Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
It was late the next morning when Gerd knocked once again on the door to Alex and Teren's suite.
To his surprise, it was Teren who answered the door.
"What in hell are you doing out of bed?"
"Opening the door for you, what does it look like?" She turned and made her way back to the couch. "Besides, I've been on the couch for the past couple hours."
"In the shower. She figured you'd be by soon. Something about files at the BKA?"
"Yes, the Bundeskriminalamt has taken charge of Eisenbein's files, and they said Alex could go through them. I'll be there as translator."
Teren nodded. "Good. She's excellent with research. Whether they're in German or not, if there's something in those records that we can use, she'll find it."
"How are you feeling, Teren?"
"Not bad. A headache and a little vertigo. You'd think I'd been shot in the head or something." She grinned at him.
"You, my friend, must be a cat. You've got at least nine lives." They both chuckled.
Teren waved him over to a chair. "Sit. Alex'll be a few more minutes."
Gerd looked thoughtful as he sat down. He leaned foward, his elbows on his knees, and Teren winced inwardly. That movement was always the signal that Gerd wanted to have a serious talk about personal things.
Something Teren avoided like the plague.
"Ter, Alex tells me the two of you have known each other only a couple of weeks."
"Yeah. Been a strange couple weeks, too." She smiled, but it faded when the serious look stayed on his face.
"She's not an agent."
"How do you know you can really trust her?" Teren's eyes narrowed, and Gerd held up his hands to stop her anger. "That's not what I mean. I know you trust her, if you didn't you wouldn't have given her as much help, or as much access as you have." A small nod from Teren let him relax enough to continue. "What I mean, though, is how can you really trust her to be your partner, when she's your partner?"
One dark eyebrow raised as Teren just stared at him.
He wiped a hand over his brow. "I'm doing this badly, aren't I?"
"You usually do. What are you trying to say, Gerd?"
Taking a deep breath the German looked up at her. "Are you sure you both can remain objective about things, seeing as how the two of you are lovers?"
The question made Teren's eyes widen, and she took in a quick gasping breath. Her face registered pure shock, and for a moment, Gerd thought he might have misread their relationship. But her eyes dropped away from his, and her face began to turn red, telling him he hadn't been imagining things.
She reflected for a moment on the rules which Perry had drilled into her. "Number one, never trust anyone, and number two, never fall in love with your partner. If that happens, it's time to get a new partner -- or just plain get out."
"It's not like it was planned, Gerd," she said softly. "And I don't know what we are. Lovers, partners? We're friends, and --" she shrugged, "yeah, we've slept together. But does that make us lovers? Or just -- I hate the term -- fuck buddies?"
Gerd shook his head. "You may not know what the two of you are, Teren, but that young woman does, most definitely."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, my first clue was when she threatened to shoot me at the cemetery, if I didn't promise to help the both of you."
"Alex did that?"
"Yes. Clue number two was when she refused to leave your side, and insisted that she would be the one to wake you up when it needed to be done."
Teren bit her lip.
"Number three was the way she whispered into your ear. And did you notice that she's called you 'love' a few times?"
Teren winced. Alex had done that just last night, and she hadn't even thought about it.
"We admitted early on that there was an attraction between us, but we both agreed to put off exploring it until after we're out of this funhouse of a case." She sighed. "We've kind of thrown that agreement out the window."
"What agreement?" asked Alex as she came out of the bedroom. "Morning, Gerd. Let me grab my jacket and briefcase, and we're out of here." She turned back to Teren. "What agreement?"
With her mouth hanging open, Teren looked at Gerd for some help, but he had turned away. She glanced at Alex to find the curious green eyes still on her.
"Um. The agreement we -- um --" she stopped and ran her hand across her head, careful to miss the area covered by bandages. "Alex, can we talk about this later?"
Alex narrowed her eyes, wondering what Teren was suddenly so embarrassed about. She decided to let it go. After all, Teren wasn't going anywhere, and she'd be back soon. They could talk this evening.
"Okay. Later it is." She pulled her coat off the rack and slid it on.
"Hey, why aren't you wearing your dark green jacket?" Teren asked. "It's warmer than that one, and it's cold outside."
