The Mission Briefing 2017:
ANYTHING FOR SOME PEACE AND QUIET
"Was ist los?"
With a sigh, Mittendorfer fell down on the hard wooden bench in the Guards' Mess, and Kurtz couldn't help but give him a look of pity. He could very well guess what was "los". It was the same thing that was always "los".
And indeed. "You know what they did now? They were supposed to clean the Kommandant's car, and when they were done and had it ready for the Kommandant for inspection, there was an explosion under the hood when he turned the ignition. Which means the Kommandant's car will be out of commission for weeks to come, while they get to fix it. As punishment!" He shook his head. "I can't understand how the Kommandant allows them even near his car after all the wrecking they've done with it."
"But they mean well," Schnüffis contributed. "They're just not very good mechanics."
"Exactly." Mittendorfer took off his helmet and raked his fingers through his hair. "Would you let such disastrous mechanics near your car?"
Schnüffis grinned. "I don't have a car."
"But would you?"
A shake of the head. "Probably not. Once they've messed it up a few times..."
"And the way they're always messing up roll call," Kinkel added a particular pet peeve of his.
"And always blame us for all the crazy stuff that's going on here." Steinmetz folded his arms. "They are the ones doing it, but it's us the Kommandant gets mad at! Like last week, when they made half the west fence fall down."
Schnüffis chuckled. "I thought that was quite a feat though."
"Maybe," Steinmetz granted. "But why do we get the blame? It's not fair!"
"They should behave as ordinary prisoners," Sergeant Schmidt agreed. "Quiet. Subdued. Defeated. Bored. But they're anything but."
"Schultz calls them 'naughty boys'," Mittendorfer recalled. "That's what they are indeed. They need a good spanking."
"Colonel Hogan would never let you," Kurtz sighed. "I'm sure the Geneva Convention would have something to say about that."
"They're a regular menace," Schmidt declared. "Bent on making our lives as miserable as they possibly can."
In his corner at the end of the table, young Langenscheidt had a quiet smile. "Except when they have those Papa Bear Awards going on. Dreaming of what they could be doing. Then it's as quiet as a churchyard around here. For months!"
"Just giving them ideas," Schmidt grunted.
"Maybe. But it does give us a few months of peace and quiet every year."
Schnüffis's eyes glittered. "Maybe we could start some Papa Bear Awards for them! You know, find a bunch of stories for them to read, and as a result we've got some peace and quiet!"
Mittendorfer raised his eyes to heaven. "Anything for some peace and quiet around here!"
"But where do we find stories?" the ever practical Steinmetz asked. "It's not like they can read German. Where do we find English and French stories for them?"
Kurtz chuckled. "I know. There is one man we ask for that."
"Colonel Hogan?" Schmidt guessed.
Kurtz shook his head. "He's the one we need to calm down the most - well, maybe after that British fellow and the little French guy from Barracks 2. No, I meant our fearless leader."
Eyes went wide. "Kommandant Klink?!"
Kurtz almost choked on his laughter. "Never!"
"Captain Gruber then?"
"No. I mean our one and only Sergeant Schultz!"
"You want me to do what?!"
"Look, Sergeant, all we're asking for is to be able to do our jobs in peace and quiet. We're sick of the prisoners' endless schemes to make fun of us. So we figured we could give them one of those Papa Bear Awards to decide on. When they're busy reading all the stories, they don't have time to go around harassing us."
"Yes, I see that, but..." Schultz shook his head. "To steal from the prisoners...?"
"It's not like they're going to report it to the Kommandant," Mittendorfer pointed out. "I mean, the thing can't possibly be legally theirs. And steal from a thief, and the one thing you can be sure of is that they won't report it."
Schultz sighed. "I wouldn't be too sure of that where Colonel Hogan is concerned."
"Besides, we'll give it back. We don't need to steal it for real," Kurtz added. "We borrow it, we get the stories, and then we give it back. How long could that take?"
Schultz eyed him speculatively. "Do you know how to work this thing?"
"Well, no, but how hard can it be? They can do it."
"Come on, Sergeant," Mittendorfer pleaded. "We can at least try? Don't you want some peace and quiet around here?"
"Just sitting in the sun, enjoying the day?" Kurtz added.
"Hm..." Schultz wasn't willing to reply to that too openly. "Well, I'll see what I can do."
No one looked up from their activities, except young Carter. "And good evening to you, too, Schultz!"
Schultz sighed. That boy was a lost cause. He would never learn, would he... "Where is Colonel Hogan?" he asked instead.
Carter shrugged. "I don't know. Wasn't he with the Kommandant?"
