Escape From Stalag VIIIB

Goodbye Panama
Jahr drei, Tag fünfundsechzig
Operation Liberate Transport
Jahr drei , Tag fünfzig

German Airbase, in the Jungle near Manaus

“Now we set the flaps…then we give it some fuel…and, we’re off!” said Francois in French to Terry, who had taken the copilot’s seat next to him in their newly acquired Ju-88z.

The plane was, according to Mssr. Donat, the latest effort by the German designed factories in Buenos Aires to produce a versatile long range aircraft that could carry out the many, and varied, tasks assigned to it on behalf of the Neue Reich, that illegitimate offspring of the old, recently deceased Third Reich and the whorish Oligarchs of European extraction who now ran Argentina like a fascist wonderland.

“Thanks, Francois. I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly” replied Terry, also in French, though with a distinct Occitan accent.

“I just hope you’re right, and the Americans in Panama let me keep the plane as a reward for helping you escape Brazil.” said the Frenchman. “After all, I did leave my seaplane behind.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded. When the O.S.S. office we work for finds out we’re still alive they’ll be very grateful.”

The Frenchman seemed to turn this thought over in his head as the plane quickly climbed above the Brazilian jungle. Adopting a Northwesterly course for Panama City, he gave voice to a thought that had been nagging at him ever since the American Tanker had told him the story of their capture in 1943 while hunting, and failing to kill, the Finnish priest who had unleashed the end of days in 1945.

“It seems to me, mon ami, that your failure to kill Larse before he could set off Ragnarok by summoning the Great Worm, which at least indirectly led to the current sad state of world affairs, with the Allies fractured and wounded, the Germans and Japanese each regrouping after their own fashion, and the Soviets set to step into the gap as the new leaders of the world, would make you less ‘returning heroes’, and more ‘culpable scapegoats’. Are you sure they’ll be happy to see you after the man you failed to kill bathed the globe in the caustic blood of Jormungand?”

“Of course. We are, or at least were, one of the best anti-occult special operations squads the Allies had, before we were captured. We were experts in dealing with the abominations summoned by the NAZI blood mages. And, if what you tell me is true, about Dinosaurs roaming the Matto Grosso, and Sea Serpents surfacing in the Philippines, and all the rest that the world has seen since Serpentfall, then they’ll need our expertise.”

At that moment Taffy poked his head into the cockpit past the privacy screen, “How long until Panama City, Donat?”

“About 12 or 13 hours, Seargent.”

“Well enough.” Looking back over his shoulder into the planes passenger compartment, the Welshman barked, “Everybody grab a few winks. We want to be fresh when we land. The Yanks’ll probably have need of our services right away, if what we’ve heard about the Allies bad luck is true.”

After a moment’s thought the noncom sapper added, to both compartments, “Good work back there at the Airbase, taking out those MG-42s in the guard towers. Jerry never knew what hit him. Now, get some rest…”

After the Sargent’s head had withdrawn back into the passenger area, Francois leaned in close to Terry and said conspiratorially, “That man has a wonderfully indistinct sense of humor, mon ami.”

After a moment of staring blankly at the bush pilot, Terry broke out laughing.

“Oh, I get it! Good one!”

(12 hours or so later, Panama)

“…Panama Air Control Command…repeat, state your point of origin and your business in Panamanian airspace, or be shot down…repeat, this is Panama Air Control Command…state your point of origin and your business in Panamanian airspace, or be shot down…”

Terry jerked awake at the blare from the plane’s radio.

“What should I answer, mon ami?” asked Francois.

“Give me a minute.” said the American, rising quickly out of the copilot’s seat, and moving aft through the curtain into the passenger area.

As the radio message repeated, Francois could hear voices from the compartment behind him. After several minutes, the Polish officer climbed into the cockpit and settled into the copilot position. Putting on the headset and boom mic, Piotr said clearly into the radio, “This is O.S.S. special team Dogma, enroute from Brazil, reporting for duty. Request debrief on landing by O.S.S. operations chief, Panama Zone.”