Alex's cheeks turned red as she zipped the front closed. "That, um, was the jacket I was wearing in the cemetery, and -- well, it's -- I decided to throw it away."
Teren looked confused. "Why?"
Gerd decided to rescue the younger woman. "Teren, Alex wrapped her coat around your head, to try and stop the bleeding."
Recognition dawned, as Teren's eyes widened. She swallowed, and switched her gaze to her blonde partner, who was looking at the floor.
"I'm sorry, Alex."
She got a shrug in return, then Alex came over to the couch.
"No big deal. It's just a jacket." Leaning down, Alex gave Teren a quick hug, and then pulled away. "You will not move from that couch, right?"
"You will buzz for someone if you need anything?"
Alex put her hands on her hips and glared at her. "I'm serious, Teren."
Teren sighed and let her head drop gently to the back of the couch. "I'll call for help if I need anything. You already made arrangements for lunch, and the doctor's coming over right after that. I'll be a perfect angel, I swear. Now, get out of here, and let me go back to sleep."
Nodding, Alex headed for the door. "I'll see you this evening, then."
Gerd waved a hand at his friend, and held the door open for Alex. He looked back for a moment, and raised both his eyebrows at Teren. Then the door closed, and the room was silent.
Teren covered her face and groaned.
The offices of the Munich BKA were located in an old warehouse turned office building. Split into two distinct halves, the building housed agents and archives. Most of the offices were small, windowless spaces, only marginally bigger than Alex's cubicle at the FBI. The archival area, however, covered the second half of the warehouse, and was split into the library of files, and long work tables. Several of the tables were covered, and different agents seemed to be poring over different texts.
Gerd led Alex to a table that was half covered in boxes.
"All of these came from the church offices?"
"I don't know. Before we start, we're supposed to find an Agent something or other -- I think his name was on that paper I gave you."
Alex pulled the slip out of her coat pocket. "Yeah, Agent Michael Peters."
There was a polite cough from behind Alex. She turned to find a middle aged gentleman standing there.
In a quiet voice he said, "That is pronounced Meech-ay-ill. I am pleased to meet you, Agent Reis."
Holding out her hand, Alex smiled at the man. "It's nice to meet you, Agent Peters."
Alex gestured to the boxes. "All from the church office?"
"No, some are from the personal office of Eisenbein, in his house. We've color coded them; if the box has a piece of red tape, it was taken from the church. Yellow is from the house, and those with green were found in the tomb of Baron Von Nievenheim."
"There were records as well as the art pieces?"
"From what I've seen of them, they are mainly lists of items, including orders and deliveries. Many deal with the Altbusser Galerie in Zurich. Others mention American names." He shook his head. "We have been so busy recovering all the items, the paperwork will have to wait, I think."
"Well, if I have a chance, as Gerd and I go through, I'll keep a list and make notes for you. Try and get things in some kind of order for you."
Micha nodded. "That would be useful." He glanced around the room, then back at her. "Some of us are rather embarrassed that this was going on, practically under our noses, and it took two Americans to find it. But we are also grateful. If there is anything we can do to return the favor, let us know."
Her cheeks were getting hot, and Alex knew she was probably as red as a fire truck. "Thanks, Micha. I'm glad we could help. The one you should really thank, though, is Teren, since she's the one that made all the connections. " She shrugged. "I just got to tag along."
Gerd stepped up and interrupted. "Alex, are we ready?"
Micha pointed to a desk near the front of the room. "If you need anything, I will be there for another hour or two. After that I'm going to the warehouse that we've placed the recovered art collection in. There is much cataloging to be done."
"Thank you, Micha." Alex turned to Gerd. "Okay, ready and waiting. How about we go over the files from his home first? That seems to be the fewest number of boxes."
Gerd agreed, and the two of them moved boxes to create a work space. Alex pulled out a micro cassette recorder and her computer.
"Is there any order you think the boxes should go in?"
"No. Let's just do them one at a time. Anything in English can be handed to me. If you see something that mentions any of the names on the list I gave you, or anything else about America, let me know."
"It sounds like I'll be doing all the work right now. What will you do until I find you something to read?" Gerd teased.
"Well, first I'm going to organize the notes I got from the papers we've already seen, and then I'm going to start going through every box looking for an address."
