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Forum Heroes - Where the Iron Crosses Grow...

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:57 pm
by Tom Houlihan
It was the winter of 2005-2006. It was expected to be a cold one, and fuel prices were going to be high. It would be a season for low thermostats, and warm sweaters. Tom was sitting at his computer; a bottle of Guinness was at his side. Though he yearned for the tranquility of the old style cottage, with a peat fire slowly warming up the place, he had to settle for a modest apartment in South Boston. It wasn’t the Auld Sod, but at least here in the Irish-American community, he could feel almost at home.

Of late, he had been contemplating selling some of his old memorabilia on this e-Bay thing he had found. He had no family to leave this stuff to, but he was loathe to simply throw it away. He didn’t have much. A few cuff titles from Freiwilligen Kompanie Irland, in different patterns. One of them was from his own uniform, another from Sam’s. There was a box of them that he had “liberated” from HQ, shortly before it was obliterated.
He had stumbled across a forum on the computer that specialized in studying the Third Reich, and the Second World War. Several of the members collected items like he was trying to get rid of. As he scrolled through the threads, he came across one that decried a recent posting on e-Bay. Several people had made comments ranging from “well, is it possible?” to “oh, please, this is so phony!” It sparked a memory, and he clicked the link to view it.

No one could have been more surprised than he to see this item. It was a box of wooden Iron Crosses! How had it survived? The seller didn’t know much about the item. He couldn’t be certain where it came from.

Tom sat there a moment, a distant look on his face. He could tell the man where that box came from. He could even go back to the forum, and explain it to all those seekers of knowledge. But who’d believe him? Who’d believe any of it? He clicked on the X, and closed the window. He pulled out a cigarette, put it to his lips, then jammed it back into the pack. He went back into his bedroom, flipping on the light as he entered.

Up on the shelf in the closet, in the back, buried, was a small cardboard box. Nondescript, just a cast-off. Nothing to attract the eye. He pulled the box down and left the bedroom, flipping the light off as he left. Picking up his Guinness, he ambled over to the couch and sat down. Wearily, he opened the box.

Inside was a small clay pipe. It looked like a leftover from the last Saint Paddy’s Day celebration, but it was older than that. He put it to his lips, blowing a couple of puffs of air through it. He hadn’t held it in many years.

Also in the box was a small bag, of rough cloth, sort of greenish in color. It was tied with a silver drawstring that glinted dimly in the light. He opened the bag, and inhaled deeply the smell of the tobacco inside. He held that smell in his nose as long as he could. Head back, eyes closed, as his fingers gently filled the bowl of the pipe with the leaf.

Carefully putting the stem back in his mouth, he gently closed the bag back up and put it back in the box. The box he placed gently on the end table next to him. He reached up and shut off the already dim light.
Using a wooden match, since a Bic would have been almost sacrilegious, he sucked on the pipe, drawing the flame down into the bowl. When he had it going to his satisfaction, he gently blew the match out and dropped it in the ashtray.

He sat back in the chair, and stared across the room as the computer screen blinked off, and thought about the day when that incident began. The day when he learned where the Iron Crosses grow.

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 6:24 pm
by knieptang
A very nice Beginning, next Chapter, please... :D

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 8:23 pm
by Tom Houlihan
A Friend Returns

It was shortly before dawn. Everyone was awake, standing by for a Russian attack. Tom sat in the cupola of his Puma, wishing he could light a fire for a cup of coffee. He knew of course, that was impossible until after the sun came up. He hated having to wait for an attack that may or may not come, without either a cup of coffee or a cigarette. Having neither made it much worse. He looked down to make sure that Sam and the Shadow were both alert, watching their designated sectors.

All around him, he knew that Rosselsprung and Nibelung had their men doing the same thing. It had been some days since the last Soviet attack, but they were all ready. About 75 meters to his right, he could barely make out Beppo standing high in the turret of his Tiger. He knew that Beppo was still bothered by the “Bling” incident. Although he rated the Ritterkreuz he had worn, he took it personally that his particular medal indirectly caused so much trouble for everyone else. Suddenly, Tom saw Sam start, and he looked up to see what Sam was looking at.

