No ownership of the Hogan's Heroes characters is implied or inferred. Copyright belongs to others and no infringement is intended.
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Colonel Robert Hogan was about to lose his temper. His men, gathered around him in the tunnel under Barracks Two at Stalag 13, could tell by the way he cocked his head, rolled his eyes and glared at the ceiling, and raised his eyebrows while he listened to Allied Headquarters on the other end of the radio set. Though he opened his mouth once or twice as though ready to answer, clearly London wasn't finished with what it had to say to the head of one of the most secret operations of the war, and Hogan waited.
Finally, Hogan had his chance. He kept it brief: "I know it's the third courier plane we've asked for in two weeks. But I thought you might actually want the plans for this new rocket before the Germans have a chance to use them!" A short silence, then, "Look, if the information wasn't so sensitive, I'd be more sympathetic to your budgets. In the meantime, we need a plane, and we need it tonight!" Hogan's men exchanged looks. "So glad we could be of service!" Hogan said sarcastically. "Papa Bear out."
He threw the headsets back on the desk, where Sergeant James Kinchloe gathered them up and put them away as he shut down the radio for the night.
"What's London on about now, gov'nor?" Corporal Peter Newkirk looked up from sewing an armband onto one of the Gestapo uniforms that were kept available for use on some of their espionage missions deep within Nazi Germany.
"Apparently, we're costing the war too much," Hogan said ironically. "They want the information, but they don't like having to send courier planes to pick it up."
"Bloody marvelous, that is. We go out and risk our lives for a piece of film, and they've got the nerve to say it's too expensive for them to come and get it." Newkirk jammed the needle into the sleeve of the black wool jacket then tossed the entire thing back at the clothing rack that stood off to the side. "Fine. Tell them to get their top secrets from some other shop then, and good luck to them I say!"
Hogan shook his head. "It doesn't work that way, and you know it, Newkirk."
Louis Le Beau let out a short string of French words that the others had learned to translate but chose not to. "But they have to send us a plane, Colonel. If we send those pictures out by the regular courier, the Boches will have had time to move those new rockets away from the factory, and the Allies will miss their chance to get both the factory and the rockets with one air raid." The Corporal shook his head. "Now the rockets will get away, and we did all that work for nothing."
Kinch hesitated before posing his question to Hogan. "I kinda hate to ask this right now, Colonel, but did London say anything about sending the radio parts for Danzig's group?" The radioman saw Hogan stiffen and set his jaw. Reluctantly, he continued, "They're pretty much out of business until they can get their radio up and running again... and we did promise the parts would be here by Friday."
"I know," Hogan said shortly. "The plane's coming tonight. Radio parts aren't available; they say we'll have to wait."
"But, Colonel, without the radio, Danzig's group can't—"
"I'm fully aware of the limitations, Sergeant," Hogan snapped. He let out a loud breath. "Sorry, Kinch. It's just we need Danzig and his men to do some work for us soon, and I hate to be the one to let them down by not having what they need."
Kinch nodded in understanding.
Sergeant Andrew Carter suddenly burst out of the dark room, looking mournfully at a short, dark tube he had in his hands. "Colonel Hogan? Before you get off the..." He paused as he saw that his commanding officer wasn't on the radio any more. "Oh, I was hoping you'd ask London to send us a new telephoto lens." Hogan frowned. "I noticed a funny streak on that last batch of film, and got to wondering how it got there." Carter walked over to Hogan and turned the item he was holding so that the Colonel could see the glass end of the camera lens. "Someone's dropped this one too many times, because it's got a pretty bad crack now. It's not gonna hurt the kind of pictures we took tonight very much, but if we try to use it for say, pictures of important papers, that could really mess things up a lot."
Hogan pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. "Kinch, get back on the radio," he ordered wearily. "We're going to have to get that lens. We can't take a chance on compromising any of the stuff we get; we don't get more than one shot most of the time. Tell them we want it on that courier plane, and they can put it on my bill."
"While you're about that, Kinch, get on to them about the makeup and other things I asked for last month. It's not all that big a list, and I even told them which theatrical shops they could get the stuff from." Newkirk eyed the radio with disgust. "It's a bit hard to play Frau Newkirkberger when I haven't got anything to work with after all."
