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Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 12:16 pm
Very strange, and quite clever
Sam and Frodo jumped out, each with a Panzerfaust. Tom wasn't sure where they had been hidden, but this probably wasn't the time to argue. He was a little surprised, though, when Sam reached back and pulled out one of the Sarmatian swords. He was even more surprised when he reached back, and came out with two helmets. The two leprechauns buckled on their Stahlhelms, and set off. The three tall men watched as the two not-so-tall men strolled up to the lizard like they were at the zoo. Beppo sat making sure he could move the Puma as fast as he thought they were going to need it. Shadow merely sat with his eye glued to his sight, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, humming a strange tune.
MH - now THIS calls for illustration.
Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 6:05 pm
Tom you have a very strange imagination, but I'm loving it, keep it coming!
Frodo and Sam??
Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:25 pm
Beppo Schmidt wrote:Tom you have a very strange imagination, ...
No, Beppo, strange is when you see what else I've been working on. I'll tell you right now, DO NOT listen to Black Sabbath when you've got the Forum Heroes on your mind!!!
Thanks for the comments, gentlemen!
Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 4:22 pm
When will sid, Krollspell, Awender, knieptang, and the rest show up? What role will Jason himself play?
I eagerly await the continuation of this story!
Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 8:22 pm
Spandau wrote:When will sid, Krollspell, Awender, knieptang, and the rest show up? What role will Jason himself play?
Thanks, Spandau! While it was not my original intention for the Puma crew to be the only players (I'm not really that selfish), that's somehow the way the idea played out. However, there was one element I was trying to work on, and you just gave me an excellent idea for a plot twist!
Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 8:33 pm
Tom wrote: However, there was one element I was trying to work on, and you just gave me an excellent idea for a plot twist!
I'm glad I could help! I can hardly wait!
Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 3:09 pm
“I can see that you are confused. I sense a goodness in you, with just a touch of deceit, so I will tell you my story For your sake, since you have freed us from the beast, I will make haste with my tale. It will probably be too slow for you still, but I will try. My name is one that you would not be able to pronounce, but I have heard it said as Leshyie. I have been for longer than you could possibly imagine. I watched men learn to farm, and I remember when man first learned to manage a horse.
For me, it is not too long ago, though you might think it differently. I had been roaming, visiting other herds. I was in a forest, when a group of your humans came along. They began cutting up trees, and Ents. I tried to defend us as best I could. Once they got over the surprise of a “tree” fighting back, they were dangerous. I lost several limbs. They left many slashes that became infected, and I was sick for a long time afterwards.
A young man had wandering, and found his way into our forest. He found me sick, and did what he could to help me, little though it was. Afterwards, we sat down and talked. He told me that he was a soldier for his king. He told me of an award that he wanted to devise to honor those soldiers like him that fought bravely. Once he explained what an award was, I chose to help him as he had helped me. As you can see, I bear such fruit. It is not easy, but it can be done.
As time passed, Otto, that was his name, came to visit me every so often. He became very important in his homeland, and I was happy to call him my friend. One day, he told me that his people had gone to war with other humans. He said that he wished he had many hundreds of his favorite award that he could give to his armies, to show his appreciation for their efforts. When he next came to visit, I had a surprise for him.
You humans would call it ironwood, but we, er, Ents, would call it heartwood. Some of us can exude this wood, in any way we like. When Otto showed me what he wanted, I knew that’s what I had to make. So I did. He only came back one more time after that. I had made a handful of the Crosses. He seemed very surprised, and grateful. He never came back after that, but I have never stopped making them. It is the least I can do for one who saved my life, even if it was a human.
Not very long ago, I was visited by another man. When I asked him about Otto, he told me that Otto was long since dead. He told me too that Otto’s king had died, and that his people had a new leader. He was a great man, destined to lead his nation to a greatness that would last a thousand of your years. We talked of my fruit, and he told me that Otto’s design was still in use, but that it had been changed. In honor of my friend, so then has my fruit changed. But now I don’t know what to do with these. When you came, I was sure that you had come for a harvest. Is this not so?”
