The FORUM HEROES Meet Akira Ushijima

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The FORUM HEROES Meet Akira Ushijima

Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Apr 09, 2006 4:31 pm

THE FORUM HEROES MEET AKIRA USHIJIMA--Part One

On the bridge of the 5,000 ton tramp steamer, Calcutta , Captain Brogan lowered his binoculars and smiled to his First Officer,
“A sight I feared never to see again. Beauty still roams the seas....”
“Aye Captain”, the officer replied, still peering through his glasses at the big steamer with gleaming white upper works fast approaching astern. Both officers recognized the liner from her pre-war service as the Royal Princess , a 25,000 ton cruise ship out of Liverpool sailing for the Royal Indian Line. They watched her bow slice through the calm seas. She was making about 25 knots, Brogan judged, more than fast enough to outpace a surfaced submarine, while the elderly Calcutta plodded forward at slightly less than half that speed.

But seeing her sailing alone and apparently unintimidated by the war momentarily dispelled any worries of u-boats or raiders from Brogan’s mind. Captain Brogan was as tough as an old leather shaving strop and had already survived one war by dodging torpedoes, but even he could be caught up in the nostalgia of the moment.

Both ships were far off the normal sea routes in the Indian Ocean, seeking protection in the vastness of the sea. Nazi submarines were rarely heard of in these waters and Japanese submarines made only sporadic appearances, but one could never be too careful in a war, especially the captain of a 30 year old vessel whose original engines burned coal and whose “new” oil-burning engines could never work up beyond 14 notes. Much like her captain, Calcutta was an old, slow, cranky veteran, but, nonetheless, reliable and tireless.

Royal Princess, on the other hand, was that bit of inspirational glamour and class that always sailed past Captain Brogan. Probably every man in his crew felt the same sense of fleeting beauty, but such sights, however rare during the war, never failed to cheer him or his men.

Hearing of the event belowdecks Calcutta’s Chief Engineer, John Scully, joined the Brogan and the First Officer on the bridge.
“A fine sight!” First Officer Jenkins exclaimed upon seeing him. Scully wiped his face with the big linen handkerchief he always carried stuffed into a pant’s pocket. It was damnably hot, even on the bridge and he had come up from nursing Calcutta’s wheezing engines. The sight of a passenger liner overhauling them was as rare as the sight of Scully on the bridge.
“What do you say Scully?”
“Her third funnel’s making too much smoke,” Scully observed, “her Chief’s going to have his arse chewed if he doesn’t correct the fuel mix.”
Brogan smiled slightly. Scully only thought of engines and machinery, which was as it should be.

The Royal Princess altered course slightly, obviously intending to pass Calcutta on the latter’s port beam. As she did so, she cut her speed and Brogan saw a line of passengers on her rails, both male and female, waving at him. The big ship’s hull was painted entirely black and her funnels bore black stripes. Her main and three upper decks were snowy white and immaculate.

Brogan was still admiring her lines and general tidiness when hidden steel panels in her upper hull dropped down and a row of heavy guns instantly appeared.
The first shell struck Calcutta moments later, striking just aft of her bridge and wiping away her wireless room. Then another gun thundered and another, and still another after that. Calcutta literally staggered under the ferocious bombardment, leaning to starboard as a withering hail of shells struck her, sweeping her decks clean of cranes, deckhouses and funnels.

The big ship poured shell after shell into the wreckage and her guns ceased fire only after the seas closed over the blackened hulk.
Calcutta thus became the first victim of the German Raider Graf Spa and her infamous captain, Thom von Holigaan.

To Be Continued....
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Sun Apr 09, 2006 4:52 pm

Thom von Holigaan
A weather bitten old sea-dog, if I'm thinking of the right man. Kapitan zur See, wasn't he? I've heard he was a real hard-*ss, but pretty fair nonetheless. Except, of course, when he was in a bad mood.

IIRC, he was one of the last proponents of flogging recalcitrant crew members. At one point, he extended a cruise. Since 3/4 of the crew was on bread and water for a month, their food supplies lasted longer than planned.

Michel should have fun with these pictures!

