Escape From Stalag VIIIB

Jahr Drei , Tag Zwanzig

“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.”

A Narrow Path
November 13th, 1943

Kraggon’s Fjord, just north of Haus, Norway

“Well lads, the radio station is out of commission, the Nazis at the supply depot are all dispatched, we made our way across the narrow passage over the ravine, and here we are, knee deep in snow, following a damn Kraut into what smells like a trap.” muttered Bob.

“You think everything’s a trap.” replied Piotr, laughing, “You even questioned the motives of that dance hall girl who smiled at you the night before we left England.”

“Well, she was awfully suspicious, just coming on to me that way…”

“She’s a dance hall girl. They’re given rations and a stipend to entertain you before you go on missions like this…and you asked her if she had any German ancestors. Sheesh!” interjected Terry from farther along the line of marching soldiers.

As the small band came around a tight corner on the flank of the mountain, the slope on the side of the narrow trail fell away precipitously, opening up on a thousand foot drop.

“All pass carefully, my friends.” said Wulf from the head of the group. “We must be cautious here not to start an avalanche, or the falling snow will carry us down the cliff…”

As each individual man passed the German guide, he reached out a hand to steady them, and to point out the best path over the narrow snowy ledge.

“Don’t you fucking touch me.” snapped Bob as Wulf reached out to him in turn.

“But, I am just trying to assist.”

“Stow it, Corporal.” snapped Taffy from behind Bob. “Wulf, leave him be. If he falls to his bloody death, so be it. Now keep this line moving.” Taffy, wheezing with the exertion of the climb, clutched his bandaged ribs.

“True enough, mates. We need to be at the shrine before the reinforcements catch up with us…” said Bruce, looking pointedly back down the trail they had just climbed.

“Yup, but those demo charges the Sarge placed in the pass should slow them down.” came Terry’s voice as he passed out of sight just around the corner of the trail ahead.

“Yes, but noise make surprise to Germans at shrine impossible.” answered Lodd’s rumble from near the rear of the line.

“Doesn’t matter much anyway.” said Bob, “I’m sure it’s all a trap.”

With only one way to go, both to complete the mission, and to reach the extraction point after they were done, the weary men continued marching up the cliff, though in silence.

"How many Finns...?"
November 8th, 1943

OSI Staging Base, Somewhere in England

“Now that you’ve been debriefed on that jaunt around the Med that General Thomason sent you on, we have a new mission for you, Gentlemen.” said Admiral Barrington, looking around the table at the faces of an OSI team that was, in his opinion, the best the Allies had.

“Damn.” muttered Terry, almost quite enough for the Admiral to miss it. Almost

“Soldier?” the Officer shot the American Tanker a stern look.

“Sorry, sir.” answered Terry, “But ya see, I been around these louses so long I’ve been having dreams where I see Betty Grable, and she’s in the shower ya know? And then, when I pull back the curtain, she’s beautiful and all, but then I look up, and she’s got Lodd’s face…”

Around the room chuckles could be heard.

“I know you need some R&R, lad. We’re working on it.” said Barrington.

“Thing is, that dreams not the one that scared me, sir.” Terry said with a smile.

“Yes?” the Admiral asked.

“Well, in last night’s dream Betty had Taffy’s face…” quipped Terry with an over dramatic shiver, “and that one’s got me thinking I’m ready for an insanity discharge…”

Laughter erupted around the table.

“Well, and good, lads. We’re working on a rest for you, but then Jerry doesn’t seem to want to take one, so how can we?”

Barrington continued.

“In the meanwhile, we’ve got a little problem. You lads remember Kustaa, the Finnish priest who was working with the SS Blood Mages on Kvalen Island?”

At the nods of recognition from the assembled team he went on, “Well it appears that Himmler had a backup plan, in case we mucked up the goings on at the Kvalen shrine.”

“Kustaa has a brother, Larse, who is also a Runic Priest, and we’ve discovered that he and the SS have been working at another site along the Norwegian coast, not far inland fron Bergen.”

