Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Nine
14th August 1975
Near Limassol, Cyprus
RAF Airfield Akrotiri wasn’t a hard place to be posted. Drinking water was the biggest problem as Wing Commander Bradford Sickles had discovered, with the Cypriot Greeks just outside the gates being a close second. He had joined the Air Force to fly airplanes after University, only to discover that the RAF needed Logistics Officers and Engineers far more than they needed Pilots. That especially true in places like Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Diego Garcia, Hong Kong, and dozens of points in between where he had been posted over an eventful career. It had been fighting the insurgency in Kenya where Bradford had found himself leading RAF Airfield Security Personnel who had been pressed into service as Infantry which he owed his present rank, reputation, and posting. The trouble was that he found himself having to play the role of diplomat. One that he was ill suited to as he had some unexpected and unwelcome guests, several of whom were in this room sipping drinks and carrying on conversations.
Once, a handful of German ships might have caused a panic if they had appeared in Akrotiri Bay. Bradford remembered his grandfather’s stories about what the Jerry had done to British Coastal cities during the First World War, how the Admiralty had assumed that they could track German ships at sea. Decades later they discovered that the Jerry had been wise to that and had planned accordingly. The result was the shelling of Lowestoft and Gorleston in a single bloody night that had ended in the almost complete destruction of Felixstowe, a crime of such a scope that it was only eclipsed by the actions of Stalin a generation later. An entire city, thousands of people, gone in an instant. Should not have been the least bit surprising that Norfolk and Suffolk had erupted in violent protest when word reached them that Westminster had thrown their lot with the Germans and joined the fight against the Soviet Union. That had all happened a few years before he had been born, but people talked about those events like they were yesterday.
When he had seen the German ships Bradford had felt anger at their mere presence, wishing that the sea would open up and swallow them. Those were Corvettes according to the Naval Personnel who had seen them and apparently under the command of a German Prince. He had to bite back his distaste as he saw Prince von Preussen speaking with the Base Commander and Jack Wick, the Colonial Administrator who Bradford considered possibly the biggest waste of oxygen he had ever encountered.
Seeing the German Prince up close, Bradford could see the white Summer Uniform and the array of medals. Bradford recognized the blue enameled gold Maltese Cross, the famous Blue Max, on the black and white ribbon around the Prince’s neck and the Iron Cross pinned to his chest. He also saw the George’s Cross, a British medal, which was a puzzling addition. The rest were ones that he was unfamiliar with. There were two men with the Prince, a man identified as a Warrant Officer named Borchardt, a name that didn’t sound like it was German, and Major Brog, a Marine Officer.
“This is Wing Commander Sickles” Wick said in introduction, “If you need anything while you are in Cyprus, he is the one to ask Captain von Preussen.”
“Pleased to meet you” The Prince said in heavily accented English and was offering shake Bradford’s hand. He debated for a moment exactly what to do and wished that Wick had not said that.
It was obvious why the Tigress had wanted to meet him in the Tiergarten. There were few places so far outside his element than the park in broad daylight on a warm summer afternoon. That much was made clear by the stares that Birsha Bleier was getting from the passersby. The Tigress was seated on a bench enjoying the afternoon as Birsha took a seat beside her.
“Exactly why did you want this meeting?” Birsha asked.
“It has been two years since you last tried to kill me” The Tigress said, “I felt that it was only fair to mark the occasion. There is also this…”
The Tigress gave him a smile before handing him a piece of paper. Unfolding the piece of paper, Birsha saw a name and an address, both of which had once belonged to him.
“I have resources that you cannot imagine” The Tigress said happily.
“I’ve killed for lesser trespasses than this” Birsha said angrily. The expression on the Tigress’ face never changed.
“Spare me the theatrics” The Tigress said, “I get enough of that from my children and besides, the KSK Snipers I have on overwatch for this meeting will shoot you dead if your hand gets any closer to that knife on your belt.”
Birsha paused his hand moving away from the knife.
“If anything happens to me and you happen to get away, your friends in the Society of Silence will hear all about the real reason why you were run out of Altötting and cannot use your real name” The Tigress said, “Do you think that you would vanish as thoroughly as most of your victims? Just with a lot more screaming before the end?”
It had been a long time since Birsha had been so easily outmaneuvered.
“You wouldn’t have called for this meeting unless you already knew exactly what would happen?” Birsha spit at the Tigress, that was half question and half accusation.
“What do you think?” The Tigress asked in reply.
“What the fuck do you want?” Birsha asked.
“Mind your language” The Tigress said, “There are children around and their parents might take exception.”
The serene expression on her face suggested what she wanted; To show Birsha who was boss in this city. He had no answer for that.