Authors: James Rouch
Tags: #Fiction, #Espionage
Soviet surface to air (SAM) missile SA-8. NATO code name, Gecko.
Slant range 8.5 miles. Infra-red homing.
Warhead weight 105 lbs (with proximity fuse).
Fired in pairs to defeat electronic counter measures;
typical interception speed is Mach 1.5.
The six-wheeled amphibious transporter is based on components of the ZIL-E167 truck. A central tyre pressure regulation system is fitted and the vehicle is
sealed for use in NBC environments.
Usually employed well forward, the lack of armour has proved a handicap, the
radar group in particular being vulnerable to damage by shell fragments. (A
tracked armoured carrier is under development.)
Eight reload rounds are carried; when they have been used it is necessary for the
crew to ballast the vehicle before attempting river crossings. The 12.7mm DShK
machine gun, shown on the example is a local modification.
THE ZONE Series by James Rouch:
THE ZONE 3
For Lily and Bill Mellor
Copyright © 1981 by James Rouch
An Imprint Original Publication, 2005
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without permission of the publishers.
First E-Book Edition 2005
Second IMRPINT April 2007
The characters in this book are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
THE ZONE E-Books are published by
IMPRINT Publications, 3 Magpie Court
High Wycombe, WA 6057. AUSTRALIA.
Produced under licence from the Author, all rights reserved. Created in Australia by Ian Taylor © 2005
‘As I see it, World War Three will be fought in two places; in Western Europe, and on and under every damned inch of ocean around the globe.’ Admiral Harvey J. Harrison, US Navy (Retired), in an off-the-record conversation before a televised debate on armament spending, June 1978.
Aircraft from the USS
lead ship of the nuclear
powered task force commanded by Admiral Howard Murray, have made their
second ‘kill’ in three days, bringing to four the number of Soviet submarines
destroyed by the Force in as many weeks. NATO sources have expressed
confidence that the threat to the convoy routes is steadily diminishing. Merchant
shipping losses in the last quarter were down by 46 per cent, to 789,000 tons for
. The Palestinian gunboat,
Poluchat class patrol boat) has been sunk by the Israeli helicopter/missile craft
A mixed force of British and American destroyers has sunk the Soviet fleet
(23,00 tons) and driven aground or damaged
three Mirka class frigates off Kinaros, at the entrance to the Aegean Sea. HMS
suffered some damage in the night engagement, but
are remaining on station.
Rescue and decontamination parties are now satisfied they have
located all of the survivors aboard the USS
Rough weather has prevented
the transfer of the. last of the casualties to the hospital ship
volunteer medical team has established facilities aboard the carrier. With 140 feet
of the bow and its island superstructure gone and the bodies of a thousand crew
members still on board, it is thought likely, though the Navy Department has issued
no statement as yet, that the ship will eventually be sunk as a war grave. The
warhead that inflicted the damage, killing 50 per cent of the 6,328 strong
complement, is estimated at 5Kt.
The North Seal Baltic Approaches / Baltic.
In the past week, five new hulls
have been launched from the Soviet naval shipyards at Leningrad, and four
warships have completed fitting-out, including a Kresta class cruiser. Three
refitted destroyers and six new frigates have joined the squadrons working-up off
the coast of Poland.
Increased radio activity and the ships’’ deployment has been taken by the NATO
Intelligence Staffs as an indication that the Russians may shortly attempt a
breakout into the North Sea. If successful this would totally alter the balance of
power in the area, and seriously threaten the resupply of NA TO ground forces in
There is intense diplomatic activity between Stockholm and Moscow, and it is
thought likely that the Russians are bringing pressure to bear on Sweden to gain
rights of passage for Warsaw Pact combat vessels through her territorial waters. If
this is granted, then the Soviet ships will be able to avoid the extensive NATO
minefields in the Kattegat. Strenuous efforts to counter the Russian move are being
made by Western diplomats, who fear that such a concession could be the
forerunner of an agreement between the two countries that would virtually take
Sweden into the Soviet camp.
Flames were coming from the port inner engine of the giant Ilyshin military transport. As the aircraft banked steeply towards the cover of broken cloud below, the feather-edged yellow streamer of fire spread along the high-set wing to its root. It seared away the banded green and brown camouflage paint and its furnace heat buckled the thin alloy skin of the fuselage. The blazing two-shaft turbofan suddenly broke from its pylon and whirled into space, trailing a ribbon of blue smoke.
For an instant a bank of cloud hid the aircraft from sight, then as it emerged into clear sky once more, it was wracked by an internal explosion that littered the air with anonymous debris. Huge sheets of ragged metal were caught and tossed by the slip-stream. The nose of the Ilyshin dropped sharply as it began its last, uncontrolled descent.
