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Blind Target V.1 (1)
A Codi Sanders Adventure Thriller
By Brent Ladd
October 1955 – Umnak Island – Part of the Aleutian chain off Alaska, USA
Engineer Marshal Sergei Popov swallowed the bile that pushed at the back of his larynx.
Twenty minutes bobbing in the ocean waiting for the all clear. His moss-green face reflected
from the waning moonlight as he tried to focus on the coast line ahead. His round face and large
eyes made him look frog-like but his aberrant fear of the water had him clinging to the craft with
A slim black mottled silhouette in the distance moved up and down with the black sea. It
was a land beyond desolate, where few men came and fewer survived, Umnak Island. His vision
seemed to cloud with darkness in the peripherals and his head started to spin. He blinked it away
and sipped a lung-full of arctic air. Somebody next to him mumbled something and the raft
started to move – Thank God, he breathed.
The eight-man rubber raft pushed through the choppy water and pointed to a small cove
just visible ahead. America, Private Andrei Tatter, the youngest of the group, thought to himself.
Doesn’t look like much.
Colonel Tolya Alexeev wiped the stinging sensation from his eyes. And replaced the
snow goggles that had protected his piercing blue-grey eyes from the air born ice crystals only
moments before. Five degrees below zero with a thirty-mile-an-hour wind was no picnic but he
had seen worse. And if the reports were correct it was only going to get worse. His goggles
almost immediately started to fog back up. He absently scratched at a an old scare that bordered
his strong cleft chin, complements of a training accident years ago.
He squinted past the clouds as they scraped across the lava-strewn beach in a battle of
black versus white. This was as inhospitable as it got. Not a spec of vegetation in sight.
His squad consisted of three well trained men all alpha group, OBSP formed by minister Zhukov
himself. Each with arctic training from the 379th special purpose detachment. Corporal Misha
Ivanov, a battle hardened commando under his team during the Hungarian Revolution. Private
Andrei Tatter a promising cadet from the Suvorov Military School in Saint Petersburg. The boy
was from solid Russian stock and he even spoke some English. These were the best Russia had
to offer and he’d have no better company on any mission.
Colonel Alexeev also had one guide, Chikuk, a Siberian Yupik Eskimo from Inupiaq
island off the coast of Siberia. Chikuk had refused the snow camouflaged military clothing in
favor of his own winter gear made of sealskin and caribou. The man had lived and flourished in
some of the harshest winter conditions on the planet. He wore a perpetual scowl as though
everyone around him was doing it wrong. But if anyone was going to guide them through a
mission above the arctic circle, in winter, on foot, it was him.
The raft hit a particularly large crest and thirty degree water sloshed over the gunwale.
Tolya watched as Traktor lifted his feet in the air fearful of the cold. Zampolit Traktor Yashin,
what every special forces squad going to America needed, a political officer. The man was
missing most of his hair along with a personality.
To Tolya, he was like an 100lb anchor on a 5lb boat, and if he thought he could get away
with it he would have pushed him over the side an hour ago. Ideology and indoctrination had no
place on his mission. But the Deputy Chairman of the MPA in the ministry of Defense had
insisted. Tolya was almost positive it was the man’s nephew. But mother Russia was ever fearful
of defectors. Tolya scoffed at the thought. These men were battle hardened soviet soldiers they
bled Russian red no matter where they trod.
The man who looked like he was going to throw up at any second was, Engineer Marshal
Sergei Popov. A transfer in from the science and engineering corps. He was the key to this
operation and Tolya’s responsibility. He carried with him the latest in Russian technology, as the
he called it, an electrical leach.
Visibility dropped to near zero, as the clouds finally won their battle, covering the world
in a billowy cotton white. It was a total whiteout, and his new generation optics were a joke. Sure
they helped block Ultraviolet radiation and the 2nd generation polarization cut snow glare
significantly, but they were useless in these conditions and the damn things kept fogging up. At
least the fur trimmed edges prevented them from freezing to your skin.
The GSS’s science division was great at theory, but the lack of practical application often
made men like Tolya guinea pigs. I’d like to see the scientists come out here and give this shit a
try. His chapped lips cracked as the thought put a smile on his face.
Chikuk made a soft clicking sound and pointed with a flat vertical palm. Tolya adjusted
his course to match the Yupik Eskimo’s gesture. Within a moment a dark mass pushed through
the low clouds. And a small black rock cove mostly covered in ice appeared.
The colonel cut the engine and coasted towards the ice lined shore. Misha leaned over the
front of the raft and using an oar, broke the thin hoarfrost, carving a path for the boat. Once they
had moved to more substantial ice the team disembarked.
Like a well-practiced drill, all gear and personnel was unloaded and moved across the
frozen sea and up the shore. The sound of crunching rocks and cracking ice under foot was
masked by the waves fighting against the perpetual frozen barrier.
Tolya glanced over as Chikuk knelt briefly and mumbled some sort of prayer or greeting
then selected a smooth pebble and put it in his pocket. Then just as quickly was back helping the
others drag their gear up the beach and into the snow.
Traktor tried to stifle a sneeze as he moved empty handed to the high tide mark. He bent
at the waist and tried to flick off the slush that had accumulated on his boots.
Colonel Alexeev looked around at the near white out conditions and felt confident their
actions had gone unseen. He knew he would have approached this mission very differently, but
the powers that be had turned a deaf ear to his plans and dictated terms, a “yes sir” assignment all
the way. This new-fangled cold war was not like anything Tolya had experienced before. Even
their generic uniforms were lacking any identification. Colonel Tolya would have preferred to
face his enemy rather than steal around in the shadows. But he was not about to step foot on
foreign soil without something connecting him to his mother Russia. He fingered his Order of
Lenin medal hidden away in his breast pocket.
Colonel Tolya Alexeev’s mind started to drift to a past mission, death screaming and
blood – so much blood. The screams of the innocent blended with the wind fighting its way up
the cove. “Colonel! We’re ready”. Sergeant Yegor looked at him anxiously. Tolya pulled back to
the moment and gave him a curt nod. Kazimir ran to the sea.
He spun the raft pointing the bow out to sea. He pulled his DV-1 combat knife and cut
several small slashes in the raft. He started the motor and released it.
They watched as the craft moved past the waves, finally succumbing to the sea and
sinking out of sight with a gurgle and sputter of the drowning motor.
The group took on a sallowness as this was the point of no return. Tolya looked at
Engineer Marshal Sergei, “You Ready”? A pale white face with nervous black eyes nodded back
The squad reconfigured their gear and set off a brisk pace. Chikuk in the lead and
Kazimir holding the rear. The wind and clouds doing their part to slow them down.
The sun had risen to its pinnacle for the day just inches above the horizon. It cast a
greenish-orange anemic glow as it played peek-a-boo with the transient clouds. This time of year
the sun was only up for a few hours. It moved horizontally across the horizon and provided
almost no warmth.
Tolya spied through his binoculars from behind a large volcanic boulder. He could no
longer feel his fingers and wondered how the rest of his squad was coping with the bitter cold. A
large grey monolith, near completion, stood as a testament to modern man. Here on Umnak
Island thousands of miles from well, anything, was the most sophisticated piece of electrical
engineering in the world. The DEW Line as the American’s called it, or Distant Early Warning
System. Those paranoid bastards were building an 800 mile chain of these radar tracking and
alerting stations. All just on the account of our superior military strength.
With it they could detect a plane coming across the arctic circle out of Russia and
scramble their jets to intersect. Well that all stops today, Tolya thought to himself as he turned
and headed away.
Chikuk secured the last post on a black and white camouflaged dome tent it was a new
design that could withstand high winds. They had placed it in a small depression and from two
hundred feet away, was nearly invisible. Tolya stepped through the flap and was greeted with a
wall of warm of air, burnt tobacco and fear – and for the first time in nine hours no wind.