Tom looked about him. “May I pick one?” Leshyie lowered a branch, and Tom plucked a cross. Holding it in his hand, he could see that it was indeed an Eiserne Kreuz, but a modern one, not an older style.
“Is it not satisfactory?”
“Indeed, Lord Leshyie, it is quite satisfactory. Are we to take these then, to our leader, so that they may be awarded to those who are deserving?”
“Truly, that is what they were meant for. Take all that you can carry, and use them to honor those who are worthy.”
Tom was taken aback, and was sure the others were as well. He looked around at the others. Beppo seemed to be in awe. Frodo and Sam had looks that were almost stricken. Tom was sure that they had an understanding that went beyond the ken of mere mortals.
“Old one, we can take those from you. We’ll see that they are given to those that deserve them. They will honor your personal sacrifice, giving up of yourself for these awards.”
“Yes, that will be good. If you see Otto, tell him that I remember him, and think of him.”
“I will do that, Old One. In his name, I thank you. And what is it that we can do for you?”
“Now that you have rid us of that dragon, we are free to move on. We seek a place where we may live in peace, without fear of those with blades trying to cut us down. Know you of such a place?”
“Sadly, there are few such places left. The only ones I know are cold, if you do not mind the temperatures. Go north, until you can smell the sea. There you will find wide forests, where you may hide among the native trees. There you should be able to live in peace.”
“What is the name of this place, that we may ask along our way, and not get lost?”
“It is called Karelia. You should be able to live there for many years, and see nary a human during that time.”
“I thank you, all of you. Go now. There is need of you whence you came.”
As they didn’t have anything to carry Leshyie’s ‘fruit’ in, they all took off their Panzer wraps, and laid them on the ground. Gently they plucked the crosses from the old Ent, and filled them with fresh Iron Crosses. When they were done, they folded up their ‘harvest’ in their clothing, and gathered them up. Looking around them, they knew that never again would they see something like this. Too, nobody would believe that they had seen it even now. It was the Shadow that noticed that there were different sizes. “Well,” he said, “isn’t it interesting that even a tree can distinguish between the EK1 and Ritterkreuz!” When they had gathered all that were there, they picked up their bundles.
Sam and Frodo leaned against the Ents, hands on their boles, eyes shut in concentration. Tom walked over, and put this hand out. Sam reached out and grabbed his wrist, pulling it away from the ‘tree.’ “Don’t do it, lad. You’ve a touch of the gift, but this would be too much for ye. Trust me.”
The men turned, and walked away, back to their armored car. Frodo dug around, and came up with a box to put the wooden Iron Crosses in. When they unwrapped their bundles, though, they found a surprise. They understood the old Ent’s comment about humans calling it ironwood.
Each of the wooden crosses had changed. They had hardened like, well, iron. They were no longer a rich wooden color, though. They had blackened. They almost were, in fact, Iron Crosses.
“Well,” said Beppo, “At least these can be awarded, and we don’t have to worry about any radio signals!” The others chuckled at that.
“Well, Herr Major Rosselsprung has no excuse not to reward some of the men. Literally, he has a whole ‘crop’ of awards to hand out!”
Tom looked at his comrades. Brave men all, he felt a strong bond with them. They had followed his commands into several engagements now, but none like this one. After this, he was sure they would follow him to the gates of Hell if he but asked. After all, how much more screwed up could that trip be than this? He felt almost guilty leaving the Ents, but they had persevered longer than many cultures. He was sure they would make it safely to Karelia. Besides, his crew had a duty to the other Heroes. Who knows what Ivan had hit them with while they were gone? He wasn’t even sure how long they’d been gone. As long as that bastard Davidov was loose, there’s no telling what insidious plots he was brewing up. It was time to get back. “All right, Sam, let’s head out.”
