Thank you to everybody who is reading and reviewing this story. Your support is greatly appreciated. When I started it I hadn't intended it to be so long winded or so long in posting.
No Honour Among Thieves
Garrison was limping badly and Chief was coughing uncontrollably by the time the three men made it across the rail yards and to the buildings that housed the workshops. Charles and Garrison carefully lowered Chief onto a bench at the side of one of the buildings.
"You had better sit down too Craig," Charles suggested amiably, "While I go and see if I can find us some form of transport. It doesn't look as though either of you are in any shape to go further on foot."
Garrison nodded tiredly as he sat down beside Chief. "Where are you going to get transport around here?"
"Don't worry; I'm sure something useful will present itself to me." Charles frowned as he watched the two men. Chief's coughing had subsided into a harsh wheeze and he was slumped against Garrison's right shoulder. Garrison looked tired and drawn and pain flicked across his face. He watched the Lieutenant close his eyes and rest his head back against the wall with a sigh. "I won't be long. Will you be alright here until I get back Craig?" Charles questioned worriedly.
Garrison opened his eyes and nodded. "We'll be fine."
Charles doubted the statement but nodded his acceptance before heading off in search of some suitable transport. He hadn't gone far before he heard the sounds of an engine coming towards him. He ducked into the shadows of a nearby building and watched as an old brown van headed across the yards and towards the warehouse they had just left. Charles smiled as a plan began to formulate in his mind. He wouldn't have much time once the men realized their captives had escaped. Carefully he made his way back across the yards, coming up on the warehouse behind the van. He watched with a shaking head as the smaller of the two men patted down his pockets, looking for the key to the padlock. For a moment Charles thought they were going to return to the van but then the man yelled in triumph as he produced the key.
Charles waited until the two men entered the warehouse, leaving the unlocked padlock, complete with key, swinging from the latch before he slipped from his hiding place, gently closing and then padlocking the door behind them. He was relying on the dark of the warehouse and the evening gloom to cover the closed door. He hurried back to the van, pulling open the driver's door. He slipped into the seat and burst out laughing. The keys were still in the ignition! Charles started the van, slipped it into gear and drove back across the yards, pulling up beside the workshop where he had left Garrison and Chief.
Garrison was on his feet; precariously trying to protect Chief who lay slumped over on the bench. "Where did you get that?"
"This is compliments of the great man himself," Charles replied, trying to ignore Garrison's glare. When the man remained unmoving Charles relented. "Bird sent his two heavies to collect you or maybe just to work Chief over again. I locked them in the warehouse so we don't have much time."
"Then we had better get out of here." Garrison limped to where Chief still lay slumped on the bench. "Chief," Garrison shook his wheelman's shoulder, "Come on Chief, we have a ride."
"I know you are but it won't be much longer and you'll be in the hospital." Garrison and Charles pulled Chief to his feet, wincing in sympathy when the Indian gasped in pain and carried him to the back of the van, carefully placing him on the hard floor. "Where to Craig?" Charles asked as he watched the Lieutenant settle in beside his injured man.
"Chief needs a hospital. Head for the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital in London. I can get a hold of Major Richards and Actor from there."
Actor sat staring at the phone, cursing its silence yet dreading the news that it could deliver. He checked his watch and sighed. It was still too early for Charles to have checked out all the warehouses. He debated whether to wait for Charles call or to ring Major Richards and update him with the information that Elizabeth had given him. Actor reached for the phone, he was too frustrated with the lack of developments to sit idle for too long. "Major Richards." Actor acknowledge when the other man answered the phone.
"Actor, do you have news about Garrison and Chief?"
"I'm afraid not Sir, but I do have some information on our Austrian Industrialist. His name is Johannes Metternich; he owned a newspaper in Graz and only arrived in England six weeks ago. His mother was English and he has a sister living here in England, also his wife is Jewish which is probably why he gained entry into England. It is also rumoured that he is a distant relation to a Prince Metternich who lived at the same address nearly a hundred years ago."
"Royalty? And Bird is already on to him." Richards muttered. "What do you think he's hiding that a man like Bird would be after Actor?"
"Besides cash and jewels and possibly the odd painting or two, I would say he came across information valuable to either the Allies or the Germans and marketable in certain circles."
"The black market?"
"We need to find that information Actor. If this Metternich has had a falling out with the Reich the information could prove invaluable to us."
"That is if it even exists, Sir. This is all conjecture on our part at the moment."
"When isn't it conjecture Actor? How many times have you and others gone on a mission because there maybe something to the information we have received?"
"So we have permission to proceed with the job Major Richards?" Actor asked.
"Yes but preferably after we get Garrison and Chief back Actor. Keep me informed of any new developments. I'll stay here at the office until I here from you again," Richards said before disconnecting the call.