“From the snaps and drawings you provided of Kustaa’s runes on the pillars at the Kvalen shrine, we’ve confirmed that they’re trying to summon someone, though we’re still not sure who.”

“Now, before the war exposed us all to Nazi Blood Magic, I know no man in this room would’ve taken rumors of the Occult seriously, but I daresay we’re well beyond that know, and I hope I don’t have to tell you that the possibility of Himmler’s boys summoning a Norse god is probably worth pushing back your leave a wee bit…”

As the Admiral’s voice trailed off, the men before him glanced around at each other, suddenly serious, and Pyotr asked, “What are the details of the mission, sir?”

""You’re to land at a Fjord just inland from Bergen, a little North of Haus. There’s a pass into the mountains there that you’ll use to get to the shrine that Larse and the SS are using. But first, at the mouth of the Fjord, there is a radio station, which relays messages from the interior, where Larse is based, and the coast, where the Kriegsmarine brings in supplies and reinforcements. Take out the radio installation and you’ll have a 6 hour head start on any Nazi reinforcements, more if one of your German speakers," here he nodded at Taffy and Pyotr, “can fool Jerry into thinking everything’s alright but that the transmitter needs repair. That might buy you another day.”

“How long will the trek inland take?” said Bob, adding hastily, “Sir.”

As the Flag Officer glanced down at his notes, Terry shot the Canadian a look, smiled, and silently mouthed ‘kiss ass’.

Putting a beefy hand on the Sniper’s arm to restrain him, Lodd glared at both of them, as Barrington resumed the briefing.

“Good question Corporal. The passes are treacherous, the snow is already deep in many places, and we’ve no solid intelligence on how the Germans have arranged their patrols. Given the amounts of supplies we’ve witnessed coming into the Fjord, we expect there is at least a reinforced company of SS storm troopers, perhaps more, detailed to Larse and the Mages…” pausing, “I’d say it’ll take you at least a day, maybe two, to get the two dozen Kilometers from the radio station on the coast to the mountain shrine.”

“Other than the stint on Kvalen, we’ve no experience in arctic conditions, sir.” interjected the Padre.

“Yes, and the Private’s Commando training notwithstanding,” here the officer nodded at Terry, “you’d hardly be expected to last the first day, as harsh as the conditions are shaping up to be in Scandinavia this Winter. That’s why you’ve been assigned an Alpine specialist, mountain climber, cross country skier, that sort of thing, to assist you. He’ll be waiting for you at the docks when you depart. He’s currently seconded to the OSS as a ‘civilian subcontractor’ or some such Yank euphemism, but, if he performs well, we may add him to your team…”

“What’s his name, sir?” asked Taffy.

“Wulf Behr Kartoffelpuffer.”

All eyes turned to Bob, who turned a light shade of red.

Unconcerned, or perhaps just unaware, of the Canadian sharpshooter’s reaction, Barrington concluded, “Now, obviously with Jerry’s reinforcements coming in hard at your back, you can’t be expected to use your infiltration route to get back out, so we’ve arranged for a ski equipped plane, flown by a seasoned bush pilot, to exfiltrate you after you dispose of Larse and the Blood mages. And now, as that concludes the briefing, I’ll leave you gentlemen to your planning. Godspeed.”

Rising from his chair, the Admiral executed a sharp salute, turned, and strode out of the conference room, his previously unnoticed aide trailing him like a well trained dog.

“I hav one question, only.” rumbled the giant Slav, “Vat kind uf boat we travel on?”

“It’ll have to be a submarine, mate.” replied the Padre, “Only way to avoid detection.”

Lodd’s groan was lost in the background noise, as Bob exclaimed, “Wulf Behr Kartoffelpuffer? Wulf Behr Kartoffelpuffer? That name sounds pretty fuckin’ German! He better not be a Nazi! Why the hell should we put our trust in a damn Nazi guide?”

As the others filed out of the briefing room to get their kit ready, Bob shuffled out behind them.

