"Just what have you heard about us?" Thomas asked.
"That you're the slimiest group of killers on three continents," Bolan said.
Rudi lurched forward, gripping his log, but Thomas held him back with a laugh. "Ha, within the next two days we should improve upon that image, eh, Rudi? Tanya? Ha!"
Bolan yawned. "Everyone should have a goal, I guess."
"And what is your goal, Sergeant Grendal?" asked Thomas.
"Money," Tanya answered for him. There was contempt in her voice.
"You have no strong political loyalties. Ideologies?" persisted her brother.
"Just one," said Bolan. "Don't give credit." Just give blame, he might have said, in this world of terror where blame is hushed by fear.
"Admirable," Tanya sneered.
Thomas flopped back on his unmade cot and propped his head against the rough wooden wall.
Tanya sat on a large tree stump that served as a stool near the fireplace. Rudi leaned his three-hundred-plus against the front door like a thick slab of iron. Bolan went over to the canteen on the wooden table, unscrewed the cap, wiped the opening, took a long tug of water. Then he screwed the cap back on and said to Thomas. "Hope you don't mind?"
Thomas shook his head.
It was uncanny how much Tanya and Thomas looked alike. Sure, they had the same black hair that came to a dagger's point over their forehead.
But there was more to it than that. They moved alike, with the same graceful yet deadly intent, as if they were always sneaking up on something. But there were differences too, particularly in the eyes. Tanya's were calm and cold, with only a minimal sign of emotion.
She intellectualized everything, categorized it, dealt with it purely logically. Not so Thomas.
Though his eyes were the same pale blue as his sister's, the whites were different. Little thin veins like jagged red lightning bolts shot from the corners of them toward the pupils. Bloodshot, like an alcoholic's. Although he seemed to maintain a cool exterior, something ominous was bubbling beneath his surface: and just barely beneath.
"So let's quit doing the goosestep and get down to business," Bolan suggested.
Thomas Morganslicht smiled, without humor in his eyes. "The point, Sergeant Grendal, is that my friends and I had a tightly knit organization until you came along and disposed of Klaus."
Rudi's lips curled into a snarl.
"Oh, don't mind Rudi here," said Thomas. "Hi and Klaus were friends and Rudi does not make friends easily."
"He doesn't look like he could make his bed easily."
"I'm afraid Rudi does not much like you," advised Tanya.
"You might be," Tanya added, "if Rudi ever got his hands on you."
"Look," Bolan said, "I'd like to help you guys out. I could use the business. So give me a thousand marks for that H and K that I brought here and I'll be on my way. A ride would be appreciated."
Thomas held up his hand. "Tanya also tells me you are an expert with weapons."
"I know my business."
Thomas pulled out his Luger and pointed it at Bolan. "What do you know about this?"
"Just three things. It's a 9mm Luger. It's one of the newer versions that the Mauser Jagdwafig factory began producing in 1971. And I'm getting real tired of looking down its barrel."
Bolan turned for the door. Things were clearly not going well. He still did not know why they had kidnapped the athletes. Rudi leered unpleasantly as Bolan approached him.
Suddenly Bolan asked: "How much?"
Tanya looked up surprised. "How much what?"
"How much is my percentage if I arrange for all of the weapons you want?"
"I thought you..."
"I have a source, okay? It's not a straight buy, you're going to have to take them, but they're the best you can get. Galil SAR short automatic rifles, effective up to five hundred meters with caliber five point five-six millimeters NATO. The Israelis make them with wire cutters in the bipods and bottle openers on the butt. They also have a new shipment of nine millimeter Parabellum Mini Uzis with twelvefifty rpms."
Thomas sat up off the cot. "How many?" he said coolly.
"Enough to outfit this little group."
"Where are they?" he said. "Who do we take them from?"
"Well, now," Bolan said with a grin.
"That's the part you aren't going to like."
No, they were not going to like it one bit.
But the Executioner was counting on their need. If he counted wrong, then there was no hope for the hostages.
"You must be insane!" Bolan smiled. "That depends on how badly you want those weapons."
"You're suggesting we steal them from our own people."
"Black Sunday is not your own people. Even Arafat has disassociated himself from them. In fact, word is that the faction of Black Sunday headed by Abu Sata is out to overthrow Arafat."
Bolan sat confidently on the edge of the wooden table, hunched slightly, taking another swig from the canteen. "I have some poker buddies at military intelligence who told me that a whole new shipment of these weapons was delivered last month to the Black Sunday faction in Mannheim."
"And what does your military intelligence plan to do about it?"
"What they always do," Bolan shrugged. "Nothing. Strictly wait-and-see. But you and your outfit here, you're different..."
"But they are our own people," Thomas persisted.
"Politically', philosophically we are aligned, despite petty internal squabbles." Bolan smiled. "Like I said, it all depends on how badly you need the guns. You come crying to me for guns and I come up with a reasonable solution. Now either go for it or cut bait and kiss this big-dea-I mission of yours goodbye."
Thomas Morganslicht paced beside his cot, nibbling on his thumbnail. When he spoke his voice was soft and distant, as if he were speaking only to himself. "Visibility, that's the key. Achieved only through reputation and recognition. Why is that so important?" He looked up suddenly, stared at Bolan and smiled. "Tell me, Sergeant Grendal, why is recognition so important for us? Is it to convey our ideals? Huh? Let me tell you about reputation, Sergeant, and its purposes." Thomas started pacing again, chewing harder on his fingernails. "Let me fill you in on the practicalities of running an underground liberation effort. We need money for food, lodging, clothing. Believe it or not, we purchase socks and underwear from time to time. Also medical services. As well as weapons."
"Thomas," Tanya interrupted, displeased that her brother should speak so openly with an outsider.
He waved a dismissing hand. "How do we get that money, Sergeant? Usually we steal it, robbing banks or homes or kidnapping for ransom. Sometimes those petty crimes are even riskier than our political, uh, adventures. And yet we look around at our revolutionary brothers in the Red Brigades, Japanese Red Army, IRA, PLO"
"Black Sunday," Bolan added.
"Yes," he nodded, "especially Black Sunday. We see how they get the best equipment, plenty of operating money, all supplied by our Soviet comrades and Arab brothers, funneled and laundered through various front organizations." As his voice rose higher, the muscles in his neck began to bulge. "And we, the Zwilling Horde, though we fight for the same end, have to continue to rob banks just to eat"
"Then I don't see where you have any choice," insisted Mack Bolan. "Either you raid the Black Sunday gang in Mannheim and steal their weapons, or you postpone your coming action."
"It cannot be postponed," spat Thomas, at the peak of his intensity. "This is our only chance at it. After two days it will be too late. Rudi," he said. "Take the sergeant and throw him in with the others."
"My proposition?" Bolan asked. "And my percentage?"
"We will consider it," Tanya said. "We'll let you know."
"...Just remember who is familiar with these weapons," Bolan hammered on. "Your men will need crash training before they can use any of the dandies I've been talking about," Rudi's massive hand wrapped around Bolan's arm and jerked him toward the door. Bolan offered no resistance, allowing himself to be ushered out of the cabin while the twins of terror deliberated on his plan.
It was crazy again, sure engineering a raid by one group of terrorists against another. But right now it was the best hope he had. Were the Morganslichts ambitious enough to do it? And would they be able to rationalize it with some slick political double-talk? If the answer was yes, then they would need Bolan and he would have a chance of completing his mission.
If the answer was no, all bets were off.