More Posts

The Moscow Rules, Part 2

This is Chapter 2 of a ten-part novella. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to read Chapter 1 first.

The Moscow Rules

Chapter 2: Never go against your gut.

     Mikhail Fyodorovich Tulenko loved being a spy. In a circuitous, uniquely Soviet way, it was in his blood. As recently as his grandparents’ generation, Tulenko would have been identified as a Cossack. But at 51, he had not even been born by the time of the October Revolution, which was for all practical intents and purposes the beginning of his state-funded history education, and so the irony of his people’s history as apparatchiki to the czars was lost on him. Not that it would have made any difference; Tulenko’s intelligence was rivaled only by his pragmatism, and where other than the KGB could such a man find his calling?
      Yet it was that very pragmatism that had likely been the downfall of his career, he mused during his rare moments of introspection. Though Mikhail Fyodorovich relished the espionage game, playing it relentlessly and without remorse, he was not a true believer. His loyalty to the Party could, in the minds of certain functionaries, be seen as being secondary to his own interests. And so now, at what should have been the peak of his career, Tulenko found himself posted in the relative backwater of the Soviet embassy in Prague. His service thus far had been exemplary; to his knowledge, in his five years as “cultural attaché” (the standard cover for a KGB rezident) there had been no penetration of the embassy. And only a few months earlier he had organized an operation which caught a member of CIA’s Prague station red-handed making a drop. The Czech government had summarily barred the man from the country, and Tulenko had been flown back to Moscow to be congratulated in person by his superiors at Dzerzhinsky Square. If anything, he was too good at his job.
      Mikhail Tulenko was bored.
      Wasted though he might believe his talents to be, his station in Prague did afford him ample time to indulge his rapacious intellect. In doing so, Tulenko had come to the conclusion that the USSR could not win the Cold War. The capitalists were outspending the Eastern Bloc by an order of magnitude, and could do so indefinitely. Victory for communism could come only by confronting the West. Not in direct armed conflict, of course. Though the Red Army had a substantial advantage in manpower, the only weapons that would truly matter in such a war would be his country’s ICBMs, and in that area the American war machine had kept apace of the Soviet. Even surpassed it, if some of the KGB’s sources were to be believed. Limited-scale conflicts involving Russia’s vassal states were only slightly less effective, and infinitely less costly politically. The victory in Viet Nam had been a masterstroke, and required little more than empty promises and a few Kalashnikovs. But for all their faults, the Americans were not stupid. Stubborn, even brutish, at times, but cunning beyond measure. True, they had been goaded into an intractable position in Southeast Asia, but it would not happen again.
      Tulenko’s plan would instead require a degree of subtlety seldom exercised by the Party leadership. He believed that if the CIA could be forced into direct action on foreign soil, the Americans’ vaunted free press could be made to work against them. Yes, show them a few bodies riddled with CIA bullets. Their decadent western sensibilities wouldn’t allow for a shadow army roaming the world killing… children, he decided. Unfortunate, to be sure, but ultimately a small price to pay to ensure his country’s survival. Unbeknownst even to his immediate KGB superiors, this was Mikhail Fyodorovich’s true reason for remaining in Prague. He knew from a source in Washington, D.C. that the CIA had a very high-level agent, codenamed TETHYS, operating in the city. If TETHYS could be captured, and the CIA made to believe he was being interrogated successfully, they would go to any lengths to put a stop to it. They would move quickly, and they would make mistakes – and pay for them. Of course, if the agent could actually be made to talk, so much the better.
      Sighing, Tulenko crushed out his cigarette (an American Marlboro, ICBMs not being the only things they made better than his own countrymen) and turned his attention to the dossier on the desk. Nicholas (né Mikuláš) Schmidt. Age 34, born in Czechoslovakia, but emigrated to the United States at less than one year of age. Thereafter a typical American life: public school and university, paid for by the government – strange, the places their own socialist tendencies took root – in exchange for naval service. Discharged on medical grounds… his attention piqued, Tulenko turned ahead to the relevant page in the file. Schmidt had served aboard the destroyer USS Warrington, and suffered shrapnel injuries and burns when she was attacked on 16 July 1972. He spent nearly a month in a military hospital, and then… disappeared, for about four months. Tulenko flipped quickly back through the dossier, checking to ensure he hadn’t missed something important. Well, he reasoned, perhaps it wasn’t so unusual after all. “Shell shock”, they called it.
      Schmidt had then found employment with a large telephone company, and been promoted several times before accepting this, his first position in his government’s State Department. An overseas posting seemed premature, but then again, he would speak Czech, perhaps even Slovak, and he had the communications training as well. So, they had a fairly comprehensive picture of the life of Nicolas Schmidt. The question for the KGB’s Prague section, the question Tulenko could truly trust only himself to answer, was this: is Schmidt a spy? The military service or the gap in his record could be damning evidence, but taken together, the two were actually more plausible than either one would be on its own. And the years of working menial jobs – the CIA’s agents almost always operated under the cover of some sort of government appointment. So as much as Mikhail Tulenko would have liked to have a new sparring partner in the American embassy, he was forced to conclude that no, Junior Communications Specialist Nicolas Schmidt was not in the employ of the CIA.


1 comment to The Moscow Rules, Part 2

  • […] a building that he had been inhabiting on Dzerzhinsky Square which turns out to save his life. …The Moscow Rules, Part 2 SeanTerrill.comThe Czech government had summarily barred the man from the country, and Tulenko had been flown back […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




× 6 = 42