(3 FEBRUARY, 1943)
Jon Amarok was a Dartmouth-educated Inuit from Greenland who had spent a whole year being trained--by British and American army intelligence officers in Allied-occupied Iceland--before being parachuted into northern Sweden as an official agent of the O.S.S.* He had then spent the next eighteen weeks smuggling arms and ammunition to the Norwegian resistance by posing as a Lapp reindeer herder! With the resistance usually returning the favor by giving him updated information on German troop movements and air traffic.
Today, however, they had given him something else. An intercepted radiogram (from the Nazi High Command, in Berlin, to the German embassy in Stockholm) that had already been decoded.
BARBAROSSA IST KAPUT. BEGINNEN ORDNUNG: UTGARD. SOFORT!
The identity of the sender was reason enough for Amarok to hasten back to his deer herder's hut and remove his wireless telegraph from its hiding place.
* * * * *
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED EXPEDTIONARY FORCE (SHAEF)
LONDON, ENGLAND (4 FEBRUARY, 1943)
Major Percival Throckmorton of the Special Operations Executive answered the knock at his door with verbal permission to come in. And, as anticipated, it was his adjutant...carrying a beige folder under his right arm.
"Well?" demanded the former, rather bluntly.
"According to our embassy in Stockholm, sir, this Liebenkraft chap can only be Gustave Liebenkraft. A Visiting Professor of Archeology, at Uppsala University, who's supposedly been marooned there since the invasion of Poland! Prior to that, however, he also held Visiting Professorships at the University of Istanbul and the American Institute of Classical Studies in Greece. And, most interesting of all; he's been a member of the Thule Society for the last ten years."
"Interesting, indeed," replied the major: "But, what the deuce is this Operation: Utgard?"
The young adjutant could only shrug in apology, adding:
"The best our people could find out, sir, is that--in Norse mythology--it was the stronghold of the ruler of Jotunheim. The Asgardian land of giants!"
* * * * *
CAYENNE, FRENCH GUIANA
(ONE MONTH LATER)
Vasco Gonsalves shook hands with the bespectacled, blond-haired Spaniard before they both sat down and ordered two glasses of madeira. And, after the waitress had brought them their drinks, the man who had introduced himself as "Dr. Jose' Aleman" removed a beige folder from his knapsack.
"Gonsalves, Vasco. Portuguese veteran of El Guerro Mundo Primero. Served two post-war tours of duty with the French Foreign Legion. More recently served with the Galician contingent of the Republican forces during the civil war in Espana. In reprisal for which, the PIDA tried-but-failed to arrest you. Resulting in your flight to Brazil, where you currently work as a bounty hunter! Capturing those wanted by the Vichy government, here in Cayenne, and returning them to same. Have I left anything out, senor?"
The middle-aged bounty hunter wiped some droplets of madeira off his handlebar moustache with his left sleeve.
"Sih!" he replied: "Why do you bore me with a recitation of facts I am already painfully aware of?"
"Because I have need of your tracking skills, Senor Gonsalves. A woman who worked for me as a launderess, in Valparaiso, Chile, has stolen certain papers from me. Academically valuable papers concerning the ruins of Tihuanaco in Peru! From what the local policia were able to ascertain, she has fled to a nitrate mining town in the Atacama Desert. Santa Madre, I believe is the name."
Gonsalves cracked a malicious half-smile: "Sih. But, everyone who lives there prefers to call it 'Santa Mierda!' "
Aleman laughed, politely.
"Esta verdad! And, I am recruiting your help because I understand you are on a first-name basis with the jefe de policia."
Gonsalves shrugged: "We met, once or twice, while I was working there as a payroll guard. But, that is not important. What _is_ important is how much you are willing to pay me for my services."
Aleman did not even blink as he replied: "Double what you made during the last twelve months from bounty hunting alone."
The Portuguese expatriate whistled appreciatively and held out his right hand for a second time.
"Esta bien! De acuerdo!"
El Guerro Mundo Primero: World War I.
Espana: Spanish for "Spain."
Jefe de policia: chief of police.
"Esta bien! De acuerdo!" ("Very well! It's a deal!")
PIDA: Portuguese secret police during the dictatorship of Antonio De Oliveira Salazar (1932-1968).