Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
The house that Alex and Teren were looking for was indeed within a well-to-do area on the outskirts of Munich. The estate, one of only four on the street, was bordered on two sides by roads, and on one by a lake. There was a long circular drive with both an entrance and exit onto the street. The large house could be seen from the beginning of the drive, as it peeked out of the trees.
Teren kept a slow but steady pace as she drove past the estate. She could see that there were two cars in the drive, one with a well dressed man leaning casually against it. Trying not to draw attention to herself, Teren kept going, turning right at the corner.
After circling the block, she drove back toward the house, pulling over from what she considered a safe vantage point. She could see the drive, and the cars parked there, but felt confidant she and Alex were far enough away not to draw attention to themselves.
"Alex, would you grab my bag and hand it to me?"
Her shorter companion reached over the back seat and found the pack Teren had tossed there.
"So, what's in here? The Helmet of Invisibility?"
Teren smiled. "Good thought, but no. It's just a pair of binoculars." She extracted the glasses. "I don't like the two cars being there, and I want to keep an eye on them until whoever it is leaves."
"And what if they don't leave 'til tomorrow?"
Teren grinned. "Then I guess we're going to lose some sleep tonight."
An hour later, they were still waiting. Alex had taken a turn with the glasses, but passed them back to Teren when her eyes began to blur. Now, she just sat, watching Teren as she watched the house.
"Hey, Teren, I've been wanting to ask you something."
"Do you think the CIA killed Kennedy?"
Teren slowly turned her head to her companion.
"Where did that come from?"
"I don't know. I just wanted to break the monotony. You haven't said a word in almost thirty minutes."
Teren's gaze returned to the house. "I know. I like the quiet."
"Well, I don't. I think it's nice, when you're working with someone, to have a conversation with them, and this seemed a safer subject than some I could ask about." Then she grinned. "Besides, you're CIA, who better to ask?"
She saw Teren's eyebrow twitch, which, Alex was learning, meant she wanted to smile, but didn't think she should. Alex was about to ask again, when Teren's low voice rumbled across to her.
"Let me put it to you in two ways," Teren said slowly. "First, I've made the acquaintance of several of the world's top riflemen. Hell, two years ago I was one of the world's top riflemen. And I'll tell you, with a Mannlicher-Carcano, none of us could have pulled off what they say Oswald did."
There was quiet again, then she looked calmly over at Alex.
"And secondly, I am not at liberty to discuss previous CIA operations."
Their eyes met.
"Are we clear?"
Alex nodded. "Crystal."
They both turned toward the driveway. Teren tensed.
"There are two men leaving. I can see one, and it looks like Eisenbein. He's even wearing the pin he had on in the photo we found."
"The other guy?"
"I can't see his face, but it appears he's arguing with Eisenbein. Neither of them look hap --" Teren broke off, and Alex saw her jaw clench.
The binoculars lowered, and furious blue eyes turned to Alex.
"The other guy is Gerd."
Alex drew in a breath and held it for a moment. "Oh, shit."
"Yeah." She slammed her hand into the steering wheel. "Fuck. I never should have let him walk out of that room alive."
"You couldn't known what he'd do, Teren."
"I should have, Alex." The darker agent was growling. "After Mather, I should have known."
Alex shook her head but didn't contradict her. "What are we going to do?"
Teren watched as each car pulled away from the house, and came down the drive.
"We're going to wait until full dark."
A cold smile crossed Teren's face, and her eyes narrowed. "Then we pay Herr von Odbert a visit."
They moved the car further away from the house, to a small parking lot by the lakeside. From there, Teren led Alex through the trees and shadows, till they came to the edge of the tree line. Alex estimated the side of the house was less than a hundred feet away.
So far, they had seen no sign of sentries, but Teren knew there was probably one somewhere. Using her binoculars, she finally spotted two men, one on the back porch, and one in an upstairs window. Both had rifles, and they were keeping a close watch on the trees.
Alex heard Teren whisper the word. She raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything.
Teren had brought a small duffel bag with them. It was the smaller of the two she traveled with, and Alex had never seen her open it before this evening. The former assassin took out a small block of wood, wrapped in cloth. Alex couldn't imagine what it was for, until Teren pressed a button on the side, and several pieces came off. After a few adjustments, Teren was holding a crossbow.
