We were secluded in a forest this time, having been driven out of our last hideout like a bunch of rats, which I guess in their eyes we were. This time we were set up in the middle of the forest surrounded by trees, bushes, twigs, dirt and rocks. About twenty miles north was a long dirt road that eventually turned northeast and into France, where we were headed. It would take a day and a half at least, to even touch the French borders, well, the Nazi occupied French borders. But, we were getting there slowly, mostly because of our many detours we happened to stumble upon. We were proud of those detours, so never phased our squadron.
About ten or fifteen Jewish American soldiers and one German were seated in the clearing, doing some sort of work that would either save or end their lives; most of the men had dark brown hair and dark eyes matched with a lightly tanned face. We had one blonde haired blue-eyed man that was German, but he was on our side so he was widely respected.
I was the only girl in the squadron, having been found hiding in a barn house clutching a gun to my chest and shooting wildly at whatever came near. My whole family had been killed by the Nazi's, even my baby brother…all killed by the Jew Hunter.
I was sitting down on a flat rock next to the German as he cleaned his gun and sharpened knives, he'd occasionally mutter things and fix my mistakes as I assembled and re-assembled guns. I took apart the bullets and arranged them in a different order as the German pulled a knife across a leather strap.
The German's name was Hugo Stiglitz, famous throughout Europe for killing thirteen Gestapo men with his bare hands. Instead of punishing him by death he was ordered to be put in a certain jail to be made an example out of. Needless to say when the Bastards heard about him, they wanted him. Stiglitz was a quiet man, mostly because he barely understood English, but when it came to attacking and getting vengeance…Hugo was a monster. He was a deadly weapon and valuable to our group since he could pose as a Nazi and blend in perfectly for a while until the enemy found out who he was. When he wasn't fighting he was usually smoking around a fire or conversing with Wicki over recent news and happenings, he was the nicest German I've ever met and a good friend.
I watched Stiglitz stare at his blade before taking it back to the strap and then bending down to brush off the silver shavings on his boot. I put my weapon down and sighed, a group of Jewish American and Australian Jews…stuck in some forest and killing Nazi's…this was what the War was all about. Stiglitz looked to me and put down his weapon as well.
"Was glotzt du, Kind? What are you staring at, child?" he murmured softly, reaching out a hand and brushing a leaf off my shoulder. He had nicknamed me 'Child' after I got into a verbal fight with him one day and I guess the name just stuck.
"Nichts, gar nichts. Warum hast du aufgehört? Was glotzt du? Nothing, nothing at all why'd you stop? What are you staring at?"
"Beobachten Donny mord Utivich. Er werde dich töten, dass der mensch eines tages. Watching Donny murder Utivich. He'll kill that man some day." He jerked his head over to a tall man and a shorter man arguing.
"Uti töten Donny? Besser platzieron sie ihre wette woanders Hugo. Dony'll uns alle töten tages. Uti murder Donny? Better place your bets somewhere else Hugo. Donny'll kill us all some day." I laughed; leaning back a little bit and watching them fight.
"Ich meinte Donny. I meant Donny. He chuckled and whipped out a pack of smokes, "Get Wilhelm ist leichter warden sie? Get Willhelm's lighter will you?"
"You're sterben, bevor sie mehr töten Gery's bekommen. You're going to die before you get to kill anymore Gerry's." I rolled my eyes, smiling wide and got up; giving his scuffed boots a soft kick. He waved me off lazily.
Wilhelm Wicki was our only Australian-American Jew, he was like Stiglitz almost but without all the single handed murders. He was strong, outspoken and incredibly smart; he knew what everything about the world, having to travel to so many countries to fight as an enlisted soldier. He spoke fluent German and French better than any of us, Hugo and him got along very well because of that. Wicki's voice was deep and rough like a German's so he blended in just as well…that was our Wicki.
