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Title: Evasive Maneuvers
Series: The Eagle Chronicles.
Word Count 6021
Summary A friend asks Steven to go to Berlin to retrieve some sensitive documents. When he becomes wanted for murder, things get a little tough.


17 Evasive Maneuvers


Spring 1947

Steven Taylor was feeling the need to move on once more. Sure, it was interesting being in Washington as there was never a shortage of things to do. For the first few days, it was fun being in the spotlight, but that incident with the Hope focused more attention on him than he wanted. Now he just wanted to go somewhere he wouldn't be recognized, or, even if he were, no one would care.

The only problem was where. Major cities were out, yet he didn't want to be in Hicksville, either. And he was not about to head home. That would be like throwing in the towel. He sipped at his second scotch and settled comfortably back into his seat in a booth in the hotel lounge. Two older men in civilian clothing walked up to the bar discussing the merits and faults of each branch of the military. One seemed to have the swaying gait of a man who had spent a number of years on the water. No question which branch he favors. They sat at the right side of the bar where Steven could just see their faces. Navy was a wiry man with a slightly receding hairline, just going gray at the temples. Army had a more hefty build and still kept his salt-and-pepper hair in a crew cut. He didn't hear the orders placed but it looked like Army preferred his scotch neat while Navy took it with soda. It soon came to an argument between the Army and the Navy. They tried to enlist the aid of the bartender, but he had been a Marine. Then Buzz-cut spotted Steven. "Maybe you can help us out. Which is better: Army or Navy?"

"Just look at him," said the other, measuring water into his scotch. "100% Navy."

"Sorry, no."

Buzz-cut jabbed Temples with his elbow. "Ha!"

"Didn't really serve with the Army either. I was given an honorary rank, however."

The two men looked at each other, momentarily confused. Steven could almost hear them think aloud as they tried to work out who would get an honorary rank. It didn't take long to realize he had been with Intelligence.

"So, where did you see action?" the Army fan asked.

"Occupied France, Berlin, North Africa, London, Rome, and Moscow," he said, ticking them off his fingers. He couldn't help but laugh at their faces. He held out his hand. "Steven Taylor."

"A pleasure," said Navy. "Name's Johnny, and this poor misguided soul is Smitty."

"The papers were filled with stories of your visit. You don't strike me as the political type, so what are you doing here?"

"Truman wanted to hear what I thought of Nuremberg and Berlin."

"I'd say you deserve a break. How long are you staying in town?"

"Not long. I planned to head out within the next two days." He waved off the bartender. "Just have to decide where I want to go."

"I may be biased, but I think you'd love Annapolis. It's nice and quiet this time of year."

"Sounds perfect. I'll head out tomorrow." With that decision made, Steven put his money on the bar. "Good night, gentlemen. Thank you for an enlightening evening."
Steven left the bar and waited out in the lobby for about an hour until Johnny and Smitty left. He went back inside and talked to the bartender. "What do you know about those two?"

"Army and Navy? They come in about once a month. They're best friends, I can tell you that. Asking about family and stuff. They do the Army/Navy debate sometimes and I think they keep a running record of which has more supporters." He gave a little laugh. "They're OK guys. No need for you to worry about being set-up or anything."

"What makes you think I'm worried about that?" Even though that very fact was bugging me.

"C'mon, I've heard the stories. You wouldn't have come back to check on them otherwise."

"Yeah, I guess. Thanks." Steven headed back up to his room. If these two were on the level, then Annapolis would be all right.

*****************************

As it turned out, Navy was right. Annapolis was just what he needed. You wouldn't think it the state capital, especially down at the waterfront where its colonial charm was strongest. He sat outside one of the many restaurants, luxuriating in the early spring sunlight. As it approached noon, the area became busy, shoppers and workers stopping for lunch. How he craved a normal life, going to work than home again. Somehow, he knew that would never be the case. Even if he did settle down, get a real job, his past would always be there, haunting him in some way or another.