"Nice toy," Alex whispered. Teren just smiled.
Hidden within another cloth was a set of short arrows. Teren chose one and slid it into place. Then, using her spyglasses for aiming, she fired. Alex was watching as she did so, and never heard the mechanism go off.
A moment later, the bow was replaced in the bag.
Teren motioned for her partner to follow her, and they moved silently back into the trees.
"Why didn't you just take out both guys?"
They had moved to a position slightly closer to the porch, but still just inside the shadows of the trees. The moon had disappeared behind the clouds, and a slight wind had kicked up. The man on the porch was constantly moving around to keep warm.
"Because I want to ask him a question before I put him to sleep." Teren handed her duffel bag back to Alex. "Stay here, and don't move until I wave."
Alex was trying hard not to shiver. Both she and Teren had left their jackets in the car, and were now wearing only jeans and dark sweatshirts. She was freezing. Teren, however, didn't appear bothered by it.
Waiting for the right moment, Teren held her herself tightly against the trunk of the tree. When her quarry turned away, she slid out of the shadows and crawled soundlessly toward him. He turned back towards her, and she froze on the ground.
The wind gusted again, and the guard jumped up and down a few times. He wasn't wearing any gloves, and in an effort to warm his hands, he slipped his rifle into the crook of his arm, and blew on his fists.
It was all the opening Teren needed.
Before he could get his hands back around the weapon, Teren had smashed his knee, and forced him to the ground. Grabbing the rifle, she twisted it and pulled it from his grasp. It landed a short distance away.
The guard tried to yell, but Teren cut off his airway with one hand. With his eyes bulging, the man wrapped one hand around her wrist, and swung at her with the other. She tried to block it, but was only partially successful, and he connected with the side of her head. It was just enough to distract her, and he managed to pry her hand loose and flip her body off of his.
Teren found herself with her back on the ground, and her own breathing slowly being cut off. The man above her was coughing and trying to get his breath back. Reaching up, Teren renewed her hold on his throat, wondering who would succumb first.
She didn't have long to wonder.
Suddenly the weight was gone from her chest. Taking a huge gulp of air, she rolled to a crouch, and found Alex holding a gun on the guard. He was on his back, hands out at his sides, blood sliding down both sides of his face.
"You okay?" The question came to Teren as a whisper, and she could only nod.
Teren motioned towards the porch, and they got the dazed and bleeding man onto it. His eyes were glassy, and it was easy to see that his nose was broken.
"What did you do, Alex?" Teren whispered.
Alex shrugged. "I'm a kickboxer. I kicked him."
She tapped the side of the man's face, and spoke quietly in German. "Where's Odbert?"
He blinked. "He's in his study. Told us he wanted to be alone."
"He sent you to watch for us?"
"No. That was Franz's idea. He said we were to stop anyone trying to see Jurgen tonight."
"Where's the study?"
"First floor. It's the only room, besides the front, that has a light on."
"How many people in the house?"
"Three guards and Odbert. There's one in the front, one upstairs, and me."
Teren nodded. She had the answer she was looking for.
Drawing back her arm, she aimed a blow for the man's head, but stopped when Alex touched her hand. She looked up at her partner, who held up a pair of handcuffs.
"I can always get another set," she whispered. "We can gag him to keep him quiet."
Teren nodded, and moved away, letting Alex restrain their prisoner. She was still trying to get her breath back anyway.
Alex found a handkerchief in the man's pockets, and forced it into his mouth. Then she pulled his shirt up over his mough, and tied it across his mouth with a piece of cord. She made sure it was tight enough to stop him from yelling. Then she picked up his rifle, and emptied the magazine. Pocketing the shells, she laid the weapon across his lap, and joined her partner at the back door.
It wasn't difficult to find the door to the study. As their captive had told them, it was the only room with a light on. Alex kept watch on the front of the hall, as Teren cautiously and slowly turned the knob and opened the door a fraction of an inch.
As she peeked inside, Teren saw a seated figure with his back to her. The silver haired man appeared to be watching the flames that crackled in the fireplace. Carefully, Teren opened the door a little wider. There was no sound, and the man did not stir.
