THE FOURTH DAY
MONDAY， 6 DECEMBER
Ryan walked down the corridor on the top floor of the Langley， Virginia， headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. He had already passed through three separate security checks， none of which had required him to open his locked briefcase， now draped under the folds of his buff-colored toggle coat， a gift from an officer in the Royal Navy.
What he had on was mostly his wife's fault， an expensive suit bought on Savile Row. It was English cut， neither conservative nor on the leading edge of contemporary fashion. He had a number of suits like this arranged neatly in his closet by colors， which he wore with white shirts and striped ties. His only jewelry was a wedding band and a university ring， plus an expensive but accurate digital watch on a more expensive gold band. Ryan was not a man who placed a great deal of value in appearances. Indeed， his job was to see through these in the search for hard truth.
He was physically unremarkable， an inch over six feet， and his average build suffered a little at the waist from a lack of exercise enforced by the miserable English weather. His blue eyes had a deceptively vacant look； he was often lost in thought， his face on autopilot as his mind puzzled through data or research material for his current book. The only people Ryan needed to impress were those who knew him； he cared little for the rest. He had no ambition to celebrity. His life， he judged， was already as complicated as it needed to be - quite a bit more complicated than most would guess. It included a wife he loved and two children he doted on， a job that tested his intellect， and sufficient financial independence to choose his own path. The path Jack Ryan had chosen was in the CIA. The agency's official motto was， The truth shall make you free. The trick， he told himself at least once a day， was finding that truth， and while he doubted that he would ever reach this sublime state of grace， he took quiet pride in his ability to pick at it， one small fragment at a time.
The office of the deputy director for intelligence occupied a whole corner of the top floor， overlooking the tree-covered Potomac Valley. Ryan had one more security check to pass.
“Good morning， Dr. Ryan.”
“Hi， Nancy.” Ryan smiled at her. Nancy Cummings had held her secretarial job for twenty years， had served eight DDIs， and if the truth were known she probably had as good a feel for the intelligence business as die political appointees in the adjacent office. It was the same as with any large business - the bosses came and went， but the good executive secretaries lasted forever.
“How's the family， Doctor？ Looking forward to Christmas？”
“You bet - except my Sally's a little worried. She's not sure Santa knows that we've moved， and she's afraid he won't make it to England for her. He will，” Ryan confided.
“It's so nice when they're that little.” She pressed a hidden button. “You can go right in， Dr. Ryan.”
“Thanks， Nancy.” Ryan twisted the electronically protected knob and walked into the DDI's office.
Vice Admiral James Greer was reclining in his high-backed judge's chair reading through a folder. His oversized mahogany desk was covered with neat piles of folders whose edges were bordered with red tape and whose covers bore various code words.
“Hiya， Jack！” he called across the room. “Coffee？”
“Yes， thank you， sir.”
James Greer was sixty-six， a naval officer past retirement age who kept working through brute competence， much as Hyman Rickover had， though Greer was a far easier man to work for. He was a “mustang，” a man who had entered the naval service as an enlisted man， earned his way into the Naval Academy， and spent forty years working his way to a three-star flag， first commanding submarines， then as a full-time intelligence specialist. Greer was a demanding boss， but one who took care of those who pleased him. Ryan was one of these.
Somewhat to Nancy's chagrin， Greer liked to make his own coffee with a West Bend drip machine on the credenza behind his desk， where he could just turn around to reach it. Ryan poured himself a cup - actually a navy-style handleless mug. It was traditional navy coffee， brewed strong， with a pinch of salt.
“You hungry， Jack？” Greer pulled a pastry box from a desk drawer. “I got some sticky buns here.”
“Why， thanks， sir. I didn't eat much on the plane.” Ryan took one， along with a paper napkin.
“Still don't like to fly？” Greer was amused.
Ryan sat down in the chair opposite his boss. “I suppose I ought to be getting used to it. I like the Concorde better than the wide-bodies. You only have to be terrified half as long.”
“How's the family？”
“Fine， thank you， sir. Sally's in first grade - loves it. And little Jack is toddling around the house. These buns are pretty good.”
“New bakery just opened up a few blocks from my place. I pass it on the way in every morning.” The admiral sat upright in his chair. “So， what brings you over today？”
“Photographs of the new Soviet missile boat， Red October，” Ryan said casually between sips.
“Oh， and what do our British cousins want in return？” Greer asked suspiciously.
“They want a peek at Barry Somers' new enhancement gadgets. Not the machines themselves - at first - just the finished product. I think it's a fair bargain， sir.” Ryan knew the CIA didn't have any shots of the new sub. The operations directorate did not have a man at the building yard at Severodvinsk or a reliable man at the Polyarnyy submarine base. Worse， the rows of “boat barns” built to shelter the missile submarines， modeled on World War II German submarine pens， made satellite photography impossible. “We have ten frames， low obliques， five each bow and stem， and one from each perspective is undeveloped so that Somers can work on them fresh. We are not committed， sir， but I told Sir Basil that you'd think it over.”