"The one this letter is from," she waved a white envelope in front of him. "It's from our mysterious friend, CJ, and it's an anonymous post-office box. I want everything associated with the address. I'm gonna find this shithead if it's the last thing I do."
"Shithead -- it's Scheisskerl in German."
"Fine. Let's go find the son-of-a-bitch."
Teren was once again bored. This, she decided, was intolerable.
As long as she didn't move her head quickly, or forget and touch the area, the headache stayed at a very manageable level. Of course, if she did those things, it was like setting off a grenade inside her skull.
However, the lack of headache had done away with most of the need for sleep, which left her on the couch, with nothing to do. She wasn't allowed to read, and she couldn't turn on the television -- not that she'd want to if she could. Even if she could do either of those things, she wasn't allowed off the couch.
She had to admit, she was more afraid of Alex finding out she'd left the sofa without help, than she was of the doctor finding out she was reading.
So, she sat on the couch, bored.
"This is stupid. I'm perfectly capable of walking by myself." She idly punched the pillow beside her. "Lotta damn good I'm doing sitting on my ass. I'm a field agent, and I've gotten injured much worse than this, and kept right on working."
Teren realized she was arguing with herself in an empty room. She grinned. "Okay, maybe I got hit harder than I thought."
She carefully turned her head to one side, then the other, stretching her neck muscles. At one point, the vertebrae in her neck popped, and the resulting sound echoed through her head.
"Ow." She leaned her head forward, feeling the muscles pull again. As she raised her head, she saw it.
It was her briefcase, which Alex had left sitting next to the coat rack against the wall.
That made her think of Alex's briefcase. And the computer inside.
Which led to the thought that there was probably one she could borrow.
A grin curved her lips, and she reached for the phone.
They had gone through all of the files from the house, and started the boxes from the church. It was slow going, with Gerd having to translate most of the material. Alex was frustrated, and trying not to take it out on Gerd.
"Alex, don't you think we should take a break? Your eyes are going to cross if you don't look at something else for a little while."
Alex nodded absently. "Go ahead, Gerd. I just want to read the rest of this folder."
The German shook his head and walked away, in search of coffee.
The report Alex was reading had been written by Eisenbein, in English. His handwriting was atrocious, and the use of a language not his own made it hard for the FBI agent to read quickly. But there was something in there that she couldn't let go.
First off, there was no addressee. Second, the name of John Treville could be clearly seen in several places. While it was hard to decipher what the references to Treville actually said, his name was legible. Thirdly, and what had really caught Alex's eye, was the reference to George Mather.
By the time Gerd returned with his mug of coffee, Alex was near the end of the file, and had a grim look on her face.
"Gerd, would you see if you can locate the box with the files under 'S'? I need to check something, and it's very important."
"I'll look. We were on the 'G's though. Are you sure you want to jump ahead?"
"Yeah. If we find what I think we'll find, we may be out of here."
She said it very calmly, but with a current of tension that Gerd read easily. It told him that she'd found something, and it wasn't good news.
Moments later, he pulled a box from the floor onto the table. "The letter 'S'."
Alex came around to his side of the table and started flipping through the folders. She was coming to the end of the file, and not finding what she was looking for.
"Oh, come on. You've got to be here." The last file was flipped, and she stared up at Gerd. "Hey, what's the German word for 'swords'?"
Gerd blinked at her. "Sword is Schwert or Saebel. Swords, plural, would be Schwerter."
"S, c, h." Alex went back to the beginning and started flipping again. "S, c, s, c. Aha. Got it." She pulled a file out, showing the title on it to Gerd.
"'Swords.' What is this?"
The German put his mug of coffee back on the table top, and opened the folder. He read down the first page, and Alex watched as his eyes began to widen. A moment later he looked up at her.
"This is it."
Gerd began turning pages, his jaw clenching. "Alex, how did you find this?"
"I'll tell you later. Right now, lets grab that file, and the letter, and see if Micha will let us take them, or at least copies. They're mainly focused on US activities, so maybe he'll let me have the originals."
"Where are we going?"
"Back to the house. Teren needs to know what we found."
He nodded. "She's not going to be happy, though."
Alex looked up from packing her computer. Her face was grim. "Can't say as I blame her, can you?"
He shook his head.