“Doomed,” he muttered, “we’re doomed…”

Limassol, Cyprus
November 4, 1943

“Goodbye, Petey, I am never going to forget you,” Katherine says, between sobs as she hugs Piotr tightly.

Over her shoulder, the Pole gives the others a cheeky wink and a smirk.

The others look jealously back at him, apart from Bruce, who chuckles heartily at the sight.

“Cobber,” he says to Lodd, “You need to ditch the entrenching tool and get yerself a Szabla. The Sheila’s kind resist a sexy weapon like that.”

Piotr had been the only one of the party members to have had any form of entertainment over the previous three and a half days since they left Romania. Lodd, in particular, had been going stir crazy at being cooped up in a tin can for the majority of the previous month.

And so it was with great relief that they all assembled on the conning tower at Lieutenant Clutterbuck’s invitation to watch Limassol harbour coming into view as the sun set behind them.

Limassol was a pleasant change of scene from all of the chaos from most of their previous destinations. Apart from one or two bomb craters visible, Cyprus’s main port seemed to have been left alone by the war.

“I reckon that we’re due for a bit of R&R after all that,” Bruce says hopefully.

But it is not to be. They have been on the dockside for less than ten minutes before three staff cars and a truck pull up next to them and several officers in naval uniforms get out. The Popoviches seem to be their most pressing concern as they, together with Gorich and Katherine are quickly bundled into a couple of the cars and head off.

As soon as they have been dealt with, the remaining officers marches up to the party members:

“Commodore Boulton,” he says, offering the group a stiff salute. “You are to come with me, if you will. Your superiors seem to need your assistance quite urgently, I have been informed. There’s a Liberator waiting for you at the airstrip.”

Retaking the Sub
October 31, 1943

Before the group was able to re-position themselves to face on oncoming vehicles, the familiar sound of MG42 fire started up from the conning tower once again, sending a hail of bullets chewing up the concrete beneath their feet. It was soon, silenced, however as Jorge calmly advanced towards it and lobbed a grenade right into the top of the tower, taking the four Kriegsmarine out instantly.

No sooner was that problem taken care of that the new one emerged – as two Hanomags came hurtling down the dockside towards them, also wildly spraying MG fire in their general vicinity. The fire was ineffectual due to the darkness and the fact that the party members had all taken up good positions behind Drakul’s car.

Lodd took a running leap and managed to grab onto the side of the sub, hauling himself onto it, with Terry and the injured Gorich also scrambling onboard. While the Padre and the Popoviches struggled to put the gangplank into position so that the Popoviches could get away from the firefight as soon as possible, the remaining party members held off the Germans’ attack.

With the majority of the Germans armed only with Kar-98’s and stumbling around in the darkness, they offered up easy pickings for the party members. Jorge took several of them out with a couple of grenades, as did Taffy from his vantage point up in one of the cranes. Lodd added to the slaughter with a blast from his bazooka.

The Nazis’ attack was badly coordinated so that, by the time that the second squad had arrived on the scene, the first squad had already been taken out all but a couple of stragglers who had found cover in the warehouse. Although several were taken out on the way, one of them managed to bayonet the Padre in the leg before he was taken out – along with the remainder of the second squad.

Just as it appeared that the fight was over and the rearguard was about to get onboard to sub, the remainder of the platoon arrived in a third SdKfz. arriving from the east side of the dock. Fortunately the vampires’ trucks were blocking the way, allowing Terry to take out several of the freshly arriving Germans before they could close on the rest of the party. The remainder were taken down by Jorge, Bob, Taffy and Piotr before Lodd could get either his bazooka or the 4" deck gun to bear upon them.

The dockside was now clear. Only the sub needed to be dealt with.

The remainder of the party all boarded the sub, squeezing into the conning tower. Gorich had been keeping an eye on the ladder up from the bridge, but it would appear that the Kriegsmarine down below were opting for the party members to bring the fight to them.

