From its position two hundred thousand miles away from Earth and some distance
above Earths equatorial plane, Valentina Tereshkova had permanent
lines for its communications lasers to at least two of the Soviet synchronous
satellites, which redistributed message traffic among surface locations and
other satellites, depending on the signals final destinations. The Wests
military establishment also maintained a system of "Auriga" surveillance
satellites, which between them were able to keep a constant watch on both the
Soviet satellites and Tereshkova. The Aurigas were equipped with telescopes
designed for operation in the infrared range, which could pick up the stray
reflections from both ends of the Soviet communications beams; thus they were
able to eavesdrop on the message-flow to and from Tereshkova as it took
place. From space, the intercepted stream of Soviet communications code was
routed down through a complicated chain of links and relays, eventually becoming
grist for the computer batteries of the National Security Agencys code-cracking
mill at Fort Meade, Maryland.
For as long as Tereshkova had been operational, a portion of its signal
traffic had used virtually impregnable top-security coding algorithmswhich
had done little to alleviate the Wests suspicions over what was supposed
to be an innocuous social experiment in space-living. By summer of 2017, however,
the hungry NSA cryptoanalysts in the section that handled "Teepee,"
as the intercept traffic to and from Tereshkova was code-named, had received
a windfall of a different kind.
The standard procedure followed by both sides for sending encrypted messages
over communications links was to transmit the code as a stream of five-digit
number groups. That way, anyone intercepting the transmission with the intention
of decoding its content would receive none of the clues that a structure reflecting
the varying word-lengths would have supplied. To complicate the task further,
the transmitting computers then obscured where the different messages in a stream
began and ended, by filling the gaps between them with random five-digit number
groups so that the channel simply transmitted continuously twenty-four hours
a day. A message buried in the stream carried a special number sequence that
the computers at the receiving end were programmed to watch for.
For some time the pattern-searching routines that the NSA computers subjected
incoming material to as a first pass had been detecting irregularities in the
filler groups used to pack the gaps in Teepee transmissions from Tereshkova
to Earth: the random numbers werent as random as they should have been.
Further analysis revealed a concealed coding system. It suggested that the West
had unwittingly tapped into illicit traffic between personnel at two of the
Soviet Unions own establishmentsan intriguing notion. The "Blueprint"
code, as this traffic buried inside Earthbound Teepee was designated, turned
out to be comparatively unsophisticated, and clearly not a creation of professional
Soviet cryptographers; furthermore, its sender was too chatty, providing the
Fort Meade veterans with sufficient material to break it fairly quickly. In
late June the names "Earnshaw" and "Shelmer" appeared in
the plaintext translation of one of these signals, which, from the lists that
the NSA kept of who was likely to be interested in what, caused copies to be
routed, via Litherland at CIA, Langley, to Bernard Foleda.
Three weeks previously, the CIA had arranged for a message to be beamed into
the Soviet communications net in accordance with the protocols that Dyashkin
had passed to Dr. Bowers in Japan, indicating interest and a willingness to
"talk" further. Dyashkin had acknowledged, and in the ensuing unusual
dialoguephrased very obliquely to keep the Soviet counterpart of NSA off
the scent of who was talking to whomthe Americans had requested Dyashkin,
implicitly as a test of good faith, to try to find out if the two visitors who
had disappeared on Tereshkova at the beginning of May were still being
held there. A week later, a response from Dyashkin had stated that they were.
What was interesting about the Blueprint intercept that contained the references
to Earnshaw and Shelmer was that it occurred a day before Dyashkins reply.
In other words, a message from the mysterious correspondent up in Tereshkova
was known to have contained the answer a day before Dyashkin sent it to
the CIA. Here, then, was evidence that Dyashkin was the hitherto-unknown recipient
at the Earth end of the Blueprint line; also, it corroborated that his information
was in fact coming from where he said it was coming from.
Bernard Foleda looked at the report that Barbara had brought in and studied
the figures on the appended sheet. It was an estimate of the amount of political
indoctrination included in the Soviet school curriculum for various grades.
"They always go for the children," he murmured as he read.
"Who do?" Barbara asked.
"Fanatics, extremists, every kind of nut with a cause. The way to their
utopia is by getting at the minds of the children, so they try to control the
schools. Instead of getting educated, the kids end up as political putty. Maybe
the Chinese are right: governments should stay out of the whole business."
