A/N: This story idea has been pestering me for a while now, and I found that I could no longer ignore it. It's a departure for me; it's much darker and more angst-filled than my previous work. But I've been wanting to try my hand at something like this for a while now. And yes, Newkirk is the main focus of the story. (I can't help it, I just like his character!) And I haven't forgotten my other story on here that isn't quite finished, On Thin Ice. I will be updating that one soon.
WARNING: There will be some graphic images alluded to in this story, although there will be few, if any, detailed descriptions of actual torture.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Hogan's Heroes characters.
"Kinch! Where's the Colonel?" Carter called out breathlessly as he ran into the main tunnel, followed closely by LeBeau. They were coming from the direction of the emergency entrance, on their way back from sabotaging a munitions dump that London had requested them to dispose of.
Kinch looked up from his seat in front of the radio. "The Colonel's up in his quarters," he said, instantly concerned at Carter's tone…something must have gone wrong. As he watched the two men come closer, he realized what it was. "Where's Newkirk?"
Carter and LeBeau looked at each other. "That's why we need to see the Colonel right away!" Carter exclaimed. "We were coming back from blowing up that munitions dump, and…"
Just then the false bottom bunk opened, and Hogan climbed down to the tunnel below. Spotting Carter and LeBeau he asked, "Did you guys take care of that dump?"
"Oui, mon Colonel," LeBeau replied, "But there was a problem on the way back. An SS Patrol. Carter and I managed to hide, but Newkirk…"
Hogan immediately became aware that the English Corporal was not there. "What happened?" Suddenly he felt a terrible lump take up residence in the pit of his stomach.
"The SS patrol got him, Colonel," Carter told him, agonizing over every word. "They took him away. We couldn't do anything, or they would have gotten us, too."
Hogan forced himself to remain calm. "Okay, tell me what happened, and I'll figure out what to do."
* * * * *
"Carter, 'ave you got that bleedin' dynamite set yet?" Newkirk called out, feeling more anxious than usual this night, wanting to get going as quickly as possible. He'd had a bad feeling ever since they left camp, and he knew he wouldn't relax until they got back safely.
"One more minute…" Carter responded, while concentrating on the task at hand. "There!" He exclaimed, standing up and looking at Newkirk with a grin; obviously pleased with himself.
"Well, don't just stand there, Andrew, let's get out of 'ere!" Newkirk was thoroughly exasperated by now.
"Where's LeBeau?" Carter suddenly started looking around for the other member of their team.
"He's watchin' the road for Krauts," Newkirk informed him impatiently, "Which is what we're goin' to be dealin' with, if we don't get out of 'ere now!"
"Okay, okay, I'm coming!" Carter was rather surprised at Newkirk; his friend seemed more on edge tonight than usual.
The two men walked quietly toward the road, spotting LeBeau once they got close. The Frenchman gave them the all-clear; he hadn't heard anything since he'd taken his position as lookout. The three of them then took off into the woods, and climbed up an embankment where they paused, turning around to watch their handiwork.
They weren't disappointed. A few moments later, the munitions dump exploded in a spectacular ball of fire. A cloud of flames reached high into the darkness, briefly illuminating the entire area. As it sunk back down, the brightness faded, and soon there was just a large burning pile of unrecognizable debris remaining.
The men smiled at each other; another job well done. Then, at Newkirk's insistence, they all started to head back to camp, when suddenly there was a rustling directly behind them, and a voice shouted, "Halt!" followed by the sound of a gunshot reverberating through the night, like a clap of thunder.
Carter and LeBeau took off, Newkirk bringing up the rear. As they ran, they could hear the sound of footsteps pounding through the forest, in hot pursuit. They were getting close to the emergency entrance, when Newkirk tripped over an unusually large tree root sticking out of the ground, and fell head-long onto the forest floor. Carter and LeBeau, who hadn't noticed right away, kept running. But when they heard more shouts coming from behind them, shouts of discovery, they took cover and turned to see what the Germans were doing.