“Dogma, what is your authentication code? Repeat, what is your authentication code?”

“Vampire One Niner Niner, Panama air Control”

“Dogma, or whoever you are, I do not recognize that code. Assume a 100 knot cruising speed at your current altitude and heading immediately, and do not deviate from my commands. You will be escorted to land by the fighters now flanking you. Any deviation from my commands will result in your destruction. Acknowledge.”

“Acknowledged. Awaiting your commands.” replied Piotr over the radio, just as a loud cheer broke out from the passenger cabin behind him.

“Look! They have sent planes to greet us!” came Lodd’s booming baritone.

“Never seen a plane like that before. Where are the bloody propellers?” came Bruce’s reply.

Looking out the cockpit windows, Piotr could see, a little above them, and to both the left and right, sleek aggressive single seat fighter planes flanking their Junkers, their pilots clearly visible through the bubble canopies…

A Little Trading
Jahr drei , Tag zweiundvierzig

Somewhere along the Rio Negro, Amazon Tributary, Nearing Manaus

“That was one big Mud Monster!” said Taffy, “I still haven’t gotten most of the bastard off of my clothing.”

“Yeah, nice of the little buggers to set a trap at the portage for us like that. Too bad the Germans aggravated relations with the natives so badly, or else they mighta been more of a help than a hindrance during this little walkabout…” replied the Padre.

“Hey guys, we’re coming up on something around this point here.” yelled Terry from the helm, “Looks like some smoke rising behind that low ridge of rock.”

Joining him on the small bridge, Piotr looked, “Too little smoke for a big fire, too much for a campfire. Maybe it is the trading post the radio referenced?”

“Well, nothing to do but stop by and say ‘Hi’, eh mates?” Taffy said from the main deck below.

“Righto, chief. Making course for the smoke…”

(two hours later)

“Well lads, that Eric fellow at the trading post could have been more helpful.” Taffy snorted.

“As it was, after we all decided not to shoot each other, we came out ahead.” Terry answered, “In addition to taking some supplies, and his radio, so he couldn’t warn the Nazis we were coming, we also acquired a new ally,” he turned and clapped Francois on the shoulder, “our fine expat Frenchy here and his seaplane will come in very handy, I’m sure!”

“Just remember, mon ami,” said Francois, “you promised me payment…”

“No problem, my friend. No problem. Stick with us and the skies the limit!” laughed Terry.

“Shouldn’t that be his line?” chuckled Wulf

Jahr drei, Tag dreißig

Somewhere along the Rio Negro, Amazon tributary

“What’s the hold up?” called Bob from his lookout position at the stern of the Gwendolynn, as he felt the vessel slow in the murky river water.

“Guillermo says there are rocks up ahead, and we’ll have to portage the gunboat overland for a short ways to go around them.” answered Terry from up in the pilot’s cabin of the small boat.

“Portage? You mean get out of this fine sea going craft and walk? On land? With the natives all around?”

“Yes, Bob. Walk. Guillermo says there is a man made portage site a couple of hundred yards down the river from here. He says the Germans constructed it to get their boats, this one included, past the rocks more easily.”

“How many men did they have to haul this boat across the portage? This isn’t a row boat…”

“Guilllermo says that each of the German boats is equipped with a specially engineered rope and pulley system that’ll allow four or five men to haul her overland pretty efficiently.”

“Oh good, then Lodd can do it.”

“I hear that.” came a rumbled reply from the area of the belowdecks hatch.

A crackle of static, intermittently interspersed with a tinny voice, came over the speaker of the shortwave radio bolted to the shelf in the small pilot cabin.

“Hey! Somebody get Piotr, or Taffy, or Wulf up here! " shouted Terry, “Somebody who speaks Kraut! Hurry!”

Coming up from belowdecks, Taffy climbed the short ladder to join Terry. “What is it, soldier?”

Stifling a snicker, Terry responded with a sharp salute, “Transmission coming in over the shortwave, Sargent.”

