Continued from Part One.
Feodor was a relatively young man, 38 years old, distraught at times about many concerns, a right-wing genius who would manage to meet President Putin and propose a cutting-edge plan to end the war in Ukraine, to the advantage of the Russians.
His odyssey is a pure flight of fantasy, with no relation whatsoever to the reality of what is currently happening in Ukraine. This is a dream of reconciliation and stabilization of two territories that share a common history. Thematically we are dealing with a tale of saving life by paralysis, assisted by the technological wizardry of A. I. and robotics.
Feodor (nicknamed “Franky” by his classmates) is a former professor of physics who was not granted tenure at his university because of his right-wing commitments and publications. Although he was initially warned by the dean to change his ways, Feodor continued to attend meetings of hard-right radicals and publish in their journal.
He was expelled and, of course, did not receive tenure. As a young man he had a very peripatetic background: his father was German-American and his mother was born in America to a Russian father and Canadian Anglophone mother who, as a result of her education, spoke French very well. Since Feodor’s father was an insurance executive, they moved to several European countries early in his career and finally to America where they settled in Hartford, CT, at the home office of his global insurance firm.
Feodor had two sisters and one brother who did not live in Hartford; they moved to New York City and other locations because of their jobs and marital obligations. He managed to get his degree in physics from Yale and his Ph.D. from MIT several years later. He did his postdoc at a prestigious university that specialized in robotics and A.I. experimentation. He received a short-term position at a Japanese university where robotics was being developed and beta models were created and tested. Luckily for him, most of his colleagues spoke acceptable or at least comprehensible English and he learned a lot during his stay. He even learned a smattering of Japanese that helped him navigate in Tokyo.
He tried to make contact with Japanese right-wing associations to pursue his political interests, but he soon learned that none of them spoke English and his friends dissuaded him from getting involved, given he would be putting his job and career in severe jeopardy.
After his two-year internship ended, he returned to America and found a position with a startup firm that was attempting to fabricate robots for domestic use. This discipline, he learned, was the wave of the future, just as Microsoft had been in its day the first stages of an electronic communication revolution.
After three years of working side by side with some of the brilliant minds of his generation, he acquired a wide knowledge of how autonomous robots could be adapted to military use.
Because of his knowledge of commercial robotics, he was put in charge of a cadre of physicists who were building robots to fight future wars. He first had to receive a top security clearance rating. As soon as the CIA learned of his dismissal from a previous university because of his right-wing activities, they were reluctant to give him the clearance he needed to work on a top-secret government project. His employers were surprised and a little disappointed because they admired the quality of his work.
The CEO of the firm had a lot of influence in Washington and, after some deliberations, it was decided that Feodor would be allowed to work with the other physicists on the robot program. Out of precaution, however, he would not be given the clearance needed to have access to vitally important information.
Feodor was at first infuriated, but then he acquiesced. Without this agreement, he would be reassigned to more routine jobs having to do with robots for domestic consumption. He was fascinated by the potential of A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) and wanted to pursue his research at all costs.
As a right-wing militant, he was also perplexed and very angry at the Biden regime for not negotiating a truce in the Ukraine war. Even the Israelis had volunteered to be an intermediary.
At 38 years of age, he was a little past his creative prime as a physicist. Ideas, nonetheless, kept flowing through his head. He was very eager to find some way to implement his theories. They would offer a novel means of putting an end to deadly military conflicts without requiring the slaughter of thousands of combatants. War would be based on mind control and much less on the destruction of enemy forces. Highly intelligent robots (the A. I. component) would also come into play but those could be developed in due time.
To begin with, he understood the issue of territorial legitimacy and fratricide that fueled the Ukrainian conflict. It seemed almost barbaric and useless to have Slavs murdering Slavs for the sake of a corrupt regime that was promoting the war to satisfy its warmongering supporters both internally and abroad, especially in the United States where Congress was providing billions of dollars of military aid without auditing expenditures by the Ukrainian oligarchs and generals. As long as the war went on, the militarists and defense industry would prosper.
