Russians had been mistrusting and spying on each other for centuries, long
before the abdication of the czar in March 1917 and the subsequent seizure of
power by Lenin in November. Largely as a result of this kind of tradition, their
officials worried about anything they couldnt predict. They worried especially
about behavior by their subordinates that they couldnt explain to their
superiors. Hence, all the way down the lines of command, the overriding formula
for survival came to be: follow orders, dont ask questions, never volunteer,
and always behave predictably. One consequence was the stifling of innovation
and creativity. Another was that they neverwell, hardly everdeviated
from precedent. The operations analysts in Bernard Foledas covert section
of the UDIA had established from records of previous tours of Valentina Tereshkova
that the schedule, the route, and the procedures followed were always the same.
This fact had been of great help in drawing up the mission plan.
As the party of a hundred or so visitors assembled from the elevators in the
main central concourse at ground level, the guides divided it into a number
of special-interest groups according to preferences which had been indicated
in advance. Thus, all the visitors would be able to see what they wanted to
without being wearied by overload and without taxing any one location unduly.
Furthermore, in a way that was uncharacteristically flexible for Russians, people
were allowed to change their minds and switch groups at the last moment. Invariably
some did. On this particular tour it was certain that quite a few would, because
they had been asked to. They didnt have to know why.
Hence, for a while the compositions and sizes of the various groups would be
uncertain. The Russians could have kept track precisely if they wanted to, of
course, but not without subjecting the visitors to a lot of cattle-like herding
and head-counting, which on previous occasions they had refrained from doing.
It was certain, however, that the total would be verified when the whole party
came together again for lunch two hours later. Thus, Paula and Earnshaw would
have somewhere in the region of an hour and three quarters to complete their
task and reappear by the time the groups reassembled in the central concourse
before proceeding through to the restaurant.
The plan required them to leave the zone that visitors were free to move in,
and the first problem was with the badges they had been given on arrival. As
anyone conversant with security practices would have assumedand checking
with various intelligence sources had confirmedthe badges contained electronic
microchips, which when triggered by a particular infrared transmission would
transmit back a code uniquely allocated to the wearer. When sensors detected
somebody about to pass through a doorway, say, the badge would be interrogated
and its response forwarded to a computer that knew who was authorized to go
where, and which would raise an alarm if it detected a violation.
Earnshaw and Paula drifted to the side of the central concourse. For the moment
conditions were disorderly, with people milling around between the various groups,
some splitting away into the short corridor nearby that led to the rest rooms,
and others coming back out. Earnshaw looked around, saw nothing to arouse suspicion,
and nodded. They moved on into the corridor. It was fairly broad, with the entrance
to the mens facilities lying to the right, the womens to the left,
and some doors to storage closets on both sides. Facing them at the far end
was a second exit, which they knew from their briefings led to a foyer interconnecting
various machinery rooms, technical workshops, and offices. A large sign above
the far exit announced in several languages, no visitors past this point. There
were no physical guardsshipping people from Earth was too expensive a
business for them to stand around all day doing nothingbut it was clear
that anyone setting off the alarm wouldnt get very much farther before
being apprehended. That was the way Earnshaw and Paula needed to go.
Earnshaw entered the mens room and unslung his camera and satchel of
accessories. A half dozen or so other men were inside, and some of the cubicles
were occupied. To one side of the entrance was the white, louvered door of a
janitor and maintenance technicians closet. He looked around and overhead
but could detect no sign of surveillance. According to a CIA report that hed
seen, the Soviets resorted to such extremes of snooping as concealing lenses
in rest rooms only in top-security locations. This was hardly a top-security
part of Valentina Tereshkovaindeed, according to the Soviet claims,
the whole place was just a civilian experiment in space colonization. But on
the other hand, if it really was a disguised battle platform . . . But there
had to be some risks.
"Long way to come to see Disneyland, huh?" the ruddy-faced man wiping
his hands by the mirror said.
"I guess this has to be the real Space Mountain," Earnshaw answered.
The ruddy-faced man laughed and left.
Earnshaw locked himself in one of the cubicles and commenced his transformation.
