Windmills of the Gods

Chapter Two


PAUL Ellison said, "I'm going to need your help, old friend."
"You'll get it," Stanton Rogers replied quietly.
It was their first meeting together in the Oval Office, and President Ellison was uncomfortable. If Stanton hadn't made that one mistake, he thought, he would be sitting at this desk instead of me.
As though reading his mind, Stanton Rogers said, "I have a confession to make. The day you were nominated for the presidency, I was bitterly jealous. It was my dream, and you were living it. But I came to realize that if I couldn't sit in that chair, there was no one else I would want there but you."
Paul Ellison smiled at his friend and pressed the button on his desk. Seconds later a white-jacketed steward came into the room.
"Yes, Mr. President?"
Paul Ellison turned to Rogers. "Coffee?"
"Sounds good."
"Want anything with it?"
"No, thanks. Barbara wants me to watch my waistline."
The President nodded to Henry, the steward, and he quietly left the room.
Barbara. She had surprised everyone. The gossip around Washington was that the marriage would not last out the first year. But it had been almost fifteen years now, and it was a success. Stanton Rogers had built up a prestigious law practice in-Washington, and Barbam had earned the reputation of being a gracious hostess.
Paul Ellison rose and began to pace. "My people-to-people speech seems to have caused quite an uproar. I suppose you've seen all the newspapers."
"Yes," said Stanton Rogers. "And quite candidly, Mr. President, you're scaring the pants off a lot of people. The armed forces are against your plan, and some powerful movers and shakers would like to see it fail."
Ellison sat down and faced his friend. "It's not going to fail."
The steward appeared with the coffee. "Can I get you something else, Mr. President?"
"No. That's it, Henry. Thank you."
The President waited until the steward had gone. "I want to talk to you about finding the right ambassador to send to Remania."
"I don't have to tell you how important this 'is for us, Stan. I want you to get moving on it as quickly as you possibly can."
Stanton Rogers took a sip of his coffee and rose to his feet. "I'll get State on it right away."
IN a little suburb of Neuilly it was two a.m. Marin Groza's villa lay in ebon darkness, the moon nestled in a thick layer of -storm clouds. The streets were hushed at this hour, as a blackclad figure moved noiselessly through the trees toward the brick wall that surrounded the villa. Over one shoulder he carried a rope and a blanket, and in his arms he cradled a dart gun and an Uzi submachine gun with a silencer. When he reached the wall, he stopped and listened. He waited, motionless, for five minutes. Finally, satisfied, he uncoiled the nylon rope and tossed the scaling hook attached to the end of it upward. It caught on the far edge of the wall, and swiffly the man began to climb. When he reached the top of the wall, he flung the blanket across it to protect himself against the poison-tipped metal spikes embedded on top. He stopped again to listen. He reversed the hook, shifhng the rope to the inside of the wall, and slid down onto the ground. He checked the balisong at his waist, the deadly Filipino folding knife that could be flicked open or closed with one hand.
The attack dogs would be next. The intruder crouched there, waiting for them to pick up his scent. There were two Dobermans, trained to kill. But they were only the first obstacle. The grounds and the villa were filled with electronic devices and continuously monitored by television cameras. All mail and packages were received at the gatehouse and opened there by the guards. The doors of the villa were bombproof. The villa had its own water supply, and Marin Groza had a food taster. The villa was impregnable. Supposedly. The figure in black was here this night to prove that it was not.
He heard the sounds of the dogs rushing at him before he saw them. They came flying out of the darkness, charging at his throat. He aimed the dart gun and shot the one on his left first, then the one on his right, dodging out of the way of their hurtling bodies. And then there was only stillness.
The intruder knew where the sonic traps were buried in the ground, and he skirted them. He silently glided through the areas of the grounds that the television cameras did not cover, and in less than two minutes after he had gone over the wall" he was at the back door of the villa.
As he reached for the handle of the door he was caught in the sudden glare of floodlights. A voice called out, "Freeze! Drop your gun and raise your hands."
