Super-spy Gertrude Eisenstein in...

The City of Ul Chalan



A 10-Chapter Adventure in exotic Tibet!

by Richard K. Lyon
About the author


Previously: A full division of the Red Chinese army died as they were advancing on Ul Chalan, a totally unknown section of Tibet. Sent to investigate CIA masterspy Gertrude Eisenstein is caught unprepared for Tibet 's bitter cold and thin air. Reaching the monastery where her contact resides, she collapses...

Chapter Three - Betrayed

GERTRUDE AWOKE, COLD AND STIFF. Her eyes opened and she saw she was resting in bed, but it was a bed as hard and cold as the mountain rock.

She looked up and saw a monk in black robes. Tall he was, lean as a wolf and as hard. His bald shaven head seemed to have been stretched to half again the normal length. His face seemed to be carved from flint, the dark brown eyes were strong and cold.

"How are you?" he asked in English.

This was an old trick. Gertrude gave no sign that she understood, mumbling in Tibetan "Please, Jar Quinan."

"I am Jar Quinan, chief abbot of this monastery," the other replied; "you are a CIA agent. Your password is 'Now is the time of the rising of the moon', my reply: 'The poppy does not grow on the roof of the world'. Now -- you will explain why the agency sent me an agent who can't breath the air instead of my back pay for the last five years?"

"But," Gertrude protested, "they said you were a sleeper, an agent paid to do nothing except await orders."

Jar Quinan snorted angrily: "I've been fighting the Chinese oppressors all my life. Five years ago the department put me on 'inactive status'. I kept on fighting, but they stopped paying me."

It was abruptly clear to Gertrude that winning the trust and cooperation of this man would be a problem. "Why do you fight?" she asked. The monk looked at her in amazement that anyone should ask such a question. "Please explain to me," Gertrude continued. "I'm from far away. I know what has happened, but I have no feel for your people. I don't know why you fight."

Jar Quinan was an angry man. As Gertrude expected, he welcomed this opportunity to explain his rage to an outsider. "Those foreign devils are destroying my nation and my people. The Dalai Lama forbade foreigners and their evil technology from entering Tibet, but the Chinese force the accursed new ways upon our people. They bring medicines to heal the sick, but it is contact with foreigners which brought the diseases in the first place. They disturb the spirits of the earth by building roads, that their tanks may freely range the countryside and crush the people. They open mines and build industry and thus poison the rivers and the land. Perhaps the worst is their program to reduce infant mortality. This is a fearfully cruel fraud, for the earth cannot yield enough food for all these extra mouths."

Gertrude was interested by this catalog of Chinese sins, since every sin was a virtuous act by Western standards while the acts of oppression and murder which angered the West, were ignored by Jar Quinan. The dilemma of saving babies was typical. Tibet was the only Asian nation which was not over-populated and could feed her people well. Decreasing the infant mortality rate would destroy this balance. Gertrude was sure Jar Quinan spoke for his countrymen: they hated the Chinese not because they were cruel oppressors, but because with good intentions they were destroying a culture the Tibetans cherished.

"But don't you want progress?"

"That is the great mistake of the West. You spend your lives seeking material things because you fail to see that true progress is spiritual."

"But we have to worry about money, everything is so expensive"

"Nonsense, we are born without asking or paying and likewise we die. Thus the soul moves through the wheel of existence, money a useless hindrance."

"Dying isn't free, not with modern funeral costs."

"Ah yes, I have read of this great folly. You spend your lives struggling to amass property, then much of the wealth is squandered on an elaborate funeral. You are not content to sleep on soft beds all your lives, you must have silk cushions in your coffins."

"What would you have us do?"

"Does not your religion, like ours, teach that the body is but clay, that the spirit is all?"

"Yes."

"Then why not practice Ja-Tor as we do?" When Gertrude looked blank, he explained. "Ja-Tor is the feeding of the birds. We put the body out for the vultures to eat."

For a moment Gertrude had a horrible vision: the cemetery beside the Long Island Expressway replaced by a park filled with hideous vultures. "I don't think that would work in America because of the climate. What about other spiritual values such as justice? We have a fine court system."

"I have read of your courts. They are so busy hearing endless appeals that justice is denied by delay."

"Surely you would not deny the right to appeal?"

"No, but here in Tibet appeals are nearly always well founded since anyone impeding justice with an ill founded appeal receives double the original penalty."

Gertrude was well pleased with this conversation. Having gotten the abbot to denounce Western materialism, he probably wouldn't complain about his back pay in the near future. She continued the indirect flattery of letting Jar Quinan use her to prove his prejudices. Each time this bitter and embattled man proved the superiority of Tibetan culture, he became more friendly. Soon Gertrude decided to switch to direct flattery.

"I'd like to know what you have been doing lately. Washington has no clear reports, but it's obvious you have done something very important."

Jar Quinan's hard face relaxed into a half smile. "I have to share the credit with Go Don Roy. He's one of the Viet Cong retreads you CIA people sent here to teach us guerrilla warfare. Six months ago we got a large shipment of American rifles, mostly M16."

