Updated 15/07/2013 - formatting, spelling, minor content additions
The Ryan Doctrine
A Nikita/Tom Clancy (Books)/Tom Clancy (Ubisoft Games) Crossover Story
A Bad Day in the West Wing
"Access to secret intelligence is one of the more potent aphrodisiacs of power."
John 'Jack' Patrick Ryan Sr., 43rd President of the United States, Commander in Chief of the United States military and – supposedly – the most powerful man in the world, was decidedly not having a good day.
In fact, this particular day was rapidly reaching his list of top five worst days ever, which considering the circumstances of his taking the Oval Office originally, (specifically, the assassination of the entire federal government by a kamikaze 747 pilot crashing into the Capitol) and the various scrapes and firefights he had seen in his career, that was saying something important.
Time to retire, perhaps.
The day had started reasonably enough; the daily security brief from Dr Benjamin Goodley, the National Security Advisor had contained nothing particularly crisis-worthy or threatening. Despite the apparently interminable War on Terror started by Kealty dragging on in Afghanistan, the usual enemies of the United States were all quiet. The world was at peace – mostly – and that was a condition that Jack Ryan could live with.
However, the unscheduled meeting with Director Kendrick and a junior analyst named Ryan Fletcher had shot that feeling all to hell. Fletcher reminded Jack of himself, and not just in the name: young, intelligent, somewhat brash, trying to make a name for himself in the extremely murky world of espionage and analysis. That apparent similarity was one of several reasons he had taken this whole thing seriously.
"If we weren't in the Oval Office, I'd swear that I was being punked." Jack's voice was flat and tired; for all that it was only eleven in the morning. The briefing that had just been delivered had been like a body blow. A rogue agency of sociopathic assassins was about to enact a plot to hold the President of the United States to ransom? Yes, he'd definitely had better days.
Definitely time to retire.
"I assure you Mr President, this is not a joke." Kendrick, the new CIA director, was a rather humourless guy, so that was a given. Jack missed his old colleague Ed Foley, who had been DCI during his first term, and his wife Mary Pat, who at least was still working at the CIA as Director of Clandestine Services.
"Do you have any proof?"
"Fletcher's been working with a team of independent covert operatives who've been monitoring this situation for quite some time now." Well now, isn't that interesting.
"Do you trust these people?"
"With my life, sir." Hmm, rather curious intonation on that.
"So I'm under threat from something this government – about five administrations ago – created through I wasn't told about it." Jack snorted. "I suppose I can't blame Kealty for this one too."
Fletcher interrupted. "Actually two threats, sir"
Jack looked at the widely-touted 'rising star' of the CIA's analysis department. Yes, definite resemblance there. Sitting forward on his chair, politely eager to please, so damn like me when I started out. No reason to take it easy on him though.
"They're also in possession of a satellite weapon from the SDI programme," Fletcher explained.
Jack's mind kicked into overdrive, the same mind that had netted him millions on the stock market before and after government service and had earned him a tenure as a highly respected professor at the Annapolis Naval Academy. The one that had caused him to shoot up the ranks of the CIA's Russia Desk like a helium balloon, and had eventually landed him the position of Deputy Director of Intelligence, and after that the coveted National Security Advisor's position, now occupied by Ben Goodley.
On the sofa opposite, Fletcher watched the President stare off into the distance for a few seconds. This was the first time he had met President Ryan, and he was not disappointed. The man was the legend of the American intelligence community; a man who, despite having no real field training had pulled off a long list of the greatest intelligence coups of the Cold War, works of espionage genius so classified and shrouded in deliberate misdirection that no one except those involved truly knew what had happened.
However, a few rumours persisted around the water cooler.
Rumours that Ryan had been intimately involved in the theft of the Russian super-submarine, the Red October.
That he had invented the 'canary trap,' a near-fool proof counter-espionage technique now regularly employed by Langley.
That he had personally executed the extraction of Agent CARDINAL, a key high-level Soviet defector from the Kremlin itself – an extraction that also caused the defection of the then-reigning head of the KGB itself to America as well.
That he was again personally involved, this time in the rescue of an Army black-ops team from Columbia – that one had come out in the press a few years before.
That he had broken into the Pentagon in order to use the USA-Russia secure 'hotline' phone line to prevent all-out nuclear war with Russia after the Denver disaster, while incidentally bringing down President Fowler's administration pretty much by accident at the same time.
Those were just the high points of his classified career: publically, Jack Ryan Sr. had been knighted for saving the life of the Prince of Wales from Irish terrorists in London, and had subsequently successfully defended his family when those same terrorists came after him in revenge.
He had been instrumental in the victory during the short war against Japan as National Security Advisor.
As President he had faced a nationwide biological terror attack inside continental United States borders, militarily defeated the Iran-Iraq hybrid state called the UIR, and the People's Republic of China too a few years later; and indirectly, through those defeats caused revolutions in all of those countries that created governments friendly to the United States, thus removing some of the USA's greatest threats from the world.