“As long as it takes,” Biden and his minions were saying. The stated goal was to overthrow Putin and make a deal with his successor to bring the Ukraine war to an end. Little did the current administration realize that the next American president might well decide to negotiate a truce and not try to oust Putin. Or, what was even more probable, Putin’s successor would be chosen among the far-right military leaders who would be reluctant to negotiate an agreement in NATO’s favor.
The United States was being drained of its military resources by continuing to fund Lezensky’s quasi-corrupt regime, including pension subsidies for government employees! There was even talk of rebuilding devastated cities in a post-war era at American expense. Virtually no media outlet was questioning the wisdom of these commitments and their long-term effects on our military preparedness. It would be impossible for America to fight simultaneously an armed conflict in the Far East and in Ukraine. Biden had every assurance that our country would bend to his will, no matter how expensive and impractical his strategies might be.
In the meantime Feodor had fallen in love with an American scholar, Davrita Heinrich, whose father was German, and who was spending her graduate years in Moscow as a German instructor at a private school under Russian supervision. She was in her own right a very gifted mathematician but had chosen to major in Germanic studies. Her ambition was to teach mathematics and German at an American college upon returning home. Adding a specialty in Russian would also be advantageous when looking for a job in America.
They had decided to move in together after her return from Russia. In those days, prior to Ukraine, Russia and America were not at loggerheads, but there was still an undercurrent of tension between the two nuclear powers. Davrita would prove to be very useful later in negotiating with the Russian authorities. Feodor and she exchanged frequent text messages and occasional phone calls. Love at a distance, however, was hard to maintain in its full intensity.
Feodor had been plagued for months on end by what seemed to be absurd ideas about the capabilities of technology. His research had given him an insight into a means of neutralizing combatants by temporary neurological paralysis. By refurbishing existing drones that would be able to emit non-lethal, neural rays, Feodor saw a way to lessen if not eliminate the horrible carnage of warfare that both Ukraine and Russia were now waging. As a white advocate, it was deplorable to witness healthy white soldiers slaughter each other by the tens of thousands. Europe had to be stabilized; it was the cradle of democracy and the touchstone of world governance through colonialism.
He imagined a drone that would be equipped with lasers that would emit “neural” or neurological impulses designed to send soldiers into a temporary paralytic state without inflicting any serious long-term physical harm.
After the so-called drone attack (according to Feodor’s imaginary war simulation), invading Russian soldiers could then sweep into the city and place all victims in trucks or other conveyances for transportation to a triage center near the front line. There they could be treated and observed until partial recovery occurred. Eventually, soldiers who had recovered could be used as laborers behind the lines and even at certain key locations in Russia, as needed.
Since the prisoners would speak Russian, it would be a very simple transition from being a combatant to working in a labor camp or goulag in Russia. Rehabilitation centers would be available to offer Russian citizenship to Ukrainian soldiers who would swear allegiance to their cultural neighbor and abjure any loyalty to Ukraine.
In addition, Zelensky and his advisors would be captured and imprisoned, unless they had already fled the country, to be replaced by a pro-Russian Ukrainian who would not oppose letting the eastern sector of the country be placed under Russian control. The western sector would be reconstituted and declared an autonomous country. The pro-Russian president (appointed not elected) would give Russia access to military bases and agricultural resources in the area; a non-aggression treaty would be signed by the two nations.
Ukrainian would continue to be used as a commercial and popular language but Russian would be, as before when Ukraine was a Soviet Republic, the official diplomatic and educational language of the two countries.
The problem was, of course, how could these specialized weapons be fabricated and deployed on the battlefield? The logistics of such an undertaking seemed daunting, if not impossible to implement.
