Captain Kruger and the men accompanying him stopped at the gangplank, where they turned and saw another man approaching. The captain walked toward him and held out a hand.
“Dr. Von Braun,” he said. “I recognized you from your pictures. I’m Kruger, the captain of this vessel.”
Von Braun saluted him. “Yes, Captain. They said you’d be here. The Fuehrer asked me to come by, check the work and explain to you what’s being done.”
Kruger nodded. “Find. I’ve been wondering about all this. But I thought you were involved with space and rocketry. What does that have to do with an old ship?”
Von Braun put a hand on his shoulder and guided him up the gangplank.
“Well, it’s an interesting story. Let’s get up on the deck away from the others. Please don’t call me doctor, I’m not a doctor. Some university gave me that title. I’m just a scientist.”
“But aren’t you the one who’s directed the rocketry into London? Doing a lot of damage, I hear.”
Von Braun nodded. “Yes, so far as we can tell. I’m sure that’s why the Fuehrer came to me about the special project involving this ship.”
Kruger frowned. “Special project?”
“Von Braun paused near one of the installations on the deck.
“The Fuehrer asked me if small rockets could be launched from this vessel. I inspected the ship and told him yes, if the right kind of launching pad were installed.”
Kruger looked at the mechanical devices lining the deck. “Launching pads?”
“Then he asked me how many could be installed. I told him perhaps 20, but that they could not all be fired at the same time or there would be damage to the vessel. I suggested allowing 60 seconds between launchings.”
“What would be launched?” Kruger already knew.
“Rockets, Captain. Rockets carrying as much explosive material as possible. Rockets designed to travel not more than a few miles. This would be sort of a miniature version of the rocketry now targeting London, but London would not be the target.”
Kruger was beginning to understand. “The Fuehrer asked me if this ship could make it across the Atlantic, and I told him it could. So I presume the target would be America.”
“That’s correct, Captain. But a very special part of America. A part where it could do massive damage not only to the American people but to the nation’s business and economy. The kind of damage that would demoralize the American people and their government.”
Kruger was stunned. “You mean…Washington?”
Von Braun shook his head. “No, Captain. The Americans have all sorts of plans for abandoning their seat of government if it were attacked. No, not Washington. The city of New York, a place that has no plan of survival. Where Americans feel absolutely safe. The city of New York.”
to be continued…