Micha made copies of the files for the BKA, but agreed to let the originals go with Alex. He was going to say no, but when he heard how important they would be to her investigation, decided to alllow her to take them. Besides, he grinned to himself, she could be very persuasive.
As Gerd drove them back to the safe house, Alex explained how she knew where to look for the file.
"It was in that letter I was reading, the one with the atrocious handwriting."
"The letter told you to look under the word 'swords'?"
"Well, yeah, kind of. It's really difficult to read, but once I got it, things just made sense." She shifted in her seat to face him. "The letter has no addressee. But there's a note on the bottom that said it should be typed and sent to such and such post office box."
"The box is the one in Washington, where the CJ letter came from."
Gerd nodded. "Okay, go on."
"After I saw that, I realized it had to be a report from Eisenbein to CJ, and since Treville was mentioned several times, it was probably concerning his visit last year. I checked the dates, and they match."
"Well, you knew that Treville and Radcliffe had visited St. Luther's during their trip six months ago."
"That's just it. Treville didn't. He was away somewhere, on the border between Poland and Lithuania. He met up with George Mather there, and they killed Perry."
"Okay." Gerd bit his lip. "You knew that from Teren, didn't you?"
"Yes. I did. But the letter confirms it. It says in black and white that Radcliffe and Treville showed up, but had left. It said that thanks to CJ, Treville had joined George Mather in time to remove the two CIA agents who had been posing as smugglers."
The light turned green, but Gerd didn't notice. He was staring at Alex. "You're saying that Treville was warned -- by someone other than Mather?"
"Yes. At that point, they thought they'd gotten Teren, too. Must have been a shock to realize they hadn't."
The honking behind Gerd finally registered and he put the car into gear. "So, CJ has a CIA contact, or is in the CIA." He nodded. "That makes sense. What else did the letter say?"
"It said that, while Radcliffe had declined to be involved, it looked like all was set for the, quote, Swords, unquote, to continue their operations. Mather would be returning to the States, and would return to his duties, despite the CIA's attempts to find him."
"Yeah. Anyway, the quotes he used around the word Swords made me think. I figured if he had records on it, they'd be in the files, so I decided to check under the word, and the rest you know."
Gerd nodded. "Was there anything else in this letter? Anything to point out who this guy might be?"
"Unfortunately, it simply ackowledged his leadership of the Swords, and gave the address. Other than that, the identity is still a mystery."
"Damn. Would be nice if we had a name, rather than initials."
"True, but this is a hell of a lot better than I ever dreamed we'd find. That folder lists all of the conspirators, including the mysterious CJ, Jabob Dawkins, Martin Richmond, and Treville. The only one that's not listed, and we know is involved, is Derek White."
"You are certain he's a part of this?"
The two of them were quiet. Alex turned and watched the scenery through the window. Gerd sent a glance her way every few minutes.
"I'm glad Teren has you at her side."
Alex turned back and stared at him. She didn't know what to say, and for several long moments, she simply gazed at him, her mouth open slightly. Finally she shut it with a snap, and looked out the window again.
"Thank you, Gerd." I'm glad I'm at her side, too.
Teren was still sitting on the couch when Alex and Gerd came back into the suite. She looked up at them, and Alex smiled at her.
"Hey, looks like you were a good kid, huh? Stayed put like you were supposed to?"
"Yes. Alex --"
"Teren, you were right. Even though it's in German, Alex found the clue."
"That's great, Gerd. Listen --"
Alex sat down next to her, examining the new bandage on her head. "How's your head? The doctor take you off couch restriction yet?"
"Well, kind of."
Gerd was headed to the little kitchenette to get a drink, and he noticed the bags in the corner. "Hey, Teren, why are your suitcases out here?"
"What?" Alex stood up and walked over to the duffel bags. "Why are they all packed, Teren? What's going on?"
Teren leaned back. "I've been trying to tell you since you came in. I got in touch with Ken."
Alex folded her arms and waited. "And?"
"And there's been another shooting. In Washington DC. In front of the Capitol."
The green eyes went wide with shock. "Oh."
Teren kept her eyes on Alex. "I called my office. They suggested we go back. Tonight. We've got tickets on a late flight." Her eyes softened perceptably. "We're going home, Alex."
Continues in Chapter Thirty-five