Again, Sam started the engine, and turned the vehicle around. Tom couldn’t see their tire tracks, but he knew Sam could. “Hey, Shadow, I meant to ask you. What’s the little ditty you’ve been humming since we went into that Wood?”
“Oh, that? Well, it’s just a little tune I made up, in honor of our victory. It goes like this:
We puffed the magic dragon, that lived near the Ents.
But not before he torched our car, blowing flames right through the vents!
We really wanted nothing than to talk to a tree.
The dragon roared, he was misinformed, when he thought that we would flee!
Sam and might Frodo, did all that they could do.
They caught his eye, so he wouldn’t spy, what the others were about to do!
Tom and Leutnant Beppo, valiantly they tried.
But the dragon saw, and he opened his maw and our boys very nearly fried!
Then the Shadow had a vision, and remembered his Greek.
Then he shoved a spear in the dragon’s rear where the armor was very weak!
Nothing lives forever, or so the story goes.
So you’d best beware, be very scared when you muck with our Heroes!
O, we puffed the magic dragon, that lived near the Ents.
But no one will believe our tale of the last two days’ events!
The return trip was much like the first leg. This time, though, The Shadow and Tom took their turns spelling the drivers. Even Beppo took a turn, as he knew that all of them were tired. Again, none of them were completely aware of how much time had passed.
On the third day, or was it the fourth? Anyway, the Shadow was the one that noticed something unusual in the distance. Even with the binos, he couldn’t make it out for certain. He thought he discerned a muzzle, so he told Sam to start flanking it, just in case. “I don’t suppose you can spare some of that dust, just to make it difficult for ‘im?”
As they neared the position, the gun (for they were close enough now to determine that’s what it was) disappeared. It then reappeared, facing more in their direction. Sam cut back the left. Sure enough, moments later the gun reappeared facing them. Suddenly, a figure jumped up and started waving its arms. Tom and the Shadow both glassed him, and they could see that in fact he was wearing a Heer uniform. Another came up out of the trench, and the first started running towards them.
“Shadow, pinch me.”
“You heard me. I said pinch me.” His command was rewarded with a sharp pinch. “Ouch, dammit! Not so hard!”
“Well, I did what you told me to, now would you tell me why?”
“Take a good look at that man coming our way. Notice anything strange?”
“Well, he does seem a little shorter than the average landser. But then again, Adolf is taking warm bodies almost wherever he can these days.”
“Well, I just wanted to make damned sure I wasn’t dreamin’, because he sure enough looks like a dwarf to me. Quite frankly, I getting a little tired of feeling like I’m in a tale by the Brothers Grimm!” It wasn’t Tom’s day.
Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:39 pm
“Are ye The Houlihan?” came the call.
“Aye, and crew!” Tom hollered back.
“Are ye sure? There were only supposed to be four of ye!”
“I know damned good and well who I am, but I’m not knowing who you are!”
“I am Dônowerth the Dwa…, I mean of the 1369th Panzerjäger Abteilung. My comrades and I have been waiting for you.”
Tom caught the slight slip of the tongue, but didn’t say anything. “You’ve been waiting for us?”
“Ja, we have been here for a week. As soon as you appear, we are to make a radio call to some Gruppenführer who needs to talk to you.”
“You don’t say. Well, lads, who do you suppose we’ve pissed off? I wonder if old S.U. was one of Himmler’s pets? Well, climb aboard, Dônowerth.” And they drove on into the gun position. There they met the other two of the team, Grimlin and Bælti. Tom pulled Sam off to the side.
“Am I sorely mistaken, or are these dwarves?”
“I’m afraid you’ve the right of it! I can’t imagine what they’re even doing here, let alone in those uniforms.”
(This part is specially for the lad known as Son of Ironhorse.)
Grimlin spoke up. “I suppose you’re all a little tired? Come down into our hole. You can get cleaned up, eat, and rest until the Gruppenführer gets here.” With that, he turned and led them through a door in the side of the gunpit.
