“Ein Wald, bei weitem nicht so schön wie das Schwarzwald…”
(Rio Negro, 1948)
“What do you mean, that’s all you can get from him? I thought you spoke like six languages Petey?” asked Terry as he rummaged for supplies in the storage area of the abandoned laboratory.
“I cannot break through the language barrier, my friend. It seems he was brought here very recently, to replace another member of his tribe who took ill, and he knows only a little Portugese, and even less German.” the Polish officer answered. “I have had assistance from both Sargent Williams and our new friend Wulf, and still we have learned precious few facts…”
“You mean like how we woke up in a subtropical jungle god knows where after being captured while we were attacking a shrine in friggin’ Norway?” Terry shook his head in disbelief, then cracked one of his trademark grins, “Sorry Petey, I don’t mean to sound like I’m taking it out on you.”
“I told you lads, we’re in the Amazon.” interjected Bob from across the room, where he was duplicating Terry’s search techniques on another, similar set of storage bins. “You know, the lingua franca being Portugese, the canopy of tropical trees, the wide river we glimpsed to the south…”
“Corporal? Have you made any progress finding useful supplies?” came Taffy’s baritone from behind yet a third set of storage crates, “Because no one is arguing with you, and so you’re best served concentrating on the task at hand.”
“Of course Sargent. Though I would like to remind everyone that I said the Shrine was a trap.” retorted the sniper, though respectfully.
“No one is arguing that either, Corporal.” came the Welsh sappers disembodied voice from behind the crates, “But perhaps you could turn that impressive psychic ability towards determining which of these crates have ammunition, so that we can safely sally forth from this lab and have some dim hope of defeating the army of Lodds waiting outside for us. Not to mention the local savages, at least some of whom are probably cannibals.”
“Yes, Sargent.” answered Bob, as he began silently pantomiming Taffy, adopting a rigid posture and silently mouthing, ’There’s a Giant stick up my arse.’ while spreading his arms wide, as if to say, ‘about this long’.
Terry, looking up to catch the Canadians act, worked hard to suppress a snicker. Addressing Piotr once more, he asked, “Well, what’s the sum of what we’ve gotten from the native?”
“As best we can understand him, we are up a river called the Rio Negro, in the Amazon, at a laboratory run by the Germans.” Piotr paused, “They appear to have been overrun by local tribesmen, and then to have fled to the south, towards the river, and perhaps a boat they had stationed there. Before they did so, however, they seem to have released between six and ten ‘Lodds’, with the purpose of fighting a rear guard action against the local tribesmen.”
“Do go on, Piotr.” came a droll voice from the direction of Taffy’s crates, “The rest of you keep searching.”
“As far as we can understand our friendly native, the Germans were experimenting on all of us, using powerful drugs derived from rare rainforest plants. Their ultimate goal is vague, but, along their research path they somehow managed duplicate some, or perhaps all, of us. For reasons that are still not clear, they chose only to make ‘duplikats’ of our friend Lodd. According to Guillermo, these duplikats of Lodd were trained as fearless fighters, and then set loose on any local tribes foolish enough to give the Germans trouble. They were so ferocious and efficient that even tribes from distant regions, like Guillermo’s tribe, have invented legends about them, variously casting them as men made of an unbreakable material, demons from beneath the earth, and even gods.” Piotr drew a breath,
“As to our exact location, Guillermo, who has very little conception of distance as we know it, preferring to think in terms of ‘bends in the river’, or perhaps ‘days of travel without seeing those red butterflies’, estimates that it would take several weeks to reach the closest ‘town’ he has heard of…a place called Manaus. He has not been there, as it lies in a somewhat different direction than his home territory, but he has heard it is populated by many Germans and Portugese, and has many marvelous machines, like the autos and boats the Germans had here at the lab.”
“Alright Petey. Then South to the river it is. We can use the Canoes we saw at the small dock on the creek to the West of the lab.” said Terry.
“First though, we’ll need more weapons and ammo, not to mention food and aid supplies.” said Wulf, entering the room.
“That’s ostensibly what we are searching for right now, and, if you’re here, who’s keeping an eye on the doors to the jungle?” came Taffy’s voice, “We don’t want any Lodds or locals getting in here with us until we’re ready.”
“Do not worry overmuch, Sargent. The holy Father and Lodd are keeping close watch.”
“Speaking of Lodd, and his brothers, are we sure we have the right one with us now?” asked Bob with a grin.
“Didn’t you notice?” asked Terry; seeing Bob’s blank stare he went on, “With their usual flair for improving on existing models the Nazis have made the duplicate Lodds more, well ‘correct’ I guess you’d say.”
“How so?” asked Bob, “They are still using make shift weapons and shouting unintelligible gibberish in loud voices…”
“Yes, but they are dressed in relatively neat German tropical fatigues, and they seem to have been trained in personal hygiene.”
“Yes, but our Lodd was freshly bathed and, when we found him in the stasis tank, he was naked. So how can we tell the difference from that?”
“Easy, pal. Now that we’ve given him fresh clothes and boots, has he bothered to tie his shoelaces? I’ll answer for you: he hasn’t. In fact, he’s used the laces to tie together two pieces of wood into a sort of primitive Flail. Calls it a ‘Hun Whacker’. When I asked him what would keep his boots on, he told me Slavic toes can hold boots onto feet by sheer strength, and he probably didn’t need boots anyway, as there wasn’t even any proper snow here!” Terry laughed, “No, I’m sure we’ve got our Lodd.”
“Well, if we are all through talking, and we are sure we have searched the lab for useful items, then the next decision is who goes out to scavenge the rest of the German bodies we saw earlier?” asked Wulf, “We’ll need their weapons and ammunition…”
“The Lord only knows how we ended up in the Amazon, mates,” commented Bruce, as he came down the stairs into the lab.
“Why do I even bother to post sentries, if we’re all going to be down here talking?” came a mutter from Taffy’s crates.
“ There are worse places to have ended up than Brazil though,” The Padre continued.
“I remember reading in The Times that they are on our side. Well, more accurately on your side,” he added, with a nod towards Terry. “There are US Naval Bases and airfields on the coast – I can’t remember where to be honest though. But if we head down the Amazon and hit the coast, we should be able to get to one eventually.”
“Although the Brazilians are officially on our side, there are a lot of Nazi sympathizers in the country, so we need to stay careful, even once we’re out of our current situation.”
“As for going out there to deal with the Lodds, as confident as I am that the Lord will protect me from these atrocities, it’s probably better that I stay in reserve. Until you fellas are able to load up with ammo, I’m the most potent weapon that we’ve got. I need to try and conserve my powers as much as possible though as I’m still not feeling that great and I’m sure I’ll be needed to patch you up before too long.”
Piotr drew out his machete and practiced cuts and thrusts with it.
“I’ll go out,” the Pole said. “This machete is pretty crude compared to my szabla, but it’s close enough. Watch my back though.”