Chapter One: May 27th 1942
Since the beginning of war and strife, the masses always kept check over the victories their side won. They tried to count the enemy dead and counted the days until peace would return. Until then they focused on the big things to boost their morale; Stopping the Luftwaffe cold over the English skies, stopping the Wehrmacht from reaching Moscow. Little did they know how much the war had changed in a most peculiar way.
Fortunately for the average Joe, William J. Donovan wasn't the same as the others who were observing the war safely in his offices in New York City. His attention was focused on the little things that escaped the public's eye, either because it was too small to notice, too big to spot the important, intricate detail or was flat out classified for military or morale reasons.
These little things, these details or secrets kept the director of the Office of Strategic Services up in the dead of the night.
It had all started three months ago. The British had launched Operation Rage, a commando raid that was supposed to be a quick recon job inside the belly of the German Reich, Vienna. The team did not check in. It was presumed they were all dead, right down to the famed leader, Jack Churchill. This event, in Donovan's mind, set of a change reaction of events that made the war a scarier event then most people could know.
At first it was little things that shocked the British. Rommel launched his planned offensive early. In two weeks, he had kicked the Commonwealth armies out of the whole of Italian Libya, with exception to Tobruk. He then did something no one could have anticipated. He dug in as though it had been the Great War all over again. Rommel, and by extension, those he represented appeared, to be up to something. The man had a shoddy track record of paying attention to logistics and standing still for too long. It seemed as though like his defense of Tripoli had knocked some sense into him.
Second, entire bomber squadrons were vanishing over the Channel and Germany. They would launch, nearly reach their targets, and then disappear. It wasn't a one hundred percent thing. A good seventy percent of the missions were getting through, but that number was dropping at a frightening rate.
Pilots of the RAF that returned from their attacks gossiped of how effective the Krauts had gotten in finding them. Their Anti-Aircraft defenses were organized to respond with higher efficiency. When the ground defenses didn't get them, the Luftwaffe always knew exactly where and when they were coming. The air war in Germany was quickly becoming a second Battle of Britain for the RAF. Only this time they were on the losing side. It appeared as though the German's had developed radar on par if not, better than their own.
As resolved as the British were with their attacks on Germany, it was the secret war against the Germans. The Allied nations were waging that brought forth the most terror. The combined efforts to crack each of the Enigma codes lost all of its purposes. One by one, the codes were being exchanged with text that was indecipherable. Each of the intelligence services gave it a go. Hell, the moment this code was initialized in the Kreigsmarine, MI5 in a moment of fear handed the codes off to the Soviets for research. There was no word yet if it helped. Donovan figured that the Russians would never come back to them with an answer. By in large, the west left Russia's collective asses twisting in the wind to a German onslaught that tore through their nation and, as spring arrived, was looking like it would resume once again.
Regardless of the tough choice made by the English, The MI5 had good reason to fear the new enigma code reaching the German naval forces. French resistance groups reported an influx of U-Boats coming back to dry dock early. One by one, they would return, then a painting crew would come and coat the vessel in a material then 24 hours later, the U-boat was rearmed and launched back to the Atlantic.
Every day the shipping lanes grew more and more dangerous. Ultimately the lifeline of the English was being cut off as these improved U-boats that could slip past sonar systems undetected and reined a renewed terror on merchant ships and the combined navies of The English, Canadians and the United States of America.
In the long run, these... improvements made upon the U-Boats would be felt much more drastically in other ways. It made the concept of transporting troops, vehicles and supplies to England that much more daunting. It would have to be done quickly before the entire submarine fleet of the Germans could inflict a devastating blow to the US army before they could even put their first Wehrmacht grunt in their rifle scope.
Heh... Perhaps it was time to get serious with Project Habakkuk... that or speak to Mister Hughes about his flying transport ship idea he had kicking around in that nutcase head of his.