The figure in black carefully dropped his gun and looked up. There were half a dozen men spread out on the roof, with a variety of weapons pointed at him.
The man in black growled, "What the devil took you so long? I never should have gotten this far."
"You didn't," the head guard informed him. "We started tracking you before you got over the wall."
Ley Pastemak was not mollified. "Then you should have stopped me sooner. I could have been on a suicide mission with a load of grenades. I want a meeting of the entire staff in the morning, eight o'clock sharp. The dogs have been stunned. Have someone keep an eye on them until they wake up."
Ley Pastemak prided himself on being the best security chief in the world. He had been a pilot in the Israeli Six-Day War and after the war had become a top agent in Mossad, one of Israel's secret services.
He would never forget the morning, two years earlier, when his colonel had called him into his office and said, "Ley, Marin Groza wants to borrow you for a few weeks."
Mossad had a complete file on the Remanian dissident. Groza had been the leader of a popular Remanian movement to depose Alexandres Ionescu and was about to stage a coup when he was betrayed by one of his men. More than two dozen underground fighters had been executed, and Groza had barely escaped with his life. France had given him sanctuary. Then lonescu had put a price on his head. So far, half a dozen attempts to assassinate Groza had failed, but he had been wounded in the most recent attack.
"What does he want with me?" Pastemak had asked. "He has French government protection."
"Not good enough. He needs someone to set up a foolproof security system. He came to us. I recommended you."
"I'd have to go to Francer'
"'Only for a few weeks. Ley, we're talking about a mensch. He's the man in the white hat. Our information is that he'll soon have enough popular support in Remania to knock over Ionescu. When the timing is right, he'll make his move. Meanwhile, we have to keep the man alive."
Ley Pastemak had thought about it "A few weeks, you said?"
"That's all."
The colonel had been wrong about the time, but he had been right about Marin Groza. He was a white-haired, fragile-looking man whose face was etched with sorrow. He had deep black eyes, and when he spoke, they blazed with passion.
"I don't give a damn whether I live or die," he told Ley at their first meeting. "We're all going to die. It's the when that I'm concerned about. I have to stay alive for another year or two. That's all the time I need to drive the tyrant Ionescu out of my country."
Ley Pastemak went to work on the security system at the villa in Neuilly. He used some of his own men, and the outsiders he hired were checked out thoroughly. Every single piece of equipment was state-of-the-art.
Pastemak saw the Remanian rebel leader every day, and the more time he spent with him, the more he came to admire him. When Marin Groza asked Pastemak to stay on, Pastemak agreed, saying, "Until you're ready to make your move."
At irregular intervals Pastemak staged surprise attacks on the villa, testing its security. Now he thought, Some of the guards are getting careless. I'll have to replace them.
He walked through the hallways checking the heat sensors, the electronic warning systems, and the infrared beams at-the sill of each door. As he reached Groza's bedroom he heard a loud crack, and a moment later Groza began screaming out in agony.
Ley Pastemak passed Marin Groza's room and kept walking.
THE Monday-morning executive staff meeting was under way in the seventh-floor conference room at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Seated around the large oak table were Ned Tillingest, director of the CIA; General Oliver Brooks, Army Chief of Staff; Secretary of State Floyd Baker; Pete Connors, chief of counterintelligence; and Stanton Rogers.
Ned Tillingest, the CIA director, was in his sixties, a cold, taciturn man burdened with maleficent secrets. There is a light branch and a dark branch of the CIA. The dark branch handles clandestine operations, and for the past seven years Tillingest had been in charge of both sections.
General Oliver Brooks was a West Point soldier who conducted his personal and professional life by the book. He was a'company man, and the company he worked for was the United States Army.
Floyd Baker, the Secretary of State, was of southern vintage, silver-haired, distinguished-looking, with an olo-fashioned gallantry. He owned a chain of influential newspapers around the country and was reputed to be enormously wealthy.
