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First thing this morning, still recovering from last night's encounter,
they had shared a pot of English Breakfast, and then she'd gone back to
work on the translation of the protocol. He was still waking up.

"Michael, I received a reply." All Nogami's synthetic British bonhomie
had evaporated. "I think he is willing to talk. However, there are
terms. And his people want to see you. He also mentioned 'all parties.'
I take it others are involved."

"There is someone else." His hangover was dissipating rapidly now,
thanks to the tea. "But I think she's had all the contact she's going
to have with his 'people.' "

Nogami glanced up sharply. "I don't know what this is about, but the
meeting could be held on neutral ground. I assure you there would be
nothing to fear."

"Tell him he can forget it."

"You're free to telex back your own conditions." He shrugged, then
tried to smile. "I'm merely the messenger here. I have no idea what
this is about and I don't think I really want to know."

"I'll try my best to keep you out of it, but that may not be entirely

"Michael, I've handled my part of our bargain. I've set up the
dialogue." Nogami's voice was barely audible above the din of traders.
"What about yours?"

"I'm still working on it."

"There isn't much time." His brow wrinkled. "Some kind of preliminary
offering has to be scheduled tomorrow, the day after at the latest."

"Well, why not get rolling? Doing that should help smoke out an answer
for you. For everybody."

"What do you mean?"

"If the bonds are really - but first let's see what Tokyo's got to say.
Is there a deal or not?"

"Perhaps his reply will give you some idea." He removed a shiny sheet
of paper from a manila envelope and passed it over. "It's why I rang
you so early. It was telexed here, using our secure lines, during the
night. See what you make of it. I must admit I find it a trifle

As Vance took the sheet, it reminded him fleetingly of the 'paper' Alex
Novosty had given him that morning atop the Acropolis. The heading was
exactly the same. Yep, he thought, we've hit paydirt. Across the top
was one line of type, bold and assertive.


Advisory received 2315 hours. CEO has reviewed and requests direct
contact with all parties immediately. The money must be received by
Shokin Gaigoku no later than close of business tomorrow, Tokyo time.
Authorize reply through secure facilities at Westminster Union. No
other communication channel acceptable.


"Looks like he went for it." Vance handed back the sheet.

"If you want to reply, you can use our telex here, just as he asks."

"Ken, how good is his word? If he agrees to lay off, will he stick to
it? Or should I be expecting a double cross?"

"You know his style of operation pretty well. What do you think? For my
own part, I've always been able to trust him. He has a reputation for
doing what he says."

"Maybe that's all about to change. He's always played for big stakes,
but this time it's a whole new level. It's global, and I've got a
feeling he's not going to let niceties stand in the way. It could be
his last big score."

"And the Eurodollar debentures he wants me to underwrite?" Nogami
studied him. "You already know what they're for, don't you?"

"I think I might have a rough idea."

"I suspected as much," he sighed. "All right then, how do you want to
handle this?"

"To begin with, no direct contact. Everything goes through third
parties. You can send the reply. I'm not going to start out using his
rules. Bad precedent. And I want him to know that if anything happens
to either of us, he gets nailed. The protocol goes to the newspapers."

"The protocol?" Nogami's brow furrowed again.

"He'll know what I mean. We just need to use the word."

"As you wish. And the message?"

"That if he'll keep his end of the bargain and lay off, then he can
access the money. But part of the deal is, I plan to keep a line on it,
at least for the time being."

"What do you mean?"

"To start out, it's going to be handled in the tried-and- true hot-
money way. The hundred million will be used to purchase British gilts,
which will then be held here at the bank and used as collateral for a

"The standard laundry cycle," Nogami smiled. "Almost makes me nostalgic
for the old days."

"It's only going to be standard up to a point. After that the setup
gets a twist. The loan will then be used to acquire a special hundred-
million first issue of those Mino Industries corporate debentures
you're supposed to float, to be bought entirely by me."

"And thus he gets his funds, all freshly laundered and clean and
untraceable," Nogami nodded approvingly. "Style, Michael, style. You
always - "

"Yes and no. You see, I never really let go. Instead of ten- year zero-
coupons, those debentures are going to be a little unique - they'll be
redeemable at any time by the holder, on twenty-four hours' notice."