Out of the mist, he saw a sidecar combination slowly moving. Picking up his MP40, he carefully slid the safety off. “Psst!” The Shadow looked at him, and Tom nodded his head in the direction of the moving bike. He took a quick glance around, but didn’t note anything else moving. As the figure drew closer, Tom’s first thought was that it was a child driving the bike. Then he realized that in fact it was Frodo! Missing for some weeks, Frodo was back!

Sam was the first one out of the 8-wheeled car, waiting as his friend drove in, watching as the bike wobbled and swerved. Tom and Shadow stood a little back from him, to allow the two very close friends the chance to see each other first. After a few moments, Tom walked to Frodo, and held out his hand.

“Welcome back! I’m glad to see you, but on the other hand, where in the Hell have you been?”

Frodo came to something resembling ‘Attention,’ and saluted. “Rottenführer Baggins reporting I have returned for duty, Herr Oberscharführer! May I make my report?”

“Oh, fer Christ’s sake, Frodo, knock off the parade ground bullshit!” Tom grabbed him in a big hug his poor sainted grandmother would have been proud of. “It’s good to have you back. You look well enough. What happened to you?”

“Well, Boss, it’s a long story. I don’t know what you thought when you couldn’t find me the morning after that tank attack…”

“We thought you were dead, ye little shite! We couldn’t find your body, so we assumed the worst!” cried Sam.

“I know, and I’m sorry. Really. Just before you moved out of that hidey-hole, I felt something.” Tom noticed the quick glance between Frodo and Sam. “It was, well, it was faerie, but I wasn’t sure what!” Again a quick glance at Sam, where Tom noticed a concerned look. “I just wanted to get out of the car, so I could get a better feel for what it was. The next thing I knew, a shell hit pretty close, and I got tossed around like a rag-doll. When I came to, you were all gone.”

“Sam, what do you know about this?”

“Tom, Lad, I’m not really sure. I felt something too, but I was too busy driving so I didn’t pay any attention to it. I couldn’t. If I had seen him climb out, I wouldn’t have driven off, you know that! I still feel something strange about our lad here, but it’s not something I know. I really can’t put my finger on it.”

“Okay, Frodo me boyo, out with it. What’s going on?” The newly reunited crew of the Green Puma moved back towards their vehicle. Tom gave the Shadow a nod, indicating the coffee pot. If Frodo had managed to drive back to their position, even with his faerie abilities, then Ivan wasn’t out there. Frodo would have mentioned it, anyway.

As the Shadow got the coffee going, Tom lit a smoke. Sam and Frodo both declined a cigarette, but each pulled out a small clay pipe. The tobacco they were forced to use wasn’t what they preferred back on the Auld Sod, but it would do.

As Frodo started to tell his story, none of them noticed that Beppo had come over to see what was going on. He had seen the crew leave their vehicle, and wanted to make sure everything was all right. Now, he held back. He certainly wasn’t trying to spy, he had simply decided not to break in on the reunion. Somehow, he had a sense that he shouldn’t make his presence known just yet. He knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, but something prevented him from stepping away. Instead, he just stood there riveted, as Frodo started his tale.

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 8:46 pm
by Tom Houlihan

“When I came to, I could feel something in my head. I didn’t know what it was, but it felt strange. I knew it wasn’t bad. I could see a forest, but I knew we were on the steppe. I remember falling to my knees, and I guess I passed out again.

When I came to, you were all gone. Everyone. I was alone. I couldn’t even see or smell any residue from the battle! There should have been bodies, and burnt out tanks, but there was nothing. I felt like I was being pulled, so I just followed. I don’t know how far I walked. I remember darkness, and sleep, but I don’t know how often. Finally, I saw tents.

They weren’t Wehrmacht issue, I could tell. They didn’t look like Russians, either, so I went closer. As I got closer, I could feel a calm come over me. It looked like they were waiting for me to arrive.

