For All Nails #76: You Say "GrenAYda", I Say "GranAHda"
by David Mix Barrington
For a man who did not exist, Timothy Liddy was reasonably reconciled to his position. True, nonexistence did not have all the tax advantages of death, but it was equally effective in preventing him from being questioned about his tenure as the head of the Confederation's intelligence service. This had been a great disappointment both to his successor and to a number of Grand Council committees, but Liddy had work to do that would allow no interruptions.
Vincent Mercator was up to something. This was not unusual for the wily, mercurial dictator, but this project of his had earth-shaking implications. Stephen Urquell had been North America's best atomic scientist. The two men on "extended leave" from MIT were nearly as good. And all three had vanished from the notice of the world's scientific community. It had taken quite a bit of work to find out that all three were now in New Granada, of all places, in a newly constructed USM base near Ciudad Hermión, or Ciudad Camacho as the new government was calling it. A USM base, in a country whose current government was supposedly not even recognized by the USM.
But a nonexistent man was not without resources, none of them directly linkable to the CBI. He was in this port city as "Larry Gordon", a sort-of-Mexican arms dealer looking into the expanding New Granadan market. If it came to actually selling any arms, he could even come up with some, as he knew people who knew people who were (for some reason) unloading Kramer-made small arms at a deep discount. (And no one would be surprised at an aura of secrecy surrounding that sort of business.)
If he got any hard intelligence on Ciudad Camacho, there were ways of getting the word to Carter Monaghan, or at least close enough to him. He bore no grudges about the loss of his former job, as it was the price his boss had had to pay to stay in office. Thank God Monaghan and not Skinner was running things at the moment, though how long would that last? People talked about the margin of power among the PJP dissidents, but if he were Skinner he'd be looking for two potential turncoats among the PC Councilors, some of whom you wouldn't want to turn your back on even on national vitavision. But domestic political intel was now someone else's problem. His problem, he was increasingly sure, was in Ciudad Camacho.
- Aboard Private Yacht Jonquille, in harbor
- Saint George's, Grenada
- 16 March 1974
Astrid Bengtson Jackson was, for the moment, a woman at complete peace. She always treasured the first few minutes after making love, in some ways more than the act itself. When she was working a source, those minutes were supremely valuable -- most men were rather befuddled and had little idea what they were saying to their bedmate. But Felipe was different, had been different even that first time in the Virgin Islands. His brain seemed sharper right afterward, the usual flippancy of his "Phil" persona gone completely. It had been one reason she'd fallen in love with Felipe that first time last year, after seducing the USM spy Phil pursuant to her orders. They had gone from mutual targets to partners in a few minutes, both in the same state of intense relaxation, if you could call it that. Perhaps it was something like the deliberate trance states of the Asian mystics. At any rate, they were there again, and it was a good time for the serious conversation they needed.
"So we have a problem," she began.
"Yeah. I don't think we can get away with misinterpreting this order. Stay out of New Granada and Trinidad. I guess the first question is how badly you want to go there."
"It would be nice. I think we've got all we're going to get on New Granada's intentions for the moment. They're going into T&T in June,July at the latest."
"And you'd like to know what they'll find on the ground there."
"Right. The blacks will fight, but the RNG will take all the flat parts within a few days. Most of the trabajadores will wait and see FN1 but I'd like to know how many will be active collaborators. Also how much preparation the government's done for a resistance."
"Hum. The trickiest thing for the initial invasion is to avoid killing the Brits in the radiolocator station at Piarco, or the Tories doing signals intelligence at Icacos Point. But I know about both those places, so of course the New Granadans do too. Without help from the Brits the defense is pretty well screwed on most of Trinidad, but there's those mountains in the north to hole up in. Tobago they could hold out on for quite a while, given some outside supply." More or less what she had concluded, but it was nice to have the expert confirmation.
"That's sort of the point. I think F&F FN2 will want to help the T&T army prepare for a resistance, once they've seen my report. I don't think we'd want to get directly into the operations side with that, but they'll probably ask me to do some scouting on both islands."
"Which would mean violating my orders. Well, it had to come sometime, I suppose. There's only so long you can work for two employers at once when they don't like each other."
"Three, actually, don't forget F&F. They mostly want the same thing as Scandinavia--"
"Which is what, currently?"
"Protect the Virgin Islands, which means getting the Germans off of Boricua, which means helping the Brits and Tories at the moment. We don't like anybody on Boricua actually, but short of blowing up the place we're stuck being next to it."
"And F & F?"
