Saunders and his men stood with their hands over their heads as Olson and three German soldiers held them at gunpoint. Olson spoke to the soldiers, in German, "I am Major Olsten, Who is in charge here?"
"Colonel Kessler sir, our orders are to detonate this bridge."
"These are my prisoners. Take them to that shed over there. They are to be treated with respect, under the articles of the Geneva Convention. Go!" The soldiers nudged Saunders forward. They all walked single file towards the shed. "Where is the Colonel now?"
"On the bridge sir."
"Good...keep an eye on the prisoners." Olson went to the bridge.
Saunders and the men sat on the dirt floor against the wall. It was an old utility shack, used for bridge maintenance, with shelves and assorted tools. Two soldiers stood guard over them, and one stood outside by the door. "Can you believe that guy?" Kirby said, "He sure had me fooled, he was a Kraut all along!"
Saunders only sighed. Olson was a minor detail. In fact, he probably saved their lives. "Well, forget about Olson. Just sit tight for now, we'll figure out a way to get the hell out of here."
"You mean when battalion gets here? They're gonna be in for a surprise...especially if they blow the bridge!"
"You! Silence!" one of soldiers said in broken English.
They sat for over an hour, as they heard activity on and around the bridge. Vehicles moving up and down its length, and endless chatter in German. Their two guards seemed restless, they chatted among themselves. Littlejohn whispered, "It'll probably take them at least two or three hours to rig the explosives, I wish Hanley would get here."
"Just sit tight." Saunders said.
The door to the shed suddenly opened. It was Olson. "I spoke to the Colonel. You will be treated well. In fact, he's willing to let you go...if you'll tell him the strength and location of your units in the area."
"Go to hell!" Kirby shouted. "Mr. Turncoat!"
"You were an American when we found you. Now you're a Kraut again? Who's side are you on?"
"He's on whichever side is winning." Caje said. That comment stung Olson.
Saunders asked him, "What side ARE you on, Olson? Are you German or American?"
Olson thought for a moment, then laughed quietly. "Actually Sergeant, I'm both."
Kirby twisted his face, "Whaaat?"
Olson looked over and explained. "I was born in Germany. When I was two years old, my family moved to America...to St. Louis."
"Ohh..." Garcia said. "So you really are a Cards fan!"
"Ha...yeah! Hell, I grew up at Forbes Field!...but my father always said we were Germans first, that is our heritage, to be German. When the war broke out, duty called, my father insisted, so I came back to Germany and joined up."
"But America is your home! How can you fight against Americans? And why fight for that lunatic, Hitler and his Nazi goons?"
"I didn't see it that way...at first...but now..." his voice trailed off.
Saunders said, "Olson, you know Germany is gonna lose the war. Get us out of here...join us...we'll make sure you make it back to the States."
"It's not that simple, Sergeant."
"Why not?...Olson, get us out of here."
"You asked what side I was on, Sergeant. Well, quite frankly...I don't know." Olson turned and left the shack.
"Now what?" Kirby said.
A few minutes later, they heard shouting in the distance. It became more frantic. The two guards in the shed looked alarmed. They suddenly heard a loud whoosh! as an explosion from outside rocked the shed. Then another explosion. As if on cue, Littlejohn, who was sitting nearest to the shelf, had grabbed a heavy wrench earlier. He hurled it at the guard near the door and it hit him on the side of the neck, stunning him. Saunders quickly charged him and grabbed for his gun. As the other guard spun in their direction, Caje swept his leg and kicked the guard's feet out from under him. The guard fired wildly as bullets splintered the ceiling. Littlejohn was on his feet and kicked the soldier hard in the ribs as Caje grabbed his gun. The guard grabbed at his leg, and Caje shot him. As the third guard from outside burst through the door, Caje opened fire, blasting him back out of the doorway. Saunders wrestled the first guard's gun away and butted his head. Both guards were down.