Alex tapped her shoulder and she froze. From down the hall she could hear a voice raised, and when she glanced back, a figure passed by the entrance to the corridor. He appeared to be holding a conversation over the phone, and didn't glance their way. Moving as quickly as she dared, Teren took a step into the room, and Alex followed her. The door was pushed quietly into place, and Teren turned the knob slowly so the latch wouldn't click.
The room they were in had wood paneling, with an oak trim. There was a large stone fireplace on the wall opposite the door, and a roaring fire was filing the room with its heat. There was a comfortable looking desk several steps from the door, without a chair. A lamp on this desk illuminated half the room, while the fire chased the shadows from the other half.
The figure Teren had seen was still sitting peacefully in his chair. Alex noticed that it was, in fact, a wheelchair, which had been pulled up next to a short couch. Cautiously, the two of them made their way further into the room. Teren pulled her gun and was about to cock it, when the figure spoke.
"Good evening. I've been expecting you."
Teren eased herself around in front of the chair, her gun pointed at the man. He didn't move, merely watching quietly as Alex joined her friend.
"You knew we were coming?" Teren asked.
"Let's just say I had a feeling." He smiled. "I'm afraid I do not know your name. According to our Zurich friends, it was Fleming. Of course, another source reported it to me as Frau Olind."
Alex's eyes widened. If he knew the name Olind, he would know the name . . .
"Meinhard. I suppose you had him killed," she said softly.
"No. If he is dead, it is not because of me."
Teren snorted. "I find that hard to believe."
"There was no reason to kill the man. At least I did not see any reason."
"How did you find out about him?" Alex asked as she lowered herself to the couch.
"Keppelmann was a very nervous figure, and had been getting more so, even before your arrival. Because of that, he was under surveillance. When he appeared so pale and frightened after your visit, our friends in Zurich decided it would be good to follow you, even before they spoke to Keppelmann. They saw you meet with Meinhard, and tapped his office phone very early the next day. Your phone call to him, Frau Olind, was recorded."
Keeping her gun steady, Teren also sat. It appeared this man wanted to talk to them, and while she didn't understand why, she was beginning to trust that he wouldn't suddenly call for the last remaining guard. But she kept the gun on him, just in case.
"Which was also how they found the hotel room. We were followed after the dinner with Meinhard."
"Correct. However, our Zurich friends have limited manpower, and the two men who were to follow the two of you to the meeting, lost you. They found only you, Miss Reed. They never figured out where your tall friend was."
"She was in the restaurant."
Odbert smiled, and nodded. "I suspected as much. But I would not tell them that." He leaned back in his chair. "Once you left the cafe, they knew you were headed back to your hotel, so they intended to arrive first, and wait for you. Unfortunately," he turned his attention back to Teren, "they met with a very nasty accident. One of them was killed."
Teren shrugged. "Better him than me."
A gentle chuckle came from the old man. He leaned back in his chair, nodding. "Well, after that, they had no idea where you were going. We, of course, knew you would come here. But we did not know how or when. So, there have been guards watching for you, across the city. You were never spotted."
"And then Gerd Heinrich came to see you." Teren's voice had lowered several notches.
"Yes. He wished to speak with me about church finances. I knew, and so did Franz, that he must have been in touch with you. He was here earlier today. I suppose you saw him?"
"I did. What did he tell you?"
"Nothing. As much as Franz tried to ask him about the source of his information, he revealed nothing. However," he frowned, "I will tell you not to go back to your hotel tonight. The name of Andrea Reed was found, at three different hotels in the area. By the time you leave here, they will have checked all of them, and found which one is yours."
"Why are you telling us this?" Teren demanded. "You know we're here to break apart your operation. Why would you want to help us do that?"
The withered face took on a thoughtful look. "Because it is not my operation. Not anymore." He shook his head. "When I began the Kirche des Heiligen Luther so long ago, I wanted it to be a place where people who had been displaced during the war, could find assistance. The money from the Swiss bank account allowed me to help many people begin new lives."
"And helped many Nazis like yourself escape," Alex added.