Knowing that the bridge area of the HMS Torbay offered plenty of perfect nooks and crannies for the Kriegsmarine to hide behind, taking out the party members one-by-one as they descended the ladder, Terry lobbed a smoke grenade down the hatch and waited for thirty seconds until the bridge would be totally full before the party members started to cautiously make their way down the ladder and started stumbling around the bridge, trying to remember what routes lead where.

It was Bob who made first contact with the Kriegsmarine as one of them fired out at him with a Luger from the Gyro Room. His nervous shot was off-target though and Bob soon took him down. Towards the aft of the ship, Jorge and Taffy were less lucky as they were both injured by Kriegsmarine leaping out upon them from their concealed position. Two of them tried to gang up on Piotr, but with a little help from Lodd and Bob, they didn’t last too long.

Kriegsmarine seemed to be coming out of them from the smoke in every direction, but the party members, who were all now also armed with pistols, took them all out no sooner had they rushed through the smoke towards them.

After a brief firefight, the bridge fell silent. The remaining Kriegsmarine seem to have decided that it was going to be better to bide their time until they could ambush the party members.

The group split up, with Bob, Terry, Katherine and Gorich heading for the engine room, while the remainder of the party headed aft. The bow of the sub proved to be empty, however. There were several Kriegsmarine hiding among the sub-officers’ messes and Piotr got hit by one of them, but they were quickly taken out by Jorge and Taffy.

The final four Kriegsmarine were hiding among the boxes of arms and ammo that were stored in the sub’s torpedo storage bay. But Taffy and Jorge were able to finish off the four of them without further incident.

Piotr opened the door to the torpedo room and, much to his relief, saw that it was packed like sardines full of the crew of the HMS Torbay. The party members were as relieved to see Lieutenant Clutterbuck as he was them as they realized that they aren’t going to have to walk back from Romania.

The party members all come to help untie the captives.

“Thanks, chaps,” Lieutenant Clutterbuck says as soon as he is ungagged. “Am I right to assume that it’s full astern and out of here on the double?”

“You are, indeed,” Piotr replies.

Clutterbuck barks out orders and the crew members run to their positions as soon as they are freed.

Taffy orders Lodd to bring his MG42 with him as the pair of them head backup to the conning tower to keep an eye out for any German reinforcements who may be on their way. However, although there is the sound of much activity in the rest of the town, no more Germans come into sight before Clutterbuck comes up to join them and orders the engine room to pull back from the dockside.

To everyone’s relief, the sub starts heading away from the dockside and the Romanian coast, out towards the comforting darkness of the Black Sea. As soon as they are over a mile away from the shore, the three of them head back down to the bridge and HMS Torbay sinks beneath the waves.

Immediately after the sub is submerged, Lieutenant Clutterbuck asks everyone to come with him back to his mess for a debriefing. Here the party members learn the missing pieces of the jigsaw.

Clutterbuck informs them that he received another message from Paula 24 hours earlier saying that there had been a change of plan – that the HMS Torbay was to head for a different harbour, Agigea, some 20 miles to the north. It was here that the crew were ambushed and the sub taken over by the Kriegsmarine who crewed it back to Mangalia.

Gorich was particularly furious at this turn of events. He calms down a short while later, however, when he realizes that they have still managed to achieve the primary objective of the mission as the Popoviches were safely extracted and that Churchill was going to be relieved that he didn’t accidentally sign control of Romania over to a vampire.

Clutterbuck dismisses everyone, thanking them once again for their help and everyone heads to their bunks.

Requiem for a Vampire
October 31, 1943

Drakul’s castle had hardly been the most comfortable place to spend 48 hours, but their host was hospitable and the party members were well looked after. But all were relieved when it was time to make the exchange and get back to the sub.

The party and the partisans headed out just after midnight. Drakul accompanied the Popoviches in his car, with the party members following on behind in a convoy of three trucks. After 90 minutes of driving, they can hear the sound of gunfire in the distance. Obviously the partisans’ diversionary attack is already underway.

The convoy reaches the dockside at 01.45 and everyone gets out of the trucks and awaits the arrival of the submarine. Drakul appears to be very nervous once again as he awaits the culmination of many months of negotiation.

