Yebisu massage center, Tibet Lane 7
"D-D-DID YOU SEE that g-g-g-guy by the front door? He l-l-looked the spitting i-im-im... image of you. Don't you th-th-think it's funny? D-d-did you borrow his ap-appearance?"
"Oh, Jean-Pierre, for Thor's sake," Pavel said, setting aside his tea bowl. "Don't you have something better to do? He looked like me, so what? Every human being has a lookalike. I've no idea who my parents were; neither can I remember where I got his appearance from. Can a man forget? But seeing as it's entered into the SS database... All right, all right. Do shut up, will you? I need a break."
Obersturmführer Carpe promptly did as he'd been told.
The masseuse's fingertips pressed down on the veins of Pavel's temples. A hot towel hugged his shoulders. A jasmine scent enveloped his nostrils. He could hear his own breathing, calm and level. The Yebisu massage parlor chain was the best in Moskau even though its employees weren't at all Japanese but Chinese and Kalmuck trying hard to impersonate young geishas.
The girl's touch became light and almost weightless. Pavel began mouthing his favorite mantra that he'd memorized in the special-training camp during his long internship in the Tibetan Tashilhunpo Monastery.
His eyelids closed of their own accord. He could hear the distant bubbling of a brook and the delicious singing of birds. The sounds grew clearer. Stronger. More defined.
Pavel looked around him. He floated along a jungle path amid palm trees of deep burgundy color entangled by masses of green creepers. Parrots fluttered in the scarlet-red sky. Jets of hot steam escaped geysers, enveloping the ground underfoot.
Funny how acidic my subconscious is, Pavel thought. It's probably the same with everyone prone to negativity.
Whenever he needed to have a think, he liked to go on a meditation trip. His thoughts would roam in a strange world, dissolving in a riot of color amidst orange birds and red grass. Sometimes he wondered if this was what heaven looked like.
Tummo - which meant "the inner fire system" in Tibetan - was a very special school of meditation. It indeed burned the brain from the inside, heating it like coals. Experts didn't recommend doing it often but only on special and very important occasions.
Now was exactly such a case.
Pavel walked up the orchid-entwined steps to the top of a hill. A carved ivory throne awaited him there, surrounded by four red drums. Pavel hit the drums one by one and began rocking in place, imbibing their hum. As soon as the last echo died away, he took his place on the throne. Immediately the vines entwined his bare feet; the sky overhead opened up, awash with lightning.
Pavel stared hard in front of himself. Now. It was coming.
He saw a penciled face. A delicate nose. Long hair. The black dots of pupils. Olga Selina, a Viking TV presenter. She'd died two months ago. Who would have thought: a celebrity, a University graduate, a TV star with her own fan club - a guerrilla fighter? A leader of a Schwarzkopf terrorist cell? Her group had attacked the cortege of Moskau's Oberkommandant von Travinsky by ambushing it on Aryan Street. The terrorist attack of the year. Armed with grenade launchers, the terrorists had set the front and rear cars on fire while their snipers opened up on them from the roofs of the München Shopping Center. The Oberkommandant had been the first to be killed, followed by fifteen security staff and all eight of the attackers, eliminated by the arriving Vogel helicopters. Four of the terrorists' bodies had never been found: they'd been simply torn to shreds. They'd had to be identified using the DNA tests provided by Gestapo researchers.
According to Jean-Pierre, all the top brass, the Triumvirate included, had been in shock when they'd discovered that one of the terrorists was a Viking TV star. Street cameras had registered the beginning of the attack: Olga, in black leather, a Schmeisser slung over her shoulder, snapping commands to the terrorists.
None of which was mentioned in the media, of course. Celebrities suspected of having been in contact with guerrillas were sentenced to a very special punishment: oblivion. The names of the actors, TV presenters or singers who'd had the imprudence to commend the Forest Brotherhood on the Shogunet network were forever expelled from the media.
This was death. No interviews, no talk show appearances, nothing. Already a week later, the ostracized celebrity was willing to star in the cheapest of porn simply to draw attention back to him or herself. It didn't help. The punishment erased their names, dooming them to oblivion - and no one was brave enough to challenge it.