Ice Aircraft carriers and flying liberty boats aside, these little things the Germans were doing brought the war to an even bloodier state. Between the German standstill in Russia and the efforts in North Africa, Donovan wasn't sure where this war would take them, but there was one thing he could accurately guess. With these seemingly simple shifts in German policy, this war was bound to get even worse for the nations fighting the behemoth threat of fascism.
Panenské Břežany, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
It was just another typical day.
He got dressed, had a breakfast as he read over his daily briefings, couriered to him through his driver, kissed his wife, Lina goodbye, his hands touching against the bulge of her stomach which carried their unborn child, he took a minute or two to play with his children even, each of them loving the affection he held for them. He left his home smiling to himself and walked down the pathway leading to the driveway.
Standing there was his driver, Oberscharführer Hans Klein, a man built like barge standing at attention. He snapped out a salute which his superior officer returned.
"Would you like the top open today, Herr Obergruppenführer?"
Chief of Reich Main Security Office, Reinhard Heydrich glanced up to the sky shinning with sunlight, his face still formed into a smile.
"Yes, open top sounds pleasant." Heydrich returned as he set his briefcase inside the Mercedes. "Yes I think that would be quite nice today."
Taking off his cap, he turned and assisted Klein in unhitching the top of the car roof and securing it just above the trunk. He took a seat in the back, gathering up his briefcase and before he realized it, Klein had pulled out of the driveway. He glanced back and found Lina standing in the doorway, waving her hand shyly.
Lina did not ask specifics to his work, a good trait for a wife, especially good for today. When he got home he was looking forward to surprising his family. The Führer had requested him back to Berlin; they were to discuss the growing audacity of the French resistance, which was no longer being properly handled by the local police forces. In all likelihood he would be sent there, living in Paris, every woman's dream he imagined.
It would give him much work that would take his focus on his first serious failure to obtain his assistant, Adolf Eichmann as overseer. It was to start by kicking that child, Hoch out of his position, then in a month's time, worm Eichmann into superseding Gerald Langer as head of the project. Unfortunately, it appeared that the duo had earned much respect from this new race that they liaised for.
The potential rewards from this new friendship were enough to make him salivate. Faster than light travel, weapons technology, medicine, this cybernetic technology that gave Hoch a new arm. All of these things and so much more, the quarians were like an iceberg to Heydrich, what they showed to the SS was just the tip of the power they wielded. To say it nearly made Heydrich giddy was understating it.
Once this assignment in France was dealt with, he would make another attempt at becoming a voice for the aliens to listen to. It would not belong before he became the second most powerful man in the new Reich. Himmler did not possess one tenth the fortitude he had. Weakness would be his downfall.
His thoughts were interrupted. A man had run out in the middle of the road. Though dressed like a civilian, he was armed with a submachine gun, a British sten gun to be exact. His face was filled a hatred Heydrich rarely witnessed. He raised his weapon, took aim and fired at the head of the RSHA. Heydrich closed his eyes. There was nothing else he could do.
Well... He tried to fire at least. With a clang, the weapon jammed, inciting a panic in the bastard who had tried to kill him. The Partisan looked at his weapon and tried to cock it, again and again he tried to a fire. Heydrich opened his eyes… this bastard was going to pay for this.
"STOP THE CAR!" He screamed to his driver.
Klein stamped on his break, stopping the Mercedes meters away from the thwarted assassin, who stood there frozen. Drawing his Walther, Heydrich stood up in the back of his car, his pistol lined up to shoot the bastard Slovak down. Of all the days that an assassination attempt had to happen, it was today… Well, at least good fortune shone on him.
He did not see he the second man pushing his way out of the bushes, he did not hear the thud of an Anti-Tank grenade clanking against the side of the Mercedes and He did not notice Klein scream to Heydrich to take cover.
He did, however, feel the explosion.
