here, look. This section picks up from where you left off. Mother
Russia's practically giving away the store."
_. . . 3. Within one year of the satisfaction of all formalities
pursuant to the above-designated credits, the USSR will renounce sole
proprietorship of the Kurile Islands and the Soviet oblast of Sakhalin.
Those territories will thereafter be administered as a free-trade zone
and joint protectorate of the USSR and Japan, with exclusive economic
development rights extended to all designated corporations comprised in
Mino Industries Group (MIG).
4. MIG is hereby granted full rights to engage in capital investment
and manufacturing development in the USSR, which capital investment may
comprise all or part of the financial credits specified in Item 1. MIG
will be permitted to hold 51% or greater interest in all joint
industrial facilities, and the operation and control of those
facilities will rest solely with managers designated by MIG unless
otherwise mutually agreed.
5. Within two years of the date of this agreement, the Soviet ruble
will be declared a free-market currency, convertible to yen and other
Western currencies at rates governed solely by the established world
currency exchanges. Furthermore, from that time forward, Japanese-
manufactured durables and consumer goods may be purchased directly in
rubles, at prevailing rates of exchange.
6. Upon ratification of this Protocol by the Japanese Diet and the
Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces will have
full access, for purposes not hostile to the sovereign security of the
USSR, to all military installations on Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands
including facilities now used exclusively by the Soviet Navy and Soviet
Air Force. The security of the Far Eastern oblast of the USSR will
henceforth be a joint obligation of the USSR and the Japanese Self-
He looked up, his eyes narrowing. "So it's just what we thought. A
global horsetrade. Tokyo supplies Moscow with half a trillion in loans
and financing over the next five years, the money they need for
'restructuring,' and the Soviets cede back the territory they took
after the war, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin, that perennial thorn in
the side of the Japanese right."
"Not to mention which, Japan also gets a whole new target for all that
excess capital burning a hole in its pocket. As well as first crack at
Sakhalin's oil reserves. Michael, put it together and you realize
Japan's about to wrap up what she's been angling for ever since the
war - total economic dominance of the Far East, Russia and all."
Right, he thought, but which Russians are making this secret deal?
Could it be the hardliners, who're lining up a new military alliance?
Is that what the "prototype" is all about.
"By the way, did you look closely at the early part, the bit I
translated?" He walked over and checked the traffic on the Strand
below. "There's some kind of surprise package under the tree. I don't
think it's Christmas chocolates."
"You mean the prototype? Bothers me too." She took another sip of her
freezing Stoly. "What do you think it is?"
"My wild guess would be some kind of advanced weapons system. If the
Soviets are planning to give back territory, they'd better be getting
"Well, any way you look at it, this whole thing is brilliant,
synergistic. Everybody comes out with something they want."
"World geopolitics is about to become a whole new ball game. But that
other bit, the prototype, seems to be a really important part of it.
There're specifications, a hard delivery date, the works. That's where
the quid pro quo starts getting kinky."
"It does sound like some entirely new kind of weapon," she agreed.
"Who knows? Whatever it turns out to be, though, it's something they
had to develop together. Which probably means high-tech. But we're
going to find out, you and me." He studied the street below, where
traffic was a blaze of headlights, then turned back. "Tell me again
about those satellite photos you mentioned out at the palace."
"You mean the ones of Hokkaido, the Japanese island up north?"
"Right. What exactly was in them? You said it looked like a runway?"
"I said that's what I thought it was. But nobody at NSA is authorized
to be interested officially in what goes on in Japan, so the oversight
committee wouldn't spring for a real analysis, an infrared overlay or
anything. The budget cuts, et cetera."
"Which is exactly what whoever planned this figured on, right? If you
had some military surprise cooking, what better place to hide it than
in the wilds of northern Japan, where nobody would bother to pay
"Well, the location couldn't be more perfect for a joint project.
Hokkaido is right across the straits from Sakhalin. All nice and
convenient." She stared at her vodka as the room fell silent. "Maybe if
we finished the translation."
"Somehow I doubt it's going to spell out the details. The
so-called prototype hasn't been described so far, at least as far as
we've got. Probably a deliberate omission."