They were instantly horrified to see Newkirk on the ground, and an SS patrol surrounding him, ordering him to get to his feet. The Englander complied, getting up and quickly brushing himself off before one of the German soldiers grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the road. They saw a truck pull up, and Newkirk being shoved unceremoniously into the back, and then the rest of the patrol piled in, and the truck took off.
Carter and LeBeau looked at each other for a moment, as if wishing they could come up with some way to go after them and spring Newkirk from the clutches of the SS. But they both knew that there was nothing they could do by themselves; they had to get back to camp and tell the Colonel what happened as quickly as possible. They got up and made their way to the tree stump, climbing down once the searchlight had passed by, and headed to the main tunnel with their bad news.
* * * * *
"Well, at least you fellas went out in uniform," Hogan said when Carter and LeBeau had finished filling him in. "And if the SS picked him up, hopefully they'll think he's a downed flyer, or just a prisoner trying to escape."
"But, Colonel," LeBeau asked worriedly, "What if they think he had something to do with the munitions dump exploding?"
Hogan started to pace, thinking furiously. "All the more reason we need to get him away from the SS as soon as possible. Kinch," he said, turning to his radioman, "Contact the Underground. See if they can find out where that SS patrol took Newkirk. I'm going to go tell Klink we have a man missing. Maybe I can get him to make a few calls and find out where Newkirk is."
Hogan headed up to the barracks, and then out across the compound, making a beeline for Klink's quarters; mindful of the searchlights. He wasn't sure if the Kommandant would still be awake; it was 11:20 p.m., and the man had usually retired by that time. But as he neared the building, he saw light illuminating the closed curtain from behind, and found himself more relieved than he thought he'd be. It was always harder to get Klink to cooperate when he had to rouse him out of bed.
As he reached the door to Klink's quarters he paused, quickly going over in his mind what he was going to say. He'd become very adept at manipulating the German Colonel, but he still had to choose the right approach, which had to be flexible, depending on what frame of mind Klink was in.
Feeling ready, he knocked twice on the door and, without waiting for a reply, opened it and stepped inside. Klink, who had obviously been preparing for bed, judging by the nightclothes he was donning, looked up, startled. He was seated on his couch, reading a magazine, which he quickly rolled up and tried to stuff unsuccessfully in between the cushions.
"Hogan!" Klink exclaimed, jumping to his feet. "What is the meaning of this? How dare you burst into my quarters at this hour!"
It was the reaction that Hogan had been anticipating. He couldn't help smiling inwardly to himself at how predictable Klink had become to him. His amusement was short-lived; however, as the purpose of his visit was his primary concern.
"I'm sorry, Colonel, I thought you'd want to know that there's a prisoner missing, but I can see you're getting ready for bed. I can come back tomorrow." Hogan turned to leave, already knowing what Klink would say next.
"What? There's a prisoner missing? Why wasn't I informed? I'll have Schultz sound the alarm immediately!"
"Won't do any good, Kommandant," Hogan informed him, "He left hours ago…I'm sure he's long gone by now."
Klink's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "If he's been gone for hours, Hogan, why are you telling me now?"
"I'm worried about him, sir. It was Corporal Newkirk; he did it on a whim, certainly without my permission, and he's not a very careful man, you see. And, what with all the German patrols out there, I'm afraid he'll be recaptured, if he hasn't been already. I just don't want him getting hurt."
"Well, what do you expect me to do about it, Hogan?"
"Couldn't you make some calls, sir? Ask around, see if anyone's found him? Like the Gestapo," Hogan leaned in slightly, "Or the SS?"
"At this hour?" Klink looked at Hogan like he had a screw loose. "Hogan, the only thing I can do right now is send out the guards and have them conduct a search. I'll have Schultz sound the alarm, and release the dogs. If your man is not found by morning, then I'll make some calls."
"No, Hogan, that's final. Now, I suggest you go back to your barracks before I have you thrown in the cooler!"
"Yes, sir." Hogan responded. Defeated, he turned and left Klink's quarters.
As he walked toward the barracks, Hogan sighed in frustration. He'd lost this round, but he wasn't going to give up. He'd just have to wait until morning for Klink's help in locating Newkirk. In the meantime, maybe Kinch had received word from the Underground, and with that thought, he subconsciously quickened his pace.