During an academic colloquium in Zürich, Feodor had encountered a young and very talented British physicist from Stanford University, Stanley Rudrick, who would later work out a plan with Feodor to re-equip Russia’s air force with these “paralyzing” ray guns. All he needed was a manufacturing plant in a secure location and a large amount of money to fund his project. Feodor could work with him to perfect the temporary paralysis technique.
It was interesting to note that Stanley’s parents, who had long been members of the British communist party, exposed him early in life to their ideals of social justice. Capitalism was very efficient at creating wealth, they repeated, but it did very little to offset the unequal distribution of this wealth and social health services. The merciless competition for status and goods that capitalism inspired separated the haves and have-nots in society. As a result, Stanley saw nothing wrong with helping a fellow socialist or communist country.
Unfortunately, it would be very dangerous to transfer any technology developed in a top secret American laboratory to the manufacturing site where Russian drones would be fabricated. This would require setting up a highly sophisticated plant in a remote but very secure site in Russia. If their true aims were leaked to enemy intelligence in America or other Allied nations, it would be very difficult to insure the security of the installation.
Both physicists agreed that it was unthinkable for Russia and America to engage in a nuclear conflict of any sort. It would be the end of their respective countries and even world civilization itself.
Nonetheless, to succeed in their secretive military operations, they would have to convince the Russians that what they had developed would be feasible. To do that, they would have to seek approval from the highest levels of the Kremlin.
Feodor had envisioned an initial meeting with scientists and low-level military possibly in Russia or elsewhere (arranged through the Russian embassy). If accepted, they could then present their ideas to the Minister of Defense and, of course, to Putin himself. For this to succeed, the highest level of secrecy would be required.
It did seem improbable if not impossible. If the CIA, NSA, or another intelligence service in America got wind of what they were planning, it would mean being arrested and tried for treason in wartime.
After hours of discussing various strategies to resolve the issue, Stanley and Feodor decided to approach a Russian student who was preparing a doctorate in physics at Cal Tech. At present, he was doing an internship in the Washington area at a high-tech enterprise. He spoke English very well and seemed to be pro-Putin; in addition, he leaned toward negotiating a truce rather than continuing the war in Ukraine.
His uncle worked for the Russian embassy in Washington and could possibly be a conduit to the inner circles of Russian intelligence in America. It would be risky but that was their only chance to stop the destructive war in Ukraine.
Vladimir, the Russian scientist, seemed at first a little shocked but interested in what Stanley had proposed. All Russian scientists knew that the CIA would be following their every move as long as they resided in America. Nevertheless, Vladimir didn’t say no, but he asked for more time to think things over. Stanley concurred but emphasized that the war was devastating Ukraine and the death toll of both armies was unacceptably high. Vladimir had a cousin who was a major in the Russian army and was serving in Ukraine. He nodded in agreement but reaffirmed that his wife and children were also at stake in his decision.
Feodor and Stanley began to work non-stop on the project at hand. Late in the evening when most workers had left for the day, they would run experiments with rodents to determine if the paralysis would be effective and not lethal. At first, the ray gun effect had been too powerful and the animals did not survive the initial irradiation. They had to change the voltage of the emission to find the level that mammals would tolerate from the ray gun blast. Of course, there was always the problem of how human beings would react to the shock. Would it be a temporary paralysis or a shutdown of the organism, resulting in death?
The most scientific way would be to experiment on human beings to test the efficacy of their weapon. In a manner reminiscent of the medical experiments of the Nazi concentration camps (cf. Josef Mengele), Feodor and Stanley were able to bribe city employees to round up street people with the promise of better lodgings and submit them to testing…which, if successful, would prove to be only disabling but not lethal. They were both aware that if any of the subjects should die, they could both be arrested and condemned to life imprisonment.
This brought back memories of the syphilis tests performed on poor blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama, from the nineteen thirties until 1972. A great deal was learned about the disease, yet no one was prosecuted for crimes against humanity. After all, the scientists were working for the government (National Health Association) and did not initiate any trials on a personal basis. In the long run, as cruel as it might seem, a great deal was learned about this infectious disease that had killed many thousands of victims over the years.
