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Binary code: Mystery number one

Part One: The Binary Code. Center Zero

Was there a civilization on Earth before ours? Some think yes, others think no, but all suspect that there are secret organizations that influence the course of our history. This book is about such a structure. The book will be of interest to fans of mysteries, exciting adventures and those who want to look behind the facade of super secrecy. It is not the real reality that is around us, yet not everyone sees it. We do not want to realize that the world and life exist in a subtle "corridor" of existence, but, discovering secret after secret, we are forced to admit it.

He who controls the past owns the future.

Chapter 1: In the beginning there was an event

Рис.0 Binary code: Mystery number one

It was an ordinary day, or rather, morning, and nothing unusual should have happened in it, or rather – there were no direct preconditions for it, but, as usual, something extraordinary happened. Many people believe that time is not material, that it has no physical substance, that if there is no physical component, at least one particle of atom's nucleus, there will be no time, because there is no something against which it can be measured. As we know, history teaches people that it teaches nothing, and time as an independent, independent event constantly proves it. It proves that it exists, regardless of whether there is anything else but it. And this time time has once again cracked. Its component could not withstand the artificial alteration of its course and shouted out loud: "My time has come!" This morning time cracked and the "wheel" of history rolled into another uncharted distance.

– Rutra Tigrovich Paskhov, why are you sleeping, time will not wait for you! – Captain Klimov shouted in his half-joking manner from beside his bunk.

– What happened? I was on watch," Ruthra muttered, throwing a disgruntled look at the duty officer, meaning: "How did you get in? Why didn't you warn me?"

Although Klimov was senior in rank, he did not have a security clearance level to a highly classified part of the facility.

Knowing Klimov's mannerisms, Ruthra realized that he was aware of what had happened in the country, so he thought not of that, but of why he had put it that way. Apparently, although their structure knew everything in advance, the clash of forces was so massive that the outcome was still unpredictable.

It was the morning of August 18, 1991. The further events were known to everyone, and their internal structure and the reasons that led to them are the subject of numerous disputes and conspiracy theories.

In a period when everything that could change was changing and everything that could change was being changed, when the beloved country turned into something for some and for others finally disappeared, these events began and lasted until today.

Rutra was fortunate enough to be privy to some of the secrets and especially important values of the state called the Soviet Union. Like many people who had to do with the existence of that system, he developed a certain type of personality. Many people who did not know what the strength of the system was and what it was based on could not understand these people. These people were of that category who never uttered words in vain. Every word, gesture, action, deed and even facial expression had a meaning. That's the way the system had raised them. People like them are called exes; it is said about them that "they have no exes". However, they are not the ones who are known as those who "have no exes", because if not everyone knows about them, then these people do, and nothing is known about these people. Although these people remain human beings with their human concepts of existence, especially within the social economic-political "field" on which they were raised by the system of values they were called to defend. Therefore, at the crossroads of history, which gives not only disruption and cracks to the usual way of life, but also new choices and opportunities, many people took the position that was closer to their hearts. Given the freedom to choose, people showed their true selves. It turned out that many people are not ready to sacrifice themselves – not only their lives, but also their time and lifestyle, and they want big and easy money. And for the sake of this they are ready to compromise moral and ethical taboos. Others could not overstep their conscience and tried not only not to bend moral standards, but also to earn honestly in the new world, where most people have forgotten these principles.

Many were at a crossroads. Ruthra tried to get on with his life and his friends. His friends, comrades and superiors did not forget him, nor did he forget his friends and comrades, for the business they had been trained for was not as such. Though much of the new was a risk to life and a risk to liberty, it was still close in spirit to Rutra and company.

They were people who couldn't live without it. Since there was not much to choose from, Rutra agreed to various special operations. The essence of the case was that it was necessary to travel abroad under the guise of tourists, businessmen, representatives of public or religious organizations (in a word, under someone else's documents) for contacts with various special services.

The fact is that what ordinary citizens see and hear is very different from what it really is. Special services have an unspoken agreement not to disclose the essence of their existence, even if they are opponents. And the essence of the job is for them to exist and be in power all the time. In fact – there is a myth that it is possible to come to power, so to speak, honestly. What is the question? Things seem to happen, but no one will ever be "supreme" in power without the permission of those who are already "supreme" in power. That authority should never be seen by anyone. It's logical. If you wish, you can raise a person in the right spirit from childhood, prepare him and bring him, through all procedures and intermediate links, to any level of power. Having received this power, he can create an illusion of freedom of choice. And this has already happened once and the "supreme" power did not need it.

The essence of the work was to collect, decipher, filter and systematize information obtained through visual, electronic, overt, covert, open and closed sources. The methods, objects and subjects of collection could be very different, from the usual copying, data interception and theft to fantastic non-verbal communications using hypnosis and psychotropic drugs.

However, one of the methods, by which, as if with the help of puzzles, the true picture was assembled, was the most labor-intensive, although the most reliable. An agent literally had to sit at one "point" for years and observe, with or without the use of special equipment, a secret object. It was better, of course, if the agent was embedded in the object, working in some secondary role. Even a janitor was suitable for this. A "secret" object might not be officially secret in status, but its mode, regulations, and functioning were important. For example, information obtained from the places of residence and leisure of persons who possessed scientific, commercial, military or political information could be more significant than information obtained from documents from secret facilities. Everything had to be recorded: who goes where, where they come from, daily routine, drills, repairs, start-up and shutdown times, background indicators and many other seemingly insignificant things. Right down to when a door was opened, when and where lights were turned on and off, what and how much they ate, drank, and listened to.

The use of special equipment was limited, it could itself be the cause of declassification, but in today's world, information flowing through networks and systematized in programs was akin to treasure.

There were many such "caretakers" at different sites. This was called "tacit observation". Thus, for weeks, months, years, the "caretakers" recorded in the form of fables, poems, stories everything that happened at the objects they were interested in. This formed a picture of how the object worked, how it interacted with other objects. All the information was collected in the "first circle" of analysis. In the "first circle" of analysis, a certain algorithm of what was happening was drawn up. Then the whole situation was transferred to the "second circle" of analysis, in which the most important objects, on which the work of all other objects depended, were formalized and designated in more detail.

All information from these centers was sent to an external center, which could be located in a completely different country. There, a complete picture was formed of how, for example, naval groupings functioned. Then all the data was sent to the internal center of the external center. As a result, they knew perfectly well where the subject of interest, this or that employee, officer, representative, team member was located, how the object or management functioned, who was going where, to whom, why, what supplies were coming from where, where and to whom, what developments were underway, what secret agreements had been reached, and much more. All of this was compared with data that came from other agents, or rather spies, added data that was simply bought.

It turned out that there were no secrets. All secrets were only in what and how things were programmed – codes and ciphers, for example. This was the modern world, in which options were calculated like a chess game. That is, for example, the GRU knew perfectly well the capabilities of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, the number of men, the classification of weapons, how they fired and what could be done with them. But what order would come and where would it go, what would be the tactical move? That was unknown. It was quite difficult to guess it, so all possible options were calculated.

The world map is like a chessboard. And if you add weather phenomena, random events like tsunamis, earthquakes or magnetic storms, you get a lot of possible variants. That's why it was decided to take it under control. In order to control this, tectonic weapons and weather-affecting weapons, such as HAARP, were invented.

Since the intelligence services are aware that they know everything about each other, there is an agreement on secret cooperation, but since everyone "puts a spoon in his mouth", everyone tried to hide something. For example, according to the treaty on the reduction of nuclear weapons, an intercontinental missile should have one charge, but in circumvention of this treaty several charges were placed. Naturally, the presence of systems affecting the nervous system, psyche and consciousness of a person was always concealed.

This is how Rutra, working as an analyst and then as head of the external center, spent several years. To hide it, everything was made up as business trips, errands, or just tourism. Sometimes he had to dispatch agents, to keep an eye on sites whose purpose he didn't think were important. For some reason they were important to the Center.

In fact, the bulk of information was obtained from open sources. In the West, it was easy to do this, you could even brazenly collect information under the guise of a good, professional activity. In Russia, especially in the USSR, for this, at best, you could be "sent to the zone". But there everything was simpler. For example, there was a case that Rutra was told about by his guru during his internship in the United States.

In the 1970s, law school graduate James Bamford was bored with practicing law, so he chose the profession of a reporter and worked as a detective in a private detective agency. The idea to write a book about the NSA came to the journalist in 1979, when he noticed that there are many books on the Central Intelligence Agency, but there is almost nothing about the National Security Agency.

In those days, the vast majority of Americans had no idea that such an intelligence agency existed. Nor had they heard of it at Houghton Mifflin, where Bamford approached with his proposal. However, the assertive reporter believed, gave an advance of 7,500 dollars and a term of three years. As Bamford later recalled, his legal education and experience as a detective helped him enormously in the process of writing The Palace of Mystery.

Bamford began his search by reading everything he could find about the NSA in public libraries. But that turned out to be negligible. Since data on NSA personnel and facilities were missing from official Pentagon directories, Bamford began digging up related reports and records of congressional hearings. In notes to the reports of Sen. Frank Church's committee investigating the intelligence community in the mid-1970s, Bamford found references to dozens of specific documents. These documents became the basis for his first three-page Freedom of Information Act-FOIA request to the NSA. It was immediately discovered that the NSA was almost entirely exempt from FOIA under an earlier law protecting the organization from any attempt to disclose its activities. So Bamford's first request was rejected outright.

Not the least bit embarrassed, the journalist went back to the library vaults. A comprehensive list of telephone numbers of U.S. military installations around the world gave no information as to which numbers might correspond to secret NSA radio interception posts. The Senate subcommittee reports dealing with military construction funding were carefully scrubbed clean of any reference to NSA facilities. However, the incurious Bamford noticed that when a secret base decided to build a court or basketball court, the requests were unclassified and showed up in the committee reports. By cross-referencing between military telephone directories and such requests, as well as similarly unremarkable data, Bamford was able to compile a nearly complete list of radio intercept sites in the NSA's global network.

At the same time, the journalist began searching for personal documents of employees of the U.S. radio-intelligence community.

A number of other important sources of information were found in the library.

From these documents, in particular, it was clear that the NSA, which as a foreign intelligence agency is not officially authorized to engage in eavesdropping on U.S. communications systems, does so through cooperation with foreign allies conducting radio intercepts on U.S. soil.

The NSA tried to stop Bamford's "subversive" activities and prosecute him under the Espionage Act. The journalist was accused of obtaining classified documents, but at the time the Reagan administration had not yet succeeded in passing a national security directive allowing for the reclassification of documents.

This is the kind of thing an ordinary journalist could do. It is impossible to imagine such things in the USSR, even in modern Russia. Over time, Rutra got fed up with it and decided to leave the service, as it involved risk to life and danger to freedom. The pay was not bad, but the money came and went. No serious earnings. Days and months went by like "life was a raspberry", you could walk around at your own pleasure. At the moment when he decided, so to speak, to "stop" with it, he received an offer he could not refuse. There are no exes in the system he was in, so it was impossible to just walk away. He didn't want to fulfill cheap requests; he couldn't move up the career ladder either, because he had to serve there and fulfill his assignments. There were changes in the country, and the surrounding reality promised very good prospects. So Rutra was at a crossroads. And then, out of nowhere, Alexander Ivanovich appeared.

Chapter 2: Where is zero?

Рис.11 Binary code: Mystery number one

Alexander Ivanovich was an old, hardened fighter with awards and wounds. He was missing one eye and had a prosthetic instead. He never told what happened to him, but his coworkers whispered that he had this eye removed voluntarily, that instead of an eye there was a special device. They said that instead of an eye he had an artificial eye, or rather, a device with the function of taking pictures, photographing, x-raying and scanning.

Alexander Ivanovich set up an informal meeting.

– We thought you were offended.

– Why all of a sudden?

– You've been illegal for a long time. Usually after a stint abroad, fighters come back and get a rank and file at headquarters.

– What's in it for me?

– You'll get lieutenant colonel ahead of schedule and classified status.

– Which one?

– Head of a think tank at a top-secret facility and access to state secrets.

Rutra had no reason not to believe Alexander Ivanovich, and he never joked, especially not like that, but Rutra was still wary. He knew that one got into such centers either by "inheritance" or for very great merit. Those who worked in special secret centers were checked from birth, and not only for themselves, but as they say, for their entire background.

– I want you to know there's a problem in the system, the system wants a new fighter, with an abstract mindset.

To this, Rutra replied that this was not news to him.

– I'm already in the system.

He knew that Alexander Ivanovich knew he was in the system.

– You know exactly what I mean. I want you to get into the first round, and I want you to get promoted.

– What circle is that?

– The one that includes the special ones. You know perfectly well there's no way out.

– Is that an "aquarium"?

– Sort of. We should take you to Center A. I already talked to the right people today. They've been watching you for a while. But be warned, you're going to the very center. I've set up an early morning meeting.

At 7:00 they were to meet Alexander Ivanovich and go to this "very-most center". In the morning, Alexander Ivanovich picked him up. There was a driver sitting behind the wheel of the company car, who looked suspiciously at Rutra. The license plates were military, series 16. They drove straight out of town and into some kind of specially protected reserve zone, which was impossible to enter, only through a checkpoint with darkened windows. There was a sign on the iron fence that said it was some kind of estate.

The car stopped in front of the gate, no one came out to them, no documents were demanded. Alexander Ivanovich called someone, and the gate opened automatically. They drove for a long time. Rutra was even surprised that some park area, some forest, was the location of a top-secret center.

They reached a miniature house that was buried in greenery on all sides. It was almost invisible. If the road didn't lead to it, they wouldn't be able to find it at all. It was a beautiful house, like a picture. Only part of its facade was visible. Rutra's careful eye determined that there were many camouflaged objects around.

– This is the lodge of the hunter of the international court, – explained Alexander Ivanovich.

– What does that mean?

– We call it that because it decides who will be free and who will be in a cage, dead or alive. Let's go.

They went into the courtyard. Alexander Ivanovich put his thumb to some device, but not on the pad side, as it usually happens, but on the nail side. The door opened.

They went into the house. The furnishings were from the 1950s. Everything was very clean, neat, but no one was there. They went into the hallway, from there into the next room, then into the hall, then into another room. In that room there was a fireplace. Alexander Ivanovich pressed a button on the remote control for the television. The fireplace moved away, and a small platform opened up.

– Stand next to me," he commanded.

Ruthra walked over. They stood on the platform. Alexander Ivanovich pressed a button, and they began to descend. It was an elevator. They descended to the room below. There was another platform there. Alexander Ivanovich pressed another button, and the platform descended to the floor below.

It was dark. He took Ruthra's hand and stepped forward. Ruthra followed. They found themselves in pitch blackness. The platform rose back up.

After a second or two, the light came on. The room was completely empty; there was only plaster on the walls, no paint, no wallpaper. Alexander Ivanovich went out into the corridor; Rutra followed him.

The corridor was illuminated by a dim light. When they reached the end of the corridor, Alexander Ivanovich raised his hand and started waving, as if he was trying to show someone something. Suddenly something clicked, and the wall that was in front of them went down. A passage opened up.

Alexander Ivanovich walked ahead, Rutra followed him. They walked a few meters, and the door closed behind them.

Instead of numbers on the code lock of the next door there were hieroglyphics. Alexander Ivanovich pressed 6 of them – the door opened. It was an elevator vestibule. They went in there, the door closed, the elevator went down. Rutra became wary.

– Where are we going?

– Right in the center.

– But not to the center of the Earth, right? – Ruthra joked.

– Not to the center of the Earth, but to the center that rotates the Earth," Aleksandr Ivanovich answered and pointed his index finger upwards.

Ruthra was silent. It wasn't customary for specialists in such services to talk much, much less joke. Every word was a chain of inferences that could be used to get a lot of information. If someone said something badly or made a joke, let alone acted, it could cost him not only his career, but also his freedom and life. You could be an ex if you had your memory erased, and since there was no such technology, as far as Ruthra knew, he realized that he might share the fate of those who "went nowhere," as the experts put it among themselves.

The elevator stopped, the door opened, and they found themselves in a new corridor, exactly the same as the previous one. Ruthra thought it was a test or some kind of trick.

They walked down the corridor to a door that was disguised as a wall. Alexander Ivanovich waved his hand again, the wall slid open, and they stepped out into another corridor. Rutra thought this was a test of courage, and even began to wonder if he had thought the elevator was only going down. He also remembered that the wall in front of which Alexander Ivanovich had waved had been before the elevator, and here it was after the corridor.

When they reached the wall at the end of the corridor, Ruthra realized something was wrong. It wasn't a wall, but a solid glass door. Either it was covered with a black film or the glass itself was black. On the door was a sign that read: "You are seen, you are not." Alexander Ivanovich put his thumb nail to the device again, something rustled, and the door opened.

Ruthra was surprised at what he saw. It was a huge, two-level room, with a huge globe spinning in the middle of it. There were dozens of computers, different devices, and hundreds of screens arranged in several levels around the perimeter. Ruthra was even taken aback. What struck him most was the globe. It was a huge glowing globe that was projected as a three-dimensional i by a device from below. It showed in detail the topography not only of the land, but also of the ocean floor. And it was moving. Looking closely, Ruthra realized that it was slowly spinning on its axis. There were airplanes flying in the "sky"; tiny satellites hurtling along in their orbits. The artificial sun clearly separated day and night.