Everyone looks relieved when they see the outline of the HMS Torbay slowly moving towards the dockside – right on time. Half of Drakul’s partisans head towards the dockside to take the ropes to secure the sub.

The first clue everyone has that something has gone horribly wrong is when there is an almighty ‘BOOM’ and part of the disused warehouse along the dockside is blown sky high. The sound is immediately joined by what everyone immediately realizes is MG-42 fire. Everyone looks around and can just make out that the crew of the deck gun and in the conning tower are not wearing Royal Navy uniforms – they are wearing uniforms of the Kriegsmarine.

A voice booms out in front of them:


As they look back, then see to their horror that Drakul is transforming – into a vampire. A split-second later and the partisans start to transform as well.

All of the party members are aghast. But not as aghast as Bruce. He’s really aghast.


With that, he pulls out his pocket bible and thrusts it towards Drakul, leading the vampire to recoil with a growl. With his other hand, Bruce pulls out his trusty Colt and shoots Drakul in the leg, which makes him recoil even more.

With that, everyone lunges for one another. In the chaos, Paula runs away from the others and leaps into the inky blackness of the Black Sea.

Jorge immediately runs after her.


With that, he lobs a grenade at the point at which she leaped into the water and then sprays the area with Sten fire just to be on the safe side. He is rewarded by the sight of Paula’s lifeless form bobbing around in a slick of blood.

Lodd, Piotr and the Padre are immediately locked in combat with Drakul and two of the partisans. Between the three of them and a well-aimed burst from Taffy’s Browning, Drakul is soon taken out. However, rather than stopping the vampires, it just makes things worse as his senior NCOs pile into the combat rather than guarding the Popoviches. The other half of the partisans are slugging it out with the Kriegsmarine.

Taffy shouts to the Popoviches to run away as he brings down another partisan with another burst. The Padre finds himself in the thick of the combat as the vampires pile into him. Piotr comes to his assistance, but there are still a lot of them to contend with.

Just as they are starting to thin out the vampires a little, the other group of partisans manage to finish off the Kriegsmarine and join in the fight with the party members. Paul gets badly mauled by one of the vampires, but manages to disengage from the fight and heroically takes out several of the newly arriving vampires with grenades, assisted by some well-aimed shots from Bob.

Although the rank and files vampires are going down relatively easily, Drakul’s senior NCO’s are offering up much more of a challenge. One of them lunges for Terry who tries to sucker punch one of them and gets badly mauled, dropping to the ground. The Padre also gets badly ripped up as he continues to try and fend them off. Taffy gets retribution by bringing one of the NCO’s down, while the remainder of the party gang up on bringing down the others.

Eventually, all of the vampires are slain. The Padre heals himself of his wounds and then immediately tends to Terry. Fortunately, The Padre’s holy laying on of hands performs its usual miracles and Terry is soon back on his feet again.

And not a moment too soon. Before the party members are able to regain their composure, all hear the sound of vehicles heading right in their direction.

An Audience with Drakul
October 28, 1943

It had been shortly after camouflaging the inflatables that the party members put their plan into action.

“We have something important to tell you,” Taffy said in his most serious tone, looking each of the S.I.S. agents in the eye one by one.

“We have a traitor in our midst.”

His comment is met by silence initially. All of the S.I.S, agents start looking at one another nervously. It doesn’t take too long before the questions start coming:

“But who? How do you know? How can it have happened?” Katherine starts.

One by one, all of the other agents start joining in bombarding Taffy and the others for more information. Taffy goes through everything that the party members know.

Whoever the real traitor is, he or she is either well-trained or good at acting as there is no clue as to the traitor’s identity from his or her actions.

“This is all we know,” Taffy finishes. “We just wanted to fill you all in so that you can keep an eye on the others. You’re all now in as much danger as we are. So consider yourselves warned and pay close attention to everyone’s actions. If you see anything suspicious from anyone, then let me know immediately.”

“Now let’s go.”

The group follows Taffy’s lead, marching in silence, all pondering the information that they have learned.

