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Excerpt: The StarSight Project (2002)

November...the near future.

Like a monstrous sea-serpent...smooth, black, and sleek...the Russian nuclear submarine, Skibirsk, knifed silently through the dark mist blanketing the inky Barents Sea...steadfastly pursuing a course which would soon leave Murmansk far behind. With binoculars raised, Captain Yuri Kirschnikov stood tall in the tower next to his first officer, Captain Second Rank Anatoly Vladimirov...gazing silently into the void. With just a sliver of moonlight disturbing the darkness, only the fleeting reflections of the wavelets stirred up by the stiff November night breezes provided some detail of the monotonous seascape ahead. Proceeding at a modest fifteen knots, the Skibirsk was like a slinking black panther, strolling purposefully and confidently through the tall grass...with rippling muscles signaling the potential for high-speed deadly pursuit at any moment.

Despite the cool sea spray and the frigid air dancing through the precisely groomed salt and pepper beard gracing his rugged face, tiny beads of perspiration could be seen on Captain Kirschnikov's forehead. At fifty-four years, a career naval officer, he had not imagined that he would be embarking on this kind of mission. A suicide mission, his colleagues would call it...if they knew. But, they did not. Only Kirschnikov could anticipate the horrible events that he would set in motion.

Staring blankly through the binoculars, his mind could picture only the long, thick, deadly projectile installed in the pre-launch chamber below deck. Prominently dispersed over its entire body were the bold markings reserved for dummy missiles...those with harmless lead and sawdust mock warheads. Only Kirschnikov knew that, despite the innocuous appearance, this device was destined to throw a great nation into chaos. It would not come as a cataclysmic explosion that might level huge structures and vaporize living creatures. But the nuclear event would produce unexpected and unparalleled horror. The goal of the fanatical, depraved minds, which had devised this insane plot, was not to inflict material damage, but to strike terror into the hearts and minds of the American people. And surely that effect would be accomplished by this demonic plan.

Shivering involuntarily as his mind's eye envisioned the horrific events his actions would cause, Captain Kirschnikov reminded himself that there was no turning back. His was the crucial role that would put into play the final piece of this carefully orchestrated attack. The reward for this action would be too great...and the penalty for failure so unthinkable...that Kirschnikov could not, would not, consider avoiding this responsibility. They chose well...those bastards, he thought...when they recruited me for this horrible deed. Lowering the binoculars, finally, he turned around and followed his first officer down from the tower...taking one last breath of the cool, salty air he would not taste again until this horrible deed was done.
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