– What's up? Let's go," said Alexander Ivanovich.

– I didn't expect this. Where have we gotten to, Alexander Ivanovich?

– I already told you. Right in the center.

– And what is this center?

– Follow me. I'm an old man and my feet hurt, so don't ask too many questions.

Alexander Ivanovich was in his 85th year, he was a bit heavy, so it was hard for him. They walked to the end of the room. No one paid any attention to them, although there was no one to do so – the chairs behind the computers were empty.

They came to the door of the office, on which hung a sign with the inscription: NGTSOI. Alexander Ivanovich knocked and did not wait for an answer. They went into the room. There sat a vivacious grandfather in his sixties.

– Good afternoon, Yuri Vasilyevich!" Alexander Ivanovich greeted him.

– Oh-oh, what people! Good afternoon, Alexander Ivanovich! I've been waiting for you, waiting for you," he said, coming up to him, and they embraced, shaking hands firmly. – Sit down.

On the wall of the office was a huge panel on which cells showed is from surveillance cameras, including the entire path that Rutra and Alexander Ivanovich had traveled, several guard posts with similar screens, and a wide variety of surface views, from offices and building facades to areas of forest, tundra, and space.

– Here, meet him," said Alexander Ivanovich and pointed at Rutra. – Rutra Tigrovich Paskhov, that's him.

Yuri Vasilyevich smiled, looked intently at Rutra and said:

– What, was it illegal?

– I was," Ruthra replied.

– Under what last name? Or did you like that one and decided to keep it? Same first name, middle name?

Ruthra was silent. He had learned a lot over the years, namely that the system he was in was not what ordinary citizens thought of it, nor what they thought of the intelligence services. He was in a system where you had to hide the truth even from yourself. Sometimes he was so into the role that it seemed to him that he was the man whose legend he wore. Yuri Vasilyevich was still a stranger to him. Besides, this whole incident could have been another test.

Ruthra made a surprised face as if he didn't know what he was talking about.

– I realize you're keeping your mouth shut for security reasons. I realize it's the name that doesn't match, I've got an eye for it. It's clear that it doesn't match your origins. But why take a middle name like that? – Yuri Vasilyevich either inquired or questioned.

Rutra was surprised.

– That's the first time I've ever heard that.

– I see, school. The fact that you're here says a lot, but I'm afraid to disappoint you. You think you're gonna do here what you did there?

– Clearly not.

– That task is no less important now.

– What did I do before? – Ruthra asked bravely, though he was afraid in his heart.

It was the same as saying that Yuri Vasilyevich was not in command of the situation. Yuri Vasilyevich had the rank of colonel, which was clear from the photograph hanging on the wall. On it he was standing in an embrace with the president, which spoke of his high status. Alexander Ivanovich defused the situation:

– Why don't we have tea, Yuri Vasilyevich? He's a little "stuck"… I'll tell you all about it later.

Yuri Vasilyevich stood up, opened the safe, disguised by a photograph, and took out a bottle of cognac with Churchill's picture on it. "To drink tea" in the circle of especially gifted specialists meant to drink something stronger.

In another photo, Yuri Vasilyevich was young. He was sitting at a table in the company of border guards. Rutra's experienced eye noticed that they were photographed against the background of a map of Transcaucasia.

Yuri Vasilyevich took out a plate of sliced sausage and pickles, olives, and several bottles of Silver Key mineral water from the refrigerator.

– What you like," he said and showed the bottles to Alexander Ivanovich.

– Was it a present from him? – Alexander Ivanovich asked.

– From himself!

Rutra did not understand who they meant, but judging by their meaningful look, the cognac was given either by Churchill himself or by the man in the photo. Yuri Vasilyevich uncorked the bottle, poured it into crystal shot glasses, raised his own and said:

– Well, just our way.

They clinked glasses and drank. "Cleanly our way" meant that they drank cognac like vodka – no one was going to be ceremonious with the glasses.

They talked about the various operations they had participated in, but Rutra knew only the name of the places and the names of foreign and domestic officials. He was knowledgeable enough to keep up a conversation, which was what the older generation liked. A lot of things were new to him, though.

After the third Alexander Ivanovich said with a smile that he had had enough and that now Rutra would drink for him. Rutra didn't know what secret meaning he put into these words, but he realized that the old man obviously didn't mean the feast.

Yuri Vasilyevich held out the bottle and said:

– Come on, dose up! One more and I'll tell you about your new role.

After thinking for a bit, Ruthra said:

– It's hard for me to know whether to accept or refuse. After all, I have been invited to serve.

He had been through so many different tests so many times that he had developed a reflex, and so he decided to act openly.

– I realize that you've been abroad for a long time. I can't forget myself when I was in that situation, but remember: if a man doesn't drink even a shot, he's either an alcoholic or a traitor," Yuri smirked. – So take your pick.

Rutra liked brandy. He raised his shot glass.

After "tea" Yuri Vasilyevich invited them to the hall. On the way, Alexander Ivanovich said to Rutra:

– I helped you because I have plans for you.

He said this very sadly; it was obvious that he was having a hard time. Judging by the fact that Alexander Ivanovich was already quite old, Rutra realized that he would need some help.

– Goodbye, I'll go," said Alexander Ivanovich.

They shook hands, hugged Yuri Vasilyevich, and he went to the door, but not the one they had entered. Rutra watched him until Yuri Vasilyevich called out to him:

– Rutra Tigrovich, since we have met, I will explain one rule adopted in the center: the head of the center can address his subordinates as "you". The staff – only "you". Among ourselves – as the relationship develops. We have to get used to the servant attitude, so as not to give ourselves away among civilians. Although we're supposed to be a civilian service, just like the CIA. I hope you know what I mean.

– It's clear," Ruthra replied calmly.

– Come on then, I'll show your post.

He took him to the upper tier, where there was one office, all glass, from which the entire hall was visible. It was higher than the hall, and from there everyone could be monitored. Ruthra noticed that the sparse screens were showing some sort of is. Mostly they had similar diagrams on them. Ruthra took a closer look. Most of the computers in the room did indeed have diagrams on them. There were a few similar screens in his office, with diagrams on them as well.

– What is it? – Ruthra asked.

– What's the point of the world right now, you know? The world is not the same anymore, and you know very well that nobody wants to kill anybody. Everybody wants peace, everybody wants to be rich, enjoy life. Everyone has realized that there is no point in bombing and destroying each other, because, firstly, it will be worse for yourself, secondly, there is no guarantee that you will destroy someone, and you will remain intact, and thirdly, no one wants to take risks. Even if there's solid intel. Fourth, even if you destroy someone, you destroy a potential client. Everyone wants to do business, go out, get drunk, enjoy life, so now the war is here! – And he poked at the monitor.

– What is it? – Ruthra asked.

– This, my dear, is the pulse of the planet.

– What's the pulse of the planet?

– This chart shows what is happening, where and when, and most importantly, for how much. This is one of the main parts of our center's purpose – to keep track of not only who, what and where is doing or intending to do what, but also what is being done. Really doing. Where and from where finances, raw materials, materials and, most importantly, intellectual capital flow. Our center receives information from all resources that collect data. All the intelligence agencies, all over the world. We're interested in everything. Including personal data of social network users, basic financial and economic indicators of firms, corporations, countries as a whole. Also the usual spy data, which has always been of interest to spies, information of special importance. As you know, of course, information of special importance should include information in the field of military, foreign policy, economic, scientific and technical, intelligence and operational and investigative activities. We are interested not only in hidden, secret transactions, but also in open ones, for example, stock exchange transactions. As you realized, there are stock exchange terminals here. Are you surprised? You thought this was some kind of secret center you imagined? That's the thing, insider information is that kind of secret information. Well, for example, let's say a ship carrying a highly toxic chemical material is hijacked by terrorists and is headed to, say, the UK. It's a three-stage operation. The first is an intelligence and counterintelligence operation, which means knowing about it in advance. The second is infiltrate and capture. But you'll be working on the third stage. That is to deal with the consequences of such events yourself.

– I don't get it," Ruthra said, raising his eyebrows upward.

– Nobody knows how they do it. I mean, some homegrown terrorists could not, for example, organize serious terrorist attacks. You understand that for the average person they can bypass our service, but only a highly organized special service can really stand up to us. And so people live, work, rest, plan something and at some point they learn that a ship has been seized and is carrying chemical weapons. Let's say the ship arrived in port today. What will start happening there when people learn that there is a threat of explosion and contamination? Fuss, panic, flight of capital, flight of people. What happens to the stock market in this country? It will start to fall, the economy will collapse. What are the consequences? The country will become poorer, will not be able, for example, to finance scientific research and, as a consequence, in ten years it will fall hopelessly behind. And if someone prepared in advance, i.e. organized to make the shares get cheaper, then he can buy up half of the country. I'm exaggerating a little bit. But you know what I mean, don't you? There used to be total opposition. If a country's power was undermined, it was by direct "undermining." Simply put, it used to be a real bomb, now it's an information bomb. Of course, I am exaggerating a bit, but the general mechanism is as follows. But the most interesting and the most secret is not this information, not how it is obtained, not even the center itself and its existence at all!

Yuri Vasilyevich fell silent and looked at Rutra carefully.

– Why? – Ruthra asked, running through a hundred options in his head.

Yuri Vasilyevich took Rutra by the edge of his collar and quietly, as if it were an incantation, said:

– All this information comes here officially, openly. We don't spy on anyone, we don't infiltrate anywhere, we don't bribe anyone, we don't break ciphers and codes, we don't steal anything. Everything is handed over to us voluntarily. This is a center for tracking those who are tracking everyone according to their structural purpose. In this center, all intelligence and intelligence agencies are united. Only they don't know it themselves. They don't know that the information they gather comes here. They do not know that there is a center where information from all the world's services is processed, whether they are secret spy services or official civilian services. As our German colleague likes to say, "from the maternity hospital to the funeral parlor." Everything, everything, everything. You see why no one can know about us? And I'll tell you something else. This will come as a surprise to you.

The colonel fell silent again.

– What?" Ruthra asked quietly.

– We are supranational. We are not subordinate to the Russian government. We are not subordinate to anyone at all and could be in any country. Everyone is subordinate to us. Our center is the control center of all significant intelligence services, globally, and through them all governments. All the top leaders of intelligence agencies and secret governments are one group. The center has many branches and representative offices. The main ones are the official secret agencies of the countries themselves. That, my friend, is how our glorious world works now. Information no longer has to be mined and stolen. You can just negotiate. And someone's already done it.

– And who is this "someone"?

– You will learn a lot more. You'll realize what kind of world we live in," Vasilyevich answered, shaking his head. – Now tell me, whose family are you going to be?

– From who?

– The information about your appointment came a long time ago, but your background is vague. I can't check it, there's no authorization. If I did it myself, it would raise suspicion. Here you have access to the deepest secrets – even the control codes of enemy satellites, or the trust accounts of the secret services, or the DNA of the president's children. But if you pry unnecessarily, the system will flag you as "suspicious. If you don't justify yourself, you're dead. No one's gonna take any chances. The latest technology, with which you will become very familiar, will make it clear that it is impossible to hide anything. Besides, everything here is mixed up. Those you thought were enemies are comrades and friends, well, or partners. Fighting, feuding, it's a contract, a performance. If everything you find out, tell anyone, they won't believe you, and if they do, the world will turn upside down. We have to live as a family here, to trust each other, otherwise – you can go crazy. The family that's out there becomes something mundane…

Vasilievich jabbed his index finger upward.

– You can't and have no right to even stutter about what you do. Forget everything you know. It's a world of its own, its own culture, its own concepts. Although your spouse has a clearance level, she's being considered for administrator. In that, you may be lucky.

Ruthra was silent, listening.

– You and your wife must have met in the system?

– Why would you say that?

– Here, as in many intelligence agencies, most marry by decree, to a "local". I got married that way the first time too, and my current wife has no idea where I go. Your spouse has been served papers on you too, which is why I'm wondering whose you're from. It's rare for that to happen.

– Whose? I don't know, I got her involved somehow. The system approved it, even though she still only has administrative clearance.

– Our service is a service of control over everything and anything, as well as planning and forecasting. That's why you don't get here by blat, by acquaintance, or for the merits of your parents.

– What are you talking about?

– I'm trying to figure out which mafia.

– Mafia?

Ruthra even smiled.

– Just kidding.

Vasilyevich's face became serious. Rutra became serious, too. He realized that this wasn't entirely a joke. The two burning gazes locked into each other, trying to siphon off all the information they could.

– What kind of mafia is there? – Ruthra asked with a smile.

– Some with a bayonet, some with a pencil.

– Who are these people?

– With bayonet – military or ex-military, the ranks here are nominal. This organization is special, the ranks here are of a special level.

– And "with a pencil"?

– These are men of science, scientists.

– Why, could they be dangerous?

Vasilievich hummed

– As for the military, you may know what they want and, more importantly, can do, but with scientists, it's always a mystery. What do they have in mind, what have they come up with? And most importantly, they can come up with something with which they can seize power over the human brain. Suddenly they have figured out how to control a person imperceptibly and make sure that the person thinks that he is free in his choice? What then?

He looked intently at Ruthra and added quietly:

– The most powerful mafia is the mafia of scientists.

Ruthra didn't know what to answer.

– I don't even know what to say to you. Consider me neutral.

– Neutrals can only be those who know the field of warfare intimately and have a high degree in the exact sciences. Do you have one of those?

Vasilievich said the last one sarcastically.

– I don't know, I mean, it's kind of a secret around here.

– All right, let's go. I'll introduce you to the center's departments, but don't forget my words. If we don't trust each other, we won't look for enemies elsewhere, we'll look for them here. We must be one family, one mafia. The basis of our work is the collection, analysis and systematization of information. Our difference from similar structures is that we are part of a special international structure, which is a supranational organization of controlling organizations. Therefore, what for others is spy-intelligence activity, for us is cooperation within the same structure. It's hard for you to understand this yet, but soon you'll understand everything. Think of us as a special service of the world government control organization.

– Just like that?

– I'll tell you what structure we integrated from when we realized that it was foolish to aim for mutual destruction. It's better to unite to control the opposing forces without them knowing. Divide and conquer, as they say. So, our center appeared after the merger of SOUD and Echelon structures.

– Are these the ones?

– Yeah. Electronic intelligence. You were part of the system of outdoor, visual surveillance and analysis of what the electronic intelligence found. And now you'll get most of your information from her, but in the open. I need to see what you know about her.

– Should I?

– Imagine, we've been waiting for you. So start your "report."

Rutra had the kind of excellent memory required of a man of his caliber, and he memorized it by heart:

– Radio-electronic reconnaissance is a discipline of intelligence gathering based on the reception and analysis of electromagnetic radiation. Radioelectronic reconnaissance uses both intercepted signals from communication channels between people and technical means, as well as signals from operating radars, REB stations and similar devices. The most important part of this system is the JIRS. SOUD, or the System of Joint Data Recording on the enemy – a classified system of information interception, created back in the days of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries to conduct global electronic intelligence. It was controlled by the 16th KGB Directorate and the 6th GRU Directorate. SOUD united all means of electronic and space reconnaissance of the USSR, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, GDR, Vietnam, Mongolia and Cuba. The collected information was sent for analysis and processing to two main computer centers. The first is still located in Moscow and the second was located in the GDR. After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Stasi computer center was taken over by the West German intelligence agency BND, depriving JICD of half of its data processing capabilities.

Ruthra fell silent, going over the technical data in his head. He had a question he couldn't help but ask.

– The Warsaw Pact apparatus, as far as I know, has been removed. Isn't that right?

– How about that. Control of the center hasn't really been lost. It's a bit of a wild-goose chase, but more on that later. I understand you have general information, within your clearance. Listen to me, then you tell me what you know, and then you ask questions. If there are any… In the 1990s, the remaining part of JIC was reorganized into a new Russian intelligence system, which at first united all the electronic intelligence complexes in Russia and some CIS countries, the Russian electronic center in Lourdes in Cuba, the radio interception base near the Cam Ranh airfield in Vietnam and special radio equipment in Russian consulates and embassies around the world. It was and is countered by the Echelon system, also known as UKUSA. "Echelon" is the common name for a global electronic intelligence system operating under the UK-USA Radio Technical and Intelligence Security Agreement. "Echelon" has the capability to intercept and analyze telephone conversations, faxes, emails and other information flows around the world by connecting to communication channels such as satellite communications, Internet networks and the like, the public telephone network, and microwave connections. Configuration and installation of the software in the US and UK was carried out by Lockheed Martin. At the time, the computer network itself was code-named "Echelon". Lockheed Martin referred to it as P415. The software was called SILKWORTH and SIRE. Not only radio surveillance stations and satellites served as means of interception. Special equipment was installed in embassies, placed on cables, including submarine cables, and many other technical means from the arsenal of intelligence services were used. Such actions are engaged in many government organizations in many countries, but the distinctive feature of "Echelon" was the global scale of the system: its action was spread over the entire globe. World War II left a legacy to the British government communications agency, which operates in parallel with the well-known services MI5 and MI6, a vast network of radio interception stations located throughout the British Empire, and powerful decoding technology. Added to these were thousands of surveillance posts set up by the US and its allies. The largest of the stations was in Eritrea, where the most sophisticated surveillance techniques were used, including the analysis of radio signals reflected from the surface of the moon. Pay special attention to this… The Echelon system, like the thermonuclear bomb, nuclear submarines and other projects of its time, was designed to gain a strategic advantage over a potential adversary. One of Echelon's greatest successes was finding codes to radio telephones in the limousines of the Soviet elite. The NSA listened to the conversations of Politburo members for several years until the KGB changed the equipment. Another NSA operation known today was the installation by submarine divers of listening devices on a military special communications cable laid on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk. It was discovered by accident. A fishing trawler snagged the cable and damaged it. Specialists arrived to repair the faults and discovered a wiretap on the cable, which was considered so reliable that the command of the Soviet Northern Fleet often received instructions from Moscow in unencrypted form. According to European experts, in roughly the same way the NSA tapped into the undersea cable between Europe and Africa in the Mediterranean Sea in the mid-1980s. The Echelon system is capable of reading data transmitted via satellite, radio relay, cellular and fiber-optic channels. One of the methods of intercepting information can be the installation of equipment in close proximity to routers of large fiber-optic highways, since most of the Internet traffic passes through them, and their number is relatively small. The system not only searches for and identifies terrorist bases, drug trafficking routes and political and diplomatic intelligence, which would be natural, but is also used for large-scale commercial theft, international commercial espionage and invasion of privacy using wind turbine technology developed by the German firm Enercon and speech recognition technology owned by the Belgian company Lernout & Hauspie. In 1994, Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia after the U.S. National Security Agency announced that Airbus executives had bribed Saudi officials to successfully support the contract.