Sergei’s color had returned to his face and he was hunched over inspecting and
organizing his gear. There were three grey boxes the size of a loaf of bread with odd connectors
attached at both ends. Two for the mission and on as back-up. These were his babies and the
entire mission depended on his abilities.
Traktor was hunched over scribbling something in a little black notebook. He kept a wary
eye to prevent looky-loos from reading his notes.
Tolya moved to his second in command Sergeant, “How’s the radio working?” “I’m
getting a ping from our shadow.” The colonel nodded as he took off his arctic combat boots and
rubbed the circulation back in his toes. They were a new kind of vulcanized rubber with an
inflatable bladder to act as a weather barrier. There was little doubt of their effectiveness but
severe cold had a way of getting everywhere, even in your bones.
Chikuk was off to one side eating some kind of dried meat. He seemed unfazed by the
day’s activities. Corporal Ivanov moved over and sat next to him drinking from his canteen. He
offered Chikuk a drink and in return Chikuk offered him some of his meat. Misha took the chunk
in his hand and sniffed it. Chikuk smiled at his hesitation. “Walrus mixed with crowberry, it’s
good.” Misha took a bite and tried to make a pleasant face.
Have you ever been to American before, he whispered. Worried what the political officer
might think of this conversation.
“ I have cousins that live a couple of islands to the north from here.” Chikuk gestured
with his hands. “We have met for hunts in the summer. Good hunting there.” “I like to hunt,”
Misha added. Chikuk reached over and squeezed his arm. “Hunting keep you strong.”
The windshield wiper worked over time and was still losing the battle, as a mix of snow
and sleet filled the air along the lava rock coast. Four, thousand watt headlamps pierced the dusk
as the last rays of the days meager sun dipped below the horizon.
Private Conrad Jenkins starred out the fogged-up side window of the Le Toureau
Logistical Car VC-22 Sno-Frieghter. A unique land train built to cross deep rivers and snow
while pulling one hundred and fifty tons of equipment. The cockpit sat fifteen feet in the air and
the forward slanted front with three square side-by-side windows, gave it an insect like
appearance. But it was no insect, with 800 horsepower, powering 24 electric motors, one for
each wheel including the five trail cars behind it, truly a train without a track. The Sno-Freighter
had high ground clearance, using six foot-tall tires that allowed it to clear debris up to four feet
in height, and all done at sub-arctic temperatures.
Conrad had spent the last four hours wondering how he had gotten to this place in his life.
Things used to be good, he was respected in certain circles of Chicago. Now he was a no nothing
private, caught up in some made race against the Soviets.
The tungsten work light rattled as the Sno-freighter came to a stop next to the load-out
area of DEW LRR Site 42. Conrad climbed down the exit ladder form the cockpit and jumped
the last two feet to the frozen ground. He stomped his feet and looked back up at the odd vehicle.
Written in a mix of yellow cursive and block letters was the company’s logo, Alaska
FREIGHTLINE Inc. With a practiced motion, he tapped out a single lucky strike from the pack.
He ducked behind the large front tire to block the wind from his lighter. The sweet smoke filled
his lungs and calmed his jitters.
He looked around. Men and equipment unloaded the Sno-Freighter. A large metal
structure with a convex front towered sixty feet into the air. It was all gunmetal grey and
constructed from individual steel panels that made the surface look like a puzzle, where all the
pieces are rectangles. In front of the unit was a metal tower with a receiver pointed at the center
of the curved structure. Off to his right was a wooden unpainted building about the size of a four
car garage and beyond that nothing but lava rock and snow. Private Jenkins took another draw on
his cigarette and exhaled decisively. He must of really pissed somebody off to deserve this
Inside the wooden building was a common area with a small bar, duty officer’s desk and
a TV. The private reported to the commanding officer and was issued a cot and guard duty, two
shifts four hours on, four hours off.
Chikuk leaned against the wind with his nose held high sniffing. Then with a curt hand
gesture pointed the squad in an arc around to the left.
The sun had long since gone down and the temperature was plummeting.
Corporal Misha Ivanov stayed low in a crouch as he took his time moving silently
through the loose rock. His trusted DV-1 combat blade in one hand and a grape fruit sized rock
in the other.
The limed figure next to the burning drum was facing away from Misha and he hoped he
would stay just like that. The fifty five gallon steel drum popped and hissed as the fire ate at the
The plan was simple. Get to the guard, make it look like an accident and then get in and
out as quickly as possible.
But plans have a way of falling apart the moment you make contact with the enemy.
Whatever the reason, Misha would never know, maybe his back had gotten cold, but the soldier
turned and stared right ate him. Misha froze. The soldier seemed to not notice him in the dark,
but continued to puff on his cigarette, starring right in his direction.
The squad helplessly watched the machinations play out from a distance. Sargent Yegor
pulled his Makarov MP-71 and put the bead on the soldiers heart. Tolya raised his hand to stop
him. The meaning clear, no unnecessary shooting.
Private Jenkins brushed at a bit of tobacco stuck on his tongue. The cold nearly freezing
in his open mouth in seconds and the roaring fire did little to abate the encroaching chill. He
imagined himself a rotisserie chicken slowly turning to the flames. Only in his case it was to
keep from freezing. He drew the last puff on a spent cigarette and flicked it. As he watched the
glowing ember spin through the air, something caught his attention and that something was not
Two human eyes starred back at him in the zone between flame light and darkness. But
something was off, they had a feral look about them. This was no fellow coworker. The man was
stock still just starring at him and he held a large knife in his left hand. Conrad quickly moved to
unsling his M-1 rifle and give a call of alarm, but in the moment his voice failed him and only a
squawk came out. The sound was quickly carried away by the wind.
Misha didn’t hesitate. Like a cat that just touched fire, he leaped forward. But the lose
rocks gave way and he lost purchase. The soldier reacted fast pulling the rifle off his parka and
taking a quick shot from the hip. Click.
Private Jenkins pulled the trigger but then quickly realized he hadn’t chambered a round.
In one practiced motion he put his mitten in his mouth bit down and pulled it off. He then racked
the bolt on his rifle and chambered a round. He scarcely noticed the skin on his hand as it ripped
free, sticking to the frozen metal parts of his weapon. But he did notice that he wasn’t going to
make it as before he could finish, the man leaped knife forward straight for him.
Misha hurled his rock attempting to delay the rifles firing. But the American feinted his
head left and it flew past harmlessly. He jabbed his blade for the man’s ribs, but ended up getting
nothing but air. The man was fast. It was his last thought before the butt of a rifle made contact
with back of his skull. Stars flashed and darkness grabbed him. Misha tried to fight it off.
Like a familiar friend Conrad dropped his stance, spread his legs and returned to his days
in the ring. As a flyweight fighter Conrad had been the only provider for his family. His mother,
Agatha and little sister, Penny had depended on him for everything. Agatha had lost her leg due
to type-1 diabetes and found work impossible for a one legged black female. And as much as she
hated Conrad fighting, she knew it was the street for all of them if he failed.
Conrad had excelled for a time before, a bad decision and trouble with the law left him
two choices, jail or a the army. Now every penny he could spare was sent back to help make a
It came without thinking as he used his rifle to parry the man and his knife to the side
then sweep the butt of the rifle around and bring it full force on the back of his head. Private
Jenkins just stared at the unmoving man. Gore and brains clearly visible from the back of the
man’s head. Unsure what had just happened, Conrad tapped the man with his boot. Tolya
jumped from his hiding place and in a matter of seconds the entire squad swarmed
to the fight.
