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Max_Writer

Top Secret game 9-17-11

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

(After playing the Top Secret scenario “Operation: Sprechenhaltestelle, Code Name: Pisces” Friday with Stephen Turner, Jeff Smith, Erik Huffine, and Jeff from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.)

The Agency was a secret, international espionage agency that hired spies from all over the free world to take on assignments that crossed international borders. Four agents had been assembled by the agency in May of 1980.

Eric Taft was a British spy who had worked with MI-5. He was young, tall, and slim. A member of the confiscation bureau, he was fluent in English, French, and German, and was known for his courage under fire. He was also somewhat of an expert in astronomy and space sciences, mathematics and accounting, civil engineering, and physics, and was trained in Judo, knife fighting, and boxing. He was known to carry a switchblade and a .45 semi-automatic pistol with a barrel extender. He wore a gray suit, his weapon easily visible underneath the coat, and always wore a trench coat.

Earl Geofferies was an American and rumored to have been a top agent with the CIA. He was tall and stocky with white hair and a mustache. Fluent in German and Spanish, he also knew architecture, computer science, hydraulic and mechanical engineering, and medicine. He was proficient in all forms of hand to hand combat and was known to carry a Walther PPK with a silencer. He worked for confiscation bureau. He wore a rumpled suit and there was a stain on his tie.

Fletcher David Reed, also American, had worked in various agencies. He was also tall and thin with brown hair. He was a handsome man and spoke Russian well, though he was just able to get by with his German. A member of the assassination bureau, he was trained in Judo and boxing, and was a mathematics and accounting expert. He was also knowledgeable in the fields of construction and civil engineering, geography, medicine, metallurgy, and world history. He was armed with a 9mm short Walther PPK but he preferred to kill with his bare hands. He dressed more casually in a leather jacket.

Wayne Jeffries was a member of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), a large, solid man with red hair who was known by some to be a genius. Fluent in German and Russian, he also spoke a smattering of French; and was an expert in construction, civil, electrical, and hydraulic engineering; military science and weaponry; photography; and physical education. He carried a .45 semi-automatic pistol and never went anywhere without his umbrella. He was a member of the investigation bureau. He was always impeccably dressed in a fine suit and overcoat.

When they agreed to the mission, the four were given a mission briefing file. It included a map of a district, a heavily-redacted map of Hamburg and the surrounding area, a map of East and West Germany, and a reconnaissance briefing. Jeffries looked the latter and read it aloud to the others:


RECONNAISSANCE BRIEFING: Sprechenhaltestelle, situated in a somewhat run-down section of a small neutral European town, has been known as the Hot Spot of the Cold War since the mid-1940s. Here, under the guises of travelling businessmen, tourists, shopkeepers, fishermen, importers, and peasants, international foreign services’ agents have carried on a flourishing espionage business for over three decades. Information, goods, defectors, and refugees flow through this quaint waterfront community as readily as cash and bullets will allow.

The local police rarely patrol this section of town due to the low percentage of crimes reported. They tend to look the other way and let the local citizenry take care of its own misdemeanors. If the police are called, they show up in force, usually for their own protection and will normally investigate explosions and fires the next day.

It has been reported that if you want anything in the spy line you can get it in Sprechenhaltestelle. Military, political, scientific, and industrial secrets tend to wind up here. Weapons, forged papers, equipment, and pleasure can be bought for a price. Common thugs, smugglers, informers, and cutouts can almost be hired on the street. Only two things are not allowed in this district: one, to kill for no good reason, and two, to squeal on a friend.

So, with these warnings in mind both new and experienced agents can be sent here to catch up on the latest news, purchase a necessary commodity or service, or seek out personal challenges which may introduce them to the dangers and rewards of espionage.

Three major political factions are represented in Sprechenhaltestelle. The West and East both assist defectors and refugees coming over to their respective sides as well as try to detain citizens leaving their homelands. The third faction, assumed and proclaimed Neutral, tends to aid anyone needing assistance – for a price. The three factions exist in relative peace but will not hesitate to draw blood to reach their respective political goals.

CURRENT STATUS BRIEFING: Somewhere in Sprechenhaltestelle East to West defectors are repeatedly captured and held at auction where they are purchased by interested powers. Two recently acquired energy technician colleagues, Ivan Ikatchtakoph and Karl Petrovich, are now believed to be within Sprechenhaltestelle. Ikatchtakoph is being held in a place called “paradise control” until he fetches a higher price by another power. Petrovich is being entertained in “Amontillado Alley” until he tells his captors all of his technical knowledge, which will be put on tape which can then be copied and sold on the world black market. Unfortunately, once finished with this exhaustive narrative, Petrovich will probably disappear without a trace, as many before him have already.

MISSION OPTIONS: There are three missions available to daring agents or teams. The first mission is to find those responsible for the capturing and auctioning of these defectors who have already earned their freedom from the East. Once you have identified the culprits you are to make sure they cease their despicable kidnapping.

The second mission is to locate and disrupt “paradise control,” rescue Ikatchtakoph, and get him out of town alive.

The third mission is to locate “Amontillado Alley,” rescue Petrovich if he’s alive, destroy any tapes he has made if he can still talk (if not, take the tapes with you), and discover how captured defectors vanish without a trace.

EMBARKATION: Sprechenhaltestelle is of easy access. No one seems to notice or care whether you arrive at the waterfront by marine vehicle or step out of a land vehicle on one of the surrounding avenues.

Due to the city zoning laws and the new influx of tourist trade, many of the inner streets and alleys are closed to motorized traffic. Land vehicles cannot be parked along the surrounding avenues. Marine vehicles cannot remain docked along the wharf due to merchant vessels loading and unloading. If you can travel out of the district, there is little chance of pursuit.

Customarily, agents arrive either by walking into this district on foot, being let off on the curb by cars or taxis, or rarely, by water. Air travel stirs up too much notice since there is no local airport or heliport near Sprechenhaltestelle.

Good luck.


The Sprechenhaltestelle district lay on the Elbe River just outside of the city of Hamburg in West Germany, less than 25 miles from the border with communist-controlled East Germany.

Taft shared with the rest that he had heard of the district. He told them the sewers were used as underground highways. He also related that the PAIR-A-DICE was really a casino operating beneath a wharf side warehouse. Finally, he said that a Wizard in the basement of a bar knew they were there and who they were. Reed told them he’d also heard the sewers were used as underground highways.

After they discussed which mission they wanted to focus on, they left.


* * *


The four agents debarked from their plane in Hamburg on Monday, May 5. Jeffries and Taft carried suitcases while Reed had a duffle bag thrown over one shoulder. Geofferies didn’t seem to have any luggage at all. They checked in at the customs office and Taft went to the bathroom, where he removed the pistol from this suitcase and holstered it. He returned to find that Geofferies had purchased a bratwurst covered in sauerkraut from a nearby vendor and was vigorously eating it.