Odbert sighed, and nodded. "I did do that. Some were just afraid to stay once their Nazi past had been revealed, and others were listed as war criminals." He looked at Alex. "But you must understand. We were young men when we became involved with the Fuehrer. Hitler made things better than they had been in a long time, and he promised even more. We were ready to follow him anywhere he led." He stopped, his eyes becoming clouded. "But we were wrong. He was mad. And in the final few years, those of us who saw that, we prepared. I opened a Swiss account, and my friend Josef Kirchner would redirect certain monies into it. By the end of the war, there was a great deal of money waiting for me. But, for a short time, the SS assigned me as a concentration camp guard. Because of that, I was considered a war criminal. I escaped, but it took me a long time to reach Switzerland."
"And there you created this new identity?" Teren asked.
"I did not create it, Josef did. Josef had slipped out of the Reich months before the war ended. He waited for me in Zurich, knowing that he could not touch the account without my being there. Neither of us could touch the money without the other. He had the account number, and it was my signature. So, when I finally got there, I withdrew a large amount and gave it to him. At the time, he was under an assumed name as well."
Alex nodded. "That's the name in the record that we couldn't place."
"Correct. He took the money and returned to Germany. Finally, I did the same. It was under Josef's suggestion that I returned to the seminary, and became a minister. And it was with his help that I opened the doors of the church."
Unable to sit anymore, Alex stood, shaking her head. "That money wasn't yours. It should have been returned."
"Returned to whom? The Jews? I'm sorry, Miss Reed, they were dead. And many of them were German Jews. I had to be quiet about it, but I did give several large donations to Jewish charities, anonymously. I was unaware, until my time in the camp, that the Jews were being so thoroughly annihilated. I had no understanding of it before then. By that time, it was too late." He grimaced. "I requested a reassignment as soon as possible, even bribing several officers and accepting a position at the front, where I was injured. I would have done anything to get out of that hell!"
Alex stared at him. She took a step closer, and bent slightly to make him look at her. "So would my grandparents." She straightened and turned away.
There was silence for several minutes. Teren had no idea whether to comfort Alex, or just shoot the man sitting in front of them. "If what you saw in the camp affected you so much, why did you let your church become a haven for neo-Nazis?"
"Because I was a fool. Each time, I heard only half the message. I heard that they wanted to change things. They wanted to save the Aryan race, which I believed in. I thought they wanted to bring about all the good things that were originally part of the Nazi teachings. Yes, there were good things in them," he added when Alex turned to stare at him. "They became twisted, and evil in the end, but they started out with good intentions." He dropped his eyes, staring into the fire. "I started out with good intentions."
"But that changed, didn't it?" Teren asked.
"Yes. Franz Eisenbein joined our church. He had only recently graduated from seminary, and he was filled with such righteous indignation. He would thunder away at the crowd, teaching them that God wanted what was best for them. Week after week, it was that God had a plan, and God wanted the best for his people, and the Aryans were his chosen race. I thought it was wonderful how he would create such enthusiasm in the crowd. "
Alex snorted. "Of course. Germans are superior. The Aryan race is supreme. Wonderful."
Teren touched Alex's arm, but said nothing.
Odbert shifted in his chair, and a look of pain drifted across his face. "I do not think like that anymore."
"But you did."
"Yes," he whispered.
They were all silent for a moment, then Teren prodded Odbert to continue his story. "What happened that made you change your thinking?"
He frowned. "There was violence. Two members of Eisenbein's youth group were arrested for beating a Jewish boy. He publicly denounced the beating, saying violence solved nothing, but secretly, he was giving money to the young men's parents for their defense. He also arranged for the victim to be discredited -- and the boys were let off with a suspended sentence.
"Even before that, Franz began taking the younger men on weekend trips. He told me they were training weekends, to teach the boys to be warriors of God. I believed him. I even went on one with them. He never spoke about the Jews, or anyone else. Only about the need for a strong German people." Another sigh. "And I let him lead the church. I was getting old, and I wanted to retire. I became less and less important, and he became the spiritual leader. And he never spoke about Nazis or Jews in public. But in private," he shook his head, "he became the Fuehrer, all over again.
"That's when I decided to give him the account, and fully retire. My injury from the war had caused parts of my spine to disintegrate, and I could hardly walk. I saw where Franz was taking the church, but I could do nothing to stop him. So, I retired."