Conrad looked around still in shock. The world had gone deathly silent. From some
primitive place in his brain there grew a crunching noise. But by the time it registered and he
turned to the source it was over.
Tolya tackled the soldier at pace and five more of his men joined in.
Private Jenkins was overwhelmed. They held him tight to the ground and one man
covered his mouth and nose. What kind of stupid army drill was this? Then the reality hit as his
eyes went wide. The man to his left said something in Russian. This was no drill! It was the last
conscience thought he ever had.
Within moments the team had smothered and suffocated the soldier. They quickly
checked on their fallen man. Dead. It was a disaster, but not unsurmountable.
Suddenly Chikuk ran off to the darkness. Tolya hissed, “What is he doing!” “Taking a
piss, I think.” “Unbelievable.” Tell him to fucking hold it, we have a major problem on our
hands here. Tolya turned to Engineer Marshal Sergei Popov, “You got five minutes not a second
more. You understand.” The way the words came out of his mouth left no doubt. Sergei dashed
off. “Tatter go with him.” The private gave a quick nod as he ran off in the engineer’s footsteps.
“Colonel.” Chikuk had returned and was motioning to the remaining team. “What now,”
the Colonel groused. “Bring body.”
The team quickly cleaned the site then grabbed the two bodies and moved off with
Chikuk. There in the snow was a pool of frozen yellow. It took a second but Tolya understood
Chikuk’s plan. They unzipped his parka took off his gloves and lowered his zipper. The next
shift would find him frozen while taking a piss too far from the fire. They would claim it a rookie
mistake and think nothing more of it. At least that was the hope.
Engineer Marshal Sergei Popov stooped by the double doors holding the electronics for
the Antenna’s receiver. The tall tower that pointed a highly tuned receiving unit back at the
reflected surface of the dish. At the bottom of the tower was a pyramid shaped space that
connected all the wiring and information before sending it to the next tower ten miles away.
Picking a simple padlock was easy, but not at minus ten in the wind. Sergei finally heard the
click as the hasp gave way. He quickly opened the doors and climbed in side. Private Tatter kept
watch on the surrounding area.
Sergei pulled one of his grey boxes from his bag and began the process of installing it
between the receiving console and the transmitting radio. He stood on top of the radio box and
unscrewed the twenty-eight wire coupling that attached the antenna to the console. He quickly
inspected the pin configuration and admired the level of intel they were working from. Satisfied
that they were a match, he reattached each end on either side of his box.
Sergei climbed down to the floor and sat next to a console. He pulled out his portable
oscilloscope and connected it to the wire. The signal coming into the unit showed a strong
consistent cycling green wave like a never-ending snake. He then flipped a switch on the scope
and the same sine wave now had a small but definite spike on the upper arch of the wave. His
work here was done.
They all met back in the dome tent. Misha’s body lay wrapped in a tarp, a sharp reminder
to what was at stake. Tolya knelt next to the body of his man. He pulled back the tarp and stone
starred back at him. His friend was no longer human. The cold had taken him and would
probably take them all before this job was done.
Tolya slipped the red and gold medal with the profile of Vladimir Lenin and held it in his
hand. Then slipped the Order of Lenin Medal into Misha’s breast pocket. Whispering, “You
deserve this more than I.” He then touched the dead soldiers face for a brief moment. Finally
returning the tarp over his head.
“Comrade Alexeev,” the political officer stepped towards Tolya to engage him. “It’s
Colonel Alexeev,” Tolya put his hand up to stop him from continuing. “And we can discuss this
later,” He turned to the whole team. “Right now I want everything packed up. We leave in ten. I
want to be miles from here when they find that body. Tolya looked to the now stationary
Zampolit Yashin. “You best get a move on – Comrade. This is a bad place to get left behind.”
“Colonel what do we do with Misha?” The young private looked expectantly. “We bring
him. No evidence of any kind gets left behind.”
The white out was complete; snow, clouds and wind all mixed together against the black
of night. Tolya reconfigured his parka for the third time in an attempt to block out the cold. The
quick march doing little to maintain his core temperature, and after six hours battling the harsh
conditions it was taking its toll. He could no longer feel his extremities. The good news was they
had over twenty miles still to go and less than two days to do it in. He gave them a thirty percent
chance of success.
Sargent Yegor scooted next to Tolya and held up his compass to the small flashlight
covered with a red lens. “It says we need to go in this direction.” Tolya glanced down at the
needle pointing off to his left. “Yes but this far north the declination could be as much as seventy
degrees off. I recommend continuing up this grade.” He pointed towards what looked like the
beginning of a hill. With visibility at around twenty feet no one could be sure. “Just keep the
wind on your left, it’s better than a compass up here”. Kazimir Nodded and returned his compass
to his pocket.
Private Tatter suddenly appeared out of the gloom his red flashlight just barley
illuminating the ground around him. He bent at the waist trying to catch his breath. He was
followed by their scout Chikuk. He carried no flashlight, only a pull sled with Misha’s body and
a grim expression. “We need to around, sludge ice, very dangerous.” Traktor pipped up, “What’s
sludge ice?” Tolya looked to the political officer. “I don’t know and I don’t want to.” He then
turned back to Private Tatter. “Do what he says, we have about two hours left before sunrise.”
The team moved off to the left in an attempt to skirt the problem that lay ahead. “And stay
together, do not lose sight of the man in front of you!”
Every step was now labored as they now moved against the heartless arctic wind.
“Comrade Alexeev.” Tolya kept his eyes fixed on young Andrei 10 feet in front of him. He was
nothing more than a fuzzy red silhouette set against the impossible conditions. Zampolit Traktor
Yashin now matched his stride. Tolya gave him the briefest of glances. “What do you need,
political officer Yashin?”
“This is madness, we need to stop for the night.” Tolya could tell the man was struggling,
but no symphony for a government stooge. “We stop when I say.” No mission is worth a man’s
life. Tell that to your uncle.” “He sent us here to get a leg up on the Americans, not to die on
their soil and create an international incident.”
Tolya finally turned to him, “Comrade, I have no plans to die here, but if you do, I’ll be
sure and bring you back to your family.” Traktor stiffened at the comment. “You know I have
orders to kill anyone that even looks at the Americans with envy.” Tolya let the comment sit for
a second before answering. “It that so, well I have orders to kill anyone that interferers with this
mission, and right now that’s you. Besides, what do the Americans have to envy, freedom,
power, money to waste on this silly endeavor?”
“So please get back in line, before I put a bullet in your head. Oh and remember to put all
this in your little report.” Traktor straightened and looked at Tolya with black eyes that could
kill. He slowly reached for his pocket. “Please try it.” Tolya gave Traktor a furtive glance. Which
made Zampolit Yashin look over. Walking just off to his side was Sergeant Yegor, and in his
hand was a large pistol pointed straight at his spine. “Now get back in line… Comrade” Zampolit
Yashin stopped and watched as Tolya turned his back on him and pressed forward disappearing
into the night.
The anger drove Zampolit Traktor Yashin to a single conclusion. This mission was doomed
under the command of Colonel Tolya Alexeev. The arrogant ass was going to get them all killed.
It needed the finesse and cunning of a man like himself. Not some blunt nosed instrument like
It was his duty to mother Russia to remove him from command. He pondered at several
possibilities, that all ended up with the death of Colonel Tolya Alexeev. This made Traktor
smile, he paused for a moment to savor this feeling. Traktor looked up. There was nothing in the
gloom ahead. He paused and spun behind him. Nothing. Panic crawled up his spine. He tried
calling out but there was nothing that returned, save it be the wind. It seemed to laugh and mock
him. He looked to the frozen ground but the blowing snow had erased any footsteps. How long
had he been standing there thinking of Tolya’s demise?
