Friday, February 25, 2011

Chapter Thirty thru Thirty-two


Rome, Italy
Same Hour Local

Andre D’Tiene twisted the cork from a bottle of wine and poured the dark red liquid into a deep glass. Swirling it a few times to release the wine’s aroma, the President of the Mediterranean Union brought the glass to his lips and took just a sip. The day had been long and arduous, but this moment was one to savor.
D’Tiene could not help but be satisfied. All of his posturing, all the maneuvering he’d done was now bringing his dream to fruition. The pawns on the board had been positioned according to his design and were now moving in a manner determined by his orchestrations. The beautiful aspect came from seeing how each player thought they had the upper hand. None had seen that he was the master in everything that was happening.
Reginald Tipry, personal assistant to the president, quietly stuck his head in the door and smiled. “Israel is preparing to commit its arsenal. It is only a matter of time,” he said.
“What is the current status?”
“Air battles are taking place over the entire region, just as you desired,” the aide’s smile widened.
“They have attacked the Saudis?”
“Actually, the Saudis attacked Israeli warplanes over Jordan. The Jews are now responding.”
“Splendid! That is far better,” D’Tiene nodded his head. After taking another sip of wine, the president looked directly at his aide. “Have the Russians begun to move?”
“That is the strange thing about what is happening,” said Reginald. “They have not budged, nor have they increased their alert status. They seem to be letting it all play out.”
“Tell me the moment the Russians show any sign of advance.”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Reginald answered as he shut the door.
D’Tiene’s brow wrinkled. Why would the Russians be sitting back? Why wouldn’t they be moving in for an easy kill? Surely they understood the Israelis could not engage their divisions with nuclear weapons. The Russians were much too close to the Lebanese border for that, plus the prevailing winds were sweeping toward Israel from the north. The Jews would never do anything that would assure their peoples death by radiation fallout over their territory. The set up was perfect for the Russians to sweep down and subdue the Jews before things got out of hand. Yet, there they sat, unmoving and seemingly unconcerned. It did not make sense.
D’Tiene sat down in the soft leather of his sofa and stared out the window over Rome’s historic district. But he wasn’t comforted by the sight. Something was going terribly wrong with his plan and he didn’t understand why.

Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 11:40 p.m.