A touch of facial cream to dull his skin, some shadow to enhance wrinkles, a
graying, ragged, Stalinesque mustache, and a modest application of hair whitener
added a dozen years to his age. His vest, turned back-to-front, became a worn
crewneck sweater; his suit reversed into a dark green, grease-stained work uniform;
and a pair of false uppers changed his shoes into crumpled boots. The satchel
that he was carrying wasnt as rigid as it appeared. With its stiffening
frame removed it could be turned inside out, and when the frame was put back
again it became a toolbox of the kind issued to mechanics all over the colony,
large enough to hold the dismantled "camera." Finally, he rubbed a
trace of grime into the creases of his hands and under his nails, added a streak
to his forehead, and pulled on a cap.
When the Russian steward stuck his head in the door of the rest room to check,
all the visitors had left. "No stray sheep left in here?" he said
to the maintenance engineer in the green uniform, who was rummaging in the closet
near the door.
"Theyre all gone," Earnshaw mumbled in Russian without looking
"Its chaos out there this time. You know, I swear our schoolchildren
make less fuss than some of those people."
"No discipline. Thats what it is."
"Youre right. Although, mind you, I wouldnt say no to some
of those American women out there. How do they afford such clothes?"
"Well, if they dont do anything thats worth enough to pay
for them, then somebody else must pay for them. Thats capitalism."
"Give me a break. You sound like a Party hack."
Earnshaw finished putting tools into his box and turned from the closet, holding
a reel of electrical wire. He had hidden his red-framed visitors badge
in the closet and had exchanged it for an imitation blue-framed one, as worn
by general workers and inhabitants of the colony. "I dont know you,"
he said to the steward. "You might be KGB."
"Do me a favor! I transferred here from Landausk a few days ago."
"I see. Landausk, eh?" Earnshaw lifted a stepladder out from the
closet. "I suppose well be seeing more of you around here, then."
"Yes, I suppose so. Well, Id better be getting back. See you around."
The steward disappeared. Earnshaw waited for a few seconds, and then carried
the ladder out into the corridor. He positioned it in the center of the floor
underneath the translucent panel covering the light, climbed up, and had just
begun undoing the fastenings when Paula emerged from the ladies room.
She was wearing a maintenance engineers uniform, too, now. Her face had
shed its makeup, and she had acquired dark hair.
When a tubby man in a blue shirt came through from the off-limits direction
a minute or so later they were hard at work, with several of the lighting tubes
removed and wires trailing down from the opened panel in the ceiling. They said
nothing, and the tubby man went through into the rest room. Earnshaw reached
into his toolbox and handed down one of the subassemblies that the camera had
come apart into. Superficially it looked like an electricians test meter.
Recessed into it at one end, however, was a tiny lens sensitive to infrared.
When the tubby man came out again and went back through the doorway, Paula aimed
the unit to read the interrogation signal emitted by the transmitter above the
door. It also read the response code from the tubby mans badge, which
reflected invisibly off the surrounding wall. A moment later, a sign appeared
in the units readout, confirming that the computer inside was set to mimic
the tubby mans code. Paula glanced up at Earnshaw and nodded.
Earnshaw came back down the ladder, and Paula plugged a lead from the unit
into another meter to program it from the first. Then she disconnected it and
handed it to Earnshaw. Now they each had a device that would mimic a valid response
signal. Earnshaw picked up his toolbox and approached the doorway. A light on
his unit flickered as he went through, indicating that it had been interrogated
and had responded. Paula came after him, and hers did the same. Now they were
committed. They followed the wall on the far side of the doorway for a short
distance and stopped at a switch panel, where they set down their equipment
and tools. Paula removed the coverplate and began loosening connections inside,
while Earnshaw squatted down and made a play of searching in the toolbox while
he checked the layout of the surroundings against what they had been led to
expect. Two men walked by, talking, then turned a corner and disappeared. A
woman came out of a door and went off in the other direction.
Paula fought to keep her hands steady and look as if she were working normally.
The method they had used was far from foolproof, and it was possible, even now,
that they had triggered an alarm, although there were no whooping sirens or
flashing lights to indicate the fact. If the computer that the badge-readers
talked to was programmed to check each individuals movements from place
to place, for examplewhich it possessed all the information to doit
would just have deduced that the same person had passed through the same point
three times without going back again. Or perhaps the system used a one-time
code for every badge, where the response changed according to a predetermined
formula every time it was used. In a top-security environment, precautions like
that would be routine. But the whole essence of the new plan was to avoid having
to penetrate into such areas, and this location had been selected for the operation
precisely because nothing of other-than-domestic significance went on there.