Traktor ran forward shouting. “Comrades’!” But his words were grabbed and pulled away by the
wind. He continued blindly forward his meager flashlight glowing red against the stark white
ground. The ground surface changed it took on a honey-like consistency, but Traktor continued
through it. His rubberized boots temporally holding the wetness at bay.
For a brief moment the blowing clouds parted and visibility jumped to nearly a thousand
meters. Traktor could see he was at the edge of a small shallow inlet. On the other side was the
red glow of his teams flashlights. The surface of the inlet was greasy in appearance but not
liquid. He called out, but the team continued on.
He pulled his pistol out and raised it in the air. Then remembering this was a secret
mission put it away. He quickly started moving through the slushy water across the inlet to catch
his team. It was only about twelve inches deep and his boots were holding up fine.
Just as quickly as the team appeared they were once again swallowed up by clouds.
Traktor sloshed though the Slurpee-like conditions as fast as he could. He would not get left
A sound like cracking ice came from behind him spurring him on. Then suddenly the
sound came from all around him. The slush was freezing at an alarming rate. Zampolit Traktor
Yashin could feel the bile of fear stab at his guts. Then like a shadow passing overhead the slush
froze. In an instant Traktor was trapped. Calf down both legs frozen in place. He tried to move,
but he was caught like a fly in glue. He screamed and pulled his Tokarev TT-30 and emptied the
magazine, secrecy be damned.
Tolya put a hand in the air and made a quick whistle. The squad came to a stop and started to
gathered together. “Do you hear that?” In the distance a faint clap of thunder popped off. Sargent
Yegor lifted his head. “Is that gunfire?” “Colonel!” Engineer Marshal Sergei Popov stepped to
the group looking around. “Political Leader Yashin is missing.” “How is that possible!” “I was
just following the man in front of me and…” Being new to Tolya’s team Engineer Popov didn’t
know his commanders dislike for excuses.
In his squad you owned up to your mistakes. Before he could finish, Tolya cracked him
across the face. Dropping the man like a bag of meat. “Form a search grid from right here two by
two. Tatter, Chikuk, grid one.” He pointed in the direction they should search. “Yegor, Popov,
grid two.” “Back here in ten minutes, then we’ll move to the next sections.” The men ran off side
by side searching their quadrant. Tolya being the anchor person could only pace and wait. He
looked down at the tarp that held Misha’s body. The cost of this mission was already too high.
Traktor sat down on the now frozen hard surface of the inlet. He processed his
predicament. Then luckily he was actually feeling warm so he didn’t have to worry about the
cold. He took out his knife and started chipping away at the ice that held his feet. As he worked
he felt his body get hot, to the point where he took off his parka so he could move more feely.
One foot was almost free, he was down to the shoe. Traktor stifled a yawn, he was tired. Maybe
a short rest, then he could start back up. He laid back on the ice and rested his eyes for just a
He thought of his summers back in Dzhubga, along the Black Sea. It was a small town
formed by Cossacks in the 1860’s and it was his families get away. They had a small birch cabin
on a hill that had the most incredible sunset views. He could picture the orange glow across the
water as his mother and father sat side by side on a carved bench sharing tea. He would run
through the woods and pick wild flowers for the table. His mother always was so proud of him.
Then Traktor had a final strange thought… Sludge ice very dangerous. Then blackness.
Eight minutes later Chikuk and Tatter returned with the news. They had found the
The team looked down at their missing member, laying on his back frozen. His feet still
trapped in the ice, his parka, gloves and hat laying off to the side. Sergei mumbled, “Paradoxical
undressing, one of the last signs of hyperthermia.” Andrei looked confused. Sergei looked of at
the boy and continued. “You think your warm so you take off your clothes.” An awkward silence
hung on the mourning sound of the wind. Tolya broke it. “Get him out of there.” Sargei looked
at the Traktor’s trapped legs. “What about his feet?” “Cut em off. We’ve wasted enough time
here.” Tolya turned and walked away.
Chikuk took out an ice saw and started on Traktor’s left leg.
Two frozen corpses now rested in the edge of the domed tent. Tolya sat with his hands to
his head trying to relieve a headache that started back in fifty four. The flap on the tent popped
open and Chikuk and Popov entered.
They had made camp just before dawn and managed to navigate within a half mile of the
next installation. All they had left to do was to insert the electrical leach and evac off the island.
The never ending storm had taken its toll on the team but had also made them invisible to the
enemy. Each member was suffering from frostbite and exposure, but they all knew what was at
The tank rolled over bodies lying in the street as if they were stacked cord wood. Colonel
Tolya Alexeev kept his men in cover behind the metal beast as it pressed its advantage against
the poorly armed resistance. Moscow had changed its mind and in an onslaught of overwhelming
superiority had invaded Budapest to crush the Hungarian revolution. Nearly twenty thousand
people had been killed so far and the number was rising.
Russian soldiers were killing wounded people and some tanks were dragging the dead
behind them as warnings to those still protesting. But Colonel Tolya Alexeev had other thoughts
on his mind. His OBSP team had been tasked with a very specific mission. Get to Prime Minister
Irme Nagy and capture him alive if at all possible. Tolya knew it was so the powers at be could
make his demise a very public action.
Colonel Alexeev tapped on the back of the tank’s heavy armor plating with the hilt of his
dagger. The tank turret spun to the command and fired a shell at the heavily fortified entrance to
the capital. In an instant the way was clear. Tolya and his men dashed through the dust filled
enhanced opening. Bodies and parts were everywhere as poorly armed civilians had tried to
protect the building. Inside it was worse. Secretaries and paper pushers were willing to die, often
times with nothing but a coat rack or file drawer as a weapon.
Tolya’s men made quick work of the hurdle as they moved room to room on their way to
the top office. The lopsided battle finally coming to an end with a very brave but stupid charge of
eight men in dress suits wielding pistols. Tolya could take no more. But his men and their
Rexim-Favor submachine guns quickly shredded the force, leaving nothing but blood, gore and
Tolya sat up in a sweat, his eyes blinking the sight away. Breathing heavily, he
remembered the moment he was forced to stand proud as he received his medal, The Order of
Lenin, from Defense Minister Marshal Zhukov for delivering the Hungarian Prime Minister.
That was nearly a year ago.
He glanced at his watch. The hands ticking down the time.
The back side of Umnak Island basalt gives way to large sections of snow covered tundra
and a small glacier that calves into the sea beyond. The plan was to evacuate across the glacier
and rendezvous with an old steel trawler that had been busy fishing and shadowing their
movements from five miles out to sea.
Sargent Yegor had tried to reach their shadow over the radio but so far no reply.
The next infiltration into the American’s station went much smoother. Engineer Marshal
Sergei Popov had installed the electrical leach with the same exacting results. A specific spike in
an otherwise perfect sine wave. They regathered at the dome tent to make one last push to the
coast. They had entered in a cove five miles south of station DEW LRR Site 42, trekked north
from that station ten miles to station DEW LRR Site 41, then another six miles to the sea all on
foot in a storm at night in minus twenty degrees. Truly a remarkable feat, if they could just
Sargent Yegor while holding his headphones close to his ears, reach up with his other
hand and snapped his fingers in the air. The radio had made contact. The remaining team leaned
over to hear the one-sided conversation. “Roger that rendezvous oh fourteen hundred pigs bay.”
Sergei tried and failed to hear the next part. “That’s a little tight for us…” “Understood” Kazimir
put down the transmitter. “Storm coming it’s now or never.” Tolya glanced at his Smersh watch
and calculated the remaining time. Three hours, they were out of time.