“Let me have a listen, then.” the Welshman said, elbowing Terry aside. Through the static, Taffy could make out a voice speaking German:

“This is Eric. Repeat, this is Eric. Frans, are you there? I have your mail here at the trading post. We haven’t heard from you in over a week. Repeat, this is Eric, calling Frans. Are you there Frans? I have that copy of Maidens die Milch you ordered. The girls are worried about you. This is Eric, calling Frans…”

As the others in the little band crowded around the ladder, Taffy translated the message.

“Well, that very much agrees with what Lieutenant Gorman told us before he succumbed to that nasty parasite he got.” Piotr said.

“I am not quite dead, dumm Polish oaf.” came a faint voice from belowdecks.

Piotr glanced quizzically at the Padre.

“Sorry, Mate.” Bruce said sheepishly, “I cured him again.”

“It’s alright.” the Lancer went on, “As I was saying, Lieutenant Gorman told us that they weren’t sure if the last radio transmission they made as the jungle laboratory was being attacked was received by their main base at Manaus. For all their friends know, Gorman and his fellows could have fought off the Indians, and could simply be without a functioning radio.”

“Wouldn’t the base at Manaus send a gunboat upriver to check on them, then? Why haven’t we run into a relief party heading upriver?” asked Bob.

“Gorman says that the Germans at Manaus only have a couple of other gunboats, and as often as not they’re operating farther downriver, on the Amazon itself, to bring in supplies from the coast, and to assist in keeping the tribes downriver pacified. It is very likely that, even if they intend to send a patrol upriver to check on the lab where we were being held, they would have to wait for a gunboat to make it’s way back up to Manaus before they could send one out again…”

“This doesn’t quite sound like the base though, Piotr.” said Wulf, “He mentioned a trading post. And he didn’t use ranks.”

“It is a trading post, Idioten.” came the faint voice from belowdecks, “They have women, und Beer, und our mail…”

“Can you not save him the next time?” asked Piotr, looking at Bruce.

Before the Padre could launch into his spot on recitation of the Geneva Conventions, Bob interrupted. “Well, I could use a beer.”

As the chuckles subsided, Lodd spoke up from the hatch below;

“Woman.” was all he said….
Terrys Journal
Sometime in early 1948. The Amazon.

I can’t believe it.

According to what me and tha boys can figure, both from what that kraut said to Petey, and what the boys can make outta the papers we found, it’s 1948.

What happened to ma and pa? Little Benny? Damn.

I’m gonna set down what we know, so’s I can figure it out.

We wuz captured in ‘43, in Norway. Apparently that Finnish Priest we wuz hunting trapped us, then the damn Nazis kept us in some kinda suspended animation while they passed us around like a drunk USO girl, performing experiments on us as it suited their sense of humor. Anyways, whiles this wuz all going on the war continued on its merry way. We wuz winning, along about ’45. Patton had been killed, but Monty and the rest were pushing up on Hitler’s boys from the West. Stalin and his goons were knocking at the other door. Didn’t look good for old eraser mustache.

Then the Krauts pulled a dirty trick. Sore losers for sure, they decide to take everybody with them. That same damn Finnish Priest we’d been hunting in Norway somehow summoned up this gigantic serpent. The Worm of Ragnarok, or some such. anyways, it was huge. Not like King Kong huge. Like thousand of miles long huge.

Anyhow, this gigantic serpent rose up outta the north sea, all ready to swallow the world, and there wasn’t nothing we could do about it, see? Regular guns, even battleship cannon, were too puny to scratch it’s hide. It looked bad. But then summa the boys in FDR’s science division pulled out a neat trick: turns out they’d been working on a new bomb. An A-Bomb, they called it. And they’d gotten far enough in their research to make two of them. So, a plan was hatched. General Arnold and some of the flyboys loaded up a new fangled bomber called a B-29 with one of these A-bombs, and then they flew it straight into the serpent’s eye. That killed the damn thing. But the body had been poised to cover europe, and when the thing died it came crashing down, covering most of England, and Germany, as well as Italy and many other parts of the mediterranean! A massive tidal wave, mixed with poisonous snake blood, came shooting across the Atlantic, too, wiping out the whole Eastern seaboard, even Coney Island.