"No, he was not," Schultz replied with emphasis. "I saw him go in here myself. Mere minutes ago. Isn't he in his office?"
"Why don't you check?" Newkirk suggested lazily.
Schultz looked around. Somehow, he had a feeling he wouldn't find Colonel Hogan in his office, and if that was the case, he sincerely did not want to know where the man was. He wavered for a moment, and then he came to a decision. "Well, maybe you can help me, too."
"Anything for our favourite Kraut," Newkirk smirked, and patted Schultz's rotund figure.
"Newkirk, don't do that," Schultz chided. "Give back whatever you took from me just now."
A cheeky grin was his reply, and his cigarettes and watch changed hands again back to their owner.
"So what can we help you with, Schultz?" Olsen inquired. "Need some help surrendering?"
"No. I can do that myself, thank you. But..." He glanced uneasily from one to the other. "Do you happen to know where Colonel Hogan keeps that magical thingy that you guys brought back from the Fanfic Court?" (1)
"What magical thingy?" Newkirk's question was all innocence, but the narrowing of his eyes told Schultz that he knew very well what he was talking about.
"I don't know... what was it called again? Come-doer? Something like that? The magical thing with all the stories on it."
"Oh, you mean the computer!" the ever helpful Carter blurted out. "We've got that in... oompf..."
"Blabbermouth..." LeBeau chided him before removing his hand.
"Yes?" Schultz prompted hopefully. "That's the thing I'm talking about."
"What do you need a thing like that for, Schultzie?" Newkirk wanted to know. "I'm sure your fingers are too podgy to handle such small keys."
"I'm sure they are. But it's not for me - it's for the guards."
This made everybody's eyebrows shoot up. "For the guards?"
"What on earth do the guards need a computer for?" LeBeau scoffed.
"It's a surprise," Schultz told them with conspiracy in his voice. "For Colonel Hogan. And for you. They want to... No. It will have to be a surprise."
"Well, you can't have it," Newkirk decided. "Baker is designing a special edition of Monopoly on it. Instead of shopping streets, it's got all the major German cities on it, and your goal is to take over as many cities as you can."
"That can wait," Carter said. "He's been working on that since the first week we brought it here. But boy, I love surprises! Isn't it great that the guards want to surprise us?"
"With a special bed check or something? No, thanks."
"Not a bed check," Schultz promised. "They've noticed how restless you all have been lately, and they want to do something to help you fight the boredom of being a prisoner. So they thought they could organize the Papa Bear Awards for you. Isn't that nice of them?"
Now everybody was staring at Schultz.
"The Papa Bear Awards?" LeBeau echoed.
"Blimey, yeah, it's already, what... the seventh of January?" Newkirk did some quick calculations in his head. "That's right, it's time for the Papa Bear Awards!"
"Boy, I love the Papa Bear Awards! I love reading about all the explosions and things!" Carter added. "When can we start?"
"As soon as the guards can have the come-doer thing to collect the stories for you," Schultz announced.
"Right. I'll go and get it!" Before anyone could stop him, Carter dove towards one of the altered footlockers and dug out their old laptop from the secret compartment at the bottom. "Here you are, Schultz. When do you think we can start reading?"
"I'll tell the boys to get on it right away," Schultz promised.
But, "One moment, if you please," Newkirk said as he stepped in between Schultz and the door. "How do we know you guys aren't just going to drool over some girlie pictures, eh?"
Schultz pulled himself up to his full and rather impressive height. "They would not do that, Newkirk. They have a mission to accomplish. Besides, they wouldn't dare. Not while I will be there to supervise them."
"No, they'll be looking at the best recipes for scrambled eggs instead," Olsen muttered under his breath.
"Make that Apfelstrudel," Schultz nodded. "But I promise I'll bring it back as soon as we're done. And then you guys can start reading about all your dashing non-existing adventures. Ja?"
"Alright then." LeBeau tried to shove him in the direction of the door. "But be quick about it. It's been too long anyway. I wouldn't mind a good story with lots of women in it."
"One thing, Schultz." Olsen came forward as well. "What are we going to tell Colonel Hogan once he notices the computer is missing?"
Schultz smiled knowingly. "You tell him that you know nothing - nothing!"
(1) See Fanfic Court, The Original Series
Author's note: with this one chapter I've already run out of canon and fanon guards I remember being stationed at Stalag 13. If you know of any others you'd like to see appear in the story, please send me a PM with the guard's name and the episode or story he appears in!
And author's note number two, prompted by Thaddeus's review: honesty requires me to admit that my mind was totally blank this year when it came to an idea for the mission briefing. In fact, the story above was based off an idea from Book'em Again :-)