- – -

As Paul had warned them, tracking down Vlad Drakul was not a simple matter. Finding the member of his cell was easy enough – they had accomplished that by early the first morning. The Romanian let the group use his modest cottage as a safehouse while he and Paul headed off to hunt down Drakul.

Paul and the Romanian were gone a long time – more than 24 hours. Paula had started to panic that Paul had been captured and that the whole mission was in ruins, but the others manage to calm her down and tell her to just keep waiting.

Eventually, Paul and the Romanian arrive – in a covered truck.

“We’ve found him,” Paul says, much to Paula’s relief. “He’s based in the ruins of a castle deeper in the hills. It’s about two hours’ drive from here.”

“We should get going immediately,” Paula says packing her gear. “The longer we wait, the more chances there are for something to go wrong.”

- – -

“That must be it up ahead,” says Paul, nodding towards a tumbledown old keep at the peak of a steep hill, occasionally illuminated by lightning as they managed to coincide their arrival with a bitter storm.

By the time that the truck pulls up outside the castle, there are at least twenty nervous-looking partisans surrounding it, all pointing MP-40’s at them.

Slowly and cautiously, Paul and the Romanian both get out of the truck with their hands held high in the air. Whatever they said to the partisans was masked by the thunder, but it obviously works, as the partisans immediately relax and put down their weapons. Paul beckons for the others to get out of the truck and then the partisans lead them into the ruins.

After a few minutes delay, they are ushered into one of the intact areas of the castle. Sat behind a long table, flanked by more partisans is. presumably, Vlad Drakul.

“Sit you all,” Drakul says, in very poor English.

Drakul seems ordinary enough. In fact he seems even more nervous about meeting the agents than the agents are about meeting him.

Paul, the Romanian and Paul sit next to Drakul and Paul begins talking to him in Romanian while the rest sit anxiously awaiting a resolution to the meeting. They spend twenty minutes negotiating until Paul turns to Paula and says:

“Have you got the document?”

Paula nods and reaches into her fatigues and pulls out an envelope, which is sealed with red wax. She passes it over to Drakul.

Excitedly, Drakul breaks open the seal and studies the contents. Whatever is contained within obviously meets with his approval as a brief smile crosses his face.

He clicks his fingers and barks out an order to his minions. A couple of minutes later and the henchmen return accompanied by a middle-aged couple. By the look of intense relief on the faces of both Paul and Paula, presumably these are the Popoviches. They seem to be as relieved to see all of you as you are them. They appear to be in good health and show no signs of bad treatment.

Vlad barks out another order and the henchmen take the Popoviches away again. Paul objects, but Vlad just shakes his head. Another round of negotiations begin – this one lasts for half an hour before Vlad, Paul and Paula seem to finally agree on terms and a plan.

Paul explains to the others:

“So Vlad knows of a small harbour which is only very lightly garrisoned as it is only used by fishermen these days. The night after next, the majority of his partisans will launch a diversionary attack to draw away the garrison. He has a radio and so we will give coordinates to the sub to be in position at 0200. This will give us enough time to unload the weapons and swap them for the Popoviches.”

“Who is sending the radio message?” Taffy asks suspiciously.

“I am the only ones with the codes,” Paula says.

“Why don’t you give us the codes and we will send the message?” Taffy ‘suggests’.

Paula just shrugs. “That’s fine with me if yo’re happier that way.”

And so Paula, Paul and Taffy are led by one of Drakul’s partisans to the radio room to send the message.

“Good,” says Paul with relief. “Now we just have to wait. Drakul will accommodate us for the next 48 hours until it is time to make the exchange.”

The Final Mission Briefing
October 26, 1943

No one was too keen on hanging around much longer in the abandoned farmhouse – not with the sound of half tracks in the distance moving in their direction:

“Those SS and their wehrwolves and wizards didn’t just pass by here by accident,” Paul says bitterly. “Turkey is a neutral country or at least it was last thing I heard.”

Bruce nods sagely in agreement.