"There's been some kind of reorganization with the big company. They're turning over most of the actual military stuff to Scandinavia and Taiwan, and beefing up F & F a lot. But the main idea's the same -- prevent any major war, most importantly any war with atomic weapons. That's meant building up Scandinavia as a middle force between the Brits and Germans, trying to help the poor goddamned Tories figure out what they're doing, and keeping a very close eye on the Mexicans."
"And what does Astrid want?"
"I want you. And to retire Anita, get off the pildora, find somewhere nice, and have kids."
Anita Garciaparra was a brown-eyed, brunette, Hispano party girl who would never be mistaken for the blue-eyed, tomboyish, fair, and emphatically blond Astrid. Over the past few weeks in the New Granadan military port of Cumana, Anita had befriended a number of high-ranking RNG officers, some of whom had subsequently carried small sound recorders into staff meetings without their knowledge. (You could detect a wireless overhearer, but a sound recorder gave off no emanations and could be recovered from a sleeping subject later. A pity Mesmerism didn't work like in the cinema -- it would be so much easier to have the source repeat back the whole meeting and then forget the whole thing. Well, we do what we can...)
"But if somewhere nice meant here or Barbados--"
"Right. Places we know, with good people, good weather, good government FN3, just perfect. Until there's a war in the Caribbean. And there's going to be a war."
"I am now. These guys are going to push, Felipe, until someone stops them. There's no way they'll stop with T&T. They'll go on with Cuba, the Dominicana, as far as they can until they run up against the Brits."
The RNG officers had not been such bad guys, actually, just very devoted to their chief's imperial dreams. Only three times so far in her career had she slept with a man and then concluded he needed killing. Not this time around, though, which was too bad in a way. Doing the job would have been good for Felipe's morale -- he'd been awfully understanding about how she'd been getting her information. And you could get a lot more information with drugs if you didn't have to worry about the subject being around afterward. But this was not a good time for any sudden deaths in Felipe's vicinity, not with the USM so suspicious...
"Or the Tories."
"Please. We're discussing armies here, not duck-kickers. The RNG has a real army, and so do the Brits. Each better than your people, man for man, as far as I can tell."
"Oh, yes. I've seen the cazadores in action, actually. I don't think I ever told you about that thing in Rio Negro in '66..."
"Ah, yes, back in the good old days when the Hermións wouldn't take a leak without orders from Mercator. Well, the RNG is under new management, and ready to kick some ass." She'd noticed that when talking intimately with Felipe she had picked up some of the USM military dialect he rigidly suppressed as "Phil".
"And I and my Scandie wife are supposed to stay out of their way. You know why that is?" Felipe had been conducting "quality control" analyses of the New Granadan forces -- the USM liked to know what aspects of friendly forces, or even their own forces, were apparent to skilled observers.
"Because for whatever reason, Mercator wants them to keep going for a while. And they don't trust you when it comes to me. Which brings up more questions. What does Mexico want? Or should I say what do Mercator, El Popo, and Felipe want?"
"I gave up trying to figure out the Mapmaker a long time ago. El Popo wants peace with the CNA so he can have trade and start to rein in the military. I want you, but if possible I'd like to continue being a good soldier at the same time."
"That's my duty, isn't it?" For a double or triple agent, Felipe had an unusual commitment to his personal honor. Endearing in its way, but...
"What was the exact wording of your commissioning oath again?"
"..to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of Mexico, and to follow the lawful orders of its President--"
"Who would be El Popo, right?"
"--and those officers lawfully placed in command by him. I know you have this idea that El Popo's going to assert control somehow at some point, FN4 but for now that last part means the Secretary of War and the CO of Army Intelligence."
"And you don't want to break with them yet."
"Not yet. Do you?"
"No, I don't think so. For one thing, they'll probably come gunning for you if you resign your commission, and I don't want to lose you. Also if we want to keep operating in the Caribbean, we need your contacts as much as mine. And I want to stay in the Caribbean, to do what we can."
"Oh, Felipe, it all depends. I am yours, and you are mine. We'll decide together. If it does get too hot here, we can always sail to the Med. FN5 I'll even consider farming in Manitoba, though I don't think you really understand what a northern climate is like. But we'll do it together. For now, I think you're right. We follow your orders, and head somewhere else. Any ideas?"
"Grenada will do for a week or two, I think. Then maybe Cuba? If you're right, we should find out what we can there before it's a warzone too."
Forward to FAN #77: Leebild Electronics, PLC.
Forward to 5 April 1974: More Really Boring Stuff.
Forward to New Granada: Henry the Bad.
Forward to Caribbean: Springtime for Ferdi and Elbittar.
(Return to For All Nails.)