“What about the police who were guarding us?” Hogan asked.
“It appears that the two prisoners found a way out of the room, overpowered them, and took them as hostages,” Schultz replied.
“I don’t buy that,” Hogan said. “There is no way they could have gotten out of that locked room without alerting the police first.”
Schultz looked the colonel straight in the eye. “Perhaps the prisoners bribed their way to freedom.”
“They did no such thing.”
Robert Hogan, Hans Schultz, and the other guards turned and saw the mayor coming up the hallway; he was accompanied by one of the police who had been guarding Peter Newkirk and Louis LeBeau’s room.
“What do you know of this?” Schultz demanded.
“My men were ordered to release the men in that room,” the mayor said.
“Who gave the order?” Schultz asked.
“I gave no one the key,” the hotel manager said, before anyone could start pointing accusing fingers in his direction.
“Apparently,” the mayor said, directing his comment at the manager, yet not taking his eyes off Schultz, “the Gestapo have keys to everything.”
Hogan felt his heart sink. If the Gestapo had come for Ace Egan, then there was a good chance that he and Andrew Carter were long gone. His heart sank even lower. Ace they must have had plans for; Carter… poor Carter could very well be dead by now. He eased himself into a chair the hotel had supplied for the guard detail.
“How do you know this?” Schultz asked, not liking the idea of losing prisoners to anyone.
The mayor turned to the policeman who had accompanied him to the hallway. “Tell them what you told me.”
The policeman looked at Schultz, then glanced for but a moment at Hogan. “We were doing as we were told, standing guard outside the prisoners’ rooms. At 2:30 A.M., two men dressed in suits and wearing black overcoats and fedoras approached us. One of them came up to Officer Schmidt and myself, while the other approached the men guarding the other door.
“They asked us about the prisoners we were guarding. When I told him we were guarding two of the Americans, he asked where the third American was. I figured he was after the colonel there,” the policeman said, indicating Hogan, “but he told us that it was the men in this room that he wanted.”
“How did you know they were Gestapo?” Schultz asked, interrupting the man’s story.
“The man showed us his credentials,” the policeman said.
“And his pistol,” Schmidt added.
“Did he say why he wanted them?” Schultz asked.
“Sergeant,” the mayor said, “when is the last time you asked the Gestapo their business?”
“Point taken,” Schultz said.
“The man who did the talking did say that these men were being taken for questioning in connection with a recent act of sabotage in the area,” the policeman said.
“Didn’t you tell him that these men just arrived in Eisenach this evening?” Schultz asked.
Schultz stared at the man for several seconds, then turned and walked down the hall. He paced back and forth for a couple minutes, trying to decide his next course of action. When he returned to the group, he seemed to have made his mind up.
“Yesterday evening,” he said, addressing the mayor, “you said that you had made no request for workers. I want that in writing. I also want your report in writing,” he said, turning his attention to the policeman. “You, too,” he said, glancing at Schmidt.
“We will be leaving within the hour,” Schultz said, addressing his guards and Hogan.
“What about Egan and Carter?” Hogan demanded. “We can’t go off and leave them.”
“If they are in the hands of the Gestapo, as we have been told,” he said, “then there is nothing we can do. That is why I want everything in writing, to show that it was not an escape due to negligence on the part of me or my men.”
As he was explaining his decision to all present, a young boy in a bellhop uniform approached him.
“Excuse me, Sergeant Schultz?” the boy said.
“What is it?” Schultz asked.
“Sir, you are wanted on the telephone.”
Schultz raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Who would want to speak to me?”
“It is a Colonel Klink,” the boy replied. “He wants to know how things are going.”
“Sergeant?” whispered Ace Egan. “Are you all right?”
Before Andrew Carter had a chance to respond, one of the Gestapo men turned around and smiled. “There is no reason to whisper, Lieutenant Egan. I can assure you that you and the sergeant are safe.”
“Forgive me for not jumping for joy,” Ace said, “but I’ve already dealt with the Gestapo, and prisoner safety was not high on their list of priorities.”
“I don’t think it’s one of their low priorities, either,” Carter added.
The man in the front seat smiled. “You do have a point,” the man said. “And if we were truly Gestapo men, you would do well to doubt us.”
“If you aren’t Gestapo,” Ace said, not yet ready to believe what he had been told, “then who are you?”
“Doppelgänger sent us,” was all the man said.
Hogan stood by Sergeant Schultz, trying his best to hear what Colonel Klink was saying about the situation over the telephone.
