***Silver Papa Bear Award winner Best Original Character---Noel Jackman***
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Hogan's Heroes. This story is for the enjoyment of others and not for profit. The characters of Malcolm Decker, Horace Belgium, Hans & Ilse Bormann, Wilhelm Klauss and Fritz Schultz are mine. The timeline of this story is prior to the events of A LIFE BLOWN APART, but following A DEATH IN BARRACKS TWO.
The Dark Menace
Chapter 1 --- Warning
Hogan was laying on the bunk in the radioroom monitoring the radio giving Kinch a break when the message came in. Jumping to his feet, Hogan hurried to the radio and, grabbing the headset, began listening to the message and scribbling it down, a deep frown appearing on his face as he wrote. The message was not from London nor from the underground. It was from someone Hogan didn't even know. Finished copying the message, he threw down the pencil and tore the message off the pad, and began reading it as Kinch appeared carrying two cups of coffee. He placed one in front of Hogan.
"Message from London, Colonel?" he asked innocently.
Hogan didn't look at him. "No," was all he said, a look of deep concern on his face.
"Is it from the underground?" Kinch asked.
Hogan then looked at Kinch as if seeing him for the first time. "What? Oh. No it's not." Folding the paper, Hogan tucked it inside the inner pocket of his bomber jacket. Picking up the coffee cup, he disappeared in another part of the tunnel, leaving a mystified Kinch staring after him.
Hogan sighed as he sat down on the ground with his back against the dirt wall in another branch of the tunnel. Putting down his coffee cup, he pulled out the folded paper and stared at the short message. It read as follows:
'We know your true identity, Papa Bear. As an enemy of the Fatherland you must and shall be punished.' It was signed The Death Unit.'
Hogan folded the paper and put it back inside his jacket pocket and took another sip of coffee. In the past weeks he had begun hearing rumors of a Death Unit consisting of private citizens who took the law into their own hands regarding those they considered enemies of the Fatherland. He had also heard that these people dealt out their own brand of justice considered worse than anything the Gestapo could. Hogan found himself shivering from that thought as if cold. How did these people get his unit's radio frequency? More importantly, how did they know his code name was Papa Bear? Had his organization been compromised? Hogan didn't think so. But still it was possible. He slowly got to his feet. He couldn't let any of his men know about this message because they would only worry about him and he didn't want or need that. After all, they did have a surveillance assignment coming up tonight and it was important that nothing interfere with it. However, there was Kinch who already knew a message had come in. He would have to discourage Kinch from as far as trying to find out what the message said and who it was from. But how?
Sighing, Hogan found himself suddenly pacing back and forth. He was consumed by how these people got their frenquency and his code name. Then, he recalled when he had been held prisoner by Major Frolichman of the Abwehr who was trying to trade him for his operative. Is it possible Frolichman had revealed Papa Bear's identity to these people? He couldn't very well ask the Major could he?
Finishing his coffee, Hogan returned to the radioroom to find Kinch sitting at the radio. Kinch turned when he heard Hogan's footsteps. The Colonel slapped Kinch on the shoulder. "I'm sorry for being so mysterious, Kinch," he said. "I'm just tired. We've been extremely busy the last few weeks."
Kinch shrugged. "No sweat, Colonel," he said. "You have just as much right to be grouchy as the rest of us. Even more so," he added with a smile. "So, was the message important?"
"Not really. It was just from London reminding us how important it is we get that information to them as soon as possible."
Kinch shook his head. "Those guys in London never give up, do they? I sometimes think they forget we're an old established business and know what we're doing."
"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Hogan smirked. "I'm going upstairs and get some rest. We've got a busy night ahead of us tonight."
That said, Hogan walked away aware of Kinch's eyes watching his receding back. Something's really got the Colonel rattled, Kinch told himself. He knew Hogan well enough to know when he was keeping something to himself. But he also knew him well enought to know Hogan would discuss what was troubling him if and when he was ready and not before.
Hogan stepped over the lower bedframe and into the barracks where he saw Newkirk and Carter playing gin and LeBeau preparing something delicious for dinner. The aroma assailed Hogan's nose the minute he stepped into the barracks. "What smells so good, LeBeau?" he asked.
The little Frenchman looked around at his commander. "It's a bordelaise sauce, mon Colonel, " he said. "It's made from meat stock, flour, wine, onions and seasonings. It'll go with the meat I am broiling in the stove."
"I'll tell you this, LeBeau," Hogan stood close to the Frenchman smelling the tantilizing sauce. "It's too bad the war can't be fought with your cooking. We'd win hands down."
"Merci, Colonel," he said with a big smile.
"I'll be in my quarters resting. Call me when dinner's ready."
"Oui, mon Colonel."
"Gin," Newkirk announced laying his cards down on the table with a devious smile. Carter frowned as he threw his cards on the table.
"How come you always win?" Carter asked. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think this deck was fixed."
Newkirk smiled as he gathered and reshuffled the cards. "Now don't be a sore loser, Andrew," he said. "I would never cheat you. You're just a lousy gin player is all."
Hogan chuckled at their exchange as he went into his quarters and closed the door. Turning on the small lamp on his desk, he laid down on his back on the lower bunk. He pulled out the message again and reread it. He was getting a headache. Did Frolichman disclose his identity to these people? And if he did, would Hogan have to close up shop and get his men out. How would he explain it to them that the operation was suddenly closing up shop and they were to leave asap? Or would it be better for them if he was the one to leave? Unless Frolichman had disclosed the identities of his men as well, Hogan figured they would be in no danger if he was the one who left. But, he knew his men would ask questions if he suddenly announced he was leaving. And then there was the mission from London. The Allied High Command there would have to be informed the operation might have been compromised. Folding the paper again, Hogan tucked it back in his jacket's inner pocket. He clasped his hands behind his head. This could be our final mission in Germany, he told himself, wearily. Or it could be the final mission of my life.
Either way, Hogan mused, they would be in store for a peck of trouble.