Bolshevik Russia breaks an agreement with its allies not to make a separate peace by unilaterally signing the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, in March 1918, with the Central Powers. Russia thus leaves WW1 as it sinks into civil war. Germany and the Ottoman Empire ignore the treaty’s terms and continue their invasion of Russia looking for natural resources. Whilst the Allies are desperate to get Russia fighting again they agree that: France will try to check the German invasion of the Ukraine, Crimea and Bessarabia as they look for food; Britain will try to prevent Germany acquiring Turkestan cotton, vital for ordinance manufacture, and will try to prevent both Germany and the Ottoman Empire acquiring Caucasus oil and minerals. Britain also is concerned with the possible invasion threat to India posed by Germany and the Ottoman Empire. The world’s largest grower of cotton, the USA, too is interested in stopping Russian Cotton getting into German hands.
In March 1918 Major Edrich the British consul in Shushtar, a quiet Persian backwater, is recovering from a war wound whilst monitoring any possible German or Ottoman machinations in the town. However, Edrich discovers his British predecessor has bequeathed him a blood feud with local tribesmen. Edrich does everything he can to avoid being murdered without appearing to usurp the local Persian governor’s authority. When Edrich is offered a job in China he jumps at the chance. En route to China, through India, he discovers that London has instructed the Indian Government to send an intelligence mission to Russian Eastern Turkestan to try and stop the local Bolsheviks selling cotton to the Germans and to identify whether released Central Powers POWs could be used as troops to invade India. Edrich recognises this Russian Turkestan mission is more challenging than the job in China and connives to get appointed to it.
Unknown to the Eastern Turkestan mission a second Indian intelligence mission is launched via Persia, into Western Russian Turkistan. Russian speaking Captain Thomas Fernee, a former policeman with experience of undercover work on India’s North-West Frontier, joins this intelligence mission. Fernee’s undercover police experience is used to achieve the same aims as Edrich’s mission albeit over a thousand miles to the west. Fernee discovers he has to deal with fluctuating governments not just the Bolshevik and Counter-revolutionary ones in Russia, but also the contradictory approaches that the British Home and Indian Government’s have on what his and other missions are to achieve.