The admiral grunted. Sir Basil Charleston， chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service， was a master of the quid pro quo， occasionally offering to share sources with his wealthier cousins and a month later asking for something in return. The intelligence game was often like a primitive marketplace. “To use die new system， Jack， we need the camera used to take the shots.”
“I know.” Ryan pulled the camera from his coat pocket. “It's a modified Kodak disk camera. Sir Basil says it's the coining thing in spy cameras， nice and flat. This one， he says， was hidden in a tobacco pouch.”
“How did you know that - that we need the camera？”
“You mean how Somers uses lasers to - ”
“Ryan！” Greer snapped. “How much do you know？”
“Relax， sir. Remember back in February， I was over to discuss those new SS-20 sites on the Chinese border？ Somers was here， and you asked me to drive him out to the airport. On the way out he started babbling about this great new idea he was heading west to work on. He talked about it all the way to Dulles. From what little I understood， I gather that he shoots laser beams through the camera lenses to make a mathematical model of the lens. From that， I suppose， he can take the exposed negative， break down the image into the - original incoming light beams， I guess， then use a computer to run that through a computer-generated theoretical lens to make a perfect picture. I probably have it wrong.” Ryan could tell from Greer's face that he didn't.
“Somers talks too goddamned much.”
“I told him that， sir. But once the guy gets started， how the hell do you shut him up？”
“And what do the Brits know？” Greer asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine， sir. Sir Basil asked me about it， and I told him that he was asking the wrong guy - I mean， my degrees are in economics and history， not physics. I told him we needed the camera - but he already knew that. Took it right out of his desk and tossed it to me. I did not reveal a thing about this， sir.”
“I wonder how many other people he spilled to. Geniuses！ They operate in their own crazy little worlds. Somers is like a little kid sometimes. And you know the First Rule of Security： The likelihood of a secret's being blown is proportional to the square of the number of people who're in on it.” It was Greer's favorite dictum.
His phone buzzed. “Greer…… Right.” He hung up. “Charlie Davenport's on the way up， per your suggestion， Jack. Supposed to be here half an hour ago. Must be the snow.” The admiral jerked a hand towards the window. There were two inches on the ground， with another inch expected by nightfall. “One flake hits this town and everything goes to hell.”
Ryan laughed. That was something Greer， a down-easier from Maine， never could seem to understand.
“So， Jack， you say this is worth the price？”
“Sir， we've wanted these pictures for some time， what with all the contradictory data we've been getting on the sub. It's your decision and the judge's but， yes， I think they're worth the price. These shots are very interesting.”
“We ought to have our own men in that damned yard，” Greer grumped. Ryan didn't know how Operations had screwed that one up. He had little interest in field operations. Ryan was an analyst. How the data came to his desk was not his concern， and he was careful to avoid finding out. “I don't suppose Basil told you anything about their man？”
Ryan smiled， shaking his head. “No， sir， and I did not ask.” Greer nodded his approval.
Ryan turned to see Rear Admiral Charles Davenport， director of naval intelligence， with a captain trailing in his wake.
“Hi， Charlie. You know Jack Ryan， don't you？”
“We've met，” Ryan said.
“This is Captain Casimir.”
Ryan shook hands with both men. He'd met Davenport a few years before while delivering a paper at the Naval War College in Newport， Rhode Island. Davenport had given him a hard time in the question-and-answer session. He was supposed to be a bastard to work for， a former aviator who had lost flight status after a barrier crash and， some said， still bore a grudge. Against whom？ Nobody really knew.
“Weather in England must be as bad as here， Ryan.” Davenport dropped his bridge coat on top of Ryan's. “I see you stole a Royal Navy overcoat.”
Ryan was fond of his toggle coat. “A gift， sir， and quite warm.”
“Christ， you even talk like a Brit. James， we gotta bring this boy home.”
“Be nice to him， Charlie. He's got a present for you. Grab yourself some coffee.”
Casimir scurried over to fill a mug for his boss， then sat down at his right hand. Ryan let them wait a moment before opening his briefcase. He took out four folders， keeping one and handing the others around.
“They say you've been doing some fairly good work， Ryan，” Davenport said. Jack knew him to be a mercurial man， affable one moment， brittle the next. Probably to keep his subordinates off balance. “And - Jesus Christ！” Davenport had opened his folder.
“Gentlemen， I give you Red October， courtesy of the British Secret Intelligence Service，” Ryan said formally.
The folders had the photographs arranged in pairs， four each of four-by-four prints. In the back were ten-by-ten blowups of each. The photos had been taken from a low-oblique angle， probably from the rim of the graving dock that had held the boat during her post-shakedown refit. The shots were paired， fore and aft， fore and aft.