Yuri Vasilyevich told the story without stopping, by heart. It was clear that it was not the first time. Rutra did not dare to interrupt, but there were many questions, and he raised his hand as if signaling that he wanted to ask a question. The chief was silent.

– I don't understand. You said it was opposed by the Echelon system," Ruthra said without a questioning tone, simply indicating his area of interest.

The lecturer thought for a moment, then answered:

– In the system of functioning of special services there is the first level, it is common knowledge, and the second level is us. The first level as it worked, so it still works, in the same spirit, for the development and control of the data received. For competition, so to speak, it is very important. The second level is unknown to the first. Unknown in the sense that they must not know that there is a secret cooperation agreement. Therefore, the second tier consists of employees of the first tier, but hides their association into a separate group. By habit they are called "Echelon 1" and "Echelon 2". Do you know how the NSA works to conceal its activities inside the country?

– You mean the NSA is not officially authorized to engage in eavesdropping on US communications systems and does so through cooperation with foreign allies conducting radio intercepts on US soil?

– Yes, that's right.

– I'm directly familiar with it.

– Here, draw conclusions. That's what we're supposed to agree on. And remember, Echelon 2 never fails. In case of detection, you're just a traitor, a spy. Echelon 1 will deal with you, as they should. It's a solid defense, with consequences. If you betray your own, disclose data about its existence, you will be identified, captured, arrested by Echelon 1 under the command of Echelon 2. Understood?

– I'm starting to realize

– All righty then. Take a look at the paperwork. If there's anything you don't understand, just ask. First of all, study this data, which you will work with directly.

He handed over a folder with a red line crossed out.

– That's all for starters. I'll be in my office, the rest of the local details will be provided by the staff directly reporting to you.

Saying the last, the chief raised his index finger upward while making a meaningful expression and left for his room.

Rutra looked around his new workplace, the operations and workroom, met his staff, returned to his office, and went over the contents of the folder. The folder contained one main document and many comments on it. Rutra began to study it. The document contained the following information: "List of computer surveillance and electronic intelligence programs by country. The list contains a list of computer surveillance and electronic intelligence programs implemented or currently being implemented by governments around the world, as well as international projects in this area.

Ruthra knew everything well, but still looked over the important ones:

International

"Echelon" is a global electronic intelligence system operating under the radio and intelligence security agreement of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, also known as UKUSA.

SOUD is a classified information interception system created by the USSR and Warsaw Pact countries to conduct global electronic reconnaissance. It is still in operation today.

National

UK

IMP is an initiative to enhance the UK government's ability to legally intercept communications and store the resulting data in a single database.

Tempora is a covert computer surveillance program launched in the fall of 2011, used by the UK Government Communications Centre in conjunction with the US National Security Agency.

The Impact Nominal Index is a computer system designed for police and other security agencies in the UK that allows them to make quick inquiries about persons of interest.

Russian Federation

SORM – a system of technical means to ensure the functions of operational-search activities. A set of technical means and measures designed to carry out operational-search activities in telephone, mobile and wireless communication and radio networks.

A distinction should be made:

SORM-1 is a system of wiretapping organized in 1996;

SORM-2 is a system for logging Internet accesses developed by a working group of representatives of the Russian State Communications Committee, the Russian Federal Security Service, the Central Research Institute of Communications and Glavvyaznadzor;

SORM-3 is a system for collecting information from all types of communications and its long-term storage.

U.S.

The U.S. Intelligence Community is a system of 16 intelligence agencies whose activities include computerized surveillance and electronic intelligence.

STRATCOM – A special cybersecurity task force in U.S. Strategic Command; integrates nuclear, space, and missile defense.

MAINWAY is an NSA database containing metadata on hundreds of billions of phone calls made through the four largest phone companies in the United States: AT&T, SBC, BellSouth, and Verizon.

Stellar Wind is an electronic communications tracking program, including monitoring email messages, phone calls, financial transactions and internet activity.

Tailored Access Operations (TAO) is a division of the NSA created in 1997 that engages in active and passive surveillance of computers, including hacking and backdoor installation. It is capable of collecting approximately 2 petabytes of network transmitted data per hour.

Boundless Informant is an NSA system for analyzing global electronic communications. It has a huge database, including 14 billion reports on Iran, 6.3 billion on India, and 2.8 billion on the United States.

PRISM is an in-depth Internet traffic surveillance program formally classified as top secret; adopted by the NSA in 2007 as a replacement for the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

DCSNet is an FBI surveillance system that can wiretap any telecommunications device located in the United States.

Main Core is a database that stores personal and financial information on millions of U.S. citizens who may pose a threat to national security. The data is sourced from the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other government sources.

Magic Lantern is a keylogger program sent by the FBI as an email attachment. When activated, it acts as a Trojan horse and allows the FBI to track the activities of an Internet user.

Narus Insight is a cluster-class supercomputer espionage system designed to sniff and analyze network traffic data on the Internet. It uses the Carnivore system as auxiliary data delivery nodes. The operator of the system in the United States is the FBI; users are all U.S. federal agencies.

Carnivore is an automated espionage system for listening to information from websites, analyzing databases on websites, and opening and analyzing emails; an analogue of the Russian SORM-2. An element of the Narus Insight total surveillance supercomputer cluster.

Terrorist Finance Tracking Program – a joint program of the CIA and the U.S. Treasury Department to gain access to the SWIFT transaction database. According to the U.S. government, efforts to counter terrorist activities were compromised after information about the existence of the program was leaked to the media.

X-Keyscore, a secret computer tracking program, is run jointly by the U.S. National Security Agency, the Australian Radio Defense Agency, and the New Zealand Government Communications Security Service. The FBI has created and is actively populating the world's largest database of biometric information on U.S. citizens, including retina, fingerprints, facial structure, scars, voice, language, facial expressions and gestures.

Israel

"Medusa-1" is a program that uses microwave radiation from cell phones to target the subcortical layer of the human brain in order to induce reactions in the brains of those being irradiated that the irradiators want.

"Medusa-2" is a program using DISP Biometric Sensing technology, which uses point detectors of infrared radiation to determine a person's location and posture. With DISP Spectroscopy, the military and gendarmes are able to analyze chemicals in any body tissue, including blood, from a distance.

"Medusa 3" is a spy analysis program.

The users of these programs are:

–Unit       8200 – Responsible for collecting and deciphering electronic intelligence;

–Unit       9900 – Responsible for collecting and deciphering photographic data from aerial and space-based media;

–504th       Division – Responsible for gathering information through agent networks and informants;

–Department of       Information Security;

–military       censorship;

–Operational Management Division      ;

–Special Operations Connection      ;

–Sayeret Matkal special unit      ; Psychological Operations Center;

–Military Intelligence Directorate      .

A special place is occupied by Unit 8200, an electronic intelligence unit, part of the Military Intelligence Directorate "AMAN", which collects and decodes electronic information. It is one of the largest such units in the world. In military documents it is listed as Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps. In terms of functions performed, it is comparable to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad uses (semi-legally, through fake civilian firms) spying devices that record, through legal and illegal video cameras installed in public places, what is happening in major cities around the world. This is done by Verint, a classified branch of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

This and other Israeli firms have been contracted to tap the phones of citizens of the United States, Canada, European Union countries and Russia, install and maintain, under the guise of office computer programs, spyware components installed in ministries and departments, government agencies, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. All information received is analyzed by the Meduza-3 program.

Rutra looked through the data on other states without emphasizing it. He knew everything about his line of work and more.

It was enough for a start. In the evening, Ruthre was brought his new "official" documents, his security clearance cards and passes, from which he learned that he was now a researcher at a secret institute. Then he was led outside by a security officer through a chain of corridors, elevators, and labyrinths, through the "official" entrance, which was the entrance hall of the closed research institute.

Chapter 3. I can see you, but you can't see me

Рис.2 Binary code: Mystery number one

The next day, Rutra was personally greeted by Vasilyevich. He had a joyful face. Literally from the doorstep he began to teach Rutra.

– What's the first rule?

– Up to 80% of information can be obtained from open sources, the main thing is to be able to understand it correctly," Rutra answered boldly.

– The second one?

– If you want to hide something, put it in the most visible place.

– Third? – The examiner kept up.

– Don't get caught," Ruthra summarized, studying Vasilievich's reaction with a slanted gaze.

– You make me suspicious, though I think we understand each other. We'll work together," the colonel summarized and continued: – For example, such a situation: let's say we send our satellite to the satellite providing communication of the international information service. What do we want to know? Missile launch codes? Troop movements? The background radiation of the strategic command center? No! We want to know how they keep this whole system running. That's what we did during the Cold War when we had the doctrine of total annihilation. And when we realized we couldn't do that without damaging ourselves, we came up with the doctrine of weakening and subjugation. You know what I mean?

– I'm starting to realize

– Something like that. So now the main efforts of intelligence are aimed at finding out who, when, where and how much currency has been made. If we are a rich state, it means that we live well and can influence the world around us. We are a force to be reckoned with, we can develop new weapons. And if we are poor, no one needs our goods, we can temporarily resist with weapons, use internal propaganda, but we will still slip into poverty, dictatorship and, as a consequence, into the social abyss. However, as they say, the truth is somewhere near. The fact is that all important scientific information from all advanced institutes of the world, patent offices, research centers, certification and logging centers flows to the center. Therefore, "big brother" always knows in advance – what, who can do, can influence it. And yet it is no less important to know the banal statistics. For example, if somewhere in a third-world country there is exploration for minerals, which, due to its technological backwardness, this country can neither extract nor use, then we are interested in this, as it is not only us. The world has long been divided, everything is interconnected. Or some state will dramatically increase its consumption of rare earth metals. We calculate what it is for and what it does, in what product it is possible to use it. Therefore, all the goals have already been defined, niches are occupied. If there is a change in some market, what does it mean? That someone needs something more. Some state suddenly orders some kind of equipment for mines, for example. For what purpose? To mine something. What can it extract? All this is analyzed, the relationship is studied. What can be produced from this raw material? How much machinery is purchased? When? Service life? Capacity? This makes up the chain.

Ruthra glanced obliquely at Vasilievich. They were almost at the entrance to the central hall of Zero. Vasilievich continued nonchalantly:

– That's roughly what you were doing, except you were analyzing when, for example, the lights went on in the encryptor's office and when they went off, how to make a multi-stage chain to figure out the encryptor, to get into his social circle, to somehow launch an artificial mouse close to his post, which, after sneaking closer, would scan the contents of his machine by communicating with his smartphone through his computer mouse. That's assuming you still have to get in there, or it can be done from a satellite. From that, you concluded what and how he encrypts, when and what telegram he's working on, what's in it, who it's from, who it's addressed to. And another custodian analyzed another office of the same kind, where it came from, from which dignitary. Your next colleague analyzed who came to this person, his circle of communication, where the command came from, how it was processed, where it went, what happened afterwards. From all of this, a picture was formed of what command was communicated, what was the meaning of it, what consequences it led to and why. And if it was possible to intercept the encryption, we knew that its content was this consequence. It's roughly the same here, but it has to do with the end result of it all, with power and money. With a lot of power and a lot of money. The president of an oil-bearing country sneezed – the price of fuel went up somewhere. The president of a multinational company took a test – we should know the result… Soon civilian technology will surpass military technology. We should follow the development of laboratories by calculating the contracts for the receipt of goods and raw materials. Why? Because no one has ever abolished lying. So we can't be deceived. Control, control and control. Stocks, bonds… You'll do that too. Analyze the same thing, but from the other side. It's an important indicator of the consequences of a planned or planned event. I'm interested in everything: statistical summaries, statistical data. A lot of data will flow to you.

Rutra listened attentively and absorbed everything like a sponge, and Vasilievich kept talking:

– Now our spies are working on civilian projects. For example, new materials, technologies, computer programs are being developed in some state. We want to know how many enterprises, firms are opening, how many are closing, how many of them are engaged in wholesale, how many and what they produce, where they take it, what is their ability to reduce prices, how much the product costs them, when construction will be completed, the unemployment rate. How the science and technology sector is doing. What are the promising developments. These are the ones that are primarily used in the military sphere. Yields, climate, social sphere, their interconnection, prospects for change, first persons, and not only in politics, their contacts, family and business ties, religious, social, political preferences. Everything should interest you. Analyze everything and anything, and put it into a predictive matrix, so that you know not only what they want to do, not only what they can do, but what they will think, even if they don't think they will think it. All the information is very necessary. It makes up the picture of a country's economy, and the picture of a country's economy is its pulse. The way it beats determines how this state lives. Anyway, get started. You will have several assistants, they will analyze the information, collect and systematize. How the program works on the computer will be explained to you. It shows events in real time, and you will know what is happening on planet Earth. You will get any information, including secret information, concerning politics, military sphere, economy. Where what is being developed, where what is being extracted, in what condition the fixed assets are, what ships, trains, airplanes, automobiles are going where, when they will reach, what they are carrying. You have to calculate possible variants of changes in market conditions, new technologies, fulfillment and non-fulfillment of contractual obligations. In general, all sorts of things. You'll figure it out. Your level should correspond to your rank, but you should know that there are no ranks here, we have to join the civilian life. You will participate in many civic events, forums, exhibitions, seminars, meetings, but nowhere should anyone suspect who you really are.

Ruthra was immediately reminded of a James Bond movie. It was hard to suspect a special agent in him – a drunkard, a smoker, a boozer.

– The assistants will tell you the details, they know you in advance. There's a file on each of them in the safe. Here's the key, carry it with you at all times. Even though it's connected to the entry-exit system, you'll still be asked. And now I have a question: although our system works very well and knows what urine test you will have after the New Year, I would like to know from your mouth how you feel about Jews?

That question surprised Ruthra. It surprised him because it sounded like it was here. He made many inferences from any question and tried to choose the answer that was appropriate in this case. Ruthra answered calmly:

– I'm fine with it. But why the Jews? Are you Jewish?

– No way. You have a very serious and responsible assignment. I don't think you have your own game, the viability of the state depends on it, that is, what can be done with the system.

Having said that, Vasilyevich left. Rutra's brain was working hard. He could not understand the sacred meaning of what he had said last. What did this have to do with the secret center? How could one play his game here? Just as Ruthra sat down at his desk and tried to make sense of his office, there was a knock at the door. It was opened by a girl, tall, thin, with black hair. Rutra noticed that there were other girls behind her.

– Hello! – they said.

– Hello," Ruthra replied.

– We came to find out our mode of operation," said the first one and smiled strangely.

Ruthra replied in surprise:

– What, you get to choose? This is a restricted facility, there are regulations and shifts. Excuse me, who are you?

– Your assistants.

– Then let's get acquainted," Ruthra suggested.

– My name is Katya.

– It's a pleasure.

The girl hiding behind her said she was Yulia, the next one called herself Olesya. They smiled.

– What's so funny? – Ruthra asked.

– There's nothing funny," Katya said. – Can I come in?

– Come on in.

She came close and asked almost in a whisper:

– Did he ask you about the Jews?

Ruthra looked at her in surprise.

– Do you know what his last name is?

– No, I don't know.

– Did he scold or praise the Jews? – she asked.

– I don't know, I don't care. He just asked.

– I hope I didn't offend you.

Rutra looked at the girls and thought, "What are busty young women doing here? What kind of professionals are they?"

– No," Ruthra replied. – Let's talk about work. Tell me all about the center. I haven't been very involved. What did you do before my appointment?

– Analyzing the situation," Yulia said. – We work in Europe and the United States. You also have our senior manager Kristina, financial analyst Natalia and the administrator of the center, who is not in the staff at the moment. Or rather, this position is vacant. There are also specialists of the hall, but they are subordinate to us, according to the direction of activity. They are in another hall, there are 20 of them. The rest of the departments, of course, and their heads are directly subordinate to Yury Vasilyevich.

– What do they do?

– They are engaged in primary processing and analysis of information coming through the lines of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GRU, SVR. They analyze everything. Not only how, for example, the serial production of memristors will affect the computing power of data centers, but also, for example, how soon the chicks will hatch in a factory in Denmark.