:up:
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:27 pm

A weather bitten old sea-dog, if I'm thinking of the right man. Kapitan zur See, wasn't he?
Only The Shadow knows Tom...... :wink:

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~D, the Evil
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Post by Dirlewanger » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:05 pm

Kapitan zur See Thom Holigaan sounds pretty ruthless :shock: No chance to abandon ship before before he opens fire. ( I hope moderator Tom doesn't get any ideas from this!)
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Post by Nibelung » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:50 am

Wow, didn't see that one comming! :D

best,
Miha
There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people. - Heinz Guderian
-- Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago. --

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Post by Luftman129 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:25 pm

Meanwhile off the coast of Italian-occupied Ethopia, Kapitän Joachim von Ribbentrop was waiting for the armed raider Graf Spa and Kapitän Thom von Holigaan in his old trusty destroyer Hamburg. While waiting, he called for his first officer, a young strapping Bavarian lad of tweny-one named Hans Pabst. "Hans, what time is the raider supposed to arrive off the coast?" he asked. Hans replied, "Herr Kapitän, it should arrive within the next 48 hours."
"Gut, I have not seen my old school chum from Dresden since this lousy war started. Is the supply ship Lielenfeld still on station?" Kapitän von Ribbentrop asked.
"Ja, Herr Kapitän." The first officer replied. "Kapitänleutnant Meyer knows that there are grave consequences if he should abandon station. As a matter of fact, there is the supply ship in our field of vision right now."
As a matter of fact, the supply ship got right next to them to deliver the daily supplys of ammunition, oil, fuel, and food.

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Post by Fraulein Valkyrie » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:52 pm

Part Two

Erika adjusted her wide-brimmed hat against the sun as she watched the smaller English ship draw closer. It wouldn’t do for her to return home to Ernst with her studiously pale complexion reddened by the sun, but still....she leaned a little further over the rail, the breeze from the Royal Princess' wake pushing her blonde curls over her shoulder under the royal-blue, silk-covered hat.

Beneath her feet she felt the huge ship slow, awkwardly at first, with a clutching halting, then slowly adjusting its speed and rhythm to the graceful slink of a cat....the graceful, purposeful half-step of a cat after a mouse, Erika thought, a grim smile creasing her carefully pale visage. The slowing of the ship brought a hail of friendly civilian cheers and cries. Happy vacationers’ calls in German, most of them drunk on good KdF beer, a lot of them in slightly sloppy south German dialect, to the other ship, as it drew alongside, from the upper decks of the Royal Princess……Idiots. Idiots, she thought. The image brought a grimace to her otherwise perfectly composed, perfectly beautiful visage. What in the WORLD would possess sane Germans to want to take a cruise on the Indian Ocean...or to believe, as it was fed to them even as they had happily boarded the ship in Kiel, that even Arbeitsminister Ley’s Kraft durch Freude could make the German world so safe this far from home?

Erika felt, as much as heard, a slow grinding underfoot....and within moments the first shot hit the Britishers’ ship, striking it just behind the tower on its highest part. The tower stood, immaculate for a moment, for a single second in time....and then burst outward, crumpling with force and flames instantaneously, obviously taking the enemy ship’s officers, and the ship’s command, with it. Erika turned away, satisfied, and with no need to watch the remainder of the salvo.

Her companion, so immaculately dressed in his neatly-pressed grey civilian suit, jumped at her side. He jerked the Fedora from his head to wave it ecstatically over a crop of white-blond hair, the sides of his head shaved almost to his very thick skull and gleaming in the afternoon light. "A direct hit, Meine Frau, and on the first shot!" he whooped happily to Erika, light blue eyes sparking as he literally jumped up and down at her side and slapped the Fedora against his thigh.

"Ja, Hauptsturmführer," Erika replied, drawing her arm carefully from where it had been looped in his as he came to his senses. "It is, of course, exactly what we expected from the talent of the officers and crew of this ship," she added coolly. The Hauptsturmführer sobered under Erika’s glare, and she glanced over his shoulder and then raised her eyes to his light blue ones. "And now....the civilians?"