The arctic dash to the leeward side of the Island was taking too long. With the gear and
the two bodies it was a struggle. There was no way to bury some of it and leave it behind, as the
ground was rock hard. Chikuk guided then at a brisk pace while pulling Misha’s corpse. The
glacier was all that was left between their pickup point and freedom from this god forsaken
island. Tolya glanced at his watch, they were not going to make it. Chikuk gestured to go around
the glacier but that option died with a ticking clock. “No time, we go straight through.” Everyone
knew the risks of crossing a glacier but doing it in a hurry was madness.
Glaciers were constantly moving creatures that had a way of cracking open to deep
chasms hundreds of feet deep and then closing back up just as fast. And when covered with
snow, there was no way of spotting the dangers without taking extreme caution.
Tolya didn’t wait, he jogged with his heavy load out on to the moving ice field. The rest
of the team hesitated then followed behind. Tolya called behind him, “follow my tracks!” He
figured that if something happened they could at least learn from his error.
A scream died in the wind as a crack and rumble shook the ground. Tolya looked back
and did a quick head count. Sergeant Kazimir Yegor was missing. He ran back to investigate.
One hundred feet below in a narrow ice chasm lay the crushed body of Kazimir. He was
illuminated by impossibly blue ice that lived at the heart of the glacier.
He had followed Tolya footsteps but the snow that had covered the chasm had given way
under his load.
With no possibility to get down to him Tolya made the only choice he had to save the
rest. “Everything over the side.” The men starred numbly. “Move it!” They pushed all the they
were carrying over the ledge and down into the ice crevasse. Tolya moved to Tatter and put his
gloved hand on his shoulder. “Even them.” He gestured to the corpses. “Hurry now, private.”
The men as reverently as possible dropped the two wrapped bodies into the crack. The
wind singing a sad song as they starred at the jumble lying in the bottom of the gap.
Chikuk watched as the small group of men ran recklessly across the uneven surface. He
removed his glove and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a small pebble. “Thank you for
keeping us all safe.” He returned to the ground and carefully placed it. “It is finished.”
They sprinted across the rest of the glacier without incident. Once on the other side Tolya
paused to take in his team. They were a mess. Tatter’s nose was black with frostbite and Popov
was running stiff legged. He was probably going to lose his feet to the cold.
He waited but there was no Chikuk. Tolya called to Tatter, “where’s Chikuk?” “He
wandered off.” Tolya looked confused. “What do you mean!” “I mean, he waved at me, turned
and disappeared into the storm… I guess he has decided to move to America after all.”
Tolya starred off into the distance. “We’re done with him anyway, come on.” The three
men climbed down the embankment and towards the shore. From out of the grey gloom came a
black rubber raft puttering to the shore. Tolya took a shallow breath of the arctic air mission,
critical to his superiors, but costly and in the end he could only hope that the evidence left behind
would never come to light. Three of them, against all odds, had made it and honestly, he was
Two Week Later
The Tupolev TU-16 Accelerated down the unmarked runway outside Chersky, Siberia.
Radioman 1st class, Vaughn Pankiv, but everyone called him Panky, warmed his hands
against the heat generated by the vacuum tube radio in the aft cabin. He was a scruffy man in
appearance and attitude, with large ears and a clef chin. He scratched absently at the nap of his
neck as he buried his face into the green glow of the radar screen. Its extended port matching the
contour of his eyes and the bridge of his nose. The scope’s perpetual bar swept the grid patterned
screen with a mechanical repetition.
Sitting in the forward cabin in two nylon meshed seats were Doctor Grigory Nepein and
his demure, nervous assistant, Shura Mosin.
Grigory, the genius behind the operation had spent the last three years developing a
counter to the American’s defensive string of early warning radar stations across the arctic. With
the success of the ground mission all that was left, was to test it.
Shura Mosin was busy with three boxes of electrical equipment stacked nearly to the
ceiling. Red and green lights blinked in a systematized array, as he went through a precise
checklist mounted to a clipboard.
Shura was the son of polish parents who early on found a place for their son’s intellect
and had used it to better their station in life. His round coke bottle glasses and perfectly parted
hair complimented his expected nerd factor. Shura’s flight suit looked as though he had
borrowed it from a big brother, hanging loosely on his frame
The skies were clear and the first taste of dusk was still two hours away. The TU-16 was
a cigar-shaped long range bomber that could reach speeds of 990kph. It flew on two massive
turbo-jet engines with a range of 58,000 kilometers. The pride of soviet bombers.
It had a large cockpit and three cabins, the size of a small shed, running in parallel behind
it. The bomb bay could hold four nuclear weapons and deploy them all at once of one at a time,
depending on the requirements of the mission.
Captain Yana Shchavelsky leveled off and set their course for ninety degrees due east.
“Ok radio silence from here on out. We have approximately,” he looked at his watch and
calculated speed, distance and head winds in his head. “Three and a half hours to target.” The
captain was a large man with even larger hands. He slid in his seat trying to find a more
comfortable position as his flight suit cut into his hips.
Yana’s natural instinct to always plan for the worst had served him well on over fifty
sorties of this type and to him this mission was nothing more than business as usual. But to the
higher ups they seemed unusually paranoid, insisting on a last minute reshuffling of the crew.
Leaving only his navigator as the only person he had flown with before.
Yana looked over at his 1st officer, a man named Toma Fukin. He was busy at his station
and seemed competent enough. “Toma, take the controls.” As he turned the controls over to the
co-pilot, he whipped out a dog-eared book that he had been working through and picked up
where he had left off.
This particular aircraft had been modified. The standard, somewhat pointy nosecone was
replaced with a concave dish covered with a Plexiglas cone to preserve the bomber’s aeronautics.
Attached to the dish was a thick braid of wires leading back to the forward cabin.
Doctor Nepein wiped the sweat from his face and readjusted the wispy blond hairs the
occupied some of his scalp. In spite the outside temperature the electronics in the cabin radiated
heat like a furnace.
All systems had checked out and there was nothing left to do but wait. But this was not
doctor’s way. So he did a double check for the third time. Running through every possible
scenario, just to be sure. He knew failure would most likely result in death and a global war. He
had to be perfect.
Fifteen minutes to target was broadcast throughout the cabin in an impassive female
voice. The navigator, Natasha Zykin, was a highly decorated officer with the most flights of
anyone on the jet.
She had proven herself extremely competent and that had won he a place on captain
Shchavelsky’s crew. She was a short woman with a curvaceous figure and an ever-present smile.
He curly auburn hair was kept short and a smattering of freckles was the source of a nickname
she had very slowly come to accept, Nushki.
Two years previously she had kept a mission on course in spite of a hurricane level storm
and a lightning strike that left a complete electrical failure on the plane.
Captain Shchavelsky put his book away and grabbed the stick. “I’ll take her from here.”
1st officer Fukin looked over and released control. “Yes sir.” “American air space well this is a
first.” Toma Fukin swallowed hard and then squeaked out, “yes sir.” He noticed his hands felt
sweaty in his gloves. Get ahold of yourself, he mouthed with mock bravery.
Panky reached over and flicked several switches. “Powering down the radio and radar,”
he announced. “Roger that radio and radar powering down.” Came as a reply from the Co-pilot.
Resetting speed and altitude, doc. It’s all in your hands now.”
The captain pulled the throttle lever and adjusted the flaps as he spoke to the copilot
directly. “I sure hope he knows what the hell he’s doing.” They shared a concerned look but
moved past it for other duties.
The TU-16 decreased it’s altitude to 10,000 meters and slowed to 750kph. There was
more turbulence at this altitude but the height and speed were critical for success of the mission.
Yana had flown this route many times, but had always turned around at the 190th parallel while
still over international waters.
This operation was as black as they got and he only hoped they would live through it. The
pride and ingeniousness of the Soviet Union was at stake in The captain’s mind and he was damn
sure he would do his part.
