Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Original character Lennart and story setting is not my own - however the details in this story are ;)
„BEHIND THE FIRE"
For those who haven't seen the movie: It's about a group of terrorists, who in a nearly military like operation steal a deadly virus and later are trying to escape in a pilgrimage train to Lourdes. The police are on their tail, and a secret organization of the Catholic Church, too. As the police decide to re-route the train, the situation escalates and the terrorists try everything to get off the train and to escape. They do not succeed, and in the end, the leader of the terrorist task force, named Lennart (played by Arnold Vosloo) clings on the vats of a helicopter, which flies directly into the exploding locomotive of the train. So far – not good. I thought there was more to tell!
Attention, this will not be Mary-Sue-Fic! Sorry for the 'weird' names, story takes place in Germany.
=== Near the German-French border / Some railway-depot-area ===
The chopper continued its erratic flight pattern, lowering and getting dangerously close to the already burning locomotive. Lennart clasped on the vats.
"What are you doin' up there?!" he cried panicking. The helicopter only went further out of control, nearly touching the rails now.
Fucking shit! Lennart let his grip go. He would have lost it anyway in the next few seconds. He fell, and hit something. However, the following explosions swallowed his scream.
Pain was the first sensation dropping again in his consciousness, slowly but finally calling attention like the rain falling down on his motionless figure for hours now. Primeval pain, nagging and burning in every cell, every muscle of his body. The air smelled of ashes, acid, chemicals.
The war… Damned attack… knew this was a trap…have to get out… with my men…
He tried to get on his knees. The stabbing pain piercing through him the very moment let him fall again instantaneously and catapulted his blurred mind back to alert. It was dark. He was alone. Above him, some wires from the railway system, beneath him partly grass and the gravel of the embankment. No, the war in Angola was over. He was not a soldier anymore. At least not for any kind of official or semi official government or fraction! He was a soldier – and a highly qualified one – for his own purpose. After a few minutes of recovering and regaining some strength, he tried to move again, careful this time. As far as he could see (or better feel in the darkness of the night), he was in pretty bad shape. Moreover, the whole operation was down the drain! He swore, coughed and spat blood. The next check gave him the assurance, that still he had his gun.
Better that than nothing, eh? Can ponder now if I shoot me or wait until others do it!
How could this happen, he wondered. He had planned it all through; the plan was perfect! Well… He grinned wryly in the dark, … it SEEMED perfect! Obviously, the Holy Mother Church had not forgotten her lessons from the time of the crusades and had still some well-trained fighters in their ranks! Lo and behold!
However, this was not of Lennarts concern right now. He had failed to deliver the cargo, lost his team and equipment. Meant, he had cost his sponsors a lot of money without bringing any profit! Meant the only payment HE would probably get was his own death! His sponsors did not like failure.
He did not know exactly, what had happened, but judging from what he had seen last and the smells around him he concluded, that it must have been major explosions involving chemicals and diesel. Perhaps this whole area was a mess. So far, nothing indicated a police search party under way. Either they already had given up, or they thought him dead as well, died in the explosions. Small sign of hope… Nevertheless, he had to get away from here, somehow. Find some shelter. If he would stay any longer in the cold rain in his present condition, he was as good as dead already. Slowly, he struggled to his feet. His right leg hurt, but was stable enough to carry him. He was more concerned about his left arm, which he could not move without agonizing pain washing over him, and his head, from where blood trickled over his face.
In the distance, Lennart could discern the silhouettes of some mansions or warehouses. There was a streetlight, too. He stepped in the direction, hoping not to pass out. It seemed the worst way he ever had managed in his not too calm life so far.
=== Next day ===
The boy about 10 walked home his head hanging and hands deep in his pockets. It had been an awful day at school. He had again loused up the math's test. The paper with the clearly marked "5" (kind of 'F' in the US) was in his bag and weighed as much as a big stone. He hated mathematics. He hated school. He hated everything. Stepping lazily through a mud puddle, the boy mused, how he could dispose of the paper. He did not want to show it, or found it somehow by his mother. She would be worried again about him, saying he would end up like his father – in jail - and then drink again. While drunk, she said many nasty things about killing herself or giving him into a children's home, or that she had been crazy to have a child anyway. He run away one time, but the police sent him back.
The boy stopped near the railway. Last night, there had been a major incident with a train, they said in school, but nothing more specific. Perhaps he would go over this afternoon, to see some gorgeous wreckage! He liked that stuff from TV and the computer games of one of his friends. Lots of action and explosions, and the hero stepping out of the mess afterwards…
The math's test…
The boy looked around. One of the old warehouses caught his view. Best place to get rid of the paper, he thought, and already searched for his lighter. His mother did not know he had one.