– What, is that a big deal, too?

– Of course. Every situation counts. You have to do all sorts of gibberish. How will the creation of the ionistor affect the consumption of energy resources and, consequently, their procurement, extraction, production, processing, delivery? How many banks with minus balances, what is changing in bankruptcy law in Liberia, for example, how many cattle will calve, how much grain will be harvested, how tobacco is growing there, the lifespan of satellites, the prospect of using unstable elements, the consumer focus group in fifty years, and so on. Who is registered offshore, which ones, why there and not others? Transfers of finances around the world, analyzing the work of stock exchanges, the reasons why quotes change depending on the time of day and weather. Everything matters.

– I understand," Rutra interrupted. – What does Yuri Vasilyevich do?

– He is exercising temporary control. He's here temporarily and is very nostalgic for his past activities. He doesn't know much about economics. He is a fighter of the invisible front, he came to us from the SVR," explained the woman who appeared in the doorway of the office. – Hello. May I come in?

– You can.

– My name is Natalia and I am a financial data processor.

– It's a pleasure," Ruthra replied.

She smiled and said:

– We're used to everything here, especially after Yuri Vasilyevich.

– To what, exactly? – Ruthra asked.

– To the fact that real first and last names, even our own, we have almost forgotten. But one still wonders why people take those particular ones.

– I didn't just ask about Jews," Katya said and added: – Do you know what his last name is?

Ruthra looked at her questioningly.

– Zhidkov," she said.

Yuri Vasilyevich's voice was heard outside the office door.

– Not at all," he said.

The girls looked at each other and quickly left. Discipline had taken its toll. Yuri Vasilyevich's age, rank, and record spoke for themselves. Zhidkov came into Rutra's office, as if he had been standing somewhere close by.

– I went abroad under the surname of Zhemchuzhin, and when I came here, my documents were still old, so they make fun of me. I worked in Palestine and Israel for a long time, so that's why I've been there. No one trusts anyone there. And how can you trust when you're going to die every day? Everyone hides behind a Janus mask to survive. In order for you to understand what happens in such a serious organization, now we will go by departments and you will get acquainted with everyone and everything.

So began Rutra's first day of work at the new place. Basically, except for the fact that Center Zero was the coordinating center between the secret services and the intelligence agencies, he knew everything else. This was not news to him, as he was aware of the capabilities of the intelligence services.

In the modern world, cynical rationality and the most absurd chaos are intertwined in the most bizarre way. The special services of the world's strongest states can easily track all the actions and movements of a law-abiding citizen, but are unable to prevent major terrorist acts. The Large Hadron Collider has brought science closer to understanding the origin of the Universe, but at the same time domestic obscurantism has reached a level that would have been marveled at even in the Middle Ages.

All this creates the most hothouse conditions for the growth of all sorts of conspiracy theories that explain everything that happens in the world as the result of deliberate actions of malicious forces or simply insidious plans of secret groups – from sects and special services to Freemasons and demons. Conspiracy theories have not ignored high technology. You bet, because it is such a tempting way to find simple explanations for the most ambiguous and new events and phenomena!

Subconsciously, most of us seriously and not without reason suspect that all these global elites, governments and big business are manipulating technology for their own interests, in an effort to maintain and increase their power and influence over ordinary people.

One of the claims of conspiracy theory adherents is that "social networks are created and operated with the participation of intelligence agencies." This is the most popular and easily provable conspiracy theory.

Special services and law enforcement agencies really enjoy taking advantage of the information that users voluntarily post on Facebook, VKontakte and other social networks.

At the same time, the press regularly reports that the management of networks directly cooperates with secret services. Take for example the recent scandal with the management of VKontakte, which was accused of links with the FSB, the K Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the notorious "former gray cardinal" Vladislav Suchkov. It is hard to say how credible such reports are, if even without contact with the owners the special services have all the technical means to monitor social networks.

Another of their claims is: "Your laptop, TV and game console are spying on you". All electronic and radio-technical devices are capable of spying on their owners: hidden microphones and cameras, as well as schemes for transmitting encrypted signals over the Internet or into the radio air have been repeatedly discovered in them. It's no secret that laptop or smartphone cameras can be activated even without your participation and without proper signaling, so knowledgeable people make sure to cover them with opaque tape.

Some companies no longer feel the need to hide their desire to spy on their customers. For example, Comcast, Google TV, Microsoft and Verizon have applied for patents on designs for TVs and DVRs that can monitor what viewers do while using them. The plan is to track all movements, sounds, food and beverage choices, nationality, mood and other information to make ads more targeted and shows more relevant to the moment.

However, the conspiracy believers claim, "We know what it's really all about!" In today's world, it is virtually impossible to hide. All electronic devices transmit encrypted information, quite legally, in all directions. They also mark all their, i.e. your, activities with markers. Everything is equipped with special markers – even a sheet of paper from a printer, or a barrel in a weapon.

Chapter 4: The world is owned by specific individuals

Рис.1 Binary code: Mystery number one

The next day the training continued. Yuri Vasilyevich took Rutra around the entire center, telling and showing him where everyone was sitting and what was lying around. After a couple of hours, Rutra knew not only that only a very narrow circle of people suspected the existence of Center Zero, but also that there was only one way out of here to normal civilian (and not necessarily civilian) life.

– Through death," Yuri explained in his joking manner.

He also learned that even the government and presidential administration didn't know about the center. And that all this supreme power is just one of the subdivisions of Center Zero, and the top-level clearances have only a few. Yuri Vasilievich did not speak very favorably of them.

– What did you think? You think there's no control over the president? Even Stalin couldn't personally send troops wherever he thought they needed to go. It's all a myth about his unlimited power. Everything was decided by the "rate" and the "committee", and he was in the grip of an organization like ours. It seems to the average person that everything is decided by the power, which they talk about on TV every day. In fact, the real power is always hidden, it is not in public, but deep in the bunker.

This brought an interesting thought to Ruth's mind. He thought, "How do all these people get from here to the surface? Where to? There are so many of them. Through what checkpoint or gatehouse? The same way I do? Then how can it be hidden? I mean, you have to disguise it somehow. It's not a problem, though.

He asked Vasilievich about it. He replied in his manner that this was the most interesting thing, and smiled. Indeed, the "most interesting" thing about the Zero department was that they came out through the Institute for Strategic Analysis under the President of Russia. But Rutra learned about that later.

After a week, Ruthra estimated that not everyone went upstairs in the evening. The dungeon itself was like a large anthill of corridors and rooms, and everyone had access only to their own corridor. Very rarely did anyone within a corridor have access to a neighboring room. Passes were issued in a very interesting way: an invisible bar code was put on the nail of the thumb, which had to be applied to a special scanner at the entrance. Every day the barcode was changed. At the entrance, the hand was put to a special printer, which put a special number. On the way out you had to put your hand to the scanner. After reading the number, the scanner destroyed it.

Yuri Vasilyevich was willful. He told me that he had been on assignment abroad many times, under different names, where, as he put it, he "did a lot of interesting things". In the specialized circles, it was called "combat service".

Rutra asked Yuri Vasilievich what was in the neighboring departments.

– What is it? Come on, I'll show you.

They stepped out into the corridor. All the corridors were very dark and poorly lit.

– For example, here it says "F" department. That stands for the fantasy department. That's what I call them. Are you smiling? Officially, it's the Foresight Department. It's where they fantasize about what could be! If you hear what's been fantasized recently, you'll think it's unreal. Think about it, who could have imagined fifty years ago that what happened would happen? There's the P-Division, for example. They deal with the media. More precisely, the means of mass disinformation, – having said this, he chuckled snidely. – This is the "S" department – coders. They invent and decode all possible ciphers and codes. By the way, they are engaged in a very intense and very momentous task right now. The department is working on a sudden and very important problem. Although, perhaps not sudden… If you pass the exam, you will have access to all departments. You'll be assigned to a single task.

– What task? – Ruthra asked.

– I can't tell you that yet. Even here, among ourselves, it's a very big secret. I'll introduce you to someone soon," Vasilievich said, looking intently at Ruthra.

Ruthra listened attentively. He didn't want to offend the old warrior, though he had a fair idea of such objects. He needed to really know with whom and where he would now work and live. The guide in the form of Yuri Vasilyevich gave only general information. Apparently, this was one of the components of the regime of this facility.

Ruthra noticed that many of the doors in the main corridor were labeled with complex combinations of letters. What it could mean, he couldn't figure out. Almost every abbreviation had the letter "Ts" in it. He understood that it stood for "central", for example CPN – central point or observation post. But it wasn't very clear who or what was being monitored.

– Yes, of course we come out on top, but there are instances where that happens.

And Yuri Vasilyevich told a story about a secret physicist who was the main designer of most ballistic missiles and spacecraft, whose name was unknown to society. Rutra, of course, was aware of such persons and yet was surprised that this one was completely hidden, isolated from society.

– What about his personal life? How, for example, did he go to the movies, to the theater? – he asked.

– He didn't go anywhere, it's all here.

– You got everything?

– You're not getting the big picture. There's a city within a city down here. There's even roads with stoplights. It's a huge anthill. This physicist found out he had a son when the kid turned seven.

Ruthra was shocked. He knew a great deal about the lives of the invisible front fighters, of course, but such a thing stunned him. He instantly imagined the full scale of the secrecy. Yuri Vasilyevich continued:

– Soon we'll go with you to check the Cheget system by regulation, then you'll look at the president.

Ruthra remembered being counseled about the structures of secret societies. The Center was something like that. He also remembered the sign at the entrance: "You are seen, you are not. It accurately conveyed the meaning and content of Center Zero's functioning.

– Come on, I'll give you a little tour," Yuri said and pointed to the door at the end of the hall.

They went to the door, Yuri Vasilievich put the fingernail of his thumb to the device, the door opened. It was an elevator. They entered, he pressed the button, the elevator went up. After a while it stopped, they got out.

It was a huge underground railroad station. There were tracks through tunnels in different directions. Everything was painted in yellow and white stripes. Instead of trains, there were short narrow gauge tracks. There were quite a few people in overalls who were busy unloading oddly labeled cylinders. There was an interesting emblem on the cylinders in the form of a scrawled globe with a griffin on it, one paw covering a nuclear mushroom.

– This is Metro-2," said Yuri Vasilyevich. – In the secret department you will take special literature, you must know by heart what and where it is, how it works. How it turns on, how it turns off. Communications, control stations, stockpiles. Right down to which pipe goes where, what's in it, every wire, cable, communication line, every marking. You gotta know everything! That's our law, it's not just a whim. In case of emergencies, every specialist of your level must be able to take over the management of facilities.

Vasilyevich, telling him, gestured him to the platform. They boarded the narrow gauge train and drove off. It was like a regular subway with stations, but a little simpler. There was no pompous beauty or large spaces. At each station Yuri Vasilyevich told what strategic object it was connected with, what it served. It was a city within a city. All strategically important organizations had their duplicate centers in Metro-2. Warehouses, factories, communication centers, military storage facilities were scattered over a huge area upstairs and secretly interlocked through Metro-2 downstairs.

On the wall of one of the stations hung a diagram of both subways, secret and civilian, with their adjacent communications. "Metro-2" was much larger in diameter than the regular subway.

***

On one of the usual working days, Zhidkov came to Rutra's office. It was clear from the expression on his face that Vasilievich was preoccupied with something.

– Hello, Rutra Tigrovic.

– Hello, Yuri Vasilyevich. Is something wrong?

– Almost.

– Nothing momentous, I hope?

– The fateful thing has already happened.

Ruthra didn't answer or ask any questions. He waited for the chief to continue.

– You've probably realized by now that our special treaty with those whom ordinary citizens know as opposing parties looks not like a treaty, but a conspiracy.

– Maybe. How could it be otherwise? This whole scene is played out in the way people are used to historically understand the events.

– What I'm about to say is not for us to talk about. All the more so, it is not campaigning. However, I can, by virtue of my age and record, say it. Whatever treaties are proclaimed, there is a concept of rulers and those over whom the rulers have authority.

– What are you talking about, Yuri Vasilyevich?

– You have already realized, moreover – you have access to information, that many events that have already happened and that will still happen are not a priori what ordinary people think about them.

– Well, that's what we are. People like a show with a good ending, so we make it happen.

– Yes, but who harvests the harvest?

– Reaper.

– You've certainly heard of many narratives, so it won't be news to you much of what the modern world is based on. However, don't forget that we do this sort of thing for society. Just in whose interest?

Ruthra realized that Vasilievich was preparing to resign, or rather, he was being prepared to resign, so he decided to pour his heart out. Although such organizations around the world were strictly clan-based, they recruited only those who, if they were against the system, would be de facto figures against themselves. It was a complex, hidden, shrouded in secrecy hierarchy, the existence of which was strictly concealed. It could not be otherwise. Because those who seized power also created structures inside the main controlling body of the country or countries, so that the real controlling structure was not known to anyone. Naturally, strangers were not taken there. Thus, clans were created that no one saw or heard.

Ruthra realized that Vasilievich wanted to share information from this series. He looked at the colonel silently and waited for him to continue.

– Look, Rutra, there's something similar in the The Committee of 300. Don't think it's a freelance piece of writing, because it was written by a career intelligence officer. I can't help but recount some of it to you, especially since I worked on the Echelon One program with Coleman. He makes it clear there that their goal is to enslave most of the people left on Earth after wars, disasters, and mass murder. Intelligence agents have a rule you learn well, "The best way to hide something is to put it in a conspicuous place." While secret agents were gathering intelligence, the information they were after was lying right under their noses. Often, they play out the spectacle while conspiracy-crazed cranks spend their time looking for those conspiracies in the wrong place and in the wrong direction. The most informed part of our society realizes that a conspiracy exists, this conspiracy hides under various names. Real information about the activities of the members of the invisible government is very difficult to obtain. After Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, an important meeting was held in Washington in December 1980 under the auspices of the Club of Rome and the Socialist International. Both of these organizations are directly subordinate to the Committee. It is necessary to understand why nuclear power is so hated around the world, and why the fictitious "environmental" movement created and financed by the Club of Rome is being used to wage war against nuclear power. With the help of nuclear power to generate huge amounts of cheap electricity, third world countries would gradually become independent of US financial aid and begin to assert their sovereignty. The electricity produced by nuclear power plants is the key to bringing developing countries out of that backward state.

– So it's all about the money?

– Yes, in money and power. Or rather, power. Money can be printed, and power always gives you the opportunity to justify it. I hope you know what I mean. I'm gonna go. You think about it. You'll encounter a lot of things, you'll realize that this world is owned by specific individuals. I'll see you later.

– See you later, Yuri Vasilyevich.

The warden got up with difficulty and went to his room. "What did he mean to say? About what he knew, knows, or will find out?" – Ruthra pondered.

Chapter 5. Who is nobody?

Рис.5 Binary code: Mystery number one

After the last meeting, the contents of which Ruthra was still pondering, his supervisor came in on his regular work shift, after a walk through the hall and departments.

– Good afternoon, Tigrovich," Zhidkov greeted him.

– Good afternoon, Yuri Vasilyevich," Rutra said.

– Here's a new set of documents, put those aside for now," he said, holding out the package. – Documentarily, we can refer to different services. At this stage, to perform the tasks required by the last developed program, we will be referred to GUSP.

– Is this the president's office? – Rutra clarified.

– Yes," confirmed the chief. – At first it will be unusual for you that a structural unit checks and controls the center.

– Are we going to audit the administration?

– Including. Listen to the introduction. GUSP – Main Directorate of Special Programs of the President of the Russian Federation.

Zhidkov was silent for a moment, then added:

– That's the way it is. Now I'm going to start educating you on another subject. Do you have any tea, coffee? Pour. I need to get you up to speed. You'll have another line of work.

– What exactly? – Ruthra asked, shifting his eyebrows.

– Listen to the next story.

Rutra brewed coffee, opened a bar of chocolate, and poured it for Vasilievich.

– In order for you to better understand the process of Echelon-1 and Echelon-2, I will tell you about a story that you probably know from a different angle, so to speak. And the angle is as follows: the architect of the world dollar system was a secret agent of the Kremlin!

Rutra raised his eyebrows in surprise, but did not ask any questions. Vasilievich continued:

– In 1944, the famous Bretton Woods Conference of the anti-Hitler coalition countries was held in the United States, where the dollar was declared the main world currency. The Soviet delegation also voted in favor of the dollar. Nowadays it seems incredible!

Shortly before Bretton Woods, Moscow received a secret message from Washington from agent Donald Maclean. Maclean worked as the first secretary of the British Embassy in the United States! U.S. plans to dollarize the planet Stalin knew in advance. The head of the American delegation at Bretton Woods, Harry Dexter White, who developed the idea of the buck as the main world currency, was also an agent of the Kremlin.

– No way!

– The defector Oleg Gordievsky gave away that the NKVD recruited White, an employee of the U.S. Treasury Department, back in 1935-1936. Harry not only leaked secret information, but was also an active agent of influence. His first major success was the provocation of Pearl Harbor! It was White who drafted the text of the American ultimatum of November 26, 1941, with the help of which Japan was forced to make the first shot at Pearl Harbor.

– America responded by declaring war on Japan. It was difficult for the Japanese to fight the Soviet Union as well. So Hitler did not wait for Tokyo's promised attack on the USSR.