I crouched next to Wicki's open tent and waited until he looked up from the book he was lazily reading; feet propped up on a chair as his body reclined on the small cot with his arm behind his head, cushioning it. A cigarette was pressed between his thin lips as he smoked from the side of his mouth. I nearly gagged.
"What?" he sighed so I smiled and came in, sitting cross-legged on the ground near the chair.
"Hugo wants your matches…again."
"Behind you." He nodded, going back to his book. I turned around and shifted through his bag until I located the matches. I pocketed it and turned around back to the Australian.
"Nope. How you doing Wicki?" I shrugged, getting up and stretching, "you look tired."
"I'm fine, Rhiannon." He chuckled and flicked his fag to the ground, "stop worrying."
"Sure thing, Vicki." I teased, heavily accenting his name and walking out, "you Austrians are so pride full."
"I heard that." He muttered, already lighting another cigarette. I smiled and walked back over to Hugo, tossing him the match box and collapsing on the rock again; I leaned on his shoulder heavily as I felt his muscles move underneath his shirt to light the paper.
"Was hast du so lange? What took you so long?"
"Oh halt den mund, du hast glück, meine ich nicht nur biegan sie all in. Teh sprechen. Oh shut up, you're lucky I don't just turn you all in."
"Tue nicht sprechen wie. Aldo wird nehmen sie aus. Zusammen mit alle anderes. Don't talk like that, Aldo will take you out. Along with everyone else." He blew a smoke ring out from his mouth and into the air.
"Ich würde niemals tun die, sie wissen hut als gut als jedermann, Hugo. I would never do that, you know that as well as anyone Hugo." I chuckled, resting my head on his shoulder lightly.
"Gut, erhalten zurück an arbeit. Good, get back to work." He smiled softly and bumped my shoulder as I picked the gun back up and tried to reassemble the lock and draw.
"Damn you Germans!" a shout echoed throughout the campsite, Hugo jumped up and aimed his gun where the voice had come from. We turned to see Aldo and Omar come walking out of the trees tiredly, "Ya bleed faster than anything I've ever seen!"
Aldo the Apache had arrived.
Aldo Raine was our leader and captain of the squadron, we followed his orders no matter what. All of the Bastards owed him one price: one hundred Nazi scalps, and now that I was on the squad, so did I. Aldo was a good man with an honest mission; get all Nazi's out of France and kill the Führer. I would never betray this man, he was like a father to me. Business was plentiful though, the Nazi hunting business I mean. Aldo's brown eyes searched the clearing, probably making a mental note of who was here and who was not. There was the occasional traitor but we always managed to take them out sooner than later. His eyes landed on Donny and called him over.
Donny Donowitz…the Bear Jew. Donny was almost as famous as Hugo, maybe even bigger. He beat Gerry heads in with a bat until they died; by the first hit they were paralyzed and by the third they were dead. He was a Boston Jew who enlisted when the War first started, and was happy to oblige all the Nazi's who refused to cooperate. Donny was tall, broad and had brown hair and dark smoldering eyes.
Donny walked over to Aldo as everyone began to migrate towards him as well, we had been here in the clearing for two nights now awaiting the next group of Nazi's that were to come along…they never came. I could tell everyone was anxious and a little bloodthirsty.
"Come." Hugo nudged me, hoisting me up and pulling me along by his side as we made our way over to Aldo. Wicki walked up next to us quietly and leaned down next to me.
"Was ist los? What's going on?" he eyed Donny who was smiling widely at something Aldo whispered in his ear.
"Ich Tue nicht wissen. I don't know." I muttered back, staying close to Hugo as we got close enough; Aldo cleared his throat and put a foot on a rock, leaning towards us.
"Gentleman…it seems to me like we were given a false lead, them Gerry ain't coming. Got a word about another branch coming seven miles from here though so we move out in the morning. Rhiannon!"
"Sir." I spoke up, coming forward through the small crowd and getting my hair ruffled by the other men annoyingly. Aldo smiled slightly and nodded towards the woods.
"Good, go get some wood…you understand."
