Knights of the Shadows

By

Tracey Claybon

Usual disclaimers apply - I don't own the characters of Elisabeth Bronte, Ian Nottingham, Lazar/John Jeffords, Gunter Magnusson (Jake's analogue) and Kenneth Irons -though I wish that I did.

Definitions:

** Draconis Ferratus - literally in Latin - Iron-clad Dragon (or Iron Dragon)
** Distaff - through the female line of descent.

Thanks to the Latin-English dictionary at

http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Latin/

for the definition of "iron-clad".


I have taken some liberty with the events of WWII as they relate to the story, so that it makes some continuity sense.

There really was an Enigma code that was broken so that the allies could decipher the spy codes of Nazi Germany and win the war. It was said before it was broken that Enigma was unbreakable.

To read more about it and about WWII in general, paste the below into a web browser:

http://history.acusd.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/start.html

which is a history, by year, of World War Two,

and

http://home.us.net/~encore/Enigma/enigma.html

a history of the Enigma cipher machine (used to break the code in 1939.)



They are Marc Silvestri's, Top Cow/Image's and TNT's.

This Witchblade story is a slight departure from the norm for me. This is the prequel to Watcher in the Shadows, set right when Elisabeth Bronte was betrayed by Irons. . .

For my purposes, the Enigma event takes place in 1943-4 and is not directly mentioned.

And, yes, I intentionally spelled Elisabeth's name the way I did in the story, if only because I thought it more traditionally British in appearance, and, of course to distinguish her from the Queen of England.

Again, this story is an AU of sorts (but I do hope I'm right g)

This is a combination of TV and Comic "reality".

----

1946, Fall, Arlington VA.

John Jeffords smoked a pipe of freshly tapped tobacco in his great room.

He had just received a bound journal via special courier, and he knew that receiving it meant that the writer was dead and her direct female descendants and the rest of her distaff bloodline must now be closely watched for the new chosen of the blade. It was currently missing - hiding, more likely - but he knew it would show itself when the wielder it awaited came again...

The courier bringing the journal reported that Elisabeth Bronte had gone missing shortly after meeting with the head of Vorschlag Industries, an undescribed and secretive man, mentioned in the report here.

After he finished his pipe, he began to read.

***

Journal entry, ____1944

From the secret journals of Elisabeth Bronte:

I never imagined that events would unfold as they have for those I cared for and trusted. I pray that this missive reaches the proper hands, so that the sacrifices paid by two valiant soldiers - and perhaps myself, in the end - are not in vain.

I have been the Witchblade wielder now for six years, and those six years have been an adventure and an honor. I've seen things that defy explanation and belief. I have wielded my blade in honor of Queen and Country - and the cause of Good, to the best of my abilities and proudly.

This event, which I report with great sadness, happened shortly after I delivered the key to the not so hypothetical Enigma Codes to my American contact Gunter Magnusson, who is of purest German lineage - but loyally American and in deep cover - in the highest circles as an SS officer reporting to Himmler himself. Magnusson was one of the bravest men that I know of - he risked such danger to himself in order to protect the Allies and his home country from the horrors we discovered here. I also found myself more than somewhat attracted to this very brave, valorious and dashing American.

Gunter, I believe, did manage to get the message out - but at the cost of many lives - including possibly the life of my fellow operative and deep cover agent Ian Nottingham, and possibly his own Magnusson reported the information to me himself just before I lost contact with him - he was badly injured and I'm not sure he got the Codes to his superiors in America, but I pray that I did.

Nottingham was one of the very best agents that MI-6 had; he had one of the highest kill rates of any British agent when it came to eliminating threats to the allies and he also managed to smuggle information in and out of the most deep and dangerous areas of Nazi Germany. It's said that Nottingham would be the first in line for knighthood after PM Winston Churchill, if we all survived the war as free Britons. In his last assignment, he'd managed to get inside the ranks of a up-and-coming star on the German industrial scene, an upstart called Vorschlag Industries, and become aide-de-camp to the mysterious Draconis Ferratus, the leader of the company. However, Ian was unable to smuggle out any information on the mysterious Draconis Ferratus that the allies could use - not a complete description, nor a name.

I am afraid that my dark haired and hazel-eyed beloved rakehell and main-gauche man is definitely dead for this lifetime - if he is not, then he is beyond any aid I, the Witchblade, or any other, is capable of giving.

Nottingham's last report before all contact was lost was that Vorschlag was involved in some sort of bio-engineering plan to breed, modify or create super-soldiers; shortly after that, he disappeared completely and has not been seen since he reported this. He did not report who Draconis Ferratus is before we lost contact, but I've seen the face of the mystery man, and I will see Gunter and Ian, my unanointed knights, avenged and the plan he mentioned stopped.

Gunter told me later, during the last time I saw him, that he'd shot Nottingham dead, not realizing that he was a fellow agent for the Allies, but that Nottingham in turn wounded him, perhaps fatally, before falling. He'd been told by a traitorous contact that Ian was a German deep cover agent chasing him. It was too late to save him by the time the truth was known, and Ian's body was taken away by unknown abductors before Gunter could retrieve it to return home.

After the disastrous event, he'd begged my aid in leaving Germany so that he could report in with the all-vital secret code cracker to his superiors. I personally killed the SS secret troops that came to finish him off and bought him time for escape. I know through the blade that Gunter reached his home soil and reported in, but died shortly afterward.

Nottingham's body was never recovered, and the blade is showing me where he might be held, but it is also showing me the face of a man with light or white hair, and I am not sure whether it's the face of Ian's killer or of someone I can trust.

I also see the image of a Chinese-style dragon and am not sure if this is the signal of Draconis Ferratus - the image is hazy.

I'm going to try to get inside Vorschlag myself and find out what's going on; if I do not make it out alive this journal will be forwarded to John Jeffords, a trusted friend of my American sister's, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, with instructions on what to do for my daughter and son, placed in America to keep them safe.

~~~
1946, Spring

In Germany, two crates were carefully being loaded on an airplane to New York City, NY, USA. One contained a rather grotesque statue of a smiling, mummified looking woman. The other contained a refrigerated unit with bottles and bottles of labeled blood, plasma, and various other tissue samples, and a carefully wrapped tombstone with the legend "Ian Christian Nottingham - a good and faithful servant" engraved on the polished face.

A youthful looking, iron-haired man boarded the passenger end of the airplane for the transatlantic flight. In one hand, he carried a jeweler's box that showed a delicate looking silver bracelet with a big red stone.

In the other hand, he held the hand of a little boy of about ten years, who looked up at him with a mixture of loathing and love. The little boy had black hair and hazel green eyes...

~~~
1946, Fall

Jeffords closed the journal, vowing to watch over Elisabeth Bronte's descendants and to see what Vorschlag Industries did for the future. He also knew that the time limit for this lifetime had nearly come to an end and knew he needed to start again in another location. He felt that it might be time to begin anew, perhaps this time in New York City... Perhaps, he mused, it was time to take up an old name - Lazarus?

No... *Lazar*.

-FIN-

~~~