Rocking his chair up on its back legs, he leaned back against the building and sighed in contentment. He could almost get used to this idleness. Not for too long, of course, but he could move from city to city, taking in new experiences without responsibility. Finances might become a problem, though.

"Mind if I join you?"

Steven opened his eyes and squinted. A suited figure slowly came into focus. "Aren't you a bit far from your stomping grounds?"

"Not as far as you," said the man as he sat down. "I never expected to see you here."

"Perhaps that's why I chose it. How did you find me, anyway? Somebody spot me and call it in? No, wait. You had me followed."

He smiled. "Nothing so dramatic. I asked around at the hotel, and, after I couldn't find you there, the bartender told me of a conversation you had."

"Ah, the Army-Navy debate." Steven took a sip of his coffee. "So, why did you want me, Pete?"

"It's something that needs to be kept quiet." He looked around nervously at the nearby tables. There was a buffer zone of empty tables around them, so there was no worry of being overheard if they kept their voices down.

"Obviously, or you would have used one of your own."

"Yes, well." Pete cleared his throat. "I need you to retrieve sensitive information from Berlin."

"I was just there in October...."

"I had heard."

"Where in Berlin is this information?"

"You're willing?"

"I owe the Hammer and Sickle. Where?"

"All right...."

**********************

Steven got himself on a transatlantic flight the following day under one of his many aliases. At least the dilemma of where to go next had been solved for him, thought perhaps not as he'd planned. As only a few people knew his face, disguise was unnecessary. How he would get to Berlin from England through the post-war landscape without using any sort of pull might be a bit tougher.

He sat back in his seat and went through his options. Let's see. There's always Simon Townshend, reporter. I could say I'm doing follow-ups to Paris - no-- damn! Thanks to Gaston, the world knows about that. The reporter angle could still work, though. Every country is sending journalists, so I should be able to finagle my way. Then, of course, there are the necessary papers to be acquired... Christ, the logistics involved now are enough to drive anyone mad. But a little finesse, a little cash, and it would work. Settled on his plan, Steven took a quick nap.

Once in London, he phoned the Swiss Embassy. They were very accommodating, and once they had all the pertinent information, told him to stop by the following afternoon and his papers would be ready.

The next stop would be transportation. With all the planes and ferries going between England and France, he should be able to hop one. He'd inquire at the Swiss Embassy tomorrow to see what they knew.

************************

The clerk at the Swiss Embassy had told him of a US supply plane that would be leaving in the morning. It was the earliest he could leave England, and, since he had to be in Berlin within the week, he took it. Arrangements had been made and now he was keeping to shadows, hiding his face from the Americans that manned the base. He was told to put his satchel on the plane. He left his well-worn brown jacket there as well and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt in order to assist with the loading. He spoke in a thick accent and purposely misheard words to make conversation difficult. He didn't need to develop any more lies he could be caught in.

When they reached Paris and began to unload, one of the crew came back. "You need to go to Berlin?" He spoke slowly, as if talking to a child or an idiot.

"Oui, je faut aller pour Berlin," he answered. Are they going to save me the trouble of planning the next leg?

"Stay on the plane. We go to Berlin."

"Ah. Merci." Luck was always a welcome traveling companion. He got off to stretch his legs and grab a bite before the plane resumed its trip to Berlin.

**************************

When the plane landed at Templehof, Steven fell into French, thanking them profusely. He even gave a few a Gallic farewell. That would certainly give them some stories to tell. He strode across the hastily defined U.S. airbase, acting as if he every reason to be there and wasn't on some shady mission.

Once clear of the base and in the street, Steven checked his watch and he saw he still had time before dark. He took a deep breath. Time for some reconnaissance. He was not looking forward to being only yards away from the Russians, but if Pete was right in the details he had confided he had to retrieve those documents.