Lennart had used the first hours of daylight to check his injuries and to tend them as best as he could, given the circumstances. He had been a Special Forces soldier and was experienced in survival training. Nonetheless, his left arm was broken at least two times and he could not apply a proper splint with one hand. He had to find medical assistance. However, for that purpose he had to come up with some sort of cover story first! To enforce help with his gun would only alarm the authorities. During the considerations he fell asleep – or passed out, he could not determine that.
Anyway, he woke up from the noise of a cracking door and footsteps. He peered past the wooden barrel, behind which he had took cover. There was a boy! Only a little boy! But… little boys could inform their parents, and parents could inform the police…
The child took something from his bag, trampled on it and then procured a lighter out of his pocket. At this moment, a pigeon flew off. The eyes of the boy followed the fat bird through the woodwork and down – and rested on Lennart, who had not been fast enough to recede. They stared at each other, frozen.
The man grasped his concealed weapon firmly. Shit. I cannot shoot a child!
Then the boy said reluctantly "Hello."
"Hello." Lennart forced himself to smile.
The boy walked closer, curiously regarding the stranger. "Are you sleeping in here?"
He seems to think I am some sort of hobo… okay, not bad… might get away with this… "From time to time. Was too rainy outside you know?"
"Yeah. Have you heard what was going on last night in the railway depot? Other kids said there was an incident with a locomotive!"
"Heard nothing. You will read it in the newspaper, probably." Just go away, go away, dammit!
"You speak weird. Where do you come from?"
God wanted to punish the world with children never stopping asking questions! "France", Lennart lied. He hoped to scare the boy away with monosyllabic answers, but this wish did not come true. On the contrary.
"France?" The boy said now, beginning to smile and stepping yet closer. "My Dad is from France, too! Said Ma. But I cannot see him anymore, because he is in jail. Ma said he has tried to rob a gas station and hurt some people. I don't remember much of him."
"Look, I'm sorry. But I'm really tired. Please go, okay?"
"You are hurt." The boy made a gesture to his head. "Do you need help?" He began fumbling for a tissue in his pockets.
"I'm fine. It's nothing. I… stumbled across something last night. Nothing serious."
"You were boozy. Ma stumbles also always across something, when she had too much to drink. Last week she fell in the cat's litter box." He sounded as if this was a perfectly normal family life!
Lennart squeezed his eyes. He felt very sick. He needed some rest, not small talk with little children.
The boy did not attempt to leave him, though. "You look worst than my Ma, when she has her hangover. Do you want something to eat? Ma always wants coffee and chocolate. I have an apple and the rest of my sandwich. Had lost my appetite after we got the tests back… I got a "5" again…" He already had unpacked the things from his school bag and put them down next to the man, adding: "I don't like apples anyway!"
"Thank you. Very kind of you." Now GO AWAY!
"By the way, I'm Claude. And what is your name?"
Christina Hofer cried and cursed altogether, while hitting her old washing machine, which just stopped to function out of nowhere. Why now?! She had no money to let it repair, no money to buy a new one! "Stupid, damned machine!" She kicked against it, of course without effect.
Desperate, she sank on the old kitchen chair. What now? The next miserable unemployment pay was still weeks away! Moreover, there were debts to pay!
My life is one catastrophe after another, she thought. When did it begin? When she broke off her education because of the pregnancy, or when she moved in with the father of the child? When he started to drink and do 'things' or when she started to drink to forget it all?
Christina looked up to the watch on the wall. Where was Claude? He was supposed to come home immediately after school, not to hang around with someone! She stood up; shot a short glance in the mirror hanging in the floor. She was nearly 28 now; however, she felt she looked like 40. She poked her tongue out at herself, threw her hair back and went out to see, where her son was.
By the time Claude finally showed up, his mother had drained half of the Vodka-bottle, sat again in the kitchen and wept. Seeing him, she covered him with a bunch of reprimands. "Where have you been? I told you not to stick around on the street! I told you! You make everything worse! Always I have to worry about you… always…"
"I didn't do anything… "
She did not listen, she only wanted someone to put her anger on, and right now Claude was the victim. As he tried simply to vanish, she grabbed him. "You STAY! Stay and do your shitty homework!"
She shoved him into his room and locked the door, not really knowing why. Perhaps because she was afraid to loose him like she had lost his father. Everything went out of control. There was never anything she could do about it…
Lennart looked through a hole in the warehouse-wall towards the railway. The noise, the wind carried over, told him that the investigations had begun. Probably dozens of police officers and specialists were browsing the area. The people in the pilgrimage train had been saved, however the course of events had to be analyzed, and it had to be made sure, that these released chemicals would harm no one of the nearby living people.
He sighed. This meant he had to stay in this hideout at least until tomorrow. At least, to pose as a poor homeless when he went on search for a doctor was not that bad. Thanks, little one, for the idea… He moved back to the place behind the old barrel to lie down and wait. Perhaps he could find some sleep, too, but the pain drilling in different parts of his body nauseated him.
