Bill Meilen
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DELTA TWO

Chapter One

Madeleine 2 — 2 Choctaw.

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NTOBEOLBAPZLKAQFKMLZRFOAZSENTTELBSUKGDVNOSZLOBAWKGDX

DECO: FROM-PEACOCK/LILAS STOP TO HAWKSATORY STOP IMP(IMPERATIVE) STOP HAWK SEVEN EAGLETS STOP ZERO HR THIS NIGHT STOP NEST OF ZOHRA STOP IMP STOP FEATHERS STOP IMP. Madeleine 2.

NIGHT lay silent on the great park of Versailles as the two black Citroëns hurtled along the avenue, swerving around the fountain basin and on to screech left through the tall gates of the Trianon, headlights lancing the dark. Snug in the heart of a dew-decked web, a spider slept and ignored them, leaving the watching to other eyes sharp beneath dull black helmets. The eyes relaxed in recognition, muzzles were lowered, bolts uncocked. In bushes metal and leather caught the sheen of lights from the palace.

At the side entrance eight men climbed from the metal beetles, eyes hooded with Polaroids—dark-clad, blunt men, hiding their faces even from darkness.Their leader, thin, blue-chinned, with pinched nose and rimless lightly smoked glasses, led the way between guards at the door, carelessly flashing a pass as he entered. The C.R.S. men watched the party pass with guarded eyes. It was not sensible to stare at a barbouze. As the sound of them receded within the building one shrugged enigmatically at the other, rolled his eyes, and spat a morsel of food from him in belated braggadocio.

In the reception room a nervous man in the neat grey of a civil servant approached the body of men. “Please, Monsieur Soller, Grande Zohra is being kept waiting!" he piped, and led the way further into the building.

Along a majestic corridor he led the party, footsteps ghostly in sorbo-rubber quietness. Turning into an ante-chamber between tough Guardians he gestured the doors closed impatiently and straightened his tie, slicking a hand over his sparse grey hair.

“Are you ready?” he quavered.Soller nodded boredly, spectacles catching the blaze of a chandelier, and muttered to one of his men in Corse. The man sneered, following on as the civil servant threw wide the double doors and ushered them in.The room was vast and beautifully appointed in Louis Quinze style. Soller and his group gathered like flotsam inside the room and stood waiting.

At the far end a huge man in civilian clothing sat at a desk, surrounded by officers of different services. Soller’s eyes took them in blandly, identifying them and their functions. The President's brother-in-law, General officer in command of a cavalry division stationed in the Haute Savoie, now on standby in the Bois de Vincennes; then the head of the National Defense Staff talking to the Director of the DST; near the windows three officers of the President's Security Service, and his own Chief, General Ernoul—’Peacock'’, in Air Force uniform, leaning on the

 

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