"And you'll be the holder?" Nogami suddenly seemed considerably less

"Only indirectly. I'll assign power-of-attorney to a third party. If
any unfortunate 'accidents' happen to me or to another individual I'll
specify, the bonds will be redeemed immediately. And if he defaults,
doesn't pony up the full hundred million on the spot, he can kiss the
rest of his big scheme good-bye, because a default by Mino Industries
would make the front page of the Financial Times. He won't be able to
give away the rest of that bogus paper. He's instant history in this

"Michael." Nogami's frown deepened. "I've never heard of - "

"He gets his money, all right, but I retain a firm grip on his

"Those are pretty rugged terms. I doubt he'll agree."

"It's the only way we play. He gets his money, cleaned, but I come away
with a hundred-million-dollar insurance policy. I hope we can do
business, because otherwise he'll never see those funds, period.

"Then if you'll word the language the way you want it, I'll transmit
it." He paused. "But I can tell you right now he will not be happy.
This is very irregular. Also, I'm not sure I want to start issuing
those Mino Industries debentures, no matter what their maturities. Once
on that road, how will I ever turn back? You're putting me on the spot

"You'll be taken care of. Look, Ken, we can't stop the man from selling
phony Mino Industries paper to European suckers. Nobody can. If you
back away, he'll just make an end run around you and arrange it some
other way. We both know that."

"So what am I supposed to do?"

"Set up what I want, to get me some leverage. I'll take it from there.
It's not just the hundred million he'll have hanging over his head.
There's also the protocol I mentioned. I want him to know I'm in a
position to go public with it if he doesn't lay off. That, together
with the threat of exposing his plan to defraud Eurodollar tax dodgers,
should be enough to keep him in line."

"Whatever you say." He looked dubious. "But I'm convinced nothing is
going to go forward without a meeting. There'll be no getting around

"Let's just send that telex and find out."

Tuesday 12:54 P.M.

"And we'll be doing it using Mino Industries debentures?" Novosty
listened, startled. "Corporate bonds?"

The black Mercedes - heavily tinted, bullet-proof windows - was parked on
the side street behind the Savoy, just above Victoria Embankment
Gardens. Vance and Alex Novosty were in the front seat. Vance had the
keys; it was part of the deal.

"That's going to be our collateral. We're going to put them up as
surety with one of the go-go Japanese banks here and borrow back the
hundred million."

"If I understand this right, the money's going to be in two places at
once. Michael, it's smoke and mirrors."

"What do you care? If the Japanese banks here won't lend on bearer
bonds from Mino Industries, what the hell will they do? You'll have
your cash, clean, and be over the hill before the whole thing goes down
the drain."

"I have to do this, don't I?" he sighed. "I have to front the street
action. Both this and the other part."

"It's give and take, Alex. Nobody in this car's a virgin. You've done
worse. Besides, think of it this way. In a couple of days, you'll have
your hundred million back and maybe you can go home again in one piece.
I'm saving your two-timing Russian ass, for chrissake, so I expect a
little gratitude."

"I suppose I should be thankful, but somehow . . ." He was lighting a
cigarette. After the black lighter clicked shut, he peered through the
cloud of smoke. "But what about you? Where can you go when this house
of cards collapses? You know it will. It has to."

"Eva and I'll both be out of here too, God willing." He paused, his
mind racing. "Okay, now tell me what else you know about this

Novosty's voice was weary. "You guessed correctly. I've been afraid to
talk about it to anybody, but now . . . you're right, it's an advanced
airplane. That's all I know for sure. The word I hear is that it's
faster than anything the world has ever seen. Much faster. A marvel of
high technology."

"We suspected that, from the runway." He glanced out the tinted
windows. The late morning above the Thames was still only a glimmer
through the misty haze. "Exactly how fast is it supposed to be?"

"Many, many times the speed of sound. Ten, maybe even twenty, who
knows. I think the project is at least a decade ahead of the U.S. or
Europe. It's almost ready for a first full test flight, or so I
understand. Needless to say, it's supposedly intended for peaceful
uses, space research, but - "

"Get serious. Tanzan Mino plays for keeps, all the way. And you were
laundering the seed money for the deal."