"Our problem is, without the full text nobody's going to take our word
for all this." She finished off her Stoly with a gulp, then got up to
"Maybe there's a way." He caught her and pulled her into his arms. "But
first things first. Why don't we forget about everything just for
She stared at him incredulously. "Darling, get serious. Right now there
are people out there wanting to make us disappear because we know too
much. They've already tried. That's very real."
"Look, that's being handled. Why can't you trust me?" He hugged her
again. "I think it's time we had an evening just for us. So how about a
small intimate reunion tonight, right here, dinner for two? While we
wait for the fish to bite."
"I don't believe I'm hearing this."
"We'll both slip into something comfortable, have the greatest meal in
the world sent up, along with about a case of wine, then retire to that
plush bed over there and spend the rest of the evening getting
"You're serious, aren't you?" She studied his eyes. They had a
She hesitated, then thought, Why not call his bluff?
"All right. If you can be insane, then I can too. But if we're going to
do it, then let's go all the way. I'm sick of living off room service."
She slapped down her glass. "Know what I really want? I want to go out
somewhere expensive and splashy. With you. I want to do London."
"Great!" He was beaming.
Whoops. He hadn't been bluffing.
"I dare you." She rose and threw her arms around him. Suddenly it was
all too wonderful to forgo. "We'll put this Zenith in the hotel safe
and act like real people for an evening. Then we'll come back here and
you'll get totally ravished. That's a promise, sweetheart."
"I sort of had it figured for the other way around."
"Oh, yeah. We'll see, and may the best ravisher win." She clicked off
the computer and shoved it into the flight bag, then turned back. "How
about that wonderful restaurant we went to way back when? You know.
That night we both got so drunk and you almost offered to make an hon-
est woman of me."
"An offer you saw fit to refuse in advance." He looked her over. "But I
assume you mean that place up in Islington? What was it? The Wellington
"Right. It was sort of out of the way. Down a little alley." She threw
her arms around him. "That night was so wonderfully romantic, like a
"It almost was," he smiled, remembering. "Let's call for a reservation
and just go."
"Darling, are we acting insane?" She looked up, eyes uncertain. "I'm
"Don't be." He touseled her hair before thinking. "Nobody's going to
touch you, believe me. I've nailed the bastards. All of them."
Monday 11:28 P.M.
It was flawless. They dined in a Gothic, ivy-covered greenhouse in the
garden of a maitre nineteenth-century inn where waiters scurried, the
maitre d' hovered, and the wine steward nodded obsequiously every time
he passed their table. It was even better than their first visit. After
a roulade of red caviar, Eva had the ragout au gratin, Vance the boeuf
a la ficelle, his favorite. For dessert they shared the house
specialty, tulipe glacee aux fruits, after which they lingered over
Stilton cheese and a World War I bottle of Lisbon port.
And they talked and laughed and talked. They both tried to focus on the
good times: trips they'd taken, places they'd shared, what they'd do
next - together. She even agreed to spend August helping him sail the
Ulysses over to Crete, his latest plan. The gap in time began slowly to
drop away. It was as though they'd been reborn; everything felt new,
fresh, and full of delight. Who said you couldn't start over?
Neither wanted it to end, but finally, reluctantly, he signaled for the
check. After a round of farewells from the staff, they staggered out
into the brisk evening air.
"Where to now?" He was helping her into a black London taxicab, after
drunkenly handing the uniformed doorman a fiver.
"God, I'm so giddy I can't think." She crashed into the seat and leaned
her head against his shoulder.
"Yanks?" The driver glanced back with a genuine smile. He wore a dark
cap and sported a handlebar mustache of Dickensian proportions. "Been
to New York myself, you know, with the missus. Two years back. Don't
know how you lot can stand the bleedin' crime, though."
"Worse every year," Vance nodded.
"So, where'll it be, my lords and ladies?" He hit the ignition.
"How about heading down to the Thames, say Victoria Embankment Gardens,
around in there."
"Lovely spot for a stroll. Private like, if you know what I mean." He
winked, then revved the engine and started working the vehicle down the
narrow street, headed toward the avenue. "Thing about the States, you'd
be daft to walk in a park there after dark." He glanced back. "So how
"The Wellington, mate. You know, I take plenty of Arabs there, bleedin'
wogs, them and their fine Soho tarts."