* * * * *
The next morning found four very tired men standing outside for roll call. None of them had slept a wink. Hogan had taken up pacing in his quarters, Carter and LeBeau had lain awake in their cots, feeling guilty for leaving their friend at the mercy of the SS, and Kinch had spent the night monitoring the radio, receiving periodic updates from the Underground; always with the same message…they still hadn't found out where Newkirk had been taken.
Klink emerged from his office, and walked to the line of men. Schultz reported all present, except for Newkirk, of course, and before Klink's shout of, "Dismissed!" had finished echoing throughout the compound, Hogan had sidled up to him, urging him to make some calls to try to discover Newkirk's whereabouts. Klink acquiesced, if for no other reason than to get Hogan to stop pestering him. But every call led to a dead-end; even the main headquarters of the SS had no knowledge of an RAF corporal being picked up the night before.
Hogan was growing more and more worried. Before long it was evening, and still no news. He wanted desperately to go look for Newkirk, but he had no idea where to start. Not to mention the woods were crawling with guards. He knew the Underground had a better chance of finding Newkirk, but all their efforts had been fruitless.
As nighttime arrived, Hogan told his remaining crew to get some sleep. At their urging, he promised to do the same. He actually did try to close his eyes a few times, but, at best, all he could manage was a short nap here and there. Finally he gave up and went back to pacing, unaware that he was actually creating a worn path across the wooden floor of his quarters.
The next day was more of the same. Hogan was becoming frantic by now, and it was all Kinch, Carter and LeBeau could do to keep him from taking off on his own to look for Newkirk. It was the waiting, the not-knowing, the inability to take charge and solve the problem that ate at Hogan; not to mention the worry for his English friend that was tearing him up inside; frustrating him beyond measure at his inability to find the corporal, and to protect him.
Another day came and went, and now Newkirk had been missing for three days. Hogan had finally grown tired of badgering Klink, who was getting nowhere, anyway. He suggested that the Kommandant call in General Burkhalter; if anyone could find out what happened to a Luftwaffe prisoner, it would be him. Klink, at his wit's end, agreed, and soon Burkhalter was on his way.
Burkhalter arrived toward evening, looking angry and frustrated. He didn't much care for the Gestapo and the SS thinking they could disregard the authority of the Luftwaffe any time they felt like it. He commandeered Klink's office and, a few phone calls later, had managed to discover that Newkirk was being held at one of their smaller installations that the SS used primarily for interrogating captured Russian flyers. The man in charge of that particular installation, Major Steiger, was apparently required to turn in his reports just once a week, so the main SS Headquarters had only obtained the information that day.
Another call to Major Steiger himself confirmed that he was indeed holding a Corporal Newkirk there, and was in the process of interrogating him. Upon further prodding, Steiger revealed that he hadn't obtained any useful information from him; perhaps if he had more time? Burkhalter informed Steiger that he had no jurisdiction over Luftwaffe prisoners, and the Corporal was to be returned to Stalag 13 at once. Steiger started to explain that it would take some time; his guards were out on patrol, and he couldn't leave the facility, when Burkhalter cut in and told him that two guards would be sent from the Stalag to retrieve Newkirk. Major Steiger acknowledged that that would be fine, although the General couldn't help noticing a distinct note of disappointment in the Major's voice.
* * * * *
Hogan and his remaining men had of course been listening in on the telephone conversation taking place between General Burkhalter and Major Steiger.
"Did you hear that, Colonel?" Carter exclaimed excitedly when the General had finished the call, "Newkirk's okay, and Burkhalter's sending a couple of guards to go get him and bring him back!"
Hogan didn't look as optimistic as his explosives expert. "I think Newkirk's condition remains to be seen, Carter." He then looked at his French corporal. "LeBeau, I want you to check our stock of uniforms; see if we have a German guard's uniform for a private or corporal. Then I want all of you to hand over any chocolate bars you have; chances are they're going to send Schultz, and I'm going with him."