They all crouched at the door as another series of explosions sent men running in all directions. Three trucks were on fire. "Let's see if our guns are still there...if not, head upstream and cross the river, back to our side...Doc, get Craig across, let's go!"They dashed for the half-track and saw that their weapons were gone. "Okay take off! Head for the river!"
Saunders and Caje laid down suppressing fire as the rest of the squad made their way up the riverbank.
Garcia joined with a Thompson, "I found this!"
They ducked as bullets struck the underside of the half-track. It was chaos all around as men ran for cover. They could see some men running in retreat. Saunders looked across the river as he saw three Sherman tanks approaching the bridge. "They're here!"
"Sarge! Look under there!" Caje pointed as they saw the demolition crew finalize their wiring and climb back up the embankment. "Stay down." Saunders moved toward the river and back a few yards, where the riverbank formed a small cliff that provided some cover. From there he could see the detonator, about fifty feet away. One of the crew was wiring it. Three other men were coming up the bank to join him. Saunders fired and took out the three men coming up the bank, and ducked behind the cliff as the man by the detonator returned fire. Caje joined Saunders, "Sarge, I'm out of ammo!" Saunders fired at the detonator again but the gun stopped firing. He was out too.
The first Sherman was on the bridge, about half way across, as the other tanks continued firing from the other side of the river. The shed they had been in exploded.
"Sarge, he's gonna blow the bridge!" There were no friendly infantry to be seen on the other side yet. Enemy fire had become sporadic. Saunders gathered some rocks and started throwing them at the man with the detonator. Caje joined in. One of the rocks struck the man in the face. He cursed as he swung his gun and fired at them again. They both dove for cover. Just then they saw two boots hit the ground beside them, it was Garcia.
"Are you armed?"
"Get that guy!" Garcia aimed and fired. The man toppled over. He kept firing as the detonator itself was blown to shreds. "How's that?" Garcia stood up as a shot rang out. A bullet hit his forehead and he fell backwards. A German soldier jumped down to the riverbank and pointed his rifle at Saunders and Caje. It was the guard Saunders had butted. They were both out of ammo, unarmed. They raised their hands. The soldier smirked and bolted the gun, taking aim at Saunders. "What's he doing?" Caje said, "Hey! We're unarmed!"
"I don't think he's gonna take prisoners."
"This is it..."
The soldier prepared to fire. Two shots rang out as the soldier jerked, eyes widened, he fell to his knees and dropped forward, dead. Seconds later another German jumped down. It was Olson. "Looks like I'm on your side after all," he said with a grin, putting down his rifle.
Saunders smiled and shook his head. Then he noticed American troops crossing the bridge. Some of them spotted Olson. A sniper took aim. "Oh, no" Saunders jumped up and waved, "Wait a minute!"
It was too late, the sniper fired and hit Olson in the side. He went down in a heap. "Olson!" Saunders and Caje knelt down, Saunders lifted his head. He was still conscious. "Take it easy Olson. We'll get you fixed up."
"Nah...it's okay Sergeant...just tell 'em I'm sorry...I'm sorry...about Hanes."
"Shut up! You don't get off that easy...Why?...why, Olson?
"I....I just wanted to be on the good guy's side..."
"yeah fine, you're a good guy...why switching sides all the time? What do you know about them?...Olson!"
Olson's eyes rolled back and his head went limp. He was dead. Saunders sighed and he and Caje stood up.
"Who's Hanes?" Saunders shrugged.
They could see Hanley coming from the bridge. He joined them at the riverbank. "You held the bridge among all this! Nice work!"
"Thank you sir."
Hanley looked over at Garcia. "We lost Moretti and Novak too," Saunders said. "The rest of the squad should be back across the river by now."
"Who's this?" Hanley pointed at Olson.
"Name's Olson, he was American...only, he was German."
"Well, was he American or German?"
"Both...neither...he was uh...a changeling."
"Alright well, get over to battalion, you're done here."
Saunders and Caje walked to the bridge. They were all done here.