None of them spoke to me, but they led me into one of the tents, and fed me. After I ate, they took me to another tent and sent me to bed. It must have been something I ate, because I slept very well. When I awoke, though, they were gone. I was laying on a blanket, in the middle of a vast field. Next to me was a bread bag and a canteen. I’m not sure what was in the bread bag, but it sure wasn’t Komissbrot. It was like bread, but lighter. And it was wrapped in leaves, instead of paper.” Tom looked at Sam, and noticed a concerned look on his face, but didn’t say anything. Frodo took another long pull at his cup of coffee. “The canteen wasn’t water, either. It was like water, but more.”

“I started walking in the direction I thought I’d find you. I don’t know how far I walked, or for how long. I just kept moving in the direction I was being pulled. When I was tired, I slept. When I awoke, I moved on. I lost track of the sunrises. I guess it was yesterday when I found this motorcycle. Now, here I am.”

Frodo reached in his pocket, and pulled out a small leather case. “I found this in the bread bag, too.” He handed it to Tom.

Folding open the case, Tom saw a small circular object, like a slice out of a dowel. One side had a bezel on it, with strange markings all around it. He looked at Sam, who shrugged. He held the device up to his eye, and turned it. It glowed. A clear blue light emanated from the bezel. As he turned more, it dimmed. He spun a little further, and a reddish light started to shine…

“STOP!” Sam yelled. “PUT IT DOWN!” He turned to Frodo. “Tell me about these people! Are you holding anything back? Spit it out, boyo!”

“Well,” Frodo stuttered, “there was one more thing that was strange. They were… They were….”

Tom saw the confused look that caused his face to scrunch up. “Easy now, Lad. Out with it. What were they?”

“They were…. Russian leprechauns!”

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 10:57 pm
by M.H.
Great start Tom!!! :D
Like it...but....Rottenführer Frodo??? :shock:
(What about the regulations for the SS???)

:D :D :D

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 11:13 pm
by agricola
"Where the Iron Crosses Grow"? I take it you've seen 'Cross of Iron' or that you play Hearts of Iron, as mentioned here: ... hp?t=78505



Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 11:39 pm
by Tom Houlihan
M.H. wrote:Great start Tom!!! :D
Like it...but....Rottenführer Frodo???
Well, I know, but I wanted him to be more than an Oberschütze, but lesser ranked than me!

When I get promoted, he can, too! :wink:

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:58 am
by Prit
Great stuff, Tom! Keep it coming!

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 2:03 am
by Tom Houlihan
Prit wrote:Great stuff, ...
Thanks! I sense a hang-up coming, though.

Anybody fluent in Greek?

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 6:10 am
by Shadow
Prit wrote:Great stuff, Tom! Keep it coming!
:D I agree, Prit !! :D

:shock: Tell us more about the "Russian leprechauns" ?? :shock:

Keep it coming Tom !! :wink:

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:47 am
by Commissar D, the Evil
Russian Leprechauns!!!!??? :D :D :D

Tom, you've outdone yourself!!!!!

Brilliant stuff Tom, keep it coming my friend!!!! I always wondered what the Irish take on the Ostfront was!!!! :D :wink:

Very Best,

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 8:47 am
by Tom Houlihan
A Quest

