Agent Francis Cummings is the RPA’s man on the ground in Berlin, and the man who will be our guide for the week. We leave the RPA and go back to our hotel, with the rest of the day off to do with as we wish. Cummings is waiting in the car, looks like he’s asleep, but he wakes as we approach. Cummings takes us back and drops us off, lets us all know that he’ll show us the sights of Berlin that we’ll ever forget. He spends the rest of the journey back being uncommunicative.
We walk into the foyer and Becker is behind the counter, signing in a couple in their mid-fifties, dressed in overcoat and hats. They’re well-dressed. The gentleman is carrying two suitcases, the lade takes her gloves off and surveys the hotel. They are led up one of the staircases, and Jonas gives us a gummy grin. The couple speak French. Jonas speaks rather good French, especially considering his fake teeth.
We’re told there’s been a wire left for us, one for each of us. We read them.
Jean-Pierre avails himself to the sidewalk cafe, drinking reasonable coffee and searching for Nazi’s. Lime goes out to re-establish his networks, checking in on some of his caches hidden around the city.
During Jean-Pierre’s second cup of coffee, sat on a wicker chair next to small steel table, he opens a broadsheet paper and settles down to read what passes for the news. No sooner has this happened than a lady approaches the table, and in a beautiful French accent introduces herself as Ms. Adele Beland.
“Bonjour,” Jean-Pierre says. “Would you care to join me?”
“Very much, Doctor Tranceval.”
“Oh, I did not think we had had the pleasure.”
Jean-Pierre stands and seats her at the table. Beland removes her gloves as she seats, and even that is enough to leave Jean-Pierre’s mouth a little dry.
“I was hoping I would catch you here, in private,” she says. “I’ve been sent by the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d’Action.”
This rings a bell for Jean-Pierre for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he’s had dealings with the Bureau’s Department B (the one responsible for Odd things; deals with matters arising from twisted technology both inside and outside the borders of the republic).
Adele is the contact mentioned in Jean-Pierre’s Wire. She’s here to discuss Jean-Pierre’s work, specifically the work done on the project that all went horribly, supernaturally wrong. The work had gone silent after it went wrong, and Jean-Pierre had no idea what happened afterwards. But now that it’s been mentioned, his presence in Berlin makes sense.
“We’d like to talk to you about re-opening the project,” Adele says.
“As far as I know, it was never closed,” Jean-Pierre says. “I still send in my invoices every month.”
“I trust you haven’t talked to anyone about this?”
“Who would I talk too?” Jean-Pierre asks.
The conversation turns towards the RPA, and the French Government’s interest in the organisation, although Adele stresses that she works for Department B and has no involvement with the RPA. She says that the RPA has access to something that the Department needs for Jean-Pierre’s work.
She gives Jean-Pierre a document folder. Inside is a single sheet of paper. It says "The Max Plant Institute, Berline.
Underneath, in speech marks, “Virus House.”
“Are you familiar with the institute?” Adele asks.
“I am,” Jean-Pierre says.
“Previously known as the Kaiser Wilhelm instute,” she says.
There are some explanations about the size and scope of the institute, and it suggests that there is far more going on there than you’d expect. It’s a place that’s more than what’s on the surface.
“It looks like I’ll be becoming even more familiar with the institute,” Jean-Pierre says.
“We hoped you would say that. We believe that the institute has the facilities you need to continue your work. The unfortunate accident that caused us to cease your research is over, and most of those affected have been accounted for. We have come accross some information you may be interested in, and if you agree to stay on at the RPA, we can help you get access to the institute to complete your work.”
Adele is holding another blank, sealed envelope.
“I see,” Jean-Pierre says. “This is what they would call, in the cheap detective novels, the carrot. Hand it over, I’m in.”
Adele stresses the need for secrecy, pointing out that there is sensitive information in the envelope that we’d hate to see in the wrong hands. She finishes her coffee and gives Jean-Pierre her phone number on a match book.
Jean-Pierre opens the envelope and it’s full of science things, biology charts, etc. As he flips through, he sees that he’s looking at genetic information, rather than macro-biology information. Project ST-FR-GB.
“Oh well,” Jean-Pierre says, “At least it sounds like we’re keeping the Americans out of it.”
Lime is out sorting out his caches, revisiting a couple of the old black-marketers and quartermasters he used to work with. He’s not trying to hustle, just re-establishing contact and getting to know them again, inserting himself into the network.
And then he goes to the Templehoff air-force base, looking for Staff-Sargent Halliday of the USAF 515th (a US air force intelligence agency). They’re a rather run-down, shabby organisation that’s looked down on by the CIA, but they deal with a lot of intelligence to do with shipping of things in and out of Germany, quite often across Russian borders. In the past I’ve had a close relationship with them, sold them plenty of contraband, but also had a few favours come to me than I could pay off. This is how I find myself working Patrols that went terribly wrong, and I was the sole survivor of the accident. The transport operation was labeled ST-FR1
While I’m at the base, talking to Halliday, when another officer walks in. He’s dressed in his Air force outfit, and he wants to talk to Lime. He gets Halliday to leave.
Troy Carnivale sits in Halliday’s chair and pours his whiskey. Carnivale’s a Captain. Lime can call him Troy.
The transport was a joint American-British-French operation to get rid of something, and it wasn’t meant to end the way it did. We were meant to be transporting the results of a French doctor’s work into Russia. They want Lime to follow Travenchal.
Lime wants his record cleared, $10,000 in cash, and a flight anywhere in the world he wants afterwards. For that, he’ll actually do it.
Harriet Doleman is wandering the rebuilt museums and art galleries of Berlin. She is joined by a handsome well-dressed man. They discuss the Monet before them. Makepeace is Harriet’s contact. They stroll and take in the works in the museum.
“James Makepeace. Captain.” He offers his hand. “I’m here to see you. Britain needs your help.It;’s not secret you are in Berlin at the same time as Dr Trencavel. He is about to restart his the project he worked on during the war. We need his notes, a file entitled ST-FR/GB.”
“What’s in the file?”
They walk through the gardens in to the crisp November afternoon.
“There are aspects of the war, and the involvement of the Experimental Rocket Bureau, that would … umm … trouble the populace. The government needs to … ahhh … distance itself from the projetc.”
“It disgusts me that Britain would be involved in anything like those projects,” she says.
“I understand. The war saw some very strange decisions made. However, CHurchill is no longer PM.”
They walk further and sit on one of the stone benches.
“And what sort of payment will there be for my services?”
“Last time we tried to recover the document, we sent a young man and haven’t heard of him since. That man was your brother. In additional to discovering what happened to him, you will earn the gratitude of your country. Enjoy the museum and we shall talk further later.”
He stands and walks into the afternoon.
Having spent the afternoon being contacted by the Spooks who sent us the wire, we all head back to the Hotel in a more muted mood than we were earlier in the day. We find ourselves with Champagne and Flowers, courtesy of Lime, who needs something to cheer him up after his meeting with the 515th. We chat, drink, look at each other slightly differently, and the trip out with Cummings the next day.