“Gentlemen， as you can see， the lighting wasn't all that great. Nothing fancy here. It was a pocket camera loaded with 400-speed color film. The first pair was processed normally to establish high levels. The second was pushed for greater brightness using normal procedures. The third pair was digitally enhanced for color resolution， and the fourth was digitally enhanced for line resolution. I have undeveloped frames of each view for Barry Somers to play with.”
“Oh？” Davenport looked up briefly. “That's right neighborly of the Brits. What's the price？” Greer told him. “Pay up. It's worth it.”
“That's what Jack says.”
“Figures，” Davenport chuckled. “You know he really is working for them.”
Ryan bristled at that. He liked the English， liked working with their intelligence community， but he knew what country he came from. Jack took a deep breath. Davenport liked to goad people， and if he reacted Davenport would win.
“I gather that Sir John Ryan is still well connected on the other side of the ocean？” Davenport said， extending the prod.
Ryan's knighthood was an honorary one. It was his reward for having broken up a terrorist incident that had erupted around him in St. James's Park， London. He'd been a tourist at the time， the innocent American abroad， long before he'd been asked to join the CIA. The fact that he had unknowingly prevented the assassination of two very prominent figures had gotten him more publicity than he'd ever wanted， but it had also brought him in contact with a lot of people in England， most of them worth the time. Those connections had made him valuable enough that the CIA asked him to be part of a joint American-British liaison group. That was how he had established a good working relationship with Sir Basil Charleston.
“We have lots of friends over there， sir， and some of them were kind enough to give you these，” Ryan said coolly.
Davenport softened. “Okay， Jack， then you do me a favor. You see whoever gave us these gets something nice in his stocking. They're worth plenty. So， exactly what do we have here？”
To the unschooled observer， the photographs showed the standard nuclear missile submarine. The steel hull was blunt at one end， tapered at the other. The workmen standing on the floor of the dock provided scale - she was huge. There were twin bronze propellers at the stern， on either side of a flat appendage which the Russians called a beaver tail， or so the intelligence reports said. With the twin screws the stern was unremarkable except in one detail.
“What are these doors for？” Casimir asked.
“Hmm. She's a big bastard.” Davenport evidently hadn't heard. “Forty feet longer than we expected， by the look of her.”
“Forty-four， roughly.” Ryan didn't much like Davenport， but the man did know his stuff. “Somers can calibrate that for us. And more beam， two meters more than the other Typhoons.
She's an obvious development of the Typhoon class， but - “
“You're right， Captain，” Davenport interrupted. “What are those doors？”
“That's why I came over.” Ryan had wondered how long this would take. He'd caught onto them in the first five seconds. “I don't know， and neither do the Brits.”
The Red October had two doors at the bow and stem， each about two meters in diameter， though they were not quite circular. They had been closed when the photos were shot and only showed up well on the number four pair.
“Torpedo tubes？ No - four of them are inboard.” Greer reached into his drawer and came out with a magnifying glass. In an age of computer-enhanced imagery it struck Ryan as charmingly anachronistic.
“You're the sub driver， James，” Davenport observed.
“Twenty years ago， Charlie.” He'd made the switch from line officer to professional spook in the early sixties. Captain Casimir， Ryan noted， wore the wings of a naval aviator and had the good sense to remain quiet. He wasn't a “nuc.”
“Well， they can't be torpedo tubes. They have the normal four of them at the bow， inboard of these openings…… must be six or seven feet across. How about launch tubes for the new cruise missile they're developing？”
“That's what the Royal Navy thinks. I had a chance to talk it over with their intelligence chaps. But I don't buy it. Why put an anti-surface-ship weapon on a strategic platform？ We don't， and we deploy our boomers a lot further forward than they do. The doors are symmetrical through the boat's axis. You can't launch a missile out of the stern， sir. The openings barely clear the screws.”
“Toward sonar array，” Davenport said.
“Granted they could do that， if they trail one screw. But why two of them？” Ryan asked.
Davenport gave him a nasty look. “They love redundancies.”
“Two doors forward， two aft， I can buy cruise missile tubes. I can buy a towed array. But both sets of doors exactly the same size？” Ryan shook his head. “Too much of a coincidence. I think it's something new. That's what interrupted her construction for so long. They figured something new for her and spent the last two years rebuilding the Typhoon configuration to accommodate it. Note also that they added six more missiles for good measure.”
“Opinion，” Davenport observed.
“That's what I'm paid for.”
“Okay， Jack， what do you think it is？” Greer asked.
“Beats me， sir. I'm no engineer.”
Admiral Greer looked his guests over for a few seconds. He smiled and leaned back in his chair. “Gentlemen， we have what？ Ninety years of naval experience in this room， plus this young amateur.” He gestured at Ryan. “Okay， Jack， you've set us up for something. Why did you bring this over personally？”
“I want to show these to somebody.”
“Who？” Greer's head cocked suspiciously to one side.