“Hold on,” called the Shadow. “I was watching that gun move from position to position, but I only see one gunport here. How did you do it?”
Bælti showed them small tunnels that led to six other gun positions. Each was carefully camouflaged, and Shadow wondered where they had hidden the dirt. Each of the short tunnels was just wide enough for their 37mm PAK. He figured the 37 wasn’t much of a gun, but it seemed appropriate for these vertically challenged Soldaten.
“I know it’s not much,” said Bælti, but it’s the best we could do in three days’ time. Shadow held his tongue at that. He thought it looked pretty damned good for three days’ work.
They followed Grimlin down the stairs. Instead of the two or three steps down to the the expected dugout, they went down a good three or four meters. At the bottom, the stairs opened up into not a normal dugout, but a full sized room!
The room measured about 3 meters by 5 meters. In one corner was a small stove, set atop a mound of dirt that they had dug around. The long table in the middle had also been left by digging out the dirt around it, as were the eight chairs around it. “We though we only needed seven chairs, but we couldn’t make it symmetrical, so we went with eight.”
Around the perimeter of the room were cutouts for sleeping. A quick count showed that one of the tall humans would have to sleep on the floor. “Sorry, we weren’t expecting the Leutnant.”
A little room let off the main room. Grimlin stepped in there, announcing that he was going to radio the Gruppenführer, to let him know that the ‘guests’ had arrived. Bührer, to let him know that the ‘guests’ had arrived. Bælti told them that if they wanted to get cleaned up, he would have dinner ready in about twenty minutes. The intrepid adventurers went back up to their car to grab their gear. As they came back into the sunshine, they saw Dônowerth coming out of yet another dugout. The Shadow peaked in to see what was there. “Hey, fellas, look at this!”
They looked into the dugout. This one was actually just a hole with a tarp over it. There was a ramp at the far end, which was how the kettenkrad that was dug in there was to get out. That wasn’t the most interesting part for the Irishmen, though. There was also a small utility trailer in with the half-tracked motorcycle. On that trailer was a small still, bubbling away. Three earthenware jugs sat on the ground near it. As Tom reached for one, the Shadow stayed his hand.
“Steady on there, lad! We’ve not had a taste in quite some time, and we’ve been through a helluva time. Who knows what these boys are brewing there. What say we wait until after the meeting with the Gruppenführer?”
“Good point. Well, at least now we have an after dinner aperitif to look forward to!”
With that, they gathered their gear, and went back down for dinner. The food was rather plain, but filling. Shadow felt a little guilty when he saw how much they had put away, but figured they had a rough few days, and deserved a good feed. Besides, if their hosts were working with a Gruppenführer, they could probably get more. The PAK men tried to ask them questions about their travails, but after receiving noncommittal answers if any, they gave up. The Heroes all drifted off into their own thoughts, lulled in part by the soporific quality of their meal. Soon, though, they were roused by the sound of an aircraft overhead.
Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:40 pm
Rushing outside, weapons at the ready, they saw a Storch land, and taxi up almost to them. When the engine had stopped, a Gruppenführer stepped out. He looked quite smart in his black uniform, and very much out of place on the steppe. Leaning back into the door of the plane, he replaced his flying helmet with a Schirmmütze, and retrieved a well-worn briefcase. As he strode over to them, all the men snapped to attention and saluted. As the senior officer, Beppo reported.
“Leutnant Schmidt and party of seven, Herr Gruppenführe!”
“At ease, Leutnant. Ah, Oberscharführer Houlihan, I presume?”
“Jawohl, Herr Gruppenführer!”
Shaking Tom’s hand, and everyone else’s after that, he said “Allow me to introduce myself, gentlemen. I am Gruppenführer Pipes, Jason Pipes. I am assigned to the Ahnenerbe projects, and I work, for better or worse, directly for the Reichsführer. I have been waiting several days for you to complete this mission. I am quite happy to see that my faith in your crew has been well placed, Sturmscharführer!”
“Beg pardon, Sir? I wasn’t aware I had been promoted.”