"Is that what theyre saying?"
"It was something that Myra and I talked about a while back." Foleda
sat back and tossed the report down on his desk. "Did I ever tell you?that
might have had something to do with how I got into this kind of work."
Barbara sat down on one of the chairs at the meeting table and looked at him
curiously. "I dont think so."
Foleda stared at the window. "There was something that happened when I
was a teenagernot really so sensational, but its always stuck in
my mind, so I suppose it must have made some kind of impression. Two people
came to have dinner with us one nighta Jewish couple that my parents had
been friends with for a long time. They talked about the past year that theyd
spent traveling around overseas. All their lives theyd been busy with
their own affairs, until one day they looked at each other and realized they
hadnt seen anything of the world, and if they didnt do something
about it soon, they never would."
"Too wrapped up with family and business, you mean?" Barbara said.
"Yes, exactly. Anyhow, I can remember Benthat was his namesaying
to my father, Youve known us for a long time, Chuck. Ive never
had any time for politics. But, do you know, after what we saw in other places,
I never want to set foot outside this country again. I dont want
to see our grandchildren growing up the way we saw others made to. And Ill
tell you something else: I would give thousands of dollars, no, tens
of thousands, to any political partyRepublicans, Democrats, I dont
care; theyre all the same to mejust so long as theyre committed
to defending this country. "
"That was how you got into intelligence?"
"Oh, I wouldnt exactly say that. But I think it played a part. Id
been looking for a way to express what I felt about the world, and that just
about summed it up."
Barbara was used to Foledas inclination to ramble off like this for no
obvious reason. It usually happened when he was preoccupied with something that
he hadnt said much about. Some people claimed that they did their hardest
thinking while asleep. She had come to see this as his way of distracting his
consciousness while a deeper part of his mind tussled with something else. "Do
you think everyone in this business needs an ideology like that?" she asked.
Foleda shook his head. "I dont know of any rule that says they have
to. Take Lew McCain for instance. Totally pragmatic. Hes not interested
in keeping the world free for democracy. He just likes challenges with some
risk thrown in, and believes in being free to be himself. In fact, the way he
operates, an ideology would probably be more of a hindrance. Maybe thats
why hes a good field man and I fit in better behind a desk. And yet in
another way . . ." Foleda looked away from the window. "How
do you feel about this whole Dyashkin business?" he asked Barbara suddenly.
She had worked with him long enough not to have to ask pointless questions.
"What bothers you about it?"
Foleda stared down at the papers strewn across his desk. "Its coming
together too easily. . . . Look at it. First, two of our people
get stuck up on Mermaid. A month later this professor shows up in Japan with
a story that he wants to defect, and he just happens to run the primary groundstation
that Mermaid talks to. And while all thats going on, the hackers at Meade
find a code that turns out to be easier to break than it ought to be, and they
discover that somebody up there has their own private line down to him."
He tilted his chin questioningly.
"Even if NSA hasnt found it yet, he has to have some way of talking
back," Barbara said.
"Right. What does that make you think?"
Barbara shrugged. "Maybe we can get the use of his line to make contact
with our two people up there somehow."
"Why would you need to do that?"
"Because the Soviets are coming up with any excuse not to let us talk
to them officially . . ." Barbaras eyes narrowed as
she began to see what Foleda was driving at.
"Nine out of ten. And what else does it make you think?"
She frowned for a few seconds, then said, "Is that what somebody somewhere
wants me to think?"
Foleda nodded. "Ten out of ten." He got up and moved over to the
window, where he stood staring out silently for a while. "Anything that
involves Mermaid is serious. There are questions we need answers to before we
can let this go farther. Who is this line to Dyashkin from? What was it set
up for? Why does he want to defect? And most important, is he genuine? We cant
go walking blind into something like this."
Barbara waited. She understood the situation, but at the same time could see
no immediate pointer to a way of getting the answers that were needed. It would
be another exercise in the long, uphill grind that was ninety percent of intelligence
work: sifting through uninteresting-looking scraps, looking for patterns and
connections, and hoping something useful might emerge. Where, then, would they
begin accumulating more background information on somebody like Dyashkin?personal
things, glimpses of his character and loyalties, things that might help fill
in the blanks. Barbara looked over the desk for possible clues to the way that
Foledas mind had been working. One of the reference screens was displaying
a summary of notes he had extracted from various databank records. At the top
was the heading, Dorkas, Anita Leonidovich. Codename "Cellist."