“Are you sure it was the Gestapo?” asked Wilhelm Klink.
“According to the police, it was,” Schultz replied.
What Hogan heard next made his anger flare.
“Take the remaining prisoners back to the camp,” Klink said. “I’ll be returning in a few days.”
Before the sergeant could acknowledge his orders, Hogan jerked the phone from the man’s hand.
“Colonel Klink,” he said, his voice filled with anger. “I demand to know what you intend to do about my missing men.”
Klink’s voice remained calm. “I don’t intend to do anything about your men. If the Gestapo has your men, then they are no longer my concern.”
“Colonel,” Hogan began to plead.
“If you don’t like it, Hogan,” Klink said, cutting Hogan off, “then do what you always do — send a complaint to the Red Cross.”
Before Hogan could respond, the commandant hung up.
After being taken from the hotel and put in the car, Ace Egan and Andrew Carter traveled for almost three hours. When the car at last reached its destination, it was in front of a pleasant-looking chalet. The man in the front passenger seat exited the car, then opened the back door so the Americans could climb out. Once outside the vehicle, the two men tried to get a good look at the surrounding scenery, hoping to get some idea as to where they were. Ace suspected that, wherever they were, the trip to this place could have been made in a lot less time than it had been.
As they were led into the building, neither man was willing to concede that they were safe. Once inside, they were guided into an inner room that had only one door and no windows. This didn’t help ease their anxiety.
The moment the door closed and they were alone, Carter went to a lamp that was standing in the corner and began to examine it.
Ace watched him for a moment before he realized what the sergeant was doing. If there was a microphone hidden in this room, he was sure that Carter would find it. He also realized that whoever brought them here would expect them to discuss their current situation.
“Who is this Doppelgänger the Gestapo mentioned?” Ace asked.
Carter had already raised his finger to his lips, ready to silence the lieutenant, when he turned to face the man. When Ace smiled and motioned for him to speak, the sergeant grinned and nodded.
“Well, sir,” he began, “there is a rumor that resurfaces every so often about a Nazi agent with extraordinary abilities called Doppelgänger. They say that he has the power to read a person’s mind.” While he spoke, Carter resumed searching for a microphone.
Ace moved to the opposite side of the room and joined in the search. “What other powers is this Doppelgänger supposed to have?” he asked.
“Some have said that he can turn invisible, and others swore that he could fly,” Carter said, examining a bust of Wagner on a shelf.
“And some have said that he can take on the appearance of anyone he meets.”
Ace and Carter turned at the sound of the new voice.
Standing in the doorway, dressed in black slacks and a black turtleneck, was a man neither Ace nor Carter expected to see.
“Colonel Klink?” they said in unison.
“Who did you expect?” Klink asked. “That idiot, General Burkhalter?”
Immediately, the two men began to offer up explanations as to why they were standing in Klink’s presence without Schultz or any of the other guards.
“Colonel Klink,” Carter began, “we were taken from our rooms by men claiming to be the Gestapo. We had no intentions of escaping.”
“He’s right, Colonel,” Ace added. “We had no idea what was going on.”
“I know,” Klink said. “The men who brought you here work for me.”
The colonel made eye contact with Ace, then with Carter, and spoke again. “I told them to bring me you, Lieutenant,” Klink began, “so you, Sergeant, are an added bonus.”
The two Americans looked at each other. “Kommandant,” Ace said, turning his attention back to Klink, “I’m sure I speak for both of us when I ask — what are we doing here?”
“Hogan’s operation at the camp is too important to the Allies’ war effort to risk losing him,” Klink said, his comment causing both men’s jaws to drop. “Don’t be so surprised. You men are good at what you do, Carter, but I’ve been doing this since the end of the First World War.”
“How… how long have you known?” Carter asked.
Klink smiled. “It took me a while to figure it out, but over time there were just too many coincidences to logically ignore. I have looked the other way when possible, and tried to divert the unwanted attention when it wasn’t.”
“Why haven’t you said anything?” Ace asked.
“Because they might begin to get sloppy if they knew I was watching out for them,” Klink said. “Also, despite the fact that most of the guards at camp were handpicked by me, there are still a few who would use this knowledge to bring down everything I, and Hogan, have worked for. The man who spilled these beans would find himself on the fast track to becoming a general.”
It was a lot for the men to take in, more so for Carter than Ace, and the lieutenant could tell his companion was seeing connections to the colonel that had previously gone unnoticed. Again, Ace asked the question.
“What are we doing here?”
“We,” Colonel Klink said, “are going to try to get your rocket back.”