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.
Of all the places to be caught out by an Allied bombing raid, the road running past the benzene plant outside Hammelburg had to be one of the worst. General Wolfert's driver was both competent and experienced; he had been on the general's staff since the old days in Poland, and knew how to cope with driving conditions so adverse as to be almost suicidal. But lack of familiarity with the area meant that he had no idea where to take cover, and in this situation, taking cover was a necessity.
In the back seat, the general turned to the woman who had accompanied him to Paris, just as she had travelled everywhere with him for the past three years. "Don't be frightened," he murmured. "We will be off the road soon."
"I know," she answered. Her voice, though soft enough to be almost inaudible, was quite steady. She had excellent nerves, and in all the time they had been together, she had never once lost her composure. Sometimes he wished she would.
The driver drew over to the side of the road, close to the trees. "Herr General, I think we must try for the Luftstalag," he said. "It is not far, and it will be safer there than anywhere else."
"Very well. As quickly as you can," Wolfert replied.
The car had scarcely started moving again, when a massive blast, somewhere to the left of the road, almost sent the vehicle careering off the road. The two passengers were thrown about as the driver fought for control, and a low cry broke from the woman. The driver turned in his seat. "Ist alles in Ordnung, Herr General?"
"Drive on," the general ordered curtly. He did not ask where she was hurt, just put his arm around her and drew her close, so she could rest against him. She did not resist, but nor did she respond as he smoothed back her hair, and gently kissed her forehead.
Their arrival at Stalag 13 was enough to bring the camp Kommandant hurrying from his quarters, as well as attracting the attention of the prisoners. "Big shot just turned up," said Carter, who was watching the door while the other men prepared the latest batch of Allied airmen for evacuation. "General. SS."
Colonel Hogan joined him at the door, waving the others back. "Keep working. We have to get these guys out tonight."
"If that bombing doesn't end soon, they won't be going anywhere," observed Newkirk, as he fitted a jacket for one of the airmen, while LeBeau stitched the shoulder seam on a shirt for the same man.
"It's not as bad as that. This is just a daylight hit and run, should be over by lights out." Hogan spared a glance in the direction of the bombing. "They're after the benzene plant, to the north of here."
"Gee, I was sort of hoping I'd get first crack at that," grumbled Carter. "I've got a new kind of explosive I wanted to - Hey, the general's got a friend. A lady friend."
As LeBeau and Newkirk both started towards the door, Hogan turned them away again. "Just get those guys ready. Nothing to see here."
"That's easy for you to say," muttered LeBeau, going back to work. "You know how long it's been? Even just to look would be..."
Carter had no hesitation in talking over the top of this. "Gosh, it looks like she's hurt. Who do you think she is, Colonel?"
"Not his wife." Hogan tilted his head. "Generals don't buy furs like that for their wives, only for their mistresses. But I'm more interested in the general."
"Colonel, you've been too long in this line of work," observed Newkirk.
Hogan grinned. "Okay, she's a woman. Not a bad looking woman, if you like skinny redheads. But a general arriving unannounced at Stalag 13 - that's really interesting."
Kinch looked up from the identity papers he was working on. "Probably got caught out when the bombing started," he suggested. "That might be how the lady got hurt. What's wrong with her, Carter?"
"Looks like it's her arm," said Carter. "But she's walking okay. If they go into the office, maybe we could listen in...no, they're heading straight for Klink's quarters. You know, we really ought to have that bugged as well."
"So we can eavesdrop on Klink when he has his own lady friends in? No, thanks. I'll pass," remarked Newkirk, and Carter snickered.
"Do you recognise him, Colonel?" asked Kinch.
"No, I haven't seen him before." Hogan pondered for a minute. "LeBeau, you got any more strudel? As soon as Schultz comes back out of Klink's quarters, go and see what you can get out of him."
"Oui, mon Colonel," replied LeBeau. He threw his work down onto the table, and went to fetch the apple strudel.
"Oi, what about that bleedin' shirt, LeBeau?" Newkirk called after him.
"You can finish it," LeBeau replied over his shoulder.
It was never difficult getting Schultz to stop and chat, as long as strudel took part in the conversation. The hard part for LeBeau was always getting away from Schultz and back to the barracks, and that usually didn't happen until the plate was empty. On this occasion, he was gone for almost half an hour.
"General Wolfert," LeBeau reported, as soon as he got back inside. "Something to do with intelligence, according to Schultz. He is returning to Berlin from Paris. Kinch was right - they only stopped here because of the air raid. The woman is French," he added, scowling. "Supposed to be his interpreter."
"Yeah, sure she is," said Hogan, with a sceptical grin. "Who is she?"
"Schultz couldn't tell me her name, but he said Wolfert's frantic about her getting injured. Klink's sent into town for a doctor. He's turned his quarters over to them, he'll be sleeping in the VIP hut tonight."
Hogan deliberated for a few seconds. "Well, we might as well take advantage of an unplanned visit. Kinch, when you radio London tonight, see what they can tell you about Wolfert. Who's on housekeeping detail tomorrow?"
"Me and LeBeau, Colonel," said Newkirk.
"Have a look around while you're there. I want to know if Wolfert's got anything interesting with him - documents, code books, plans, anything at all. And if you can keep it civil, LeBeau, it wouldn't hurt to have a word with the interpreter."
LeBeau gave him a dark, brooding look. He had never succeeded in overcoming his violent hatred of collaborators, although he was usually able to suppress the outward signs of his disgust. But Hogan wasn't worried. If there was one thing he was certain of, it was that LeBeau could be trusted to keep his head.