Pete Connors was black Irish, a stubborn bulldog of a man, hard-drinking and fearless. He faced compulsory retirement in August. As chief of counterintelligence, Connors held sway over the most secret, highly compartmentalized branch of the CIA. He had worked his way up through the various intelligence divisions, and had been around in the good old days when CIA agents were the golden boys. In fact, Pete Connors had been a golden boy himself. As far as he was concerned, no sacrifice was too great to make for his country.
Now, in the middle of the meeting, his face was red with anger. "This idiotic people-to-people program has to be stopped. We can't allow the President to give the country away. We-"
Floyd Baker interrupted. "The President has been in office less than a week. We're all here to carry out his policies and-"
"He sprang his plan on us. We didn't have a chance to get together a rebuttal."
Ned Tillingest turned to Stanton Rogers. "Connors has a point. The President is actually planning to invite the communist countries to send their spies here posing as attaches, chauffeurs, secretaries, maids. We're spending billions to guard the back door, and the President wants to throw open the front door."
General Brooks nodded agreement. "I wasn't consulted, either.
In my opinion, the Presiden's plan could destroy this country."
Stanton Rogers said, "Gentlemen, some of us may disagree with the President, but Let's not forget that the people voted for Paul Elhson. We have to support him in every way we can." His words were followed by a reluctant silence. "All right, then. The President wants an update on Remania. What's the situation with President Ionescu?"
"lonescu's riding high in the saddle," Ned Tillingest replied. "Once he got rid of the CeauSSescu family, all of CeauSSescu's allies were either assassinated, jailed, or exiled. Since he seized power Ionescu's been bleeding the country dry. The people hate his guts."
"What about the prospects for a revolution?"
Tillingast said, "Ah, That's rather interesting. Remember a couple of years back when Marin Groza almost toppled the lonescu government?"
"Yes. Groza got out of the country by the skin of his teeth."
"With our help. Our information is that there's a popular ground swell to bring him back. Groza would be good for Romania, and good for us. We're watching the situation."
Stanton Rogers turned to the Secretary of State. "Do you have that list of candidates for the Remanian post?"
Floyd Baker took an envelope from a leather attaches case and handed it to Rogers. "These are our top prospects. They're all career diplomats. Naturally," he added, "the State Department favors a career diplomat rather than a political appointee. Someone who's been trained for this kind of job. Remania is an extremely sensitive post."
"I agree." Stanton Rogers rose to his feet. "i'll discuss these names with the President and get back to you."
As the others got up to leaveNed Tillingast said, "Stay here, Pete. I want to talk to you." When they were alone, Tillingast said, "You came on pretty strong, Pete."
"But I'm right," Pete Connors said stubbornly. "The President is trying to sell out the country. What are we supposed to do?"
"Keep your mouth shut, Pete. And be careful. Very careful."
Ned Tillingast had been around longer than Pete Connors. He had been a member of Wild Bill Donovan's OSS before it became the CIA. He too hated what the bleeding hearts in Congress were doing to the organization he loved. It had been Tillingast who had recruited Pete Connors out of college, and Connors had turned out to be one of the best. But in the last few years Connors had become a cowboy-a little too independent, a little too quick on the trigger. Dangerous.
"Pete, have you heard anything,about an underground organization calling itself Patriots for Freedom?" Tillingast asked.
Connors frowned. "No. Can't say that I have. Who are they?"
"All I have is smoke. See if you can get a lead on them."
"Will do."
An hour later Pete Connors was making a phone call from a public booth. "I have a message for Odin," he said.
"This is Odin," General Oliver Brooks replied.
PAUL Ellison threw the list of candidates down on his desk. "They're dinosaurs," he snapped. "Every one of them."
"Mr. President," Rogers protested, "these people are all experienced career diplomats."
"And hidebound by State Department tradition. You remember how we lost Remania three years ago? Our experienced career diplomat in Bucharest screwed up, and we were out in the cold. The pin-striped boys worry me."
"But if you put an amateur in there, someone with no experience, you're taking a big risk."