“Oh, yes, I have the proper documentation here for all of you. Well, three of you anyway. Of course, now that I have laid eyes on you, I’m not sure about you two.” He pointed at Sam and Frodo. “I have spent quite some time, unfortunately, in the SS-Hauptamt, and I’m rather sure that these two aren’t exactly model SS men!”
Shadow jumped to their defense. “I disagree, Sir! If you were to look in the dictionary, you would find a definition to the effect that a model is a small approximation of the real thing! OW!”
He looked down to see both of the little men drawing their legs back for a second round of kicks. Tom chuckled, and Pipes laughed heartily. As he rubbed his shins, Shadow winked at both Sam and Frodo.
“Yes, I see your point. They definitely have the fighting spirit, eh? Now, as I was saying.” He reached in his briefcase, and pulled out some papers. “Here are the promotion warrants for Sturmscharführer Houlihan, and Unterscharführers Kimchee and Bigguns.” Looking at the Shadow, he said, “I have nothing for you, as I have not yet been able to determine exactly what branch of the Wehrmacht has claim on you! For what it’s worth, that’s quite an accomplishment. I have considerable resources at my beck and call, and I am a researcher of some renown myself. Do let your superiors know that, and advise them that I have the authority of the Reichsführer to promote you up to two ranks.” At this, the Shadow nodded.
Turning to Beppo, Pipes said, “Leutnant, I have no idea why you are here. You were not part of the plan. However, as you were part of the operation, I will see to your promotion to Oberleutnant. If that is acceptable?”
“Zu befehl, Herr Gruppenführer! Danke!” Beppo fought to maintain proper bearing. Knight’s Cross with Bling, and a promotion! He couldn’t wait to write home!
“Umm, Sir? You mentioned something about a plan? Could you possibly tell us what in the world we’ve been doing for the past week, or days, or however long we’ve been doing it?”
“By all means, yes! Let’s go downstairs. I can fill out the paperwork for the Oberleutnant, and explain the situation to you. By the way, Dônowerth, I believe you have at least one full jug on that trailer of yours? Perhaps you will see fit to bring it below?” The man was chasing after the jug before the echo of Pipes’ voice drifted away. “Grimlin, you will see to doing something about this Puma? It is rather conspicuous, wouldn’t you say?”
The small one saluted, then he and Bælti grabbed their spades and set off towards the armored car.
When they got back down to the underground room, the men all settled around the table. Pipes of course sat at the head, Tom at the opposite end. Everyone else arranged themselves around the table. Dônowerth brought down one of the jugs that Shadow had spotted previously, then went back outside. As the Gruppenführer had given permission to smoke, all but Beppo pulled out their tobacco of choice. The two leprechauns had borrowed some pipeweed from their hosts, and were happy to find it quite tasty in their clay pipes. Tom meanwhile had passed around small glasses filled with the contents of the earthenware jug. With a hearty “Prosit!” they all drank.
“Damn me, if that doesn’t taste just like uisce beatha!” cried Sam.
“Aye, it does! The water of life indeed,” agreed Frodo.
“Och, Jayzus, and isn’t it almost like being home, lads,” asked Tom. “All we’re needing now is a bit o’ peat for the fire, and it’d be perfect!”
When everyone was settled, Pipes began his account.
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:20 am
Some years ago, while doing some research, I stumbled across a diary entry that told a very strange tale. This tale told of a talking tree that brought forth a crop of Iron Crosses. Normally, I would have considered it a fairy tale, except that it was written in the diary of Bismarck himself. Careful examination showed that the handwriting was indeed his, and it showed no sign of impairment. Still, without some sort of corroboration, I basically disregarded it. A few years later, while on a different expedition, you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a talking tree with dozens of Iron Crosses hanging from its limbs! I was even more surprised when he told me that though his current “crop” was obsolete, he could make more that were to the Führer’s newer specifications. Of course, at the time, the Knight’s Cross wasn’t in existence, but I foresaw the need and “ordered” some, as it were. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I had reason to present the idea for this new award to the Führer. By the way, I will not take credit for the “Order of the Fried Egg!”
