Book: Precipice

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Colonel Grushkin was on his second read through of Major Chase’s GRU file.  The first pass had been a skim, just to spot the highlights.  The second was slow and methodical as he looked to get a better insight into how the man thought.  Despite himself, he was impressed and couldn’t help but wonder why Chase had left the Army.  That detail wasn’t included.  He also didn’t understand why the file listed his final rank as Master Sergeant yet he was apparently now a Major.

He was further surprised to find that the American’s wife was a former CIA officer.  There was a reference to a separate file on her that was available, and he had ordered the Corporal to obtain it as well.  He was already confident that the Delta trooper was the one calling the shots, but being a thorough man he wanted to know about the intelligence agent wife who was with him.

That file rested beneath his chair, held in place against the wind with a fist sized rock that had been lying in the middle of the roof.  Katie’s bio was only a fraction of the thickness of the Major’s and when it had first been handed to him he’d cracked it open long enough to verify the reason it was so scant on detail.  Katie Chase had never been assigned to the CIA’s Russia or European desks, so other than being noted and tracked she had not been researched.

Her husband, on the other hand, had a long history of popping up and spoiling Russian endeavors in Central America, Europe and the Middle East.  As he continued reading, Grushkin wondered why the old KGB or the GRU had never targeted the man for assassination.  He had certainly made enough of a name for himself that he should have drawn the attention of the men who made such decisions.  Then he turned the page and saw that three attempts had been sanctioned.

The first had been in Bangkok, Thailand, utilizing local assets who had been paid to make it look like a street mugging gone bad.  The locals hadn’t survived the encounter and there were no details about what had gone wrong.

The second attempt had been in West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  A Soviet agent, assisted by two East German assets, had been dispatched to intercept Chase at one of the nightclubs he was frequenting while in the country training with the West German GSG-9 counter terror unit.  He had not showed up that evening and several weeks later it was determined that only hours before the planned hit, he had boarded an American Air Force flight to Turkey for unknown reasons.

The third and final try had come several months later in the UK.  Paid assets, who were former IRA soldiers, spent two weeks tracking the Major’s movements.  He was on TDY (Temporary Duty) with the British SAS at Credenhill Barracks in Herfordshire, England and had taken a small apartment a few miles away in Hereford.  A squad of SAS troopers had cornered the four IRA thugs on an empty stretch of road. 

They fought, but were outmatched and three of them were killed, the fourth seriously injured.  He was taken to a British Army hospital where he underwent surgery, dying on the operating table.  MI-6 became involved, investigating the four men as it didn’t make sense to anyone why the IRA was so interested in a Yank.  There was a note in the file that one of the investigators posed a theory that the men were working as paid Russian assets, but no hard evidence was ever developed to confirm.

There were no further sanctioned attempts after the fiasco in England, but the file didn’t explain why.  Skimming the next few pages of meager details about missions the Major had been on, he paused on the section that detailed how DNA had been collected.

Grushkin suspected a “honey pot” had seduced the man at some point, but was surprised it had been taken from blood left behind from an injury sustained in Central America.  An alert KGB officer had spotted a team of Americans in a remote village and kept watch on them.  They had returned late one night, one of them injured, and locked themselves into their small hotel room.

The next morning, they were gone.  He had broken in, collecting blood soaked gauze pads and sealing them in a plastic bag that was put on ice and shipped back to Moscow.  When he rotated home he identified John Chase from a photo and the DNA record was added to the file. 

“Interesting,” he thought to himself as he finished reading.

He glanced up at the lowering sun, ignoring the steady gunfire from all around the small city, and reached for Katie’s file.

“Comrade Colonel.  We have movement on a road outside of town, leading west,” one of the soldiers manning the command post called.

Grushkin leapt to his feet and strode quickly to where the man was peering at a video feed from the orbiting AWACS.  Leaning in he watched an American made Jeep racing along a narrow ribbon of asphalt, but no details of the passengers could be seen.

“Have them zoom,” he ordered.

“It’s already at maximum resolution, Comrade Colonel.”  The man said.

“Then order them to change their location for a better view, and dispatch two of our helicopters to intercept.  Remind them that I want our target alive!”  Grushkin was excited, but his voice never rose above a low growl that turned the soldier’s bowels to water.

“Right away, sir.”  He said, jamming his finger on the transmit button of his radio and breathlessly relaying the instructions.

Grushkin straightened and turned to look to the west, nodding in satisfaction when a pair of Hinds peeled away from the perimeter, lowered their noses and headed out in pursuit of the target.

“Get a helicopter here immediately to pick me up,” he said over his shoulder.  “And instruct those pilots to not engage the target until I arrive.”

“Yes, sir!”  The soldier made another call and breathed an internal sigh of relief that Colonel Grushkin would soon be leaving the roof.

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