Chapter 1 - Prologue

Wilson peered over Carter's shoulder at the recumbent figure in the lower bunk. "Thanks for letting him use your bunk Andrew. I don't think he could've made it up to his tonight."

"Oh sure Joe. I'm happy to let Peter use my bunk anytime he needs to." He knelt down and tucked the blankets tighter around his slumbering English friend and then moved to sit at the common table. He looked back at Wilson. "How long do you think he'll need to use it?"

Wilson shook his head as he sat down beside Carter. "No longer than a couple of nights. His ankle isn't sprained thank goodness, just badly wrenched. It should heal up enough within the next few days for him to be able to get back into his bunk without any difficulty."

Carter's gaze went past the medic to the closed door of the Colonel's quarters. "How about the Colonel?"

Wilson looked back over his shoulder and then faced Carter again. "He'll be fine. He just needs plenty of rest, water and good food. We were incredibly lucky Newkirk rescued him before the Gestapo could figure out who they actually had in custody and begin the real torture. As far as they were concerned, the Colonel was just a minor underground operative."

"You can say that again!" sighed Carter. He perked up at the sight of LeBeau quietly exiting Hogan's quarters. "Louis, how is the Colonel doing?"

LeBeau sat his tray on the table and took the bowl and cups to the sink. "He is fine André." He walked back to the table and addressed Wilson. "He drank some water, as well as a cup of broth and is now asleep."

Wilson nodded knowingly. "It's pretty sad that as exhausted and banged up as the two of them were, we still had to sedate them to force them to rest!"

"Oui!" smiled LeBeau as he glanced over at Newkirk. "I see Pierre finally fell asleep as well."

"Yeah", agreed Carter. "I had to make his tea extra strong so he couldn't taste the sleeping pill."

Wilson got up, yawning and stretching as he spoke, "Well it wasn't a very strong sedative. It was just enough to push him over the edge and ensure he slept."

LeBeau walked back over to the sink to finish cleaning up and he called over to Wilson, "Will either of them be able to stand roll call in the morning?"

Wilson rubbed his chin thoughtfully before he replied. "Good question. Don't let Schultz wake them up for roll call. I'll square it with the Kommandant. I'll report that the Colonel came down with a severe stomach virus during the night and I'm pretty sure Peter also came down with the same malady. I'll tell him I need to quarantine the barracks so it doesn't spread. That should give them the extra time they need to rest." He gestured to Louis. "Put a bucket beside the bunk just for realism, okay?" He put a hand on each of LeBeau's and Carter's shoulders. "Come get me if anything changes fellas. I'm headed to bed myself."

LeBeau arose and accompanied Wilson to the bunk bed that concealed the tunnel entrance. He leaned down and called after the medic as he climbed down underground, "Merci Joe! Come back after roll call for breakfast!"

"Sounds good!" echoed Wilson's disembodied voice from the cavern below. The bunk slammed shut and LeBeau turned back to Carter with a relieved sigh.

"Kinch should be back up shortly, it is nearly time for lights out."

Carter nodded tiredly, ready for sleep himself. It had been an extremely anxious, nerve-wracking night for all three of them. Newkirk's solo rescue of Colonel Hogan from the hands of the Gestapo had proved to be a very near thing. He had stumbled and twisted his ankle as he rushed his disoriented CO down a flight of stairs with several guards in hot pursuit. Fortunately, two underground agents showed up as previously arranged just in time to distract the pursuing soldiers, allowing Newkirk to get the Colonel to the car and back to camp.

The bunk opened up again and Kinch climbed up and out. He walked over to Carter's bunk and knelt down beside it. He looked back over his shoulder at LeBeau and Carter and cocked his eyebrow in an unspoken query.

"Wilson said he should be fine in a few days Kinch," answered the Frenchman.

"Same for the Colonel," put in Carter.

Kinch nodded and gently patted Newkirk on the back before he arose. "Good! Let's get ready for lights out then fellas."

His last conscious memory was choking down Carter's godawfully strong cup of tea as Wilson examined and taped his swollen, throbbing ankle. After he finished his tea, he yawned and closed his eyes for just a moment. He vaguely recalled next being hurriedly bundled off to lie onto Carter's bottom bunk. Despite his overwhelming weariness, he simply could not get comfortable. Carter noticed him fidgeting and gulped a quick 'Sorry buddy!' as he reached beneath the mattress to retrieve his handmade bow, the same bow Newkirk had used the week before to destroy a German truck laden with top secret fuel. Finally relieved of the annoyance beneath the mattress, the Englishman lapsed into a deep sleep.

At least he thought he fell asleep. He blinked and sat up suddenly. He rose to his feet, deliberately favoring his sore ankle and was surprised to find that he could stand normally. His ankle didn't hurt at all and appeared to be fine. Blimey! 'ow did that 'appen? he wondered to himself. He could've sworn he remembered Wilson tightly wrapping it before he went to bed. He looked down at himself, then at his surroundings and immediately decided that he'd finally gone round the bend.