Anyway, when I tried to return to visit Leshyie, I found that dragon guarding the Wood. After my car was torched, I had a long walk back to my lodgings. It was then that I started looking for some way to get those Iron Crosses. That research found two interesting things that pertain to this mission. The first was the fact that Berger had managed to find some Irishmen to enlist in the Waffen-SS. That in itself wasn’t overly surprising, but I was quite interested to learn that two of them had some additional, shall we say, qualities about them that were tailor-made for my needs.” He nodded at Sam and Frodo, who nodded back. “I was sure that due to the nature of the opposition, so to speak, two of the Wee Folk might have a fair chance of using their faerie magick to win through. I am happy in more ways than one that I was right.
The second group I stumbled across, quite by accident, were of course these three dwarves. I understood completely why they were so reluctant to leave Salzburgerland. However, though they lived underground, I convinced them that they owed a duty to the Fatherland. After all, the Reich’s extent doesn’t end at ground level, now, does it? Since then, they’ve worked for me. They come in quite handy for surveillance work like this. They have abilities rather beyond the ordinary German, though it was slightly difficult getting proper uniforms made for them. I finally convinced my tailor that the clothing was for a Deutsches Jungvolk stage production!” He studiously ignored the scowls from the dwarves on that comment.
“And, so, I believe you have brought out a cargo that belongs to me? I apologize if you thought you were going to be able to keep them.” As the rumbles of protest began, he stood. “Gentlemen, I assure you, I have nothing but praise for your efforts. Do not think for a minute that your promotions are merely window dressing. Beyond this little adventure, I am aware of your combat records, and your promotions are well deserved.
It is certainly unfortunate that I was not able to brief you on this operation before you started. I hope someday to be able to develop some manner of forum from which to explain all that has happened during the war. It would have been better to obtain your willing and knowledgeable cooperation from the beginning, but this was simply not possible. Those Crosses are the property of the Reich, and I will have them. There is no moderator for this discussion. While I am quite proud of all of you, and genuinely pleased with your performance, you must understand that I have the power to literally erase you and all rest of your Forum Hero Kameraden from existence! I dearly hope it does not come to that!”
Tom gave a resigned sigh, and nodded to Frodo. Frodo slowly went up the stairs. When he came back, he was almost flying, and yelling for Tom at the same time. “Tom, come look at the Puma! You won’t believe these three!” Fearing the worst, Tom raced out, without even a by-your-leave to the Gruppenführer. The others were right behind him.
When they got outside, they stopped dead in their tracks, amazed looks upon their faces. “How long have we been downstairs?” Tom asked.
“About twenty minutes, give or take,” Shadow replied.
Their Puma wasn’t exactly the way they had left it. It was in the same spot, sort of, but rather lower. In the short time they had been listening to the story of their mission, the dwarves had dug in the Puma. It was more than merely dug in, though. It was hull down, dug in right to the base of the turret. A ramp would allow it to be driven out of the hole. What was truly amazing was that although they were sure the engine hadn’t been started, and the vehicle moved, it was perfectly level in the bottom of the hole. The little diggers (not to be confused with Australian infantrymen) had essentially dug around the vehicle, then under each wheel, lowering the vehicle into the pit. It was perfectly level, and looked like it had driven into a pre-prepared position. But it hadn’t.
“I can think of a few times when we could have used some spade-men like this!”
“Yeah, and there will probably be a few more times, too! I wonder if we should try to bring them back with us?”
The Heroes weren’t sure how to take it, but they were suitably impressed. These three should have been training recruits in how to properly prepare positions. Frodo grabbed the box containing the Iron Crosses, and they all went back downstairs.
