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This is the introduction to Juggernaut, a political adventure that pits India, China, and the US against one anotherthe

prize: economic and military domination of the Indian Ocean.

SHANGHAI, 2018
The corrosion encrusted tugboat, showing its age, creaked, strained, and edged the equally rusting Panamanian-registered freighter Madras Star to the dock near the Shanghai Iron and Steel Plant Number One. The harbor pilot left the bridge and headed down the gangplank towards his next assignment in the busy port. Dockhands scurried to secure the ship and then watched as cranes crawled down the tracks and were set into position to begin the unloading. Unlike most of the highly automated sections of the waterfront, the dock at the steel plant was old, but still reliable and only slightly more expensive to use than its more modern counterparts. Loading machine operators checked written orders and used closed circuit phones to communicate with dock bosses. Everything was in order to begin the offload. The bills of lading indicated that there were 247 tons of iron scraps for melting and reprocessing into sheet metal for Chinas burgeoning industrial plants struggling to meet the increasing worldwide demand for consumer products. Three containers would wind up in three different industrial complexes. One, a green container, had no taxable items, so it could leave immediately after a cursory inspection by overworked customs officials. Two aging cranes with metal claws dipped into the fore and aft holds and lifted out jagged iron and steel scraps. Three containers loaded on the ships deck just forward of the bridge were hoisted into position and placed on waiting tractor-trailers. One vehicle moved to the gate where the guard checked the manifest. Duty Free-Spare Engine Parts for the Volkswagen Assembly Plant just west of Yichuan Park in Jiading. The bored guard waved the new Panda Motors flatbed truck through the gate and watched it head down to the road leading past the Dachang Airfield. Before reaching the airfield, the truck turned south onto Gongexin Road. Moving well within the speed limits, it made its way to a large industrial lot close to the Peoples Park near Huangpu. Deng Pu Lin Constructionone of the hundreds of new companies in Shanghaileased the unremarkable lot and warehouse set back from the entrance. The container was unloaded and placed amid other similar containers in a corner of the large machine storage area. A driver supervised the unloading of the container, asked for, and received the appropriate signatures from the warehouse supervisor, and he returned the truck to the fleet maintenance yard, before going home for the evening. The nondescript container remained where they unloaded itignored for four days. On the fifth day, a clerk from Deng Pu Lins administration office checked the high-tech security locks on the container. His metal key and electronic keypad codesdelivered the night beforeworked as expected. The clerk tried the opening procedure three times, successfully. Finally, he locked it, returned to his office, and lowered the shade on the middle window. An hour later, an assistant on a delivery truck noted the shades position, but continued with his work.

The first device was now in place. The one for Beijing would be set up in two days. Only four people in the world knew about the similar devices in Yokahama, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, New York, and Philadelphia. The Operation was proceeding as plannedexactly as the Prime Minister predicted it would. Soon, the world would see the emergence of a new economic and military order in Asia. A world guided by India.

CLOUDS
The human eye sees, but the mind interprets and records what the orbs capture. Nature programmed our brains to seek and make sense out of what we perceive as disorder. Ancients looked at the randomness of the night sky and saw animals, gods and other formations that provided reason for humankinds being. The boy who would later become the prime minister of his nation didnt participate in most sportshis legs, weakened in a childhood bicycle accident when he was learning how to ride wouldnt permit it; so his energies turned inward. He spent countless hours toning his upper body and mastering the ability to make order out of the chaos surrounding his life. There was pleasure in staring at the sky. Clouds were an unending tapestry of forms and ideas that he understood. The wispy forms passing in front the moon were no less interesting than the manyclouded skies of the warm Indian days in his native Lucknow. He allowed the images to help him sort through the mysteries of the universe. Little Kalyan Dayal was an excellent student, but spent less time on academic matters than most of his peers. Unlike them, however, he found and continued to seek inspiration and direction from ever-changing heavenly forms. While many youngsters have recurring dreams as children, Kalyan did not often remember the past in his dreams; instead, he saw outlines of the future. If there was a consistent pattern to his visions, it was the outline of his beloved India. Even as a child, he had no doubts about leading his nation into a starring role on the world stage. His physical problems led him to identify with the more downtrodden castes in his socially troubled nation. Dreams of standing before teeming throngs of Indias displaced kept him pushing forward with cloud-inspired plans for his nations place on the world stage. The ascetic and quiet future prime minister was a secretive person. Few souls would learn of the clouds and his dreams for a new and more powerful homeland. Since the second year of elementary school, Sudhir Reddy had been his neighbor, confidant, and closer than a brother. His friend, the only peer who spent time with Kalyan, attended the same schools and usually sat in the same classes. Unlike his more academically inclined friend, Suddy took little interest in politics. As Kalyan Dayal rose through the ranks of the political machine in Delhi, Sudhir rode his coattails to higher positions. The assignments and promotions, he convinced himself were earned, and not doled out as favors to a childhood friend. The two remained close but worked better individually than as a team. Suddy shared his thoughts and supported the PMs vision for a new India. They never discussed the meaning of new. It was enough for to agree that better days were in store for their beloved land.