“Skip Tyler. Any of you fellows know him？”
“I do，” Casimir nodded. “He was a year behind me at Annapolis. Didn't he get hurt or something？”
“Yeah，” Ryan said. “Lost his leg in an auto accident four years ago. He was up for command of the Los Angeles and a drunk driver clipped him. Now he teaches engineering at the Academy and does a lot of consulting work with Sea Systems Command - technical analysis， looking at their ship designs. He has a doctorate in engineering from MIT， and he knows how to think unconventionally.”
“How about his security clearance？” Greer asked.
“Top secret or better， sir， because of his Crystal City work.”
Davenport frowned. Tyler was not part of the intelligence community. “Is this the guy who did the evaluation of the new Kirov？”
Yes， sir， now that I think about it，“ Casimir said. ”Him and Saunders over at Sea Systems.“
“That was a nice piece of work. It's okay with me.”
“When do you want to see him？” Greer asked Ryan.
'Today， if it's all right with you， sir. I have to run over to Annapolis anyway， to get something from the house， and - well， do some quick Christmas shopping.“
“Oh？ A few dolls？” Davenport asked.
Ryan turned to look the admiral in the eye. “Yes， sir， as a matter of fact. My little girl wants a Skiing Barbie doll and some Jordache doll outfits. Didn't you ever play Santa， Admiral？”
Davenport saw that Ryan wasn't going to back off anymore. He wasn't a subordinate to be browbeaten. Ryan could always walk away. He tried a new tack. “Did they tell you over there that October sailed last Friday？”
“Oh？” They hadn't. Ryan was caught off guard. “I thought she wasn't scheduled to sail until this Friday.”
“So did we. Her skipper is Marko Ramius. You heard about him？”
“Only secondhand stuff. The Brits say he's pretty good.”
“Better than that，” Greer noted. “He's about the best sub driver they have， a real charger. We had a considerable file on him when I was at DIA. Who's bird-doggin' him for you， Charlie？”
“Bremerton was assigned to it. She was out of position doing some ELINT work when Ramius sailed， but she was ordered over. Her skipper's Bud Wilson. Remember his dad？”
Greer laughed out loud. “Red Wilson？ Now there was one spirited submarine driver！ His boy any good？”
“So they say. Ramius is about the best the Soviets have， but Wilson's got a 688 boat. By the end of the week， we'll be able to start a new book on Red October.” Davenport stood. “We gotta head back， James.” Casimir hurried to get the coats. “I can keep these？”
“I suppose， Charlie. Just don't go hanging them on the wall， even to throw darts at. And I guess you want to get moving， too， Jack？”
Greer lifted his phone. “Nancy， Dr. Ryan will need a car and a driver in fifteen minutes. Right.” He set the receiver down and waited for Davenport to leave. “No sense getting you killed out there in the snow. Besides， you'd probably drive on the wrong side of the road after a year in England. Skiing Barbie， Jack？”
“You had all boys， didn't you， sir？ Girls are different.” Ryan grinned. “You've never met my little Sally.”
“Yep. God help whoever marries her. Can I leave these photographs with Tyler？”
“I hope you're right about him， son. Yes， he can hold onto them - if and only if he has a good place to keep them.”
“When you get back - probably be late， the way the roads are. You're staying at the Marriott？”
Greer thought that over. “I'll probably be working late. Stop by here before you bed down. I may want to go over a few things with you.”
“Will do， sir. Thanks for the car.” Ryan stood.
“Go buy your dolls， son.”
Greer watched him leave. He liked Ryan. The boy was not afraid to speak his mind. Part of that came from having money and being married to more money. It was a sort of independence that had advantages. Ryan could not be bought， bribed， or bullied. He could always go back to writing history books full time. Ryan had made money on his own in four years as a stockbroker， betting his own money on high-risk issues and scoring big before leaving it all behind - because， he said， he hadn't wanted to press his luck. Greer didn't believe that. He thought Jack had been bored - bored with making money. He shook his head. The talent that had enabled him to pick winning stocks Ryan now applied to the CIA. He was rapidly becoming one of Greer's star analysts， and his British connections made him doubly valuable. Ryan had the ability to sort through a pile of data and come out with the three or four facts that meant something. This was too rare a thing at the CIA. The agency still spent too much of its money collecting data， Greer thought， and hot enough collating it. Analysts had none of the supposed glamour - a Hollywood-generated illusion - of a secret agent in a foreign land. But Jack knew how to analyze reports from such men and data from technical sources. He knew how to make a decision and was not afraid to say what he thought， whether his bosses liked it or not. This sometimes grated the old admiral， but on the whole he liked having subordinates whom he could respect. The CIA had too many people whose only skill was kissing ass.
The U.S. Naval Academy
The loss of his left leg above the knee had not taken away Oliver Wendell Tyler's roguish good looks or his zest for life. His wife could testify to this. Since leaving the active service four years before， they had added three children to the two they already had and were working on a sixth. Ryan found him sitting at a desk in an empty classroom in Rickover Hall， the U.S. Naval Academy's science and engineering building. He was grading papers.
