The Foreign Hand Tie

       Randall Garrett / Science Fiction

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
The Foreign Hand Tie Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction December 1961. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

_The Foreign Hand Tie_


_Just because you can ”see” something doesn't mean you understand it--and that can mean that even perfect telepathy isn't perfect communication...._


* * * * *

From Istanbul, in Turkish Thrace, to Moscow, U.S.S.R., is only a couple ofhours outing for a round trip in a fast jet plane--a shade less thaneleven hundred miles in a beeline.

Unfortunately, Mr. Raphael Poe had no way of chartering a bee.

The United States Navy cruiser _Woonsocket_, having made its placid wayacross the Mediterranean, up the Aegean Sea, and through the Dardanellesto the Bosporous, stopped overnight at Istanbul and then turned around andwent back. On the way in, it had stopped at Gibraltar, Barcelona,Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, and Athens--the main friendly ports on thenorthern side of the Mediterranean. On the way back, it performed the sameritual on the African side of the sea. Its most famous passengers were theAmerican Secretary of State, two senators, and three representatives.

Its most important passenger was Mr. Raphael Poe.

During the voyage in, Mr. Raphael Poe remained locked in a stateroom, allby himself, twiddling his thumbs restlessly and playing endless games ofsolitaire, making bets with himself on how long it would be before theship hit the next big wave and wondering how long it would take a man togo nuts in isolation. On the voyage back, he was not aboard the_Woonsocket_ at all, and no one missed him because only the captain andtwo other Navy men had known he was aboard, and they knew that he had beendropped overboard at Istanbul.

The sleek, tapered cylindroid might easily have been mistaken for a Navaltorpedo, since it was roughly the same size and shape. Actually, it was asort of hybrid, combining the torpedo and the two-man submarine that theJapanese had used in World War II, plus refinements contributed by suchapparently diverse arts as skin-diving, cybernetics, and nucleonics.

Inside this one-man underwater vessel, Raphael Poe lay prone, guiding thelittle atomic-powered submarine across the Black Sea, past Odessa, and upthe Dnieper. The first leg, the four hundred miles from the Bosporous tothe mouth of the river, was relatively easy. The two hundred and sixtymiles from there to the Dnepropetrovsk was a little more difficult, butnot terribly so. It became increasingly more difficult as the Dniepernarrowed and became more shallow.

On to Kiev. His course changed at Dnepropetrovsk, from northeast tonorthwest, for the next two hundred fifty miles. At Kiev, the riverchanged course again, heading north. Three hundred and fifty miles fartheron, at Smolensk, he was heading almost due east.

It had not been an easy trip. At night, he had surfaced to get hisbearings and to recharge the air tanks. Several times, he had had to taketo the land, using the caterpillar treads on the little machine, becauseof obstacles in the river.

At the end of the ninth day, he was still one hundred eighty miles fromMoscow, but, at that point, he got out of the submarine and preparedhimself for the trip overland. When he was ready, he pressed a specialbutton on the control panel of the expensive little craft. Immediately,the special robot brain took over. It had recorded the trip upstream; byapplying that information in reverse--a ”mirror image,” so to speak--itbegan guiding itself back toward Istanbul, applying the necessarycorrective factors that made the difference between an upstream and adownstream trip. If it had made a mistake or had been discovered, it wouldhave blown itself to bits. As a tribute to modern robotics andultra-microminiaturization, it is a fact that the little craft was pickedup five days later a few miles from Istanbul by the U.S.S. _Paducah_.

By that time, a certain Vladimir Turenski, a shambling not-too-bright deafmute, had made his fully documented appearance in Moscow.

* * * * *

Spies, like fairies and other such elusive sprites, traditionally come inrings. The reason for this circumstructural metaphor is obscure, but itremains a fact that a single spy, all by himself, is usually of verylittle use to anybody. Espionage, on any useful scale, requiresorganization.

There is, as there should be, a reason for this. The purpose of espionageis to gather information--preferably, _useful_ information--against thewishes of, and in spite of the efforts of, a group--usually referred toas ”the enemy”--which is endeavoring to prevent that information fromgetting into other hands than their own. Such activities obviously implycommunication. An espioneur, working for Side A, who finds a bit ofimportant information about Side B must obviously communicate that bit ofinformation to Side A or it is of no use whatsoever.

All of these factors pose complex problems.

To begin with, the espioneur must get himself into a position in which hecan get hold of the information he wants. Usually, that means that he mustpass himself off as something he is not, a process which requires time.Then, when he gets the information he is after, he must get it to hisemployers quickly. Information, like fish, becomes useless after a certainamount of time, and, unlike fish, there is no known way of refrigeratingit to retard spoilage.

It is difficult to transmit information these days. It is actually easierfor the espioneur to transmit it than to get it, generally speaking, butit is difficult for him to do both jobs at once, so the spy ring's twomajor parts consist of the ones who get the information from the enemy andthe ones who transmit it back to their employers.

Without magic, it is difficult for a single spy to be of any benefit. And”magic,” in this case, can be defined as some method by which informationcan be either obtained or transmitted without fear of discovery by theenemy. During World War I, a competent spy equipped with a compacttransistorized short-wave communications system could have had himself aball. If the system had included a miniature full-color television camera,he could have gone hog wild. In those days, such equipment would have beenmagic.

All this is not _a propos_ of nothing. Mr. Raphael Poe was, in his ownway, a magician.

It is not to be supposed that the United States of America had no spyrings in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at that time. There wereplenty of them. Raphael Poe could have, if it were so ordained, availedhimself of the services of any one or all of them. He did not do so fortwo reasons. In the first place, the more people who are in on a secret,the more who can give it away. In other words, a ring, like a chain, isonly as strong as its weakest section. In the second place, Raphael Poedidn't need any assistance in the first place.

That is, he needed no more assistance that most magicians do--a shill inthe audience. In this particular case, the shill was his brother, LeonardPoe.

* * * * *

Operation Mapcase was as ultra-secret as it could possibly be. Althoughthere were perhaps two dozen men who knew of the existence of theoperation by its code name, such as the Naval officers who had helped getRaphael Poe to his destination, there were only five men who really knewwhat Operation Mapcase was all about.

Two of these were, of course, Raphael and Leonard Poe. Two others were thePresident of the United States and the Secretary of Defense. The fifth wasColonel Julius T. Spaulding, of United States Army Intelligence.

On the seventh day after Raphael Poe's arrival in Moscow, the other fourmen met in Blair House, across the street from the White House, in a roomespecially prepared for the purpose. No one but the President knew theexact purpose of the meeting, although they had an idea that he wantedmore information of some kind.

The President himself was the last to arrive. Leaving two Secret Servicemen standing outside the room, he carefully closed the door and turned toface the Secretary of Defense, Colonel Spaulding, and Leonard Poe. ”Sitdown, gentlemen,” he said, seating himself as he spoke.

”Gentlemen, before we go any further, I must conduct one final experimentin order to justify Operation Mapcase. I will not explain it just yet.” Helooked at Lenny Poe, a small, dark-haired man with a largish nose. ”Mr.Poe, can you contact your brother at this moment?”

Lenny Poe was a man who was not overawed by anyone, and had no inclinationto be formal, not even toward the President. ”Yeah, sure,” he saidmatter-of-factly.

The President glanced at his watch. ”It is now five minutes of ten. Thatmakes it five minutes of six in the evening in Moscow. Is your brotherfree to move around? That is, can he go to a
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Scroll Up
Add comment

Add comment