Kalyan liked to surprise peoplebut resented being surprised by others. The first inkling of what his friend had in motion came to life for Sudhir Reddy at one of their countless lunches in the Prime Ministers residence. Suddy, how can we keep China and the Americans from objecting to our growing influence in the region? Thinking the question another of the What if? games they played since childhood, the answer came quickly. I dont know; threaten them with a nuclear bomb, maybe. Can you think of any other way? Not offhand; but weapons of mass destruction arent easy to deliver. I dont expect that theyd permit us to fly over to the target and drop bombs on their cities. The prime minister was beginning to like the game. Suppose we could do thatI mean deliver the bombs without them knowing until it was too latehow do you think theyd react to the news? None would be overjoyed, but he said moving his head up and down slowly, Theyd try to reach an accord to avoid a war no one can win. Smiling while ramming his right fist into the palm of his left, the prime minister looked admiringly at his friend. Thats why youre in charge of internal security. You see things so clearly. Perplexed by the subject and tone of the conversation, Sudhir Reddy inquired, Where is this discussion headed? Its time you knew, answered his friend. Dayal smiled in that almost detached, vacant manner that unnerved those who didnt know himand many who did. We placed nuclear devices in two cities in China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Only two other people know about them. Who are they? Not just yet, said Dayal, who was the de facto head of Indias military forces. First, how do you feel about the plan? Plan? What plan? Placing bombs isnt a plan; its an invitation for nuclear confrontation. Adopting his professorial attitude, the prime minister raised his finger towards the sky and prepared to lecture a class of intimidated undergraduate students. Ahh, but thats where youre wrong. Youve already voiced the plan. Theyll negotiate. No one will risk losing cities over trade. His friend didnt react. Instead, he asked, Now will you tell me the names of the others who know about the devices? I have to arrange for tighter security. Better security, or more control over them? asked the PM. You know me too well, his Sudhir replied while forcing a smile. That night, under a full moon, the prime minister continued to consult cloud formations and draw new strength from the signs showing him to be on the right course. The same night Sudhir Reddy began to have his first inkling that his best friend may have stepped across a line separating reality from madness. He would worry for India, and for his friend.

GURVAAN NUUR VALLEY, MONGOLIA, 1975 Three riders crossed the valley floor on horsebackthe same small, steady, and durable ponies used by Mongolians since before recorded time. Puffs of dust billowed from the hooves as the ponies moved steadily, but not rushing as if the riders were in a hurry, which they were. The rider in the middle was pregnant and soon to give birth. The village of Bayaan Ovoolittle more than a group of huts dotting the Onon Rivers shore sat with a dusty brightness in the harsh Mongolian midday sun. The three riders showed no wasted motion, as they moved. Jumping from his horse, the man, Subedei, ignored the older woman and helped his wife dismount in front of the Peoples Clinic Number 117. The three of them pushed inside the door and looked for help. Noting the womans condition, a reception clerk pointed down the hall and to the right. It was time. Married at 15, the woman, now a 19-year old Mongolian about to have her first child, had until nine months ago, despaired of giving birth. During the ride to the hospital, she maintained her faith in the ancient gods to protect her during the coming test of her fitness to bear children and to prove herself a good wife. A doctor and a nurse pushed the husband, Subedei Borjigin out of the way and sat the pregnant woman in a wheel chair. They rushed her into the delivery room while she continued to bite down on a piece of tree bark, to avoid screaming in pain. A second doctorthe other half of the on-duty medical staffjoined them in the delivery room, while the nurse told Subedei and the womans mother to wait in the hall. The proceedings in the delivery room didnt take long. Only a few minutes after squirming to make herself comfortable on the delivery tableif that odd-looking device could ever make someone comfortablethe first signs of a newborn were presented. The head, the shoulders, and then the chubby torso slid out as the woman pushed her abdomen down. Its a boy, announced the attending physician. The smile on the attending physicians face changed abruptly as he realized that the newborn wasnt breathing. The two doctors and their nurse went into a well-rehearsed routine to help the little creature take its first breath. They knew that time was running against them. Perhaps in a fully equipped hospitalone with more experienced doctors instead of the interns fulfilling their required state service, and more senior instructorsthey could have done more. The doctors three-year combined experience proved inadequate to the task. The male child never took a breath of life. The woman, wanting a son to carry on her husbands name and bloodline, listened to the physicians struggling to bring her child into the world. The pain of the delivery moved her into a state somewhere between consciousness, clouded dreams, and blackness. She moved back and forth between themunaware which one claimed her at any moment. Calling on an inner strength borne of the hardships demanded by a nomadic life, she fought the urge to scream in pain, or to surrender completely to the darkness.