“You’re right, Paula. No way would they keep powerful assets like that in a backwater place like this. They’re too important. I reckon that they were sent here just to take us down.”

“Exactly,” Paula agrees. “And only two people knew that we were coming – or should know – and that’s me and Mustafa. And as you have seen from the fact that they were trying to take me out along with the rest of you. It wasn’t me. I think it’s time to abandon this mission. Mustafa must have been turned.”

The others have no arguments with this and so quickly pack up the remainder of their gear and head back towards the beach, taking a circuitous route in order to avoid any more Nazis that may be on their way.

They manage to make it back to the beach a little over an hour before dawn, just giving them enough time to paddle out to where the HMS Torbay surfaces in order to pick them up again. The vessel submerges just as the first rays of dawn break over the horizon.

Exhausted after the combat, everyone heads to their bunks and sleeps through until mid-afternoon.

It is shortly after their late breakfast that they are summoned to the ward room again for another meeting.

“So, as promised, we are now about to embark upon the final leg of the mission – no more agent pick-ups,” Paula starts. “I will now hand you over to Paul to brief you on the details.”

“Thank you, Paula,” Paul starts. “We will be going out in just a few hours’ time. We are already approaching the border between Bulgaria and Romania.”

“As you know, this character calling himself Vlad Drakul has the Popoviches and so we are to meet with him in order to exchange swap them for the weapons that we are carrying. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where he is based. So first we need to meet up with a member of my cell and work with him to try and track Vlad down. I have no idea whether this part of the exercise is going to take a few hours or a few days – naturally these partisans go to great lengths to hide their tracks.”

“Who is coming on the mission?” Taffy asks suspiciously.

“Well I need to go as they are my contacts,” Paul replies. “And Paula is the liaison officer and so needs to go as well. As for the rest of you, it’s up to you.”

He looks around the other S.I.S. agents who all look back at him. One by one, they all volunteer for the mission.

After a brief Q&A session, the meeting adjourns. The party members debate with one another as to whether they should allow everyone to come. In the end, they decide that it is better to have them all where they can see them, and so they leave the plan as it is.

A few hours later, just before midnight, the submarine services and they set off – for what they all hope is the last time – in the inflatables, making towards the short of Romania.

Horrors in the Night
October 25, 1943

Another night, another rendezvous.

It follows the regular pattern – half an hour to shore, camouflage the boats and then head inland to the rendezvous point. Fortunately this time it’s only an hour away from the boats, so they don’t need the same long march as they had on the previous leg.

Paula, after studying the map at regular intervals along the way points to a deserted farmhouse.

“This should be the place,” she says. “We are to light a fire to signal to Tarabya that we are here.”

And so they light a fire.

Not wanting to put themselves into an ambush position, they find a deserted cottage a couple of hundred yards to hole up in, while taking turns to go on watch to keep an eye our for Tarabya from hidden positions.

The first watch passes without incident and so the second watch consisting of Lodd, Paula and Terry takes position while the others go to the cottage to get some rest.

While resting, Piotr has a nightmare – a nightmare in which he is being attacked by a werewolf. As the werewolf rips into his flesh, Piotr realizes that it is no nightmare and reaches for his trust Szabla to try and parry the creature’s attacks. The other occupants of the cottage – Bruce, Bob and Taffy are quickly awake as they realize what’s going on and are soon peppering the creature with pistol shots.

The wehrwolf is not alone. Outside, Lodd gets hit by three bolts of magical energy and the air is filled with the automatic weapons fire from an accompanying SS unit.

The four inside manage to bring down the wehrwolf. As its wounds immediately start to heal, Piotr hacks the creature’s head off and The Padre tosses the abomination from the building. No sooner has he done so, however, than a wave of fear flows over the occupants as the blood mage accompanying the beast tries to pin them down.

Lodd picks up his trusty bazooka and takes out an MG42 crew before they can do any more damage. One of the SS tries to fight fire with fire with a Panzerfaust, but fortunately his aim is off. As Terry and Paula assist Lodd in dealing with the Nazis, another wave rushes towards them.