They took a taxicab to Sprechenhaltestelle, soon finding themselves on the sidewalk in the drizzling rain on the edge of the district. When the cabbie asked for five marks, Taft looked at the others somewhat anxiously. He had very little money. Geofferies paid the man.

None of the buildings in the district looked like they had an upper floor. Some of them even had flat roofs. Nearby was a café and they could see a nearby laundry and tailor, beauty parlor, barber, and deli, and one building that was marked “foreign imports.” Even though it was drizzling, some of the outdoor tables in the café had customers sitting under large umbrellas and eating lunch. In a recess between the café and the next building, which appeared to be an inn, was another of the café’s tables.

They discussed where to first go, with some talk of the docks. An Asian couple approached the four men, the man taking photographs as the woman smiled. He approached Jeffries and asked him, in broken English, if he would take a picture of the two together. He did so as they stood in front of the café and the man thanked him.

“I take picture of you too!” the man said, holding up the camera.

“No!” Geofferies said.

Jeffries lowered his open umbrella to block his face while Taft and Geofferies turned their heads away. Reed had already backed away.

“Oh, sorry,” the man said. “We mean no offense.”

The couple moved away, the man snapping photographs as they went.

Geofferies suggested they head into the café. The interior of the building has several tables and booths, each with a lit candle. It was not terribly busy but two waitresses, a waiter, a clumsy busboy, and even a wine steward moved from table to table both inside and out. Through another doorway in the back of the room, they could hear the clatter of pots and pans from the kitchen. A payphone was on the wall next to the door.

They sat in a booth, ordered lunch, and were served the food with large mugs of warm beer though Taft drank tea. The waitress was a skinny woman with too much facial hair on her upper lip and a deep Russian accent, which raised their suspicions.

“You got any scones?” Jeffries asked her.

“What?” the waitress replied.

“Scones,” Jeffries said again. “Do you have them?”

“Biscuits,” Taft said to the woman.

“Oh yes, biscuits, we have them,” she replied.

“No,” Jeffries said. “Scones!”

“Same thing,” Taft said.

“No, it’s not.”

“Close enough.”

“It is not!”

“You’re going to order scones from a Russian waitress in a German dive?”

“They’ll have them.”

“I’ll give you time to decide,” the waitress said.

He ended up with a plate of sweetened pastries that were almost but not quite exactly unlike scones.

By the time they finished eating, more people filled the café and the busboy had dropped at least two plates. They heard a mix of German, English, Russian, and French being spoken. Jeffries tried to get some information from the waitress but she didn’t seem to know anything – or wasn’t talking. She mentioned the shops in the area and the café, but nothing much else. He learned that her parents had come to Hamburg from the Soviet Union after the war and that she lived in the city.

“Do you need a place to stay?” she asked. “There is a hotel and an inn. The hotel is on the corner and the inn is just this side of it.”

She pointed to towards the north.

“Any place to gamble around here?” Jeffries asked.

“I’m sorry – to what?” she said.

“Gamble,” he replied.

“I do not know of a place to gamble, no,” she said.

“What about a place to dance?” Geofferies asked.

“Nyet,” she said. “There are no dancing places around here.”

When pressed, she told them that she went to the clubs in Hamburg. Jeffries asked her about craftworks and cuckoo clocks and the woman told him that behind the café were several shops. He asked about warehouses on the docks and she told him there were several.

“Goods come in every day,” she said.

“What do they ship in and out of here?” he asked. “You can only walk in here.”

“Not much,” she admitted. “Fish, mostly, I think. One of the warehouses, there is a ship comes in with fish.”

“Right,” he said.

She went to see to her other customers.

“Anybody want to gamble on a fish warehouse?” he asked.

They kept an eye on those who came into the café, but no one stood out. When Geofferies noticed the busboy cleaning up the table in the corner, he approached the burly, good-looking man.

“Excuse me,” the spy said to the man in English.

The busboy, startled, dropped the plate he was holding and it shattered to pieces on the floor. He bent down to clean it up and Geofferies helped him.

“Do you speak English?” Geofferies asked.

“Ya ya ya, I speak good English,” the man said, his accent German. “I am the klutz though, I’m always breaking things. I hate vhen I’m breaking things because they take it out of my pay.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Geofferies said. “My friends and I are looking for something to do tonight. The waitress, she didn’t know of any clubs or anything in this area. I just wanted to see if you knew of any place around here to go down dancing or any gambling establishments or anything like that.”

“No no no, I do not know of anything like that or any place that you would go to do those such things. There are many clubs in Hamburg.”

“I’m sorry I startled you and made you break that plate.”

He took out a deutsche mark and gave it to the young man.

“It was my fault that it broke,” Geofferies went on.

“Oh, ya ya ya, danke,” the busboy said.

“You sure you don’t know anyplace local?” Geofferies asked again. “We’re probably going to stay at this hotel or this inn ... someplace local.”

“No, I do not know of any dancing places, no.”

“What about any places to go gamble?”

“No, I am sorry. I do not do the gambling, no.”

“Well, I do appreciate it.”

Geofferies returned to the table where Taft was trying hard not to laugh at the man. They paid the tab, which was only a couple of deutsche marks each. Taft gave away his last couple of bills. Jeffries tried to pass off some counterfeit Australian dollars to the girl, but she’d have nothing of it and wanted marks. He started looking around for tips on the tables.

“Oi, Klaus!” Taft called to the busboy. “Oi, you! What’s your name?”

“Ya, can I bus your table?” the youth asked.

“I got a question for you,” Taft said.

“So many questions,” the busboy said.

“I’m short of funds. Is there a halfway house or something like that?”

“Ya, there is a house; it is a place you could stay not for very much. It is ... if you go down past where the tourist shops are, it is one block over. It is not marked but it is next door to the massage parlor.”

“Right,” Jeffries said. “Beauty.”

The busboy gave the man instructions on how to get to the building that held both the massage parlor and the place where people could stay for a single deutsche mark per night.

Jeffries, meanwhile, was looking around for someone rich. He didn’t see anyone who fit the description, but did see a middle aged couple in the corner booth. They looked like tourists and there were several shopping bags in their booth. He went over to the table and greeted them in German.

“Do you understand what he’s saying?” the man asked, his accent placing him from somewhere in the southeast United States.

“I don’t understand him at all,” the woman replied.

“Uh ... Welcome to Sprechenhaltestelle,” Jeffries said, speaking English in a thick German accent. “How long is your stay?”

“We’re staying for two days and then we’re going on to Berlin,” the man said. “Well, West Berlin, because you can’t go to East Berlin, you know.”

“Where are you staying?”

“Oh, well, we’re staying in Hamburg. We just came over here because we heard there was good tourist stuff.”

“Do you want to go look at the parlor?”

“Parlor? I haven’t heard of the parlor. What’s the parlor?”

“It’s right down there. You take a left, you go see the parlor.”

“Okay. Are we going to go see the parlor honey?” the man turned to his wife.

“What have you heard about here?” Jeffries went on. “What have you come here to see?”

