Chapter 33 of Silent Vector

Chapter 33, in which the other side of the Iron Curtain checks in

CHAPTER 33

ONE STEP BEHIND

Nick Temple sits in a small room on the third floor of Government House in Charlotte Amalie. After several tries, he manages to raise the Director back at Langley.

“Jesus, this is a bad connection.”

“One more reason we should set up shop down here. The Government House comms center isn’t exactly state of the art.”

“It’ll have to do for now.”

“I got your message, sir. What’s going on?”

The Director pauses on the other end before continuing.

“Nick, you remember Cliff Thompson?”

“Absolutely. He was Vanessa’s first point of contact. Went missing about a year ago. Thought the I.R.S. was closing in on him. Crazy as a loon.”

“Crazy and good. As it turns out, he’s living in East Germany these days. Up north in Rostock.”

“I’ll be damned. Not a bad choice if you’re worried about the I.R.S. Otherwise, I hear they can be a little rough on American spies.”

“I hear the same thing. He sent an encrypted cable using dated code to Langley. I don’t know how he’s living over there, but I’ve got to hand it to him.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised. He’s definitely a survivor. What did the cable say?”

“More experiments. Just like Voi, only this time in Leipzig. Says he may have a line on similar activity in Warsaw and Prague.”

“Sounds like they’re opening up an entire front.”

“I agree. If there’s a lab in Eastern Europe, then it’s completely off our radar. If the only one is down your way, then we have a shot at this thing. But if there are three or four more, we’re up a serious creek.”

“What’s Bill think?”

“His gut tells him it’s all from one source.”

“Any chance of pulling Thompson in?”

“None. We don’t even know how to initiate contact with him at this point. Bill’s got Arnie Miller working it.”

“Arnie’ll sniff it out, but we’ve got to be careful. If the Sovs know we’re onto them they’ll shift assets, reloc production facilities, or even go operational.”

“As usual, no margin for error.”

“SOP.”

“Keep your head down. Your team absolutely can’t be detected. The way I see it, we can’t move until we’re either sure we have all the labs or the Sovs force our hand.”

“I agree. Anything else on your end?”

“That’s it. Back to work. Out here.”

Nick hangs up. He’s spent most of his adult life moving in and out of the shadows. Avoiding detection has been a matter of survival, but this time around the odds are stacked against him. The simple fact of the matter is that there just aren’t that many people on St. Thomas. Of the less than 20,000 people living on the island in August of 1962, one tried to kill him less than a month ago, and another spent several hours torturing him four years ago. Neither is likely to forget the face of a man who is the poster child for everything they despise. In spite of his reassurances to the Director, Nick knows that anonymity is already most likely out of reach.