CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SIX
“Gas,” Alex said. She glanced at Troy. “Is there anything left of that?”
“The drone sensor says that the air is clear,” Troy said.
“We’d have to get forensics in there,” Alex said, her eyes taking in the children. “God …”
No one said anything for a moment.
“The exit to this room seems to be behind where they are standing,” Troy said.
“They pressed there for clean air,” Alex said.
“Who covered all of this up?” Alex asked. “You think the Nazi’s put this back …”
“I think whoever left the mine trusted that someday, someone would come through and see the horror of all of this death,” Raz said. “She didn’t want them to be able to cover it all up and pretend it didn’t happen.”
Alex pointed to something on the ground. Troy made the drone’s camera zoom in on a piece of paper on the floor. It was some kind of form. Alex pointed to the signature.
“Isn’t that …?” Raz asked.
“The man who insisted on meeting us to review the mine,” Alex said.
Alex gave a quick nod.
“The Nazis knew about this tunnel,” Alex said.
“They may have known about the mine, but it doesn’t look like they got past the kids,” Troy said. He gestured to the tablet.
The drone continued on through a small passageway behind where the children had huddled. It went a long way before reading another trap door.
“Did you notice any traps?” Seth asked them as he walked toward them.
They looked at each other and shook their heads.
“Too focused on where it was going,” Seth said. “That’s okay. Find the bodies?”
“Children,” Alex said in a soft voice.
“Fucking Nazis,” Seth said with a shake of his head before repeating, “Fucking Nazis. Seriously. Will these guys ever go away?”
He turned his head to look up at the ceiling. After a moment, he sighed.
“What do you want to do?” Seth asked.
“We go into the mine,” Alex said. “Can you pick up this paper on your way through?”
Seth gave her a curt nod.
“I can fit,” Alex said. “Vince, Troy, Leena. Mattie, can you fly these drones?”
“I’m going with O’Malley,” Alex said. “The three of you have a choice. Two of you need to attend to these children.”
“I’d be honored to take on that task,” Leena said with a nod.
“I’ll help her,” Troy said, “and keep on top of security.”
“I’m too big for the passageways, but I can work the root cellar,” Raz said. “I’ll help Leena.”
“Good,” Alex said. “Vince?”
“I’ll go with you,” Vince said.
“Okay, Pierre, Ben — stay with Matthew and Troy until we’ve been able to assess this thing,” Alex said.
Pierre and Ben nodded in unison.
“Margaret?” Alex asked.
“Sir?” Margaret asked. “I can go down and care for the …”
“I will not let superstition stop me from doing my duty,” Margaret said.
Alex shook her head.
“This isn’t about superstition, Margaret,” Alex said. “What’s clear is that we are each going to be tested today. Why take this on?”
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