"We made do."
"If you've got the quid, why not. That's what I always say." He smiled
above his mustache. "Guess you know IRA bombed the front room about ten
years back, bloody bastards. Lobbed one right through the big window."
"We were hoping they'd never hit the same place twice."
"With those bloodthirsty micks you never know, mate, you never know.
Only good thing about the States, no bleedin' IRA." He made a right
turn off Goswell Road onto Clerkenwell Road. Even at this late hour,
the traffic was brisk, black taxis side by side.
"Michael, I love Victoria Gardens." Eva reached up and bit his ear.
"Can we dance in the moonlight?"
"Why not. I think it's romantic as hell." He drew her closer. "Probably
shouldn't tell you this, but back in my youth, when I was living in
London one summer, I used to take a plump little Irish hotel maid down
there. I confess to a series of failed assaults on her well-guarded
"Maybe this time your luck will change," she giggled. And she bit him
"I'll never be seventeen again, but I'm willing to give it one more
try." He turned to study the traffic behind them. Had the play started
Yep, there it was. A dark car was following them, had pulled out right
behind as they left the restaurant's side street. It was trailing
discreetly, but it was in place.
Pretty much on schedule, he told himself. They must have found out by
"Darling, I want to make you feel seventeen all over again." She
snuggled closer. "I'm starting to feel good again. I'd almost forgot
you could do that for me. Thank you."
He kissed her, then leaned forward and spoke through the partition.
"See those headlights behind us?"
"I think they were waiting outside, at the restaurant. Noticed them
there. Now they look to be going wherever you're going." The burly
cabbie glanced into his side mirror. "Friends of yours?"
"In a manner of speaking. I think we've just revised our destination.
Make it the Savoy instead. The main entrance there on the Strand."
"Whatever you say. Forget the park?"
"You've got it. And try not to lose them. Just make sure they don't
know that you know. Figure it out."
"Having some sport with your friends, eh?"
"Work on it."
"Oh, Christ." Eva revolved to look. "Michael, what is it?"
"My guess is somebody found out something, and they're very upset."
She grasped his hand. "Why not try and lose them in the traffic?"
"They probably know where we're staying. What's the point?"
"I do hope you know what you're doing."
"Trust me. The Savoy's a nice friendly place for a drink. We'll ask
them in, maybe drop by the American bar, there on the mezzanine."
"Why did we go out?" She threw her arms around him. "I knew it was a
risk and still - "
"Relax." He kissed her. "We're just headed home after a lovely dinner.
And when we get there, maybe we'll ask them in for a nightcap."
"Who do you think it is?"
"This is a friendly town. Why don't we just wait and find out?"
"Right. I'm dying to know who wants to kill us now." She turned to
stare again at the headlights. "After all, it's been almost a day and a
half since somebody's - "
"Hey, we've had a great evening. Nobody's going to spoil that. This
will just top it off." He looked back again, then leaned forward as the
driver turned onto the Strand. "Be sure and take us all the way down
"Whatever you say." He flipped on his blinker, then checked the mirror.
"Seems your friends are coming along."
"That's the idea." Vance passed him a ten-pound note as they rolled to
a halt. "Nice job, by the way."
"Anything for a Yank." He checked the bill, then tipped his hat. "Many
"Michael." Eva froze. "I'm not getting out."
"Come on." He reached for her hand. "This is going to be the most fun
we've had all night." He looked up at the gray-uniformed Savoy doorman
approaching. "Trust me."
The other car, a black Mercedes, had stopped just behind them, and now
its doors swung out on both sides. The first to emerge were two surly
men in heavy, bulging suits; next came an expensively dressed, dark-
haired woman; and the last was a bearded man who had to be helped. He
seemed weak and shaky.
Vance waved to him and beckoned him forward. "Alex, what a surprise.
Glad you brought your friends. I was starting to worry we might miss
each other this time."
"Michael." His voice faltered as he walked past the others, limping.
"We must talk. Now."
"Great idea. Let's ask everybody in for a drink."
The woman was staring, cold as ice, while the two men flanked her on
either side, waiting. Vance smiled and greeted her.