"Oui, and ask about the spices I requested as well. If I am to cook for the filthy Boches so that we can get our hands on secret papers, I must be able to do it properly." Le Beau crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. "Even though I would like to season their food with arsenic instead of allspice."
Hogan shook his head. "That'll go down just dandy," he predicted. He nodded at Kinch. "Go ahead, Kinch. They're both right; we need what we need. London will just have to accept it." Hogan was tired after his outing tonight, and he longed for a stretch and a yawn and a long rest. But with his temper raised because of London's complaint, he knew sleep would actually be a long time coming. "Carter, send Olsen out to meet the plane; you fellas have done enough tonight; it's time to hit the sack. We can re-open the complaints department in the morning."
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Hogan came up beside Carter in the photo laboratory under the barracks. "How's the new lens, Carter?"
"Gee, Colonel, I don't know." Carter didn't look up from what he was doing. He had one of the cameras disassembled and was carefully inspecting the parts he had scattered on the work bench. "I guess it's okay, but it's not a new lens. I mean, it's a new lens for us, but it's not really a new one."
Hogan shrugged resignedly. "Well, war is a time for frugality, Carter; everyone has to make sacrifices. Will it do the job?"
Carter shook his head. "I'm not sure, sir. I think we'd be better off if I took the new one apart and used it to fix the one we already had. Even though it's been banged around some, our old one is still in better shape than the one London sent us."
Hogan shook his head. "Great," he muttered. "That's just great. How do you fix a crack?"
"Well, it's the actual lens itself that's cracked, so I should be able to swap it out with the new one. I hope." Carter picked up the old telephoto lens and gave it a doubtful look. "That is, if I don't mess something up in the process." Hogan opened his mouth to reassure the Sergeant of his absolute confidence in him, when Carter continued. "You know, Colonel, it's too bad there isn't a camera shop in Hammelburg, because we could take the stuff into town and let a real expert do it." He smiled, then sighed. "But then, I guess a German wouldn't want to work on an American camera, would he? I mean, he might even call the Gestapo in and they'd start asking all sorts of questions, wouldn't they?"
Hogan smiled and nodded. "That's right. Best we leave it to the only expert I trust—you."
"Gosh, thanks, sir." Carter beamed at the praise. "I'll get to work on it right away. You'll see."
"I'm sure I will." Hogan patted Carter on the shoulder and then moved further down the tunnel to where Newkirk was working once again on the German uniforms that Hogan's men had last used on an outing—they had encountered some interference that they hadn't expected and there were some repairs to be made. Hogan watched as the Englishman's nimble fingers almost seamlessly brought together the sleeve that had been torn when Hogan himself had come up against a rather unforgiving tree branch that had ripped a hole right through it. "Nice work," he observed. Newkirk nodded his thanks, still concentrating. "Sorry we can't get the stuff you asked London for," Hogan added. "I've got the Underground doing a little digging for us—worst case scenario, Danzig might loan you something. Can't have a female impersonator who knows nothing about hair and makeup."
"He's already given me an invitation to drop by any time I can for tea and a chat."
"Right," Hogan said with a sudden smile. "Girl talk."
Newkirk laughed softly and set the last stitch, then knotted it off. "Thing is, I just don't feel right taking his stuff when we've fallen down on what we promised him, if you know what I mean." The Englishman cut the thread, turned the sleeve right side out and gave his repair work a close examination.
Hogan nodded grimly. "I know exactly what you mean." Hogan rubbed his hand over his mouth, frustrated. "Looks like everyone's disappointing everyone lately. Carter says the camera lens London sent us is anything but top of the line stuff." He opened his mouth as though to say more, then thought better of it and shook his head. "And Louis is still banging his pots and pans around the barracks because he doesn't have what he needs to make us a really nice bouillabaisse." Hogan's voice trailed off as his mind clearly went elsewhere.
Nodding slowly, Newkirk turned the sleeve back out and began separating it from the body of the jacket. "There's been a lot of that going round of late. Shipments have been either missing things entirely, or we've been shorted on what we do get." He glanced at Hogan, noting the worry lines on the American's face. "Tell you what, gov'nor: I'll get a list together and see what I can pick up from town."
