The Danube Connection
The wild beasts of the desert
shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island,
and the demon shall cry to his fellow;
Lilith also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
- Isaiah 34:14,
A prophecy concerning Edom
They drift down the hall together;
He smiles in her lifted eyes.
Like waves of that mighty river,
The strains of the “Danube” rise.
They float on its rhythmic measure,
Like leaves on a summer-stream;
And here, in this scene of pleasure,
I bury my sweet, dead dream.
Through the cloud of her dusky tresses,
Like a star, shines out her face;
And the form his strong arm presses
Is sylph-like in its grace.
As a leaf on the bounding river
Is lost in the seething sea,
I know that forever and ever
My dream is lost to me.
And still the viols are playing
That grand old wordless rhyme;
And still those two are swaying
In perfect tune and time.
If the great bassoons that mutter,
If the clarinets that blow,
Were given a voice to utter
The secret things they know,
Would the lists of the slain who slumber
On the Danube’s battle-plains
The unknown hosts outnumber
Who die, ‘neath the "Danube’s" strains?
Those fall where cannons rattle,
‘Mid the rain of shot and shell;
But these, in a fiercer battle,
Find death in the music’s swell.
With the river’s roar of passion
Is blended the dying groan;
But here, in the halls of fashion,
Hearts break, and make no moan.
And the music, swelling and sweeping,
Like the river, knows it all;
But none are counting or keeping
The lists of those who fall.
- The Beautiful Blue Danube
The Danube River flows from its source in the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, Germany to the Black Sea. As if that isn’t ominous enough, it passes through some of the historically most war-torn and unstable regions, touching or flowing through ten countries and four capital cities: Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine. Its drainage basin extends into nine more countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania.
Most recently Danube was on the news on September 17, 2015 as elements from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army rolled over the river on a Hungarian pontoon bridge, a show of force and cohesion in defiance of the Russian military intervention in the ongoing conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Frankly, you might be glad it’s no longer your job to care about these things. Not too long ago it was just that. Maybe it was your job to figure out what was really going on, sorting through raw intelligence to put together a full picture. Maybe you were a people person, as in the kind of person who manipulates and turns people to the cause of your country. You could’ve been any of the various types of field operatives watching, shooting, blowing up, burglarizing, cracking, punching and kicking targets. Or the people supporting operations like that, providing papers, erasing tracks, handling the money, building things or driving them.
Either way, you used to serve your country in the shadows, doing things
- or stopping things - that couldn’t be shown in daylight or on the evening news. For your mentor’s generation it was the Cold War, for you it was the War on Terror but now you’re out.
Why did you stop? Maybe you got tired, or maybe you got burned, or maybe you just got out while you could.
But you didn’t go into the daylight. Not just yet. You stayed in the shadows, in Europe’s deniable underground networks of crime and conflict, but you’ve been doing it on your own terms. You’ve done a few ops, and you’ve asked fewer questions. You’ve worked for money in secret accounts, and for people you don’t know.
The things that you do, you are one of the most talented people out there doing them, and being a top spook pays well. You can afford to be selective with the jobs you take and steer clear from some of the more immoral assholes if you so wish. Maybe you’ll do a few more jobs to ensure a comfortable retirement.
Which takes you to…
Present Day and a nice dacha overlooking Kalamita Bay and the city of Sevastopol in the recently annexed Crimea. You are sitting in a garden looking out at the waves and the nuclear submarines and the warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, enjoying a beverage of your choice served by the bikini clad girlfriend of your host. Your host, Donald Caroll is barbecuing burgers and hot dogs like the American he is. Caroll is everyone’s man in Crimea, born in the US with an unmistakable accent, but he has a Russian passport.
Also present are a couple of other spooks you’ve probably met and worked with before. Apparently Caroll has put together a job for you.