I nodded and walked towards the woods about ten feet away, going through the brush easily. I was never allowed to know the full details about how and where exactly we were going to attack, they still never fully trusted me but I didn't mind. I knew what their thoughts were; I was a girl and under some sort of influence I could easily run to some German camp and spill where the Bastards were…then they'd be instantly dead. I picked my way through low twigs until I found a big tree with large roots, I brushed the sharp sticks away and sat down…it was actually highly comfortable to be honest.
I had only been here for a month, maybe even more, yet Aldo called me the most valuable asset in public. I was a girl therefore I was a good distraction; who would take the time to help a man who just fell down the stairs and twisted his ankle? No one would, but they'd help a girl no doubt so I was valuable. For the towns that knew I was with the Bastards I was of no use; but for the towns that didn't know we were able to raid the town and get away with it. I was called 'the Child' after a surviving Nazi told the German media what everyone was called; I had been described as a 'child that bared a knife against her world'. Damned nickname.
I closed my eyes and leaned further in the tree, I liked staying here; I felt welcome to take part of the War, to harm the men that killed my friends and adoptive family…my real parents were from America but for some reason they weren't able to take care of me so I came here to live. Anyways, there had to be at least fourteen Nazi's outside our house that day led by that sandy peppered-haired man. At the time I knew he was either part of the Gestapo or just a regular general…then I found out it was Colonel Hans Landa of the German SS…the man that sniffed out our race like a bloodhound and we were the rats. My adoptive family had taken refuge under the floorboards; I had gotten so scared I fled up to the attic as the men in black came in. They just came in and aimed at the floor…as if they already knew where we would hide. Our long time family friend, Monsieur LaPedite, had housed the Dreyfus family but cheated them out to Landa…we knew it was only a matter of time before they found us. It also didn't help that my father was part of the Nazi army and didn't like it when he found out my mother's side was pure Jewish.
They found me eventually, raiding the attic and sniffing me out as I crouched behind large boxes and hay…what they did to me after they said they wouldn't kill me…I shuddered and brought my knees up to my chest. I hated them.
I watched a bird soar through the trees above me swiftly, chirping off into the distance. It was satisfying almost…peaceful for the moment. I looked around to the clearing where I could see Aldo wrapping up his speech to the men, taking out his snuff box as Donny lazily swung his bat over his shoulder and smiled at something Hirschberg said…probably about blood and gore. Something about Donny drew me to him; I sighed and got up, dusting off my pants and kicking twigs out of my way as I took the long way around…to be safe in case Aldo wasn't done. I never liked being out here alone; un-guarded and unsuspecting where anything can jump out at you and then kill you silently. I brushed my hair away from my face as I ducked under a low branch, sidestepping a boot indentation in the mud, it looked fresh but I didn't really…
My heart stopped as I dropped low to the ground next to the print. I didn't have any type of weapon on me, only sharp sticks poking me in the face and chest. The person who made this print most likely had a gun or some sort of knife on him no doubt-
"What are you doing down there?"
I looked behind me and up slowly as Utivich's blue eyes stared me down, a small smile playing on his lips. He reached down and helped me up, brushing some dirt off of my shirt.
Utivich was one of the youngest Bastards compared to me and was pretty famous within our group for cutting the prettiest scalps off of Nazi's. He was a bit shorter than everyone and had those bright blue eyes that sparkled and blew me away each time I saw them. Uti was called 'The Little Man' but nobody bothered to tell him about it…it was a bit of an insult.
Uti smiled again as we started to walk back, he chatted aimlessly about his family back home and how he missed them. That was another thing that Uti and I had that the others didn't; a heart that cared about their family back home. Except I really didn't have a family anymore but I always loved listening to Uti's stories. Uti and I would stay up late and just talk, thoughts and memories swimming through our conversations gracefully. If we tried to talk to the others like that, they'd just laugh and snicker…Uti was my best friend here.