As she turned on her heel toward the ship’s bridge, Erika was relieved to see the blond man finally pulling his pistol from its holster.

Erika smoothed down the front of her royal blue suit, checking the gold Party pin on her left lapel. She pushed open the hatch to the bridge, taking a deep breath as she entered the surprisingly close quarters. It wasn’t exactly what she’d expected----all metal, wire, and with the slight smell of heat and oil, and men busy with equipment, men poring over maps. A couple of the officers snapped to crisp attention as she entered the room, obviously surprised at a woman’s presence, and more surprised at a woman’s presence which commanded authority. With her usual posture and bearing, Erika strode toward the ship‘s very heart, her heels clicking softly on the metal of the floor.

Clasping her hands behind her back, Erika gazed up, the wide brim of the royal-blue silk-covered hat tipping up to frame her mass of stylishly waved gold curls as she addressed the Captain. "Kapitan von Holigaan, I bring greetings from the Führer. His congratulations on your success." Erika’s smile softened, and she stretched her hand toward his arm, then pulled it back as she realized what she’d been about to do. Her voice lowered as she added quietly, "And Thom....Thom, it’s been a very long time since University, hasn’t it?"

The sound of a pistol shot sounded off somewhere down the ship, and then another. The smile slowly slid from Erika’s face as the staccato voice of an MP-40, and the sound of screams, quickly muffled, could be heard from the rear of the ship. "I’m the....'Civilian Liaison' for this assignment,” she said coolly, inclining her head so that the brim of the hat obscured her expression as she drew out paperwork and a map and placed them in front of the Captain. "And here are the orders to get me to Shanghai, as quickly as possible."

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:05 pm

Part Three

Fregattenkapitän von Holigaan barely glanced up from the map table. He moved the documents she placed on top of his map aside and drew a line with a black pencil before deigning to respond.
“I have matters to attend to now. We will continue this conversation at pool two, on the entertainment deck, in one hour.”
Turning his back to her, he asked one of his officers for the time. The officer quickly replied and the captain said simply, “Good, enter it into the log.”
Seeing that he intended to ignore her, Erika turned smartly on one heel and walked towards the chart house hatch.
“One last thing”, Kapitan von Holigaan said, standing up straightly and fixing her in a cold stare.
“Tell your thug that there will be no more summary executions aboard my ship–unless it is his.”
She gave him an ever so slight nod and disappeared down the passageway.
There was a visible drop in tension within the chart house after she left. Von Holigaan took off his cap and one of his officers handed him a mug of coffee. Sipping it, Thom allowed himself a moment to enjoy the lingering scent of French perfume. The other offices relaxed as well. One of them peered down the passageway.
“Magnificent”, he commented wistfully.
“Yes”, Thomm chuckled. “As magnificent as any predator that’s caught your scent in the wind.”

In truth, Fregattenkapitän Thom von Holigaan had been waiting for this moment since he spotted her boarding the ship in Kiel. Never one to openly question orders, von Holigaan had offered only token resistance to the Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine’s insistence on the novel idea that he allow a limited number of civilians on board the Graf Spa . Raiders rarely carried more than their crew and perhaps a token photographer to chronicle their exploits. OKM’s explanation that these civilians would aid in his ship’s disguise was laughable on its face, but the idea that certain dignitaries needed passage to the far east was sensible enough. That some of them were political operatives struck von Holigaan as an obvious and logical assumption.
So, knowing that he was not privy to either the true purpose or true intentions of his “passengers”, Thom maintained an icily formal distance from the group during the cruise, waiting patiently for it to sort itself out.
Still, Thom thought, logic has its limits. A raider’s life on the high seas was eventful enough without intrigues and he certainly wouldn’t allow passengers to casually shoot each other, no matter their political connections. Erika was a complication to his mission and he could only tolerate that for so long...
Placing the mug of coffee aside, he idly glanced through the new orders and at the map Erika left behind. As he feared, it was a secret mission inside of his secret mission.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:36 pm

Gentlemen (and Ladies!), may I offer a suggestion based on past experience?