“We came ... see, I served during the war. Well, my daddy did, actually, but he told me a lot about it. So, we came over here to see it. To see everything. We’re just ... we’re travelling. My honey wants to see the Berlin Wall.”

“I’m from the tourist board.”

“The tourist board?”

“Ya, ya,” Jeffries went on. “So, we want to welcome you to Sprechenhaltestelle.”

“Oh! Well, thank you very much.”

“Ya. Have you visited our tourist information place?”

“Well, I heard there was a place. We haven’t visited it yet.”

“I could take you there.”

“Well, we’re eating right now. Could you come back in half an hour?”

“I would be more than happy to do that for you too.”

“All right. Well, we’re going to eat lunch and ... we’ll wait for you. But if you’re not here in an hour, we’re leaving.”

“All right. Do you have plenty of marks? We can exchange these things for you there too.”

“Oh yeah, we got plenty of money. I got some travelers checks too, so we should be good.”

“Ah, you have the – what’s it called? American ...”

“American Express, yeah! Travelers checks.”

“They’re perfect.”

“They’re safer than money, they say. I seen the ads.”

“Unless somebody can forge your signature, ya, it’s good.”

Geofferies went over to the table as Jeffries turned away from the couple.

“Thank you very much for all the help that you gave me,” he said to the other man.

“It was no problem,” Jeffries said, still using the German accent.

“I really appreciate it,” Geofferies said.

“Did they help you with the exchange?”

“It was great. I really appreciate it. They took the travelers checks really quick. I was glad you could take them over there for me and got it taken care of. It was so much easier doing it that way, instead of me doing it, my being from America and all. It was really rough.”

“Do you have marks on you right now?” Jeffries turned back towards the couple.

“Yeah, yeah we do,” the man said.

“How much do you have?” Jeffries said. “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“I don’t know,” the man said. “Couple hundred?”

“Couple hundred. Are you staying here? Do you have enough to get the ... are you taking a car?”

“Yeah, that’s how we got here. We took a cab.”

“Ser gut, ser gut.”

“Once again, I appreciate your help,” Geofferies said to Jeffries. “Especially on getting that money exchanged. Thanks for taking care of that for me.”

He walked away.

“Is there anything else I can do for you at this time?” Jeffries asked the couple.

“Nope,” the man said. “If you want to come back after lunch and show us where the tourist place is, that would be great.”

“Are you sure you do not want to spend the night?” Jeffries went on. “I like to encourage visitors to spend the night.”

“No, we got a place in Hamburg.”

“That is fine. I am much disappointed but I am glad you’ll enjoy your time during the day here.”

“That’s good. Once we have some lunch if you want to show us that tourist board, that’d be great.”

He left the two and headed outside, Geofferies waited for him. They wandered to the edge of the district, where they spotted Taft and Reed up the street. Jeffries asked one of the waitresses where the tourist board was located. She told him t hat it was in a row of shops nearby, giving him directions on how to reach it.


* * *


Taft and Reed left the café while Jeffries and Geofferies were talking to the American tourists. They walked north, passing an inn and a hotel, then turned the corner and followed the street towards the nearby river. They crossed at a bridge over a waterway and saw a pub on the other side. Also near the waterway was what appeared to be a mission house and they could see what appeared to be an open air market beyond that. They walked down the street to the south, passing a warehouse and spotting a large building where marine supplies were being sold. Connected to that building was some kind of restaurant that appeared to be closed until 4 p.m. On the south side of the district near the water were more warehouses and they headed away from the Elbe, passing an import house and a building labeled “art imports.” Heading north again, they spotted a massage parlor and some kind of cheap inn or flophouse. Turning east again, they found a long row of stores that included an earring shop, tattoo shop, palm reading, portrait painting, print shop, knife sharpener, locksmith, shoe store, tobacconist, tourist board, and palm shop. On one side of the row were public restrooms. To the north of the row of shops were the ruins of a building that had burned to the ground: There was nothing left but charred bits of wood and plaster.


* * *


Geofferies and Jeffries found the Tourist Information Center on the north end of a long row of shops. Within was a French woman who welcomed them to Sprechenhaltestelle in French, though they were able to communicate with her in Russian, which Jeffries quite spoke well. She told him the tourist center was open until sundown every day. He asked if she had lunch and she said she brought a sack lunch. Jeffries started laying on the charm but it didn’t seem to interest the woman.

“The only reason why I asked was that some good friends of mine who are not natives here said they were going to meet me here,” he told her. “At this tourist board. I believe that’s what they said.”

When he described the American tourists, she said they had not been there. He made sure she had been there since the office had opened and worried aloud where they might be. He noted that they were supposed to be at the hotel and hadn’t checked in yet, asking if she knew anyone who could look into it for him. She pointed out that she was the only one there. When he asked if she had a phone, she pointed one out on the desk that he could use.

“Who do I need to talk to at the hotel?” he asked.

“You will have to speak to Dimitri Petrovich,” she said.

“Well, I’ll just walk over there,” he replied. “If you’re not going to talk to him for me. Can I use your name?”

“Yes,” she said. “Giselle Montressor.”

He left the office and told Geofferies what had happened. As they were talking, Taft and Reed approached them. He quickly filled them in on his plan to shake down the tourists.

“So, all we need to do is get her out of there,” he said.

“Where did you go to?” Geofferies asked the others.

“Just for a walk,” Reed said.

“Did you find anything?” Geofferies asked.

“A pub,” Taft said.

“Well, maybe that’s where your wizard is,” Geofferies said.

“Maybe,” Taft admitted. “Could be.”

Reed noted they had spotted a few warehouses and bait and tackle shop, as well as some of the other shops they’d seen.

Jeffries looked around and noted that the shop on the corner of the nearby block of buildings was not marked. He walked over and saw that the shutters on the outside of the windows were closed and found that the door was locked. He looked back at the tourist information shop and noted that the sign over the door hung on a chain. He went back over to the others.

“Can you distract her?” he asked Taft.

“The tourists?” the other man replied.

“No, distract the lady in there while I nick the sign,” Jeffries said, pointing at the tourist shop.

“Yeah, sure,” Taft replied.

Jeffries turned to Reed and asked for his help investigating the empty shop. The two men went over and found the building locked and closed. It was obviously once a shop front. Reed realized they could easily remove the shutters. He strolled around the other side to see a basket shop and a leather goods store.

Taft went into the tourist information center and chatted with the woman in French, asking about the district. While he was in there, Jeffries took the sign from above the door and headed down towards their vacant shop, meeting Reed there. He could not find an easy way to attach the sign to the shop front. However, there was a sill on the window where he placed the sign.


* * *


Taft was having trouble with the woman. She did not seem to be very interested in talking to him after only a few minutes of his entering the shop. He persisted, however, continuing to ask her, street by street and shop by shop, what was in the area. She handed him a map but he protested that it didn’t show what the shops actually were.

“I want to go shopping,” he said. “Help me out.”

“Do you have the feet?” she asked.

“Yeah, I got two feet,” he replied.