"Vera, talk about luck. And I'll bet you were worried we wouldn't
manage to meet up in London. Small world."
The woman was trying to ignore him as she addressed Eva. "You have in
your possession classified Soviet materials."
"If I do, that's your problem." She glared back.
"No, Ms. Borodin." The woman moved forward, carrying a leather purse.
"It is your problem."
"Well, now. Looks like we're all ready for a nightcap." Vance took
Eva's hand, nodded at the doorman, and led her through the lobby doors.
Over his shoulder he yelled back. "I honestly recommend the American
bar upstairs. Terrific view."
"Michael, please wait." Novosty limped after him, through the doorway,
then grasped his arm. "We need to talk first."
"You know very well. The money. Michael, the game is up, can't you see?
I've got to return it, all of it, and face the consequences, God help
me. I have no choice. They - "
"You know, Alex, that's probably a good idea. Things were getting too
rough. This was a hustle you should have left to the big boys. I tried
to tell you that back in Athens, the other morning. Just give it back."
"What are you saying?" He went pale.
"Just return the money. Try and make them see it was a
misunderstanding. How were you supposed to know it was embezzled? You
were just following orders, right? They can probably cover the whole
thing over as just some kind of paperwork shuffle."
"Michael, don't play games with me." He was clenching Vance's sleeve,
his voice pleading.
"Hey, we're partners, remember? I'll back you all the way." He urged
Eva on past the gaggle of bellmen and into the marbled lobby. The
chandeliers sparkled and the room still bustled with bejeweled evening
people. "Now we're all just going to have a very civilized drink."
The possibility of that seemed to be diminishing, however. The two men,
clearly KGB "chauffeurs," had now moved alongside menacingly.
"You will come with us." Vera Karanova was approaching Eva. "Both of
you. A car is waiting, at the entrance on the river side."
"Down by the park?" Vance kept urging Eva across the lobby, toward the
staircase leading up to the bar. "Funny thing. We were just talking
about the Embankment Gardens."
Vera nodded toward the empty tearoom and the steps beyond, which led
down toward the river side, then spoke quietly in Russian to the two
men. They shouldered against Vance, the one on the right reaching for
"Easy with the muscle, hero." He caught the man's paisley tie and
yanked him around, spinning him off balance, then kneed him onto the
"Michael, wait." Novosty stepped between them, then took Vance's arm
and drew him farther ahead. "About the money. You've - "
"What about it?" He looked puzzled. "Just return it, like I told you."
Novosty's eyes twitched above his beard. "Michael, the entire sum was
withdrawn from the Moscow Narodny Bank at eleven o'clock this morning.
The whole hundred million. It's vanished."
"Sounds like a problem. Now how do you suppose a thing like that could
"You know very well." His voice was almost a sob. "It was authorized
right after the bank opened. Someone requested that the funds be
converted into Eurodollar bearer bonds and open cashiers checks, all
small denominations. Which were then picked up by a bonded courier
service." His voice cracked again. "I don't know what to do. The bank
claims they have no more responsibility."
"Legally, I guess that's right. They're probably in the clear."
"Michael, you must have arranged it. Using the account numbers and
identification I gave you - "
"But how? I have to return the funds, or they'll kill me. I told them
only you could have done it, but they don't believe me."
"Interesting thing about bearer bonds and open cashiers checks. They're
same as cash. Everybody's favorite form of hot money. Very liquid and
totally untraceable. For all we know your hundred million could be in
Geneva by now, taking in the view of the lake." He turned and pecked
Eva on the cheek. "Ready for that nightcap?"
Novosty caught his arm and tried to pull him back. "You won't get away
with this. I'm warning you. You're a dead man."
"You know, I sort of look at it the other way around. I figure whoever
copped that cash this morning got a hundred-million-dollar insurance
policy. Because you see, if T-Directorate wants to kiss their hundred
million _do svedania_, the best way possible would be to keep up with
the muscle here tonight. That could make it just disappear forever.
There'd be a lot of explaining to do. Probably make a very negative
impression on certain people back at Dzerzhinsky Square. Vera here
might even have to turn in all her gold cards."
