Kadena Air Base, Okinawa
Two days later
"I'm bored," Colt uttered from the top bunk of their cell.
"I pretty much figured that out after the first thirty times you said it," replied Duke, who sat on the edge of the lower bunk.
"Well you'd think someone would stop by to interrogate us. Like a Nazi rocketship suddenly showing up with two nukes and five dead guys at an Air Force base is an every day thing?"
"Someone'll be by to talk to us."
"I don't know," Duke snapped. "I don't have the CIA's appointment book."
Duke stared between the cell's bars into the bland, gray hall of the stockade. The Security Police had marched them in here minutes after they landed. No one on base had spoken with them, except to tell them it was time to shower or time for meals. He suspected they were under orders from the CIA, the Pentagon or some other government agency not to converse with them until a "proper interrogation" could be done.
Well, it had been two days. You'd think the Agency would have sent someone here by now.
Duke grabbed a copy of Stars and Stripes the guards had left for him and Colt this morning. He'd already read it front to back.
Might as well read it again. It's not like I've got anything else to do.
He was halfway through an article on page six about a large exercise by the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina when a stocky Security Police sergeant came up to the cell. "On your feet, you two. You're free."
"Hot damn!" Colt leapt off the top bunk. "Who do we have to thank?"
"That would be me."
The sergeant stepped aside for the owner of the gravely voice. Duke folded his arms as Merrick came into view.
"About damn time."
"It's not like it's a short trip from Washington to here," said the CIA man. "Come on. I've got a plane on the tarmac."
Duke threw the newspaper on the lower bunk and walked out of the cell. Colt followed, waving to the sergeant. "Thanks for the hospitality."
The three walked through another cell door, then to the front desk, where Merrick signed out Duke and Colt.
"So you saw it?" Duke asked Merrick once they were outside.
"Yeah, I did. Pretty damn impressive. The Nazis may have been rat bastards, but they had some brilliant engineers working for them. Good job getting it out of East Germany."
"Thanks. What about the rest of my team?"
"They all made it back to West Germany safe and sound," Merrick answered. "Even picked up a defector along the way. They're still being debriefed, but they should be stateside soon."
Duke nodded as they neared Merrick's plane, a Gulfstream II transport jet. They climbed up the ladder and into the passenger area. The seats were cushioned and offered plenty of leg room. Duke sank into his seat, relishing the comfort.
Shortly after takeoff, Merrick went to a small refrigerator in the front and pulled out three bottles of Budweiser. He gave one to Duke and the other to Colt.
"To a successful mission." Merrick grinned and raised his bottle.
"And a profitable one," said Duke.
Merrick snickered. "Don't worry. The remaining five million is all in your Swiss Bank account."
Duke nodded. "Now I will drink to that."
He did just that, downing half his beer before saying, "Woulda been nice if you'd told us what to look for in the first place. We might have found it sooner, even come up with a plan instead of having to improvise."
"And what if you and your team didn't find the Silbervogel?" replied Merrick. "You'd all be walking around with knowledge that there was a spaceship built by the Nazis two decades before the first manned spaceflight. What if you were captured somewhere down the line and spilled the beans about it? We couldn't take the risk of anyone else knowing about it, or getting there hands on it. We had to deliberately keep you in the dark."
"Secrets within secrets," said Colt. "Typical CIA."
Merrick just grinned at him.
"Well, now we do know about it," Duke told him.
"Which is why you two and the rest of the team will sign non-disclosure forms to never talk about this incident with anyone."
Duke nodded slightly. Just part of doing business. Besides, who in the civilian world would believe him if he went on about Nazi rocketships?
"Brezhnev and his buddies in the Kremlin probably know we've got the rocketship," Duke pointed out.
"I don't doubt it," said Merrick. "But do you really think Brezhnev's going to admit he had a spaceship built back in World War Two stolen right out from under his nose, first by some Nazi sympathizers, then by us, 'imperialist American pigs'?"
"So now what do we do with the thing?"
"I'm sure the eggheads at NASA will study it, make upgrades. You know, it does cost a lot to launch a rocket into space. Think of all the money we'd save having a ship we can use over and over again."
Duke nodded. "So how are you going to get it back to the US?"
"Most likely it'll be dismantled, shipped back and rebuilt," answered Merrick. "Maybe at Vandenberg, maybe at Wright-Pat." He gave the nickname for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
"Wright-Pat?" Colt sat up straight in his seat. "I read in some books that's where the government takes all the crashed UFOs it recovers."
His eyes widened. "It is true! You are keeping UFOs there. And I bet aliens helped the Nazis build that rocketship. Admit it. Admit it!"
Duke smacked his forehead and closed his eyes. This is gonna be a long flight.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Silbervogel was actually designed by Austrian aerospace scientist Eugene Sänger as a sub-orbital bomber during WWII. The Luftwaffe did provide funds for its construction, but no prototype was ever built.
AUTHOR'S NOTE II: For more great action/adventure with a sci-fi twist, check out my original novels "Sea Raptor" and "Dark Wings" by John J. Rust available on amazon.