Actor sat staring at the phone for long minutes before rising to his feet and returning to the lounge and Casino and Goniff.
"Any news, Actor?" Goniff asked as the tall Italian entered.
"Not about Garrison or Chief, but I do have some information on our mysterious Industrialist and Major Richards has approved our request to continue with this mission but preferable after we get the others back."
"So we're going to break into that fancy house after all." Casino asked.
"Yes. The Industrialist is a Johannes Metternich. He ran a newspaper in Graz before fleeing Austria."
"But 'ow did 'Ee get 'ere? I mean Austria and Germany are allies and I can't see old Winston let 'im into the country." Goniff stated.
"His mother was English and his sister still lives here and his wife is Jewish."
"And you think he's hiding some documents that the brass wants?" Casino asked, not really caring how the man got into the country.
Actor nodded. "It is possible and the Major wants us to go in and retrieve what we can."
"So what about Dicky? Isn't 'Ee after the same documents?" Goniff questioned.
"I don't think Bird knows anymore than the rest of us about what Metternich brought with him. If we have to we tell him there was only cash and jewels in the safe, but I'm hoping we won't have to tell him anything. Now if we're going to do this job, you two had better get another good look at that estate before it gets dark."
"And just what are you going to be doing?" Casino demanded.
"I need to stay here incase there are anymore phone calls this evening."
"Of course you do," Casino grumbled as he and Goniff made their way to the door.
Darkness had fallen when Charles brought the van to a stop outside the dimly lit front steps of the military hospital. He jumped from the cab and hurried around to the back door, ignoring the orders from the sentry on duty to move the van.
"Didn't you hear me you damn tramp?" Growled the guard, grabbing Charles arm and spinning him away from the back door. "This is a military hospital; we don't take your kind here."
"Attention." Garrison snapped at the Corporal as he climbed from the back of the van. "I'm Lieutenant Garrison, US Army and I have an injured man here. Now get me a couple of orderlies and a stretcher."
The corporal eyed Garrison suspiciously; taking in the man's disheveled appearance and lack of any army insignia even though he was wearing regulation army pants.
"That was an order Corporal." Garrison limped forward. "Or would you rather explain to Major Richards how one of his men was refused treatment and died of his injuries."
"No Sir," the Corporal replied, gritting his teeth as he automatically responded with the usual proprietary accorded to an officer, despite the lack of proof that the man was who he said he was.
"Now, Corporal." Garrison's voice held the presence of one used to being obeyed and the corporal snapped a salute before he hurried to carry out his order.
By the time the Corporal returned with two orderlies, a stretcher and a doctor sporting Captain's bars under his white coat, Garrison had donned his dress jacket with its insignia in full view and he and Charles were supporting an unconscious Chief by the back door of the van.
The doctor barely glanced at the tramp helping to hold up the injured man, his focus solely rested on the Lieutenant. "Craig, Craig Garrison?" he asked tentatively.
Garrison lifted his head at the sound of his name and stared at the speaker for a moment before a smile appeared on his face. "Peter Chambers. What are you doing over here? The last I heard you'd been offered some fancy post at a hospital in Washington."
Peter shrugged, "Duty called. I felt my talents could be better served over here. Now what happened?"
"Chief is one of my men. We were on our way into London when we were run off the road and kidnapped. Chief hit the steering wheel of the jeep hard in the crash and then one of our kidnappers worked him over with his fists and boots. The only thing I know for sure is that he has some broken ribs."
Peter indicated that the orderlies should bring the stretcher over and place it on the ground. "How long ago was this?" he asked as he supervised Chief's transfer to the stretcher.
"This morning." Garrison replied worriedly. "He's been unconscious most of the time but when he wakes up he coughs and wheezes."
Peter gave orders to the orderlies to take Chief straight through to emergency "We'll take care of him Craig. You look like you could use a hot meal and a few hours sleep yourself. Why don't you come back in the morning?"
Charles, who had been standing quietly to the side of the van as the two men talked, now spoke up. "The Lieutenant is injured also Captain."
Chambers turned in surprise at the cultured English voice coming from the tramp. He eyed the man in the dirty clothes suspiciously for a moment before turning his attention back to Garrison. His friend looked drawn and pale, understandable under the circumstances and then he saw it. The quick flash of pain as he shifted his weight.
"His ankle, Captain, but I doubt he would have told you that." Charles nodded at Garrison's glare. "I'll find a safe place to hide the van from prying eyes. We wouldn't want word to get out too soon about your escape."
"Come on Craig," Peter said as he pulled Garrison's arm over his shoulder, surprised and a little concerned at the amount of weight he was now supporting.
Garrison sighed but accepted the assistance, not that he had much choice in the matter. He limped up the first couple of steps and then stopped, turning back to Charles as the man started up the engine of the van. "Thank you Charles, for everything."