– That's right. After the war, he gave Moscow the clichés of the U.S. Treasury Department to print Allied stamps in occupied Germany. The USSR printed the equivalent of 200-400 million dollars worth of stamps in the first post-war years. Harry White is the developer of the secret Morgenthau Plan. The exact name: "Program to prevent Germany from unleashing World War III". The plan envisaged dismemberment of defeated Germany, transfer of important industrial areas under international control, liquidation of heavy industry, demilitarization, transformation of the Reich into an agrarian country. It was even proposed to cut down all the forests in the country. And to reduce the population by 25 million people!

– How?

– We can only guess… In September 1944, Churchill and Roosevelt discussed the plan in Quebec, Canada. They signed a memorandum.

– The plan was classified from Stalin. White was worried that the U.S. and England, behind the back of the USSR, began separatist negotiations for peace with Hitler. Harry. passed a highly classified document to Moscow. It made the world's press. A huge scandal erupted. Goebbels' propaganda ministry said through its media that "Jew Morgenthau" wanted to turn Germany into a potato field! Harry, together with Chief Morgenthau, had a hand in preparing the occupation directive JCS 1067, which was in force until the summer of 1947. It forbade any attempt at economic recovery in Germany. In the spirit of Morgenthau's plan and the secret document "Chancellor Act", imposed by the U.S. on the Germans.

– Informed of it. On May 21, 1949, a treaty was signed to limit the state sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany until 2099! It provides for the agreement with Washington on candidates for the post of chancellor, the provision of German territory for US and NATO military bases, the storage of gold reserves in the US, England, France and much more.

–. On November 7, 1945, Soviet spy-courier Liz Bentley turned over to the Americans almost the entire Soviet agent network across the ocean. White was number two on her list.

– Who was the first?

– U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Elger Hiss.

– Who's running all of this?

– Our organization and company you'll still have to learn about. In confidence, it's a supranational international group. The "Four Horsemen" of banking rule over the United States: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo own Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP and Chevron Texaco, BNP, Barclays and other monetary giants. One of the most important repositories of wealth for the global oligarchy that owns these bank holding companies is the US Trust Corporation, founded in 1853 and now owned by Bank of America. The creation of the Fed is also part of the global plan. JP Morgan Chase is nothing more than the operational financial instrument of the world government, namely the three families, the Morgans, Rockefellers and Rothschilds. Through it pass the funds of the Federal Reserve System (FRS) of the United States, which was invented by ten banking families in 1910 in the strictest secrecy in the hunting lodge of J. P. Morgan. JP Morgan Chase is jointly managed by the Rothschild and Rockefeller groups. Chairman James Dimon has joined the International Advisory Council for the creation and development of an international financial center in the Russian Federation under the President of the Russian Federation. The Rothschild Foundation increased its investments in Gazprom's American depositary receipts sevenfold in the first quarter of 2014. By the end of World War II, the U.S. economy accounted for more than half of the world's economy, and the U.S. itself had accumulated 70 percent of the world's gold reserves. They sold weapons, food, and equipment to the Allies for it. Other countries, fearing the Nazis, sent their own gold reserves for storage across the ocean. This is part of the result of their secret game. And, as you now know, not just theirs. There's a common control center behind it all.

Chapter 6. Red Button

Рис.3 Binary code: Mystery number one

One morning meeting of the Center Zero council, Yuri Vasilyevich began with an unplanned topic.

– We will soon have to make a decision on one of the components of the Perimeter system. I hope everyone has familiarized themselves with the documents? Our chief expert in this field points to the need to introduce one more, official post with a nuclear terminal. Let me remind you that, in addition to the three official ones, there are two more secret ones controlling the first three posts No. 1. An exception is the Soviet-era Perimeter system, which, in the event of the death of the country's leadership, presupposes a decision to launch a nuclear strike by a group of combat duty officers. This system is also in effect in modern Russia. The terminal stores the codes to activate the nuclear arsenal. Using the nuclear suitcase, the top official contacts the strategic missile forces and orders a nuclear strike. The President's nuclear suitcase is part of the Kazbek automated control system for strategic nuclear forces. The suitcase is set up with a special conference call that cannot be jammed or blocked. There are missile warning stations on the Russian border that monitor the situation via satellite communications. If a nuclear missile launch toward Russia is detected, the data is transmitted to a central command center where the top military commanders are on duty around the clock. Information about an attack is cross-checked through other channels. After the missile aggression is confirmed, the duty officer puts all three suitcases on alert. With this signal, the order is given to unlock the missiles, and the duty officers on the launchers press the buttons. The signal must be sent exactly from the three suitcases. Only then will the system be activated. The officers accompanying the first responders with the nuclear suitcase in their hands are called operators. The operator is required to be in close proximity to the official. I'm done. Any questions, suggestions?

Yuri Vasilyevich fell silent.

– Yes," replied the Head of the Department for Control of Censorship of Ethno-cultural and Political Information on Africa and Asia.

Vasilievich looked at her in silence.

– I suggest that this issue be left to the decision of the heads of the military and power block.

– Thank you, I understand you," replied the head of the center, paused for a moment and concluded: "This is a political decision. We will consider the decision taken. Let's move on to another topic. And it is as follows: "The consequences of the changes in the internal and foreign policy of Greece after the introduction of new canons, changes in the catechism of the Church and the corresponding ethno-cultural and moral-spiritual postulates".

***

Another morning, Vasilievich followed Rutra into the office and announced that they needed to go to a special room styled like a UN employee's office.

– There will now be a videoconference with the General Staff, the Federation Council, the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Presidential Administration on the report of the United States Department of State on the exchange of telemetry information and the implementation of the START III Treaty. Russia's representative to the UN is reporting. According to the legend, we are employees of the UN Commission. Get used to it, but don't get used to speaking English.

– That's right," Ruthra replied jokingly.

– You give me a break with this stuff, or you'll get me a nunnery. We're on, automatic translation system is working.

Faces appeared on the screens, assistants were making connections, greetings passed.

A U.N. official began the report:

– The U.S. State Department has provided a briefing on the progress of the implementation of the U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START-3). According to this information, Moscow had 1,492 deployed nuclear warheads at the start of the treaty, while Washington had 1,737. According to the US State Department's data on the progress of START-3 implementation, the United States has 760 nuclear warhead carriers in service, while Russia has 523. The number of warheads on deployed carriers is 1,534 for the United States and 1,645 for Russia.

After listing many details, the speaker stated.

– The report is over, thank you for your attention.

There was a moment of silence. It was obvious from the faces of the participants that they wanted to end the conference as soon as possible.

– We, as UN representatives, should ask something, clarify. Ask something," Vasilyevich whispered to Rutra.

Rutra looked at him questioningly, but he was not confused, nodded, and, after quickly reviewing the entire report, asked about the numbers that interested him because of their inconsistencies with START-3.

– Please explain the following point," Rutra began his question in English. – You said that the United States has 760 deployed nuclear warhead carriers, while Russia has 523.

– Yes, it turns out so. I note that this is according to the US State Department.

– And you said that Washington is satisfied with the way START-3 is being implemented.

– Yes, such a statement was made.

Yuri Vasilyevich stepped lightly on Rutra's heel. Rutra took the hint and said:

– Thank you, I'm all set.

– Any other questions? – asked a representative of the Presidential Administration.

Everyone was silent.

– Since there are no questions, I suggest that we work through the program to clarify data, extent, and prospects for implementation before the next meeting, which will be in six months. Notification will be sent out in advance.

– Invite a representative of the U.S. State Department to the next meeting," Yury Vasilyevich suggested unexpectedly.

– Put it in the minutes," a representative of the Presidential Administration pointed to someone. – Any other suggestions, questions?

Everyone was silent.

– I declare this regular meeting adjourned. Thank you, goodbye! – said the representative of the Presidential Administration.

– Goodbye! Goodbye! – came from the speakers.

The monitor turned off.

– Now that's the time to check out all these organizations.

– The State Department, too? – Rutra asked, smiling.

– Also," Vasilievich replied seriously.

Chapter 7.

The Doomsday Problem

Рис.7 Binary code: Mystery number one

Rutra became increasingly aware that the true purpose of their organization was, to put it mildly, a little different. After the assertion of the U.S. State Department vetting, this became clear. "So who will be vetting him? In what role?" – Rutra asked himself.

Vasilievich noticed this and gestured him to the corridor. They silently went there, then went into the elevator and, having gone down, came out at a small dark station. It wasn't a station as such; there were no tracks, tunnels, or locomotive cars. It was a large room with dim lighting; there was a single sliding iron door on the opposite wall from the elevator. Beside this door was a small bench on which they sat down.

Vasilievich smoked occasionally, very high quality rare cigarettes. Now he took out a cigarette. Rutra did not smoke, but he could afford to smoke "very high quality, rare cigarettes," as he put it, "once every five years," so he did not refuse the chief's offer. After the second puff, Vasilievich began the conversation in the tone of a veteran who had lived a long life:

– Did you really think that all this fuss is just to control the powerful, the smart guys who want to invent something, and their customers who want to control society with it. Analyze charts on monitors, spy on transactions, accounts, uncover hidden channels of funding and control of citizens' activities. Yes, it's very important. But there is something without which all of this loses its meaning. This is an even more important problem. The fate of the world depends on whether we can solve it or not!

– Peace?

– Yeah, you heard right. It may not surprise you anymore, but it's true. It's a doomsday issue. The whole world could die. One of the most monstrous inventions of the Cold War could completely destroy life on Earth.

Ruthra was genuinely surprised that Vasilyevich had called him here to tell him such a story. He was astonished. He decided to resort to his favorite tactic of keeping silent and letting his interlocutor open his mind. So he did – he made a surprised face and at the same time an expression of interest. Vasilievich continued:

– The authors of this name were science fiction writers. The idea itself goes back centuries, when the losers of battles preferred surrender to collective suicide. Preferably together with their enemies.

As long as the number of warheads was in the hundreds and the means of their delivery were pre-flood, both the US and the USSR believed that it was possible to win a nuclear war. You just had to strike first in time. Or you could repel the enemy's strike by shooting down airplanes and missiles and strike back. But at the same time, the risk of being a victim of the first strike and losing with a bang was so great that the idea of a terrible retaliation was born.

– Wouldn't the missiles fired in response be such retaliation?

– No, it wouldn't. First, a surprise enemy strike would disable half of the nuclear arsenal. Second, it would partially repel a retaliatory strike.

The Soviet Union was the first to do so, testing a hydrogen bomb of monstrous power, over 50 megatons, known in the West as the "Kuzkin Mother". It was pointless as a weapon of war – too powerful, too heavy to be delivered by airplane to American territory. But it was perfect as the very powder cellar that would be blown up by the last surviving defenders of the Land of the Soviets. In fiction novels there are other options, for example, super-powered hydrogen bombs were located on special space platforms. They were supposed to automatically, a few months after the defeat of the United States, drop their cargo at the poles. The monstrous explosions would not only melt the ice caps, causing a new global flood, but would also shift the Earth's axis. Predictions of sci-fi writers, as we know, sometimes come true. And sometimes interesting ideas are borrowed from them. By the way, our F department is doing the same thing. Who could have believed 50 or 60 years ago that Russia would be at war with Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and that a black man would become president of America?

By the early 1980s, the size of nuclear arsenals had reached such a scale that their use, even with the deduction of those destroyed, would lead to global radioactive contamination of the planet. In the mid-1980s, the Soviet Perimeter nuclear strike control system emerged, which was something like Skynet from Cameron's famous movie. The main part of the defensive system was the command center. It is known to the public as Kosvinsky Kamen. Deep in the Ural Mountains hides a huge bunker with a special nuclear button. In fact, it is one of the clusters of the system, and it, like all other clusters of the system, can function autonomously. The button can be pressed by only one person, a certain officer, if he receives confirmation from the "Perimeter" system that the nuclear war has begun, Moscow has been destroyed, and the government bunkers have been destroyed. And then the question of retaliation would be entirely in his hands.

Vasilievich looked carefully at Rutra.

– You have to admit, it is not an easy task to be alone when your whole country has been destroyed and in one move send the rest of the world into tatters. I am deeply convinced that the concept of the doomsday machine has done a lot of good. The threat of mutual annihilation has cooled down the hotheads a bit. It's largely responsible for World War III never starting. For now.

Ruthra nodded. He wanted to ask what Yuri Vasilyevich wanted to tell him about what he had brought him here. What the subject was, he realized, but what the story was about, he couldn't decide yet. In any case, he decided not to ask any counter-questions, so as not to prolong the story.

Vasilievich took out more cigarettes, offered them to Rutra, and continued:

– What is it? – Ruthra dared to ask.

– It's a general concept of the problem of humanity," Zhidkov replied calmly, looking at the opposite wall. – It's not just a fantasy. A thermonuclear dirty bomb could fill the atmosphere with radioactive substances, destroying all life on the planet. Sometimes a doomsday machine is also referred to as a system that is supposed to launch an automatic nuclear salvo if a nuclear attack is detected, like the Perimeter system.

– I understand. But, uh.

– So listen up. A key feature of the doomsday machine is its publicity, designed to prevent a preemptive strike that would result in the automatic destruction of all warring parties. In the movie Dr. Strangelove, the Soviets fail to announce the machine's existence in time, thus destroying all of its positive effects. Have you seen it?

– Watched it," Rutra replied a bit stretched out. – There, American General Jack Ripper, obsessed with anti-communist paranoia, initiates a nuclear attack on the USSR, which is carried out by means of strategic bombers. It is only then that Soviet ambassador Alexei Sadetsky reports the existence of a doomsday machine. Despite the joint efforts of the U.S. and USSR, and thanks to the courage and determination of the bomber crew, one plane, whose radio communications have been damaged by the Soviet air defense system, drops a bomb on the Soviet military base in Kotlas.

Vasilievich nodded in understanding and added:

– The doomsday machine works. But the movie "The One" shows a different scenario.

Ruthra looked at his superior, smiled slightly, and began to quote:

– If we have ten million megatons for each other, what difference does it make where they come from? Everyone will die! Why spend billions on missiles and control computers? As soon as we detect the first Soviet missile fired at us, we'll blow up New York, Texas and Florida. You're doomed!

Vasilievich liked the fact that Rutra was entering into a dialog. He began to talk more animatedly:

– In Chapter 11, Richard discovers the "major American secret": it turns out that American missiles have no control systems, not even engines. Only the warheads on these missiles are real, and the rest is "cardboard and paint". Their simultaneous detonation will cause a doomsday machine effect, no matter whether they explode on their own territory or on someone else's.

In the movie War Games, the term "doomsday machine" is not directly used, but a fully automatic nuclear strike response system is described. An experiment conducted showed that many missileers were not prepared to launch missiles in response to a nuclear strike. Believing that they have selected "quite reliable people" and that "the problem is not in them, but in what we require of them," the U.S. Army leadership decides to replace the people on the launchers with automatic devices. The attack is to be ordered by the president. Did you watch it?

– No," Ruthra answered honestly.

He had already realized that the chief would cite all cases that described variants of the apocalypse, and pre-programmed ones at that.

– In the movie, high school hacker David Lightman, trying to infiltrate the network of a computer game company, makes successive phone calls looking for modems with the terminal input of Joshua, an artificial personality inserted into the Crystal Palace's mainframe. Coincidentally, "Joshua" is the call sign and slang designation of the North American Joint Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD. Thinking that he has safely penetrated the company's computers, David launches the program "World Thermonuclear War", which is actually a simulated training and debugging program that creates a complete illusion of a Soviet nuclear attack on the terminals in the Crystal Palace. The military decides to hold off on launching a retaliatory strike until there is direct confirmation of the attack, i.e. the destruction of the first military base, which of course does not happen. However, Joshua is seriously carried away by the process of the "game" and intends to go through it to the end, launching real American missiles at the USSR. He manages to stop him thanks to the fact that he is a joint program, able to extend his experience gained in one area of activity to other areas. David forces Joshua to play countless games of tic-tac-toe with himself, thus leading the computer to the conclusion that some games are fundamentally impossible to win. Generalizing his newfound experience, Joshua tries it on the game "World Thermonuclear War" and, analyzing countless variations of strikes and counterstrikes, becomes convinced that in this game both sides are always destroyed. With the words "Strange game! The only winning strategy is not to play at all," Joshua abandons his original intention.

Vasilievich stopped talking, and looked at Rutra. Rutra understood what all this story was about, but he still didn't understand what it had to do with the past videoconference. The chief was silent, so he decided to ask about the essence of the story.

– Do you believe there is a realistic possibility of such a program?

– It's called Perimeter. Let's go, you must thoroughly understand the subject and know it thoroughly. It's gonna be a big job.

One could guess from the expression on Vasilievich's face that he was pleased that Rutra had asked the question.

They got up and went to the elevator, took it up and went out into the courtyard of the research institute. A service car came to pick them up. The license plates bore the code 39 – the vehicle code of the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Its functions include control over the maintenance, development, and operation of Russia's nuclear arsenal. Everyone in the car was silent, as if that was the way it was supposed to be.

At last we arrived at Bolshaya Znamensky Lane, house No. 19.

Two junior officers met them, calmly, dryly, and led them through the gate without checking their documents. The officer on duty looked carefully at the monitor, the system beeped, then he nodded to the escorts, and everyone went through.

The guests were led into a small office where a thin man with the rank of lieutenant general sat behind a long desk.