In the course of defeating China, he had also initiated the unprecedented step of inducting Russia into the NATO alliance, the country that NATO was oriented to defend against.
At home in the States, he had also been highly successful, although he freely admitted that was due to the political acumen of his Chief of Staff, Arnie Van Damme – a career Washington insider who had steered the often too-honest and too-principled Ryan around many a PR pitfall. Many of his woes domestically had been caused by the machinations of one Edward Kealty, who at the time of Jack Ryan's accession to the Presidency that bloody day was the very recently ex-Vice President, who had claimed that he had not, in fact, officially resigned by that point and should therefore be President instead of Ryan.
Fortunately, Kealty's challenge to his legitimacy as POTUS had been defeated by the former VP managing to out-manoeuvre himself – in the legal suit designed to topple the fledgling Ryan Presidency in the midst of the Ebola crisis, Kealty had accidentally referred to Ryan as the President, thereby nullifying his own claim – an incredibly rookie error that the Attorney General had had great pleasure in relaying to the stunned ex-VP.
However, following the murder of Jack's own VP and close friend Robbie Jackson during that his bid for election as the first black President by a white supremacist, Kealty had somehow managed to win the election; since Jackson had been running a good twenty points ahead in the polls, this had essentially been by dint of being the only noticeable candidate left, as all the other candidates had been pretty much in single figures.
Kealty's term in office had not been good: four years of near-constant bureaucratic infighting, bad domestic policy and repeated diplomatic insults to close alliance partners. In fact, it had been so bad that Ryan Sr. had come out of retirement to run for the Office of the President again, purely out of righteous indignation at Kealty's unrelenting incompetence.
The election that resulted had been absolutely devastating for the incumbent president. Ryan, the straight-talking, down-to-earth American hero ex-Marine, self-made millionaire, CIA agent and son of a police officer – a successful and interesting 'everyday man' to most of the population – had demolished Kealty in debate after debate, had won damn near every single state with clear majorities, and exposed both the sitting President and all his top advisors for the self-centred, small-minded, profiteering, incompetent idiots they were for the world to see.
Six months of campaigning later, Ryan was back in office, with a clear mandate, a massive majority in both houses, and an approval rating to rival FDR or JFK's.
Then he set about putting America back together again, the way he'd left it four years before, with well-thought out and efficient domestic policies on tax, the environment and other hot button issues, while maintaining his extremely effective foreign policy, referred to by the Washington press corps as 'The Ryan Doctrine.'
The Doctrine had come into being at the end of the Ebola crisis, and stated that the U.S. would no longer tolerate attacks on "our territory, our possessions, or our citizens," and added that whoever ordered such an attack will be held accountable by the United States. This had been promptly demonstrated as on Ryan's order, on live TV during a Presidential address being watched all over the world, laser-guided bombs were dropped on the Tehran home of Mahmoud Haji Daryaei, the dictator of the 'United Islamic Republic,' a bastard combination of Iraq and Iran – and the man directly responsible for unleashing a horrific biological attack on the United States.
Needless to say, despite initial criticism from various parts, the world had gotten the point – that attacking the United States was a good way to die prematurely.
In the new age of non-state terrorist groups and rogue nations, the Ryan Doctrine had been an effective tool in limiting aggression against United States interests, citizens and even their allies; the principle of "walk softly, talk softly, but carry a big stick," was an effective one. The world knew perfectly well what 'the stick' would be if they attacked the USA now; if you're the world superpower, you might as well use it.
Of course, Kealty had thrown it out the window, and the result had been as disastrous as the rest of his presidency. Lengthy wars were still ongoing in Afghanistan and Iraq, started by Kealty's overreaction to a small extremist groups' success in attacking New York.
Fletcher was keenly aware that he was sitting opposite someone who he and many others held to be one of the greatest world leaders in recent history, who had reversed America's post-Cold War domestic decline, and abroad had made it into a nation that was either your best friend … or your worst enemy.
For about ten seconds, Kendrick and Fletcher watched the President think through what he had been told. Then he blinked, and refocused on them.
"It's a bluff. Misdirection."
"What is, sir?"
"This guy Percy. He's a manipulator, a Machiavelli type?"
Fletcher was starting to catch on, "Yes sir, very definitely. In fact, it's pretty much his entire MO. You think the SDI satellite is a feint?"
Ryan grinned. This was why he'd stayed in the CIA so long – the thrill of the intellectual chase, playing Sherlock Holmes in a world of international intrigue, chasing down clues and putting together facts to get to the truth. He had been very good at it; one of the very best, and now it seemed Fletcher was taking on that role, as Ben Goodley had before him.
"I don't think it is. I know it is."
"Sir?" Fletcher was surprised; how could the President be so certain, just seconds after finding out about all this?