When our beloved Kommissar starts a story, he usually has the tale laid out in his mind, at least in skeletal form. It may change, but he normally has a pretty good idea of where he wants to take it.

If you have an idea, PM him. Whether it's a scene you developed, or a new sub-plot, jot it down and send it to him. Trust me, he's willing to tell you if it won't work. If it fits, he'll blend it in and give you credit for it.

I found out that writing a Forum Hero Tale is a lot harder than it looks. Taking suggestions from the audience helps. I got a couple of suggestions on my tale that worked, and a couple that didn't work by themselves, but gave me ideas that I developed.

Besides, I've had the chance to talk to David. I can assure you, ego isn't one of his problems.
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:50 pm

Thanks Tom, you said it best, I really appreciate PMs with ideas, there's always a little gem in each of them, if only something as small as a suggestion for a character's name.

By the way, I already have roles planned for "Helmut" Dirlewanger, John "The Shadow", Beppo Schmidt, Max Hansen, Nibelung, Michael Avanzini, Lupo Solitario, Bill (Genstab), Prit and Doktor Krollspell, just as a start.:D

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David
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Post by Luftman129 » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:57 pm

Tom wrote:Gentlemen (and Ladies!), may I offer a suggestion based on past experience?

When our beloved Kommissar starts a story, he usually has the tale laid out in his mind, at least in skeletal form. It may change, but he normally has a pretty good idea of where he wants to take it.

If you have an idea, PM him. Whether it's a scene you developed, or a new sub-plot, jot it down and send it to him. Trust me, he's willing to tell you if it won't work. If it fits, he'll blend it in and give you credit for it.

I found out that writing a Forum Hero Tale is a lot harder than it looks. Taking suggestions from the audience helps. I got a couple of suggestions on my tale that worked, and a couple that didn't work by themselves, but gave me ideas that I developed.

Besides, I've had the chance to talk to David. I can assure you, ego isn't one of his problems.
Understood. I will PM him with the second part of the scene off the Italian-occupied coast of Ethopia.

Thanks,
Chris

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:07 pm

Part Four:

Part Four:

As Thom read the orders more carefully, his gunnery officer, Leutnant Helmut Dirlewanger popped into the chart house with the ship’s doctor, Herr Krollspell, at his heels. A glance told him that the two of them had been arguing, again...
Thom wearily steeled himself for the latest installment of their continuing feud. Helmut looked exasperated and angry, Doktor Krollspell looked simply angry and it was instantly clear to everyone in the small room that Helmut was attempting a “breakout” from whatever harbor he had been trapped in by the very persistent Doktor. For their part, the other officers hurriedly turned away and pretended to be busy or scurried out of the chart house in order to find something to be busy with.
“Fine shooting, simply fantastic shooting!” Doktor Krollspell thundered sarcastically after Helmut.
Dirlewanger shot a pleading look at the captain, who prepared himself to receive the next broadside.
“It only took you twenty-five rounds to sink a freighter and drown its crew!” Krollspell shouted.
Thom pressed a finger to his lips. “Shhhh!”
But Krollspell was not about to be shushed, even if he did lower his voice a little.
“And I suppose he was only following orders?” Krollspell challenged Thom.
Kapitan von Holigaan frowned. “Yes, he was”, he answered coldly.
“So these men were ordered to be slaughtered and drowned without being allowed to surrender?”
“Yes, they were”, the Captain replied icily. “And who, exactly, am I--or you, Herr Doktor, to question the order of things?”
Krollspell locked eyes with Thom. For several thousand sea-miles he had lectured the Captain and his officers at every dinner about what he called loosely “the morality of war” and related subjects. At the time, his speeches and the subsequent arguments made for entertaining and lively dinner conversation--a rarity on long voyages that Thom tolerated out of sheer boredom.
But now that the raider’s mission had passed from the realm of a theoretical mealtime chat into the much crueler realm of reality, von Holigaan was obliged to confront the issue directly.
Sensing the Captain’s intent, the much-harassed Dirlewanger dropped anchor and plopped down on to a chair.
“You will not question my orders on these issues again, Herr Doktor!” Von Holigaan shouted.
Krollspell recoiled visibly. “Then it is true, this wasn’t a horrible mistake”, he glared angrily at Dirlewanger, “or simple incompetence?”
Thom enjoyed, briefly, the look of apprehension growing on Krollspell’s face. “It was fine shooting, and done on my specific order”, he said flatly.
Doktor Krollspell stared at him as if he had been slapped in the face. He sputtered something, then turned, still in a state of shock and tore out of the room, almost tripping over the coaming at the bottom of the hatchway as he left.
“Stupid civilian. What did he expect, a picnic?” Helmut said harshly.
Thom’s expression was thoughtful when he answered after a moment. “He’s not to be blamed Helmut. He’s read too many stories about the Emden and the Wolf in the First War. But our war is different than theirs. It requires obedience and harshness. It requires us to be as cold as stone and iron hard. We do not have the luxury of sentimentality.”
Helmut Dirlewanger nodded.
The Doktor was probably the only member of the crew who wasn’t in on the joke, Helmut thought. The Graf Spa carried ten 15 cm. guns, four on each beam and one fore and another aft in hidden positions. Anyone familiar with the concept and equipment of a merchant raider would have recognized that as an incredibly heavy armament for such a ship. She carried nearly as much firepower as a light cruiser. More than that, her hull beneath the waterline carried a belt of six-inch thick armor, a feature found on no other disguised merchant raider, in any war. Simply put, any crewman who knew the ship, knew also that Graf Spa wasn’t designed to take prisoners, she was designed to kill .
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:50 pm