“Then you can look,” she said.

The conversation went around and around for some time, keeping the woman busy. Every time he got an answer to a question, he wrote it on a pamphlet. When the woman turned away, he tucked the pamphlet into his pocket. When he asked another question, he would grab another pamphlet and jot down the answer, tucking it away.


* * *


Jeffries listened at the window of the empty shop and heard nothing. There was no sign of movement within so he tried the door, finding it locked. It took out a hairpin and a small screwdriver and worked on the lock for a few moments before jimmying it open and letting himself in. Reed followed close beside him.

The interior of the shop was obviously being used for storage. Boxes and crates filled with junk took up most of the room. On one side, a dusty desk was shoved up against the wall. Jeffries turned the light switch on the wall and a bare bulb came to life in the ceiling. He rolled his eyes as Reed slipped in behind him.

“What the hell, Jeffries?” Reed asked. “This isn’t going to work.”

He started to move the boxes to the back. Jeffries moved the sign to the inside of the window and then went out to open the shutters.

Geofferies peeked into the open door and then headed back to the tourist information center. He found Taft there, still talking to the French woman, who was starting to get frazzled. At one point, she said she thought they’d already written one of his questions down. Geofferies went in and started to get brochures out of a rack, making sure that he took two of each one as subtly as possible. When the French woman turned around, Taft pulled out the ones he’d already gotten and handed them off to the other man. Unfortunately, she turned back just as he handed them off.

“I’ve already got those but thank you,” Geofferies said taking another brochure from the rack. “I need some of these.”

The woman looked at them suspiciously.


* * *


Reed kept busy moving boxes and trying to help Jeffries clean up the room as best they could.

“I’m going back to meet the Americans,” Jeffries said, heading out.

Reed continued to try to make the place presentable. When he moved one box further into a corner, it pushed up against something soft. He looked behind the box and saw that it was a paper sack that he was pleasantly surprised to find filled with marks. The different denominations were all bound with rubber bands and he found there were fives, 10s, and 20s. He put a few of the bundles into his pocket and then put the bag on the desk. He went to the door and looked towards the tourist shop, seeing Geofferies leaving the other building.

Geofferies walked over to their fake shop and Reed showed him the bag.

“Here,” Reed said. “Get some of that.”

Geofferies’ eyes went wide when he saw the money.

“What the hell?” he said.

He dropped the brochures and started to shove bundles of money in various pockets. He shoved more of the money into Jeffries suitcase, which sat behind the desk. Reed took the bag and what was left in it, sticking it into his duffle bag. Geofferies picked up Jeffries’ suitcase and said they had to find the others. Reed quickly spread the brochures on the desk before following the other man out, closing the door behind him.

Geofferies went to the tourist information center, knocking on the glass. When Taft looked his way, he waved a wad of money at the man. Taft pulled out the brochures he’d been pocketing.

“I don’t think I’ll need these,” he said. “You hang onto them.”

“What?” she said.

“I wrote some notes on them though,” he said.

“What!?!” she replied.

He dropped them on the woman’s desk and left the building.

“Did it already go down?” he asked Geofferies. “Did I miss it?”

“No,” the man said.

Reed started putting the shutters back on the window as the other two men headed down the alley towards the café. They spotted Jeffries with the two Americans and Geofferies made a slashing motion across his neck.

“You having a problem?” Jeffries asked in his fake German accent. “Do you need to find something?”

“No, I am good,” Geofferies replied. “I’ve got everything that we need.”

Reed walked by without a word to them.

“Right, well, I need to take these people to the tourist board, obviously,” Jeffries said.

“Your assistant is there,” Geofferies said.

“Ask her for detailed information on the brochures,” Taft said. “That’s key. All right? Got it? Make sure you ask her quite a few questions about the brochures. They’re vague.”

“Who’s this?” the American tourist asked. “This a friend of yours?”

“I’m just a tourist, just like you,” Taft said. “I just came out of the shop.”

“You seem suspicious to me,” the American said. “I don’t like your accent.”

“Suspicious? What’re you talking about?”

“Does he look ... I think he’s a pickpocket.”

“Vas?” Jeffries asked.

“Steals your money,” the tourist said.

“Have a nice stay,” Taft said. “Have a nice stay in ... um ... Stotvanoogerville.”

Jeffries led the two to the actual tourist board but didn’t enter with them, instead heading off down the street.


* * *


The four men met and Taft and Reed led them to the pub on the north side of the district. They had located a hat shop, a perfumery, a rug shop, a brassware’s shop that appeared to be closed, and a residence of some kind.

The pub was empty except for a couple of men at one table speaking in French. They got a secluded booth and Taft filled the others in on his finding the bag of money. There was talk of splitting up the money but they decided to wait until they had some more privacy. Geofferies told Jeffries that he’d been taken care of and there was more in his suitcase.

“Well, that was easy,” Jeffries said. “I don’t feel bad about ripping off any yanks either. Can I see one of the notes?”

He took one of the bills and looked over it carefully. It was counterfeit but a very good job. He told the rest. Taft noted that they looked pretty good, though he was not used to colored money.

Geofferies asked the barkeep if there was a bank in the area.

“No, no,” the man replied in a thick, Russian accent. “The bank, it burned down three months ago. There was an explosion. Some people think that someone was trying to break in. You can see the ruins. They’re down by the shops down there.”

“Well, they’re pretty effective breaking in, then, weren’t they?” Jeffries said.

“Well, if you count them burning the bank down and probably burning up all the money, then da,” the barkeep replied.

“Well, details, right?” Jeffries said.

“That is where the ***** is,” the Russian replied. “That’s what I’ve heard.”

Drinks were cheap and large in the pub. All of them smoked cigarettes as they drank and discussed, in hushed voices, what they were going to do next. Geofferies asked the barkeep if there was anything to do in the district besides shop. The man told him that the tourist trade was very important but everything was aboveboard and very law abiding.

“Where can we gamble?” Jeffries asked.

“There is no gambling that I know of in Sprechenhaltestelle,” he said.

“We’re off to see the wizard?” Taft said.

“What?” the man said.

He walked back to the bar, looking nervous. Jeffries called him back over.

“Does this place have a basement?” Jeffries asked.

“Da,” the man said.

“It does?”

“Da.”

“Right, what do you keep down there?”

“Nothing.”

“Doesn’t it flood down there?”

“I have a pump.”

“Is he called the wizard? ‘Cause he’s expecting us.”

“What do you know about a wizard?”

“All I know is he’s expecting us. That’s all we were told.”

“Information is worth money, no.”

“Right.”

“No,” Geofferies said.

“Well ...” the barkeep said.

Geofferies reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of underwear.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, putting it back.

He pulled out some money. It turned out to be a stack of 10 mark bills, and he removed five of them and placed them on the table in front of him. The barkeep looked at the money for a moment.

“The information I have it more valuable than that,” the barkeep said, looking around the pub nervously.

“Not for me,” Geofferies said, retrieving the money.