"When I got involved I had no idea." Novosty drew on his cigarette. "I
swear it. When Viktor Fedorovich Volodin asked me to help, he said it
was merely part of a secret trade agreement. The hardliners were being
kept out of it. Now I realize he probably didn't know the real story


"It was only later that I pieced together the rest. About the prototype
and its capabilities."

"Figure it out. Mino Industries is about to become the ultimate arms
supplier to the world, sole retailer of the newest must-have weapon,
and the Soviets and the Americans get to join each other neck-and-neck
in a 'debt race,' buying them up. Your military is just like ours; they
never saw a new weapons system they didn't like."

"Inevitably." He was trying to keep his composure. "But I don't see how
you can stop it."

"We're going to start by nailing the godfather in his tracks, and
you're part of the team. So you've got to keep yourself together.
Remember our agreement last night, what you have to do."

"Michael, Tanzan Mino is running out of time. I hear that the prototype
can't be unveiled, or the protocol brought before the Diet for a vote,
until the powers in the Liberal Democratic Party are well placated.
This time it's not just insider stock trading info he's giving out,
it's laundered cash. Since the money's still here in London, he's very

"You say you think the whole thing is scheduled to go forward in less
than a week." Vance studied him. "But it's possible only if the hundred
million is there, in hand."

"Bribes, my friend. Or as they call it, _kosaihi_. All the way up and
down the line." He smiled wryly and rubbed at his beard. "Michael, you
of all people should know how things work over there. Very little has
changed, really, from the old days when the CIA was running half of
Japan's politicians. It's an honorable tradition to take care of the
right people. But the timing is crucial."

"No _kosaihi_ payoffs, no deal."

"That's what I hear. Everybody knows the Diet is a rubber stamp.
Everything is decided at the top, a 'consensus' among the leaders of
the Liberal Democratic Party. But the behind-the-scenes powers in the
LDP refuse to endorse such a controversial prospect, a partnership with
Russia, unless it's worth their while. At least that's what I hear. So
the payoff money must be distributed, in tidy untraceable bundles with
fancy gift-wrappings and bows. It's the traditional way, Michael. The
dictates of proper etiquette. You know the system."

"Then it shouldn't be too hard to deal with the man at the top. He's in
a bind."

"I seriously doubt he will be in a mood for compromise this time. He's
used to getting what he wants, no questions asked." Novosty's dark eyes
were knowing. "I shouldn't think that would be news to you, considering
how you - "

"It has a familiar ring. But this time maybe it'll be different."

"Michael, I'm in a hopeless position. You know that. If the funds
aren't delivered to Tokyo, and soon, God only knows what will happen.
But if I don't return the money to Moscow, I am also a dead man. I
don't see any realistic way out of this. Either way I'm finished. There
is no way a hundred million dollars can be in two places at once."

"Smoke and mirrors, like you said, smoke and mirrors." He shoved the
key into the ignition and the engine roared to life. "Look, we're
dealing with perceptions now. And a tight schedule. When this thing
explodes, the money's going to be the least of anybody's problems."

"You're right. There's also the matter of the protocol. If it's leaked
before the treaty is formally announced, I'll be blamed. We'll be
blamed. He will track us to the ends of the earth. You know it and I
know it."

"It's a poker game. To win you just have to keep up the bluff."

"The problem, Michael, is that he's not bluffing."

Tuesday 1:23 P.M.

"As you can see, it's all just numbers." Eva was speaking in Russian as
she pointed to the screen. 'That's how I received it, and the NSA Cray
supercomputer I ran it through couldn't find the DES key."

"Interesting." Vera Karanova studied the lines of ice- blue numbers,
then turned and gazed out the hotel room window. The late morning
traffic blared on the Strand. "But I know what must be in it. It is a
sellout. Otherwise our intelligence service would have been informed."

"You're free to make any assumptions you like. I'm still trying to find
something that will crack it."

Vera studied her with dark, unbelieving eyes. "We know you are the best
there is. I find it hard to believe that - "

"Well, take it or leave it." Eva switched off the computer and turned
around. "I'm still working on it. I haven't given up yet."

With a sigh Comrade Karanova eased herself gracefully onto the plush
couch in the sitting area. Then she exhaled impatiently. "We know
something will happen any day now. Are you sure you did not break any
part of the encryption?" She looked up. "No dates, no deadlines?"