Though Gertrude showed no surprise at this last statement, her mind raced. Three years ago in line with State Department policy to improve relations with Red China, the CIA had stopped shipping American arms to Tibetan rebels. Since then the CIA had sent the rebels only Russian arms, chiefly AK47s, pretending to be Russians when they did it. Apparently that was a game two could play. Jar Quinan continued:

"Well, we had arms, but how could we strike a really effective blow against the Chinese? Finally we decided to use the trail to Ul Chalan."

"Wait a minute. How can there be a trail to Ul Chalan? I thought it had never been visited."

"No, on the southeast side there is a fine broad trail an army of tanks can climb. The way to Ul Chalan is easy and many have gone there."

"What did they find?"

"That would be hard to say since none of them returned. Of course this was the basis of our plan. The chief of the large nomad tribe was mad with hate for the Chinese since they put his son to Ja-Tor alive. The chief, like many of my people, prefers the traditional weapons but we persuaded him that we must fight fire with fire. His people made a false trail so it appeared they were camped on top of Ul Chalan, then the chief, Go Don, and I led the tribesmen in the ambush and massacre of three Chinese patrols. In each case we left a few survivors to report that we rode off toward Ul Chalan. The Chinese quickly gathered enough men to destroy a nomad tribe and attacked Ul Chalan. When those men didn't return, they sent another force twice as big, then another force twice as big again. Finally they sent a full division of tanks, but these men died on the slope approaching U Chalan."

"After that," exclaimed Gertrude, "the Chinese fired a nuclear missile which was destroyed in midflight, then Chan Si flee died of an apparent heart attack and China was plunged into confusion. Singlehanded you have won a great victory."

"True, but Tibet is still under the Chinese thumb."

"Perhaps I can help. There is power at Ul Chalan, enough to free Tibet, if we can make a bargain with Sothatalos."

Jar Quinan frowned thoughtfully. "Of course, I thought of that. It's a desperate gamble, but what is my life against the saving of this nation. Perhaps I shall go. There appears to be a narrow trail on the southwest side. To my knowledge no one has tried that route so it might work."

"I have satellite photos, can you find this trail?"

Jar Quinan tried to conceal his awe at how well the eye in the sky could see. The trail was easily found both in the optical and radar photos. The Tibetan monk rapidly became enthusiastic for the expedition. "Tell me, these strange shapes within Ul Chalan, what could they be?"

"They must be shadows, since they show only in the optical not the radar."

"But there's nothing to cast shadows. I think your radar is blind to whatever dwells in Ul Chalan."

Gertrude smiled. "These are mysteries we shall solve only by going to Ul Chalan."

The monk looked at Gertrude, his hard face softened slightly. "You're a very brave fool. Even if I were willing to take a woman on such a dangerous mission, you could not come. Your oxygen tank is nearly empty. You have trouble breathing here at 14,000 ft. Ul Chalan is 24,000 ft and you would quickly die."

As Gertrude started to argue, there was a disturbance outside. Jar Quinan rushed off, his robes flapping like the wings of a great black eagle. Gertrude swiftly hid the photos and resumed her pose as a sick old woman. This done, she had a moment's peace to think about her problems. She needed oxygen, transportation to the trail and help climbing it to Ul Chalan. The monk could help her climb but he could not supply oxygen and the best transportation he could offer would be a mule. Gertrude did not fancy the prospect of a hundred mile mule back ride. She was used to this kind of problem. Though the agency always tried to make her carry a short ton of equipment and gadgets, Gertrude was convinced it was safer to trust her wits and on rare occasions her old forty-five.

To her surprise, Gertrude found she had a second set of problems, problems of ethics and conscience. She had spoken to Jar Quinan of freeing Tibet, but it was not present CIA policy to offend the Chinese. Worse, the department was sensitive to criticisms that it helps reactionaries and Jar Quinan was quite literally fighting to keep the dark ages. All this seemed to say that the monk should be used as a means to an end but not helped. Gertrude could not accept this. She liked Jar, he was brave, intelligent and seemed to Gertrude to possess a tragic nobility. There might be hell to pay for it, but she would keep faith with this man.

Jar burst back into the room. "We are betrayed. I didn't believe it possible, but the Chinese have an informer in the monastery. An instant later a major of the Chinese People's Army strode into the room, accompanied by four soldiers with machine guns. The major was short, stocky, and appeared to have no neck. Rather his round head seemed to be welded directly onto his squat powerful body. His face appeared to have been hammered in bronze by an unskilled craftsman.

Gertrude had no desire to be questioned by the Chinese and was doing her best imitation of pneumonia, coughing, sneezing and delirious mumbling. She could not produce a fever at will, but she could and did break into a cold sweat. The major glanced at Gertrude and turned to Jar Quinan. "Now, abbot, we shall have a reckoning. Who is this woman and what is she doing in your monastery?"


Can Gertrude and Jar Quinan outwit the powerful Major? Find out in the next Thrilling Episode! DOGS AND WHISTLING ARROWS


Previous episode: Crossing the Chang Tang
Next episode: Dogs and Whistling Arrows


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The City of Ul Chalan was originally published in Analog Magazine, July 1973, copyright Richard K. Lyon. It is reprinted here with the author's permission.