“Oh, but it is,” the barkeep went on. “Because he knows of you. He knows everything that goes on in Sprechenhaltestelle.”

“So you say,” Jeffries said. “Why don’t you give us a taste and we’ll see whether or not what we’re buying is worth it.”

“Where’s your bathroom?” Geofferies said suddenly.

“I do not have one,” the barkeep replied.

“I’ll just go downstairs,” Geofferies said.

“What?” Taft said. “Really?”

“You can go in the river,” the barkeep said. “I do not have a bathroom. There are some public bathrooms down by the shops.”

He took out a cigarette and lit it up.

“It would be worth about twice that much,” he said, nodding at Geofferies.

Jeffries opened the top of his suitcase for the first time. When he saw how much money was within, his eyes went wide.

“Go tell them the bar is closed,” Geofferies said to the barkeep. “So we can conclude our business.”

The man nodded and told the other two men that they were closing. It took him a few minutes to get the Frenchmen out of the bar and lock the doors.

“The basement is for rent, if you wish to rent it,” he said as he returned to their table. “But you will not find the wizard there.”

“So, where is the wizard?” Geofferies asked.

“Is it dry?” Jeffries asked.

“Yes, the basement is dry,” the barkeep said.

“There’s no rising damp or any mold?” Jeffries went on.

“Give us some information so we’ll know what it’s worth,” Geofferies asked.

“What?” the barkeep said to Jeffries.

“Strewth, if I’m going to rent it, I want it to be dry!” Jeffries said.

The barkeep had turned back to Geofferies.

“The wizard knows everything that goes on in Sprechenhaltestelle,” he said.

“Does he?” Jeffries asked.

“Yes,” the man replied.

Geofferies pulled out the wad of cash, counting out ten 10-mark bills. The barkeep took the money and looked around carefully again.

“They call him the Wizard of Oz or just Oz,” the barkeep told them.

He walked to the window that looked over the waterway and pointed out as he took another drag on his cigarette.

“Where is he?” Geofferies asked.

“The mission house,” the man replied. “He lives within.”

“Right, what’s he going to do for us?” Jeffries asked.

“If you are looking for information, which everyone in Sprechenhaltestelle is, you will find information with the wizard,” the barkeep said.

“Who is he affiliated with?”

“Those of us in Sprechenhaltestelle. He is French, so he cannot be trusted. But you’ll find him there.”

“At least he’s not Russian,” Geofferies said.

The barkeep asked if they needed anything else. When Geofferies asked for whiskey, the man brought them a bottle and left it on the table. Then he opened his doors again.

They took their leave of the pub and headed down the street, turning into the alley where the mission house lay. The building was built close to the waterway and had a flat roof with a large radio antenna atop it. The door was answered by puny priest with a French accent who asked what they wanted.

“We followed the yellow brick road here,” Taft said.

“Boris sent us,” Jeffries said.

“What?” the man said.

“Boris,” Jeffries repeated. “Boris sent us down the brick road. The yellow one.”

“Brick ...?” the man said. “Yellow?”

“We’re looking for Oz,” Geofferies said.

“If you’re going to pick a nickname you should probably do some background research on it,” Taft said.

“Ignore that,” Geofferies said. “We’re looking for Oz.”

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“Larry, Moe, and Curley,” Jeffries said.

“Oz knows who we are,” Geofferies said.

“Does he?” the priest said.

He closed the door. A minute or so passed and the door opened again. The priest gestured for them to enter.

Most of the building was one large room that widened towards the middle and narrowed at either wing where there was a single door. There were a few cots, table, and chairs in the room. When they were all in and the door was closed the priest called out “They are here to see the wizard.”

One of the doors opened and a man stepped out and leveled an M1 carbine in their direction.

“My friend has told me that you know the wizard but I do not recognize you,” he said. “Perhaps you can enlighten me.”

“We were told you’d know who we were,” Geofferies said.

“Ya,” the man said. “Western agents would be my guess. What do you want with me?”

“Same thing everyone else wants of you,” Taft said. “He wants some courage, he wants some brains.”

“And he wants a larger penis,” Jeffries said, pointing at Taft. “Or one at all would do.”

“We need information,” Geofferies said.

“We’re just here to do business,” Taft said. “Do you mind getting the piece out of my face, please?”

“Yes, I mind,” the priest said. “I don’t like it when people say they know me when they do not know me.”

“We didn’t say we knew you,” Taft said.

“That is what you told my friend here,” the man said.

“We just said you were expecting us,” Taft replied.

“But I’m not.”

“That’s what we heard,” Jeffries said.

“That’s what I heard,” Taft said. “I heard you knew we were in town.”

“But I was not expecting you,” the man said.

“Well, what did you think we was going to do?” Taft said. “If you knew we were here and we were going to find out eventually what it is you do: sell information. Wait for a chance to meet on the street? Course we’re coming to you, mate. Do business or what?”

“So what are you looking for Englishman?” the wizard said.

“First I’m looking for you to get that piece out of my face!”

“No, that will not happen.”

“We’re looking for Pair-A-Dice,” Geofferies said.

“You’re looking to gamble but you come to me?” the man said.

“No, we’re looking for where they control Pair-A-Dice,” Jeffries said.

“What is it worth to you?” the man asked.

“His life,” Geofferies quipped as he pointed at Taft.

“Oh, we can do better than that,” Jeffries said.

“I know where Pair-A-Dice is but it will cost you to find out and our silence is additional,” the wizard told them.

“Your silence?” Jeffries said. “How much does it cost us if we don’t care if you run your mouth?”

“Not as much, but Pair-A-Dice is heavily guarded,” he replied.

“How much does it cost?” Geofferies asked.

The wizard quoted him a cost of 1,000 marks. Geofferies tossed him a wad of cash.

“Andre!” the Wizard said.

The puny priest retrieved the money and told him that it was only 200 marks.

“That’s a down payment,” Geofferies said.

“Very well,” the Wizard replied. “You’ll need to take a magic carpet ride. I can tell you where to get said ride and what the words are to get you there for the rest of the money.”

Geofferies reached into a pocket, made sure it was 20s and tossed it over. Andre counted it out and noted that it was 400 more marks.

“Someone else could throw some in too!” he said.

“Yeah, somebody could if I’d been given a cut of the money!” Taft said.

“I told you it was in his case!” Geofferies said.

“I can’t go in his suitcase!” Taft replied. “He’ll shoot me!”

Geofferies sighed. He reached over towards Jeffries’ suitcase. Jeffries helped him out by pulling out another stack of 20s and tossing it to the man.

“Go the rug shop,” the Wizard told them when Andre had counted the money. “Tell them you wish to take a magic carpet ride, a flying carpet ride. They will send you straight to Pair-A-Dice. Be prepared to hand over your side arms before they will let you in.”

He looked directly at Taft, whose weapon bulged in his jacket.

“Anything else?” he asked.

They shook their heads.

“Then you can go,” the Wizard said.

“Oh, where can we buy some guns?” Jeffries asked.