He came too quickly, his eyes blurred as he took in Klein yelling in his face, his MP-40 in hand as he turned from Heydrich and ran off into the woods after the second attacker. Blood and spit drooling out of his mouth, Heydrich stood up, his ears ringing, still gripping his pistol tight in his hand he noticed the Slovak running away from the scene of crime. Heydrich stumbled and tried to run after him, his arm shaking as he blindly fired the pistol at the man.
As the pistol ran out of rounds top fire, Heydrich fumbled for another clip, but instead, dropped his pistol, coughing up blood. For the first time, Heydrich glanced down to his body. His uniform was in tatters, his chest bleeding heavily from a multitude of shrapnel wounds. His clouded mind was surprised at how he continued to live.
Forgetting the attack, Heydrich hit the pavement, but was not alone for long. Klein was running back like an unstoppable freight train, tears in his eyes and covered in blood as he scooped Heydrich into his arms and continued running down the road until he could find help.
With one last look up to Klein, Heydrich blacked out.
Hanala'Jarva took in the home in front of them and smiled. It seemed... different to the taste of the man gesturing to the home. Joachim Hoch. Here in a small community called Hackenfelde, in Spandu located on the edge of Berlin. She had expected something a bit more militaristic than the two story brick and wood home standing before them. Joachim never ceased to surprise her.
For the past three months they had spent it touring several nation states in the continent of Europe. It was primarily spent between the north of Italy and the small country known as Denmark. It was pretty, quiet considering the scope of this world wide war. It was lazy days of relaxing, taking in the culture of humanity and passing it along to her superiors as directed by the Admiral serving as liaison on Earth, Halid'Zorah.
Personally, she was quite glad to have this assignment. She wasn't cut out for command like she thought, nor should have been so good at fighting in wars and taking lives so easily. To do something bit more academic meant that the horrors of armed conflict were pushed to the back of her mind. It also served to keep Joachim busy teaching her whatever subject she would find for him. It was... difficult for him for the first month.
Kiel was a nightmare. It wasn't hit particularly hard by the bombs, but Hoch's mother... well… she took a near direct hit. There wasn't much left of her to bury when a five hundred pound bomb landed that close to her. Keelah, that was a horrible thing to say, even if it was the brutal truth of the matter, At least... at least she got to say good bye to her grandmother before her time came.
So focused on her the events of the past few months, she did not realize that she was alone in the car. She jumped when the door suddenly up and in stretched Joachim's hand.
"Welcome to my home, Hanala." He finally spoke, his hand leading her closer to the home, the two of them stepping off pavement and onto the walkway. Joachim paused, and with a much more carefully controlled tone, added, "It's your home should you be open to it."
Hanala quirked her lips, her eyes turning to stare at the home before her, still looking at the place curiously, she forced herself to look back at him.
"Is that your way of making things official?" She decided to tease, her eyes narrowed onto the human who stared at his house. "Three months is quite a long time to not make up your mind on where we stand."
Joachim rolled his eyes as his machine hand reached into his pocket, pulling out a set of keys.
"Perhaps once you figure out what's happening with your family." He started again, he voice low and neutral. "The last thing I would want to do is make you a pariah." He paused, adding, "Courting a human... doesn't seem like it's welcomed by your family."
He opened the door and ushered Hanala inside. He did not notice the frown on her face.
Joachim could not have been more right.
The doors to the waiting room flung open, startling the staff and the shaken and wounded Hans Klein as he sat there being double checked by several doctors and nurses.
It was Adolf Eichmann, his usual impassiveness gone; replacing it was a furious explosion of rage as he stormed towards the driver bodyguard that did not do his job. Heydrich, his friend, his teacher... wounded so terribly... how could anyone allow this to happen to him? How could the various intelligence services not have picked up on a plot against their leader's life? Stopping in front of the driver, Eichmann turned his anger to him instead.
He did not care how wounded the soldier was, or how he was responsible for Heydrich making it to the hospital before he bled out. To Eichmann, Klein failed to do his job.