Gruppenführer Pipes was waiting for them. He had the Heroes and the Dwarves fall in formation. “Attention to Orders! In the name of the Führer, I present the following awards. To Sturmscharführer Thomas Houlihan, I award the Knight’s Cross. To Oberleutnant Beppo Schmidt, I present the German Cross in Silver. It probably would have been gold, Beppo, but you were a stowaway. To Unterscharführer Samwise Kimchee I present the Iron Cross First Class, for the action against the, umm. S.U. 152. To Unterscharführer Frodo Bigguns, I award the Iron Cross Second Class for his actions against the Sarmatian cavalry, and the Iron Cross First Class for his actions against the S.U. 152. Naturally, all documentation will be properly dated and annotated so as to avoid mentioning whom you fought against. I rather doubt too many of your comrades would believe what happened to you.” He then had Grimlin assist him while he presented the awards. Afterwards, they all hoisted a glass to congratulate each other.
“Gentlemen, I probably don’t have to say this, but you can’t talk about this operation. To anyone. Not that anyone would believe you anyway, but this must remain classified. Some day, I hope to find the proper forum to be able to disseminate information like this to those who will follow us, and wish to research the history of the Third Reich. For the time being, however, we must be silent. I anticipate your full cooperation. You have not been actively aware of it until now, but I have the ability to erase you, and actually all of your Forum Hero Kameraden from existence. However, I do try to practice moderation in such things. I don’t delete anybody without good cause.
Also, I would hope that in the future, I can count on you for special operations. I wouldn’t expect any more lizards, but one can never know.”
The men looked at each other. From their faces Tom knew that they all recognized that they had no choice but to agree. Tom had never been threatened with ‘deletion’ before, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to chance it. “Jawohl, Herr Gruppenführer!”
With that, Pipes shook all their hands once again. When he came to Tom, he said “If you would, take these three with you and keep an eye on them. They are useful, but for obvious reasons, I can’t take them back to Berlin with me.” Then he turned and walked out. A few minutes later, they heard the Storch’s engine turn over, and soon the sound of the plane faded away.
“Typical Narzi bastard,” said Sam. “Didn’t even leave us anything to take back to the rest of the lads!”
“Well, I suppose he did, in a way,” said Tom. He turned to the three dwarves. “Boyos, for better or worse, yer comin’ wid us! If we were smart, we’d leave now. I’d rather get a good night’s sleep, and leave in the morning. Finish yer drinks, lads, and to bed wid ye!” It was interesting how Tom’s speech degenerated after a few sips of uisce beatha.
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:21 am
In the morning, they packed up all their gear. For the sake of the kettenkrad’s engine, Tom hooked the utility trailer to the Puma. That the trailer had a still on it of course never factored into that decision. The dwarves hooked the PAK to the tracked bike, and pulled it out of its hole. Sam acted as a ground guide as Frodo pulled the Puma out onto level ground. The three dwarves scrambled back down into the position. A few minutes later, they ran back out, and yelled, “Let’s go!” The three of them jumped on the kettenkrad, and headed out. The Puma crew looked at each other in confusion, then clambered aboard the vehicle as Frodo started to drive off. A few minutes later, there was a muffled thump, and the entire gun position and bunker collapsed in on itself. When the Puma had pulled ahead of the kettenkrad, Tom told Frodo to stop, and jumped down.
“What the hell was that?”
“Well, you didn’t want us to leave such a well-prepared position for the Russkis, did you?”
“I didn’t see any explosives down there.”
“Well, we are good at digging, aren’t we? Besides, we had to make sure they were decently camouflaged. You see, if you hadn’t agreed to cooperate with the Gruppenführer, we had orders to blow that hole with all of you in it. Pipes is a good man, but when he is crossed, he’ll defend what he has with vigor. If there was any chance at all that you might have divulged his operation, he would have killed you.”
“I see. Mount up, we’re getting out of here.”
They didn’t know exactly where they were. Even the dwarves had no idea. Gruppenführer Pipes had dropped them off there, but didn’t bother specifying their location. Still, Sam knew how to get them back. It still took a couple of days, they thought, but they made it back to their friends.