There followed a second, more violent explosion that tore the flame-enveloped wing from the transport, and it rolled on to its back and began to break up as it went into a steep dive. A moment before the clouds hid it again, the rear cargo doors burst open and the sky was seeded with the burning fragments of its palletised load and the tumbling bodies of its handling crew.
‘Don’t get fucking excited. It’s not a real-time transmission. The general likes a few tapes of edited highlights played when things are a little slack.’ Major Revell didn’t need to look away from the big screen and the operations room spread out below to know that it was Ol’ Foul Mouth who stood behind him on the balcony. The dramatic scenes of the recording had already been replaced with grid, continent outline and vari-coloured coded symbols of the status chart as he turned from the rail. ‘When do I get my command, Colonel?’ ‘Shit, you still rumbling on about that?’ Colonel Lippincott shied the half-inch stub of pencil into a waste basket on the floor below and xylophoned his teeth with a fresh one, before testing its composition with a crunching bite. ‘Come with me, I’ll explain how it is.’
Led at a fast pace half the length of the underground complex, Revell had no chance to repeat his question, as both keeping up and the narrowness of some passageways prevented him from putting it again.
‘Well?’ Lippincott threw open a rivet-studded steel door to reveal a small room not more than ten by ten. The bare, rough hewn walls of natural rock were relieved at intervals by unframed rectangles of startlingly daubed canvas. ‘So tell me, what d’yer think?’
Not certain what it was he was supposed to comment on, Revell played safe. ‘It isn’t what I was expecting.’
‘You can bet your fucking arse it isn’t. You know, I got better than ninety-five square feet here. There’s a two-star general down the corridor apiece who ain’t got half that, and he has to share with a couple of buckets and a mini-mop. How d’yer like the paintings?’ He didn’t give Revell a chance to reply. ‘Did them myself. Kinda hobby of mine.’
Grateful to have been spared the need to conjure up what could only have been an unconvincing ‘very nice’, Revell sat on the canvas sling of the metal-framed chair he was waved to, and waited for Ol’ Foul Mouth to settle in the swivelling bucket-style seat on the other side of the wide polished desk that dominated the artificially lit room.
‘My one little luxury.’ Lippincott ran his hand over the beautifully waxed wood. ‘Had to slip a couple of fifties to a horse-faced master sergeant to get it in, but I feel happier with it down here, tucked away nice and safe.’ ‘There must be a lot of German civvies up above who’d like to feel the same about themselves.’
‘Shit, they’re safe enough.’ Lippincott jerked his thumb towards the rock ceiling. ‘They’re a good twenty of their crappy kilometres from the Zone. Unless the Commies start breaking the rules again, and sling a few nukes around outside of it, they’re safe. Give or take a spot of shitty fallout, that is.’ ‘What about my command?’ Revell was growing impatient with the drawn-out preliminaries.
Taking a file from the neat stack barely lining the bottom of a wire basket, Lippincott flicked it open and smoothed the top sheet of crisp white paper. ‘Before we get to that, I got the Staff verdict on that little j ob you did for me.’ ‘Verdict?’ There’d been no special emphasis on the word, but it warned Revell to be on his guard.
‘That’s what I fucking said. Seems the good citizens of Frankfurt got their knickers a mite twisted over that… shall we call it ‘adventure’, of yours.’ The colonel’s finger found a particular line on the double spaced report. ‘As I read it, seems like they could have forgiven you for scaring the crap out of them with that false Nuke alert while you flattened one of their showpiece industrial estates; but what stuck in their craw was coming back out of their shelters to find you’d done a hell of a demolition job on a key power station, and fucked-up who knows how many millions of man-hours of war effort.’ ‘I did the job I was given. My men destroyed the Ruskie armoured column…’ ‘Yeah, and that’s probably what saved your hide, otherwise by now you’d be a shit-house cleaner, tenth class.’
‘Are you telling me I don’t get the Special Combat Company I was promised three months back, is that it?’ Revell leant forward and the top back rail of his chair clanged against the stone. ‘I’ve got just seven men, seven. A couple of the survivors from that other group we absorbed might be worth hanging on to, but that’s it.’ He included Andrea in the number, counting her among the men. Judging by her ability to take care of herself, there was no reason why he should do otherwise.
‘Sit still. Hell, there ain’t the room to get excited and start jumping about in here.
OK, so that’s how it is at the moment… now will you fucking sit, shut it, and listen…’ Lippincott forestalled the objections and protest he sensed coming. ‘Jesus, you bastards with the combat commands think you’re the only ones fighting this shitty war. All you got to fight is sneak-punching Russians; me, I’ve got to do battle with a dozen different cruddy Staff whiz-kids every day. Every damned day. You know the latest bee they got in their swollen heads? Course you fucking don’t. Private armies.’