He walked slowly, not even paying attention to where he was going. He registered buildings, streets, and people while his feet were on automatic pilot. He only stopped when he could see the fence marking the end of the American sector. It was then that he realized with a start he was just around the corner from Prinz-Albrechtstrasse. Even though he had confronted his past just last year, his proximity to the prison where he had been chained for three months still had his heart pounding and hands sweating. It was at Number 8 where he had been held and questioned for months by the Gestapo. He felt his wrists and expected them to be raw from the chains chafing. He looked at them surprised to only see pale scars. He took a deep breath of the fresh--but damp-spring air and relished every moment knowing he would never be in that dank cell again.

Just a little way down the Wilhelmstrasse in the Russian sector, had been the heart of the Reich and the location of most of the Ministries. It held a bizarre mix of memories for him. It was in one of these buildings that he met with Hitler on numerous occasions while acting as a double agent.

He picked up his pace and continued up towards the Tiergarten and the British sector. He didn't cross the border, but watched how the guards handled everything. It didn't seem to involve much; show your papers, give your reason, and you're in. If he left early enough, it should give him enough time to get through and become reacquainted with the territory. He turned back and walked the streets of the American sector before finding a middle-of-the-road boarding house. He paid in advance for a week and headed straight up to his small but tidy room. Tomorrow was going to be busy.

*****************************

After a quick breakfast of coffee and a kreuller, Steven left the house and took the U-Bahn to Anhalter-Bahnhof, close to the sector border. His clothes today were dirty and well-worn, and he adopted the limp of a returned soldier. His papers proclaimed him to be Linus Roebling, currently living in Kreusburg. When his turn arrived, his papers were examined and the soldiers were satisfied with his answers because they waved him through. He smiled as he walked away, the feeling akin to the "old days".

There was a chill in the air and everything seemed either blue or grey. He could smell smoke from a number of fires in homes and even a few he noticed lit in barrels placed intermittently through the city. He shoved his gloved hands into his pockets as he continued down the road. He stopped briefly to get his bearings before heading north. He arrived 30 minutes early at the Platz der Republik. He kept the bombed out shell of the Reichstag to his right as he kept an eye on the open square. He walked around, checking all avenues of escape. Ten minutes before the rendezvous, he took out a royal blue scarf and draped it over his shoulders then prepared to wait.

It wasn't long before he saw a uniform approaching. As he got closer, Steven could discern the British insignia and sergeant's rank. It made sense as the documents were in British hands--still safely secret, it would seem, as no other power was bidding on them. The sergeant sat on the opposite end of the bench and Steven looked at him out of the corner of his eye. He was near Steven's own age with sandy brown hair in a military cut.

"You're the one sent for the papers?"

"Yeah. I was just in the States a few days ago," he answered, adopting a Brooklyn accent. "He didn't even tell me what it was."

"Hah," the young Mancunian scoffed. "I don't even know what it's for and I've been working on the damn translation for weeks."

"Almost done?"

"Should be by tonight. Come by the Commission around midnight? It's usually rather empty around then."

"Fehrbelliner Platz, right?"

The sergeant nodded and left. With the rest of the day to fill, Steven walked around the British sector, taking in all the changes that had been made since the previous autumn and marking what buildings were no longer and what roads were still blocked. He was able to take the U-Bahn to Spandau and stood outside the citadel prison, just watching, for at least an hour. He knew the inmates--it was information that he had smuggled from Berlin in 1943 that helped condemn them. He had been satisfied when the trial was done, another chapter in his life complete. Standing here now it seemed he was forced to re-read it.

As it started getting dark, he returned to the city center. He then found a small café where he grabbed some rouladen and a beer. A few hours left, he went to a cabaret where he relaxed and behaved, to all observers, as if he had nothing on his mind.

He arrived at Lancaster House, the home of the British Control Commission of Germany, a few minutes before midnight. He stood in the shadows, contemplating the best way into the building when a side door opened and the sergeant waved him in. Well, that takes the fun out of it.

"C'mon, this way," the Brit whispered urgently. "Don't want anyone else to see you."