“I do not know of any place that sells guns in Sprechenhaltestelle,” the Wizard said. “But perhaps in Hamburg you could purchase some. Well ... there is a place where you can purchase weapons and equipment. However, information is valuable.”

“Like a rocket launcher?”

“I do not know for sure, but perhaps.”

“RPGs are great.”

“And how much is that information worth to you?”

“**** it.”

They left the building, Geofferies asking the priests to say a prayer for him.

They headed to the hotel at Jeffries request. He was ready to quick hauling his luggage around. There were three rooms available at the hotel: two with windows and one an interior room. Each room had a double bed, two chairs, a TV, a desk, a nightstand, telephone, full bath, and closet. They also checked at the inn next door and found that that place had much smaller rooms and only a common bath area. In the end, they decided to stay in the hotel. Jeffries took the interior room while Taft and Reed shared a room and Geofferies took the other room for himself.

Taft found a half used book of 10 matches under the bed.

Once within his room, Geofferies removed several of the layers of clothing he wore. He didn’t travel with luggage.

They met in Jeffries’ room and counted the counterfeit marks they had found. There were a total of 8,900 marks and they divided it evenly between them. They discussed entering Pair-A-Dice and possibly getting something besides a gun to use as a weapon. Then Geofferies left, telling the others he had business.


* * *


Geofferies returned to Oz and, after satisfying Andre, was allowed to see the man. He asked about somewhere to do some shopping and, after some haggling, paid 300 marks for the information.

“Your easiest access to Amontillado Alley, where such things can be purchased, is to go to the wine shop and mention Amontillado Alley,” he said. “You will have to turn over any weapons before you will be allowed to enter. Do not go before sundown. It is only open from sundown until midnight.”

Geofferies thanked him and returned to the hotel where he told the rest what he’d learned.


* * *


After sundown, they went to the wine shop and saw several locals entering the place. However no one was in the shop when they entered except for a small, dark-haired man. Geofferies mentioned “Amontillado Alley” and the man pointed over his shoulder at the door to the back of the shop, then pointed his thumb downwards. They went into the back room and saw a staircase leading down.

They went down to the wine cellar where a very large man was waiting among the casks. He spoke to them in English with a thick Russian accent and asked them to hand over any weapons before patting each of them down. He took the switchblade from Taft, telling him that it would be there when he returned. Geofferies handed over his Walther PPK and the man patted him down and took his brass knuckles. Reed was patted down and had nothing, as was Jeffries. Then the man directed them to the last cask on the right and told him to turn the spigot.

“You know Poe?” Jeffries asked him.

“Da,” he replied.

“So let me ask you this, are you a mason?” Jeffries asked him.

“Nyet,” he said.

They went to the cask and when Geofferies turned the spigot, the entire end of it opened. They went down a narrow corridor that opened into a well-lit underground passage. On one wall were several open chambers, above the door to each was a placard or gaudy neon sign. The one directly across from the opening they’d come in noted it was both a counterfeiting shop and arsenal. A separate door to the south had no markings and was closed and locked. However, the businesses started some 30 feet beyond it. The shops were marked: Investigators for Hire; Surveillance Supplies; Tools of the Trade; Counterfeiting and the Arsenal, which were both down the same corridor; Non-Firing Weapons; Keys & Locks; Vehicle Purchasing; Assistants on Order; Purchasing and Trading, which looked like a fence and in which they recognized the French woman from the tourist building above; and Goods Storage. To the north, on the east side was an area that dealt in drug storage and pornographic distribution, costume storage and manufacture, and an infirmary. In the center of the main corridor, on the east wall, was an unmarked steel door that was closed.

The agents spread out and started making purchases. Most of the prices were high but they were able to outfit themselves a little better. Taft got some very expensive grenades while Geofferies purchased some sleep capsules, a stiletto, and some plastique explosives. Jeffries got some C-4 and looked at miniature cameras.

Jeffries suggested that Geofferies talk to a man about a car. While he did so, Jeffries waited in the hall next to the unmarked iron door. It was solid and he couldn’t see any hinges. There was a locking mechanism and handle. It looked like it was tightly sealed and not even a breeze moved under the door.

He also looked around for surveillance cameras but saw none anywhere in Amontillado Alley. He went to the infirmary and asked the Frenchman there what he could buy behind the steel door in the middle of the Alley. The man told him that there was nothing to buy there and warned him that he didn’t want to go back there. Jeffries mentioned he might want to buy people who were going to be switching sides and he understood there was some good money in it. The man warned him that it was just the detention center and held those who worked against the people of Sprechenhaltestelle. He had the man look at a non-existent rash and he was charged 10 marks for some cream. He also noticed another of the steel doors exiting the infirmary and guessed that the detention area was in the center of the area that Amontillado Alley lay in. It was bounded on the west by the shops, the east by the infirmary, the north by a few other shops, and the south by the wine shop cellar.

They left Amontillado Alley and got their weapons back. They left the wine shop, the proprietor nodding at them. Outside, it was gloomy but the rain had finally stopped falling.

“Let’s go take a magic carpet ride,” Jeffries said.

They went across the district to the rug shop. The handsome man there was British with an upper class accent.

“We’re here to take a magic carpet ride,” Jeffries said.

The proprietor directed them to his office and waited outside. A moment later, there was a rumble and the entire floor started to go down like an elevator. They were greeted by an attractive woman at the bottom who directed them down a short hallway, where they noticed a closed circuit television camera on the wall, and gestured for them to enter the nearby door, closing it behind them. The two large men in that next room very politely asked them to hand over any weapons or valuables that they might be carrying.

“Valuables?” Jeffries said. “I thought we were coming down here to gamble.”

“Yes sir,” one of the men said. “Everything here is on credit and you will be trusted to live up to whatever money you gamble away.”

They turned over their weapons and money and were given receipts for everything. Then they were directed through a metal detector, which did not go off when Geofferies walked through with his sleep capsules. A closed circuit television camera watched that area as well.

Beyond the door was a long, well-lit corridor with a door in the center. Two closed circuit television cameras watched the corridor from either end. Wires from them ran along the ceiling to the wall over a secured door at the north end. After Jeffries paced off the corridor, he guessed that the area where the wires ran was under the mission house. A man stood at either end of the corridor and another stood near the open door in the center.

They headed to their right first and found catacombs that were all connected but had been fitted with lighting and comfortable furniture. They found a bar, a grill that used a microwave to heat food, a lounge, and a poorly lit waiting area. Restrooms were off to one side, near the guard at the north end of the corridor, who stood near the nondescript metal door. They quickly learned that the casino could be accessed from the south side of the corridor.

They purchased drinks before going to the door that led to the gambling area. They found a small area with several card tables where people gambled their money away. Further on was a larger casino with every kind of gambling. Dozens of people were gambling at the 10 tables where roulette, dice, and other games were being played. Taft headed back to the card tables and spent the next few hours gambling and listening for any code phrases. He heard nothing. The others wandered around and examined the area.