“How's it goin'， Skip？” Ryan leaned against the door frame. His CIA driver was in the hall.
“Hey， Jack！ I thought you were in England.” Tyler jumped to his foot - his own phrase - and hobbled over to grab Ryan's hand. His prosthetic leg ended in a square， rubber-coated band instead of a pseudo-foot. It flexed at the knee， but not by much. Tyler had been a second-squad All American offensive tackle sixteen years before， and the rest of his body was as hard as the aluminum and fiberglass in his left leg. His handshake could make a gorilla wince. “So， what are you doing here？”
“I had to fly over to get some work done and do a little shopping. How's Jean and your…… five？”
“Five and two-thirds.”
“Again？ Jean ought to have you fixed.”
“That's what she said， but I've had enough things disconnected.” Tyler laughed. “I guess I'm making up for all those monastic years as a nuc. Come on over and grab a chair.”
Ryan sat on the corner of the desk and opened his briefcase. He handed Tyler a folder.
“Got some pictures I want you to look at.”
“Okay.” Tyler flipped it open. “Whose - a Russian！ Big bastard. That's the basic Typhoon configuration. Lots of modifications， though. Twenty-six missiles instead of twenty. Looks longer. Hull's flattened out some， too. More beam？”
“Two or three meters' worth.”
“I heard you were working with the CIA. Can't talk about that， right？”
“Something like that. And you never saw these pictures， Skip. Understood？”
“Right.” Tyler's eyes twinkled. “What do you want me not to look at them for？”
Ryan pulled the blowups from the back of the folder. “These doors， bow and stern.”
“Uh-huh.” Tyler set them down side by side. “Pretty big. They're two meters or so， paired fore and aft. They look symmetrical through the long axis. Not cruise missile tubes， eh？”
“On a boomer？ You put something like that on a strategic missile sub？”
“The Russkies are a funny bunch， Jack， and they design things their own way. This is the same bunch that built the Kirov class with a nuclear reactor and an oil-fired steam plant. Hmm…… twin screws. The aft doors can't be for a sonar array. They'd foul the screws.”
“How 'bout if they trail one screw？”
“They do that with surface ships to conserve fuel， and sometimes with their attack boats. Operating a twin-screw missile boat on one wheel would probably be tricky on this baby. The Typhoon's supposed to have handling problems， and boats that handle funny tend to be sensitive to power settings. You end up jinking around so much that you have trouble holding course. You notice how the doors converge at the stern？”
“No， I didn't.”
Tyler looked up. “Damn！ I should have realized it right off the bat. It's a propulsion system. You shouldn't have caught me marking papers， Jack. It turns your brain to Jell-O.”
“We looked at this - oh， must have been twenty some years ago - when I was going to school here. We didn't do anything with it， though. It's too inefficient.”
“Okay， tell me about it.”
“They called it a tunnel drive. You know how out West they have lots of hydroelectric power plants？ Mostly dams. The water spills onto wheels that turn generators. Now there's a few new ones that kind of turn that around. They tap into underground rivers， and the water turns impellers， and they turn the generators instead of a modified mill wheel. An impeller is like a propeller， except the water drives it instead of the other way around. There's some minor technical differences， too， but nothing major. Okay so far？
“With this design， you turn that around. You suck water in the bow and your impellers eject it out the stern， and that moves the ship.” Tyler paused， frowning. “As I recall you have to have more than one per tunnel. They looked at this back in the early sixties and got to the model stage before dropping it. One of the things they discovered is that one impeller doesn't work as well as several. Some sort of back pressure thing. It was a new principle， something unexpected that cropped up. They ended up using four， I think， and it was supposed to look something like the compressor sets in a jet engine.”
“Why did we drop it？” Ryan was taking rapid notes.
“Mostly efficiency. You can only get so much water down the pipes no matter how powerful your motors are. And the drive system took up a lot of room. They partially beat that with a new kind of electric induction motor， I think， but even then you'd end up with a lot of extraneous machinery inside the hull. Subs don't have that much room to spare， even this monster. The top speed limit was supposed to be about ten knots， and that just wasn't good enough， even though it did virtually eliminate cavitation sounds.”
“When you have a propeller turning in the water at high speed， you develop an area of low pressure behind the trailing edge of the blade. This can cause water to vaporize. That creates a bunch of little bubbles. They can't last long under the water pressure， and when they collapse the water rushes forward to pound against the blades. That does three things. First， it makes noise， and us sub drivers hate noise. Second， it can cause vibration， something else we don't like. The old passenger liners， for example， used to flutter several inches at the stern， all from cavitation and slippage. It takes a hell of a lot of force to vibrate a 50，000-ton ship； that kind of force breaks things. Third， it tears up the screws. The big wheels only used to last a few years. That's why back in the old days the blades were bolted onto the hub instead of being cast in one piece. The vibration is mainly a surface ship problem， and the screw degradation was eventually conquered by improved metallurgical technology.