"When the 'Star Wars' programme was going on, it became blindingly obvious that the whole laser intercept concept was, if not necessarily flawed, then beyond our present capabilities, and most certainly beyond the Russians. Therefore, the Agency developed an ambitious plan to use the SDI programme as a distraction, forcing the Russians to spend ludicrous amounts of resources and labour on an unattainable technology while we just pretended to. The false budget for the programme was real enough; it just got diverted into black ops accounts after it went 'through' the SDI's ones, so to speak. We even put a satellite in orbit - again, real enough, but just to further the deception. I know this, because it was my idea originally, although someone else implemented it. My name was probably never even in the file, which is a good thing. Percy would never have tried to use this to bluff me if he knew I was even remotely associated with it, which is good for us, because now we're onto him."
The President refocused on Fletcher. "Who exactly are these 'independent' covert operatives?"
"Uh..." Fletcher was caught. He didn't want to reveal that he was working with unauthorised rogue agents, however noble their intentions. Kendrick knew, but he owed Nikita his life.
"I only ask," the POTUS continued, "because I created most of the black ops units on our frontlines myself, either when I was at the CIA or during my first term. And since those that still exist all still report to me, I'm very curious as to whom, exactly, you are working with."
Fletcher glanced at Kendrick, who inclined his head slightly, indicating to continue. "A team of people opposed to Division's activities; all former Division or Oversight operatives."
"Ah. Any double agents, insiders?"
"Not any more, sir. One did manage to infiltrate Division undercover, but was blown and escaped about a year ago."
"Okay. What's the breakdown?"
Fletcher mentally braced himself. Time to find out if the President was as good a guy as he thought.
"The team is five operatives, organised tactically speaking into two pairs and a tech expert. Team leader is Nikita Mears, a Division assassin, and her second is Michael Weston, a former Naval Intelligence field officer turned Division instructor and agent, who was Nikita's mentor and trainer when she was recruited, and acted as Percy's second in command for years. The second pair consists of Alexandra Udinov –
"Udinov? The Russian heiress whose been all over the news? She's an American-trained black-ops assassin?"
"Yes, that one sir - goes by Alex, she received training from Nikita before infiltrating Division as a recruit. Division killed her family on Sergei Semak's orders when she was about fourteen."
"And Semak was killed a few weeks ago. Did this 'Alex' have any part of that?"
"No sir, but not for lack of trying."
"Hmm. Go on."
"Yes sir. Paired with Alex is Sean Pierce, son of the late Senator Pierce, a Navy SEAL and very recently former member of DEVGRU. The tech-ops guy is Seymour Birkoff, who used to be Division's top hacker. He went into hiding about a year ago when there was that change of management at Division I mentioned, but came back to help Nikita and Michael. All three were good friends during their times there."
"How good are they?"
"Very good, Mr President. Nikita started operating against Division just over three years ago. She's stayed one step ahead of them until now despite essentially being a one- or two-person band, with limited resources but very good intel from either Alex, on the inside, or one of those black boxes. Michael joined up a year ago, then Birkoff a few months later. Alex took some time to deal with ... err, those family issues which you probably saw covered in part on the news, and Sean came on board a few months ago after his mother was murdered on Division's orders."
Ryan's eyebrow rose. "They killed Senator Pierce?"
"Yes sir. She was a member of the Oversight Committee, and was attempting to reign in Division." Fletcher knew he was stretching the truth about Sean's mother, but he didn't want to blacken her reputation just yet.
"Hmm. Okay. This … Nikita Mears runs point on this. She knows Division best, so there isn't anyone else to choose really. However, five people, however skilled, aren't going to be enough for this. I'll call in some of my ... best people."
"Nikita might not like that, sir. She's been on the run for years, and was, well, a juvie criminal and an addict, living on the streets before Division trained her to be an assassin. She doesn't trust easily."
"Noted. I wouldn't have expected anything else in that line of work. Regardless, that's the deal. I don't feel comfortable sending five people, whose capabilities I don't have any real knowledge of to eliminate one of the greatest threats to both our country and the integrity of this Office decades. I will not roll over for this idiot who thinks he can blackmail me. I'll pull in some specialised units, and they'll back up Nikita's team, who will be acting as the spearhead. You'll have to liaise, so get her on the phone and start the ball rolling."
With this, the President stood and walked to the desk, pressing the intercom. "Andrea? Yeah, we're done in here. I'm shifting to the Situation Room to make some secure calls. Let the Watch Officer know."
He turned back to Fletcher. "How long have we got before Percy starts his … show and tell?"
"Completely unknown, sir. He doesn't know we know the truth about the satellite, so the first warning we'll get is when it manoeuvres in orbit. After that, barely a few minutes, an hour at most."
"Okay, so we'll have to move fast. Make sure Nikita is up to speed on that development. I'll get you some backup to help infiltrate Division, and we can end Percy's menace once and for all. Get to it, gentlemen."