"Nothing." Eva poured more cold tea into her china cup. She did not
bother offering seconds to her Russian guest. The time was approaching
noon, and she'd only gotten two hours of translating done. The day was
slipping away, and her head still hurt from the dregs of alcohol.

"Then you have nothing to tell me. We are all wasting time," Vera
declared finally, rising.

"Michael will keep his end of the bargain, don't worry. Moving money is
his specialty."

"So I'm told. But if he does not return the embezzled funds by the end
of the week . . ."

"If he said he'll handle it, he'll handle it." Eva handed her the fur
coat that had been tossed across their rumpled bed. It was real sable,
the genuine article. She used to have one too. "Now if you don't mind .
. ."

"As we agreed, I have arranged for an . . . individual from our embassy
to be here outside your door around the clock. The first shift came
this morning with me and is here now."


"He is wearing a tradesman's uniform."

"How about the lobby?"

"I have also arranged for one of our people to be there as well. We
haven't informed the hotel staff, for obvious reasons, so we will
rotate our people downstairs to avoid suspicion."

"Is that the best you can do?"

"It's the best I intend to do." Her voice was cold. "Getting even this
much for you was not easy. None of this is happening officially. I had
to pull strings."

"It's appreciated."

"I'll know the extent of your appreciation when the embezzled funds are

"Naturally," Eva said, and opened the door. As promised, there was
indeed an overweight Russian security man standing there, wearing an
ill-fitting telephone repairman's coveralls. His looks wouldn't have
deceived anybody, but maybe that was the point.

She waited till Vera Karanova disappeared into the elevator and then
she turned back, flashing a thin smile at her new bodyguard. He didn't
look very competent, but he was probably better than nothing.

Probably. Unless he wasn't there to protect them, unless he was there
to make sure they didn't check out and disappear.

Okay, back to work.

She closed the door and locked it. Then she took a deep breath, clicked
on the Zenith, and called up the active file.

The part of the protocol she'd translated this morning had begun
expanding on the elements of the pending deal. The Soviets were
agreeing to open their space program completely to the Japanese,
effectively making it a joint venture. In return, Mino Industries and
the Japanese government would join with the USSR to create a new trade
bloc comprising all the Asian economic dynamos that currently were
allies of the United States.

Russia shared some islands, along with its space expertise, and in
return it got bottomless financing - and a trading axis with Japan that
would, eventually, totally undermine America's hegemony in the Pacific.
The new economic alliance, an Orwellian Eastasia, would have the USSR
as one superpower cornerstone, Japan the other.

_. . . 7. Within sixty days of the formal delivery of the prototype,
the USSR will provide representatives of Mino Industries Group with
full and unrestricted access to all facilities at the Baikonur
Cosmodrome. The space program of the USSR will be integrated with that
of Japan - all personnel, equipment, and launch facilities being operated
thereafter as a single, unified entity. Future costs of the combined
space program will be borne equally by Japan and the USSR. Japanese
satellites and Japanese astronauts subsequently will be launched from
either the Baikonur Cosmodrome or the Tanegeshima Space Center as
schedules mandate.

8. Although the level of Japanese-Soviet trade is currently twice that
between the United States and the Soviet Union, it accounts for only
1.5 percent of total Japanese overseas trade. Through joint ventures
arranged by Mino Industries Group, this amount will be increased over
the ensuing five-year period to a sum representing not less than ten
percent of all Japanese foreign trade. All tariff barriers between the
USSR and Japan will be phased out over the same five-year period.

9. As part of an Asian trade and diplomatic initiative, the USSR will
join with Mino Industries Croup to begin governmental and private steps
toward establishing a Pacific Basin tariff-free trade zone encompassing
the USSR, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong,
Singapore, and Indonesia. All offices, contracts, and trade agreements
currently held by Mino Industries Croup will henceforth be reopened to
encompass the representatives and interests of the USSR. . . .


It boggled Eva's mind. The alliance might be partly military, but the
Japanese and the Soviets were no fools. They realized full well that
the real battleground of the next century would be an economic
struggle, with the ultimate aim of every country being to surpass the
United States.

She stared at the blue screen, mesmerized. This secret protocol was a
detailed battle plan whereby the Soviets and the Japanese provided each
other exactly what they'd need to emerge as the dominant superpowers of
the twenty-first century. Synergism in high-tech, control of space, a
trade bloc, a defense alliance - all of it was there.