"Yet, Eisenbein came to see you today," Teren said.
"He did indeed. He has come several times. I never found the strength to openly tell him he was wrong."
"Instead," Alex said, "you gave him money, and power, and the tacit approval to carry on with his neo-Nazi doctrine."
After a moment, the old man nodded. "Yes." He looked up at her, "I am just a man, Miss Reed, and not a very intelligent one at that. I believed in Utopia, the dream of the perfect society. I followed one man that promised it, and did not have the strength to argue with another. I am only human, and I will never claim perfection, or any kind of sainthood. I am very aware that the world will never remember either Werner Hoppe or Jurgen von Odbert with anything but disgust."
"You can change part of that," Alex told him.
"Tell us about Stephen Radcliffe."
"Ah." He nodded, leaning back as far as his chair would let him. "Stephen is like Franz, full of fire and righteousness. He has great plans. I worry about what will happen if he succeeds in his quest."
"What quest is that?"
"He wants to put a friend of his in the White House. He considered running for it himself, but did not, at that time, have the funds and supporters necessary."
"So, for the funds, he came to you and Eisenbein?" Alex asked.
"No. He went to a man named Radinkov, from Czechoslovakia. Radinkov convinced him that there was a great deal of money to be made selling the weapons from the former Soviet Union. Plus, they could open up new territory to the drug cartels. Radcliffe began setting up deals --"
"Drugs for guns," Teren said. "And he would send Treville in to oversee them?"
"Treville was in charge certainly, but he never got his hands dirty. Only once did I ever know of him actually showing up at a meeting, and that was six months ago. It seems his regular representatives were killed."
Teren nodded. They were the people she and Perry had replaced on that fatal mission.
"Stephen met Franz several years ago, and they agreed to work together. Franz gave Stephen names of Nazi strongholds, and Stephen would assist them in acquiring weapons. However, as he was becoming more important politically in the United States, Stephen could not be involved in many of the things that were planned. John Treville became his representative to the meetings with Franz and myself."
"Is Stephen still a part of the group, or is he more of a figurehead right now?" Teren asked.
"Well," Odbert was hesitant, "he is respected for his views. But Franz and John both think he is not as committed to doing anything necessary to bring about the white Christian nation he speaks about. Recently, he has angered both of them because he sat down with leaders of the black community. While he says that it was the right thing to do, to make them trust him, John and Franz said it showed weakness."
Alex sat back down on the couch. "So, Stephen isn't involved with the assassination plot. Treville is the leader of that group."
The silver gray head shook, no. "John Treville is a new Martin Bormann. He is not a leader, but a follower. He followed Stephen Radcliffe until Franz said Stephen was not pushing hard enough. Then, he followed Franz. A year ago he met a man whom he called CJ. It is the only name I have ever heard used for this man, and I don't think even Franz knows who he is. John became a devout disciple of this CJ, and it was he that came up with the plan."
"What plan?" asked Teren.
"Kill members of the anti-nazi movement in the US. CJ said it would cause a great deal of fear in the American liberals, and that if the liberals fought back, the Nazis would be ready with armed troops."
"What about law enforcement? Weren't they worried about that?"
"CJ said it would be taken care of."
Teren raised her eyebrow at that.
"So, you knew they were going to kill political activists in the United States," accused Alex, "and you did nothing."
He shrugged. "What could I do? I was already in this wheel chair. I heard many plans being made.Some of them were carried out, but most were not."
Alex leaned forward to speak, but stopped when Teren held up a hand. "Stephen signed a money transfer, less than a year ago. It was to a bank account in the name of John Treville and Martin Richmond."
"John said he needed an operating budget for the plans he and CJ had worked out. Franz, being out of the country at that time, sent a message to Stephen asking him to sign the papers. Stephen did so, without asking what the plans were."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I was listening in on the phone call." He half smiled. "They think because I'm old, that I won't know or understand. Yet I know more of what happens than they do."
"You keep your hand in, more than you say you do."
"No, Frau Olind. My ears and eyes, yes. My hands, no."
