Characters: Sgt Troy, Sgt Moffitt, SS-Sergeant Fredrick Hagenberg, and SS-Captain Erich Wiesenland
Rating: T
Warnings/Spoilers: none
Author's Note: The characters of Erich Wiesenland and Fredrick Hagenberg are my own and may not be borrowed. Everything else belongs to "Rat Patrol", which I do not own in any way.
Summary: After a devestating attack by the Rat Patrol, a young SS-Sergeant tries to cope with the loss whilst following the advice of his dying commander in order to make the right decision when the Rat Patrol come in to take him prisoner.


"Herr Wiesenland! Herr Wiesenland!"

A young SS-sergeant bounded over the wreckage strewn about the area and came up next to Erich as he stumbled about the overturned half-track. Most of Erich's left side was covered with blood, but thankfully he hadn't had any of his limbs blown off nor had he been disintegrated in the attack. The sergeant, Hagenberg as he was known by, knew that the pair of them were quite fortunate. From what he could see, all the soldiers who had been left behind in the column's retreat had either been killed immediately or succumbed to their wounds shortly after.

"Herr Wiesenland!" Hagenberg called again, this time getting the attention of his captain.

The sergeant came up next to him and put his hand to Erich's shoulder when Erich suddenly fell against the hood of the half-track. Hagenberg couldn't conceal his joy at seeing his commander alive and he spoke happily, "We will be all right, mein Herr!" He noted the blood on Erich's tunic and his smile faltered. "How much of that blood is yours, Herr Wiesenland?"

Erich touched his side but didn't react. Hagenberg would have felt relief if it wasn't for the fact that Erich's face was pale and his eyes were distant and unfocused. Panic crept into Hagenberg's throat but he wouldn't dare to show his fear.

"Fredrick," said Erich slowly. He looked at him and asked, "Where is the rest of my men?"

Hagenberg swallowed hard and blinked back his tears. His Captain had called him by first name, something he rarely did. Looking into Erich's eyes, Hagenberg replied quietly, "I regret, mein Herr, that the vehicles that survived the attack went on without us."

"And the ones who didn't?"

"Tot."

Erich's eyes widened and he gasped in disbelief, "Alles tot?"

"Ja, they're all dead," Hagenberg replied.

"Nein-nein-nein-nein…" Erich groaned. He stumbled forward and pushed his hand into his hair. Grief stung his eyes and washed clean rivulets down his cheeks. He had taken no more than a few steps when he faltered and started to collapse.

Hagenberg caught Erich in his arms, but the weight forced them both onto the dirt. Panic seized Hagenberg immediately as he held his leader against him. Frantically he called to him, but Erich didn't respond; his gaze was upwards.

"Nein, nein!" Hagenberg cried. He jerked his head up at the sound of approaching jeeps.

These two were to blame for the mess! Hatred immediately filled Hagenberg's heart as he watched the two jeeps coming towards him. Thoughts of running back to the machine gun came to mind. It would be better for him to at least try and vanquish the ones who had caused so much destruction than to just let them get away with it!

"I'll kill them," growled Hagenberg. "I'll kill them for what they've done to you, mein Herr."

"Nee," groaned Erich weakly. He coughed and struggled to sit up, which Hagenberg quickly obliged, though he kept a conscious watch out for the jeeps.

"But, I must avenge this!" Hagenberg insisted, though he found that part of his anger had literally vanished the moment he found that Erich was still alive.

"Nein, not like this," replied Erich. "You don't avenge hatred with hatred." He winced suddenly and cried out in pain. He grabbed at the dirt to weaken the pain from within. Before it had begun to subside, Erich continued, "Hatred and a desire for vengeance is what brought us here. It's hatred that has killed us, not those men. Evil starts within… here…"

Erich gestured at Hagenberg's heart.

Hagenberg took Erich's hand and squeezed it, "Bitte, mein Herr… I don't understand. Our commanders taught us to hate them!"

"Don't listen to that…" Erich shivered and clutched Hagenberg's hand. "Vengeance is best left for God… bitte, Fredrick, don't let hate consume you. Don't let it destroy you too. Hatred is not living. Forgive, love… be set free, and live again. I want you to live."

"Captain!"

Erich winced again and shut his eyes. His breathing remained sporadic and uneven as he rested against Hagenberg. The young Sergeant sobbed openly. "Nee… nee!"

The racking of a rifle caught Hagenberg's attention and he quickly looked to where the jeeps had been. They were very close to him and both .30calibre guns were manned. Hagenberg knew that if they wanted him dead, they would have fired by now. They wouldn't have risked getting this close unless they wanted something. What they wanted, Hagenberg wasn't sure. The vehicles that were burning weren't anything special nor were any of them carrying any official documents. What could these desert rats possibly want?

Hagenberg felt his heart nearly stop as he came to the realization.

"Mein Herr… bitte, hilfe!" Hagenberg cried softly. "I don't know what to do! I need you, Captain!"

Erich had become completely still against Hagenberg and by all appearances had gone like the rest of the men there. Hagenberg cried out suddenly and put his head to Erich's. How could the one person who had lead them so well in the desert be gone? It just couldn't be! Hagenberg wept openly over Erich, no longer caring that the men in the jeeps were now approaching him on foot.

"Moffitt, what's he saying?" the one named Troy asked.

"He's grieving over that fellow," replied Moffitt steadily. "His Captain, his friend." Moffitt frowned even more as he relayed the last bit, "His brother who watched over this family of theirs."

Troy came to a stop. Hagenberg made eye contact with him but no longer did Hagenberg feel hatred in his heart; only mounting grief. When Hagenberg regarded the rifles being aimed at him, Troy could tell that he was slowly comprehending what had also just happened to him.

Feeling his throat go dry suddenly, Troy cleared it before telling Moffitt, "Tell him that no harm will come to him if he comes with us."

Moffitt quickly told Hagenberg this and the sergeant looked back to Troy.

"Helfen Sie ihm, bitte," replied Hagenberg. He made eye contact with Moffitt. "Bitte, hilfe ihm! Ich werde nicht ohne mein Kapitän gehen."

"Well?" Troy asked, keeping his gaze firmly locked on Hagenberg.

"He won't go," said Moffitt. "Not without his Captain."

April 1943
North Africa