In those circumstances, the Washington experts had pronouncedprobably
keeping their crossed fingers out of sight behind their backs, Paula had come
to suspect only when it was too lateautomatic tracking would be unlikely.
As long as there was nothing to indicate that anyone had gone where they werent
supposed to, and that no visitors were about to wander off and get lost, the
computer would be happy.
Earnshaw seemed satisfied after surveying the surroundings. "Lets
go," he whispered. They had an hour and fifteen minutes.
Leaving a sign saying, in Russian, dangerhigh voltage, below the opened
switch panel, they picked up their things again and followed a corridor out
of the foyer to a metal-railed staircase. A flight down brought them to a landing
overlooking a machinery bay, with a catwalk leading off and running along above
it on one side. They went on down to where a narrow passage led the other way
at the bottom of the stairs. A man in a white coat appeared out of the passage,
stood aside and nodded perfunctorily as they passed, then went on up without
giving them a second glance.
They entered the passage. After a short distance, one side opened into a gallery
full of ducts, piping, structural members, and cable runs, with a bank of electrical
cabinets standing in a line along one wall. The passage continued on, but they
left it and picked their way through the gallery to a set of steps leading down
into a shallow bay, partly screened from the corridor by the clutter of machinery
they had climbed through. Three sides of the bay consisted of banks of plain
metal boxes containing environmental monitoring and control computers, along
with conduits bringing in signals from sensors and instruments in thousands
of different locations. Although the place was normally unmanned, it contained
a bench for use by service engineers when they came to perform checks or repairs.
At one end of the bench was an instrument panel containing test meters, switches,
a keyboard and display screen, and fitted with various supply sockets. One of
these sockets was a standard type provided for the engineers to plug portable
computers into to access the maintenance departments database for reference
datawith the complexity of modern systems, carrying the requisite manuals
around would have required a wheelbarrow. And it was inside the maintenance
departments section of the databank that Magician had hidden the backup
copy of Tangerinethe file that the whole operation was aimed at recovering.
Earnshaw took out the final section of the "camera" from his toolbox.
It was, in fact, a specially designed microcomputer, with a plug that matched
the standard Russian data socket. Paula pulled a stool from under the bench
and sat down. She plugged in the set, connected the power lead, and activated
a search routine to begin testing access routes into the system. She worked
quickly, nervously, pausing to study a response on the sets miniature
screen, thinking for a second, entering a commandwanting to get it over
with. Earnshaw stood behind, silent, watching the approach into the bay. There
were maintenance points like this all over Tereshkova, but this one was
more secluded than most. That was why they had picked it.
Paula bit her lip with suppressed tension as a hunch yielded a positive response.
The maintenance departments system used a fairly straightforward method
of access codes, which was to be expected, since it contained relatively insensitive
information. As another line of code appeared, opening the executive level of
the file manager, she breathed a silent prayer of gratitude for Magicians
presence of mind in choosing this system to hide the file in. Or had
it been simply because he worked in the maintenance department? Breaking into
one of the higher-security systems, such as the research departments,
or the information bank kept by Tereshkovas branch of the KGB,
would have been impossible in the time available.
She attempted a direct request for the file. It failed. The initiating address
pointer had been erased to make it invisible. She obtained a sector table, located
the header she wanted, and commanded a forced read. The system acknowledged
that it had the file, but demanded an access validation to release it. She supplied
the code she had been given. There was a pause. Then a new line appeared, requesting
an output-destination spec. "I think were getting there!" Paula
hissed up at Earnshaw.
He turned and hunched down to peer over her shoulder. She entered another line
and sat watching the screen tensely. A delay of perhaps two seconds dragged
by. Then a confirmation appeared. In the same instant a line in English appeared
gp700 "tangerine"; stat ok: ready to read. mem des? file des? read
Paula shifted the keyboard from Cyrillic alphabet to English and complete the
dialogue. A final, single-word line confirmed:
She sat back, closed her eyes, and exhaled a long, silent breath of relief.
Earnshaws fingers closed around her arm and squeezed reassuringly. She
blinked and peered at the screen again, as if to make sure. The word was still
there, glowing solid and jubilant. It meant that Magicians file was being
copied through to create a duplicate inside the high-density memory-crystal
arrays contained in their portable device. The copying would take just a matter
of seconds, and then the original inside the maintenance departments databank
would be destroyed. All that would be left then would be to get the copy home.