Red Rocket & Tom Atomic: 1956: Right and Magic, Chapter 17: The Cold War Heats Up

by Dan Swanson

Return to chapter list

A short time later, Major General O’Neill made a phone call, and everyone sat back to wait. Within a half an hour, they heard a helicopter. After it had landed in the street, the two spies climbed out and stood near the chopper’s hatch. Ivan told Kristov to look out the window. “Can you fly that?”

“Da, Comrade. It is similar to our own Vulture class.”

“You mean, you stole the design from us!” Detective Tony Spinelli said, which resulted in his getting kicked in the head. Comrade Ivan tossed something to Derek. “Now we withdraw.” He followed that up with something in Russian, and Derek nodded his head. Ivan pointed to the governor, the mayor, the general, and DuPaul. “Cuff these four and bring them with us! Comrades Derek and Laurie, you stay here and make sure these guys don’t do anything stupid. Give us four minutes and then join us.”

He turned to the other captives. “Gentlemen, you will be safe if you just wait. I don’t want any of you coming out of the building until the helicopter is out of sight. Remember we have the remote detonator, and we will use it!”

While everyone was distracted by the handcuffing of the four selected hostages, Spinelli whispered to Captain Democracy, “They’re going to kill the ‘copter pilot, and then the rest of us, and set off their bombs, anyway. Comrades Laurie and Louie don’t know it yet, but they’re going to be killed as well.”

“And how do you know that?” the Captain whispered.

Spinelli smiled, just a bit. “I speak Russian.”

The Captain whispered back, “I’ll need a distraction.” Spinelli looked at him strangely, so he smiled back and said, “I’m good with knots.”

Spinelli just nodded. Soon, Comrade Laurie and Derek were the only two revolutionaries left in the room. Derek set his machine gun to single shot, aimed at one of the captives, and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the captive in the stomach, and he started screaming.

And so did Laurie. “Hey, we’re not supposed to hurt them! Stop, or I’ll shoot you!” She aimed her gun at him.

“They will be dead in a few minutes, anyway, as will you!” He knocked her weapon aside and hit her in the head with the butt of his gun. He laughed as she fell to the ground. “You didn’t think we’d give you a loaded gun, did you? Idealistic idiot! Too bad you had to find out — we were looking for a little fun from you later before we killed you, too!”

He turned to shoot her, and suddenly, even with his hands tied, Spinelli moved fast. He rolled over once, and kicked Derek in the back of his knee. Derek fell to the ground and dropped both the remote control and his gun as he tried to break his fall.

Captain Democracy took full advantage of his chance. He was on his feet before the Russian hit the floor, and he quickly attacked the surprised “liberator” with a savage left-right combination to the jaw, which caused his head to violently bang twice on the cement floor. The man stopped moving. The Captain untied Spinelli, then recovered his shield. Spinelli picked up the remote and the discarded gun. He examined the remote, and pulled out a couple of batteries. He just hoped that Ivan didn’t have a spare.

Detective Spinelli started to untie his men, and one of them bound Derek. The Captain took a peek out the window. Most of the liberators had their guns pointed at the pilot of the chopper, and Ivan was ordering him to leave the bird. Captain Democracy ran through the door and hurled his shield at the tail rotor on the big chopper. The blade broke, and dangerous shrapnel flew everywhere. A piece of the prop smashed through the wall of the lab building, and several other pieces were thrown into the ground so hard they broke again, spraying some of the mercenaries with slivers of metal. The Russians had surrounded the hostages as they moved toward the chopper to prevent them from running, and this saved them from harm, but three of the Russians were badly wounded.

But what happened next was much more dangerous. The unbalanced rotor was spinning so fast that the whole chopper started to shake, and then it actually started to rock backward and forward. The pilot was frantically trying to shut down the motor, and the gunmen were all running away as fast as they could. It seemed as if it would only be a matter of seconds before the chopper rocked far enough forward to cause the big blade to hit the ground, and nobody wanted to be nearby when that happened. They left their hostages, and a couple of them even dropped their guns in their haste.