Moshe’s canopy was awash with light from the many explosions taking place on the base. However, it was a streak of burning fuel several miles to the east drew his attention. It was followed by an expanding fireball at what appeared to be above ten thousand feet. That had to be an S-300, and a momentary panic washed through Moshe’s system.
“Frisbee—Dagger—give me your status,” Moshe called to his wingman. There was no response. “Frisbee—do you copy?”
Rueben finally responded, but he sounded as if he were nearly out of breath. His transmission was cluttered with static. “Dagger, I’ve been hit.”
“Hang on, I’m heading your way,” Moshe said as he pulled the nose of his F-16 in the direction of his wingman.
“No, I’m not going down, but I am out of the fight.”
“Head for Ramon,” Moshe ordered. He then regained his attack profile on the nearest launch platform.
“Roger—Captain, I’ll see you back at the base.”
“Stay low out of the zone then grab some altitude once you cleared the range of these 300s,” Moshe ordered.
“I will,” Rueben responded. After a several seconds of silence, Rueben’s voice again came over the radio. “And Moshe, I want you to know I did what you said. I felt it.”
Moshe’s breath caught in his throat. After their long conversation at the base, Rueben had hardly responded to the layout of the truth he’d been shown. Moshe had decided to forge ahead, even sharing how a person could meet Messiah personally. Nothing had registered on his wingman’s face. He’d barely acknowledged that he’d heard. Now Moshe realized the kid had actually been listening, so much so that he’d prayed the prayer at some point during the mission.
“That’s good kid,” Moshe transmitted. “I’m proud of you. Now be careful and get home.”
All Moshe heard in return was the crackle of Rueben’s damaged radio.
“Thank you, Y’shua,” he whispered.
Just then, Moshe’s threat receiver chirped with more intensity. The S-300 radar unit, now eight miles directly in front of him, was attempting to pick him out of the ground clutter. In the same instant, his Maverick growled its readiness for launch. His thumb moved up the stick and pushed the button. The weapon surged forward into the dark sky.
Moshe increased his speed and worked his way into depression. He was now over flat desert again and heading almost directly west. Although one S-300 launch platform remained, without his wingman he was outgunned. Not only that, but the odds were at least two, possible three missiles were in the air trying to acquire the heat signature of his engine. The time had come to bug out.
“Jackhammer—Dagger is exiting the sector,” he transmitted to the F-15 leader that was attacking King Khalid at that very moment. “You’ll have no opposition from the air. Hafar-al-Batin is inactive.”
“Roger—Dagger—Be advised, we’re down two planes,” came the response.
Moshe’s heart sank felt like it sank in his chest. Two F-15s had been destroyed by S-300 missiles.
“Get as many as you can and then clear the area,” Moshe ordered.
“Another three minutes and we’ll be on your tail.”
Moshe stayed low to the earth as he angled his fighter a bit more toward the Iraqi border, now less than fifty miles to the north. He exhaled slowly as his instruments confirmed he had escaped without become a target for the Saudi missiles. Instinctively, he pulled back on the throttle to lower his airspeed and conserve fuel. He would have to traverse Jordanian airspace, and the possibility existed that he would encounter enemy aircraft.
Just then Rueben’s voice crackled again in his earpiece. “Dagger, I’ve got two American F-18s closing in on my six. They’ve locked onto my tail and my threat alarm is screaming.”
“Engage your IFF!”
“Negative—Dagger—the transmitter is damaged. It’s not functioning,” Rueben responded. “Oh no, they’re firing! The Hornets are firing. I’m blowing chaff now.”
Moshe punched in the guard frequency he knew the American Air Force utilized and spoke as clearly as his racing heart allowed. “American flight of two F-18s, you are firing on an Israeli aircraft. Repeat, break off your attack! You have fired on friendly aircraft.” There was no response. “American F-18 pilots, you are attacking a damaged F-16 of the Israeli Air Force. Disable those Sidewinders.”
Moshe saw that Rueben was now less than forty miles ahead and desperately attempting to evade the two American Sidewinder missiles converging on his tail. The F-18s were showing on the HUD as a faint echo, almost as if they were simply dim feedback from ground clutter. He glanced forward out his canopy until he saw Rueben’s burning chaff falling to the earth. He then traced a line back in the sky until he saw two steady lights moving in the same direction as his wingman. Those blips were the power plants of F-18 engines, and they would be easily acquirable for the infrared radars of his AMRAAM missiles. With a punch of a button Moshe tasked two missiles on the Americans and fired.
“Flight of two American F-18s, you are now under attack by Dagger Flight of the IAF. Break off and punch the self-destruct on those Sidewinders.”
All he heard was a deep throated laugh over the radio. “So you kids want to play with the big boys, eh? You fellas just attacked an ally of the United States of America. Prepare to eat some sand!”
Anger gripped Moshe. He watched the Sidewinders gain quickly on the blip that identified his wingman. The Americans had less than fifteen seconds to issue the self-destruct command or his partner would be killed, but they were challenging him to fight. He could hardly believe what was happening.
“Punch out, Rueben, punch out!” Moshe shouted.
A distant flash told Moshe his friend, and new brother in Messiah was gone. Rage surged from somewhere deep in his soul, prompting him to jam the throttle forward and to apply the afterburner to his engine. He had a new enemy.
“Dagger—Dog Pound—You are ordered to stand down and return to base,” sounded the voice of the flight controller, somewhere over the skies of Israel. “I repeat…stand down! The Hornets are off limits.”
Moshe hesitated.
Again, the voice of the controller penetrated his cloud of wrath. “Look Dagger, we all saw what just happened, but our orders are clear. Stand down!
Moshe had no choice. He backed off the afterburner and returned to his original heading. Several minutes passed before he could will himself to disengage his attack radar.


Thursday, November 19
12:00 a.m.

