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Authors: Bob Mayer

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The Gate

BOOK: The Gate
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.




COPYRIGHT © 1997 by Bob Mayer, updated 2011


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the author (Bob Mayer, Who Dares Wins) except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.


Cool Gus Publishing

Black Ops The Gate


Bob Mayer



FRIDAY, 3 AUGUST 1945 5:24


“Quickly!” The officer barking the orders wore the white uniform of the Japanese Imperial Navy, but the tunic was stained with sweat and dirt. The reason was obvious as he added his strength to the work party, fastening the large crate in the back of the truck to a crane’s hook.

A man standing on the deck of the submarine echoed the naval officer’s words. “Quickly!” This man did not wear a uniform, but his demeanor brooked no argument. His eyes blazed darkly at the workers and a long, straight scar ran down the right side of his leathery face, disappearing under the collar of the black shirt he wore. Through a tear in the shirt, the officer could see part of a tattoo that covered the man’s chest. Large, black ominous waves were etched into the skin with the red orb of a sun looming behind them.

The man was standing next to a midget submarine, which was bolted to the deck, just aft of the conning tower. Behind the midget sub, a special sled rested on a cradle. The sled was designed to fit the rectangular crate. The cradle had been hastily welded to the steel deck, the work finished just moments ago. Cables were lying on the deck, waiting to join the sled and crate to the submarine.

The officer cast an anxious glance to the northwest, up the long valley floor. In the dim light of early morn, he could see the flash of artillery and he knew that it wasn’t Japanese tubes firing the rounds. They could all hear the rumble of nonstop heavy firing echoing off the tall mountains that framed the broad river valley.

It was the Russian way to use a sledgehammer to open a walnut. The Germans had been experiencing it for years on the eastern front and now it was Japan’s turn. There had been no formal declaration of war yet. The Russian bear had not officially joined the American eagle to pick over the remains of Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but the officer knew the Russians weren’t fools. They wanted what was in this valley; most particularly what they were currently loading onto the submarine, and a trivial thing such as declaring war wasn’t a factor. The Kremlin could always do that later. Just as the Russians had gobbled up as much of Eastern Europe as possible before the end of hostilities in the West, they were doing the same here.

There was little in the valley to stop the Russians. Forces had been stripped down to the bare minimum in Korea. The greatest need for men was in Japan, to await the impending American invasion of the homeland and farther north in Manchuria. The officer had even heard rumors of desperate negotiating by Japanese officials with the Russians in an attempt to form a last minute alliance. Obviously, from the sound echoing down the valley, the Russian bear wasn’t biting the offered bait. In fact, if the crate had been one of the bargaining chips put on the table in those negotiations, that offer might have precipitated this assault. The officer knew much of what was at stake and he could tell none of the enlisted men working for him. They would find out shortly.

The officer had been here for two years and he knew that not only the crate but the entire area was enticing bait for the Russians. Hungnam was an industrial city with a river running through it opening onto a small harbor facing the Sea of Japan. The river formed a valley sided on both the north and south by very steep mountains. Farther west, where it sounded like the Russians now were, this river and others had been damned to form hydroelectric plants to run the numerous factories dotting the valley floor. The landscape was bleak, almost all the trees cut down, a result of a deliberate program begun by the Japanese when they occupied Korea in 1904 to denude the entire Korean peninsula so guerrillas would have no place to hide. It was a dark landscape, made even more so by the filth pouring out of smokestacks and the piles of debris and rubble that the factories discarded. The Japanese occupiers had no use for the land other than what it could produce to support the Empire.

“Carefully!” The officer exclaimed as the crate lifted off the floor of the truck. He put a hand on it, helping to guide it across the dock. The crate went over the edge of the pier and then was slowly lowered down. It slipped between the waiting arms of the sled. The man on deck quickly ran chains over the wood, securing the item inside. He then attached two cables from the back of the midget sub to the front of the sled the crate was on. There wasn’t a single member of the crew in sight; all were below decks, anxiously waiting to get underway and get out to sea.

Hooking the edge of the chain over a bolt and securing it with a lashing of rope, the man quickly walked forward to the conning tower and climbed up the external ladder. He turned and looked at the officer and briefly raised an arm in salute. Then he was gone, the clang of the hatch closing overlaid on the sound of the Russian ordnance coming closer.

The submarine immediately began moving, heading out into the harbor. The officer had no time to wait. Another truck with a similar crate slowly rolled up in a swirl of dust. An open-bay landing craft pulled into the slot the submarine had filled. The officer began barking orders, getting the crane hooked up to the crate. As it was being lowered into the waiting boat, the officer spared a glance toward the mouth of the harbor. The conning tower of the submarine was slipping underwater and disappeared as he watched. Perhaps it would beat the Russian ships that were coming to seal off the exit. He turned his attention back to the task at hand. The landing craft settled a foot deeper in the water as the weight of the crate came to a rest on its floorboards.