“Five minutes to American air space,” Nushki was feeling the tension grow with every
mile forward. “Disconnect Transponder.” Panky followed the captain’s orders, there was no
Even the plane seemed nervous as it bucked and trembled trying to shove through the
Grigory pushed a small green button on a metal console and glanced to his assistant for
A signal travelled at light speed to the dish in the nose of the jet. It immediately began sending a
very specific high power frequency to the world ahead.
Shura nodded timidly while readjusting his glasses on his sweaty face. “ CCI is
Broadcasting,” he croaked. CCI was the Russian acronym for Focused Frequency Emitter.
Grigory pushed the microphone and announced, “captain maintain this heading and airspeed. We
are broadcasting.” The captain confirmed the information and then snapped his oxygen mask into
place. Toma followed his lead.
The Tupolev bounced, then settled, as it held its new bearing. Nushki, while keeping her
head buried in a magnified view of the ground below, began the count down. “Two minutes to
target. Signal strong and steady.”
Doc rubbed his hands against his pants in an unconscious circle. He stared at the lights on
his console all green. The frequency in concert with the planted electrical leach would blind the
radar facility to their approach.
Grigory had built a full scale replica of the radar station, based on plans smuggled out of
the General Electric, the company that had won the contract to build the DEW Line radar
stations across the arctic. The replica had been tested and retested against his CCI unit, until
Moscow was satisfied and gave the green light.
“Sir I see the target now.” Everyone held their collective breath as the bomber passed
overhead. Through her field of view the navigator Zykin watched as the shadowy silhouette of
Umnak Island passed below.
She could just make out the American’s grey radar installation against the snow below.
“Passing target now.” The sight fled from her view. “Target passed.” She looked up from her
scope and tried to swallow.
They were through, but had they been detected.
Doctor Grigory Nepein allowed the breath he had been holding to lose. “Captain you can
return to our normal altitude and speed.” He flicked off the green button and sat back in his seat,
barely hearing the words the captain spoke. “Copy that Doc. Let’s hope your little gadget
Nushki set a course for our next target and Panky you can turn the radio back on, I want
to know if you hear anything.” The navigator consulted her chart and worked out their next
bearing. “Roger that sir, course nine eight degrees, Seattle”
Panky returned the power to the units and buried his face in the green glow of the scope.
“No contacts sir.” “Let’s hope it stays that way,” the captain mouthed.
Grigory leaned back and put his hands behind his head. If he had done everything right
they should be completely unseen within the American’s airspace. He allowed a rare smile to
form, it had been a long time coming. And with this successful test he would be a household
name in the Kremlin. Good thing were to come, perhaps even a summer cottage on the Black
“Target distance, ten miles.” The captain repeated the information and squinted ahead
through the hazy atmosphere as the skyline of Seattle slowly grew.
A sequence of events started to unfold as the crew went though the final preparations to
drop their bomb.
“Ready for final bomb check.”
“Final bomb check.”
“Bomb fusing master safety on.”
“Fusing master safety on.”
“Target distance, seven miles.”
The sequence continued like a well-choreographed dance. Each playing their part in time
with the other.
Shura Mosin removed his glasses and rubbed the lenses on his sleeve, no longer involved
in the current mission. “Professor, I was thinking we might be able to use the CCI technology for
other applications.” “I see you have been reading my book, Mosin,”
Grigory focused on his assistant. “What did you have in mind?” Shura broke eye contact
with his boss, now unsure of his idea. “If there was a way to remotely implant the filter without
actually being there.”
“Target distance five miles.”
“Open bomb doors”
Grigory held up his hand to pause Shura’s words. His interest piqued but not above the
current action now happening.
“I have visual on the scope,” Nushki announced, as she began a count down.
The TU-16 buffed slightly then smoothed out. Everyone was at the ready, this was what
all the training was for. Right now, this instant.
The time seemed to slow for the crew, as they neared the drop point. Even the sound of
the roaring turbines seemed to fade off. Then in a clear and precise voice, came, “release bomb.”
As Captain Shchavelsky heard those last words, he put the bomber into a hard one
hundred and eighty degree turn.
“Let’s get out of here.”
Natasha watched on the scope as a large metal cased bomb dropped. Ultimately making
contact with the sea some quarter miles from the city. And then harmlessly sinking from sight.
“Well Doc looks like you have your proof of concept.” “Thanks Captain, excellent crew
you have here.” Yana had to agree with him. They had all do a great job, so far. “Now let’s get
back home safely so we can tell someone about it.”
Everyone stayed alert and at the top of their game as the TU-16 reversed its course and
moved back through the radar gap they had created in the DEW Line. Once again the CCI had
performed perfectly and they left US airspace without consequence.
Once over international waters, Natasha worked her way to the cockpit and popped the
cork on a bottle of champagne she had brought along. “Captain do we have time for a little
celebration?” “I don’t think one bottle divided by six will hurt, please do the honors, Nushki.”
Natasha made the rounds for all to share. The moral was high and they were all feeling
invincible. After all, they had duped the Americans radar defenses and even dropped a practice
nuclear bomb on their doorstep. All, without the capitalist pigs even knowing. It was a good day
for the Soviet Union.
Natasha returned to her seat with but a swallow left in the bottle. She looked down and at
the simple red star, with the crossed gold hammer and sickle, on her uniform. Had she made the
right decision? It was too late now.
Within five minutes the plane seemed to wander. She quickly moved past Doctor Grigory
Nepein and his assistant, motionless in their chairs. Once in the cockpit she struggled to remove
captain Shchavelsky from his seat. His dead weight making it a real chore. Once finished, she sat
in the seat and belted herself in. Natasha looked around one last time then pushed the control
stick forward and dropped the bomber into a steep dive straight for the Bering Sea.
Washington D.C. – 8:57am – General Services Administration – 2
Codi took one last look at her office as she turned out the lights for the final time. Some
may have said that her rise to the FBI had been meteoric but she believed it was more of a wrong
place at the wrong time sort of thing.
Working for the GSA was not her planned career path but after a little help from the old
boys club, resulting in a serious injury, she was forced to tap out of her BUDs training, as one of
the very few females to ever make it that far, it was a bitter disappointment for Codi.
It sent her in a bit of a tailspin that involved leaving the military, followed by bouts of
depression and reckless behavior. Finally it turned around with her being accepted to work for
the offices of the GSA – General Services Administration. She was a federal officer but
effectively only a paper cop. Codi had embraced the job with full fervor and quickly got the
attention of her boss, Director Ruth Anne Gables, a politically connected, strong leader who took
Codi under her arm, and pushed her in all the right ways.
Working with her assigned partner, Agent Joel Strickman, a computer savvy, wiry blond
with a heart of gold. They found success in bringing to justice several individuals that were
trying to defraud the US government.
But it took a case that pushed her to her absolute limits for her to rise up and excel. It
seemed the more one pushed against Codi, the more she pushed back. It wasn’t stubbornness, but
a determination born of a confidence her mother had instilled in her at a young age. Something
no one could give or take from her.
Agent Collette “Codi” Sanders flicked her shoulder-length brown hair and turned her
five-foot-eight body out of the office door. She moved down the hallway just in time to see
Agent Strickman come out of his office holding three cardboard boxes precariously. He had his
cellphone in his mouth and he was trying to close the door with his foot. “Need some help?”
“Codi! Hi, sure,” he mumbled through lips pressed around his cell.
Codi reached up and took the phone from Joel’s mouth then continued down the hallway.
Joel looked over his stack of boxes at her receding form. She wore black patterned fitness
leggings and a casual white tee-shirt that read, Bloody Difficult Woman. But her movement is
what he noticed most, athlectic, like a cat on the prowl.
“Thanks… I guess.” She glanced back with a smirk. “Hey, somebody’s gotta hold the
door open. Come on.”