Prime Minister Naftali took a sip from a mug of hot tea. He was hoping the liquid would ease the crushing weight he felt in his soul. Whether it was from guilt, or from the burden of defending his people, he knew not.
The door to Naftali’s private chamber opened and in stepped General Katz.
“What word, Ehud?” asked the Prime Minister.
“Phase one is nearly complete. We are awaiting the return of our squadrons from Arabia and Egypt before we proceed.”
“What are our losses?” Naftali knew there would be casualties, but he was well aware that this night’s activities would usher in a far deadlier confrontation with the so-called coalition forces. Israel would need every pilot, every fighter jet, and as much of its brigade forces to repel what was sure to come.
“Surprisingly few,” Katz answered as he poured himself a cup of tea and sat down. “We’ve lost no aircraft to Egyptian anti-aircraft fire, although one F-15 was lost due to a mechanical malfunction. Those pilots were retrieved. Saudi Arabia is a different story.”
“How so?”
“We suspected the Russian S-300 system was formidable, and it was. Even so, we faired quite well in our first encounter. Seven protected bases were attacked and, from the after-action-report, we eliminated ninety percent of the Saudi’s launch platforms.”
“But?” Naftali could detect the stall in sharing the complete picture.
“But, we lost seventeen aircraft; nine F-15 Ra’ams and eight F-16 Baraks. Considering we utilized forty-seven fighters to accomplish the mission, our losses were much higher than we’d hoped.”
Naftali stiffened at the numbers. “Ehud, those are losses of thirty-six percent. That is unsustainable.”
“I agree, Yosef, but we are not being forced to sustain them. The mission was accomplished.”
“How many pilots does that add up to?”
“Twenty-six,” whispered Katz, “and all seasoned veterans.”
“And what rescue operations are under way to recover them?”
Naftali’s eyes locked onto his general’s as he sought to grasp what his friend was saying.
Katz saw the cloud that draped itself over the prime minister’s face. “We cannot launch search-and-rescue. If any of our brave men and women survived the downing of their planes, we will soon be assuring their death by what we are about to unleash.”
“Dear Jehovah in heaven,” Naftali mouthed then lowered his head into the palms of his hand.
Katz understood his friend’s reaction. The man had lost his parents in the fires of Auschwitz, as had many of those in the administration. They, of all the citizens of Israel, understood the extreme measures that had to be taken in order to insure the survival of the Jewish people. If that meant inflicting a holocaust to prevent a holocaust, so be it.
“Yosef,” Katz spoke softly, “it is time to process the launch. You must give the order personally.”
Naftali made no move for several long minutes. It was as if he had fallen asleep, but Katz knew he hadn’t. Though the decision for initiating Operation Clean Slate had been made hours ago, this final phase of nuclear response was the true challenge to any man’s moral compass. Naftali had proven long ago that he had the courage and fortitude to do what was necessary. Still, issuing the decree to annihilate a large portion of the Arab populations that surrounded Israel carried a weight that was overwhelming.
Finally, the prime minister lifted his head, drained the last swallow of tea from his mug, and followed the general to the communications room.

Northern Israel
Thursday, 12:10 a.m.

