President Nixon was meeting with Director Hoover in the Oval Office.
“Let me get this straight,” he said, “two Soviet agents have just defected to the Uptimers in Nevada?”
“Yes, sir.” Director Hoover replied. “They drove right up to the front gate.”
“Apparently they had a run in with four hoods down in Carson City and decided to seek shelter afterwards.”
“What happened to the hoods?”
The President asked more questions.
“So why were Soviet agents in Carson City and why did they run into the hoods?”
“According to the agents who are doing the debriefing, the Soviets went to the state capital because it was the local political center, and they also decided to extend their operating funds by playing poker.”
Nixon nodded. As a junior naval officer in the Pacific Theater he also raised personal funds by playing poker. And some of his winnings were used to finance his first congressional campaign in California.
The President asked another question.
“So what can the Soviet agents be charged with?”
“They did enter the country on forged documents, but they haven’t committed any acts of actual espionage, and they are now cooperating with the bureau.” Hoover replied. “There are the local charges of homicide with respect to the hoods, but they were acting in self defense and should get off if it came to a trial.”
“So nothing?” Said President Nixon.
“Correct, sir.” Said Director Hoover.
The intercom buzzed. It was the Presidential secretary Miss Woods.
“Mr. President, the Soviet Ambassador is here.”
“Thank you, Miss Woods, send him in.”
“I’m afraid I have to speak to him.” Said the President.
“Yes sir, I understand.” Said Director Hoover.
Hoover let himself out a side door before the Soviet Ambassador entered.
Once the pleasantries with Ambassador Dobrynin were complete they got on the official business.
“Mr. President, we have a delegation waiting in New York for permission to visit the Star People at the settlement in Nevada.”
“I’m sorry Anatoly,” said the President, “The Uptimers have made it very clear that they don’t want to talk to you.”
“To the Soviet Union?”
“Specifically to any representative of the Soviet Union or of any other Communist state.”
“Did they explain why, Mr. President?”
“Yes, the leader of the Uptimers said that Communism is a moral and political dead end, and until that doctrine is dropped there is simply no point in speaking to any representative of such a state.”
Ambassador Dobrynin frowned.
“I’m afraid that your delegation will have to go home.” Said the President.
“That is regrettable.” Ambassador Dobrynin replied sadly.
On the next morning in Moscow the Politburo met. The fate of the intelligence officers were not on the agenda as neither the KGB or the GRU had been notified of their defections.
The Foreign Minister began with the report of the failure of the attempt by Comrade Gorbachev to contact the Star People at their base in Nevada. He was followed by the Defense Minister, Marshall Grechko.
“The weapon is now ready for launch, but some of our people at Baikonur are strongly suggesting that a manned capsule be sent up instead to contact the Star People instead.”
“Oh, they have?” General Secretary Brezhnev replied.
“Yes, Comrade General Secretary.”
Brezhnev thought for a moment. Rumors of a weapon launch had been flying about the Kremlin since the order was given. With the rumors came the speculation of outcome of the strike and how the Star People would respond.
The operation was expected by many within the Kremlin to fail and that the Star People would respond adversely. Very adversely.
Brezhnev made a decision.
“Fine,” he said, “refit the rocket to carry a Soyuz capsule.”
“Yes, Comrade General Secretary.” Marshall Grechko replied.
“And was there a suggestion as to who would go up on this mission?”
“Yes, Comrade General Secretary. Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov was proposed to be the mission commander. The second seat to expected to be filled with a volunteer.”
Brezhnev thought for a moment and then replied.
“That shouldn’t be necessary.” He said. “Send Comrade Gorbachev to Baikonur. He will go up to speak to the Star People.”
“Yes, Comrade General Secretary.”
Near the entrance of the Uptimer base two casually dressed men were sitting in a green Oldsmobile Toronado with the windows down. The man in the driver’s seat spoke to his partner.
“Hey Joey, am I imagining things or are there other guys on the lookout here?”
“Whadda you mean?”
“There’s an old Fairlane and a Camaro also parked out here with guys sitting in them.”
British agent John Cross was also on site but as a total professional he was not visible to the occupants of the Camaro, Fairlane, and Toronado.
Morons, he thought.
The Frenchman in the Camaro was not following the proper form of the espionage trade craft. But then why should he? It wasn’t as if he were up against the Soviets in East Berlin. He was only up against simple Americans.
So what? He felt. They are imbeciles who weren’t worth the trouble.
Mr. Black in his Ford Fairlane was trying to remain concealed but the fact that he was in virtual middle of nowhere. He quickly came to the conclusion that would not be able to quietly connect and use the people inside the base to carry out the goals of The Committee.
He decided to drive away for now.