I do not own any of the characters from the series Hogan's Heroes. However, I claim ownership of any original characters appearing in this story.

Apropos "Duel of Honour", which probably causes sabreurs everywhere to cheer wildly...just before they fall over laughing.

So far the plan was going well. Erika, the beautiful Underground agent, had played her part with consummate acting skill, convincing the Kommandant of Stalag 13 that she had conceived a mad, uncontrollable passion for him. And Carter, taking on the role of her jealous, sabre-happy husband, had produced yet another convincing, unnerving portrayal of mental derangement in German uniform.

Klink was about ready to fall to pieces. It was a safe bet that within twenty-four hours the Iron Colonel, fleeing from the prospect of a sabre duel with General Weidler, would be on his way to Argentina. Or so he believed. In fact the plane would deliver him to London, along with the information Erika had risked her life to obtain: the names of the men who were planning to assassinate Hitler.

Colonel Hogan was happy. So were his men.

All but one of them.

"What if Klink turns up for the duel?"

Carter had been very quiet for some time before he suddenly came out with this. He was sitting with his elbows on the table, his chin resting on his hands and a troubled look on his face. Actually it was hard to tell, sometimes, with Carter, since his customary expression was one of vague, non-specific misgiving, anyway.

"He won't, Carter," said Hogan. "You got him so spooked, he'd probably swim to Argentina if he had to."

"Yeah, but what if he doesn't go, Colonel?" Carter persisted. "What am I supposed to do then?"

"How do you mean, Andrew?" asked Newkirk, folding his arms and gazing at Carter.

"Well, gee, Newkirk, I don't know how to fight a duel, do I?" Carter looked up with big, anxious eyes. "I mean, Klink's probably not real good at it, but at least he's done it before. I got no idea."

"Carter, you won't have to fight," said Hogan. "Even if Klink turns up - which he won't - you're not going to be there."

Carter clasped his hands together on the table top as he considered Hogan's argument, and rejected it. "That wouldn't be right. I'm the one who challenged him. I can't just not show up."

"He's right," remarked LeBeau. "It's a matter of honour." He fell silent, as Newkirk glared at him.

"Let's get one thing straight. It wasn't Carter who issued the challenge," Hogan pointed out. "It was General Weidler. You were acting, Carter. Playing a part. So it doesn't count."

"Right, Colonel," said Carter, but he didn't seem convinced.

Just after lunch, Newkirk came into Hogan's quarters. "Can I have a word, sir? It's about Carter."

"What's he doing now?" asked Hogan, looking up from the fake newspaper they'd printed the day before, as part of the scam. Kinch had really had some fun with the want ads.

"He's just told LeBeau that if anything happens, he wants him to have his Rita Hayworth poster. LeBeau's not very happy about it. He doesn't even like Rita Hayworth," explained Newkirk. "You know what I think, Colonel? I think Carter's planning to turn up for that duel, whether Klink does or not."

"Well, let him," said Hogan impatiently. "Klink won't be there, anyway, so no harm done."

"Thing is, sir, he's getting in a bit of a state about it," Newkirk went on uncomfortably. "It's doing him no good."

Hogan sighed. "Okay. So what do you suggest we do about it?"

"Well, it's not my idea. Erika came up with it. Seems one of her contacts in Hammelburg runs a fencing school. Now, if we just run Carter into town, get him a quick lesson, it'll give him a bit of confidence, he'll stop worrying and get a good night's sleep, and everything'll be fine."

"He won't get much from one lesson, Newkirk," remarked Hogan. "It takes years."

"You know that, sir, and I know that, but Carter doesn't. And like you said, Klink won't turn up, so he won't need to put it into practice."

Hogan considered, then shook his head. "It's too risky. We don't go out in daylight unless it's absolutely necessary."

There was a pause, before Newkirk tried again. "Colonel," he said in a low voice, "he's given Kinch his Molotov cocktail recipe."

That made Hogan sit up and take notice. "You're kidding." It was serious, then. "Alright. You go with him, and make sure you're both back before roll-call."

He returned to the phoney newspaper, and turned to the sports page. "Hey, it says here Spain won the World Cup."

Newkirk rolled his eyes. "It'll never happen," he murmured, on his way out.

An hour later, two men and a woman stood on the pavement in front of the Apotheke on Lindenstra├če. To one side of the shop window, a door gave access to the Fechtakademie Schmidt, on the second floor.

"I don't know if this is such a good idea, Newkirk," said Carter, looking at the door as if it was the gate to Purgatory.

"Don't worry, sergeant." Erika gave him an encouraging smile. "Herr Schmidt is an excellent teacher."

Something in her voice suggested Herr Schmidt might be more than that, and Newkirk gave her a thoughtful look. But on first sight of the fencing master, he dismissed the idea. Schmidt was neither particularly young nor particularly well-favoured. Somehow Newkirk had imagined fencers to be lean and athletic. This one was almost egg-shaped, and had less hair on his head than Klink, though rather more on his hands.

He greeted Erika pleasantly, and glanced at her companions with mild curiosity, which gradually evolved into amusement as she explained the situation. When Klink's name came up, he uttered a low, scornful laugh.

"I have seen Colonel Klink in action," he observed, in almost perfect English. "He trained here once or twice. His technique consists mainly of flailing about wildly and hoping for the best."

"That's more or less how he runs Stalag 13," said Newkirk. "And it doesn't work there, either."

Schmidt scrutinised Carter with a professional eye. He turned to his assistant, a skinny bespectacled adolescent, not yet of military age. "Emil, find a jacket for this gentleman."

Carter had a slightly panicky look about him, as he followed Emil into a side room.

"I should go back to the hotel," said Erika, holding out her hand to Newkirk. "Good luck."

"You too, love."

Newkirk took a good look around the fencing studio; a large, sparsely furnished space, with a high, bare-timbered ceiling generously supplied with skylights. It must be a nightmare during air-raids, but somehow he didn't think the fencing master was one to worry about such minor inconveniences.

Herr Schmidt was regarding him with interest. "You don't wish to learn the art of the sword, mein Herr?"

"Me? Gawd, no," said Newkirk frankly. "Too much like hard work - no offence."

Schmidt tilted his head to one side. "You have the right build for it - excellent upper body strength. And I sense you're a man who knows how to plan ahead, yet is prepared to recognise and take advantage of any unexpected opportunity. You could be a good fencer, with a year or so of intensive training."

"Can't spare the time, gov'nor. Honest. Just give my mate in there a bit of a leg up, that's all we need."

For a moment Newkirk was afraid the man was going to insist, but then he shrugged. "Your friend will not do so well. Good fitness level, but he has a short attention span. I can always tell."

"As long as he thinks he can beat Klink, that'll do," said Newkirk.

He had to fight down a laugh a few minutes later, when Carter returned, in the white jacket and three-quarter breeches which comprised the fencing uniform. Newkirk could tell he knew how silly he looked, especially with bare feet.

"I could not find shoes to fit, Maestro," explained Emil. He had a half-smile on his face, suggesting he was anticipating some fun from this session.

"We will do without," proclaimed Schmidt, in the manner of the Elector issuing a royal decree. "Now, let us start with the basics of footwork."

From the look on Carter's face, he didn't expect this to go well. Based on his usual form, he was probably right.