From twenty thousand feet one could view the entire State of Israel. The sight made Moshe’s heart ache. Even though he was high over the Negev and heading toward the sea, hundreds of fires were visible. He was stunned by the numerous rocket trails encroaching into his country. Though a mandatory blackout was in effect in every city, explosions and burning buildings provided enough light for a pilot to visually track his way from city to city.
The northern and eastern horizons were even more chaotic. Little discernment was needed to know that Jordan and Lebanon were experiencing the horror of thermobaric weapons. Moshe was sickened. Civilians were dying on both sides. Worse, people were dying without the knowledge of the truth. Souls were being lost for all eternity. Maybe other defenders of Israel felt satisfaction in destroying the enemy. All he could feel was an overwhelming sense of loss.
Something deeper than his natural human emotion had grabbed hold of his gut. In that moment, Moshe understood that God was grieved. Mankind was his passion, even though man’s evil demanded judgment. God did not arbitrarily issue judgments. His acts of discipline were meant to bring repentance and restoration. This was true for Jews and Gentiles alike. It mattered not whether one was of the line of Isaac or Ishmael. Every life was valued. But life was consumed by sin, and unless repentance turned a person’s heart to God, the condemnation to die had already been issued.
A voice shook Moshe from the revelation. “Dagger—Dog pound—go feet wet then come right to a heading of 3-5-3 degrees and descend to angels fifteen at rate of five hundred per minute. I’ll put you in the pattern until Ramat’s runway clears. Say current bingo status.”
Moshe made a quick glance at his fuel status display and replied. “Dog—Dagger—I’m fifteen minutes to bingo.”
“Dagger— a gas tank is orbiting three zero miles east of Tel Aviv, but it has a long line of planes waiting to be filled. I suggest you back off to 2-9-0 knots and wait for landing clearance. Be advised that Ramat David is experiencing inbound rocket fire, but so is every other base.”
“Copy—Dog Pound—Dagger is going feet wet and coming to 3-5-3 degrees,” Moshe transmitted his turn. “Dog Pound—any status update on Frisbee?”
“Sorry—Dagger—we’ve had no word since he went offline.”
Lord! This is too much A fresh wave of sorrow flooded Moshe’s emotions. His grief then turned to his wife and friends near Haifa. They too were probably on the receiving end of all this rocket fire. His heart did the praying, but the Lord heard him nonetheless. Please take care of Tasha and our friends. Don’t let them die.
For ten minutes Moshe flew high over the Mediterranean Sea on a course parallel with the Israel’s coast. Gaza went by first and was one long, burning strip. Ashkelon was covered in a shroud of smoke backlit by raging infernos. Even Tel Aviv was dotted with firelight. But then Mount Carmel came into view with its slopes easily discernable in ambient firelight.
My God! From the top of the mountain to the wide plain of the Jezreel Valley, blazing trails highlighted where rockets and missiles were pounding northern Israel. Hezbollah and the Lebanese army were unleashing their entire stockpile. Staccato flashes of light revealed every impact.
Suddenly, four massive blasts expanded into the sky along the border of Lebanon. Rocket fire ceased immediately over the entire area. Israeli jets were responding in overwhelming fashion. By the time Moshe had completed a slow orbit out to sea and back, the remnants of several more thermobaric detonations were easily identified. At least three burning mushrooms were rising from the general area of Beirut on the northern horizon.
