Chapter 24 of Silent Vector

Chapter 24, in which the Soviets make a move into the American paradise

CHAPTER 24

HELP UNWANTED

A de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter lands gracefully on the brilliant blue and green water in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. It taxis on its floats toward the seaplane base west of downtown. Its floats are equipped with wheels for amphibious use allowing the aircraft to seamlessly climb the concrete pad leading out of the harbor to the base.

The Otter comes to a complete stop on level concrete shortly after leaving the water. As the pilot cuts the engine an attendant hustles to the aircraft, chocks the wheels, and opens the fuselage door aft of the seaplane’s overhead wing. Unfolding his considerable frame as he extracts himself from the cramped compartment, the aircraft’s lone passenger steps into the midday heat of St. Thomas in August. The passenger looks displeased, the result of a permanent scowl etched by a bullet during a wild chase through the streets of Berlin four years ago. The attendant cautiously approaches the malevolent looking passenger with a single piece of luggage.

“What are you doing with that?” the passenger bellows as he rips the bag from the attendant’s hand.

The passenger chuckles mildly to himself as the attendant scurries away. He removes his aviator sunglasses and wipes his brow with his handkerchief. He checks his watch and puts his sunglasses back on just as a late model hardtop Toyota Land Cruiser pulls up and comes to a skidding stop inches from him.

The driver opens the passenger door from the inside, jumps out of the car, grabs the passenger’s suitcase and tosses it in the back of the Land Cruiser. By the time he’s back in the driver’s seat, the passenger has already seated himself and closed his door.

“You’re late. Why do you wait? Drive!” he commands.

“Of course.”

And with that, Nikolai Gregorovich Kropotkin, the man whose malignant heart bears more hatred for Nick Temple than for any other man on the planet, extends the growing reach of the Soviet Union deep into the American Paradise.