Jeffries guessed where the casino was located and hazarded a guess under which surface warehouse the main casino was. He also identified who he thought was in charge and tried to figure out who he reported to. However, the man merely moved from table to table and place to place, keeping the customers happy and dealing with the employees at various tables. He noticed several doors around the edges of the room that were marked “Employees.”

They cased the place for some time before leaving again. Taft had actually won about 40 marks. They returned to the hotel and got a good night’s sleep.


* * *


They slept in on Tuesday, May 6, 1980.

Jeffries was up before the rest. He paced off the streets from the rug merchant and figured Pair-A-Dice control was under the mission house. There was only one window on that building and a six-foot tall chain link fence stood on either side of it, though it didn’t look like it was watched. The waterway behind the mission house was about 10 feet below street level and the sides were made of concrete. While he was examining it, he noticed a small entrance across the waterway, nearer to the pub. He climbed down and found a set of steps leading up to a door. He guessed it led to the basement of the pub so he crept back out. He headed west and found a narrow warehouse on the south side of the waterway. The walls of the warehouse butted directly up to the waterway.

Heading south again, he saw that one of the fish warehouses was apparently guarded. A man in a heavy jacket walked in front of the three doors in front of the place. The two back doors were nailed shut.

He gathered the others at the hotel and proposed a plan to dig under the bridge over the waterway.

“Dig?” Taft said.

“Blow it up,” Geofferies said.

They discussed it, Taft noting that he would like to attack the mission house. There was talk of the basement in the pub and they talked about using the sewer though they had not yet seen any sewer entrances near the water. Jeffries noted that the fish warehouse was not a fish warehouse as it was guarded. Geofferies said that it warranted investigation that night.

They decided to go that night.

Reed took a taxi into Hamburg that day and spent his counterfeit money, buying small items, cigarettes, and gum. He was able to launder about 400 marks.


* * *


Late that night, the moon hung half-full over Sprechenhaltestelle and a lone man guarded the fish warehouse. It was a different man than they’d seen earlier that day, but he wore the same type of large, bulky jacket.

Reed stumbled from the area of the pub. He knew that Jeffries was around the north side of the warehouse, using a mirror to watch the guard, and Taft was around the south side out of sight. Geofferies stood around the side of another warehouse, further away. Reed passed Jeffries without even a glance and stumbled towards the large Aryan guard, who walked up the street towards him and eyed him. As the man approached, he put his hand into his jacket.

Reed reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarette. He shook the pack and several fell out onto the ground. The guard, still moving to the north, went around him as he bent down and picked up one of the cigarettes and put it into his mouth.

“Where’s the damned hotel?” Reed said drunkenly as he stood up. “Wait, where’s the damned hotel?”

The guard walked by and he acted startled. The man merely looked at him and backed away from him.

“This isn’t the hotel,” Reed said, looking at the warehouse.

He looked at the guard again and then walked towards him.

“Hey man, you got a light?” he asked.

The man glared at him.

“Nein,” he said. “I do not.”

“You don’t smoke?” Reed asked.

“Nein,” the guard replied. “It’s a filthy habit. Move on.”

“C’mon man, all I want is a light. They didn’t have any in the pub.”

“Nein! Move on!”

He seemed to be getting anxious. Reed threw the cigarette to the ground and then lunged at the man, getting him in a clinch and then jabbed the man in the stomach with his left hand and connecting solidly. He tried to jab the man in the head with his right hand but the man jerked his head back and he only clipped him. Then Jeffries rushed the guard and kicked him in the groin from behind. As the man crumpled, Jeffries kicked him in the right knee and then struck him in the right temple. He went down without a sound.

Taft ran up and Reed dragged the man around the north side of the warehouse. Jeffries suggested throwing him the river as Reed knelt and went through his belongings. He found 9mm short Walther PPK self-load, which he tucked into the back of his belt. He found a ring of keys which he handed to Taft, who used the German’s belt to tie him up. He took off the man’s shoes and socks, shoving one of the latter in his mouth and using the other one to secure it.

They returned to the front of the building, Geofferies using the keys to open one of the doors. It was very dark inside and the man took out a bulky pair of light intensifying goggles and scanned the interior. He spotted a telephone on one wall and a small crane hanging over a trapdoor in the middle of the place. A forklift was also parked along one wall near some crates. He took the goggles off.

“There’s not much in here,” he said. “It’s just a warehouse. But there is a trapdoor.”

They moved into the building. There was a hanging control connected to the crane that also opened the trapdoor. A little light came from below and they could see an inset ladder going down the short shaft to the larger room below. They heard hushed voices talking and then the lights dimmed and went out.

Taft had his .45 semi-automatic pistol in hand but he pulled a grenade out of his pocket.

“Is this full engagement?” he whispered.

Geofferies whispered back that he was not going into a dark room full of people.

“Just do it,” Jeffries said.

Taft holstered his sidearm and pulled the pin on the grenade. As he moved to throw it, Reed stopped him.

“What?” Taft said.

“We don’t know who’s down there,” Reed said. “What if the guy we’re looking for is down there?”

Taft looked at him a moment.

“Do you know how hard it is to put one of these back in?” he asked.

He started to work the pin back into the grenade’s housing.

Geofferies put his light intensifying goggles back on and looked down through the open trap. The room below was large and went back some ways from the trapdoor. He thought he could make out a half dozen people cowering against the far wall.

“I think these people need rescue,” he said.

“Come on out!” Jeffries called out in German. “We’re moving you.”

There was no reply and he tried in English and Russian. Finally, a voice answered in Russian.

“Who are you?” it said.

“We’re moving you,” Jeffries replied. “Come on.”

“But who are you?” the voice said.

“What are they saying?” Taft asked.

“Does it matter?” Jeffries said, again in Russian. “We’re the people with the guns pointed at you.”

Though the people seemed hesitant, they moved towards the trapdoor. The five people of various ages were a pretty pathetic lot. There were three men and two women, all dressed in clothing common in Soviet Russia. They carried ragged bags and looked like refugees, for want of a better term.

When Jeffries talked to them, he learned they were defectors who had left the Soviet Union and were trying to escape to the west.

“Well, you came to the right place,” he told them. “Follow me.”

They managed to get the five out of Sprechenhaltestelle and into a cab. Jeffries purchased them a room in Hamburg and sent a message to his contact in the Agency. He was told that other agents would be sent to retrieve them within a day. Then he interrogated the defectors and learned that they had been brought there in a fishing boat in great crates the day before and had been placed in the cellar, where they were told to wait and they would be moved to a place of safety. They knew of some other defectors but didn’t know what happened to them. They only had vague descriptions of the men on the boat, and everyone who talked to them had spoken to them in Russian, though some of the men had German accents. They didn’t know either the name Petrovich or Ikatchtakoph. Jeffries told them he suspected they were going to be sold back to the east.