But governments weren't that smart. They usually had to be dragged into
doing what was sensible strategically. Which meant that this whole
scenario had to be the brainchild of some private genius. Only one man
in Japan, according to Michael, had the money and clout to put a deal
like this together. His name was Tanzan Mino. A Yakuza godfather.


What other bombshells did the protocol hold? she wondered. What was

The answer to that last remaining question was the prototype. It had to
be the weapon to end all weapons.

Great. But did the Soviets really know what they were getting into?

The euphoria of the night before was rapidly dissipating. There were
too many chances for the plan to slip up. Mike always figured he could
play these things close on the wind, tempt fate, but he hadn't always
been lucky. Sometimes his luck ran out, and somehow she had a feeling
this was about to be one of those times.

Tuesday 1:28 P.M.

"Sato-sama, _ohayo gozaimasu_." Kenji Nogami rose, then bowed low as
Jiro Sato and his dark-suited bodyguard were ushered into the
Westminster Union Bank's upstairs dining room. The walls were ice gray,
with a gold-leafed Momoyama screen depicting a fierce eagle perched on
a pine branch mounted on one side. On the other was a modern oil
painting, an impressionistic rendering of the rising sun of the
Japanese flag. Both were symbols intended to impress Nogami's City
guests with Japan's new financial power.

"_Ohayo_." Jiro Sato nodded lightly in return, signifying his superior
rank. In the floor-to-ceiling mirror at the far end of the room his
light-grey hair had turned to blue steel in the subdued lighting. It
now matched the hardness of his eyes.

Jiro Sato, born in Osaka sixty years ago, was the _Mino- gumi's _London
_oyabun_, the man in charge. He had lean cheeks and wore a pin-striped
suit and dark sunglasses that further camouflaged his already
expressionless eyes. His dark felt hat almost looked like a bowler.
Although that traditional City headwear was no longer de rigueur in
London's financial district, had it been, he most certainly would have
worn one. Blending in was what he was all about.

Nogami waited until his guest had settled into one of the molded birch
chairs at the end of the long oak table, then he seated himself and
clapped for sake. The banker's personal chef, a licensed artisan he had
stolen from Tokyo's exclusive Edo Club, was already preparing raw
_fugu_, the sometimes-lethal blowfish, to be served with scorching
_wasabi_ on rare Shino ware. It was a Japanese power lunch.

Jiro Sato's career and that of Kenji Nogami had been entwined for
thirty years. They had always been in charge of Tanzan Mino's financial
matters, had never worked at street level. No tattoos, no missing
finger digits. They were part of the brains, not the brawn, of the

Although they both knew that a certain bond issue of a hundred billion
Eurodollars was the purpose of the luncheon, they gave no hint as their
traditional small talk began with saucers of sake and a learned
discussion of the Momoyama screen on the wall, thought to have been
commissioned by the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the end of the
sixteenth century. From there their chat expanded to the glories of
Momoyama art, then the "nightingale" floors of Shogun Hideyoshi's Kyoto
palace - beveled boards designed to announce silent intruders - and finally
to Hideyoshi's betrayal at the hands of Ieyasu Tokugawa. The oblique
topics were standard, the Japanese way of beginning a business meeting.

Jiro Sato's official position was CEO of the London-based Nippon
Shipbuilding Company. In that role he supervised the _Mino-gumi's_
London interests with an iron hand, as was expected by those who served
him, and by his superiors in Tokyo. Nippon Shipbuilding built no ships,
nor had it for twenty years. Instead it laundered Tanzan Mino's hot
money. Funds flashed daily over the satellite link from Tokyo, and
investments ranged from real estate to British gilts to the most arcane
products of the financial markets.

Money laundering was but the latest enterprise of the Yakuza, an
ancient brotherhood rooted in over three hundred years of Japanese
history. The _kana _symbols for the syllables Ya-Ku-Za were the same as
those for the numbers eight, nine, and three - a total of twenty, which
was a losing number in Japanese gaming. The losers: that was what the
Japanese underworld, with ironic humility, had chosen to call itself.
In earlier centuries the Yakuza were carnival operators, gamblers,

Online LibraryThomas HooverProject Daedalus → online text (page 18 of 30)