The blood mage sends another wave of fear at the occupants of the cottage – followed by a third, but Bob and Terry manage to wound him badly and so the blood mage retreats into the night.

The second wave is upon them now though. A second wehrwolf lunges at Lodd. As another MG42 crew readies their weapon, the Padre manages to obscure the party’s position with a spell, allowing Terry and Taffy to close upon the Nazis.

Piotr sees a couple more of them trying to come around the party’s flank – one of whom is carrying a Flammenwerfer, but manages to take the pair of them out with a grenade. The Padre sees another SS member about to toss a grenade into the cottage, but shoots him through the head with his automatic before he has a chance.

While Lodd continues to do battle with the wehrwolf, the party members start to get the upper hand on the remaining Nazis. The second blood mage let’s off another Fear spell, but the party members are getting used to them now. Terry, Taffy and Bob manage to take him out while Piotr deals with the remaining stragglers with the last of his grenades.

All of the Nazis are now dead or fleeing, with just the wehrwolf left in combat with Lodd. As the rest of the party members come to join him, they finally manage to take the beast down and, once again, Piotr hacks off the creature’s head with his Szabla.

Gorich's Briefing
October 24, 1943

The party members’ fears over the traitor striking while they were on the next leg of the mission proved to be unfounded, as this mission proved to be far less exciting and dangerous than any of the previous three.

It followed the usual routine – two inflatables heading out to the shore around midnight, followed by a long and arduous walk up narrow mountain trails to get into position for dawn. The monks at the first monastery were early risers and so the party members wait in hiding until Paula spots a monk emerging and goes to have a word with him. Unfortunately the monk has no idea about Gorich’s whereabouts and so the party is forced to walk to the next closest monastery to try again.

It is late in the afternoon by the time they get to the fourth monastery and everyone is already tired from the walking. But then they strike lucky finally as they see a group of monks tending olive bushes outside the monastery.

“I think that’s him,” says Katherine, nodding to one of the monks.

“I hope so,” says Paula. “I’ll go and check.”

Fortunately Katherine was right. The monk was Gorich and half an hour later he has packed his few belongings, said his farewells to the monks and come to join the party. Then there is another long slog ahead of them.

They managed to reach the shore a little after midnight and the boats are still where they left them. Thirty minutes of paddling the boats out later and they reach the HMS Torbay.

All are totally exhausted after 24 hours of practically non-stop walking and so they all head to their bunks.

It’s at a late breakfast that they all have another briefing and Gorich tells everyone the remaining details on the mission that has occupied them for the past week.

“After coming to Greece, running down a false lead,” Gorich starts, “my network finally located the Popoviches in Romania. I received a message from one of my Romanian agents who had made contact with a Romanian partisan who says that he knows the current whereabouts of the couple. For some reason, the partisan likes to call himself Vlad Drakul. Drakul, I have been told, has agreed to transport the two scientists to Constanta – for a price. Drakul wanted large amounts of arms and ammunition and recognition as the legal ruler of Romania once the war is over.”

“It took a lot of effort on behalf of the powers-that-be to agree to the second demand, but it was finally arranged.”

“So we need to head to Constanta in order to make contact with Vlad Drakul. At that time, the submarine will be directed to a deserted harbour and the exchange will be completed.”

As Gorich finishes, Paula interjects.

“Once we have picked up the Popoviches, we deliver them to Cyprus and then our mission is complete. But before we get to Constanta, we need to pick up one last agent – from Turkey.”

This latest piece of news is met with groans of protests.

“I know, I know,” she says defensively. “But the S.I.S. doesn’t get access to a submarine too easily and so we have to make the most of it when we do – especially when we need to pass within a few miles of the agent’s location anyway.”

Realizing that arguing is pointless, conversation moves to who is coming on this particular mission. Paula needs to come to confirm the identity of the agent who you are picking up – Mustafa Tarabya. After the grueling day before, none of the other agents are not insisting upon joining in again this time around.


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