They returned to Sprechenhaltestelle after midnight and searched the basement of the fish warehouse but it was a bare, concrete room without any doors or other openings. Jeffries guessed that it was somewhere near the tunnels that held Pair-A-Dice, but was apparently not connected to it in any way. He noted that since they didn’t know how far it was from Pair-A-Dice, they couldn’t just put some C-4 in the wall and hope to blow through.

Geofferies noted that Amontillado Alley shut down at midnight and it might be a good time to deal with it.

“Let’s go blow the Alley to hell,” Taft said.

“That’s where Petrovich is supposed to be entertained,” Geofferies noted.

They closed up the fish warehouse again and headed for the wine shop. It was dark when they arrived, with no sign of light within. Geofferies crept to the window and looked in using his light intensifying goggles. He saw no one within though knew a door separated the front and back of the shop. He examined the window carefully but saw no sign of an alarm system.

They crept around the back of the shop and found the door there. The light over it didn’t have a bulb. There was no sign of an alarm system. Jeffries picked the lock as Reed fitted his silencer to his Walther PPK, then carefully pushed the door open. He crept inside and noticed a cot on one side with a man sleeping in it. He turned to the rest and motioned for them to wait, ignoring Taft’s offer of his switchblade, and moved into the room. He put down his Walther PPK and then grabbed the man in a strangle lock. The man’s eyes opened in alarm and he grunted for only a moment or two before his feet stopped kicking and he went limp. Reed held the man for a few moments longer to make sure he was dead.

He almost tripped over a rug next to the cot with something under it. He pulled back the rug to find a Thompson submachine-gun. When Taft saw the weapon, he holstered his own .45 semi-automatic and walked forward took it, checking the box magazine and finding it fully loaded.

Reed pointed at the steps, picked up his pistol, and headed down. Taft followed him with Jeffries and Geofferies close behind. The man who had shown them the secret entrance to Amontillado Alley lay asleep in a cot at the bottom. The room was lit by the dim and flickering exposed light bulb.

Reed leapt upon the man, gripping him in a strangle hold like he had the other. The man struggled against him, flailing his arms and legs. Then Taft came down the stairs and stabbed the man in the chest with his switchblade several times, splashing blood on Reed. The blood bubbled and the man stopped struggling as he died. Reed searched him as Taft wiped the blood off his knife on the dead man. Reed found a .22 pocket self-load Beretta which he handed off to Jeffries.

“Are there any cameras in here?” Geofferies said.

The others looked around as Reed wiped off as much of the blood as he could. Jeffries said that he had looked for cameras in Amontillado Alley but hadn’t seen any.

Reed led them into the cask with the secret door. The florescent lights of Amontillado Alley were lit but the entire passage was still. They crept down to the large, unmarked steel door. Geofferies listened at the door but heard nothing so picked the lock of the steel door. He stepped back and Reed turned the lever of the door, pushing it quickly open.

A long, wide hallway stretched away on the other side of the door. They could see another door on the far wall and a second door to the left. A cot stood on one side with a man asleep upon it.

“My turn,” Jeffries whispered.

He moved into the room, drawing his sword cane from his umbrella, and brought the blade down on the sleeping man, stabbing him in the gut. The man awoke with a startled cry. He reached into his jacket as Jeffries stabbed him in the head, his blade going right into the man’s eyes. As the man crumpled, Jeffries slashed him in the torso. The stink of bowel filled the area.

They examined the grate and found that it led to a crawlspace with another grate behind it and a pair of levels next to it. They could make out what looked like the dim light from the wine cellar beyond. They didn’t disturb the levers but instead turned on the door on the opposite wall. A quick search of the body proved that the man was armed with 9mm FN Browning high-powered self-load, which Taft pocketed. He also had a ring of keys.

The near door opened into a small detention center with another cot, sink, lockers, magazines and a television. Each of the doors that led off the room had a slot underneath and bars on the small windows. A quick search proved that each of the rooms was empty except for one.

“Petrovich?” Jeffries asked the sleepy man.

“I am Petrovich,” he said.

Peeking into the cell revealed a swarthy man sitting on one of the two bunks within. The cell looked very professional and also contained a toilet and a sink. They also noticed a tape recorder and several cassette tapes, as well as paper and pens on a small table. A chair stood nearby.

“Have you made the tapes yet?” Geofferies said.

“No, I have not talked,” the man replied. “Who are you?”

“What’s this stuff here, then?” Jeffries asked him.

“They wanted me to tell them the secrets and put it on tape,” Petrovich replied. “I have not yet.”

“Hand over the tapes, mate,” Jeffries said.

“We’re here to get you out,” Geofferies said.

“Here,” Jeffries put his hand by the food slot. “We’re taking those.”

The prisoner handed over the tape player and the cassettes. Jeffries gave them to Geofferies, who tucked them into his satchel. Then Geofferies unlocked the cell and freed Petrovich.

“What are you going to do with me?” the man asked.

“Take you out of here,” Geofferies replied.

“All right,” the man said.

“Don’t try to run though,” Jeffries said.

“I have no plans to run.”

“See that smell coming down?”

“Smell?”

“Yes.”

“I cannot see a smell. I do not understand what you are saying. My English is not good. I smell something.”

“Just stay with us,” Taft told the man.

“Is there any other way out of here?” Geofferies asked, looking in the other cells.

They were all empty.

“Were there any others in here?” he asked.

“They moved a couple of people out,” Petrovich said. “I didn’t know who they were, though.”

“How’d they bring you in here?” Reed asked.

“They brought me in, I was detained,” Petrovich said. “I was defecting and they moved me. I was in a crate and I was moved to another area, was blindfolded, and then I was brought here. I was told that I had information they wanted and I would talk in the tape recorder and I would stay here until I did. They fed me but I lost my freedom.”

Geofferies guessed that the grate led to the sewers. Jeffries thought it important to find out where it led and they discussed thermite briefly.

Jeffries headed back out with Petrovich, heading to the hotel in Hamburg. The others decided to investigate the infirmary.

When Reed opened the door and stepped through, he saw a man on the other side, seemingly waiting for them. Reed fired his silenced Walther PPK and the bullet cut through the man. He stumbled but did not fall and was able to return fire, the blast sounding loud in the narrow room. His aim was off and the bullet struck the wall behind which Reed had taken cover. He started to move to his left, obviously looking for cover, and Reed fired another shot at him and backed away. The bullet struck the man in the light leg.

Then Taft stepped out with his purloined Thompson submachine-gun and fired a burst at the man. The first bullet struck the far wall but his second bullet creased the man’s skull. He grabbed the top of the weapon with his left hand to fight the kick and pulled it down, the next shot striking the dying man in the right leg. The rest of the shots went wide as the man crumpled and fell.

They fled the area, throwing two of Taft’s grenades into the armory room before escaping through the wine shop. They went to the hotel in Hamburg that Jeffries had rented and found the agent, Petrovich, and the defectors all safely there. Within a few hours, they had fled Germany.

They were well paid for their services.

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Updated 09-21-2011 at 03:00 PM by Max_Writer

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