– Fyodor Ivanovich Sukhov," he introduced himself.

– Yury V. Zhemchuzhny, Senior Inspector at the UN of the Main Department of Control and Oversight Activities of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.

Ruthra was a little taken aback that he had to come here so soon and unexpectedly, and in a role he did not know. He had already heard about Vasilievich's methods of work and yet he did not know which name to use. His boss saved him. At that, he looked sternly at Rutra.

– My deputy," he said, pointing to Rutra.

– Paskhovsky Artur Lvovich," Rutra introduced himself.

In the car, he was handed fictitious documents. Due to the rush, he was a bit disoriented, but deciphered the situation.

They said hello and settled into their chairs.

– Now my assistant will tell you a little about our department," the general said, pointing to his assistant.

The young captain, electronic pointer in hand, stood at the wall with the telepanel and began to narrate, while at the same time moving the pointer across the panel, on which various is appeared that related to his story.

– A little general information," he began. – The tasks of the 12th Main Directorate are to study the destructive factors of nuclear explosions and to develop means and methods of atomic defense for troops and the population. Nuclear munitions were assembled in the following military units. We have prepared a printout for you.

"Claimed the news," thought Ruthra.

– The number of central nuclear weapons bases doubled in the ten years following their transfer to the Department of Defense.

– Excuse me, excuse me," Zhidkov interrupted him. – All these objects need to be checked?

– According to the topic you are interested in and the way the question is posed, in any regime point, especially those related to nuclear weapons, a hidden, disguised signal source can be installed. I mean, there is a technical possibility, the facility complies with the access regime," the general explained.

Vasilievich nodded. Rutra already understood what he was talking about. The problem Vasilievich was talking about was very serious, not to mention someone who didn't trust someone. After all, clearly the problem had not arisen "today", apparently the military had made every effort to resolve it. It was clear from what was going on that they had failed, since the President's administration, as Rutra already knew, was interested in it. The assistant continued after a moment's hesitation.

– The Strategic Missile Forces established their own storage bases for interaction with the missile divisions of intercontinental missiles. The Nuclear Explosion Control Service was established as part of the 6th Directorate. In 1988, the Nuclear Safety Inspectorate was established on the basis of the NBP Operation Department in the 12th Directorate of the Defense Ministry. In addition, the Special Control Service is subordinate to us.

On the screen appeared the emblem of the Special Control Service – a circle, inside of which was a checkered globe and a lion with the head of an eagle, which with one paw covered a mushroom from a nuclear explosion.

"That's it! We didn't come down to this Metro 2 for nothing," thought Ruthra.

The General realized that the assistant's story had bored the guests a little, so he offered tea.

– If it's all right, I'd like a coffee," Vasilievich asked.

– Uh, sure. I suggest we take a smoke break.

– Fine," Vasilievich agreed.

– I invite you to my office," the general offered, pointing with his hand to the door to the next room.

Everyone went there, brought coffee, Sukhov offered his own smokes, Zhidkov politely declined, took out his own, Rutra took the general's, Vasilievich understood the move.

– Tell me quickly and simply," the general turned to his subordinate.

– You can't make it any simpler than that, Comrade General," the captain replied. – They are interested in every little thing, even closed, abandoned bases, and not only on the territory of the former USSR.

– Then give me everything you've got," the general cut him off.

Coffee was brought, everyone started to feel less tense, the atmosphere became more friendly.

The assistant continued:

– The special control service includes 11 separate laboratories, 3 radio seismic laboratories, 4 automated stations, 3 automated stations, 5 autonomous seismic stations and 10 remote groups. In total, there are 18 laboratories in the Russian Federation.

– Oh my God, so many things! – Zhidkov couldn't stand it.

– I told you to keep it short," the general rebuked his subordinate.

– A little more basic, the rest on demand," the captain replied calmly.

Vasilievich and the General smoked a second one.

It did not turn out to be brief. It was a rather long and detailed report. To everyone's delight, it came to an end.

– That's pretty much it. I'll submit the whole printout," the general's subordinate finished.

There was silence in the office. Everyone was silent. Vasilievich looked at Rutra with a concerned look. The general spoke first:

– Do you intend to inspect everything? I can provide you with the records of our inspections.

– We saw them," Zhidkov replied.

– Oh yes, how could it be otherwise! – exclaimed the general. – You can count on my comprehensive assistance.

– Thank you," Vasilyevich replied, sighed heavily and added: "I dare not interrupt you any longer. We'll go.

– Why, at any moment, Yuri Vasilyevich," Sukhov replied kindly.

Vasilievich stood up, the general behind him. Rutra followed suit. The captain handed Rutra a secret package with a crossed-out red stripe, asked him to sign it, which Rutra did, and then they said goodbye. The car took them to the "institute".

– Do you understand the program? – Vasilievich asked briefly.

– Understood," Ruthra replied just as briefly.

– Here's your assignment, research the topic, we'll discuss it tomorrow.

– The point is, we're looking for an unregistered transmitter? I take it the signal is illusory? The location of its output is constantly changing? And does it signal irregularly? – Ruthra asked.

– Good, right on target. The only thing I would add is that it interferes with the Perimeter system's data collection stations on a frequency appropriate to its purpose. It is suspected that it was camouflaged a long time ago, and it turns on on a timer or automatically. Could be cloaked anywhere. The most likely place is where something similar has been. I will also say that a conspiracy or collusion is not excluded, that is, I do not trust them either, – said Vasilievich, pointing his finger in the direction from which they came. – That's all for now.

– I understand," Ruthra replied, shook hands with his superior and went to his office.

Zhidkov left in the service car. Ruthra spent the rest of the day studying the Perimeter system and everything connected with it. His intuition told him to look where something like it had been. For some reason, its exploitation had been abandoned, though the urgency of the subject had not waned.

During the Cold War, the U.S. had its own "backup" codenamed "Mirror". Crews were constantly in the air for three decades with the mission to control the skies if control of the ground was lost due to a surprise attack. The main difference between the Mirror and the Perimeter system, which they called "dead hand", was that the Americans relied on humans to warn them of an attack.

After the Cold War, the U.S. abandoned the system, although it is still not clear who exactly controls the Soviet version. Rutra was never able to figure out who made the initial decision, as there were three other posts besides the official ones. One of them was within the structure of Center Zero, but the other two were designated by the secret code "Polygon" and the facility "Kremlin-2". No indication of the disposition of these posts he did not find. Vasilievich also strangely evaded answering, citing that he could not talk about it, even on a closed line, and added: "This is an empty designation. These posts do not exist. The secret of these posts is only this. To have spies looking for something that doesn't exist."

Such an explanation, which could not be said over the special communications telephone, raised even more questions. Ruthra didn't seem concerned by this answer, though there was certainly common sense in such a disguise. He also found out that even high-ranking military officers were careful not to speak on the subject.

General Ivashov, head of the analytical department for new types of weapons and, at the same time, head of the "P" department where Post No. 3 was located, was the only person in the center who was knowledgeable on the subject. When asked by Rutra about the structure of the system and the problem it posed, he evasively replied, "Those who know about it avoid talking about it." When asked to talk about Polygon and Kremlin-2, he replied in a way that stumped Rutra: "I can't talk about it, because I know what happens to those who try to find out.

Ruthra decided to wait until the next day and talk frankly with Vasilievich. In the meantime, he decided to study what was opposing the Perimeter system.

The U.S. system Operation Looking Glass, or "Looking Glass": air command centers of the U.S. Strategic Air Command on Boeing EC-135C aircraft. 24 hours a day, two Looking Glass aircraft are constantly in the air – one over the Atlantic and the other over the Pacific. The crews are on constant alert to assume command of strategic nuclear forces in the event that ground command centers are defeated. The VCPs are currently on duty at 4 airbases in constant readiness for takeoff.

Ruthra knew what the Perimeter system was before. But why was it the world's number one problem? Although, judging by its purpose, it very well could be.

– What do you want to know about her? – I heard General Ivashov's voice behind me.

Rutra was not confused.

– Everything. And more details," he replied, turning around in his chair. – Everything.

– And more details?

– Yes. Anything you know. It's important to me.

Rutra invited the old military specialist into his office and asked him to sit down. He began to tell everything he knew about the system without charging a price.

– The Perimeter system remains the only weapon in the world that guarantees a retaliatory nuclear strike against the enemy, even in the nightmare event that we no longer have anyone to decide on that strike. The unique system counterattacks automatically – and brutally. The Perimeter system is nicknamed "the dead hand" in the West and "the hand from the coffin" in the East. This is the control system of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Strategic Missile Forces. In documents it was named "Perimeter". The system was supposed to create such technical means and software that would allow in any conditions, even the most unfavorable, to bring the order to launch missiles directly to the launch teams. According to the idea of the creators of the system could prepare and launch missiles even if everyone died and there would be no one to give the order. This component became unofficially known as the "dead hand". That's the main thing I know about it.

– Not the main one? And what exactly is the problem?

– The problem is this: the logic of the dead hand's actions implies regular collection and processing of a huge amount of information. All sorts of information is received from all sorts of sensors. For example, about the state of communication lines with the higher command center: there is communication – no communication. On the radiation situation in the surrounding area: normal radiation level – increased radiation level. About the presence of people at the starting position: there are people – no people. About registered nuclear explosions and so on. "Dead Hand" has the ability to analyze changes in the military and political situation in the world. The system evaluates the commands received over a certain period of time, and on this basis can conclude that something is wrong in the world. When the system decides that its time has come, it will activate and launch a command to prepare for the launch of missiles. At the same time, the "dead hand" cannot start active actions in peacetime. Even if there is no communication, even if the entire combat team leaves the launch position, there are still a lot of other parameters that block the system. After the order received from the highest levels of control to a special command post, the command missile with a special head is launched, which in flight transmits launch commands to all launchers and command posts that have appropriate receivers. The command missile is the only widely known component of the system. The system is designed to guarantee the launch of silo-mounted intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the event that, as a result of a crushing nuclear strike by the enemy against Soviet territory, all command units capable of ordering a retaliatory strike are destroyed.

– USSR? Is it still like that? – Ruthra interrupted forcibly.

– Yes. The system's program tracks the boundaries originally put into it.

– Can't be changed?

Ivashov was silent for a moment. Rutra recognized that there was some mystery in this, and perhaps part of the "cipher" to the solution, and, to conceal it, did not inquire, though they both realized that they had said what they wanted to say to each other.

– The system is the only existing doomsday machine in the world, a weapon of guaranteed retaliation, the existence of which has been officially confirmed. There are similar systems, but they are very dependent on human error. The system is extremely classified and is still on alert to this day, so any information about it cannot be confirmed or denied. Even for military personnel with high level security clearance. In essence, the Perimeter system is an alternative command system for all branches of the military that have nuclear weapons in service. It was created as a backup system in case the key nodes of the Kazbek command system and its communication lines were destroyed in a first strike, in accordance with the U.S. concept of limited nuclear warfare. As you are of course aware, Kazbek is a device that stores the codes to activate a nuclear arsenal. To ensure guaranteed fulfillment of its role, the system was originally designed to be fully automatic. In the event of a massive attack, it is capable of making a decision to retaliate on its own, without human involvement. It is the only deterrence factor that provides real guarantees that a potential enemy will reject the concept of a preemptive crushing blow. To complete the picture, it would be good for you to find out who of the system's creators is alive, where they are, and whether it is possible to meet them.

– Most likely," Ruthra agreed, and then asked, "I take it the problem didn't come on suddenly, but was dealt with thoroughly.

– What did you think," Ivashov replied, shaking his head. – Do you realize what we are talking about, the scale and risks involved? To be frank, since we are a supranational, worldwide service, very, very influential people are interested in solving this problem.

– Yeah, I've already realized it's not an easy question. And the solution to finding the cause is likely to be unconventional. So I need to know everything about who had access to the secret.

– I was dealing with the problem itself. A signal failure. Or rather, a duplicate, unauthorized signal. It's not that simple. You realize how high this is, except, uh.

The general did not finish, he was silent, thinking about something.

– What?" asked Ruthra, staring at him intently.

– Later," he replied, rubbing his temples. – For now, I will tell you about putting the system into combat mode. The first launch of a command missile with the equivalent of a transmitter was successfully conducted on December 26, 1979. In January 1985, the complex was put on combat duty. For 10 years, the command missile complex successfully performed its important role in the defense capability of the state. Then it had to be shut down under the treaty, but it turned out that it was impossible to turn it off completely.

The general stopped speaking, looked at Rutra's desk, where there was a package with a red stripe crossed out.

– Have you been to Sukhov's? – he asked.

– Yes, we collect all the data, including the work done.

– May I know the results of their investigation?

– I think so," Ruthra said and began to open the package.

Inside were documents about the system, a description of the constituent parts.

– In general, nothing new. And nothing about the results of the investigation," summarized Ivashov.

Ruthra looked at him questioningly, as if asking: "Why?"

– You'll have to study this, because I don't remember everything by heart. You need all the details. And then I can kindly share with you some oral information that you won't find in the papers. Maybe you'll get something out of it. Maybe you'll look at the question from a different angle. Maybe you'll find where the thread from which the tangle unwinds. So, I have the honor, because finding the cause of failure is a professional necessity for me.

Ruthra was used to the fact that every statement at the center carried a hidden message, but he did not ask further questions. He thanked the head of Department P, promising to contact him after he had studied the documents. After he left, he began to go through the documents, intuitively realizing that it was just a decoration. They had been given to him as a diversion, because, judging by the level of Center Zero and the presence of Department "P" in it, everything should be there – everything that Sukhov's assistant had handed over. But they didn't know about it.

Still, Ruthra decided to go through and study the technical part of the Perimeter system. After going through the papers, he found almost everything Ivashov had told him.

He was most interested in the autonomous control and command system, a key element of the system.

Although the latter was listed as a key element of the system, there was no information about its functioning in the available sources. As promised, Rutra decided to contact Ivashov on this matter. He called him on the intercom and the latter kindly agreed to receive him in his office. Rutra went to him, thinking on the way why he was the deputy head of the center and not, for example, General Ivashov. Apparently, he did not yet know the secret meaning of the ranking list and his mission in Zero.

It was not easy to get through to Ivashov's office. He had to pass through two automated stations, the ZAS special communications station and the encryption-coding department. Rutra didn't have clearance yet, so the general came out to meet him and escorted him to his office.

As he entered his office, Ruthra noticed through the ajar door to the P station compartment that it was a sort of miniature movie theater – no rows of seats, but a huge screen and a control panel with a ball-shaped apparatus covered with oval, touch screens in the center.

– This is the central post of the Perimeter system," explained the post commander.

Whether he wanted to show that he had no secrets from Ruthra, or whether he realized that soon Ruthra would not only have clearance everywhere, but would be checking and controlling the posts, or whatever, Ruthra was not overly curious.

– I'm interested in the autonomous control and command system. There's nothing about it in the package.

– It's top secret," Ivashov replied, not seeming surprised at Rutra's reluctance to see the post itself. – Some of the information is transmitted only orally!

– Could it be? – Ruthra asked without embarrassment, trying not to offend his interlocutor.

– That's the point! At least the documents for this part are written in such a way that they don't reveal everything about it. According to the instructions created by those who created and brought the system into combat, the key controls are transmitted orally. I received them verbally, too, and will only pass them on verbally. Those are the instructions. Also, the holder of the information does not know who else has the information. I know for a fact that there are several redundant systems, but who is in them is not supposed to know. It will be up to the committee to decide to whom I will pass the information, but the other duplicators will not know about it.

– But the committee knows about it, right?

– Makes sense, but I don't know exactly.

– Who's on the committee?

– More on that later. It's a separate clearance. The Committee is no less complex than an autonomous control and command system. Some of the information there is anonymized.

– How's that?

– If you are admitted and happen to be present at the gathering, you will be very surprised. In the meantime, listen up. This is a complex expert system, equipped with multiple communication systems and sensors that monitor the combat situation. This system monitors the presence and intensity of conversations on the air on military frequencies, the receipt of telemetry signals from the posts, the level of radiation on the surface and in the vicinity, the regular occurrence of point sources of powerful ionizing and electromagnetic radiation at key coordinates, coinciding with the sources of short-term seismic disturbances in the Earth's crust, which corresponds to the pattern of multiple ground nuclear strikes, the presence of live people at the command post. Based on the correlation of these factors, the system makes a final decision on the need for a retaliatory strike. There is another variant of the system's operation. Upon receiving information about the first signs of a missile attack, the Commander-in-Chief puts the system into combat mode. After that, if within a certain time the command center of the system does not receive a signal to stop the combat algorithm, command missiles are launched. This is where the interesting part comes in. What is the combat mode?

– How's that?

– Here we go. At first, we did everything by the book. Every four hours, the codes change. The system resets the download and starts over. It's monitored by all the understudies and someone else! If any of the posts on schedule duty miss even a minute, an alarm goes off, and the codes are changed by one of the understudies, and the one who missed is classified. That is, nothing else is known about him. The most interesting thing is that in order to test the system, maintenance was once conducted under the new instructions. An emergency occurred during the maintenance. According to the instructions, the Cheget and Kazbek systems were switched off and they were de-energized. The commands came from the post of the object "Zero", that is, from us, or rather – from me, to whom all understudies are subordinated. Everything went smoothly, without fail, but after the moment of code change, which had not been changed, because the tests were in progress and the time of change was shifted, the system suddenly gave a command to the combat mode.