Part Five:

Erika strode onto the Entertainment Deck, her eyes narrowing in the reflection of the sun on the pristinely white-washed deck. She glanced over her shoulder as she came out into the open on the deck: yes, her Fedora-ed “companion” was still there, a discreet ten paces behind her. Not close enough to make her actually grimace in distaste, but close enough for the guard-dog role he’d proved very effective at several times before. The sight of Thom standing across the deck made Erika glance at her watch as she skirted the pool and moved toward him. She’d intended to arrive ten minutes or so past the “hour” prescribed by the very precise Kapitän von Holigaan---just late enough to make the point, after his display of ignoring her on the ship’s bridge, in front of his officers. She hadn’t planned on keeping him waiting for nearly twenty minutes, but then, what she’d just found in her cabin had needed some very calm thought, especially with the blond Hauptsturmführer raging around……

“Erika, darling,” Thom said with just a trace of sarcasm, “there are very few people who can get away with making me wait for them on my own ship. Even fewer manage it twice. I made an exception in your case, but only because I had some interesting memories to keep myself company. Now, would you care to explain that incident?”

“I realize that the method of….dealing with those civilians earlier was distasteful to you,” Erika said simply, the quiet statement coming unusually close to an apology, for her. Thom merely raised an eyebrow. Her expression returned to a cool mask and she added with an elegant shrug, “But it was necessary. They were enemies of the Reich, willing to barter away information that our government can’t afford to have fall into enemy hands.” Leaning back against the deck’s rail, her smile held just the slightest suggestion of taunting. “And you shouldn’t be so outraged about the civilians, Kapitän von Holigaan. You’ve had a good hour or so to think about it,” she jibed subtly about the time he’d had her spend cooling her heels before their meeting, “and I’m sure you’ve wondered why it happened now, halfway through the voyage, during your first engagement?”

“Regardless of when it happened, I should not have been surprised by it. You can play secret agent all you want, but I am the Kapitan of this vessel, and the only ones authorized to surprise me here are Mother Nature and God. You are neither. I am solely responsible for this vessel, her crew, and her passengers. Anything that happens to any of them reflects on me. I would point out that your shooter almost developed terminal lead poisoning himself. I stayed my men only because I knew you. Or, at least I thought I knew you. I can’t guarantee that you’ll receive such a benefit of the doubt again.”