“They were what?!”
“Well, that’s the nearest I can explain it. O’ carse, only Ireland has real leprechauns, but they were like the local version. It felt like they were treating me like family, almost.”
“Sam, what’s the problem with this thing?” Tom held up the little disk.
“You need to be careful with it. It’s like a compass, but it’s not. It’s called a Sérkatoray, a seeker. They only appear when there is a need. They only appear to those worthy of using them. Frodo, did that thing ever light up when you held it?” Frodo shook his head. “Tom, whatever it is that needs finding, you’re it!”
“Oh, lovely. Don’t I feel special? What the hell is it I’m supposed to find?”
“Well, that’s part of the problem. We won’t know until we get there.”
“Waddya mean, we? I thought you just said I’m the one that’s supposed to go find whatever the hell it is I’m supposed to find?”
Shadow put his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “You don’t think we’d let you venture off by yourself, do you? We want some of the glory, too! And if not, at least someone will know where you’re buried.” He winked, and grinned that irritating lopsided grin of his.
Tom looked around at his crewmates, his friends. “Well, if you’re coming, then let’s get moving. Mount up!”
“Russian leprechauns? Magic bread?” thought Beppo. “This sounds like some cheesy serial at the cinema!” However cheesy it sounded, though, he quickly scuttled up under a tarp across the rear fender. As he twisted himself up, he knocked his cover off his head. He froze as a set of boots came into his field of view. They stopped, then kicked his Schirmmütze under the car. He gasped quietly as whoever it was cinched the tie-downs on the tarp. “Be careful what you wish for, my friend. You just might get it,” he heard. “Oh well,” he thought, “in for a pfennig, in for a mark!”

An hour or so later, Rosselsprung and Nibelung were trooping the line, checking on their troops. When they got to Beppo’s tank, they were surprised that he wasn’t there. The gunner said that the Herr Leutnant had gone over to the Puma, but he didn’t know where they were now. As the two Panzer officers walked to the Puma’s former position, they were confused. They had given no orders, and they had gotten no message from the armored car that they were moving. Yet, they were gone.
As they stood there, they could see tire tracks, but they faded out after 20-30 meters. Nibelung reached down and picked up the Schirmmütze lying there. “Well, this is Beppo’s.” There was a small clock sewn onto the side of the cap. Some officers had their unit emblem sewn there. Beppo’s crew had sewn the clock on there as a joke after the “Bling” incident. He hadn’t really thought it was all that funny, but he had taken it as the back-handed humor it was meant to be. Hell, out here, you needed all the humor you could find. Besides, the way he saw it, it was a mark of respect and comradeship. If the men didn’t respect and/or like him a little, they wouldn’t have made that sort of effort.
Rosselsprung looked over at the sidecar combo sitting there, the engine ticking as it cooled. “You don’t suppose someone spilled Sam’s faerie dust, and the bike is all we have left?”
“I don’t know,” replied Nibelung, “but I hope they’re all right. We can’t afford to lose a gun right now. I guess we’ll have to move Hansen and his troops up here to cover the gap. They’re good guys, and reliable in a fight, but damn those Irish are a little strange!”

Excess baggage?

Sam was confused. By his reckoning, they had driven a good ways, but his fuel gauge wasn’t moving. He wasn’t sure how far they had come, but Frodo had spelled him twice at the wheel. He slowed, then stopped the vehicle.
“What’s wrong, Sam?”
“I don’t know, Tom, but something isn’t right. I’m going to check the fuel.” As he tried to clamber up on the rear deck, he slipped, and fell against the gear tarped to the fender. “Ooph!”
“Ooph?” He slid down, and undid the tie-downs. As Beppo rolled most unceremoniously off the fender, he jumped back. “What the feck are you doing here?!”
“Jaysus!” cried Tom, and he climbed out of the turret, more than a little pissed off. “Now we have Leutnants as stowaways?! With all due respect, Sir, (although respect was not really what his tone of voice implied), what in the name of Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph are you doing here? Don’t you have your precious, mighty Tiger to tend to?”
Beppo stood there, trying to balance the embarrassment he felt with the pride and bearing of a Panzer officer. It was a delicate act, and he wasn’t succeeding. He knew he was wrong. He looked up at the Shadow, who was still in the turret. He was leaning on his hatch with a bemused smirk on his face. Tom glanced up and glared at his gunner.
“Oh, don’t tell me you knew about this?”
“Okay, I won’t,” grinned Shadow. “After listening to Frodo, when I realized he was there, I figured a little more youth and enthusiasm would add to our age and treachery. Between the five of us, we ought to be able to handle anything!”
“Right. Perfectly logical! And wipe that silly arse smirk of yer face!”
“Oberscharführer, I owe you and your crew an apology. Two, actually. I overheard the Rottenführer’s report, and acted in a very compulsive and unforgivable manner. Stowing away is not proper conduct for an officer of the Deutsches Heer. I am sorry. I don’t suppose it’s any consolation that I stowed away in order to head for trouble?”