Charles nodded. "I'll let Actor know where you are."
Garrison watched the van pull away. He owed the man a debt for both his and Chief's lives.
"I don't suppose I'll get an answer if I ask, will I Craig?" Peter asked as they resumed their trek up the steps.
"I'm afraid not Peter." Garrison replied, wondering the same thing himself.
Charles drove the van down to the warehouse district of London. What better place to hide it, he thought, than right under Bird's nose. He drove through the backstreets, hoping to avoid as many people as possible, not that there were many still out and about at this time on a Sunday evening. He headed towards a partially bombed out warehouse owned by Bird. The back and one side had collapsed along with most of the roof but the front wall and part of the adjoining sidewall remained standing with the roof slanted down towards the floor. There was just enough room to drive the van in under the fallen roof, effectively hiding it from casual observation. Charles turned off the engine and pocketed the keys just in case someone else came across it and decided to steal it for themselves, not that they couldn't just hot wire it as he had intended to do. Still there was no sense in making it easy for anyone, including Bird, or advertising the fact that Bird's plans had gone astray any earlier than necessary.
Charles checked the street from the safety of the shadows before venturing out on to it with a staggering gait. If anyone saw him coming from the warehouse he hoped they would just assume he was a drunk in search of another drink. Sighing heavily, he wrapped the thin coat he wore tightly across his chest to keep out the rising night chill and commenced the hour long walk home.
Actor checked his watch again, it was after seven o'clock. He should have heard from Charles by now and he feared that something may have happened to the intrepid Englishman. Casino and Goniff had returned an hour ago after watching the estate for several hours. As he thought, they would not be able to gain access to the estate from one of the other properties for a number of varying reasons, dogs been high at the top of the list along with an over abundance of people in the vicinity as well as the lack of satisfactory cover. Actor sighed; it was never this difficult to gain access to their targets on the continent. He was just about to go in search of his two team mates when the phone on his desk rang. Tentatively he reached forward to answer it just as Casino and Goniff rushed into the room. "Hello."
"I have them." Charles replied. "They're at Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital."
Actor sighed, "How are they?"
"Did 'Ee find them?" Goniff asked anxiously as Actor listened intently to the reply to his question, nodding his head in understanding.
"Thank you for all your help and I'll let you know how they are." Actor hung up the phone and smiled at the two men impatiently waiting for news, in front of him.
"Are they alright?" Casino demanded.
"They're at the Military Hospital here in London. The Warden seems to have aggravated his ankle again…"
"And what about Chiefy?" Goniff asked.
"I don't know. He was unconscious when they got there; broken ribs and possible internal injuries. We won't know more until we get there."
"We going to the hospital? What about Bird? He'll know we have them if he has a tail on us and we turn up at the hospital." Casino warned.
"I'll ring Major Richards. With Craig and Chief safe he can pick up Bird…"
Garrison stopped hobbling beside Peter, forcing the other man to a halt. "Peter, this is important, I need to use a phone immediately."
"Please, five minutes. I need to ring Major Richards. I have important information for him."
Peter sighed, "In my office, five minutes and then I'm coming for you and stay off that ankle." He warned as he supported Garrison to his office and then settled him in the chair behind his desk. "I'll check on Chief and be right back."
"Thanks Peter." Garrison replied, already dialing Richards' number as the other man closed the door behind him.
"Sir, its Garrison," Garrison spoke as soon as he heard Richards voice answer the call. "Fine Sir, a little banged up… Not good, broken ribs at the very least… Yes Sir, we're at the Q A military hospital… No I haven't spoken to Actor yet, our rescuer said he would contact him Sir…It was a man by the name of Bird, Sir. Two of his men are locked in an abandoned warehouse at the rail yards in Catford…Thank you Sir, I'll see you then." Garrison hung up the phone as the door opened and Peter entered pushing a wheelchair.
"Finished?" Peter enquired with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes. How's Chief?" Garrison asked worriedly.
"He's a very lucky young man. Four broken ribs; sever bruising to his chest, a mild concussion and some whiplash. There was also an indication of some internal bleeding but it seems to have stopped on its own. He is still unconscious and we're monitoring him closely. Now it's your turn Craig." Peter announced, pushing the chair up to the desk.
Actor reached for the phone once more, dialing Major Richards' office. He realized the hour was getting late, but the man had promised to wait for his call. "…We'll wait until after Bird has been arrested before we head to the hospital." Actor held up his hand. "Major Richards, Craig and Chief are safe…you already know, Craig rang you. Have you heard how they are?...Yes, that is all I know also. Where?…Catford. You've already sent men to pick up Bird's two heavies. Sir, if I arrange a meeting with Bird at the Lazy Dog can you organize for the MP's to pick him up as well? Between the evidence I have and what Craig and Chief will be able to tell you, it should be enough to have him charged with kidnapped and treason…As much as we would like to go directly to the hospital Sir, we'll wait until after Bird has been arrested. We don't want to alert him to their escape…A number? 999 281918…Thank you Sir." Actor disconnected the call to a babble of questions.
