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16

"Let's kill him now," Thomas Morganslicht said, collapsing onto his cot with a deep sigh.

"In time," Tanya answered. She walked over to the stove and poured herself a cup of thick German coffee.

"We don't need him anymore. We have the weapons we need for the day after tomorrow."

"No," she said, shaking her head and blowing steam from the coffee. "We go tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? That's too soon. Everything has been planned for the next day."

"No it hasn't. It never was. I told everyone the wrong day for security reasons."

Thomas jumped up from the cot and wagged his finger angrily at his sister. "But you should have told me! I'm in command here."

"Co-command, was she said icily.

He shrugged. "Well, you know what I mean."

"Yes, dear brother, I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes before you even mean it."

Thomas began pacing beside the cot. His voice was petulant but accepting, the way it always was when his sister outmaneuvered him. "Still, I should have been told."

She took a sip of coffee and smiled soothingly. "...Look, Thomas, when we decided to form this little group, we agreed that I would be in charge of security. Okay, I could have told you the truth, but then you'd have had to pretend to everyone else that we were going a day later. And we both know how hard it is for you to pretend. You were never good at it when we were children, nor are you any better at it now."

"Well, I..." he protested.

"There's no need to deny it. I'm glad you're that way. Your honesty and candor is what make our troops follow you so readily into battle. They trust you. That's why you're in charge of training them."

"Yes, yes, that's true."

"Of course it is." She widened her smile until he turned away, then she threw it away like old coffee grounds. As always, she had told him what he had wanted to hear, and that would satisfy him for the time being. Poor Thomas had always been a little weak in the brain. Though he was older by 86 seconds, she always looked upon him as her younger brother. Had it not been for her, he'd have flunked out of the university and be working in a Volkswagen factory somewhere. Some people were born to follow and some were born to lead. But Thomas had his uses. Men still did not like taking orders from a woman. So whenever possible, she gave the orders to Thomas and by the time he had passed them on to the men, he had convinced himself that he'd made them up. It worked quite well.

"Tomorrow we take the sergeant with us on the mission," continued Tanya. "After tonight's raid we are short of men. And we can use his military experience. Despite our own experience, he is still a professional and we are amateurs."

"Why would he help us?" bleated Thomas.

She laughed dryly. "We will offer him money. And after we're successful tomorrow, you and Rudi can kill him."

Thomas smiled. "And make him an example?"

"If you must."

"It's the only way to show the world that we mean business," seethed the brother.

His sister smiled. "After tomorrow, history will know us in all our crimson magnificence. Do what you will, Thomas, do what has to be done."


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