He and Teren smiled at one another, and Teren realized she was beginning to like this man. Former Nazi, neo-Nazi, whatever, she liked him. Teren had no idea what Alex was thinking, but she felt they could trust the old man.
Which thoroughly surprised her.
"Okay. So, what do you know about CJ?"
"I'm afraid not very much. I have heard his voice on the phone, and he speaks in low tones. He sounds very cultured."
"Doesn't give us much to go on."
"I'm sorry. I have nothing else."
Alex had leaned back for the moment, content to let Teren take the lead. She was having a hard time keeping her emotions in check.
This was a Nazi. Not a "wannabe," like others she'd dealt with, but a real Nazi who had saluted Hitler. It gave her the shudders, and she wanted to hate him for it. After all, he admitted to spending time as a concentration camp guard. He deserved to be hated, and more.
But instead, she was actually feeling a tiny bit of affection for the old man, and she didn't want to.
As her partner and Odbert continued their conversation, Alex looked around the room. There were a few paintings on the oak walls, and several small stone and metal sculptures. Frowning, she stood and approached one, picking it up to look at its base.
"Alex?" It was Teren calling her.
She turned around the sculpture in her hand. "Do you know what this is?"
"Yes," Odbert answered, "it is a statuette of a woman, carved by an unknown artist of ancient Greece. It is probably between three and four thousand years old."
"And it was lost during World War II and never recovered."
"You have a cache of these, don't you," Alex accused. "You've had all these items, things that didn't belong to you, things you should have turned over years ago. Instead you've used them to bribe people and pay assassins."
The old man waited out her short tirade, then shook his head. "You are only partly right. I knew of the existence of the hoard. But it was not mine, and I never saw the treasure itself. Once in a while something would be brought to me, a gift from Helmut. But I never asked him where it was from."
"Helmut Kirchner?" Teren asked.
"Yes. Josef not only sent money to Switzerland, he diverted a train of treasures that was supposed to go to Berchtesgaden. Instead, it went to an area near the Swiss border. From there, Josef had the items moved to a cave. He moved the cache several times, always keeping the location a secret between himself and his family. Helmut inherited it, unofficially of course. He told Franz Eisenbein of its existence, and the two of them made plans to use the pieces as rewards to people for their allegiance."
"And that's how Mather got the chalice that we found."
"Yes. Treville would call, and request an item. Normally, the call would come to Franz. He would alert Helmut, and the two of them would go to retrieve it. After Helmut's death, Franz took charge of the collection."
Alex put the statue down. "And how did Florian Kirchner fit into this? That car accident was faked. He was murdered for some reason. Why?"
"Because he took several pieces of the treasure, and sold them in Zurich. I doubt it would ever have been discovered, or at least not for quite a while. But he took them to the Altbusser Galerie."
Teren nodded. "And the Altbusser was the place Eisenbein and Treville were using to handle the shipping."
"Correct. Besides, there were certain items that Treville wanted, but Franz had no intention of parting with. He had the Altbusser make a copy, which would satisfy John. Then the original would be shipped back to Germany."
"Where is the treasure, Jurgen?" Teren asked.
"I am not positive. I have never been there. However, I have overheard conversations concerning the Baron's tomb."
"And what is that?"
"Several miles from here is an old cemetery, the Friedhof der St. Petri Gemeinde. While it was partially damaged during the war, several of the very oldest tombs were left completely intact. There is a tomb of the Baron Von Nievenheim, who died in the early 1800's. From what I have gathered, Helmut hid the treasure there."
"So, this tomb, nobody from the family is left to tend it? The caretaker doesn't guard it?"
"No, Miss Reed. The Baron's family died out a hundred years ago. And if there is a caretaker, I would think that he was well taken care of by Franz and Helmut." He shifted in his chair again, and grimaced. "I believe that is where the treasure has been hidden, for many years."
Alex glanced over at her partner. "So, I guess we're headed to a graveyard tonight, huh?"
"Yep." She turned back to Odbert. "I asked you earlier about Gerd Heinrich."
"Yes. I gathered he is a friend of yours."
"I thought he was, but seeing him here made me wonder. What, exactly did he say?"