"Maybe we need someone with a different kind of experience. Remania is going to be a test case, Stan." He hesitated. "I'm not kidding myself. I know that there are a lot of powerful people who don't want to see this work. If it fails, I'm going to get cut off at the knees. I don't intend for that to happen."
"I can check out some of our political appointees who-"
President Ellison shook his head. "Same problem. I want someone with a completely fresh point of view. Someone who can thaw the ice. The opposite of the ugly American."
Stanton Rogers was studying the President, puzzled. "Mr. President, I get the impression that you already have someone in mind."
"As a matter of fact," Paul Ellison said slowly, "I think I have."
"Who is he?"
"She. Did you happen to see Ide article in Foreign Affairs magazine called'Ddtente Now'?"
"She wrote it. What did you think of it?"
"thought it was interesting. The author believes that we're in a position to try to seduce the communist countries into coming into our camp by offering them economic and-" He broke off "It was a lot like your inaugural speech."
"Only it was written six months earlier. She's published brilliant articles in Commentary and Public Affairs. Last year I read a book of hers on Eastern European politics, and I must admit it helped clarify some of my ideas."
"Okay. So she agrees with your theories. That's no reason-"
"Stan, she went further than my theory. She outlined a detailed plan That's brilliant. She wants to take the four major world economic pacts and combine them."
"How can we-"
"It would take time, but it could be done. Look. You know that in 1949 the Eastern-bloc countries formed a pact for mutual economic assistance, called COMECON, and in 1958 the other European countries formed the EEC-the Common Market."
"We have the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes the United States, some Western-bloc countries, and Yugoslavia. And don't forget that the Third World countries have formed a nonaligned movement of their own."
The Presiden's voice was charged with excitement. "Think of the possibilities. If we could combine these plans and form one big marketplace, it could be awesome! It would mean real world trade. And it could bring peace."
Stanton Rogers said cautiously, "It's an interesting idea, but It's a long way off. Do you know anything about this woman?"
"No. Except that she's extremely bright and that we're on the same wavelength. Her name is Mary Ashley. I want you to find out everything you can about her."
Two days later President Ellison and Stanton Rogers breakfasted together.
"I got the information you asked for." ]Rogers pulled a paper from his pocket. "Mary Elizabeth Ashley. Milford Road, junction City, Kansas. Age, almost thirty-five. Married to Dr. Edward Ashley. Two children: Beth, twelve, and Tim, ten. Assistant professor, Eastern European political science, Kansas State University. Grandfather born in Remania." He looked up thoughtfully. "I must admit she sounds interesting."
"I think so too. I'd like to have a full security check run on her."
"I'll see that It's done."
"I DISAGREE, Professor Ashley," said Barry Dylan, one of the twelve graduate students in Mary Ashley's political science seminar. "Alexandros lonescu is worse than CeauSSescu ever was."
"Can you back up that statement?" Mary asked.
The waiting lists to get into Mary Ashley's classes were longer than any other professor's at Kansas State University. She was a superb teacher, with an easy sense of humor and a warmth that made being around her a pleasure. She had an oval face that changed from interesting to beautiful, depending on her mood. She had the high cheekbones of a model, and almond-shaped, hazel eyes. Her hair was dark and thick. She had a figure that made her female students envious and the males fantasize, yet she was unaware of how beautiful she was.
"Well," said Barry, "Ionescu has cracked down hard on all the pro-Groza elements and reestablished a hard-line, pro-Soviet position. Even CeauSSescu wasn't that bad."
Another student spoke up. "Then why is President Ellison so anxious to establish diplomatic relations with him?"
"Because we want to woo him into the Western orbit. Also-" The bell sounded. The time was up.
Mary said, "Monday we'll discuss the possible consequences of President Ellison's plan to penetrate the Eastern bloc. Have a good weekend."
Mary Ashley loved the give-and-take of her graduate seminar. Foreign names and places became real, and historical events took on flesh and blood. This was her fill year on the faculty at Kansas State, and teaching still excited her.