We walked back into the campsite as everyone was starting to re-pack their bags; 'morning time' usually meant five a.m. so everyone was sleeping on the ground and pairing up for warmth. Donny walked over to us slowly as I seated myself near the fire pit, resting my back on the long log. Uti wandered over to Omar to help pack. Donny dropped his bat on his bag and collapsed next to me, his white wife beater was dirty and stained. He whistled.
"Got some good action coming up." He sang, his Boston accent slightly leaking through, "Yah ready for it?"
"Please. Like Aldo would actually let me fight anytime soon…I'll be able to fight when this war is over."
"It's just 'cause you're young." He smiled and ruffled my hair fondly, "you'll grow eventually to a normal height."
"Gee thanks, Donowitz. Maybe I'll even get as big as 'the Bearen Juden'." I teased, using his German nickname, he snorted.
"You get past me I'll buy you a fuckin' airplane." He winked, watching as the Lieutenant made his way to us, "yah wanna pair up?"
"Sure, just stop snoring."
I laughed as he grinned and side tackled me with one hand, pinning me on my side as my arms were trapped beneath me. He pressed a messy kiss on my temple and continued to move around until he sat on top of me comfortably. He wasn't putting all of his weight on me thank god 'cause he would crush me, but he was still pretty damn heavy. I struggled helplessly as he laughed; the vibrations ran down and through my back effortlessly. Aldo rolled his eyes as he saw us and then roughly kicked Donny in the ass with the toe of his boot. The older Boston man got off and opted to sit on the log as Aldo smirked; I got up as well and stuck my tongue out at the Bear Jew.
"Aren't women supposed to keep men in order?" Aldo questioned as Donny then trapped me in a headlock muttering 'I'll bite that tongue' in my ear roughly. I huffed out a breath.
"Aren't men supposed to make sure their women are sane first?"
"Brat." Aldo snorted, "I've gotta few changes in plans that involve her Donny, let the kid go."
"What is it now?" I asked, immediately squirming away from Donny as he released at me.
"I want'cha to go inta' town and get the food this time, you'd be quicker than my men and won't attract to much attention. I'll give you a list."
"Sure. I'll need a bag as well."
"Are you fucking kidding me!" Donny exclaimed; making Aldo flinch, then making me jump up from the man's out burst, "Aldo she's only a kid! The Germans will take her out fastah' than Uti'ich can scalp!"
"Calm down son, she'll be fine."
"Donny…seriously, I'll be fine." I put a hand on his arm, "Donny."
"Aldo this is suicidal. She'll get killed instantly if she's recognized." The Bear Jew continued, ignoring me. Heat flared in me.
"Donny! I've done things far more dangerous; going into a town to get shit isn't like marching straight into a concentration camp!"
"Close enough." He growled back, "they'll notice you, and what if they take yah hostage?"
"I'll fight them."
"You can't even push me off of you. Them Germans probably weigh as much as me."
"I'll go with her."
We turned to see Utivich standing next to Aldo, his hands folded behind him as he stood at a relaxed 'attention'. His blue eyes were defiant and hopeful; the little man was bold for getting in between another one of my fights with Donny. Aldo considered it thoughtfully. Donny glared as I stood next to the blue eyed man.
"You heard him Lieutenant, Uti'll go with me."
"…all right." Aldo nodded. Donny snorted angrily as his dark brows furrowed angrily but backed off as Aldo spat on the ground before peering at Donny, "you heard the woman Donowitz. She can take care of herself, ain't like she's never held a gun before."
Donny remained silent but mumbled a 'yes, sir' with barely contained anger. I sighed and looked to my shoes.
"Now that that's settled…food, Rhia?"
"On it." I nodded and broke away from Uti as I went to the other side of the fire to start up the food. Uti sat next to me and helped as Donny remained sitting on the log, never taking his eyes off of me. Aldo saw him too and kicked him in the shins lightly.
"Donny, you get first watch."
"Yes, sir." Donny got up and retrieved his bat before heading off into the forest as I continued to heat up the meat. Darkness was coming in fast for the night.