– Was it supposed to be different?

– You see, the autonomous control and command system was de-energized, we didn't enter a command, the system had nowhere to get an order.

– So what?

– Everyone's in shock. What do we do? Confirmation signals are coming in from all stations. The commander-in-chief is on the line: "What's the matter?" Submarines, missile sites are requesting confirmation or cancelation! My hair is standing on end! No one was really in such a situation. Although the launch training was going on in such a way that everyone was so sure of himself that he would have made a decision without hesitation. Everything was mixed up in my head. What if there was a malfunction, a mistake, a test, a drill? Time is running into seconds. I give the command to urgently shut down the phase and enter new codes. The thing is, the whole system was under routine maintenance. The decision was made at the top, that is, at the bottom. You know what I mean. There was no one to argue with.

– Why?

The general looked at Rutra surprised, not answering the question, he continued:

– Perimeter" requests "Cheget" and "Kazbek", but there is silence. We wait for a request directly to the post to confirm the presence of a person, i.e. to manually give the command "Stand down", and then it turns itself off. And the automatics records in the log that the command to disconnect was from a person. Who gave the command? At first we thought it was the understudies. We're waiting to see who will be sent to the "grave". A large gathering is announced. The question is raised: who made such a regulation? Specifically unknown. From official positions – the head of the Ministry of Defense, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and Commander-in-Chief – refer to the requirement of the developer of the system. All those who had anything to do with it, veiledly hint that it is necessary to deal with the specialists of NPO "Impulse", on whose recommendation the regulations were changed. That is with the specialists of the Zero Center, because in this situation our specialists acted under the legend of this enterprise. You should know that by the decree of the Government of the Russian Federation NPO "Impulse" was determined to be the leading organization for creation of automated control systems for the benefit of the Russian Armed Forces. Those responsible for Cheget and Kazbek report that the command came through an internal closed line. That it was coordinated and approved by the top leadership. It is not known who or what gave the command "Stand down". We had to close the case and deal with it quietly. That is, to take the blow on ourselves, declaring that there was no failure, the system worked according to its program. We appointed a guilty person for misinterpretation of the functionality of the stages of routine work, which was the reason for the fuss. Everything was settled, settled, but the questions remained. It is impossible to hide it completely. That's why "specialists" of NPO "Impulse" had to write a report about possible failures in the system due to interference from an unknown source. Admiral Hent says that after he conducts an internal investigation at the Zero facility, we will reconvene. The investigation isn't finished yet, though a reassembly is scheduled in a couple days. So time is short…

The general was silent again, thinking.

– What?" Ruthra asked warily.

A certain Admiral Hent, whom only the "veterans" of Center Zero knew, was an unknown, mythical person for Rutra. And if Vasilievich said that Zero was an international supranational organization that analyzed information flows from all intelligence services, including "hostile" ones, then who could this Hent be? His level Rutra was still imagining in the abstract.

– It would be surprising to me if you didn't have questions," the head of the "P" department finally spoke up.

– How, after your story…

– So think about it, but do not forget that at first glance this is some kind of official, let me say, vested interests, and secondly, it is a serious danger in the security system. And thirdly, it is a catastrophic situation at the world level. Do you realize what can happen if someone thinks that we do not control it or, even worse, that the control is in unknown hands? And what if it fails at all and goes off automatically?

– I can imagine," Ruthra replied quietly, and he realized the precarious ground on which the world and human existence lay. – Are you saying she can launch missiles?

– Exactly. When it happened, Hent looked like he was in first grade and they were asking him to solve an integral equation. I mean, there was no team with Zero.

– So what?

– Nothing. That's what we need to figure out now. That's where it all started.

Both were silent, staring into each other's eyes, unable to find an answer to their many questions. Ivashov covered Rutra's wrist with his palm and said in a friendlier tone:

– In this case, there is no "tug of war". You will most likely have the highest level of clearance. Believe me, everyone will help you. Everyone who knows this problem exists. Keep listening.

Ruthra didn't want to distract the general with questions, so he answered confidently:

– I'm listening.

– Officially, the automated Perimeter system is installed in the area of Kosvinsky Kamen mountain. There are four other points located in different locations that can duplicate the work in case of failure. Their main purpose is to collect, process and transmit data to the main post. The location of some may change. One of them is located here. The others are less significant.

– And where are they?

– Don't be surprised. The points whose locations may change are outside Russia. One is in Belarus, another in Ukraine, and the third in Kazakhstan.

– So how do we control them?

– How? For some people, the USSR fell apart. But for management, everything is the same. Any play can be played out, the main thing is the puppeteers. You should already realize that the power that is visible is not the power that moves the pieces on the global chessboard. Physically at these points cannot give the command to launch, only the hardware will work there to send a signal, if the signal from the head part of the command missile does not pass. But this is the most spare and most improbable scenario.

– Could it be because of them? Isn't what happened an incredible accident?

– All this has been repeatedly tested, and not only by us. You understand that the signal cannot be hidden. And if it is hidden, imagine what level it is. Imagine the depth of penetration and the breadth of possibilities that must be assumed!

Ivashov leaned slightly toward Rutra and said in a whisper:

– The signal is received from all possible sources, even seismic waves. That's not the point, the point is that the hardware accepted it as valid. And the second is that something triggered a primary, weak signal to activate a program to send a signal from any possible transmitting devices. A general anomaly was detected. All transmitting devices, in a chain, like a domino effect, began to transmit an alien, not peculiar to their functions signal, with avalanche-like amplification from the weak to the strong transmitter. That's why we can't find the original source. The instruments were shocked, as in a massive magnetic storm. It's as if the receiver was waiting for some kind of signal to start a timer. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Perimeter program, the computer program itself, which is also called that, had provided for such an option in advance. Although we have to think rationally, but I will tell you, my friend, my tenure allows me to think this way. Even during the launch of the system there were rumors that the developers were part of their closed group and did not trust the power top. Not the legal one, but people like us. After all, behind the back of the CPSU were the same secret structures.

Ruthra pulled back, looking surprised at the postmaster. He realized he was in the wrong place, so he did not pretend to reveal a secret that could have incredible consequences for him and for the logic of his assumptions.

– I can't say anything more about the general technical part. You can get acquainted with the operation of the equipment, codes, ciphers, programs from the technicians who maintain the system or from the manufacturers. In the Western press, the system is known as the "dead hand". You must understand that secret information is secret only for those who do not know that there are structures like ours. Inside our system information is freely transferred, so in search of a solution to the problem you will have access to any database – CIA, MI-6, "Mossad", NSA… The existence of such a structure as ours makes it very easy to manage the world. We know everything, while the secret services fight among themselves, thus ensuring that the world is kept in a "vise".

Rutra realized he had to leave, thanked the general politely, promised to consult him on controversial matters, and left for his room.

The next day Vasilyevich was aware of his conversation with Ivashov, which did not surprise Rutra. Zhidkov didn't emphasize it either; he was glad that Ivashov himself had shown a desire to help.

– It may have been turned on during the incident with Colonel Petrov. The story is, of course, very suspicious," he said abruptly, listening to Rutra's speculation as to the existence of possible collusion.

– Are you referring to the incident of September 26, 1983? The day our world almost died? – Ruthra asked.

– Yes. Understand, despite all the concern about global warming, the most important threat to mankind is still its vast nuclear arsenals. It's hard to suspect him, though. He had the day off and his partner was sick. Petrov was called back to duty at the last minute.

The head of the center sat down in a chair in Rutra's office and began to narrate as usual:

– On the night of September 26, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Petrov was on operational duty at the Serpukhov-15 command post, 100 km from Moscow. At that time, the Cold War was at its peak: three and a half weeks earlier, the Soviet Union had shot down a South Korean Boeing 747 passenger plane that had violated the border twice. The command center received information from the Oko space early warning system, which had been adopted a year earlier. In the event of a missile attack, the country's leadership was immediately notified, which made a decision to retaliate. On September 26, while Petrov was on duty, the computer reported a missile launch from an American base. However, after analyzing the information that the launches were from only one location and consisted of only a few ICBMs, Lieutenant Colonel Petrov decided that this was a false alarm. Subsequent investigation determined that the cause was the illumination of the satellite's sensors by sunlight reflected from high-altitude clouds. If the cold war turned into a hot war, every second mattered. Everything depended on instantaneous decisions… I talked to him. As he tells it, it all happened suddenly. Alarm lights flashed, sirens blared. The computer said the United States had just started a war. Told how he turned pale. Cold sweat ran down his back. Yet he acted coolly. The computer was literally screaming: "Missile strike imminent!" It didn't make any sense. The computer seemed to have detected three, then four, now five missiles, but the number was still incongruously small. According to the basic tenets of Cold War doctrine, if one side launches a preemptive nuclear missile strike, it should be a mass launch of missiles of crushing power. Accordingly, it is logical that he considered it a mistake. In a friendly conversation, over a drink, he confessed to me that he decided to wait, because besides him, except for his post – the launches should have been recorded by others. The alarm on September 26, 1983 turned out to be false. It turned out that the fiction in the movie was based on the realities of human psychology, mentality, faith.

– About the boy, you mean?

– Yes. "More than twenty percent of your missileers, like this captain, refused to launch…"

– In the movie, the military decided to wait, too," Ruthra said. – Remember, you said there was a similar situation. The military decided to delay a retaliatory strike until the attack was confirmed by the destruction of the first military base, which, of course, did not happen.

– That is exactly why the high commanders in the Kremlin were terrified. However, they were afraid not so much for themselves as for the fact that reckless Ronald Reagan, not fully understanding the consequences, was preparing in Washington the first nuclear missile strike, which, of course, would have to be answered, and then the bulk of the white race would wipe itself off the face of the earth. It was 1983. And, as time showed, the next month and a half was the most dangerous period the world had experienced in its history. The fact that in 1962 the United States and the Soviet Union were on the brink of a world war, when John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev entered into a tough conflict over missiles in Cuba, is well known to everyone. Those events took place openly, in the public eye. But the crisis of 1983 unfolded behind closed doors, in a world of spies and secrets.

– Of course. "We were ready for World War III," admitted Capt. Viktor Tkachenko, who commanded the missile base at the time, and then added: "If the U.S. had unleashed it.

– Logical reasoning. Robert Gates, who was the CIA's deputy director of intelligence at the time, recalled, "We could have been on the brink of war without knowing it." In 1983, the world was living as usual, unaware of the catastrophe it was facing. I was working on Britain at the time. Margaret Thatcher had become Prime Minister for the second time and her potential successor, Cecil Parkinson, had been forced to resign after admitting that he was raising a son with his secretary, with whom he was having an affair. Two young socialist troublemakers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, become MPs for the first time. Police count the bodies of serial killer Dennis Nielsen's victims in his London apartment, and a gang of six carry off £25 million worth of gold from Brinks Mat's warehouse. Hitler's "diary" is found, which turns out to be a fake. England's soccer players fail to qualify for the European finals. Everyone sings Sting's song (Every breath you take), which has these words: "I'm watching every breath you take, every step you take". Unwittingly, Sting has very accurately summarized what we and the Americans have been doing on the international stage. Both sides have new, more powerful and more effective instruments of destruction. Reagan, who replaced Jimmy Carter, raises the stakes in this dangerous game by delivering his provocative speech in which he calls the Soviet Union an "evil empire." And then began the events that almost led to disaster. On November 2, 1983, the North Atlantic Alliance of Western countries led by the United States began a planned ten-day exercise code-named "Skillful Archer" to test its military communications systems in case of war. The exercise scenario included an invasion by the USSR using conventional weapons. The decisive moment was to come with a simulated launch of nuclear missiles. Command posts and missile bases were in full readiness, but, as was repeatedly reported to the USSR leadership, no real weapons were used. In every message our leadership was informed in huge letters that this was "only an exercise". But they, fearing Reagan's supposed recklessness, preferred not to believe these messages.

Vasilievich was meaningfully silent.

– This was the World War II generation that had always remembered how Hitler had deceived Stalin into launching the bloody Operation Barbarossa in 1941 under the pretext of conducting exercises. Gordievsky and other KGB officers around the world received urgent telegrams demanding evidence that the exercises were a cover for a real preemptive nuclear strike. Washington was completely unaware of the powerful effect Skillful Archer had on the Soviet leadership. In fact – Reagan was not preparing for war, but doing the opposite. It turns out that he was impressed by the movie he watched. This is the case when the "invisible weapon" turns out to be stronger than any thermonuclear weapon. At the end of the day, it's the brain that controls everything. Therefore, the strongest weapon is the one that affects it. At his presidential residence, Camp David, Maryland, he recently watched a television version of the sci-fi movie "The Day After," which tells the story of the aftermath of nuclear war. The former Hollywood cowboy was more impressed by the movie than all the military briefings and reports. The movie predicted the deaths of 150 million people. Reagan wrote in his diary, "It made a strong oppressive impression on me. We must do everything we can to make sure that nuclear war never happens." The old warhorse changed course and soon began trying to establish friendly relations with Moscow, which led to his first visit to the Soviet Union and the establishment of bilateral relations. But Reagan nearly missed his chance. When the exercises reached their peak, our outrage reached its highest point. During the exercise, their forces nearly fired a theoretical salvo of 350 nuclear missiles. Our military put the nuclear forces on highest alert, when all that was left to do was press the button to launch a massive retaliatory strike. The pilots of our nuclear bombers sat in the cockpits of their airplanes, engines idling, waiting for the command to take off. Three hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles were ready for launch, and 75 mobile SS-20 launchers hurriedly moved to their secret positions. Navy ships hid in shelters, anchored off the cliffs of the Baltic, and nuclear submarines with their missile arsenals cruised under the Atlantic ice and prepared for missile launches. The situation was saved by two spies, one on each side . The Americans reacted instantly, lowering the heat. Moscow took a step back from that precipice. Only later did America realize how close the world had come to the apocalypse. Greater efforts began to find ways to end the arms race. Today, America's relationship with Russia is strained. To some extent this is reality, to some extent it is a spectacle. It is clear that "Zero", meaning us, is in control of the situation. Be that as it may, the person in power, even if he is controlled, always has very great opportunities. And in this case, the risk is deadly. Now, hopefully, you understand better the essence of the mission that we are carrying, the part of it that will be entrusted to you? Some very important events, for people, unfortunately go unnoticed. Amid growing concern about nuclear proliferation, the staff of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved its doomsday clock forward, setting it half a minute to midnight. From here on out, you will increasingly realize the gravity and danger of the situation. I hope you pass the tests with flying colors and are invited to the big gathering.

– What kind of tests? – Ruthra asked tensely.

Zhidkov pretended to miss the question.

– Do you know what a big gathering is? – He asked, smiling, and answered: "A big gathering is when all the secret authorities come out of their skechers and onto the center deck.

"He was using a sailors' slang expression. He was among the carriers of the Chegeta," Rutra decided.

Chapter 8. "Dead Hand"

Рис.6 Binary code: Mystery number one

Rutra had just begun to settle into his new life when, on another visit, Vasilievich, in order to "ponder over coffee," as he liked to put it, said:

– Moving on to the next phase. Today we have legalization.

– What the hell is that?

– That's what we do legally.

– And what's that?

– You're giving a lecture to the students today. Understand?

– I understand," Ruthra replied without further question.

– Come on, I'll introduce you.

– Wait, I didn't prepare.

– It's okay, you tell them about the NSA's methods, it'll be great for them.

They went up to the upper level, went to the secret part of the university, where, under the legend of the Institute of Statistics, they were engaged in training specialists for the secret services. Vasilievich introduced Rutra to the undergraduate and graduate students as Paschovsky, a doctoral candidate at the U.S. National Defense University.

A lecturer came up to the pulpit and spoke about new methods of systematizing and analyzing information. Having finished his short speech, he introduced Rutra to the audience once more. Apparently, he had been trained at Zero as well. "So I'll probably meet him again," Rutra thought.

The lecturer stated:

– The following will be told to you by an expert who works in the United States and personally advises the NSA. Mr. Paschowski, please.

Rutra stepped up to the pulpit, looked around the audience, said hello, and, giving his speech an American accent, began to narrate:

– The US National Security Agency, the NSA, is the most powerful data collector. There is a secret agreement under which a group of the world's leading countries have agreed to give the NSA permission to analyze the data flows of their citizens and services both at home and abroad. The rest, as the NSA believes, I will tell you in confidence, you don't have to ask.

Ruthra smiled a little at the last sentence, giving his statement a joking tone that was meant to be taken as truth. The room chuckled approvingly, and Ruthra wondered if he had said more than he should have, for he now knew for certain that in the Echelon 2 system it functioned as a single system. He decided to define his position:

– It seems unbelievable, but NSA spies can use analytical data for their own or third parties' benefit, as they listen and view everything. Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency official, orchestrated the leak of classified documents detailing how the U.S. government uses information technology to spy on potential terrorists. The Secret Service collects millions of phone calls, emails, photos and videos from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other communications giants. But what do agencies like the NSA then do with that information?