An automated voice indicated Moshe’s F-16 had reached the point of bingo fuel. He had exactly ten minutes of flight before his tanks would be drained. He had no option but to land. The fuel tanker was too occupied and too distant to be of any help.
“Dog Pound—Dagger—I am declaring bingo.” While speaking, Moshe brought his fighter around and into a glide path that would take him south of Mount Carmel and line him up with runway 27.
“Copy Dagger. Clear the coast at 2-9-0 knots and begin a steep descent. Winds are bearing 2-5-7 degrees at eight to ten miles per hour. Be advised, Ramat David is receiving sporadic impacts. IFR is in effect. Runway 27 is dark, but I don’t think you’ll have problems picking it out visually.” In other words, the base was receiving an amount of incoming rocket fire sufficient to light up the base. A steep descent was necessary to minimize the possibility of taking a random hit on the aircraft.
Moshe punched the numbers into his keypad and set his HUD to display his glide into Ramat David. He then lowered his airspeed and set his flaps to twenty percent. The Lightning responded by beginning a controlled drop out of the sky.
Moshe alternated his attention between the display and what was easily discernable ahead. Ramat David was being hit, but since most of the base operations were under the cover of thick, earth-covered bunkers, no secondary explosions were evident. He could see the engine plumes of other aircraft coming in to land on the other two runways. Moshe was glad there was a choreographer to this mess.
He drew ever closer to the base as his altitude was eaten by the descent. He glanced momentarily to his left as the populations of Husifa and Carmel City passed by. He would not allow his mind to think of Tasha and the group. That was a luxury that would be afforded after he was safely tucked into a bunker, not before.
“Dagger—Dog Pound—you are cleared for runway 27,” said the controller. “Shoot for the midway point and clear to the first taxiway ASAP.”
“Copy—Dog Pound.”
Moshe extended his flaps by twenty percent and lowered the landing gear, and then the outer threshold of runway 27 passed beneath his plane. A rocket impacted to his right, its quick flash illuminating his target for touchdown approximately halfway down the runway. Once his wheels kissed the pavement he would engage the reverse thruster and slow his forward momentum as rapidly as possible.
The nose of the Lightning flared upward as Moshe pulled ever so slightly on the flight stick. He steadied himself in anticipation of his wheels coming into contact with the runway. He then pulled back on the throttle to cut power to the engine.
Just then, a rocket crashed into the runway less than forty meters in front of him.
“Dagger—re-power and go airborne,” the controller shouted.
But Moshe could not see. The blast had momentarily blinded him.
Then, time slowed. Though everything in front of him was shrouded in darkness, Moshe clamped his eyelids shut and captured the image of where the warhead had struck. There wasn’t sufficient distance to re-apply power and get airborne. His plane was heading toward a crater and there was nothing he could do about it.
Instinctively, Moshe reached and pulled the lever that would send his ejection seat shooting upward into the air. He crossed his arms to his chest as cartridges exploded beneath him. The canopy above his head released and flew off into the rushing air. With an incredible thrust Moshe was ejected into the sky just before the nose of his F-16 dipped into the crumpled pavement. The Lightning cart wheeled forward into a fireball.
He was unable to see what struck him, but by the cracking sound there was no doubt his left arm had just been broken. He did not hear himself shout out in pain.