She especially enjoyed teaching about Remania. It had been her grandfather who had instilled in her a deep curiosity about his native land. He had told her romantic stories of Queen Marie and baronesses and princesses; tales of Albert, the prince consort of England, and of Alexander II, Czar of Russia.
Somewhere in our background there is royal blood. If the revolution had not come, you would have been a princess.
She used to have dreams about it.
She taught five political science classes in addition to the graduate seminar, and each of them dealt with the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. At times she felt like a fraud. I've never been to any of the countries I teach about, she thought. I've never even been outside the United States.
Mary had planned a trip abroad when she received her master's degree, but that summer she met Edward Ashley, and the European trip turned into a three-day honeymoon at Waterville, fifty-five miles from junction City, where Edward was taking care of a critical heart patient.
"We really must travel next year," Mary said to Edward shortly after they were married. "I'm dying to see Rome and Paris and Remania."
"So am I. It's a date. Next summer."
But that following summer Beth was born, and Edward was caught up in his work at the Geary Community Hospital. Two years later Tim was born. Mary had gotten her Ph.D. and gone back to teaching at Kansas State University, and somehow the years had melted away. Except for brief trips to Chicago, Atlanta, and Denver, Mary had never been out of the state of Kansas.
One day, she promised herself. One day ...
Mary gathered her notes together, put on her coat and a scarf, and headed out to her car. As she passed Denison Hall a stranger with a Nikon camera aimed it at the building and pressed the shutter. Mary was in the foreground of the picture. One hour later the photograph was on its way to Washington, D.C.
EVERY town has its own distinctive rhythm, a life pulse that springs from the people and the land. Junction City, in Geary County, is a farm community one hundred and thirty miles west of Kansas City. It prides itself on being the geographical center of the continental United States. The downtown shopping area consists of scattered stores, fast-food chains, and gas stations-the types of establishments that are duplicated- n hundreds of small towns across America. But the residents of junction City love it for its bucolic peace and tranquillity. On weekdays, at least. Weekends, junction City becomes the rest-and-recreation center for the soldiers at nearby Fort Riley.
MARY Ashley stopped to shop for dinner at Dillon's Market and then headed home. The Ashleys lived in an eight-room,stone house set in the middle of gently rolling hills. It had been bought by Dr. Edward Ashley and his bride thirteen years earlier.
"It's awfully large for just two people," Mary Ashley had protested when they'd first taken a look at it.
And Edward had taken her into his arms and held her close. "Who said It's going to be for only two people?"
When she walked in the door this evening, Tim and Beth ran to greet her.
"Guess what?" Tim said. "We're going to have our pictures in the paper!"
"Help me put away the groceries," Mary said. "What paper?"
"The man didn't say, but he said we'd hear from him."
Mary stopped and turned to look at her son. "Did he say why?"
"No," Tim said. "But he sure had a nitty Nikon."
ON SUNDAY, Mary celebrated-although that was not the word that sprang to her mind-her thirty-five birthday. Edward had' arranged a surprise party for her at the country club. Their neighbors, Florence and Douglas Schiller, and four other couples were waiting for her. Edward was as delighted as a small child at the look of amazement on Mary's face when she walked into the club and saw the festive table and the happy birthday banner. After dinner, as Mary blew out the candles on her cake, she looked across at Edward and thought, How lucky can a lady be?
Monday morning she awoke with a headache. There had been a lot of champagne toasts the night before. She eased her way out of bed and went down to the kitchen, where she set about preparing breakfast for the children.
Beth, Mary's twelve-year-old daughter, walked into the room carrying an armful of books.
Mary put a box of cereal on the table. "I bought a new cereal for you. You're going to like it."
Beth sat dowti at the kitchen table and studied the label on the cereal box. "I can't eat this. You're trying to kill me."
"Don't put any ideas in my head,". her mother cautioned.
Tim, Mary's ten-year-old, ran into the kitchen. He slid into a chair at the table and said, "I'll have bacon and eggs."