When they got back to the laager, they headed straight for the command post, pulling up just short of Rosselsprung and Nibelung. Those two were sitting at a map table, discussing something, each with a canteen in hand. They stood as the prodigals dismounted their vehicle.
“Well, well! Welcome back! Been doing some recon at the uniform shop, Oberleutnant?” asked Rosselsprung. “All those new awards and promotions! Did you win the war, and someone forgot to tell us?”
Beppo saluted. “No sir, we’ve come by them honestly, I assure you. I have the paperwork to prove it!”
Nibelung had ducked into his tent, and came out carrying Beppo’s Schirmmütze. “Here you go, Beppo. You really should be in proper uniform when you report back in,” he chuckled.
“Well, Sturmscharführer is it, are you going to tell us where you’ve been for a fortnight?”
“Two weeks? That’s how long we’ve been gone?” asked Tom. “Sir, I respectfully submit that we have been ordered not to discuss the nature of our operations. Those promotion and award certificates bear the signature of a Gruppenführer Pipes. It was he who gave us those orders. I’m sorry, Sir.”
“You lot disappear for two weeks, without any authorization. You come back all with promotions and awards, and you expect me to believe that you can’t tell me about it because of some unknown SS officer? What do you take me for? Oberleutnant, are you going to succumb to this SS nonsense?”
“I’m sorry Sir, but I have my orders. I’m not allowed to divulge anything.”
“Bah! Then get back to your Panzer!” To Tom he commanded, “You put that Puma back in the line. You will be the end of the left flank. Tell Hansen to push his pickets a further hundred meters. Get out of my sight.”
As Beppo started to walk off, Sam called to him, then ducked down inside the car. When he came back up, he had the Sarmatian sword he had found. He tossed it to Beppo and said simply, “Souvenir.”
Nibelung asked him, “Without giving up any state secrets, where’d that come from, Cossacks?”
“Er, yeah, Cossacks, that’s it!” He looked at each of his friends, and they all silently chuckled to each other. A few months later, Beppo was in a Soldatenheim near Vinnytsa, on his third beer. At the next table were a Hauptmann and three Leutnants from a Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung. Still having trouble with his eavesdropping problem, he overheard part of the conversation.
“Oh, don’t worry, my young friend, you’ll get your chance! After all, do you think Iron Crosses grow on trees?”
Beppo merely smiled, and finished his beer.
Tom shivered, and realized that the fire had gone out. Must have been a while ago if he was this cold. Carefully, he scraped the bowl of his pipe, and placed it back in the box. Putting the bag of tobacco to his nose, he inhaled deeply, trying to trap as much of the fragrance in his lungs as he could. He put the bag back in the box, then took it back to the closet. He turned off the light, and undressed for bed.
He lay there, noticing light seeping through the edges of the window blinds. He closed his eyes, and in a few moments, he could feel the rumbling of the Puma under his feet, and the press of the microphone against his throat. If only for a few moments, he was back on the steppe, with his friends.
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:57 am
Well done Mr. "H" !!
Just for the record - that song I was humming was the "Shadow, Tom, and Beppo" version .............. not the "Peter, Paul, and Mary" one, that was later named "Puff the Magic Dragon" !!
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:15 am
YES, even I know that song!
But...Sturmscharführer Tom??? Did I got that right? SS too???
Now we know where the Iron Crosses grow...to bad Gruppenführer Pipes stole them!:(
Great work Tom!
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:17 am
ANOTHER WELL DONE FROM US
BUT THE DWARVES ARE A LITTLE MORE THAN UPSET WITH YOU TAKING THEIR TRAILER AND STILL.
CHUCK & CHRIS.
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 4:34 pm
O.M.G. could he not have given you a better rank than Sturmscharführer ?
That was a rank for one who deserved "something' but was not good enough to become an officer.
Some story though !
Almost as good as the com-bunker
(inside joke folks)