|Strangers in a Strange Land
Author: 96 Hubbles PM
When a mission goes wrong, the Heroes have deal with an unusual complication.Rated: Fiction T - English - P. Newkirk & A. Carter - Chapters: 6 - Words: 17,437 - Reviews: 43 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 07-19-09 - Published: 05-04-09 - id: 5039747
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Owning is not mine
if people are known to you
Money does not come
Strangers in A Strange Land
Peter Newkirk shifted his feet and wished for a drink; there was always something about a contact that kept them waiting that set him to gritting his teeth.
Crouched beside him in the bush where they were keeping watch on the small hidden clearing, Hogan barely twitched an eyelash, but Newkirk could sense the reprimand. Staying alert was demanded, but being distracted by impatience and frustration was not; in Hogan's opinion, a person was more apt to react badly or without thinking if they let themselves get annoyed, though how his CO could read Newkirk's mood from the merest budge to one side was a mystery to the Englishman.
Minutes ticked by. Fifteen. Twenty. Both men made small movements to stay loose, to keep their circulation going, but remained tense. Other nights, they might have risked a few whispered snatches of conversation with each other, or Hogan would have ordered them to separate and do a quick scout around in hopes of spotting the man they were waiting for, but not tonight. Newkirk didn't know what it was; he didn't sense anyone in the vicinity, but his shoulders felt weighed down and he had to force himself to stop holding his breath; being too tense could be just as dangerous as frustration.
Thirty minutes. Newkirk turned his head towards his CO to catch his eye before moving slowly and deliberately to whisper in his ear. "Whatcha ye reckon then, sir?"
Hogan replied just as softly, "Let's give it another ten minutes, then we'll head back."
"Think Carter's had any luck?"
"I hope so."
Newkirk looked closely at his CO; something in Hogan's voice… "Anything the matter, sir?" he asked the other man.
Hogan shrugged, but didn't take his eyes off the clearing. "There's something about this whole plan, Newkirk - it's too complicated for a simple pick up. I know Mother Hubbard is vouching for this guy, but I don't know if I like having a contact give us two potential locations where he might meet us."
"Can't say as it's to my liking either, guv, but if there's any chance the man can stay where he is and keep passing on information - "
"I know, I know, it's too great a chance to pass up," Hogan agreed. "But we don't know enough about him. All we've got is some vague rumour of him being in some weapons development project. We don't even know for what." Hogan shook his head. "I tell you, if it was anything or anyone else…"
"You think he might be a grass for the Krauts?"
"Newkirk, it's nearly one am - don't talk British when I'm short on my beauty sleep."
"Sorry, guv, I meant - "
"It's all right, Newkirk, I wasn't serious," Hogan said. "I'm just cranky at having to take the half second to decipher it."
"But do you really think he might turn us in? Or that this could be a set-up?"
"Mother Hubbard seems to think the contact only knows us through reputation, and not enough to turn us in, but how much faith can we put in that? On the other hand, likely someone would've been here waiting to haul us off if he had. As for it being a set-up, it's strange, but I just don't get that feeling."
"So what's the bother then, sir?"
"I don't like so many unknowns and it's making me antsy. This guy tells Mother Hubbard he thinks the Gestapo is on his trail, but he isn't sure. If he's okay, he'll slip the information to Little Boy Blue at the hofbrau, and then Little Boy Blue will try to meet us here. But then this guy says if he's being followed, he'll hide the information somewhere so it's not found on him and then try to meet someone on the back road to Strasbourg and could we have someone at the checkpoint for him so he can pass on where he's hidden it. It sounded straightforward enough at the time, when I considered the possibility we could get lucky and end up with a permanent mole on whatever this top secret program is, but now I feel like we're either getting the runaround due to this guy's overactive imagination, or we've left ourselves with too many loose ends. Then, on top of everything else, he drags us out when there's a full moon yet!"
Newkirk said nothing. Truth be told, he was starting to get the same feeling. For a few minutes he contented himself with breathing deeply of the woods around him. Pine and cedar and moss made for a lovely smell in the air, he decided; nothing like that back home in London. Right bloody shame to be wasting a beautiful night like this, secluded away with another bloke, he thought disgustedly. Just my luck - soft breezes, moonlight… and the only blooming face around to kiss has a five o'clock shadow. Blimey!
Newkirk saw Hogan squint to read his watch in the dim light, then watched as Hogan took a final glance in every direction. Then Hogan carefully stood and tapped Newkirk gently on his upper arm. "Come on, let's go and round up - " A distant crack cut him off and both men froze.
Newkirk stood, eyes wide. "Colonel, was that - " he started to ask, but Hogan was already striding hurriedly in the direction of the sound. He swiftly fell in behind his Colonel without another word as Hogan yanked his walkie talkie off his belt, yanked the antenna up and started calling for their missing team mate.
"Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over. Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over."
As alarming as the first crack had been, it was the sharp burst of the second shot that punched Newkirk's heart through his ribs - no question of what it was this time, none at all - and set both men off and running with a jolt like sprinters at the crack of a starter's pistol.
"Time 1 to Team 2, come in. Over." Peter Newkirk's heart started beating even faster as he listened to his commander's increasingly urgent requests. "Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over. Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over."
He hasn't turned the blasted thing on yet, Newkirk told himself. It's not time for a check-in after all, and those bloody things can give off a lot of random noise. Wouldn't want the Jerries picking up on that, would he?
"Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over." Hogan's voice was more strained now.
He's out of range. Absolute rubbish, these walkie talkies.
"Team 1 to Team 2, come in. Over."
It's nothing to do with him - he's still at the checkpoint, waiting for the contact.
But that thought went no way towards alleviating the tight, clenched feeling growing in Peter Newkirk's chest.
The trees began to thin out and Newkirk knew the road was up ahead. Hogan stopped running and held his arm out to slow Newkirk. Initial panic had made them foolish; they didn't know what they might be crashing their way into. Ducking their heads, they moved quickly behind a cover of bramble and some fallen branches.
"Do you see anything?" Hogan panted.
Newkirk did his best to look all around while still keeping his head down. "Nothing, Colonel," he breathed out heavily.
After a few more darting glances, they moved forward, going from tree to tree, still trying to spot anything. At Hogan's glance, Newkirk shook his head. "Could be further yet, guv. We don't know how far away the shot came from."
"Yeah. All right, keep your head down till we're past the road. Once we're across, we'll split up and do a sweep. "
Crouching low, they clambered up the small, barren slope towards the road. Just before their heads crested the top, they hunkered down to make one last check. When they realized that no noise met their ears and no telltale glow of a vehicle's headlamps could be seen coming in either direction, they rose as one and prepared to make their dash to the woods on the other side.
But as they came over the top, they were brought to a crashing halt by the sight of the two bodies laying less than thirty feet away.