After several weeks of preparation, the first experimental group of street people was rounded up by Stanley’s friends and brought to an abandoned warehouse near the laboratory.
There were ten participants, carefully chosen for their relatively good health and cooperative spirit. Moreover, none of them were taking drugs at the moment. They had all been given a small bribe to entice them to participate. Stanley had sought and gained the cooperation of a local charitable organization to house them for a week after the experiments so they could be examined for negative aftereffects.
Vladimir got in touch via telephone and informed his co-conspirators that his uncle who worked at the Russian embassy had warned him not to mention this undertaking to anyone outside his circle of colleagues. It would be much too dangerous to discuss in a public venue. Vladimir’s wife was nervous about this commitment but agreed not to oppose his cooperation. She had several relatives who were involved in the war and it was disastrous for everyone.
Vladimir said he couldn’t promise any immediate contact with Russian authorities but he would probably hear something within a few weeks. Vladimir insisted that they should communicate only by phone or by secret meeting in the evening through trusted proxies. Feodor and Stanley were a little disappointed but agreed to be patient.
If the beta experiments didn’t go well, there would be no subsequent tests and the entire deal would be cancelled. They were both concerned about the initial tests. So many things could go wrong.
Anticipating the worse, Feodor had managed to prepare, with the help of specialists whom he knew in health sciences, an antidote to the irradiation by the neural lasers. This would be the cherry on the cake–so to speak. If for any reason Russian military personnel were subjected to a ray gun attack, there would be an immediate counter drug that could be applied on site by injection. Unfortunately, he had not had enough time to prepare a sufficient quantity to cover those subjects he was experimenting on today.
Feodor stood beside the laser guns and viewed his “patients” sitting in a broad circle. Stanley and a medical assistant were standing to one side, out of range. “Well, it’s now or never,” Feodor thought as he activated the laser guns. After ten seconds, the emission was terminated. As expected, the subjects rose from their chairs, shivered violently and fell to the ground. There was a brief thrashing of limbs and moans were emitted to indicate severe discomfort. Shortly thereafter, the subjects grew calm and lay stretched out on the floor, breathing deeply.
All three organizers rushed to the sides of the paralyzed victims. The medical assistant checked for vital signs and monitored their progress for the next ten or fifteen minutes. Overall, none of the paralyzed subjects showed any signs of dangerous side effects. They were not able to communicate, but they seemed aware of what was happening around them.
It was decided to let them lie in place for another two or three hours; if there were no problems, they would be transported to the charity barracks for safe keeping and observation. Feodor would keep detailed records of their recovery time and reactions. The entire experiment had been filmed on his smart phone. This would prove useful later if the Russians doubted the authenticity of their claims.
During the transportation to the barracks, a few of the subjects tried to speak but nothing coherent was said, just grunts and unintelligible nonsense. In their research Feodor and Stanley had estimated approximately 6 and one-half hours for full recovery of cognitive function. Thereafter, the irradiated subjects would be sluggish and unable to lead a normal life for approximately one week. These statistics needed to be verified for a scientific presentation to the Russians.
Both Stanley and Feodor realized that, without the consent and funding of the Russian military, they could not proceed any further on their end. For two weeks, they heard nothing from Vladimir about the Russian embassy contact. The experimental subjects had been thoroughly tested and released back onto the streets. They were given an additional bribe to encourage them not to discuss the experimentation with their fellow street acquaintances.
The results seemed very promising and the two physicists were eager to proceed with their project. They continued to experiment with the irradiation effect and the method of delivery, but, without funds, there was just so much that could be done. Feodor and Stanley began to doubt whether their ideas and project would ever be realized.