Tom just stood there. In addition to being totally confused by this quest, now he had a relatively normal German to deal with. At least Sam and Frodo were part of the magick world. The Shadow, well, he was the Shadow, whatever the feck that meant! He still hadn’t come to grips with whatever it meant to be chosen for whatever the hell this quest was, either. Now Leutnant Beppo. He should have stayed back in Eire, and fought the Brits. At least those bastards were the ones he knew and understood.
“Herr Leutnant, you’re in the shite now, whether you like it or not. I imagine you’ve heard enough to know that whatever we’re heading into, you’d probably prefer to face Ivan. Even the two leprechauns don’t know what’s going on, so might just have bitten off more than you can chew. I’ll tell you this, though. You’re in over your head. Regardless of those shoulder straps, this is my mission. This is my Panzerspähwagen, and my crew. I’m in charge. Hell, I’m the bleedin’ ‘Chosen One.’ You’re just along for the ride, or you can stay here. Clear?”
Beppo looked as if he were about to explode at the effrontery of this NCO, but he swallowed his pride. Tom was right. If half of the story he heard was true, he was in over his head. You could shoot Ivan, but how do you kill a leprechaun? “I understand. I will stay out of your way, and help where I can.”
“Good.” Tom turned to his crew. “Sam! Check the fuel. Frodo, you’re back at the wheel for a while. Shadow, give the Leutnant one of the MP40s. They’re slightly more useful than his pistol.”
Sam looked down from the back deck. “Tom, something’s not right.”
“What’s wrong?”
“Well, nothing’s wrong, per se. For some reason, we’re getting fantastic mileage.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we’ve driven about a hundred, hundred and fifty kilometers, and we’ve used about half a liter of fuel. I have a funny feeling we’re not in the Leutnant’s world anymore, if you know what I mean.”
Tom reached in his pocket, and with just a little trepidation pulled the Sérkatoray out of his pocket. It was glowing blue. Slowly, he turned back and forth where he stood. He noted where the light was the brightest, but he also saw that there was a brief flash of red at one ‘compass point.’ “Sam, what does this mean?”
“Well, I’m thinking we want to head to that bright blue light. Red usually means evil, but you’ve just got that flash. Just a spot of trouble?”
“You know, when my resident magick expert doesn’t know what’s going on, it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.”
“Well, what do you expect? I know how things work in Ireland, but we aren’t in Ireland, are we, ye git!”
“Mount up, ye bunch of blackguards! Leutnant, you’ve just been transferred to the Panzergrenadiers. You’ll have to hang on the back of the turret, there’s not enough room for you inside. You can help keep an eye out for anything, er, unusual.”

Beppo knew damned good and well there was room enough for him inside the car, but decided that being outside was a shade bit better than being down inside the car, second in line for a hatch if there was any trouble. He nodded in agreement, and climbed up on the deck. He took the MP from Shadow, and made himself comfortable. As the car started up and moved out, he scanned the horizon behind them. What was he looking for, anyway?

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 10:49 am
by AAA
An odd tale to be sure, to be sure.

Frodo and Sam, leprechauns ? :D :D

Are they to be guided by the ghost of James Coburn, who shows them where the iron crosses grow?

Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:22 pm
by Commissar D, the Evil
Hey Arajs, you know a thing or two about forests--are there any Latvian Leprechauns????? :D


Posted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 4:20 pm
by Tom Houlihan
Russian leprechauns! HA! :D I think it's gonna slow down a little, fellas. I'm still waiting for a Greek word from a Hellenic comrade. (Ireland, Russian leprechauns, and Greek?)

Not only that, but David will attest that the story you're reading is already far from the framework I originally broached to him with the original idea. I'm reworking as I go, and I'll put up bits as I can.

One things for sure, I'm getting a much better appreciation for the effort that went into all those other stories!