Hogan pursed his lips and nodded. "Thanks, Newkirk."
Kinch's approach from further down the tunnel stopped Hogan from leaving. "London called, Colonel."
Hogan raised an eyebrow. "And?"
"And they said to tell you thanks for the information we gave to the courier last night."
"Anything else?" Hogan asked, his voice betraying only a hint of anger. "Like news about radio parts?"
Kinch shook his head. "Sorry, Colonel; nothing. They say we'll just have to wait a little longer. Then they said we're an expensive little group to run."
Newkirk watched as Hogan's eyes flashed. He could almost physically see the hairs on the Colonel's neck start to rise. Laying the jacket aside, he reached over and put a hand on Hogan's shoulder. "Easy there, gov'nor. No point in blowin' your top over what some pencil pusher's got to say."
Hogan appreciated the gesture, but wasn't ready to accept comfort right now; feeling the anger was a release. He shrugged off Newkirk's hand. "Yeah, except that some pencil pusher is probably the one responsible for us getting second-hand equipment—or worse, no supplies at all!" He paced the floor for a few seconds, then shook his head, still angry. "I'm going upstairs. I have to figure out how to get this operation running with only half-measures of supplies. Looks like we'll have to start grouping our missions together—someone remind me to tell the Germans that they'll have to limit their sensitive plans for us to steal to once a month, would you?" And he was up the ladder and gone.
"Blimey, Kinch. I think we'd better pass the word for everyone to stay clear of the Colonel until he's had a chance to cool off." Newkirk shook his head. "Meanwhile, let's start getting that list together, and maybe we can fill in some of the worst of the shortfalls ourselves. And start that list off with sewing supplies; I didn't want to mention it in front of the gov'nor with the mood he's in, but I'm almost out of thread, too."
"And I need a few new tubes for our radio," Kinch admitted. "London wasn't very helpful about them, either."
"I'll try, mate, but that kind of thing is gonna be very hard to find, if not downright impossible." Newkirk eyed the sleeve he'd just tried to repair, then tossed it into the scrap fabric basket. "Just about as impossible as finding the right kind of black wool to fix this ruddy uniform for the Colonel."
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Newkirk pulled the clip from his pistol, checking the load one last time. He tucked the weapon into his waistband and turned his attention back to the mission briefing. Sounds like a grand time tonight. Sneaking out to waylay a Nazi Captain so we can kidnap and send him off to England. Blimey, there's a trip I wouldn't mind going on myself.
Hogan was recapping his instructions. "Aside from the usual, I don't want anyone taking any chances. The good Captain is due to be on the Hammelburg road just after ten-thirty. Le Beau, you know what to do."
"Oui, Colonel," the Frenchman replied. "His car will not last long out on the road tonight."
Hogan nodded. "Good. Kinch—" Hogan turned to the radioman, knowing how pleased the Sergeant was to have a chance to go out. Hogan regretted not being able to send Kinch out more often, but a black man in Nazi Germany stood out a mile. "Kinch, your job is security. Dietrich goes nowhere without an escort, preferably one of you."
Kinch nodded, a sly smile on his face. "Right, Colonel."
Hogan took a long look at his Englishman. He always trusted Newkirk on a mission. But for some reason he always worried about him almost more than the others. His willingness to do whatever the job took was admirable. But Hogan always hoped that the impulsiveness that went with it was kept in check long enough for the Corporal to get back to camp unharmed. It was a fascinating mix, and one that Hogan was happy to have under his command, but when he wasn't along with Newkirk himself, he always felt the need to caution the Corporal strongly.
"No chances. Just make sure you and everyone else come back here alive."
Newkirk gave Hogan a look of pure innocence. "Take chances? Me? You must have me confused with someone else, gov'nor." He caught the look in the Colonel's eyes, and nodded slightly. "Don't worry, sir. I'll bring everyone home safe."
"Good. Now get moving." Hogan brought up the rear as the group headed down the ladder and down to the tunnel below the barracks. "And don't be late, or I'll have to come after you—and you know if I have to drag you back here, you're grounded for a month!"