Rutra thought for a moment about how to present his position on the case, for he now knew that Echelon 2 had orchestrated the Snowden story so that Echelon 1 would realize that it would not be possible to use the information to their advantage, that there were structures beyond their control. So they were still puzzling over how that had happened. After a moment's thought, Ruthra continued:

– Data flows around the world and the rapid growth of digital information are attracting the attention of both the private sector and public services. Processing these streams is becoming a promising endeavor. How much data do you and I produce? According to recent research by IBM, humanity generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of information every day. If these bytes were visualized as flattened pennies, they would cover the entire globe in five layers. Data collection by security services relies on the basic thesis that the entire mass of data can be analyzed in such a way that it can be used to identify connections between different people. By analyzing these connections, leads can be found for investigative purposes. The main principle in data processing is to supply each fragment with a label. Based on this metadata, computer algorithms will be able to identify connections of interest to the security service. Metadata is data that describes other data. This is, for example, the names and sizes of files on your computer. In the digital world, a label affixed to a piece of data would be called a tag. Providing data with a label is a mandatory first step in data processing, because it is the label that allows the analyst or his program to classify and organize the available information for further processing and analysis. Tags allow you to manipulate data fragments without having to go into their content. This is a very important legal point in the work of the Security Service, because the US law does not allow to open the correspondence of US citizens, as well as foreigners staying in the country legally, without an appropriate warrant. Therefore, the NSA uses a special, highly sophisticated program that "tags" all collected information. These are the basis for any system that links different types of data: video files, documents, phone records. For example, a data processing system can draw the attention of investigators to a suspect who posts terrorist propaganda online, visits websites that describe the technology of making improvised explosive devices, and buys, for example, a pressure cooker. One such program is called Accumulo. It is used for surveillance in international communication systems, and it was created precisely to tag billions of disparate data fragments. It's the security service's "secret weapon." The NSA has the right to perlustrate international communication channels and collects huge amounts of data. These are trillions of fragments of various messages that people write all over the world. The agency does not hunt for criminals, terrorists or spies that are identified through its work, but simply leaks the information obtained to other government services – the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA. The work then proceeds according to this scheme. First, one of the 11 judges of the secret FISA court accepts a request from a government agency for permission to reprocess certain data obtained by the NSA. Upon receiving authorization, the request is first forwarded to the FBI's Electronic Communications Surveillance Unit – ECSU. This move is to ensure legal correctness – FBI agents verify the request and confirm that the targets of the surveillance are not U.S. citizens. ECSU forwards the same request to the FBI's Data Interception Techniques Unit. They receive the information from the Internet servers and pass it on to the NSA to run it through their data processing programs. Many communications companies deny that their servers are open to NSA access. Federal officials, on the other hand, report evidence of such cooperation. Finally, the NSA passes the relevant information to the government agency from which the request was made.

Ruthra noticed how attentively his audience was listening. Clearly they had not expected this. Of course, the audience included employees and officials with high security clearances.

– No sooner had the public digested the information about metadata than Snowden bombarded them with a story about another area of the NSA's work, labeled US-984XN. Every search platform, every source of raw intelligence information gets its own designation and code name. The SIGAD US-984XN service is known by the oft-mentioned code name PRISM. The PRISM system is the collection of digital photographs, files stored somewhere and sent somewhere, emails, chats, videos, and video conversations. This information is being seized from nine leading internet companies. The schemes made public by Snowden show that the NSA, among other things, uses real-time surveillance tools in its operations. The agency's analysts can receive alerts when a user connects to a service or sends an email, or logs into a particular chat room. Snowden published a top-secret report that described software that could look at hundreds of different databases. It is now no longer a secret that these programs allow the lowest level analyst to interfere unchecked with other people's information sharing processes. The report gives examples such as, "My client speaks German but is in Pakistan. How do I find him?" or "My client uses Google Maps to find his targets. Can I use this information to determine his email address?" The described program allows, having asked one such question, to simultaneously search through 700 servers scattered all over the world.

Ruthra was silent for a moment and then continued. He described the various schemes of the tracking systems and gave examples.

– Among other things, the NSA itself is asking other agencies to help. So-called information-sharing cooperation. The essence is that, for example, the German intelligence agency BND, commissioned by the NSA, conducts surveillance of targets throughout Europe. Intelligence activities are carried out in accordance with a list of tens of thousands of criteria for information retrieval. These include IP addresses, phone numbers, social media accounts, and email domains.

Ruthra fell silent, then looked at the lecturer who had invited him and said:

– I'm done. Thank you for your attention.

The audience clapped approvingly. The audience tried to get through to Rutre, who was being hurried away by Zhidkov. They were followed by the lecturer, who, in English, suggested that Rutra give periodic lectures as part of the existing arrangements for the exchange of experience. Vasilievich nodded approvingly, arching his eyebrows. The latter nodded back. Rutra did not quite understand the meaning of this gesture, but he noticed that he had made an impression on everyone.

After passing through the guarded secret library, in front of which Zero's security zone was thoughtfully located (the guards wore FSO uniforms), they silently began to descend by elevator. Both of them were thinking, pondering.

The first to break the silence was the chief:

– Now, after all this information flows into our center that no one can know about. Center Zero. Why is it located in Russia? Because it is easier to create a center closed from the public in Russia than in any other civilized country.

***

A general meeting was scheduled for Monday morning. Yuri Vasilievich gave the speech.

– The reason I've gathered you here is the Perimeter system, or rather, a malfunction that was miraculously eliminated. It's lucky that we identified it at all, although, frankly speaking, there have been rumors about the system's "waywardness" for a long time. All right, esteemed employees. This is a very important part of our work, but it should not be to the detriment of other duties. That's the first thing. Second: Rutre Tigrovic is in charge of the investigation. He will do the main work. You'll gather material for him. Third: I'll introduce you to the system in general terms, the rest you'll learn on your own.

Everyone listened to the announcement in silence, glancing around, though some showed no reaction.

– So, what are we dealing with, what is the problem: the Perimeter system is known in Europe and the United States as the "dead hand". It is a complex of automatic control of a massive retaliatory nuclear strike, created in the USSR at the height of the Cold War. It is designed for guaranteed delivery of combat orders from higher levels of control to command centers and individual launchers of strategic missiles on alert, in case of emergency, when communication lines may be damaged. The Perimeter system is an alternative command system for all branches of the armed forces with nuclear weapons. It was created as a backup communications system in case key nodes of the Kazbek command system and communications lines are destroyed by a first strike in accordance with the U.S. concept of "limited nuclear warfare." Let me tell you about the Kazbek system right away. It is known to the general public thanks to the Cheget subscriber complex, or nuclear suitcase. The Cheget subscriber complex is a retaliatory strike tool. It is activated only after receiving a signal of a missile attack on Russia. First, a signal is received from the early warning system about a missile attack. It is checked by the duty general of the command center in Solnechnogorsk. Only then is the Kazbek system put into combat mode. The suitcase contains communication equipment with the General Staff and the command of the Strategic Missile Forces. Hereinafter I will use the abbreviation RVSN. Roughly speaking, it is a telephone, but the information is transmitted not by voice, but by encrypted symbols. It is impossible to block communication. There are three Chegetas on permanent duty: the Head of State, the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff. There are also duplicate ones. "The main button" in the suitcases is there – it transmits to the command centers of the Strategic Missile Forces a code authorizing the use of nuclear weapons. But missiles will be launched only if commands to do so are received from all three consoles. As I said, the total number of suitcases is more than three, the system is duplicated, but only a very narrow circle of people know about it. In addition, they are changed, checked, repaired. How many of them there are, only Department "C" knows.

Yuri Vasilyevich thought for a couple of seconds and said:

– The only time Cheget was used was on January 25, 1995, after the world's largest meteorological missile, the Black Brant XII, was launched from an island off the coast of Norway. Its flight trajectory resembled that of an American Trident ICBM fired from a submarine. Its final destination could have been a high-altitude nuclear explosion, disabling Russian missile warning radars. The Norwegians' notification of the missile launch got lost in the Foreign Ministry, and the next day Boris Yeltsin said that for the first time he used his briefcase for emergency communication with military advisers. This is a very interesting story in terms of why this happened. I will tell you about it separately, because, as one knowledgeable general said, it was a surprise only for Boris Yeltsin. By the way, I can say that if anyone thinks that such situations are funny, he is very mistaken. To give you an example, let me tell you about some of these situations. Do you remember those very radio sockets in old apartments that broadcast two programs? They were of great importance as a stand-alone, power-independent civil defense warning system in the USSR. There was a similar system in the U.S., and it was regularly tested to make sure it worked. All radio and television stations sent out test messages with alarm codes to check the operability of communications. This was and is handled by a special center at NORAD, i.e. the North American Aerospace Defense Command. At 9:33 a.m. on a February Saturday morning in 1971, a teletype operator at the National Civilian Warning Center ran an erroneous message into the system accompanied by the code Hatefulness, which meant a real emergency, not a drill. 5,000 radio stations and 800 television transmission centers received a message that read, "Attention! This is an emergency message coming directly from the President of the United States. Immediately cease normal broadcasting and begin broadcasting emergency messages beginning with the appropriate code. Stand by for further instructions." Panic broke out across the country and lasted for nearly 40 minutes until a retraction was issued.

Those gathered continued to listen intently.

– Here's another similar incident. Once at 8:50 a.m. computers in three U.S. command centers at once – in NORAD, in the Pentagon and in the Reserve Command Center in Maryland – sounded the alarm: "The United States has been subjected to a massive nuclear strike by the USSR. For the next six minutes, the fate of the world was decided. A Threat Assessment Commission consisting of senior officers from all three centers was immediately convened. ICBM launch sites received advance warning of the strike and instructions to prepare a retaliatory strike. Ten fighter-interceptors took to the air on alert, while others prepared for immediate departure. A so-called "doomsday plane" even took to the air, intended for the high command and the president, who would be able to command troops even if all ground command centers were destroyed.

The Threat Assessment Commission worked quickly and smoothly: all reports were cross-checked and data from long-range radar stations and space satellites were received, none of which confirmed the launch of even one Soviet missile. The system was rebooted and the alarm was declared false. The investigation revealed that the cause of the false alarm was a mistake by an Air Force command center officer who ran a training program simulating a full-scale Soviet attack on a computer included in the NORAD unified command system, which caused the general alarm. This possibility was later eliminated by physically separating the training and combat systems.

Yuri Vasilyevich spoke without stopping, confidently and clearly.

– Another similar case, again related to the NORAD center. One day, in the middle of the night, the computers of the Strategic Air Command and the Pentagon received messages from this center about the launch of missiles on U.S. territory. The counter of launched missiles suddenly changed its value and began to show 002 or 200 attacking missiles. The duty officers were alarmed, and an alert was declared. Pilots took their places in the bombers, the engines were started, the launching points of missiles "Minuteman" received instructions for a retaliatory strike. Minutes counted. A decision from the Risk Assessment Commission was required to launch a retaliatory attack. And the counter continued to go crazy – the "zeros" and "twos" kept changing places. This raised doubts about its serviceability. Then the control messages from the early detection stations were checked, which showed no threat. The alarm was canceled and the counter was reset. Three days later, the situation was exactly the same, and then the Commission was able to find the cause – it was a defective microchip in the computer system NORAD, costing only 46 cents, which arbitrarily changed the values of the counter because of a failure in its own electronic circuit. So a penny electronics could have destroyed the entire humanity… The point of my digression is to emphasize once again that the world is fragile, people are emotional, computer systems are imperfect.

There was another case on the subject of the nuclear suitcase. It was 1991, during Yeltsin's hunting trip to Zavidovo near Moscow. When we were sailing on a boat on the lake, one foreign guest kept looking at a black suitcase at the bottom of the boat. He thought it was nuclear. He tried to stay away from the suitcase, trying to sit on the edge of the boat. When they opened the suitcase on the island and took out two bottles of vodka and pickles, the guest laughed for a long time.

Some of the staff, hearing the story for the first time, chuckled. The colonel was silent for a moment and continued:

The F Division officer, a thin man with a shrewd eye, raised his hand, gesturing that he wanted to ask a question. The chief looked at him, nodded his head.

– So it's already been signaled to attack from us, but without us? – he asked worriedly.

– Maybe," Zhidkov replied, giving him a leering look.

– Can't you ask the supreme commander-in-chief? – he continued.

– That's the interesting part. Who is the supreme commander in chief? Where does the initial order to open the bags of pre-posted orders come from?

Ruthra realized that the chief was asking questions to which he knew the answers. "Do the others know this manner of Zhidkov's dialog?" – he thought.

– What about the signal to stop the combat algorithm? – The "F" department officer did not stop.

– Let's say it hasn't been received yet.

– What's stopping you from giving it away?

– How? Who? What if the supreme leader doesn't give the order when he should? Or if he can't? And how do we know when it's the right time? It is understandable if missiles are flying, but what if it is a regular war and we are losing? We could not, so to speak, "stop at Stalingrad"? Let's say Moscow is already surrendered. What then? Who will give the order? And who decides that it's time? You can't reveal all the parameters of the system. Everyone involved in the investigation will know their part. So, among other things, the task is to give inaccurate information, false in some places, but so that it coincides with the parameters of the truth.

Everyone in the audience was silent, listening without question.

– All information is held in detail by Rutra Tigrovic.

Ruthra nodded in agreement. He knew it all by heart.

– I will only add that many enterprises and organizations of various ministries and departments took part in the creation of the complex," Vasilyevich continued. – You will have to work closely with them. In the Western press, the system has earned the name "dead hand". No matter how much you hide it, information still leaks out. The games of professionals.

After these words, the head of department "P" could not stand it. Without asking permission, he said angrily:

– Why is it leaking if it's so official?

– Yeah, but they're not stupid, either. You don't think they'd believe it, even if it was a general. They know it for a fact," Zhidkov replied calmly, not indignant, realizing the awkwardness of the situation, and continued: – "None of the uninitiated would have known about the existence of the Perimeter if one of its developers had not fled to the United States, where he exchanged information about the system for an American passport. In October 1993, The New York Times, an influential newspaper, ran a panicked article under the headline "Russia Has a Doomsday Machine". Another of Perimeter's developers admitted that he knew of no reliable way to disable the system. The control and command system, its sensors and missiles are designed to operate under nuclear attack.

– He "escaped" on purpose," the general did not calm down.

Vasilievich pretended not to notice that he had been interrupted and continued the story:

– Remember the most important thing. In peacetime, Perimeter is in a calm state, "dozing", but it does not stop analyzing incoming information. When it goes into combat mode or receives an alarm signal, it starts monitoring the sensor network to detect signs of nuclear explosions. Don't forget the basis of the system's operation – before launching a retaliatory strike algorithm, Perimeter checks for four conditions. First, a nuclear attack has occurred. Then it checks if there is communication with the General Staff. If there is communication, the system is shut down. If the General Staff does not respond, Perimeter requests Kazbek. If there is silence there, the artificial intelligence transfers the right to make a decision to any person in the command bunker. And only after that it starts to act. That's all for understanding the essence of the problem at hand. I should add: don't forget what kind of organization we are, here, in the system we have chosen and which has chosen us, there is no traditional concept of "one's own – another's". This imposes certain difficulties, although everywhere the doors are open to us, including the "probable enemy". By the way, the "likely adversary," NATO, has called the creation of a nuclear strike system that operates without human command immoral.

Ivashov joined the dialog again, without being asked.

– They have everything immoral if they can't control it. They've forgotten that this is a retaliatory system. So they consider a first strike, from them, not immoral! Meanwhile, the US has a similar complex.

Zhidkov did not respond to this in any way, looked around at those present carefully and added:

– In general, the essence of the problem is clear. I think everyone is well aware of what can happen if the system gets out of control. It's a matter of life or death. I am not exaggerating, take it seriously and don't forget that you need to think outside the box. All possible checks, investigations have been done. I will only add that, in my intuitive experience, you need to look where there is information not publicized, even to those who directly operate the system. Keeps it running, so to speak.

Having said that, the head of the center looked at the head of the "P" department, who was going through the documents from the "Perimeter" folder. He was obviously looking for something. Zhidkov added:

– Most importantly, the weapon of assured retaliation includes not only a nuclear missile component, but also what is encoded in the word "perimeter."

Vasilievich stopped talking for a few seconds, turned a page on a tablet built into the desk, then announced that he had received an assignment to prepare public opinion for the necessity of destroying weapons of mass destruction.

– We need to prepare society. It is necessary to make people believe that a catastrophe of planetary scale may occur, one of the variants of which may be a nuclear apocalypse. The possibility of catastrophe must be presented as quite real. If they believe in it, if they associate it with weapons of mass destruction, then it is easier to prepare them for its destruction. Then those who would vehemently resist it would become markers that could possibly put us on the trail. That's one option. Such etching methods have to be resorted to because, as I said, all traditional methods have been tried. The public loves predictions, so it's not hard to prepare them.

The young ladies, who, for all their seriousness, were taking a non-serious view of what was going on, which was evident from their detached gaze, became a little animated.

– Is there something you want to ask me? – Zhidkov turned to them.

They hesitated for a moment. The situation was saved by the head of the molecular genetics department.

– And Putin? – She asked.

– Putin was familiarized with this system, which gave him the right to say: "The Americans have walled themselves off with a puddle and feel safe for nothing! A nuclear attack on Russia would be the end of the world," Zhidkov replied nonchalantly. – Any questions? I think not. Don't forget the main activity. On the agenda is an update of additional parameters on each citizen of the earth. Please continue the meeting without me. Tomorrow we'll discuss the prepared options. Rutra Tigrovich – get used to it.

Saying the last, the chief left the hall.

Chapter 9. Risks of human extinction