Ramat David Airbase
Thursday, November 19
8:30 a.m.

Tasha buried her head in her husband’s chest and cried.
Moshe, with his left arm hidden beneath the hard surface of a cast, held her tightly with his right. The IDF driver who’d retrieved Tasha from Husifa saluted the captain and closed the door to the room as he exited.
“It’s alright, babe. I’m okay.”
“I know,” Tasha responded, “I was just so afraid. All night long we prayed for you.” She lifted her head and allowed him a long, soothing kiss. It was the first time they’d seen one another in nearly three days. Few words had to be exchanged. Their longing to be together, without war and duty separating them, was easily communicated.
“You were on my mind too,” he said. “Was anyone hurt?”
“No. Can you believe it? Bombs were falling everywhere, but there were very few casualties.”
“What about the rest of the country?”
“Honey, that’s what I’m talking about. Haven’t you heard anything?”
“No. The second they brought me in they knocked me out to set my arm,” he explained. “Even after the anesthetic wore off, I slept until they told me you were here.”
“So you haven’t heard?” Tasha reached up and gently stroked his face. She looked into his eyes and knew instinctively that something was wrong.
Just then a knuckle rapped on the door and Colonel Natansky stuck his head in the door. “Am I interrupting?”
Tasha’s forehead wrinkled, but her mouth formed a weak smile. “Colonel, you know you are!”
“I’m sorry Tasha, I need to speak with your husband,” he apologized.
“Alone?” Moshe asked.
“No, she can stay. I’m here to notify you of the obvious. You are being removed from flight status for a while. In fact, I’ve signed you off on a well-deserved furlough until you’re healed up, but you won’t be able to leave until tomorrow. I need you to bring some of the younger pilots up to speed on the Russian MiGs.”
“Has there been any word about Frisbee?”
Tasha turned to Moshe in concern. “What happened to Rueben?”
Moshe’s face clouded as he looked at the colonel. Tasha suddenly understood the reason for Moshe’s lack of enthusiasm.
“There was no time to dispatch search and rescue,” the colonel replied softly. “He never activated his beacon either. He’s been classified as missing in action.”
“Why was no search attempted,” Moshe asked. “I don’t understand.”
“Not ten minutes after you crashed, the last phase of Operation Clean Slate was initiated.”
“You mean the nukes?”
“Yes. The Jericho IIIs were launched first. After they deployed their MIRVs, three salvos of nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were sent in their wake. Most of Saudi Arabia was turned into a radiated wasteland, as was Egypt this side of the Nile River.”
Moshe knew this was the plan, yet hearing the outcome still made his mouth drop open in shock.
The Colonel continued. “We bombed most of Lebanon and Jordan back into the Stone Age, then took out every remaining Syrian airbase. We basically removed all possibility of any counterstrike. IDF Northern Command has penetrated thirty miles into Lebanon and has overrun the Golan. In fact, the Golani Brigade is halfway to Damascus. The 98th HaEsh Fire Division of Central Command has effectively taken Amman, Jordan. Paratroopers from the 35th Brigade were airborne when the Jericho’s were launched. The Royal Jordan Military command and control system had already been taken out, so there was little organized opposition. In fact, it appears the enemy’s will to fight was beat down rather quickly. Within three or four days we’ll be in control of everything from Tyre on the Mediterranean, to the Euphrates River. The same goes for the Gulf of Aqaba all the way to the Nile.”
“You mean we did it?” Moshe was incredulous as he glanced at his wife.
Colonel Natansky thought Moshe was speaking to him. “Of course we did it. That was the plan.”
Tasha understood exactly what her husband was asking and nodded her head. “In one single night, everything Pastor Ty told us has come true.”
The colonel looked at Tasha. “What are you talking about? Who is Pastor Ty?”
“That’s the American couple that landed the other day,” Moshe replied. “He showed us exactly what was going to happen from the Torah.”
“An American?”
“Yes Sir. The Torah not only named the countries, but it implicitly stated that it would all take place in one night.”
“Gevault!” the colonel exclaimed. Just then an aide popped his head in the door and told the colonel he was urgently needed in communications.
“But Colonel,” Moshe stopped him, “there’s more, and you need to hear it.”
Natansky turned. He discerned Moshe’s sense of urgency. “Don’t worry, Captain, I’ll be back. We’ll talk.” Out the door he went.
Tasha looked at Moshe and leaned in close. “I’m sorry about Rueben.”
“He’s with Yeshua,” he said softly. Though he was experiencing a sense of peace in his spirit over Rueben’s decision, he still felt the loss of his friend, short-lived though the friendship was. The reality of losing two wingmen in the course of just a few weeks was gnawing at him. At least Rueben had made things right with his maker. Levi was lost forever.
“Say that again!” She was astonished.
He looked at her and allowed a faint smile. “It’s true. Just before I lost communication with him, he told me he’d prayed the prayer.”
“Tell me what happened.”
Moshe shared the entire story, and tears flowed from his eyes during most of it.

