Destroyer 123: Disloyal Opposition
By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir
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 The thick glasses Viktor Churlinski wore were at least twenty years out of date by Western standards.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.
The other men were shot in the chest and face. Those who tried to run were shot in the back. Flowers of crimson bloomed on white lab coats.
The metallic stink of blood flooded the underground bunker.
A stray bullet crackled into the face of a monitor, sending blue sparks and glass shards into the room. "Watch the equipment!" Feyodov growled as the last body sank to the floor.
Leaving the soldiers near the door, the general strode into the room.
Viktor Churlinski was sprawled back on a console, his glassy eyes staring ceilingward. Feyodov dragged the dead man by the collar, dumping him to the cold floor. Stepping over the corpse, the general inspected the shattered monitor.
The damage was superficial. It would not have affected the primary systems. Seeing that everything else had survived intact, he ordered the soldiers from the room.
As the men marched back through the door, Feyodov crossed the room. He would shut off the power from outside.
Before closing the door on the grisly scene, Feyodov cast one last look around the bunker.
The bodies of Viktor and the others were a minor distraction. His dark eyes were drawn to the computer consoles. The image of the explosion he had helped cause was being replayed by the American news services on several of the monitors.
The world would forever after call the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger an accident. General Boris Vanovich Feyodov knew otherwise.
With a hard tug, Feyodov closed the heavy iron door.
He would not open it again for another decade.
The socialism that governed Barkley, California, was the cute Western variety where the windows of all the organic bakeries and herbal garden shops were always full and everyone kept their lawns trimmed to a city-council-mandated one and onequarter inches year-round. If it was true that every ridiculous fad to sweep America first began in California, those same fads had first been born on the politically correct streets of the college town of Barkley.
Barkley was the undisputed Mecca for the counterculture, both old and new. On the carefully swept sidewalks of its tidy tree-lined streets, hippies could still be found in all their tie-dyed, potbellied splendor. Aging beatniks prowled the byways in black turtlenecks, bongos tucked under arms. Youths pierced and tattooed represented the new avantgarde.
Couples in bell-bottoms berated neighbors for destroying the planet with Huggies while earnestly washing the cloth diapers of their lone "experience" child under the spray of the front-lawn sprinklers. Men who thought the internal-combustion engine represented the single greatest threat to the world pedaled rusting ten-speed Schwinns to work. Women with filthy bare feet and furry legs lashed themselves to trees that had a date with the chain saw.
The main streets of Barkley were potholed obstacle courses. Someone had noticed a few round rocks at the bottom of one of the holes and instantly declared that they were cobblestones from the days Spain ruled California. In an act of misguided historical preservation, the holes were left to widen. After scented candles and hemp underwear, shock absorbers were one of the best-selling items in town.