Ten minutes into the feverish routinehad it really been that long?even the idealistic physicians relinquished hope. The senior doctor turned to tell the woman who seemed to be watching everything with alert eyes. Before he could speak, the woman pushed down with her stomach muscles and another head began to present itself. This time the small medical team came together and performed a flawless delivery. No one was sure if the woman heard the announcement of a second child. If she did, there was no reaction. The new child came into the world quickly and, in so doing, took away much of the pain, but not all of the confusion. The new mother recalled vaguely that she gave birth to a boy, but later remembered only that the pain of the process had given way to the warmth and inexplicable softness of motherhood. This one is healthy and hungry, said the doctor as he handed the active bundle to the mother, who looked into the babys eyes and said nothing between the tears she shed quietly while still confused about the number and order of births. She held the baby as if afraid to let go. The administrative nurse was insistent, We have to complete the procedures, she told the mother with a voice of authority. The new mother didnt protest as another nurse took the child to another table. As she wiped the babys small body and wrapped it warmly, she noted the subdural hematomaa blood clot staining the newborns right hand. It wasnt anything serious, and it would likely fade away in a few months. The nurse had several things to do to complete the record of the birth. What will you call the child? she asked. Jochi, the babys name is Jochi Borjigin. The nurse, new to the province, unsure of customs, and not familiar with all of the languages and accents of the region, duly wrote the name. She recorded the hematoma, length, weight, general health, and medications used, and the child joined several thousand babies born into the world on that day. The nurse had to hurry to see to her other patients. Her shift ended in three hours, but she couldnt go home until her caring hands and voice tended to all patients. The woman, Borte and her husband Subedei would wait for a week before riding back across the valley to rejoin their extended family of nomads. Theirs was a harsh life and any moment to rest before moving was always welcome. The weather would continue to change, and soon, theyd be moving to another place to spend the summer months in the higher reaches of the hills their ancestors climbed since before time was kept. The night before they departed, the village held a feast to welcome the new baby and to ask for the blessings of good pasture. Even though the villagers werent true nomads, they clung to many of the old waysand the old religion. The gathering beseeched the Christian God, some intoned prayers to Allah, and then most turned to the more reliable traditional gods. No one thought it strange to honor a female childs arrival because, among traditional Asian cultures, the Mongolians are almost unique in showing both respect for and granting political equality to women. The celebration began in mid-afternoon and, stoked by food and alcoholic fuel, continued long into the evening. Children played gamesmost involving horses and archery, along with rough and tumble activities that defied description. The adults ate, drank, sang, danced, and then repeated the

process. They were waiting for the big moment when the shaman would explain the childs future to the parents. It was a time-honored custom and the highlight of such gatherings. The ceremony, some believed, dated back to the days when the world began. The shamans art centered on the prediction of an infants futurefor through it, the fate of the tribe was determined. So much depended on it being right that a shamantheir shamanbegan preparing for the event two days before. The shaman, Gendengiin Gambold in his early forties, a young man for such an august task appeared and made ready for the blessing of the new baby. He asked the parents what the baby would be called and Borte answered Jochi. The shaman reached for the child and a small hand fell from the loose blanketing that kept her warm. The blood clot on her hand was clearly visible. He looked at it, then into the infants eyes, and up at the sky. Transfixed by something, he didnt move for almost three minutes. Everyone knew that he was in contact with the gods and these few moments were all-important to the newborn. There was total silence as they awaited his pronouncement. The villagers knew that the revelation would be special, for the shaman had never taken this long to offer the baby to the ancient gods. Finally, raising his head to the sky and raising his voice so that all could hear, he screamed something unintelligible. Then, in a clear voice, he added, Tengri has returned him to us. The Great Khan again rides among us! Gently, he handed the child to its mother, then fell to his knees and wept. The silence continued as some of the older members of the crowd who, knowing of the legend also knelt in silent prayer. The younger ones, out of respect, remained quiet. The following morning the three adults and new baby crossed the valley. Gendengiin Gambold and four village elders provided escort. Once at the encampment, the news of Subedei and Bortes new baby, and the shamans revelation, would spread to nearby villages and camps. The elders of the village called the family together and explained that the government might not be pleased with the news that the shaman brought. Its best if you leave and follow your horses nose elsewhere. Well pray for you and the Great Khan.