Steven followed the sergeant up three flights of stairs and into a small room crammed with desks and file cabinets. They crossed to the far side of the room and the sergeant retrieved the crisp manila folder from a battered file cabinet and handed it to him. "It's in there."

"And the original German?"

"Don't be daft! Can't give that to you. Each document is numbered and accounted for. If it's missing, I could be court-martialed."

"All right." He noticed the man try to hide another folder beneath some others in the desk. He caught the man's eye and winked broadly. "I think we should make this look realistic, don't you? We don't want people thinking someone just waltzed in here and you handed them over."

"Stage a fight, you mean. Let's go at it."

The two men pushed each other around to upset papers and put furniture out of place. The sergeant's thick, meaty arms crushed Steven's waist, and the air burst from his lungs. Steven sent a pair of chops at his block and tackle shoulders.

"What? Was that a love tap, yank?"

He lifted Steven off the desk and squeezed. Steven reeled back his arm even as the lights danced before his eyes. He drove his fist into the soldier's nose. Cartilage cracked beneath his fist, and the sergeant howled. His grip slackened just slightly, but slightly was enough. Steven slipped through Manchester's arms and with a sharp, sweeping kick whipped his legs from beneath his body. Screaming the Sergeant went down and stayed that way.

"Must look real," Steven said as he snatched up the original German files and other translation before leaving, closing the door behind him.

As he snuck down the hall, he heard footsteps approaching, and ducked quickly into a dark office. He cracked the door open and watched as another soldier reached the top of the stairs. He was not a guard, as he did not look about, but strode purposefully as if he had his own destination. Once the footsteps had faded, Steven crept quietly down the hall and left the same way he had come.

He made his way back to the boarding house after securing the files in a safe place to be picked up on his way out of the city. Once back up in his room, he collapsed onto his bed, hoping for at least five hours' sleep. Now that he had the information, he had to get it back to Pete in DC as soon as he could. He fell asleep making plans.

************************

The following morning he woke relatively early, packed his belongings, and wiped every surface-just in case. He placed a few extra marks in an envelope and placed it on the dresser. As he reached the first floor, he could hear the radio on in the front parlor. At this point, the only station going was American, and, unfortunately, his landlady didn't know much English.

"Herr Roebling, you speak English, ja? Mine is not so good. Could you tell me what they are saying? It sounds important."

Steven walked closer to the radio. "Someone broke into the British Commission, and, after a struggle, a British soldier was stabbed with a knife and died," he translated. What the hell? Steven struggled to keep his face neutral and unconcerned.

"Do they have any idea who it was? I mean, was he...?"

He knew she meant was the suspect German. "He knew his way around and they think the soldier surprised him during the burglary. They say there was a witness who saw him leave. The man gave a full description. He then identified - " Steven coughed, and continued. "His description of the burglar matched that of Steven Taylor." A setup!

"Oh, him," said his landlady. "I'm not surprised at that."

"Why not? What do you know of him?"

"He has pretended to be so many things in his life, why not a hero? He made headlines even here in Berlin." She switched off the radio and went into the kitchen.

Steven stood there stunned. Pete? Would Pete go through these lengths, send me halfway across the world, murder an ally soldier, just to blacken my name? Dear God, why? To turn people against me? Make them think I reverted to a thief? His landlady set a bowl of lumpy, unsweetened porridge on the table. Not willing to risk her suspicion, he sat down to eat. As he struggled through the bowl, he barely listened as his landlady complained once again about the hardships she was enduring just to get enough food. He finished breakfast and made his goodbyes

"You will be back, Herr Roebling?"

"I am not sure, but I doubt it. I plan on looking for a job in Tiergarten, so I may take a room there."

"Good luck to you then."

"Danke, Frau Meyer."

He left the boarding house and put Herr Linus Roebling in his bag and resurrected Monsieur Luc Renault, Swiss journalist. A few minor changes in his appearance altered him enough that no one in the British Commission would immediately recognize him. Hopefully, if all went right, he would get his information and be gone, leaving no one the wiser.