"What are you saying?" Now Comrade Karanova had moved closer. "Is it
really true you have the embezzled funds?" She examined Vance with a
startled look, then glanced at Novosty, as though to confirm. His eyes
were defeated as he nodded.
"You should check the desk here more often." Vance pointed toward the
mahogany reception. "Photocopies of the open cashiers checks were
dropped off for you at nine o'clock tonight. So maybe it's time
everybody talked to me." He thumbed back at her two bodyguards. "For
starters how about losing those two apes. Send them down to the park
for a stroll. Then maybe we can talk. Over a drink. The vanguard of the
proletariat sits down with the decadent capitalists. Could be there's a
deal here yet. East meets West."
"Tell me what you want," Vera Karanova said, without noticeable
"For starters, how about some protection. If these incompetents of
yours can manage it."
"Look, there's a deal cooking, and I think there's more to it than
meets the eye. I do know there's a very smart individual, on the other
side of the globe, who's got some very definite plans for Eva and me.
As well as for Mother Russia. I would suggest it might be in your
interest to help us stop him while we still can. He's never played
straight, and I don't think he's about to start now."
"I have my responsibilities too. Just return the money and we will
handle the situation after that."
"The best thing you can do right now is stay out of the way. I've seen
too many screw-ups out of Dzerzhinsky Square to turn this thing over to
"Dr. Vance, you are playing a dangerous game."
"If you want to see the money again, it's the only game going. Now do
we play or what?"
Monday 11:32 P.M.
"When did you receive this?" Tanzan Mino glanced over the cable message
once again, then looked up. Although the time was near midnight, the
aide had found him still behind his black slate desk. The lights in his
penthouse office were turned low, muting the already dull earth tones
of the walls. Neko paced across the expanse fronting the wide picture
window, flicking her tail and anticipating her evening dinner of water
"Fifteen minutes ago, Mino-sama." He eyed the leopard nervously. "It
was logged in on the eleventh floor, over the secure telex. I was
reluctant to bother you at this late hour."
"When you live to my age, you no longer have the patience for sleep.
There is so much to do and so little time. Two or three hours are all I
allow myself now." He tossed the paper onto his desk, then rose,
strolled to the darkened window and, gently pushing Neko aside, gazed
down. Below, the neon-lighted streets of Tokyo's Ueno district blazed.
"In a way this news is welcome. Perhaps the money is no longer in the
hands of an incompetent. I have always preferred doing business with a
"You would consider dealing with him?" The subordinate, in dark suit
and crisp white shirt, tried to mask the surprise in his voice. The
_oyabun_ had never let himself be blackmailed.
"You seem startled." He smiled, then walked over and extracted a raw
steak from the cooler in the corner. Neko dropped to her haunches as he
tossed it to her. "Don't be. I've spent a lifetime in negotiation."
That much, his subordinate knew, was true. Tanzan Mino had seen more
deals than most men would in a hundred lifetimes. The most important
ones had been the back-room kind. For thirty-five years, he'd funneled
vast chunks of laundered cash to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's
leading politicians, and as a result, he enjoyed final say over all its
major decisions, dictating the choice of cabinet ministers, even prime
ministers. He was the undisputed godfather of Japan's _kuroi kiri_,
"black mist," the unseen world of political deal making.
The subordinate also admired Tanzan Mino's discretion. After his
ascension to kingpin of the LDP, U.S. interests had funneled over $12
million in cash bribes through him to Japan's most powerful political
figures, much of it handled by the Lockheed Corporation. In return,
that corporation received over $1 billion in sales to Japan's
government and civilian airlines, while the CIA got to sleep easy,
knowing America's interests were receiving the close attention of
Japan's decision makers. But then, when newspapers finally broke the
story that Lockheed's American money had reached the highest levels of
the LDP, Tanzan Mino arranged for a rival _kuromaku_, Yoshio Kodama, to
take the fall. As befitted a true professional, he escaped without a
hint of scandal.
It was a deft move that brought him much prestige among those in the
circles of power. Besides, with a Yakuza income in the billions, he
certainly needed none of the Lockheed money himself. His perennial
concern, as everyone also knew, was what to do with all his cash. By
the late fifties, Mino Industries Group already owned real estate,
shipping lines, construction companies, trucking concerns, newspapers,