The wind ripped somewhere through the old construction and took a package of tattered old newspapers along. Lennart grabbed one, desperately searching for a little distraction, even if he wasn't that good in reading German. The newspaper was over a week old and soaked with mud. Only some of the texts were still readable. And one caught his attention immediately.
++ Woman jumps from Cologne Cathedral to raise money for dying child ++
Some parents jump from cathedral towers, others… He threw the paper away, feeling even sicker. …Others manage to get themselves in the biggest fuck-up ever!
He heard something and sat up again.
Someone calling his name?! Was he that delirious already?
Holy crap! This boy again! Did he have no home or what?!
"Hello, Lennart!" Claude shifted his weight under the obviously heavy backpack he wore.
"What do you want here again?"
"I'm coming with you! Wandering around, through the cities, to France, wherever!"
"I run away; went through the window. I don't wanna go back to school again. Or… to Ma. I can play harmonica. Collect money from the people! Keep an eye on you when you are drunk so you do not fall into something. I really-"
"You REALLY can't come with me! Do you understand? You HAVE to go home!"
Lennart pulled his gun. "Go!" Why does he not run? "I said: GO!"
Claude's eyes went round like saucers, as he stared at the weapon. "Wow! Is this a real gun? Cool! You… you are no tramp, right? You are a… an agent on a secret mission?!"
"Yes, I'm on a secret mission." If you want that, you get it, fellow! "You can't come with me, because it is too dangerous. Go home to your mom and into your bed!"
The boy looked disappointed, and Lennart felt compelled to add: "You know, little one, the most important thing for an agent to survive is to follow orders. Right now, I expect you to follow mine, okay?"
"So, you go back now and don't be a pain in the ass for your Ma!"
"Will I see you again and will you tell me, how you have pissed off the bad guys?"
The boy smiled again proudly and took off.
Lennart sighed and leaned back against the wall. He could not be sure if it would work out that way! The boy probably would return, nonetheless. After all, Claude was only a child, and a curious one! That meant, he should better leave this place as soon as possible, the best in this night!
As darkness fell, Lennart stood up and stepped carefully through the trash towards one of the doors. He had nearly reached it as he stumbled across some rotted wooden planks fallen from the roof and lost his ground. In a vain attempt to catch himself he landed on his injured arm, cried in pain and lost consciousness.
=== Next Day ==
At the local police station of Weinheim, Kommissar Reibing filed through the already impressive reports concerning the incident with the pilgrimage train three days ago. Unbelievable, he thought. This was just like in a bad TV-show… Well, life tends to be worst than TV, this was one thing he had learned in his police career.
"Bruno?" One of his assistants poked his head through the office door. "The guys from the BKA (=Bundeskriminalamt / some sort of German FBI) are here!"
"Okay, I'm coming!" Silently, Bruno Reibing made a face. BKA meant many pompous asses, who knew everything better than he did! Nevertheless, it had been foreseeable that they would join the investigations, for this had been an act of international terrorism! He was only glad that the worst was averted and all the passengers on the train were safe! The material damage was immense, though, and there had been some dead! Terrorists were the meanest criminals of all…fanatics… ready to kill everything in their way…
Adjusting his uniform jacket Kommissar Reibing walked out to meet his colleagues.
After the obligatory greetings and smiles, they went straight into business. One of the BKA-men, a bulky redhead, put a laptop on the table and activated it. Reibing discerned the newest high-tech-design and made a silent note on the distribution of funds these times.
"Well… " the BKA-man started, "we have checked the evidences and asked some witnesses ourselves. We are sure; one of the delinquents could escape. If you would take a look? These are the identikit pictures of the terrorists. There were four of them, three men and a woman. So far only one of them could be identified…" He pointed at the picture of a white-haired man. "Piotr Jurek, sentenced in Slovenia for robbery and murder. On the run since 1999. The others are dark horses. However, we've found two corpses in the train, Jurek and this nice fellow here." The BKA-man showed another face. "According to the evidences given by the main witnesses, these Franciscan monks, there were two of the terrorists on the locomotive, when it was unhitched: the woman and this man. So far, so good. Brother Lasko told me, he had a rough fight on the roof of the train with him, AND he saw him picked up by a chopper…"
"Yes", Reiber cut in, unnerved by the display of his guests. "I know. The chopper went out of control, flew into the locomotive. Who ever was on it, did not survive the explosion."
The BKA-redhead grinned sourly and, as it seemed to Reiber, full of mercy. "We checked the debris with our most sensitive equipment, Kommissar", he replied. "We have identified remains belonging to this woman. We have found nothing, and I repeat absolutely NOTHING from this man. Not the slightest trace, except…"
"I'm all ears…"
"Except bloodstains on the embankment in this area here…" He called up another page on his laptop, this time with an aerial view of the incident's site, and zoomed in. "No corpse, I add again, Kommissar Reiber. And – if the man had died in the explosion, he could not have left bloodstains on the embankment, right? So, he is alive. We have to find him!"
-- tbc asap