"Whatever happened to good morning?" Mary asked. "Good morning. I'll have bacon and eggs. Can I go to the skating rink after school, Mom?"
"You're to come right home and study. Mrs. Reynolds called me. You're failing math. How do you think it looks for a college professor to have a son who's failing math?"
"It looks okay. You don't teach math."
They talk about the terrible twos, Mary thought grimly. What about the terrible nines, tens, elevens, and twelves?
She had packed a lunch for each of them, but she was concerned about Beth, wtio was on some kind of crazy new diet. "Please, Beth, eat all of your lunch today."
"If it has no artificial preservatives. I'm not going to let the greed of the food industry ruin my health."
Whatever happened to the good old days of junk food? Mary wondered.
Tim plucked a loose paper from one of Beth's notebooks. "Look at this!" he yelled. "'Dear Beth, Let's sit together during study period. I thought of you all day yesterday and-"$
"Give that back to me!" Beth screamed. "Thaes mine!"
"Hey! It's signe. "Virgil." I thought you were in love with Arnold."
Beth snatched the note away from him. "What would you know about love? You're a child."
At that moment they heard the horn of the school bus outside. Tim and Beth started toward the door.
"Wait! You haven't eaten your breakfasts," Mary said. She followed them out into the hallway.
"No time, Mother. Got to go."
"Bye, Mom."
And they were gone.
Mary, feeling drained, looked up as Edward came down the stairs.
"Morning, darling," he said.
"Sweetheart, would you do me a favor?"
"Sure, beautiful." He gave her a kiss. "Anything."
"want to sell the children."
"Who'd buy them?"
"Strangers. They've reached the age where I can't do anything right. Beth has become a health-food freak, and your son is turning into a world-class dunce."
Edward said thoughtfully, "Maybe they're not our kids."
"I hope not. I'm making oatmeal for you."
"Sorry, darling. No time. I'm due in surgery in half an hour."
Mary looked at Edwaid and felt a glow. Even after all these years, she thought, he's still the most attractive man I've ever known.
"I may decide to keep the kids, after all," she said. "I like their father a lot."
"To tell you the truth," said Edward, "I'm rather fond of their, mother." He took her in his arms.
MARY and Edward left the house together, bowing their heads against the relentless wind. Edward strapped himself into his Ford Granada and watched Mary as she got behind the wheel of the station wagon.
"Drive carefully, sweetheart," Edward called.
"You too, darling." She blew him a kiss, and the two cars drove away from the house, Edward heading toward the hospital and Mary toward the university.
Two men parked half a block from the Ashley house waited until the vehicles were out of sight. "Let's go."
They drove up to the house next door to the Ashleys'. The driver sat in the cilr while his companion walked up to the front door and rang -the bell. The door was opened by an attractive brunette in her middle thirties.
"Mrs. Douglas Schiller?"
The man reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out an identification card. "My name is Donald Zamlock. I'm with the Security Agency of the State Department. I want to ask you a few questions about your neighbor, Mrs. Ashley."
She looked at him with concern. "Mary? Why would you be asking about her?"
"May I come in?"
"Yes." Florence Schiller led him into the living room. "Would you like some coffee?"
"No, thanks. I'll only take a few minutes." He smiled reassuringly. "This is just a routine check. She's not suspected of any wrongdoing."
"I should hope not," Florence Schiller said indignantly. "Mary Ashley is one of the nicest persons you'll ever meet." She added, "Have you met her?"
"No, ma'am. This visit is confidential, and I would appreciate it if you kept it that way. How long have you known Mrs. Ashley?"
"About thirteen years. Since the day she moved in next door."
"Would you say that you know Mrs. Ashley well?"
"Of course I would. Mary's my closest friend. What-"
"Mrs. Schiller, in your opinion is Mrs. Ashley an emotionally stable person?"
"Of course she is."
"Mrs. Ashley's grandfather was born in Remania. Have you ever heard her discuss Remania?"
"Oh, once in a while she'll tell stories her grandfather told her about the old country."
"One last question. Have you ever heard Mrs. Ashley or Dr. Ashley say anything against the United States government?"
