explain where they might be thinking of using it. Perhaps it was merely a ruse to pretend that the weapon was not ready and thus hide its actual deployment.

Possible. But why go to the trouble given the secrecy surrounding the project.

They must know they were being spied upon.

Of course they did.

“General?”

Luksha looked up at Chapeav.

“We will need more resources,” said the general.

Chapter 5

Bonham cocked his head to the side, listening as Colonel Gorman outlined her latest theory on what had happened to the Cyclops 767. She was obviously tired, and her voice barely carried to where he was sitting in the second row of the control room. The bags beneath her eyes seemed to grow as she spoke.

“It’s incontrovertible that an aircraft was at the Wyoming site,” she said. She nodded to the airman sitting at the computer station near her, who put a screen capture showing a radar plot up on the video projector. She flashed her laser pointer at a small blip in the right corner. “This anomaly is unexplained. We think it was the airplane taking off.”

“Twelve hours after the event?” asked Colonel Howe, who was sitting in the front row.

“Yes.”

Matt Firenze began asking questions about how far the plane would have been able to travel. Gorman turned the questions over to one of the technical people. The Cyclops planes were 300ER versions of the versatile airframe, which gave them a published range of 7,400 miles (with their Pratt & Whitney engines unmodified); the actual range varied according to a large number of factors, starting with how much fuel had been loaded into the plane.

The discussion segued into the difficulties of using the weather-mapping radar to coordinate with the other flight data. Bonham didn’t feel he should object to the technical points — he saw no point in speaking at all — and so waited impatiently for them to move off the technical points to the real problem: where Gorman and her people thought the plane had gone.

The FBI agent, Fisher, had taken a seat at the end of the back row, slouching behind a cup of coffee. Bonham watched him from the corner of his eye; it seemed to him that Fisher was studying him as well.

“What you guys are basically saying is that you have no idea where the plane went, and that it could have gone very far,” said Howe. “But you also don’t have any real evidence that it was at this base.”

“Something was there. We’re positive of that.” Gorman glanced up in Fisher’s direction — he’d been the one who found the plane — as if she were expecting him to say something, but he didn’t.

“I can’t believe that Megan York would have stolen it,” said Howe. “That’s treason. She wouldn’t do that.”

“Maybe she didn’t,” offered Fisher.

Everyone turned around and looked at him, but he didn’t add anything.

“Anyone aboard that plane who objected to what was going on could have used the radio,” said Gorman. “The pilot especially. Flying the big plane through those mountains would have taken two people.”

“Not necessarily,” said Howe. He felt his cheeks burning. Why wasn’t anyone else standing up for Megan?

“At this point we have to work on the assumption that everyone aboard was in on it,” said Gorman.

Howe turned to the FBI agent. “What do you think happened?”

Fisher shrugged, then looked over at Bonham as he spoke. “I don’t know. I’d like to look at some of those lakes in the Canadian Rockies.”

“Which lakes?” asked Howe.

“The ones General Bonham suggested.”

Bonham cleared his throat. “I don’t believe I suggested that.”

“My mistake,” said Fisher.

“I may have said something that maybe we should search in that area,” said Bonham, retreating under the agent’s stare. “Obviously I was wrong.”

“Our best theory is that the plane was here,” said Gorman, retaking the initiative with a sharp tone. “And, coupled with the NSA data regarding the Russian spy operation—”

Bonham saw his chance. “What Russian spy operation?”

“We briefed that the other day,” said Gorman.

“Maybe you could go over it again,” he said.

Gorman began talking about transmission intercepts and a high-level Russian operation based in the Far East.

“We want to get a close-up look at that operation as well as other bases they may have in the interior of the country. I’m asking for more people,” she added. “I may set up a new option; I have to talk with my superiors.”

“What kind of option?” Howe asked.

Gorman hemmed a bit. Bonham realized that her original orders had included not merely investigating the incident but recovering the plane. She was thinking about a logical extension: an operation in Russia, if she could find it there.

Logical?

Good God, what a cowboy. What was it about women officers, anyway? Why did they always try to out-macho the men.

Bonham looked at Howe, who was fidgeting in his seat, obviously agitated by the possibility that Megan York and the others aboard Cyclops One were traitors. Poor dumb bastard.

Gorman asked for questions.

“I want to volunteer,” said Howe.

“Volunteer for what?” Gorman asked him.

“I want to make sure I’m involved,” said Howe.

Gorman looked over at Bonham, as if to suggest he say something, but Bonham realized there was little use: Howe wouldn’t listen to logic right now. This was one of those times when a manager did best by doing nothing; Gorman eventually realized it and wrapped up the meeting.

“I’d still like to look at those lakes,” said Fisher as Bonham passed him on his way to the door. “What do you think, General?”

Bonham shrugged. “I guess that’s up to you. Your boss lady seems to think the plane’s not there.”

“Do you?”

Bonham looked at him a second, unsure whether the FBI agent thought he was being sly or suspected Bonham was just psychotic. Unable to decide, he finally shrugged and left the room without saying anything else.

Chapter 6

The copilot, Abe Rogers, had been the most problematic choice for the project from the start. He was the only one of the three who was active Air Force, as opposed to an NADT hire, and yet he was by far the most greedy. Megan didn’t mind greed as a motivator: It was powerful and relatively predictable. But the blatant money lust annoyed her, if only because it reminded her that others involved with Jolice, Ferrone, El-Def, and all the related companies were also primarily interested in money, not the ideals that motivated her.

Her uncle would have pointed out that it didn’t matter. Greed and corruption were always there; even some of the people around Washington and the other Founding Fathers were greedy and corrupt. What mattered was the end goal, and your own purity.

“We were supposed to be done,” he said, standing beneath the overhang that led to the hangar facilities.

“I’m not in charge of the test schedule,” she told him.

“What are you in charge of?” Rogers’s tone was close to a taunt; he pushed his chest forward as if he were an ape trying to intimidate her.

Let the bastard try something,she thought to herself.I’d only like the chance to cut him down.

She didn’t need a copilot.

“I want more money,” he demanded.

“I’ll pass the request along.”

“Do that.”

He spun and walked toward the access door. Megan was angry enough to go out from under the artificial rock outcropping and walk up the path toward the shore. Technically she shouldn’t; the satellite would be in range relatively soon.

They’d been cooped up here too long. The last-minute changes in the ABM testing schedule had made everything more difficult. She could only guess what was going on at North Lake.

The complications had begun with the Velociraptors. She knew that Williams had died. The blackout should have lasted only a few seconds — a blip, really — just enough to sever the connections and let Cyclops One get away.

But events always took their own course.

Like Howe. He was an accident.

Worse: confusion. Still, if he’d been the one killed and not Williams, what would she have felt now?

The waves lapped at the rocks below. Megan listened for a while, then, mindful of the approaching satellite, went back below.

Chapter 7

Howe couldn’t stand or sit still, could hardly walk instead of run. He couldn’t go anywhere, or couldn’t decide: He had to do something, had to what?

17

Жанры

Деловая литература

Детективы и Триллеры

Документальная литература

Дом и семья

Драматургия

Искусство, Дизайн

Литература для детей

Любовные романы

Наука, Образование

Поэзия

Приключения

Проза

Прочее

Религия, духовность, эзотерика

Справочная литература

Старинное

Фантастика

Фольклор

Юмор

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