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«Disloyal Opposition», Warren Murphy и др.

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Destroyer 123: Disloyal Opposition

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

PROLOGUE

The explosion heard round the world came a full fifteen years before Boris Feyodov would become a whore. On that great day in January 1986, he gave no thought to betraying his country or the great socialist cause, nor to spreading his legs to the capitalist dogs of the hated West.

Indeed, when the Russian general saw the beautiful white cloud from the explosion on his small monitor, he was one of the few people on the face of the planet who realized the triumph it represented for the Soviet Union over the mewling, complacent Americans.

The grainy image of the blast was transmitted live via satellite to the many Japanese television screens that ringed the cramped control room buried beneath the frozen ground of the Sary Shagan Missile Test Center in Kazakhstan.

As the big white cloud expanded, shooting milky streamers into the blue sky, a cheer went up in the small room.

"Perfect!" exulted a white-coated scientist. The thick glasses Viktor Churlinski wore were at least twenty years out of date by Western standards. He eagerly adjusted the glasses on his blunt nose as he spun in his seat to face the standing general. "It went exactly as expected, comrade General," he boasted proudly.

Pieces of the test craft streaked toward the ocean. "Impressive." General Boris Feyodov nodded. Though it was warm in the small room, Feyodov still wore his heavy greatcoat. His huge peaked Red Army hat brushed the low ceiling as he leaned back from the console.

"It is more than impressive, comrade General," Dr. Churlinski insisted. "The curvature of the earth would make this impossible for most. Even the Americans cannot do this at the moment."

So excited was he, the scientist failed to notice the flicker of disdain on General Feyodov's harsh face.

"We have bounced the stream off the atmosphere itself," Viktor continued. "And to hit a moving target seven thousand miles away? It is-" he shrugged "-well, it is more than just impressive."

Viktor spun from the general to his team of scientists.

Men were slapping one another on the back. One had smuggled in two vodka bottles. Drinks were poured and congratulations filled the cramped room.

As the scientists celebrated their achievement, the ringing of the wall telephone went unnoticed to all but General Feyodov.

It was the hotline. There was no doubt that someone from Moscow was calling with congratulations. When the general answered the phone, he was surprised to recognize the voice on the other end. He began to offer a rare smile of satisfaction. But his face froze abruptly.

As he listened to the speaker, the color drained from the general's face.

"But, comrade-" he questioned.

The argument he was about to offer was cut off. With a final order, the line went dead.

When he hung up the phone, General Boris Feyodov seemed suddenly drained of life. The excitement in the bunker was such that no one noticed. Picking up the receiver once more, Feyodov dialed a number on the base. After a few hushed commands, he hung up the phone again.

No one in the bunker noticed the hard scowl that had settled on the fleshy face of the Red Army general.

The party went on for several minutes before the knock came from the hall. Slipping silently from the celebrants, Feyodov stepped over to the sealed metal door of the chamber. Pulling it open, he gave a sharp, angry hand gesture.

Only at the sound of marching boots did Viktor Churlinski and the rest look up. Their exultant faces fell.

Six Red Army soldiers had filed into the room, forming a line on the far side of the consoles near the door. Their youthful faces were etched in stone. And, to the horror of the gathered scientists, their rifles were raised.

A single vodka glass slipped from sweating fingers, smashing on the concrete floor.

Viktor's face held a look of horrified bewilderment. He shook his head in confusion as he turned to Feyodov.

"Comrade General?" he asked fearfully. General Feyodov did not answer the terrified scientist. He stood at attention beside his men, eyes locked on the far wall.

For an agonizing moment, no one said a word. The only sound in the tiny room was the frightened breathing of the huddled scientists. Finally, Feyodov lowered his gaze. With agonizing slowness, his eyes sought those of Viktor Churlinski. In the brown depths of his unflinching orbs, General Feyodov offered something close to an apology.

The general took a deep breath. The scientists watched expectantly. "Fire," ordered General Boris Feyodov. And chaos erupted in the room.

A bullet slapped Dr. Churlinski square in the forehead, burrowing deep into his brilliant brain. Bits of hair-mottled gray matter splattered onto the console behind him.

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