“Now， this tunnel drive system avoids the cavitation problem. You still have cavitation， but the noise from it is mainly lost in the tunnels. That makes good sense. The problem is that you can't generate much speed without making the tunnels too wide to be practical. While one team was working on this， another was working on improved screw designs. Your typical sub screw today is pretty large， so it can turn more slowly for a given speed. The slower the turning speed， the less cavitation you get. The problem is also mitigated by depth. A few hundred feet down， the higher water pressure retards bubble formation.”
“Then why don't the Soviets copy our screw designs？”
“Several reasons， probably. You design a screw for a specific hull and engine combination， so copying ours wouldn't automatically work for them. A lot of this work is still empirical， too. There's a lot of trial and error in this. It's a lot harder， say， than designing an airfoil， because the blade cross-section changes radically from one point to another. I suppose another reason is that their metallurgical technology isn't as good as ours - same reason that their jet and rocket engines are less efficient. These new designs place great value on high-strength alloys. It's a narrow specialty， and I only know the generalities.”
“Okay， you say that this is a silent propulsion system， and it has a top speed limit of ten knots？” Ryan wanted to be clear on this.
“Ballpark figure. I'd have to do some computer modeling to tighten that up. We probably still have the data laying around at the Taylor Laboratory.” Tyler referred to the Sea Systems Command design facility on the north side of the Severn River. “Probably still classified， and I'd have to take it with a big grain of salt.”
“All this work was done twenty years ago. They only got up to fifteen-foot models - pretty small for this sort of tiling. Remember that they had already stumbled across one new principle， that back-pressure thing. There might have been more out there. I expect they tried some computer models， but even if they did， mathematical modeling techniques back then were dirt-simple. To duplicate this today I'd have to have the old data and programs from Taylor， check it all over， then draft a new program based on this configuration.” He tapped the photographs. “Once that was done， I'd need access to a big league mainframe computer to run it.”
“But you could do it？”
“Sure. I'd need exact dimensions on this baby， but I've done this before for the bunch over at Crystal City. The hard part's getting the computer time. I need a big machine.”
“I can probably arrange access to ours.”
Tyler laughed. “Probably not good enough， Jack. This is specialized stuff. I'm talking about a Cray-2， one of the biggies. To do this you have to mathematically simulate the behaviour of millions of little parcels of water， the water flow over - and through， in this case - the whole hull. Same sort of thing NASA has to do with the Space Shuttle. The actual work is easy enough - it's the scale that's tough. They're simple calculations， but you have to make millions of them per second. That means a big Cray， and there's only a few of them around. NASA has one in Houston， I think. The navy has a few in Norfolk for ASW work - you can forget about those. The air force has one in the Pentagon， I think， and all the rest are in California.”
“But you could do it？”
“Okay， get to work on it， Skip， and I'll see if we can get you the computer time. How long？”
“Depending on how good the stuff at Taylor is， maybe a week. Maybe less.”
“How much do you want for it？”
“Aw， come on， Jack！” Tyler waved him off.
“Skip， it's Monday. You get us this data by Friday and there's twenty thousand dollars in it. You're worth it， and we want this data. Agreed？”
“Sold.” They shook hands. “Can I keep the pictures？”
“I can leave them if you have a secure place to keep them. Nobody gets to see them， Skip. Nobody.”
“There's a nice safe in the superintendent's office.”
“Fine， but he doesn't see them.” The superintendent was a former submariner.
“He won't like it，” Tyler said. “But okay.”
“Have him call Admiral Greer if he objects. This number.” Ryan handed him a card. “You can reach me here if you need me. If I'm not in， ask for the admiral.”
“Just how important is this？”
“Important enough. You're the first guy who's come up with a sensible explanation for these hatches. That's why I came here. If you can model this for us， it'll be damned useful. Skip， one more time： This is highly sensitive. If you let anybody see these， it's my ass.”
“Aye aye， Jack. Well， you've laid a deadline on me， I better get down to it. See you.” After shaking hands， Tyler took out a lined pad and started listing the things he had to do. Ryan left the building with his driver. He remembered a Toys-R-Us right up Route 2 from Annapolis， and he wanted to get that doll for Sally.
Ryan was back at the CIA by eight that evening. It was a quick trip past the security guards to Greer's office.
“Well， did you get your Surfing Barbie？” Greet looked up.
“Skiing Barbie，” Ryan corrected. “Yes， sir. Come on， didn't you ever play Santa？”
“They grew up too fast， Jack. Even my grandchildren are all past that stage.” He turned to get some coffee. Ryan wondered if he ever slept. “We have something more on Red October. The Russians seem to have a major ASW exercise running in the northeast Barents Sea. Half a dozen ASW search aircraft， a bunch of frigates， and an Alfa-class attack boat， all running around in circles.”
“Probably an acquisition exercise. Skip Tyler says those doors are for a new drive system.”
“Indeed.” Greer sat back. “Tell me about it.”
Ryan took out his notes and summarized his education in submarine technology. “Skip says he can generate a computer simulation of its effectiveness，” he concluded.