He hurried to catch up to her, his black wingtip’s tapping loudly on the marble floor.
They loaded the boxes into the trunk of Joel’s Prius. Codi plopped into the passenger seat
and looked over at Joel’s new Dunhill suit and tie combo, as he clicked his seatbelt in place. “It’s
moving day, what’s with the getup?” Joel smoothed out the seatbelt across his suit. “Just wanted
to make a good impression.” Codi smiled a Joel. His die hard loyalty would never win man’s
man of the year contest, but he was still the perfect partner. Eighty percent brains, twenty percent
brawn and zero percent social skills. Joel was also a completely a by-the-book agent, but Codi
was working on that.
Their last mission had put them both in mortal danger and at odds with a special task
force for the FBI. After one upping the FBI they had found a way to work together, and the
group had excelled. Ultimately stopping a major international terrorist attack from happening,
but not before both had been shot and in Codi’s case also nearly drowned.
Since that time she had been offered a chance to join the special projects team as a full-
fledged FBI agent along with her partner Joel. Codi jumped at the opportunity, but Joel had taken
some convincing. His overactive sense of low self-worth was not ready for the big time. But as
usual, Codi had gotten her way.
The Prius pulled away from the loading zone an Codi’s phone started to buzz. She
glanced at the text screen. My office in 10 please. Codi showed the screen to Joel. “Better step on
it.” Joel tightened. “But this is a thirty-five zone.” Codi’s eyes narrowed. ” Seriously? We’re FBI
agents now” Joel looked a bit flummoxed. “But that means setting an example.” “Right by
kicking the bad guys asses!” Codi flicked her eyes forward and Joel reluctantly pushed down
more on the accelerator.
Twelve minutes later.
Agent Brian Fescue stepped around the desk to greet Codi and Joel. “Sorry to interrupt
your moving day, but cases rarely take a day off. Nice suit by the way Joel.” Joel let out a big
smile and glanced over at Codi with an I-told-you-so gesture. “So spill what is it.” Codi blurted
in an attempt to change the subject.
Brian was their boss and head of the special projects task force. He was a highly
decorated agent who based on their last success together had chosen family over fieldwork. His
now pregnant wife and five-year-old son being the main recipients.
Brian’s island roots were only evident in his slight Jamaican accent and cappuccino
colored skin set, against piecing gold eyes made him stand out in a crowd. But his no nonsense
approach to management had made him a rising star at the FBI. The rumor mill had him in line
for a directorship.
Brian scratched his close cropped hair as he spoke. “What do you know about the
Aleutian islands. Joel, a wealth of knowledge pipped up. “It’s a chain of islands extending from
mainland Alaska separating the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean. Oh, and it’s cold there”
“Well thanks to global warming we have a curiosity that’s been pushed in our direction.”
Codi and Joel shared a glance. “I need the two of you to pop up there and do your thing.” He
opened his drawer and grabbed a flash drive. “Everything we know is on the file, I’m sorry, it’s
not much.” He handed it to Joel.
“See Mindy for your travel arrangements. Oh and before you ask, the family’s fine.”
Codi and Joel sniggered and Brian loosed a smile that covered his whole face. It was a running
joke that the three shared.
Now boarding group “C”. Joel listened to airport speaker call his group, but he was in no
hurry. The last minute arrangements had got them tickets in the very back row of Alaska fight
one out of DC.
Codi had been right to check as much luggage as possible, by the time they got to their
seat there was no more overhead space. They sat and tried to get comfortable for the long flight
with multiple stop overs.
“What do you know about the DEW Line.” “As in I do?” Codi had her eyes closed and
peeked over to see Joel had opened up the digital files on his tablet. “No, D E W, Distant Early
Warning System. It was an integrated chain of early warning radar and communication stations
constructed across northern Canada and Alaska between 1953 into the early sixties.” Codi looked
bored. “It was specifically designed to pick up soviet bombers coming out of Russia in time for
us to scramble fighters to intercept. It was a huge deal during the cold war and probably saved us
on some level from getting a nuclear bomb dropped on our heads.” “What’s it got to do with our
John Doe?” “Doe’s… There are three bodies.” This got Codi’s attention.
She leaned over Joel’s shoulder at the screen. The plane bucked slightly passing through
a cloud. “Nothing, it’s just the only thing that has ever happened on this forgotten island we’re
heading towards, except for seasonal cattle herding.” Codi scrunched her face at the thought of a
wild goose chase so far from home. Joel added, There is a small town at the bottom of the
island, Nikolski. It’s population swelled with the fifties when the DEW Line was being
constructed but now it’s down to eighteen.
Nikolski is reputed to be the oldest continuously-occupied community in the world.
“What? How is that possible; the Aleutian Islands off Alaska?” Joel read on. “They have found
archeological evidence dating back eighty five hundred years.” Codi processed the information.
“That’s before the pyramids.” “Right.” “And only eighteen people left, crazy.”. Joel cleared his
throat, “well, whatever it is, it must be important to call the FBI.” Codi leaned back and tried to
recline her seat. Then remembered the last row sat against the back bulkhead and didn’t recline.
“Or they are just jerkin us around.”
“Thanks for coming, and welcome to Umnak Island, by the way. We tried to keep the
bodies untouched as soon as we realized we had something…” He searched for the right word
“Unusual.” Lieutenant Silla Dobkins of the Alaska State Police, seemed almost giddy that he was
talking to the FBI. He shook their hands vigorously as they exited the boat and pointed them
towards a hill.
The trip to Umnak Island had been a bear. Once they got to Anchorage, Joel and Codi
had flown in a puddle jumper to Driftwood Bay, then a float plane to Nikolski Bay on the
island’s southern end. From there they took a trawler around the leeward side of the island to a
small inlet. The total travel stint was over twenty four hours and the two bleary eyed agents were
living off caffeine and borrowed time. For Joel the exit from the boat was timely as he had
started to turn a shade green during the crossing.
The frail sun did little to fight the chill as it moved parallel to the horizon. Codi check her
phone to find no signal as she moved up from the shore.
Lieutenant Dobkins was a short round man with Eskimo blood and a fast pace. He led
them up a small cattle trail alongside a dying glacier. Joel was glad to be on land, but puffed at
the sudden exertion. “One of the our part time residents found them. Bert Yazzie, he runs cattle
here in the warmer months. Says he was looking for a lost calf when he found the first body.
Called us up and we got busy. Turned out there were three, all buried together. At first it looked
like a lost hunting party fell in one of the glaciers crevasses, no biggie, right? But then a few
strange things started to show up.” Codi found an opening in the man’s monologue. “Strange like
what.” “Let me show you.”
As they came over the rise, Codi could see three men and some equipment around a large
blue pop up standing by the edge of the glacier. Joel flipped up his parka against the sudden wind
that assaulted him in the face.
Dobkins made the introductions and then took them to the bodies. Under the pop up,
were three bodies laid out on the ice. Surrounding the bodies was an organized and tagged pile of
old and mostly smashed gear. The bodies were in varying conditions. Two of them looked like
they have been ground, frozen and then pulverized again for good measure.
The other was in remarkable condition, as though he had just died. “A glacier is a funny
thing it can grind you up, or keep you just as you are.” Lieutenant Dobkins looked down and
spoke reverently “There’s no love in the ice, only cold.”
Codi stepped over to the corpses and knelt for a closer look. “And all three of these…”
She looked closer at the two masticated bodies. “Men, were found in the same place?”
Dobkins broke out of his reverie. “Yes mam, they all went into the ice at once, and I’m
guessing by the age of this gear… Mid-fifties?” Codi stood back up, “I still don’t see why we
were summoned here.”