*************************

He arrived at Lancaster House, and, using his Swiss pass, was allowed in to see the officer in charge of handling the press. He gave Steven the official story on the murder, the one that he had already heard on the radio. "So, you are saying that the soldier was killed by Monsieur Taylor in a fight?" asked Steven in his accented English. The officer nodded. "But - we have all followed his career, no? I understood that he never killed anyone in any of his thefts."

The officer scoffed. "He has killed in self-defense."

"Did he initiate the attack?"

"Only Taylor knows."

"What of the soldier who witnessed the attack? May I speak with him?"

"I don't think he is available at the moment."

"Then I shall come back to talk with him later in the day if I may."

"I'll notify the sergeant at the desk that you will be returning. Do you have a number where you can be reached should he return before you?"

Think quick, Taylor. "No, I will be working on other leads in the city. Merci."

Steven knew he had to get something concrete before he could convince past associates that he was not responsible. Since Pete seemed to be the one who set him up, he had to have someone here in Berlin, an extension to do all his grunt work. And he had to keep in contact with him. So where would a call from DC not draw attention? Allied Command in the American Sector. He'd need one of his best disguises to even get near the place.

He crossed back over the checkpoint and resolutely made his way towards Allied Command. He had to find a way inside, and he had to get some proof of Pete's involvement. He doubted the phone calls would be logged, but there had to be incriminating evidence somewhere. He found a spot out of sight amongst a small group of trees across the street from the building where he could watch the comings and goings and formulate a plan.

After watching a dreary procession of olive drab for almost three hours, Steven suddenly stood up straight. There, leaving the building, was the British soldier he had seen in the hall the night of the murder now dressed as a GI. Steven let out a low whistle. So that's how I was fingered! The SOB tailed me, snuck into Lancaster House knowing I was there, killed the clerk, and then told everyone he saw me running from the scene. What did Pete do to convince this guy to do it? I can't confront him now, but at least I have a connection that I can use.

Knowing there was no reason to stay in Berlin and increase the risk of being caught, he left the city using Luc Renault, and headed west. With luck he could reconnect with friends from his Resistance days who might help.

*************************

Within hours, the word had come back to Washington that Steven Taylor was wanted for the murder of a British soldier in Berlin, as well as the theft of sensitive German documents. Sitting behind his little desk in a room he shared with two other agents, Pete couldn't believe that Steven had fallen for his story. The man was always so cautious, a trait stemming from his time as a thief and then enhanced during the war. Maybe he just didn't believe 'good old Pete' was capable of it.
He looked at his watch. Time to call Berlin. Griffin was a greedy SOB but as a skilled infiltrator, he was good at his job. When he finally came to the phone, Pete was impatient for good news. He would have to wait a little longer.

"No one's seen him. There haven't even been any rumored sightings. And none of his known aliases, or any using those same initials, have come up either."

"Damn! He knows the city too well. He could be anywhere."

"I doubt any of his contacts will want anything to do with him now with a murder rap hanging over him."

"That was part of the plan," Pete said. Griffin could be incomprehensibly thick sometimes.

"Do you think he could have gone east?"

"He's not that scared or desperate yet." Pete thought for a moment. "If you wanted to pass hassle-free between zones, what would be your best cover?"

"A neutral passport," answered Griffin after a pause.

"I know Steven once used a Swiss ID. Go to all the checkpoints and find out what Swiss nationals came through and when. We have to get him before he leaves the city."

**************************

Steven stopped his "borrowed" Jeep when he thought he was far enough away from Berlin. Deciding it was time to actually look at the file, he pulled out the folder from under the seat and studied the pages. According to what Pete had said, he had believed that the documents had something to do with a secret pact with Germany that would be damaging beyond words. Now he knew that story had been concocted just for him. These documents had nothing to do with any pact, secret or otherwise. What he was looking at now were detailed diagrams with mathematical equations and what looked like chemical formulae. If he had to make a guess, he would say it was another atomic bomb, maybe something even stronger.