Foleda had turned away from the window and was watching her. "The Aeroflot
administrator," he commented. "Dyashkins former wife."
"Yes, I know," Barbara said.
"Except shes not with Aeroflot anymore." Foleda moved to where
he could see the screen. "In 2014, three years after she and Dyashkin went
separate ways, she remarried, this time to a character by the name of Enriko
Dorkas, whos listed as a foreign correspondent with Novoye Vremya."
Barbara pursed her lips silently. New Times was a magazine of news and
current affairs that had been founded in 1943 for the specific purpose of providing
cover for Soviet intelligence officers abroad. "Which presumably means
hes KGB," she said. "Where are they posted?"
"Hes a colonel," Foleda confirmed. "Theyre both
in London, with the Soviet Residency in Kensington. Officially shes a
clerk at the embassy. But it gets more interesting. You see, according to a
report that we have on file from SIS, Anita DorkasPenkev before she married
Enrikois connected with an underground Soviet intellectual dissident organization
known as the Friday Club. As is often the case with senior officers, she and
her husband dont live in the embassy quarters, but have an apartment in
Bayswater. A double advantage for somebody mixed up in dissident activities:
one, opportunities to travel abroad; and two, a lot of freedom to meet with
outside groups and sources of foreign aid. The SIS desk thats been dealing
with her says shes being extremely cooperative."
"You mean the British have recruited her?"
"So they claim."
Barbara nodded and was about to reply, but then she checked herself and sat
back to stare at the screen again thoughtfully. "Unless, of course . . .
shes really with the KGB too. The dissident story could be a cover for
tracking down the dissidents overseas connections."
Foleda gave a satisfied nod. "And thats the key question: Did she
maneuver her way into marrying an upward-bound KGB man to gain a unique base
for her dissident activities? Or is she a loyal Party agent-wife posing as a
dissident? Which way round is it?"
"How confident do the British sound about her?" Barbara asked.
Foleda shrugged. "Shes provided personnel lists of embassy staff
that they requested, organization charts, the names of some contacts over there
who are passing information to the Soviets. It was material that we already
had from other sources, so we could tell if what she was producing was authentic.
But on the other hand, if the Soviets already figured we had it, they wouldnt
be losing anything by letting her give it to us again. So it doesnt really
"Hmm . . ." Barbara sat back in her chair. "How
long ago did you say she married this Enriko?"
"Three yearssince 2014," Foleda replied.
"If shes a genuine dissident, she must have set herself up with
him that far back. What do our people in Moscow have on her?"
"A lot that corroborates her claim. But then, the Soviets have been known
to plant agents with covers long before theyre activated. However, there
is evidence that shes been mixed up with the Friday Club for at least
eight years." Foleda looked at Barbara curiously as he said this, as if
inviting her to read the implication.
"Eight years," she repeated. "That would take us back to 2009 . . .
while she was still married to Dyashkin."
Now Barbara saw the point. "If Anita is genuinely a dissident, and was
that long ago, then possibly Dyashkin is too."
"Right." Foleda moved around the desk and sat down in his chair again.
"Wouldnt that be a worthwhile thing to find out about him?"
And finding out shouldnt prove too difficult, for Anita was not only accessible
outside the Eastern bloc, but was already talking to British intelligence.
"Okay, I get it," Barbara said. "So what now? Do you want me
to start getting questions together for the London people to work on?"
Foleda shook his head. "No, not them."
"When was the last time you had a trip to England?"
Barbaras eyes snapped wide in surprise. "Me? I havent done
anything like that for years."
"Then, lets get rid of some cobwebs. Dont you have a pet ideology
to save the world or bring in the millennium?"
"Me? No. Didnt Thoreau say that as soon as something starts ailing
people, even constipation, theyre off trying to change the world? Im
happy minding my own business."
Foledas craggy, dark-chinned face split into a grin. "Then, that
makes you a natural for the field, like Lew. Maybe we should have left you there
in the first place. Lets just say that Id like to keep this business
in the family for the time being."