"He arrived while Franz was here. We were meeting with several men concerning renovations to the church. When Gerd arrived, Franz dismissed the other men. Then Gerd began asking questions. He wanted to know if we had heard of Werner Hoppe." He smiled sadly. "I had not heard the name for many years. It was very strange."
"What else did he say?"
"Nothing. He asked questions. He wanted to know where the church's money had come from. Franz told him that it came from the charity drives and contributions. Gerd asked why it was in a Swiss account, and Franz denied there was such an account. He asked where Gerd had heard such a lie."
"And what did Gerd say?"
"He did not answer. Instead, he switched the subject and asked Franz if he was a Nazi."
"Which Franz denied."
"Mostly. He admitted that he found Nazi doctrine interesting, but said he had never thought about joining the Nazi party. Which is true, since it hasn't existed in over fifty years."
Teren frowned. "It looked like Gerd was arguing with him when they left."
"I would not have been surprised. Gerd is a good man, who Franz had hoped to eventually recruit to his cause. When Gerd expressed disgust at any and all Nazi principles, I could see that Franz was very upset indeed."
"I bet." She breathed a sigh of relief at the realization that Gerd had not betrayed her. Or, at least not entirely.
Alex put a hand on her back, knowing what her partner was thinking. She was glad that Gerd had not proved himself the traitor that Mather had been.
"So," Teren said, "Is there anything--"
There was a loud yell from another part of the house, and Teren stopped. Her hand immediately went to her gun, and she swore at the sound of footsteps on the stairs.
Jurgen placed an arm on Teren's shoulder, and shook his head. He pulled a gun from under the blanket on his lap, and motioned her to get behind the sofa. Both she and Alex did so. Jurgen sat there calmly, his gun in his lap.
The door burst open, and a young man burst into the room, his gun in one hand and a phone in the other.
In German, he asked if the old man was alright, and Jurgen smiled and nodded.
"But the fire needs another log, please."
Obviously relieved, the guard put down his phone, and tucked his gun into his belt. "Tobias is dead. I found him upstairs with an arrow in his throat. I've already called Franz, and he's on his way here. I'm going to look for Holger in a moment. That bitch might be about to attack."
"Good." Jurgen waited until the man finished putting the log on the fire. Then he raised his gun and fired, striking his guard in the back of the head. The body fell forward, knocking over the fire screen.
Teren hopped over the couch and checked for a pulse. There wasn't one.
"You must leave. Franz is on his way.Before you do, go into my bedroom. It is the first room in the hall as you come in from the front. If you look under mattress, there is a stack of papers I swiped from Franz's briefcase. I did not have a chance to look at them, so I don't know if they will help, but they are yours."
Teren glanced at Alex, who nodded and moved to go past the chair. She stopped and extended her hand to Odbert.
"My name is Alexia Reis. I'm glad we got the chance to meet."
The old man's eyes filled with tears, and he gently took Alex's hand. "I am Werner Hoppe, and the pleasure has been mine." He held on for a moment later. "I am sorry for your grandparents, Alexia." They locked eyes for a moment, then Teren tapped him on the shoulder and offered her own hand.
"I'm Teren Mylos."
Alex placed a hand on the old man's shoulder as he and Teren shook hands. She glanced at Teren and left the room.
Teren looked at the old man. "Will you come with us?"
Jurgen shook his head. "I'm sorry. I cannot."
"He'll figure it out," Teren said, "he'll know it was you that killed this guy."
"By that time it will be too late. You will be gone, and so will I." He held up a tiny glass vial. Teren had seen them before; she and Perry had each carried one in their luggage.
"Are you sure about this?"
He nodded. Teren did so as well, and squeezed his shoulder one more time.
"Good rest, Werner."
Teren headed for the door, where she turned around just once.
The old man seemed to be trembling, in convulsions. Then he went limp, his arms falling to his sides.He slumped forward, only a belt holding his body to the chair.
Alex met Teren in the hallway. "Is he coming with us?"
"No." She gently pulled Alex down the corridor. Near the front door, Alex tugged her arm loose.
"They'll kill him, Teren, you know they will."
"He's already dead. He used a cyanide capsule to kill himself while you were in the other room."
Alex's mouth hung open for a moment, then she blinked and closed it.
They walked silently back to the car.
Continues in Chapter Thirty-one
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