Cyclops One DeFelice Jim


“I don’t think it was really Borg.”

“Not if he missed.”

“Well, he might have been paid to miss. Thing is, I don’t have much time, and I want to track him down.”

“You’re out of your mind. He’ll chew you up.”

“You have an address?”

“I can give you a couple of hangouts. Fisher, seriously, Borg’ll have you for lunch.”

“Hope the food’s better than here.”

* * *

Rostislav had been a duke of Moravia in the ninth century, but why he had given his name to a social club in Brooklyn was unknown, even to Grinberg. Nor had the FBI special agent supplied Fisher with much information about the club itself, except for the obvious.

Then again, Fisher would have gone in through the kitchen anyway, especially when he saw the only thing between him and the open doorway was a barbed-wire fence. He scaled it, flashed a laser pointer at the video surveillance camera to blind it, and then walked in, nodding at a man in checked chef pants who was sipping a drink near the burners. A kid with some kitchen garbage and a large knife turned near the door but froze as soon as he caught sight of Fisher’s Bureau ID, which he was holding out in his hand.

That, or the pistol in his other hand.

The kitchen opened into a dining room on the left and a hallway to the right. Fisher went to the right, pushing open the second door on the left and entering the bar. There he found himself eye to eye with a six-foot-six bartender who had a blackjack in his left hand.

“Magnum,” said Fisher, holding the.44 Ruger under the man’s nose. “I’m just here to talk.”

The bartender said something in Russian regarding Fisher’s ancestry.

“Actually, I was adopted,” said Fisher. “Borg, I need a word.”

A dozen eyes in the dimly lit room were blinking at him. For a second Fisher feared his Hollywood entrance had been totally wasted on a collection of Mob honchos.

Da.Who the fuck are you?”

“Guy you tried to kill.” Fisher stepped past the bartender, his pistol still aimed at the man’s head. That probably didn’t bother Borg much, but the hit man wouldn’t kill Fisher without giving him a chance to clear up the slur on his reputation.

Then, of course, he’d kill him.

“No one I try to kill lives,” said Borg. He was short, five six or eight at the most, and looked more like an out-of-work accountant than a paid killer, undoubtedly one reason he was so successful.

Fisher pulled out the photo of his would-be assassin. “This son of a bitch wants me to think he’s you. He used one of your pseudonyms and a credit card from a job you did to rent a car. That’s the license plate. You can run down the paperwork yourself.”

Fisher slid the paper along the bar.

“There was another hit a few days back near D.C., not quite your style,” said Fisher. “I thought you might have some ideas about who did it.”


“For one thing, I think it was probably this asshole,” said Fisher. “And for another, I hear you’re a nice guy who always cooperates with federal agents.”

Borg snorted.

“Looked like an accident,” said Fisher. “Like a guy got out of a tub and slipped. But it was definitely a hit.”

“Don’t know him.”

“Dead man’s name was Bonham. Mean anything?”

“Nyet,”said Borg.

“Accident thing remind you of anybody?”

Borg shook his head.

“Well, all right,” said Fisher. “I’d like to stay for lunch, but I have to get going.”

As Fisher was talking, the bartender had started sidestepping toward the end of the bar. He was now about two feet from the door.

“You know, the thing that pisses me off is the paperwork involved if I shoot this thing,” said Fisher leveling the pistol. “I mean, I shoot one bullet, I empty the gun, just about the same amount of work. I shoot you or I shoot everybody, I still have to fill out a fistful of paper. Kind of pisses me off, you know what I’m talking about? At least the bullets make nice big holes.”

The bartender stopped. Fisher pushed up the panel at the far end and walked toward the door at the front of the room that led to the street.

“You decide you know who that is, let me know. My number’s on the paper,” he said. “Thanks are not necessary.”

Chapter 3

Within two hours of their conversation, Jemma Gorman had managed to tug her connections hard enough to get a terse directive sent directly to Howe, designated for his eyes only: COOPERATE w/TSK GP.

It was signed by the head of the Air Force.