One evening, feeling frustrated and ignored, Feodor got in touch with Vladimir at home although he knew this was something he should not be doing for security reasons. Vladimir immediately told him not to say anything specific. He would call Feodor tomorrow at the laboratory which would probably be less compromising. Feodor hung up, feeling very uneasy and fearing bad news from the Russians.
It also dawned on him that they were entering a dark and indeterminate zone of international conspiracy. Neither he nor Stanley was versed in spy tactics; they were getting in over their heads.
The nightly news showed very graphic scenes of Russian missiles imploding downtown buildings in a Ukrainian city. There were a number of bodies lying in pools of blood. “This has got to stop,” Feodor muttered, shocked by the loss of civilian life.
At around ten o’clock the next day, Vladimir called Feodor at the lab. For additional security, in case a colleague might be listening, Vladimir spoke Russian which was almost a second language for Feodor. He had also activated a scrambling device. Learning these precautions, Vladimir felt much more at ease with their conversation.
Vladimir’s uncle at the Russian embassy had broached the subject with his military superior who was initially very suspicious. He demanded a thorough identity investigation of the two physicists before anything else could be done. Vladimir had not yet received any verification, positive or negative, of this inquiry. He was reluctant to contact his uncle because American intelligence agents were constantly monitoring communications to and from the embassy.
The Russians were interested, Vladimir learned, but needed a lot more information. His uncle suggested they meet informally and in secret with a military attaché and a Russian physicist who was teaching at a nearby university as a preliminary stage of approval. Feodor replied that this could be arranged. Obviously, he would need information about what sort of documentation was needed and meeting site particulars. Vladimir said he would get in touch as soon as he knew more.
After the telephone conversation, Feodor felt a sense of unease, if not dread. They were now passengers on an uncharted trip to an undisclosed destination.
He got in touch immediately with Stanley and they said very little, only where they would personally meet to discuss the issue in greater detail. The telephone was not a secure means of communication at this time. For the rest of the day, he immersed himself in his research to improve the laser technique.
Stanley looked disturbed and even a little skeptical the next day. He had heard about Russian bureaucracy and its infinite red tape. He was honest with Feodor that he wasn’t able to wait indefinitely for an answer. There were other commitments; his job and research had to be his top priorities. He had a family to support.
Feodor was sympathetic but reminded Stanley that the die had been cast. As soon as Vladimir got in touch with his uncle, they were involved in an international project with dangerous outcomes. What they needed to concentrate on was the most efficient way to finish their research and begin fabrication of the laser weapons in a Russian facility. They would soon, he hoped, be meeting with the attaché and the local physicist. Once they had passed that inspection, a plan of action could be drawn up with funding requirements and other essential needs.
Stanley mumbled a few words of encouragement but Feodor had the impression he wasn’t very optimistic about their chances. They both agreed that the situation in Ukraine would soon shift into a more extensive conflict whenever the Americans provided the Ukrainian forces with high-tech weaponry and top-of-the-line aircraft.
To a certain degree, time was of the essence. Thousands more would be sacrificed if the fighting were prolonged excessively. Biden would stop at nothing to make sure the war was taken into Russian territory and Putin was ousted from power. It was insanity of the worst sort.
Later in the week, Vladimir called Feodor at the laboratory and said that a meeting was arranged with the Russian attaché and Leon Stranovitch, the local university physicist. They would meet in a downtown park in the early evening. From there, they would be taken by car to a safe location where a lengthy discussion could be held with several members of the Russian embassy.
Feodor was almost ecstatic when he ended the call. Finally, they were making progress. He called Stanley on his cell phone and arranged a brief get-together to make preparations for the meeting. Stanley seemed more responsive as he recognized that they had reached a point of no return.
He mentioned that a stranger had been following him casually throughout the day. He was concerned about whether the man was American or Russian. Feodor answered that it was most likely Russian, but they needed to be extra cautious in their actions.
Continued next week.
Tags: fiction, jonathan sawyer, sci-fi, ukraine