"What in Christ's name happened, Klein?! Speak, Goddamn you!" He spat out violently, ignoring the protests of the medical staff of the explosion of angry words spoken in a place meant for rest and recovery.
"I- I Don't know, Herr Obersturmbannführer." The driver sputtered, showing just how distraught he was. "It was just drive to Prague; he was off to join the Führer in Berlin."
"I know, I suppose to meet him." Eichmann cut the Oberscharführer off. "Instead the Führer gets news that Heydrich is wounded. Himmler is on the next flight to Prague and I need an answer to give him and the Fuhrer. So it is in your best interest to provide what you know!"
Klein nodded stupidly.
"Th-They ambushed us on our way to the airfield." Klein got out, shaking his head as he set down his glass of water. "One jumped out on to the road, he had a gun but it jammed I think... Heydrich told me to stop. He was going to shoot the assassin when we got hit by the second bastard. Hit us with a grenade, I-I gave chase but... Heydrich, he was hurt bad... he needed..."
Listening to the man near sob as he tried to retell what had happened in all the details he could give gave Eichmann a moment or two to cool down, gather his thoughts and prepare for his next moves. Heydrich needed his help now and Adolf wasn't going to let him down, not now. What Heydrich needed now was help that could not be provided by local doctors, not anyone on this planet.
"You did the right thing, Oberscharführer." Eichmann spoke again, his hand patting the soldier on his shoulder. "The whole of the Gestapo is working in overtime to find these bastards. They will be in contact with you to get a description."
He turned away; he needed to find a telephone first. He needed to make contact with people he didn't want to make contact with. Before he could however he ran into a group of doctors were talking quietly to one another, all of them falling dead silent as they noticed his approach. The lead physician turned and offered him a half-hearted 'Heil Hitler'.
"Professor Hollbaum, I will be preforming his surgery." The doctor spoke, offering his hand to the Obersturmbannführer. Eichmann shook it briefly before pulling his hand back.
"Thank you for being here, I ask that you keep him stabilized until I say otherwise. I have to make several calls to make before I can give you an answer." Eichmann spoke, choosing not to pay any mind to the protesting look on the Professor's face. "If the Reichsführer is to make it here before I come back, tell him by no circumstances will you perform the surgery. Direct him to me should he get upset."
He did not wait to get an answer. Instead the officer continued down the hallway and to the front reception. Dismissing the administration, Eichmann took a seat behind the desk and grabbed the phone line, his hands dialling a number that he did not want to dial, but needed to for Heydrich.
The phone line rung four times before the answer came.
Eichmann took a deep breath and swallowed his pride.
"Langer, this is Eichmann." He spoke with a shaky voice. "Heydrich was nearly murdered by partisans... He's in bad shape... I... I need your help."
The home, despite its outward appearance, really did match Joachim's type of personality.
The thing that she expected, but as still surprised was the lack of... well anything in the home. Sure it had the vitals, furniture, a furbished kitchen, two bedrooms and it naturally lacked any technology more complicated than an inefficient light bulb. It was the fact that was little in the way of mementos the human had. No pictures of family, no trophies of achievement. In a way, this home felt as sterile as the Rayya, the ship she grew up on.
It was cold and unfeeling, and so... lonely, like Joachim had spent most of the last seven years mostly by himself. Surrounded by the men in the SS, yes, but distant from the sort of contact that organic life needed to stay mentally healthy. Yes, he had a father figure, but Langer had a family that came first. Hoch was a distant second.
Perhaps with her help things could be different for him. It would take a while to convince them, but perhaps one day in the near future, she would be able to convince Mother and Father, Rael and his wife, perhaps even little Saleb could come to accept him. Hanala wasn't blind to their disapproval. Father was officially on the fence with them, but it was clear he privately disapproved, Knowing Rael he had probably lined up a friend to marry her too. Mother... mother was the worse. She would be the most difficult to handle. Hoch's charm would not work on her.
