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Thirty-two months of grueling serpentine work were about to bear fruit, thought Latham. Nearly three years of building a life, a life that was not his, were about to come to an end. The incessant, maddening, exhausting travels throughout Europe and the Middle East, synchronized down to hours, even minutes, so he'd be at a specific place at a given time, where others could swear on their lives that they had seen him. And the scum of the world he had dealt with--arms merchants without conscience, whose extraordinary profits were measured by supertankers of blood; drug lords, killing and crippling generations of children everywhere; compromised politicians, even statesmen, who bent and thwarted laws for the benefit of the manipulators--it was all finished. There would be no more frenzied funneling of gargantuan sums of money through laundered Swiss accounts, secret numbers, pectrograph signatures, all part of the deadly games of international terrorism. Harry Latham's personal nightmare, as vital as it was, was over.
"We are here, Herr Lassiter," said Latham's German companion as the mountain vehicle pulled up to a barrack door under the roped green screening high above. "It is much warmer now, much more pleasant, nicht wahr?"
"It certainly is," answered the deep-cover intelligence officer, sitting down from the rear seat. "I'm actually sweating under these clothes."
"We'll take the outerwear off inside and have yours dried for return."
"I'd appreciate it. I must be back in Munich by tonight."
"Yes, we understand. Come, the Kommandant." As the two approached the heavy black wooden door with the scarlet swastika emblazoned in the center, there was a whooshing sound in the air. Above, through the translucent green screening, the large wings of a glider swooped in descending circles into the valley. "Another wonder, Herr Lassiter? It is released from its mother aircraft at an altitude of roughly thirteen hundred feet. Naturlich, the pilot must be extremely well trained, for the winds are dangerous, so unpredictable. It is used only in emergencies."
"I can see how it comes down. How does it get up?"
"The same winds, mein Herr, with the assistance of disposable booster rockets. In the thirties, we Germans developed the most advanced glider aircraft."
"Why not use a conventional small plane?"
"Too easily monitored. A glider can be pulled up from a field, a clear pasture. A plane must be fueled, be serviced, have maintenance, and frequently, even a flight plan."
"Phantastisch," repeated the American. "And--of course--the glider has few or no metal parts. Plastic and sized cloth are difficult for radar grids to pick up."
"Difficult," agreed the new-age Nazi. "Not completely impossible, but extremely difficult."
"Amazing," said Herr Lassiter as his companion opened the door of the valley's headquarters. "You are all to be congratulated. Your isolation is matched by your security. Superb!" Feigning a casualness he did not feel, Latham looked around the large room. There was a profusion of sophisticated computerized equipment, banks of consoles against each wall, starchy-uniformed operators in front of each, seemingly an equal mix of men and women.... Men and women--something was odd, at least not normal. What was it? And then he knew; to an individual, the operators were young, generally in their twenties, mostly blond or light-haired, with clear, suntanned skin. As a group they were inordinately attractive, like models corralled by an advertising agency to sit in front of a client's computer products, conveying the message that potential customers, too, would look like this if they bought the merchandise.
"Each is an expert, Mr. Lassiter," said an unfamiliar, monotonic voice behind Latham. The American turned abruptly. The newcomer was a man about his own age, dressed in camouflage fatigues and wearing a Wehrmacht officer's cap; he had silently emerged from an open doorway on the left. "General Ulrich von Schnabe, your enthusiastic host, mein Herr," he continued, offering his hand. "We meet a legend in his own time. Such a privilege!"
"You're far too generous, General. I'm merely an international businessman, but one with definite ideological persuasions, if you like."
"No doubt reached by years of international observation?"
"You could say that, and not be in error. They claim that Africa was the first continent, yet, while others have developed over several thousand years, Afrika remains the Dark Continent, the black continent. The northern shores are now havens for equally inferior people."
"Well said, Mr. Lassiter. Yet you've made millions, some say billions, servicing the dark and darker skins."
"Why not? What better satisfaction can a man like me have than by helping them slaughter each other?"
"Wunderbar! Beautifully and perceptively stated...You were studying our group here, I watched you. You can see for yourself that these, every one, are of Aryan blood. Pure Aryan blood. As are those everywhere in our valley. Each has been carefully selected, bloodlines traced, their commitment absolute."
The dream of the Lebensborn," said the American quietly, revially. "The breeding farms estates actually, if I'm not mistaken, where the finest SS officers were bred to strong Teutonic men--"
Eichmann had studies done. It was determined that the north Germanic female had not only the finest bone structure in Europe and extraordinary strength, but a marked subservience to the male," interrupted the general.
"The true superior race," concluded Lassiter admiringly. Would that the dream had come true."
"In large measure it has," said Von Schnabe quietly. "We believe a great many here, if not a majority, are the children of those women. We stole lists from the Red Cross in Geneva, and spent years tracing down each family where the Lebensborn infants had been sent. These, and others we shall recruit throughout Europe, are Sonnenkinder, the Children of the Sun. The inheritors of the earth!"
"We're reaching out everywhere, and everywhere those selected respond to us, for the circumstances are the same. Just as in the studies, when the stranglehold of the Versailles and Locarno treaty led to the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic and the influx of undesirables throughout Germany, so has the collapse of Berlin Wall led to chaos. We are a nation in conflagration, the low-born non-Aryans crossing our borders in unlimited numbers, taking our jobs, polluting our morals, making whores of our women. Because where they come from it's perfectly acceptable. It's totally unacceptable and it must stop! You agree, of course."
"Why else would I be here, General? I have funneled millions into your needs through the banks in Algiers by way of Marseilles. My code has been FrÞre--Br³der--I trust it is familiar to you."
"Which is why I embrace you with all my heart, as does the entire Br³derschaft."
"So now let's conclude my final gift, General, final, for you will never need me again...Forty-six cruise missiles appropriated from Saddam Hussein's arsenal, buried by his officer corps, who felt he would not survive. Their warheads are capable of carrying massive explosives as well as chemical payloads--gases that can immobilize whole areas of cities. These are included, of course, along with the launchers. I paid twenty-five million, American, for them. Pay me what you can, and if it is less, I will accept my loss with honor."
"You are, indeed, a man of great honor, mein Herr."
Suddenly the front door opened and a man in pure white coveralls walked into the room. He glanced around and saw Von Schnabe, and marched directly toward him, handing the general a sealed manila envelope. "This is it," the man said in German.
"Danke," replied Von Schnabe, opening the envelope and extracting a small plastic pouch. "You are a fine Schauspieler--a good impersonator--Herr Lassiter, but I believe you lost something. Our pilot just brought it to me." The general shook the contents of the plastic bag into his hand. It was the transponder Harry Latham had shoved between the rocks of a mountain road thousands of feet above the valley. The hunt was finished. Harry swiftly raised his hand to his right ear. "Stop him!" shouted Von Schnabe as the pilot grabbed Latham's arm, yanking it back into a hammerlock. "There'll be no cyanide for you, Harry Latham of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. We have other plans for you, brilliant plans."