Was Gorman just protecting her turf? Or something else?

Bonham’s death, Megan, Gorman pulling strings…Who could Howe trust?

Himself. Timmy.


Not necessarily, but maybe.

Not Gorman, certainly.


Maybe McIntyre. Although it might be possible that the shoot-down and rescue had all been set up.

It was a snake maze, one question suggesting a dozen others.

Howe tried to push away the questions and doubts, concentrating on planning the mission. With the tests now roughly twenty-four hours away, he presided over a briefing session to go over the basic layout of his plan with Gorman and her team leaders. The main furniture in his borrowed office consisted of a pair of desks that seemed to date from the discovery of aluminum as a workable metal; he pushed them together as a crude map table and had the others crowd around while he outlined his skeletal game plan. Gorman, flanked by two stone-faced intelligence officers, stared at the map impassively, listening as he went over the main points of the mission.

One thing he had to give Gorman: She had serious resources at her beck and call. All of the assets she’d amassed for the surveillance around Russia were available for the mission. That meant not only a radar plane and a full squadron of F-15s but three air tankers and assorted support personnel. She also had Army Special Forces units ready for any contingency.

Definitely a first-team operation, though whether it was on his side or not was an open question.

They set up the mission carefully. The RC-135 and F/A-22Vs, along with any support craft detailed to them, would be part of the overall test operation, though their actual role was “covered” by a story that they were conducting tests of the F/A-22V radar systems in conjunction with the missile firings, not looking for lasers. The cover was unlikely to fool anyone who knew much about the aircraft, or what was going on, but given the fact that Cyclops One had not even been officially “found” in China yet — or Canada, for that matter — it would at least give a spokesman something to tell the press if asked.

In summary, the plan was extremely simple: The RC-135 with its monitoring gear would fly a figure-eight pattern around an arc at the northwest side of the test area, which Howe had concluded would be the most likely place for a laser plane to fly, given the location of the Navy ships launching the cruise missile targets and monitoring the tests. Gorman’s two telemetry gathering aircraft would also be airborne, positioned to cover a northern approach to the test site.

“I want a Special Forces strike team in the air with you, ready to follow the aircraft,” said Gorman when he finished going through the highlights. “The laser plane has to land somewhere. We take it as soon as it lands.”

“What if it goes back to Russia? Or China?”

“Then we’ll take it there.”

“It’s not going to be in Russia. Or China.”

Howe looked up from the table. Andy Fisher had arrived and was standing at the door with one of Gorman’s security policemen, looking as if he’d just wet his pants.

“Tell my buddy here he’s not getting detention, Jemma,” said Fisher.

Gorman nodded and the man retreated.

“You don’t have to worry about Russia or China,” said Fisher, coming over to the map.

“So where should we be?” Gorman asked sarcastically.

“Jeez, Jemma, you want me to do everything for you? Hey, Colonel,” Fisher said to Howe. “Sorry I couldn’t answer your phone calls — I was too busy getting shot at. Crimped my schedule.”

“Another satisfied ex-lover,” said Gorman, “or just someone who objected to you smoking?”

“Act still needs some polish, Jemma, but you’re getting there.”

Fisher bent over the map, putting his nose so close to the paper he could have sniffed it. He studied it for a long time, then looked up. “That dotted line there is you?” he asked Howe.


“Long flight, no?”

“It is,” said Howe.

Fisher snapped back up straight so fast, Howe thought he’d get a nosebleed.

“You’re going to fly around out there the whole time?” Fisher asked.

“Pretty much.”

Without saying anything else, the FBI agent left the room.

* * *

Of the many human activities Fisher did not fully comprehend, the insertion of polished steel into cork surely rated among the most mysterious. The preliminaries themselves were relatively transparent: One wound up the body with appropriate consumption of alcohol. But the unleashing of the steel — what was this, some primitive throwback to prehistoric hunting?

As a trained detective, Fisher knew only one way to discover the secret of this arcane art: He went to the dart line in the base club and asked one of the participants to explain.



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