Normally, such an ostracized actor or singer committed suicide within three months. Some proved to be of sturdier stock, but none lasted more than six months. Which was why Olga's disappearance hadn't really surprised anyone - neither the audience nor her ex co-workers. She must have done something, as simple as that.
The questioning of Kolychev - Olga's co-anchor - hadn't turned anything up. He seemed to have been Olga's only friend and clubmate. Apart from him, nothing: she had no family nor friends. They checked Kolychev's phone but found no calls from her made after the attack.
The creepers had entwined Pavel's entire body and closed in over his head. In places the vines had split, spewing out acid-red petals.
The body of the TV presenter had never been found. She, as well as three other terrorists, had been at the very epicenter of the explosion. A bunch of bone fragments, tissue and some blood had been the only material evidence available for DNA analysis.
But the unfortunate experiment that had resulted in the mental incapacitation of the three Gestapo researchers had only been conducted very recently. And at least one of the lunatics had recognized Olga as a fiery angel - the fact that had cost him his sanity.
That could mean at least two things. Either the afterworld indeed existed, revealing a winged fire-enveloped Olga to the Gestapo researchers. Alternatively, she was the "trigger agent" that the Triumvirate had ordered Pavel to locate. Olga Selina was the spitting image of the fiery angel on the picture. He was almost sure of that.
But how was he supposed to find her if she was dead?
The sky crumbled, turning into knots of squirming snakes. Geysers spat out jets of blood. The air thickened. Unseeing, Pavel could sense panthers circling him, growling and swishing their tails.
She hadn't died. He could feel her heart beat.
The body hadn't been found. Olga would rather everybody considered her dead. Fingernails, bits of skin and the scraps of bloodied clothing that had served as DNA material weren't really proof of death.
But how had she managed to escape the city center cordoned off by SS special forces? Camera footage had been thoroughly studied but you couldn't really see that much: Aryan Street had been engulfed by smoke and stone dust. The special forces had searched everything within a two-mile diameter with a fine-tooth comb but found no one, neither dead nor wounded.
He squeezed his eyes shut. Blood seeped from under his eyelids. The jungle came to life, each leaf wailing, a tornado swirling the water into an enormous splattering twister. Words began typing in his head, letter by Gothic letter imprinted on the typewriter ribbon,
The Ministry of Public Education
München Shopping Center
The Burgermeister's Residence
That seemed to be it. On top of that, the Shopping Center had been closed for renovation already a month. What else?
Oh yes, of course: the Temple of Odin. Neo Scandinavian style: a fake cave, a copy of the Islandic Viking temple. Well, well, well. According to Jean-Pierre's report, immediately after the terrorist attack, the SS Zondercommando Kalinka had searched all the adjacent buildings. They were all listed on a separate sheet of paper, including their street numbers - those Gestapo bureaucrats wouldn't have had it any other way.
There was only one building missing from the list. The Temple of Odin. That's right. Who would come to a holy place with a search warrant? That would defy reason. The priests of the cult of Asgard were the cornerstones of the existing regime, just like television was. They had enormous wages, houses, medals, SS ranks, the lot.
Which meant that no one had checked the Temple.
And it was only fifty feet or so from the scene of the attack. The smoke cover could possibly have allowed someone to rescue the wounded girl and hide her on the Temple premises. The congregation's noticing the bloody trail wasn't even a problem: sacrifices were frequent in Viking temples, priests slaughtering rather large animals like sheep and goats. And even if the search group had paid the Temple a visit, what then? "Guten tag, Herr Priest, is everything all right?" - "Oh yes, sons of Odin, all is well."
He had to go there, now. He needed to know whether she'd been there.
The wailing in his ears stopped. The orange birds exploded like toy balloons. The palm trees shrank, crumbling into flakes of wheat cream. The throne melted into thin air.
Pavel opened his eyes.
He sprang to his feet, easing the masseuse girl aside. The towel slid to the floor.
"Wake up," he shook Jean-Pierre. "We need to get to the city center. Aryan Street."
They were walking through the door when Pavel saw the Japanese man. He recognized him straight away: this was the same wrinkly old boy who'd sat next to him on the flight in. He stood not far away, next to the guard who, according to Jean-Pierre, was Pavel's lookalike.
The realization pierced Pavel's brain. He knew.