Rome Italy
Same Time Local

Andre D’Tiene could not believe what he’d just been told. In fact, it was unthinkable. Yosef Naftali was dead.
“What happened?”
“It was from the inside, someone close to the prime minister,” answered Reginald Tipry. “Believe it or not, the killer was Jewish.”
D’Tiene rubbed the sleep from his eyes. It had been a very long night. Until this moment, every action and reaction in the Middle East had been foreseen. But the loss of the one Israeli leader he felt he could work with had suddenly amplified the difficulties of accomplishing his goal.
“How could they have been so foolish as to allow an armed man near him?”
“He wasn’t armed,” Tipry explained. “The man snapped Naftali’s neck as if it were a matchstick. The prime minister wasn’t found until three hours ago, according to my sources. The killer was summarily executed by the IDF’s top General.”
“Mon Dieu! Who’ll step into Naftali’s place?”
“My man says that Likud’s leadership has elevated Chaim Bloomberg, Naftali’s chief advisor, to the position of interim Prime Minister. I don’t mean to state the obvious, but officials expect elections will not be occurring anytime soon.”
“Will Bloomberg have the support of Naftali’s coalition?” asked D’Tiene. “And will he be as open as Naftali concerning our plans for the Temple?”
“That is the question, is it not?” Tipry replied noncommittally.
“Get with your sources and find out Bloomberg’s leanings. How does he think? How does he communicate? I need you to find me something I can use, and do it quickly. Now, update me on the aftereffect of Israel’s raid.”
“It was not a raid. It was an all-out annihilation the enemy. All of Saudi Arabia’s military facilities are now radiated craters. Riyad is gone. That includes the King and his entire family.”
“And the holy places?”
“Completely destroyed.”
“That means Jerusalem holds the last Islamic Icon. What about the other nations?”
“No nuclear weapons were used in Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon, mainly due to the prevailing winds over Palestine this time of year. However, they did utilize thermobaric bombs. Beirut has been completely neutralized, as has Amman, Jordan. A full-scale sweep, involving thousands of tons of bombs, was unleashed along the Lebanese border. Hezbollah has ceased to exist as a force. Israeli armored brigades are moving through the area now and will soon arrive at the mouth of the Bekaa Valley. The same goes for the Golan Heights and western Jordan. I fully expect Israeli Defense Forces to be within striking distance of the Iranians and the Russians within three days.”
“And Egypt?” asked D’Tiene.
“Compared to what they did to the others. Israel held back. They concentrated their attacks on Egyptian air assets and basically wiped out the air force. They used low-yield nukes to destroy every military facility east of the Nile River. Cairo and everything west of the Nile were on the receiving end of the Thermobarics. The military structure is gone. So is the Egypt’s ability to govern, but the bulk of the population was spared. ”
“With Syria and Lebanon gone, the Mediterranean Union is down to ten members,” D’Tiene mused.
“That is right.”
“Let’s see if we can get an MU peacekeeping presence into Egypt as quickly as we can. We can’t afford another radical uprising. Do it under the guise of a humanitarian effort. Contact the Spaniards, Greeks, and Italians to offer them the lead in this one.”
“What about Syria and Lebanon?”
“Leave them to the Russians for now. The sooner they find themselves deluged with refugees the quicker they will decide Israel is not worth the cost involved, especially with that Iranian idiot causing them so much trouble.” D’Tiene flicked his hand toward the door. The briefing was over for now.
“Yes, sir,” said Tipry as he left the room.

Mount Quarnat as Sawda
Thursday, 9:00 a.m.

Field Marshal Velniak was not happy with his prized subordinate. “Explain yourself Anatoly! What do you mean you chose not to notify me? You should have responded with force.”
“How can that be, Comrade?” Telnikov spoke steadily yet softly. It was not his intentions to arouse any more anger than necessary in Velniak. “The Israelis made no threatening moves toward our forces. If fact, they took care of a large problem on our behalf.”
“Ridiculous!” Velniake spat, “they should have been stopped. This is the reason you are there.”
“Sir, I thought my mission was to clear the way for peacekeeping.”
“Pah! Have you suddenly turned dense? We intend to take the entire region!”
“Then, with all due respect, I reaffirm my opinion.”
“You insolent bratchnye!” fumed the field marshal using an epitaph concerning Telnikov’s status as an orphan.
The general hesitated a moment in order to allow Velniak’s wrath to dissipate. When he spoke, it was with calm reason. “Sir, how much of the region is left for us to subdue now that Israel has accomplished the job for us? Do you not see? All that need be done is to stop the Jews. They have surely expended most of their nuclear arsenal leaving only a conventional threat with which to counter our forces. Also, they are about to face off with the rogue Iranian. We have lost only a few men and one single asset.”
Telnikov was greeted with a long stretch of silence and then a grunt. Velniak had seen the logic. It was now time for the general to afford his superior the opportunity to save face. “Field Marshal, you must have seen this possibility.”
“Well, it was something I allowed to pass through my mind at one point,” Velniak responded.
“Then may I suggest you inform the prime minister that the situation is developing as he planned? Tell him the 7th Armored Division is poised and ready to move on his command. There is no one with the ability to stop us once we begin our push forward.”
Velniak cleared his throat and reassumed a fatherly tone. He knew he’d been manipulated, but to admit such would prove that his original fuss had been born out of a weakness in logic. “Stand ready for the word, Anatoly. And, as always, I commend you for your forward thinking.”
The connection was severed, but Telnikov’s heart raced for several long minutes. He understood exactly how close he’d been to dismissal and utter shame for not having alerted Moscow of Israel’s push through the Golan. He was also confronted with a dilemma. Where did his loyalties lie? What was the root of this budding insubordination? Why was he suddenly having difficulty fulfilling his duty?
These questions must be answered, and soon.
Jimmy Root Jr
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