Knowing these plans were way too important to cart around with him and knowing he might need some future leverage, he knew he had to stash them somewhere safe, somewhere where no one else could lay their hands on them. There was only one place he could think of.

A few years back, after a particularly nasty close call, he decided to create his own little nest egg in case of emergency and began secreting away money and small objets d'art in a Swiss account. What safer place for the original German documents? He'd need the translations to prove his innocence and hopefully bring down Pete in the process.

He drove into town, abandoned the Jeep, and boarded a night train bound for Zurich. Once in his compartment, he looked for a decent hiding place for the papers. Not finding exactly want he wanted, he settled for slipping the file under the bunk and pushing it back against the wall. He'd wake before anyone could even reach them. This done, he stretched out for a decent night's sleep, not knowing when he'd next have the chance.

***************************

That night as Steven caught forty winks on the train, Griffin went to the gate leading into the British sector and asked for a list of all Swiss nationals who had crossed in the last three days. After a drawn out discussion with the guard on duty, he finally got what he needed. There was only one who even came near Taylor's general description. A journalist named Luc Renault passed through a few times, the last being the day after the murder.

"Must've gone to Lancaster House to write the story," commented the guard.

"Must've." Great. Now I have to go to Lancaster House myself and hope that no one recognizes me.

He took the Jeep to British HQ, parked right in front of the main doors, and strode inside to the main desk. The harried clerk looked up at the American officer. "May I help you, sir?"

"I'm Captain Griffin, here to investigate the murder. I need to speak to your press officer."

"One moment, sir."

Griffin cooled his heels pretending to study the architecture, while his mind thought on how Pete botched this job by bringing Taylor into it. He could have obtained the files just as easily without attracting media attention. Not only didn't they have the file, but Taylor had slipped through their hands with them.

"Captain Griffin, I am Lieutenant Lawler, the press officer. You're here because of the murder?"

"Yes. We have reason to believe that Taylor returned here the day after, posing as a Swiss reporter."

"There was a Swiss journalist here. I never thought it could be him. He asked a number of pertinent questions, too."

"Such as?"

"How did we know it was Taylor and why would he kill when he never did so before during a theft. Now I understand why he was so well-informed about Taylor."

"Was there anything else?"

"Yes. He wanted to speak with the soldier who identified him."

"And did he?"

"No because he was not available. I asked for a number where we could reach him and he said he would be back later."

"I doubt he will be back, but if you do see him, contact me at Allied HQ, then try to stall."

"Excuse me, Captain. There's a phone call for you," called the clerk.

Griffin walked over and picked up the phone. "Griffin."

"Sir, we just received news. It seems one of our Jeeps is missing."

"Any idea how long?"

"A few hours maybe."

"Wonderful. I'll be right there." He hung up the phone. "A new lead has come up that I need to investigate. If you remember anything else, call me."

He drove back to HQ and called a briefing of all Intelligence officers under his command. "This missing Jeep could be what Taylor used to leave Berlin. Given the window, he can't have gotten far, so I want all local officials notified."

"Excuse me, sir, but where would he be going?"

"Good question. There's a strong chance that he will avoid his known haunts, but I want London and Paris notified immediately." The room cleared out. He gripped a pencil tightly, nearly snapping it in anger. He is not getting away from me!

************************************

Steven got off the train in Zurich and, after a stop in the men's room to clean up and change identities, he hailed a cab to take him to the bank. He gave the clerk the number to his primary account. There must have been a flag on it, for the man picked up the phone, dialed an inside number, and asked for a Monsieur Thibaut.
"Is there something wrong?" he asked after the man had hung up.

"Non, monsieur. We were just told to notify the manager when you came in."

"Ah." They can't have heard the news. I mean, what would they care anyway? "Vartan" is one of their best clients.

He looked up as an older man in a three-piece suit greeted him. "Monsieur Vartan, it is good to see you again. You fared well during the war?"

"I survived." He looked around the lobby. "You seemed to have thrived."