"Well what did he say? Did he speak to the Warden?" Casino demanded.
"Where were they? 'Ow did your mate find them? 'Ow are they? When are we going to see them?" Goniff drew in a breath.
Actor held up a hand and closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again to look at the two men before him. As much as Casino pretended, he really was an open book and Actor could see the worry in his eyes and Goniff was just…Goniff, always worried about the well being of the rest of the team. He began ticking points off on his finger as he spoke. "Major Richards is organizing for MP's to arrest Bird at a meeting with us at the Lazy Dog and his two heavies should be about to meet the same fate. Craig rang him from the hospital, but wasn't able to talk for long. They were being held in a warehouse in Catford. I don't have any details on how they were found. Craig has reinjured his ankle and there is no news on Chief yet. As soon as Bird is in custody." Actor lowered his hand and glared at the men. "Any more questions?"
Goniff shook his head, "I reckon that about covers it for now, Actor. What about you Casino? You got any more questions?"
"Well they will have to wait." Actor intervened. "We need to arrange a meeting with Bird and come up with a plan to get onto that Estate."
Despite the late hour, Major Richards strode quickly down the corridor to the room Garrison and Chief were sharing. The Doctor he had spoken to had turned out to be an old friend of Garrison's from their West Point days and had organized a private room for them. The news on the two men's conditions had been better than he had expected even though it would be at least a month before Chief would be fit for another mission and Garrison was out for another seven to ten days as well. Richards carefully opened the door, not wanting to waken the two men if they were sleeping. There were two beds in the room but only one was currently occupied. Richards shook his head, not really surprised to see Garrison sitting in the chair beside Chief's bed instead of been in his own. Chief lay asleep, propped up by pillows, his chest heavily bandaged and a dark bruise standing out stark against the paleness of his face.
Garrison lifted his head from where it rested on his chest when he heard the door open and saw Major Richards walk in, although he said nothing in way of greeting to the man.
"Lieutenant, I believe that bed was meant for you to be sleeping in." Richards announced as he stopped at the foot of Chief's bed and surveyed his two injured men. He could hear the painful wheeze to Chief's breathing and see the dark bruises that peeked out from the top of the bandages. From Chief, Richards let his eyes rove over Garrison, taking in the bandage wrapped ankle resting on a couple of pillows on the floor and the gaunt, exhausted look on his Lieutenant's face.
"I will Sir, as soon as Chief wakes up or Actor gets here. He'll be confused when he wakes and I don't want him to think he's alone." Garrison shrugged tiredly. "He doesn't like hospitals at the best of times, but especially when he's the patient. Besides, he's in no shape to protect himself at the moment."
"And you are?" Richards asked pointedly. "Lieutenant your bed is next to his. You can hardly say he is alone."
"What about Bird, Sir?" Garrison changed the subject, ignoring Richards' suggestion.
Richards sighed, realizing that Garrison wouldn't rest until Chief was conscious and Bird was in custody. "Actor is arranging a meeting as we speak and I have organized for the MP's to be there to arrest him. He won't get away with this Craig, I promise. Between yours and Chief's statements and Actor's evidence we will have enough to charge him with treason. You don't just kidnap a United States Army Lieutenant in a time of war and expect to get away with it."
"What I don't understand is how he knew where we'd be. I didn't even know of the meeting until that morning."
"His brother is a corporal here at head quarters. Bird threatened his sister-in-law and young niece if his brother didn't help him." Richards looked guiltily at Garrison. "I told Percival to ring and advise you of the meeting."
"You weren't to know Sir. I didn't find out about Bird approaching my men until Chief told me on the way into London. I thought we could deal with it once we got back from the mission." Garrison looked up. "What about the mission Sir?"
"Don't worry about it Craig. I have already briefed another team for it. You and your men have a more important mission here in London, as soon as Bird is out of the picture."
"A mission here in London, Sir." Garrison queried tiredly.
"Yes but there is no need to concern yourself with the details at the moment. Time enough tomorrow. Now I want you to get into that bed where you belong and I'll sit with Chief until Actor and the others arrive."
"I'm fine Sir."
"That isn't a suggestion Lieutenant, its an order." Richards replied sternly.
Goniff and Casino listened expectantly as Actor made arrangements with Bird to meet at the Lazy Dog in a half hour.
"He bought it then." Casino smirked as Actor hung up the phone and nodded in reply.
"I can't wait to see 'is face when they arrest 'im." Goniff added gleefully as they followed Actor out the door of his apartment.