Dobkins paused, he looked uncomfortable but continued. “Well, it’s really more of what
you don’t see. “Looky here.” He moved to the body that was still intact. And bent over and
pointed to the man’s boots. “These boots were developed by the Russians. We get a lot of their
surplus stuff here, but not in the fifties, that was state of the art equipment.”
He moved over to the tagged and piled gear. “And this radio, what’s left of it, definitely
looks Russian.” Dobkins pulled something shiny out of his pocket. “Oh and the piece de
resistance. He held up a red and gold colored medal, with the silhouette of a man in the middle. It
was about the size of post-it note. “This, definitely is Russian.” He handed it to Joel for a look.
Joel looked it over. “The order of Lenin their counties greatest award.” Dobkins nodded,
“right and if you look at the date it was issued.” Joel looked closer. “1954…”
The date hit him like a gunshot. “That’s right when the DEW Line was built.” Dobkins
nodded, then pointed away from the glacier, “and there’s a station just across on the windward
side from here.”
Lieutenant Dobkins moved over to stand between Codi and Joel. “So the question is?”
Codi answered. “What were Russians doing on a US island during the cold war right in the
middle of the DEW Line.”
Dobkins held his hands in the air. “Bingo!”
“It has one hundred and twenty reviews on YELP.” Joel was struggling to keep up with
Codi’s pace, while looking at his phone and stumbling across the uneven surface. “Even a few
The mile long spit extending northeast made the town of Dutch Harbor a natural port.
Now famous for its crabbing, it was once the location of the battle of Dutch Harbor where a
Japanese carrier strike force unleashed a forty eight hour battle against the US army and Navy
stationed there. It included several air battles and a loss of over twenty three US soldiers killed
and ten MIA. The highlight was the recovery of the first intact Japanese Zero. The plane was
shipped to US Intelligence where it was dissected and analyzed.
“I’m sure it will be fine.” Codi glanced up at the sun which was not due to set till after
1am and then back up by 4am. This was a strange part of the world. She would hate to have to
spend the winter here. “There used to be a saloon here that was rated the roughest bar in the US.”
Codi looked a bit forlorn. “Too bad it’s gone.” Joel looked like he had bitten a lemon, “you
wouldn’t seriously go into a place like that?” Codi gave him a, Heck Ya, look.
The pitted wooden floor was interrupted by white plastic tables and chairs. Plastic red
gingham table cloths were decorated with paper plates and plastic utensils. But the real attention
grabber was the rustic room’s patrons. Craggy, blue collar workers all covered in the job of the
day; hopped up on testosterone and alcohol. “You really know how to show a girl a good time,”
Codi said out of the corner of her mouth, as eyes from every corner of the room undressed her.
Joel looked worried at his choice of eateries. But found an empty table and sat.
As he stared nervously around the room, he noticed there was literally a hole in the wall. He
lifted his hands from the sticky surface and then used some paper napkins to try and clean the
tabletop. “We have arrived,” he whispered to Codi pointing at the feature with his eyes. The
simile wasn’t lost on Codi and was probably made with a fist.
An older stout woman with an elongated face and a wrinkle for every pore, approached
their table “Can we see a menu?” Joel parroted as he looked up to meet the waitresses’ toothless
smile. “Fish or Crab? Name’s May, welcome to The Borealis, Fish or Crab?” She gave Joel a
look the dared him to test her. Joel withered from her glare and turned helplessly to Codi for
“One of each please and two beers,” Codi responded without looking up. She was
concentrating on an incoming text, “The bodies will be ready for us tomorrow am.” “Good then
we can finish up and get the hell out of this town.” Joel said the last part with a little too much
enthusiasm. That brought a sudden silence to the room and a very unwelcome focus on Joel. As
he looked around the room, he saw a virtual who’s who of the mangy and rugged. Joel tried to
swallow but his throat was suddenly dry.
What’s wrong with our town, “voiced a particularly large man with a beard that almost
touched his belly. He stood up and eclipsed half the room, greasy black spots decorated his
XXXL flannel shirt.
Joel seemed to shrink three sizes.
Codi burst out loud laughing. This was more to her liking, but Joel couldn’t decide if he
should cry or run to the bathroom. The laughter, however, was contagious and soon others
started to join in. This made the big man turn a little more red as he zeroed in on Joel. After an
uncomfortable moment, he gesticulated with his arms to quiet the room.
He looked Joel over then shifted to Codi. A slight twinkle formed in his eyes. “You seem
like good people… I will let you buy me a beer.” Just then May returned with food and beers.
“Corky, stop clowning around or I’ll throw you out on your ear.” The behemoth of a man looked
defeated as he sat back down. “Yes May,” he mumbled. May turned and set the food on their
table. “Don’t mind him he’s always looking for a way to get free beer. And your lucky.” “How’s
that,” Codi asked. “We’d all love to get the hell out of this town if we could… Enjoy.” With that,
May spun on a heel and left.
The food was probably the best they had ever eaten and the company, compliments of a
few rounds, soon found a comradeship in the two FBI agents. By midnight they were all singing
Codi looked up at the old grey metal hanger. It was the size of a flat roofed four car
garage. It had one large roll-up door that was closed. Large chunks of paint were peeling off the
walls and littered the ground around it. As the two agent entered a side door the hinges protested
in a squeaky wail.
Joel quickly covered his ears as the sound seemed to cut right through his hungover brain.
The smell of formaldehyde hit him like a monologue from a b-movie. He tried to breathe through
his ears but failed.
Sitting on three tables in the middle of the space were the partially covered bodies from
the glacier. On the floor to the side was all the gear they had collected, tagged and organized. As
Codi approached the smell intensified. She noticed that the two corpses that had been ground up
had been carefully put back together. The other had the traditional Y cut from an autopsy.
Lieutenant Silla Dobkins turned and called out. Great you’re here, we can get started.”
He shook their hands just as vigorously as he had before. “Lieutenant Dobkins,” Joel started.
“Please we’re past that, call me Sil.” “Ok great, that’s Codi and I’m Joel.” Here, this will help
with the smell. He gave them a jar of Vicks vapor rub.
Joel watched Codi expertly put a dab under her nose. He did the same and his eyes
immediately started watering; followed shortly thereafter by a ridiculously loud sneeze. Codi
handed him a small rag from the tables corner. “Here.” Joel put it over his mouth to breathe
through instead of the burning ointment.
Sil introduced them to the M.E. and his assistant. Codi shook hands then stepped over to
get a better look at the bodies. The medical examiner filled Dobkins in on his findings. “I did a
DNA test to determine origin. It’s pretty simple really, they are all Russian.” “See, told you.” Sil
looked at the man like he had just won some kind of bet. “Yes…”
Joel spoke up, “have you determined cause of death?” The M.E. walked over like he was
giving a lecture. “John Doe number one was impaled by what was most likely an icicle at the
bottom of the crevasse he fell in. Number two died from a blunt force trauma to the back of his
head and three froze to death.
Where’s the rest of him?” Joel was referring to the third cadaver that was missing his legs
and feet, from mid-calf down. Codi was over inspecting the stumps. “It looks like they were cut
off, no, sawed off.” “Yes, post mortem.” Joel made a face “OK.” Do you have an approximate
day when this all happened. “The best I can give you is fall 1955.” “How did you come up with
that?” Joel queried. “The USGS has been measuring glacier migration and melt in this area since
the first satellites went up. And this…” The doctor lifted a boot from the nearby collection.
“They were new and dated.” The boot clearly showed it’s manufacture date August 12th 1955.
Codi paced between the bodies. “So Russians, most likely special forces, based on their
gear, here 1955, to do what?” “That’s why we called you folks.” Joel took a picture of the three
men’s faces. “I’ll see what I can dig up, but I’m betting the DEW Line.”