"People always need to protect their belongings, during war especially." He led Steven through the secure area to the vault and safe deposit boxes. The time of his visit was recorded in a log and he wrote his signature in the space provided. He was then ushered to a private viewing room to await the arrival of his items.
He opened the box and was greeted by money in all its various glory. He pocketed francs-Swiss and French-before removing papers confirming Michel Vartan's identity. He then buried the German file beneath some velvet bags containing objects of a more "delicate" nature that he wished he had the time to gaze at.
Mission completed, Monsieur Vartan left the bank and took a taxi to the Hotel Eden du Lac. There he was greeted warmly by the reception clerk who was something of a fixture. "M. Vartan, how good to see you again."

"Merci, Bertrand. Things have been going non-stop for me. I need a place to relax and forget the world for a time," Steven told him as he signed the register.

"We can certainly accommodate you, monsieur. Your usual room?"

"That would be lovely." He liked the room for its proximity to various escape routes.

"How long will you be saying?"

"Only one night, I'm afraid. I need return to Paris tomorrow."

Steven followed the bellhop to his room then tipped him generously before closing the door. As he passed a mirror, he realized that the first order of business would be a nice steamy shower. All he could manage in Berlin was a sponge bath which did help take away the stink, but he felt like he had a number of layers of dirt over his skin. As he undressed, he hung his clothes around the bathroom to steam them so they wouldn't look like he had slept in them. Maybe later he could find a decent off-the-rack suit befitting a Parisian businessman.

He stepped into the shower and just stood there as the water washed over him. As good as it felt, he knew there were other things he needed to do before he could relax. After scrubbing himself red and washing his hair, he dried off and put on his suit which now looked presentable. The room gave him a chill after the warmth of his sauna.

He sat at the desk by the window, the winter scene soon fading as he thought out his plans for the next few days. If the plans are what I think they are, I need to find a physicist, one who owes me a favor or two... He smiled to himself. And only one fits the bill. Thing is, is Jonteau in Monte Carlo or Paris? I could call Gaston. He knows about Vartan and didn't spill the beans about him when he blabbed about Townshend. If he doesn't know where to find Jonteau, I'll take whichever train leaves first. He sighed, picked up the phone, and asked the hotel operator to place a call to Paris, giving her the number to Gaston's café. A few moments later, the phone was ringing in Paris. "Café Gaston."

"Gaston, c'est Vartan."

There was a hesitation and Steven feared he would hang up.

"Give me one good reason why I should believe you."

"I was set up." He felt Gaston needed more of an explanation. "I was led to believe the files were compromising so I took them. I didn't kill anyone."

"And the files? What are they?"

"I'm not sure. That's why I need Jonteau."

"All right. I believe you. I just wanted to hear you say it."

"Is Jonteau in Paris? I need him to look at this stuff."

"How would I know if he were here?"

"You make a point of knowing everything in Paris. Plus the fact that you helped get him out of Nazi hands."

There was a pause as Gaston thought. "Genevieve did come by a few weeks ago. Said she saw you in Monte Carlo last year."

"Yeah. Anyway, did she say Dad was there too?"

"She did say he wanted his old life back and was reconnecting with friends ."

"Great. I'll be in Paris tomorrow evening. I'll stop by the café."

"Back door. The gendarme will have been put on alert."

"Mustn't upset business, must we? Merci, Gaston. A bientôt."

***************************

Griffin sat back in his chair in his office, his eyes aching from staring at paperwork.

"Sir!" called one of his lieutenants, "we have a report on the missing Jeep."

"Where is it?"

"At a train station in Halle."

"How long do they think it's been there?"

"Since maybe 1700 or 1800. No later than 1900."

"Damn! He could be anywhere."

"I asked what trains left within that timeframe." He handed Griffin the short list. "There's only one place, don't you think?"

"It was the obvious choice--which is why we didn't think of it. Get me Templehof on the phone. I need to get to Switzerland."

"And if Washington calls?"

"Tell them the truth: I'm out after Taylor."

Part 2.

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