In the hat’s shadow, her gray eyes were only a shade lighter than the ocean behind her, and the taunting edge was still in them as she answered the question for him. “The Calcutta . The Britishers were assured that their rendevous with the Graf Spa , known to them as the Royal Princess , would be safe. They were assured of this through contact with the traitors among our own countrymen, before we left Kiel, who in turn had it on the highest authority of the OKM. Their contact was, I believe, the ship’s second in command, a man named Jenkins,” she added for emphasis, as she saw doubt rising on the Captain’s face. Erika paused for a moment to allow him to absorb the implications, both political and personal.

“But I did not know that your orders obviously required you to sink Calcutta without taking prisoners. I only knew that your orders required you to seek the ship out and make contact with her.”

Von Holigaan shrugged. So the puppet masters in Berlin hadn’t trusted either of them completely. It occurred to him that even she had no idea of Graf Spa’s ultimate purpose. Like the good Doktor, she was too enwrapped in the web of her own viewpoint to discern the truth.

The casualness of his reaction surprised her. The Thom she’d known years ago would’ve been outraged by the idea of luring a ship’s crew into obliteration by a false promise of protection. The Thom she’d known years ago...., she repeated wistfully to herself, then forced the thought out of her mind.

She knew that he had changed from their University days, but she had no idea how, or how much. Her voice was very quiet when she spoke again. “The Calcutta’s appearance was all that was required to draw out the traitors---and their information. They were huddled around a transmitter when my man found them.”

Erika’s gaze moved past him to the rail on the opposite side of the deck where she’d been standing when the Calcutta went down. And then to the blond man in civilian clothes on a nearby lounge chair, who despite his overly obvious attempt to appear casual looked nothing like a vacationer enjoying the sea air. The Hauptsturmführer obviously wasn’t the type to tote an MP-40 under his Italian-cut jacket, and as Erika turned back to the ship’s Captain, she knew that Thom must realize that the blond man wasn’t the only one from Berlin who’d been sent on the cruise.

“What was necessary, was done. A Verräter or two....Well, five of them to be exact.” Erika’s tone was matter-of-fact, and she shrugged again, dismissing the incident with a small toss of her head. “The problem is solved, and hopefully it won’t be necessary to embarrass your command with that kind of incident again. Except….” Erika’s eyes finally met Thom’s, and there was also a faint, uncharacteristic shadow of doubt behind the suggestion of further action, if necessary, to protect the Reich’s interests. “Except that one never really knows who one travels with aboard a ship.” Her gaze ran to the swimming pool. There were several passengers lounging by the pool’s heated waters.

Thom followed her eyes, a habit he thought he had outgrown.
“That man there”, Erika said of one of them. “He is Lupo Solitario, a representative of IL Duce, but actually working for an Italian aircraft manufacturer. He is traveling with Michael Avanzini, who represents a rival Italian aircraft manufacturer. Interestingly enough, Signore Avanzini has been linked by our intelligence to the Vatican. An unlikely duo to sell airplanes to the Japanese, don’t you think? ”
Von Holigaan smiled and said, “Yes, but do you see the gentlemen sipping a martini under the umbrella on the third table?”
Erika looked. “The dark-haired gentleman in the blue suit?”
“Yes. That is Herr Arajs. He is Latvian and a member of the ruling council of the “White Guards” Party in Latvia. An odd tourist for the Orient.” Von Holigaan allowed himself to lean back against the ship’s rail, surrendering his rigid posture in a gesture designed to indicate his confidence in his control of the ship and everyone aboard.
Not to be outdone, Erika nodded towards another passenger. “Do you see the Indian gentleman over there in the turban? That is Doctor Prit Buttar. The turban and beard are fakes and part of his disguise. He’s an Indian revolutionary, intent on making contact with other Indians conspiring with the Japanese against British rule in India.”
Thom adjusted his cap against the sun. “Another Doctor, just what we needed aboard this ship. So, we are in agreement then, that all of the passengers bear watching?” He asked, with heavy emphasis on the word “passengers”.