Captain Democracy’s shield had been knocked several hundred feet into the air by the spinning rotor, so he would have to do without it for now. He tackled the closest Russian and quickly knocked him out. Spinelli came through the lab door like a rocket, carrying the machine gun that Derek had dropped, and managed to shoot another one before the rest were out of sight

The pilot got the motor turned off before further disasters occurred, and the chopper stopped rocking. With Spinelli covering him, the Captain retrieved his shield. He grimaced — the enamel had been blasted off much of the front by the impact with the blade, and he was going to have to paint it again. The balance seemed a little off as well. But at least it was still whole.

In the last week, two important businessmen in Chicago had been arrested and accused of spying for the USSR. One was the president of a small company that made components used in ICBMs, and the other was a vice-president of a company that built military fighter aircraft. Both had been accused of selling military secrets to the Soviet Union, and the evidence against them was very compelling.

The KGB had come up with a plot to get them out of custody. An armed squad of independent mercenaries would capture the DuPaul plant and threaten the city of Chicago with explosions, fires, and toxic gasses, demand the release of the captured “comrades,” and negotiate a means of escape. Of course, the plot couldn’t have succeeded if they hadn’t had some inside help.

Fortunately, some of the younger workers at the plant were members of the American Communist Party, and they were proud to help in the noble effort to rescue the two “heroes of the people.” The earlier lunatic hadn’t been part of the plan, but the mercenary team had taken advantage of the chaos he’d caused. Using gate passes supplied by Laurie and Louie, the unit had slipped in while the plant was being evacuated, and hidden in places designated by the two young idiots, until everyone had relaxed after the emergency had passed.

Laurie and her friend and the two meanest-looking Russians were given the task of presenting their demands to the world. Explosives were wired to the bodies of DuPaul and the handcuffed cops. To the four selected communist warriors went the honor of unleashing the opening salvo of the next war, the war against democracy. The fact that two of them were disgruntled American workers would prove to the world the universal appeal of the Communist revolution.

DuPaul was coerced into contacting the police and the various news services, and a very strange press conference was convened. Only one TV reporter and one TV camera were allowed in; the other TV stations and the radios had to be satisfied with sharing the single feed that the revolutionaries allowed. The governor, the mayor, and the ranking officer in the National Guard were all summoned to negotiate. Well, actually, the demands of the revolutionaries were not negotiable — release the two comrades who were falsely accused of treason, and provide a helicopter to the airport and a fast military jet and pilot, with free conduct promised to Mexico. If not, bombs would go off throughout the plant.

The bomb squads that had been sweeping the plant earlier had found a half-dozen bombs, and they hadn’t dared touch them — they were radio-controlled, and sniper fire as they approached each bomb made it clear that the bombs were being watched. Any attempt to disarm them, or even approach them, would result in an explosion.

What was fascinating about these bombs, in a sickening kind of way, was that they had unerringly been placed in locations not to produce the most destruction at the plant, but to do the most possible harm to the city. For example, instead of placing a bomb at the base of the oil distillation tower, which would cause a relatively harmless oil fire, a bomb was placed so that it would blow open the tank of chlorine gas. Only someone with firsthand knowledge of the most dangerous points on the grounds could have picked these locations.

In return, the hostages would be released alive, with the exceptions of DuPaul, the American super-hero, and the highest-ranking cop. For insurance and protection, these three would not be released until the group reached its safe house in Mexico. It took a lot of negotiating, but Laurie was able to convince the authorities that all the bombs would be disarmed once the demands were met.

The governor insisted that the United States should never give in to the demands of blackmail and extortion, while the mayor was willing to do anything to keep his city from being devastated. The commander of the guard kept his own counsel; he was trying to figure out just how badly it would impact his career if he shot down a helicopter that was carrying an important member of the DuPaul family.

Return to chapter list