He's here for a reason. He's come to get me.
Pavel stopped. He whipped out a Browning from his pocket but failed to get a round off in time.
The thunder of an explosion ripped through the air. Yellow flames seared Pavel's face.
Reichskommissariat Archives #1
File ZL8. Politicians
"... ON OCTOBER 20 1941 Wehrmacht troops entered Moskau. After two more months of fierce street fighting they took control of the capital, including the Kremlin. The search for Joseph Stalin garnered no results. According to the Main Security Office report, he was behind the terrorist attack Vengeance '42 at the Nibelung square that had wiped out the entire Reich elite. According to Abwehr's intel, later Stalin used to hide in an underground bunker in Kuybyshev (now Führerburg) from where he coordinated the Resistance's actions. After the taking of Führerburg, he disappeared off the radar. The Ural and Siberian guerrilla groups still consider Stalin their spiritual leader. Daniil, the patriarch of the Forest Church (the sect that had united those of the Orthodox clergy who hadn't recognized Russland's yielding to the battleaxes of the gods of Asgard) worked hard to support the legend. According to it, Stalin had become a hermit living in the thick of the Siberian taiga praying for victory. Between themselves, guerrilla fighters call Stalin "the holy man" - he's a bit of a religious icon for them.
His military commander Klim Voroshilov escaped to Iran and went into hiding in Kurd-controlled areas as "invited by Masoud Barzani". In 1948, he was apprehended during a razzia by SS paratroopers but blew himself up with a grenade during his arrest.
Russia's ex-Head of State Mikhail Kalinin publicly denounced his old masters. He produced paperwork proving his Aryan descent and got himself a job in the Reichskommissariat Moskau. Later he worked for the Ministry of Finances under Walter Funk.
Having retreated from Moskau, the Generals Georgy Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovsky formed the "forest brigades" near Murmansk whose secret undergeound factories produced everything they needed, including tanks and howitzers.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill was captured during the taking of London and imprisoned in the Tower in the same cell as Rudolf Hess had been. Churchill committed suicide in 1949 by cutting his veins.
King George VI had managed to escape to Canada on a submarine; from there, his trail was lost. General Charles de Gaulle became the leader of the French resistance in Africa and died in 1955 in the Madagascan jungle during a Luftwaffe air raid.
The Emperor Hirohito, as tradition required, didn't leave his country during the entirety of his rule; he even refused to visit the first Japanese nuclear test in 1948 on one of the Indonesian islands. Hirohito refused to grant Japanese citizenship to the residents of the occupied territories. Which is why, unlike the Japanese themselves with their white-bound passports, the Australians and Alaskans have to make do with a temporary yellow ID card. Mixed marriages between Japanese and Europeans are forbidden. A similar "racial purity" law had been introduced in the Reich in 1935.
Now the Nippon koku is ruled by Akihito who is indifferent to politics and spends his spare time writing hokku. Both President Harry S. Truman and the US Commander in Chief Dwight Eisenhower were tried by a Neuer York Tribunal and publicly hanged at the Zeit Platz on December 11 1958. Both the Democratic and the Republican parties had been banned as "loathsome samples of plutocracy in politics". The remains of President Roosevelt had been exhumed and thrown into the Hudson River to drum rolls.
Tens of thousands of Americans died during pogroms (the so-called 'D.C. massacre') started by Japanese released from relocation centers[i]. The Mikado's army didn't interfere, announcing the slaughter to be their 'rightful revenge'. The pogromists burned down the Capitol and the White House, causing many congressmen to choke to death in the fire.
Chinese communists have never stopped fighting the Nippon koku, their guerrilla units still going strong in most of the country's provinces. Their leader Mao Tse-Tung made it his goal to leave as many successors as he could, calling his project The Hydra of a Billion Heads. By the time of his death from cancer in 1982 in the rainforests of Yunnan Province, he'd had three hundred children from a hundred young female guerrilla fighters. Other field commanders had adopted the same system, supplying Chinese communists with plenty of new cadre.
Stalin's deputy Nikita Khrushchev was arrested in Moskau in 1980. All that time, he'd been hiding in his own apartment but no one had thought of looking for him there.
Permitted for public release
Signed: Deputy Reichskommissar Paul von Breuwitz