"Absolutely not!"
"Then in your estimation they're both loyal Americans?"
"You bet they are. Would you mind telling me-"
The man rose. "I want to thank you for your time, Mrs. Schiller. And I'd like to impress upon you again that this matter is highly confidential. I would appreciate it if you didn't discuss it with anyone-not even your husband."
A moment later he was out the door. Florence Schiller stood there staring after him. "I don't believe this whole conversation took place," she said aloud.
BRIDGE WITH THEIR NEIGHBOIRS the Schillers was a Mondaynight ritual for Mary and Edward Ashley. The fact that Douglas Schiller was a doctor and worked with Edward at the hospital made the two couples even closer. Douglas Schiller was normally a pleasant, easygoing man, but at the moment there was a grim expression on his face. They were in the middle of the game, and the Schillers were ten thousand points behind. For the fourth time that evening Florence Schiller had reneeed.
"Florence!" Douglas exploded. "Which side are you on?"
"I'm sorry," she said nervously.
"Is anything bothering you?" Edward Ashley asked Florence.
"I can't tell you."
They all looked at her in surprise: "What does that mean?" her husband asked.
Florence Schiller took a deep breath. "Mary, It's about you."
"What about me?"
"I'm not supposed to tell. I promised."
"You promised who?" Edward asked.
"A federal agent from Washington. He was at the house this morning asking me all kinds of questions about Mary."
"What kind of questions?" Edward demanded.
"Oh, you know. was she a loyal American? was she stable?"
"Wait," Mary said excitedly. "I think I know. I'm up for tenure.
The university does some sensitive government research on campus, so I suppose they check everyone pretty thoroughly."
"Well, thank God That's all it is." Florence Schiller breathed a sigh of relief. "I thought they were going to lock you up."
"I hope they do." Mary smiled. "At Kansas State."
Abbeywood, England. "We are meeting under the usual rules, the chairman announced. "No records will be kept, this meeting will never be discussed, and we will refer to one another by the code names we have been assigned."
There were eight men inside the library of the fifteenth-century Claymore Castle. Two armed men kept vigil outside, while a third man guarded the door to the library.
.The chairman continued. "The Controller has received some disturbing information. Marin Groza is preparing a coup against Alexandros Ionescu. A group of senior army officers in Remania has decided to back Groza. This time he could very well be successful."
Odin spoke up. "How would that affect our plan?"
"It could destroy it. It would open too many bridges to the West."
Freyr said, "Then we must prevent it from happening."
Balder asked, "How?"
"We assassinate Groza," the chairman replied.
"Impossible. His villa is impregnable. Anyway, no one in this room can afford to be involved in an assassination attempt."
"We wouldn't be directly involved," the chairman said. "The Controller has discovered a confidential dossier that concerns an international terrorist who's for hire. He's called Angel."
"Never heard of him," Sigmund said.
"So much the better. His credentials are most impressive. According to the Controller's file, Angel was involved in the Sikh Khalistan assassination in India. He helped the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. He's masterminded the assassinations of half a dozen army officers in Israel, and the Israelis have offered a milliondollar reward for him, dead or alive."
"He sounds promising," Thor said. "Can we get him?"
"He's expensive. If he agrees to take the contract, it will cost us two million dollars."
"How do we get to this Angel person?" Sigmund asked.
"All his contacts are handled through his mistress, a woman named Neusa Mufiez. Angel has set her up in an apartment in Buenos Aires."
Thor said, "Who would get in touch with her for us?"
The chairman replied, "The Controller has suggested a man named Harry Lantz. He was thrown out of the CIA for setting up his own drug business in Vietnam. While he was with the CIA he did a tour in South America, so he knows the territory. He'd be a perfect go-between." He paused. "I suggest we take a vote. All those in favor of hiring Angel, please raise your hands."
Eight well-manicured hands went into the air.
"Then It's settled." The chairman rose. "The meeting is adjourned. Please observe the usual precautions as you leave."