The officer heard the drone of airplane engines. He turned landward. A Mitsubishi “Betty” bomber, converted into a cargo plane, labored up into the early morning sky and skittered to the north, barely fifty feet above the dark wave tops. Damn those scientists, he cursed to himself. They were running. But there was no way the men inside that plane could be taken by the Russians. Death was a good option, but the knowledge the men on board that plane held could still be useful so they were being taken away. The plane disappeared around the shoreline to the north.

“The other boxes!” the officer ordered.

The men didn’t need to be told to handle these smaller crates gingerly because they could all read the markings on the outside: high explosives and detonators. They formed a human chain, passing the munitions down into the launch.

As soon as the last box was in place, the officer jumped down and cast off the bowline as a seaman cast off the aft. The officer didn’t spare a second glance at the work crew and soldiers left behind on the shore.

“Go!” He ordered the coxswain.

The launch slowly picked up speed, heading into the harbor. The officer looked up as a pair of planes roared by overhead. It was now light enough to see the red star painted on their wings. The officer cursed his own pilots and his own leadership. This should have been the number one priority for protection, but they were practically defenseless.

The Russian planes banked and leisurely began strafing the shore, firing into the work party, which was scattering. The officer knew there were Russian ships coming. That was the only reason the pilots were ignoring the launch. When the submarine had come in just after midnight, the Captain had told him that Hungnam Harbor would shortly be cut off by sea.

The submarine could only fit the one crate on deck. There was no plane with enough power to take off with the second heavy crate even if they could get past the Russian fighters. There were no options left except this last one. The officer pounded a fist onto the side of the crate, ignoring the splinters and the blood that ran forth. If only they’d had more time! But there was still hope, the officer reminded himself. He thought of the last glimpse he’d had of the submarine. There was also the plane that had left earlier and the knowledge that was on board it. There was always hope.

He turned his attention from the fighters to the course ahead. Two thousand meters from the dock there was a small, rocky islet in the middle of Hungnam Harbor. It had a pebble beach on the landward side, the rest of the island being a pile of rocks with only a few lonely birds as inhabitants. It was toward that beach that the officer directed the nervous and confused coxswain. The crew could see the explosives piled on board. The officer knew their first guess had been that he was going to use the launch in a kamikaze attack against the Russian ships at sea. This beaching was an unexpected turn of events and they were uncertain as to whether it was a good turn or not.

The officer would have liked to go out among the Russian ships. But he could not take the chance that the project would not work and the crate be captured. He also had to give the submarine a chance to make it clear. Everyone’s heads snapped up as a very loud and much closer explosion reverberated across the water. On the side of the near mountain on the south side of the valley a large cloud of dirt and rock bellowed into the air. The cave from which they had taken the two crates earlier this morning was now sealed. Secondary explosions followed, destroying the road carved into the side of the mountain that had been the only access to the cave, further isolating the site.

The officer nodded and whispered a swift prayer for those who had just died. His military staff was dead, and that secret was safe, at least. He felt no sympathy toward the men now entombed in the mountainside. They had done their duty; now he was doing his.

The bow of the boat grated on the pebbles and they were beached. One of the Russian fighters flew over to investigate, its pilot leading the way with a barrage of bullets from the machine guns in the wings. The bullets churned up water then onto the beach, only a few hitting the boat. Two sailors fell wounded and miraculously none of the explosive’s boxes were hit.

The officer ignored the screams of the wounded men as he ripped off a piece of wood on the side of the crate. He reached in and began working, his fingers following a procedure he had memorized over the past week under supervision of the scientists.

The fighter made another pass, then, confirming that the launch was beached, left to pick more lucrative targets in the valley. They were leaving the launch to the ships that were coming.

The officer had a small electric wire on a reel. He attached one end to the object inside. With that, the officer was done with the crate. He quickly had the surviving crewmen stack boxes of explosives around it, wiring each box for detonation as quickly as it was stacked.

He connected all the firing wires, then unreeled a length of detonating cord up over the edge of the boat, onto the shore, while also unreeling the electric wire. He moved back fifty meters, the other sailors joining him. He wired the detonating cord into a firing box. Only he knew the explosives were the backup. If the object inside failed, he had to ensure that the crate would not be found intact.

The officer hooked the electric wire into a small hand cranked generator. He checked to make sure the generator functioned and all was ready. The sun had now cleared the horizon.

The officer turned to the east, the direction of the Emperor, and bowed. Then he cranked the small handle. In the microsecond before the flash consumed him, the officer rejoiced. It worked and there was still hope! Then he, and all in a half-mile circle, was gone, obliterated by the blast.

In the skies above, the planes were consumed by the fireball. Out at sea the Russian Admiral in charge of the flotilla steaming for Hungnam at flank speed was left to wonder at the mushroom cloud that rose up over the shore.


BOOK: The Gate
12.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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