Greer's eyebrows went up. “How soon？”
“End of week， maybe. I told him if he had it done by Friday we'd pay him for it. Twenty thousand sound reasonable？”
“Will it mean anything？”
“If he gets the background data he needs， it ought to， sir. Skip's a very sharp cookie. I mean， they don't give doctorates away at MIT， and he was in the top five of his Academy class.”
“Worth twenty thousand dollars of our money？” Greer was notoriously tight with a buck.
Ryan knew how to answer this. “Sir， if we followed normal procedure on this， we'd contract one of the Beltway Bandits - ，” Ryan referred to the consulting firms that dotted the beltway around Washington， D.C.， “ - they'd charge us five or ten times as much， and we'd be lucky to have the data by Easter. This way we might just have it while the boat's still at sea. If worse comes to worst， sir， I'll foot the bill. I figured you'd want this data fast， and it's right up his alley.”
“You're right.” It wasn't the first time Ryan had short circuited normal procedure. The other times had worked out fairly well. Greer was a man who looked for results. “Okay， the Soviets have a new missile boat with a silent drive system. What does it all mean？”
“Nothing good. We depend on our ability to track their boomers with our attack boats. Hell， that's why they agreed a few years back to our proposal about keeping them five hundred miles from each other's coasts， and why they keep their missile subs in port most of the time. This could change the game a bit. By the way， October's hull， I haven't seen what it's made of.”
“Steel. She's too big for a titanium hull， at least for what it would cost. You know what they have to spend on their Alfas.”
'Too much for what they got. You spend that much money for a superstrong hull， then put a noisy power plant in it. Dumb.“
“Maybe. I wouldn't mind having that speed， though. Anyway， if this silent drive system really works， they might be able to creep up onto the continental shelf.”
“Depressed-trajectory shot，” Ryan said. This was one of the nastier nuclear war scenarios in which a sea-based missile was fired within a few hundred miles of its target. Washington is a bare hundred air miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Though a missile on a low， fast flight path loses much of its accuracy， a few of them can be launched to explode over Washington in less than a few minutes' time， too little for a president to react. If the Soviets were able to kill the president that quickly， the resulting disruption of the chain of command would give them ample time to take out the land-based missiles - there would be no one with authority to fire. This scenario is a grand-strategic version of a simple mugging， Ryan thought. A mugger doesn't attack his victim's arms - he goes for the head. “You think October was built with that in mind？”
“I'm sure the thought occurred to them，” Greer observed. “It would have occurred to us. Well， we have Bremerton up there to keep an eye on her， and if this data turns out to be useful we'll see if we can come up with an answer. How are you feeling？”
“I've been on the go since five-thirty London time. Long day， sir.”
“I expect so. Okay， we'll go over the Afghanistan business tomorrow morning. Get some sleep， son.”
“Aye， aye， sir.” Ryan got his coat. “Good night.” It was a fifteen-minute drive to the Marriott. Ryan made the mistake of turning the TV on to the beginning of Monday Night Football. Cincinnati was playing San Francisco， the two best quarterbacks in the league pitted against one another. Football was something he missed living in England， and he managed to stay awake nearly three hours before fading out with the television on.
Except for the fact that everyone was in uniform， a visitor might easily have mistaken the room for a NASA control center. There were six wide rows of consoles， each with its own TV screen and typewriter keyboard supplemented by lighted plastic buttons， dials， headphone jacks， and analog and digital controls. Senior Chief Oceanographic Technician Deke Franklin was seated at console fifteen.
The room was SOSUS （sonar surveillance system） Atlantic Control. It was in a fairly nondescript building， uninspired government layer cake， with windowless concrete walls， a large air-conditioning system on a flat roof， and an acronym-coded blue sign on a well-tended but now yellowed lawn. There were armed marines inconspicuously on guard inside the three entrances. In the basement were a pair of Cray-2 supercomputers tended by twenty acolytes， and behind the building was a trio of satellite ground stations， all up- and down-links. The men at the consoles and the computers were linked electronically by satellite and landline to the SOSUS system.
Throughout the oceans of the world， and especially astride the passages that Soviet submarines had to cross to reach the open sea， the United States and other NATO countries had deployed gangs of highly sensitive sonar receptors. The hundreds of SOSUS sensors received and forwarded an unimaginably vast amount of information， and to help the system operators classify and analyze it a whole new family of computers had to be designed， the supercomputers. SOSUS served its purpose admirably well. Very little could cross a barrier without being detected. Even the ultraquiet American and British attack submarines were generally picked up. The sensors， lying on the bottom of the sea， were periodically updated； many now had their own signal processors to presort the data they forwarded， lightening the load on the central computers and enabling more rapid and accurate classification of targets.