“My cabin was searched this afternoon, Herr Kapitän. Of course, they didn’t find what they were looking for.” The smile Erika flashed him was mischievous, covered quickly by the brim of her hat as she bent to casually slide her skirt’s hem up well above her knee, to reveal the bottom two inches of a document tucked smoothly between her stocking and the inside of her thigh. He shouldn’t have looked, but he succumbed to the lure. He never could help himself where Erika was concerned. He wondered if she fully realized her hold over him, and hoped that she didn’t. That brief flash of thigh started to bring back memories that were best kept buried.

She dropped her skirt back into place, and her smile slowly lost its amusement as she straightened. “Perhaps, Herr Kapitän---because we are both concerned about preventing more civilians from being injured---perhaps you have an idea who ransacked my cabin sometime between the sinking of the Calcutta and about half an hour ago. And perhaps you also understand now, Thom, that it’s crucial for the interests of the Reich that I get to Shanghai as quickly as possible.”

“You and I have a history, my dear, but I am more concerned about my ship at the moment. Right now, I don’t care if Uncle Adi himself signed your orders. Unless I get you to your destination safely, your mission fails before it begins. Until I put you ashore at Shanghai, your mission is secondary to me. I don’t know if you can fully understand that, or not.”

Erika reddened slightly at the old barb about her single-mindedness, but decided to brush over it for the more important point---the main sore spot between them years ago, which obviously hadn’t disappeared with time. Pouring salt in the wound, she thought, but she couldn’t resist raising a finger to brush away an imaginary dust speck from the gold rim of the Party pin on her lapel, as she turned to smile up at him in mock sweetness. “No, he didn’t actually sign the orders himself, Thom….” Her expression sobered, and her voice lowered, to communicate the gravity of her assignment, and the level of their government who had an interest in it. “But I hope you understand that I wasn’t exaggerating when I conveyed his congratulations to you on the bridge.”

Thom sighed to himself. He had read her orders. But she had not read his and his were still unclear enough to cause sleepless nights. He grappled mentally with the puzzle. While he might make getting Erika to Shanghai and safety a personal priority.....his thoughts trailed off, merging into other thoughts just as the wake of his ship merged with the sea. If they had sent any other agent, it would have been easier. He’d just ignore the distraction and that would be it, but it had to be her.

He stepped closer to her, holding her gently by her upper arms. He looked her up and down, flashes of memories in his mind’s eye. How well he could recall the feel of her in his arms, the smell of her hair. He wondered if her lips still tasted as sweet. A strand of hair fell across her face, blown by the sea-breeze. He reached up and gently moved it back. He stared into her eyes, thinking of how he used to get lost in their gray depths.

Erika braced herself at his touch, at the memory of his closeness, of his hands closing gently around her arms. They’d sent her on this particular mission precisely because of that time years ago. They’d said she could use it, as she’d never hesitated to coolly, calculatingly turn anything, professional or personal, to her advantage. And coolly, calculatingly, she’d agreed, sure that she was a different person now. What had been between her and Thom was in the past, dead. Then Thom raised his fingers from one of her arms to gently brush back a strand of her hair with the back of his hand. Something inside her lurched at the familiar gesture, and Erika turned her eyes up slowly to meet his, feeling the wall of ice she’d constructed so carefully around her melting and slipping dangerously.

And then he dropped his hands to his sides, side-stepped around her, and walked away. His responsibility was to his crew and to his true mission. Then perhaps he could think of her and the safe waters of Shanghai. Suddenly, he realized that his Erika and this agent were two different people, and he had to keep them separate in his mind. Setting a determined look on his face, he climbed the outside ladder back to the bridge. He had a war waiting for him. And he must be as cold as stone and iron hard.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....

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Rosselsprung
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Post by Rosselsprung » Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:35 am

Forum Heroes in the Pacific! :D Or are they in the Indian Ocean right now?

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Shadow
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Post by Shadow » Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:21 pm

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:By the way, I already have roles for John "The Shadow" just as a start.:DBest,David
:D Just as long as I'm not a camelwurst inspector in Africa this time, or the driver of an overweight (having eaten too much of the above "wurst" I suspect) commander (Hi Tom !!) .................... I'll be just a happy little camper !! :wink:

:beer: VIVA LA COMMISSAR !! :beer:
Signed: "The Shadow"

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