So, that’s where we stand, boys. We’re heading through the Amazon, away from that damn Nazi base we woke up in, trying to make our way back to what’s left of the Allies. Kraut boy says the English, most of their country gone, and the Queen dead, have moved their new government to South Africa. The good old U S of A, down but not out after the tainted serpent wave wiped out or poisoned most of the eastern half of the country, is keeping that remaining bomb as insurance against the possibility the nips will strike back, now that they’ve had time to regain some strength. Only ones who seem to be doing well are the Russkies. Seems the snake’s body, combined with all the other effects of the serpentfall (that’s what Kraut boy says everyone calls it), has made Russia a lot warmer and greener. Also, theres some rumors that Stalin has some new allies. Some kinda ancient giants that woke up for Ragnarok.

Damn Finnish Priests.

Oh well, the good news is that the Nazi bastard says Betty Grable is still alive! Says she made it to San Fran! Maybe we can stop off there on our way to the new US capitol in Sacramento…

"Das ist unser Boot!"
Jahr drei, Tag einundzwanzig

(Rio Negro, 1948. Yup 1948 damnit.)

“Das ist unser Boot!” exclaimed the wounded German Lieutenant.

“Nein, es ist unser Boot, und ich bin Umbenennung der H.M.S. Gwendolynn, nach mir Mama.” replied Taffy heatedly.

“What’d he say?” asked Terry of Piotr, the two of them standing shoulder to shoulder on the aft deck of the small german gunboat the party had captured.

“He said, ‘Fuck you Kraut, I’m renaming your stinky gunboat after my mother, Gwendolynn.’” replied Piotr sourly. Looking to Taffy, he asked, “Shouldn’t we be getting some intel that might help us with our current situation, Seargent?”

“I’m getting there, Petey. Just give me a minute to establish dominance over this Nazi bastard.”

“I think we established dominance when we took their boat by surprise while it was grounded on the sandbar last night.”

“Well, I’m reinforcing it then.”

“I think it was reinforced when Bob wounded their Commander, and he took that cyanide pill.”

“Whatever. Fine, you want to do this? I’ll go below and help check on that stalled engine.” said the Welshman as he opened the hatch to the small engine compartment and slid below to work on the twin engines of the river boat.

With a nod to Terry, Piotr stepped up to the bound, bleeding German junior officer.

“Schau mich an, Soldat.” Piotr said gently, “Ich weiß, was Sie in Polen tat . Sie wurden nur unter dem Befehl arbeitet.”

The young German officer looked the Polish Lancer in the eye for a long moment, “As the Yanks say, ‘Fuck you’. I wasn’t even in the Wermacht for the invasion of Poland, I was in grammar school in Munich. Ignorant Pole, we German soldiers don’t need your forgiveness: you lost, and we took your women and your land for our lebensraum.” he spat at the deck of the boat.

Taking a deep breath to control his anger, Piotr responded, “You speak English? Why didn’t you let on when Taffy was questioning you?”

“I like hearing you all butcher the glorious German language. It reminds me what the polyglot races will sound like when we finish conquering the world and there is only one language spoken on the face of the earth.”

“Well then, I’ll keep that in mind and try to use my best grammar when I speak German. Now then, you said you were a schoolboy when Warsaw fell? How can that be? You are in your early twenties now…”

“Nine years have passed. Where have you been?” the German shot back. Then, a light dawned on him. “Ah, I see. You have no memory of the time we held you in stasis.” He laughed, a harsh cruel laugh.

“It all makes sense now. I have no idea when you were captured, but we have had you in our experimental group for three years now.” he looked at Piotr with a smile. “It is 1948. Jahr Drei of the Ragnarok. Many that you knew are likely dead. The English Lion is mortally wounded, his Queen buried under the Serpent’s scales.”

Terry and Piotr looked at each other a moment before the Pole turned back to their captive.

“1948? Serpent?”

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.”


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.