Chief Franklin's console received data from a string of sensors planted off the coast of Iceland. He was responsible for an area forty nautical miles across， and his sector overlapped the ones east and west so that， theoretically， three operators were constantly monitoring any segment of the barrier. If he got a contact， he would first notify his brother operators， then type a contact report into his computer terminal， which would in turn be displayed on the master control board in the control room at the back of the floor. The senior duty officer had the frequently exercised authority to prosecute a contact with a wide range of assets， from surface ships to antisubmarine aircraft. Two world wars had taught American and British officers the necessity of keeping their sea lines of communication - SLOCs - open.
Although this quiet， tomblike facility had never been shown to the public， and though it had none of the drama associated with military life， the men on duty here were among the most important in the service of their country. In a war， without them， whole nations might starve.
Franklin was leaning back in his swivel chair， puffing contemplatively on an old briar pipe. Around him the room was dead quiet. Even had it not been， his five-hundred-dollar headphones would have effectively sealed him off from the outside world. A twenty-six year chief， Franklin had served his entire career on destroyers and frigates. To him， submarines and submariners were the enemy， regardless of what flag they might fly or what uniform they might wear.
An eyebrow went up， and his nearly bald head cocked to one side. The pulls on the pipe grew irregular. His right hand reached forward to the control panel and switched off the signal processors so that he could get the sound without computerized interference. But it was no good. There was too much background noise. He switched the filters back on. Next he tried some changes in his azimuth controls. The SOSUS sensors were designed to give bearing checks through the selective use of individual receptors， which he could manipulate electronically， first getting one bearing， then using a neighboring gang to triangulate for a fix. The contact was very faint， but not too far from the line， he judged. Franklin queried his computer terminal. The USS Dallas was up there. Gotcha！ he said with a thin smile. Another noise came through， a low-frequency rumble that only lasted a few seconds before fading out. Not all that quiet， though. Why hadn't he heard it before switching the reception azimuth？ He set his pipe down and began making adjustments on his control board.
“Chief？” A voice came over his headphones. It was the senior duty officer.
“Can you come back to control？ I have something I want you to hear.”
“On the way， sir.” Franklin rose quietly. Commander Quentin was a former destroyer skipper on a limited duty after a winning battle with cancer. Almost a winning battle， Franklin corrected himself. Chemotherapy had killed the cancer - at the cost of nearly all his hair， and turning his skin into a sort of transparent parchment. Too bad， he thought， Quentin was a pretty good man.
The control room was elevated a few feet from the rest of the floor so that its occupants could see over the whole crew of duty operators and the main tactical display on the far wall. It was separated from the floor by glass， which allowed them to speak to one another without disturbing the operators. Franklin found Quentin at his command station， where he could tap into any console on the floor.
“Howdy， Commander.” Franklin noted that the officer was gaining some weight back. It was about time. “What do you have for me， sir？”
“On the Barents Sea net.” Quentin handed him a pair of phones. Franklin listened for several minutes， but he didn't sit down. Like many people he had a gut suspicion that cancer was contagious.
“Damned if they ain't pretty busy up there. I read a pair of Alfas， a Charlie， a Tango， and a few surface ships. What gives， sir？”
“There's a Delta there， too， but she just surfaced and killed her engines.”
“Yep. They were lashing her pretty hard with active sonar， then a 'can queried her on a gertrude.”
“Uh-huh. Acquisition game， and the sub lost.”
“Maybe. Quentin rubbed his eyes. The man looked tired. He was pushing himself too hard， and his stamina wasn't half what it should have been. ”But the Alfas are still pinging， and now they're headed west， as you heard.“
“Oh.” Franklin pondered that for a moment. “They're looking for another boat， then. The Typhoon that was supposed to have sailed the other day， maybe？”
“That's what I thought - except she headed west， and the exercise area is northeast of the fjord. We lost her the other day on SOSUS. Bremerton's up sniffing around for her now.”
“Cagey skipper，” Franklin decided. “Cut his plant all the way back and just drifting.”
“Yeah，” Quentin agreed. “I want you to move down to the North Cape barrier supervisory board and see if you can find her， Chief. She'll still have her reactor working， and she'll be making some noise. The operators we have on that sector are a little young. I'll take one and switch him to your board for a while.”
“Right， Skipper，” Franklin nodded. That part of the team was still green， used to working on ships. SOSUS required more finesse. Quentin didn't have to say that he expected Franklin to check in on the whole North Cape team's boards and maybe drop a few small lessons as he listened in on their channels.
“Did you pick up on Dallas？”
“Yes， sir. Real faint， but I think I got her crossing my sector， headed northwest for Toll Booth. If we get an Orion down there， we might just get her locked in. Can we rattle their cage a little？”
Quentin chuckled. He didn't much care for submarines either. “No， NIFTY DOLPHIN is over. Chief. We'll just log it and let the skipper know when he comes back home. Nice work， though. You know her reputation. We're not supposed to hear her at all.”
“That'll be the day！” Franklin snorted.
“Let me know what you find， Deke.”
“Aye aye， Skipper. You take care of yourself， hear？”