The only one who approved was Grandmother... and she was, well she was gone now, she passed away in the arms of General Erwin Rommel of all people, witness by Admiral Utala'Falan. Apparently Grandmother requested not to be sent back to the fleet, but buried in the future home of the quarian race. Rommel saw to given her a military funeral, a respectable gesture.
Hanala let loose a low growling moan as she rolled her hips hard into Joachim's.
Okay, perhaps thinking about loss, family and hypothesizing about Hoch's life and home while riding Joachim so hard that her brain was barely producing sense.
As it turned out, by inspecting the house, what Joachim really meant was grabbing her by her waist, dragging her up to his room, undressing her furiously. As though he had own her, not that she minded it too much, it made her feel alive whenever Hoch handled her roughly, since the two of them evolved their strange relationship into a sexual one, she had come to the conclusion she did not like to be treated like delicate glass. She liked being controlled by him; she loved the feeling of him pounding inside her with a force she did not think was possible in her wildest imagination.
Yes it went against everything she stood for, being controlled by a man, but the way she figured, it was only for a few hours and despite the horrible allergenic reactions that she was steadily adapting to. Besides, it was totally worth betraying her own strength for a bit of fun like this.
She was, after all, only quarian.
"You're going to be fine, Reinhard, just hang in there my friend."
Parked in a darkened field on the outskirts of Prague, sat a lone ambulance, commandeered an hour ago by a mid-level officer and the third most powerful man in the Reich. The words spoken were by Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, soft and sympathetic; he sat by his student, his hand clutching Heydrich's arm. His eyes were filled with concern as he held vigil over him.
Heydrich's body twitched and rolled, he struggled under the bandage and plastic that was used to keep everything in place while Eichmann drove Heydrich and Himmler out to the middle of nowhere. Himmler glanced away from Reinhard as he moaned in his drug induced state. He looked conflicted with their plan... handing him off to the quarians that would be hear at any moment.
"This was a good call, Eichmann. You are to be commended." Himmler spoke, his words betraying his expression.
Eichmann could only nod at the encouragement. Receiving praise from powerful men usually meant a lot more to him. Not today, not when his boss, his friend, his comrade was torn to shreds by those Slovakian bastards, yet still he lingered on, fighting a momentous battle against death itself.
"He deserves the best." Was Eichmann's somber response as he held his eyes on his friend still struggling to breathe. "If they could give that pissant Hoch a new arm, then I imagine they could repair Heydrich quite quickly."
Eichmann paused and turned back to the Himmler.
"Once he's up and about, I am more than certain he'll utilize his time with the quarians quite effectively."
Through the darkness of the night, the Obersturmbannführer watched his leader's expression turn into a look of sudden understanding. Should Heydrich recover, he would be directly in contact with the quarians, a small compensation for the attempt on his life.
Before Himmler could formulate a response, a sudden bright light hit them from the sky, the sound of a like hiss and a black silhouette behind the shining light caught the two officer's attention. It was the quarians. The ship landed a two or so dozen meters from them, forcing the men to walk towards the vessel, which side doors opened up and out came a seem of white suited quarians, they seemed to briefly take the planet they stood on in briefly before they gathered their medical equipment and ran to meet the approaching SS leaders.
Wordlessly, Himmler gestured to the ambulance. The team nodded and moved past them, leaving the humans by themselves. Not for long however, another quarian jumped out of the still humming ship, wearing a familiar black and green environment suit.
It was Admiral Alaan'Jarva vas Rayya, through the grass and mud he stepped until he reached the two men, his hand offered to Himmler in a strange display of human greeting made by the quarian. Himmler took and moved the two hands in a shake.
"Reichsführer Himmler, I am sorry that we could not have come sooner." Admiral Jarva spoke, his voice low with sympathy for the two men. "Secrecy must be kept for the time being."
The Reichsführer nodded, understanding the desire to keep their presence a secret. The quarian people had done quite a lot in recent weeks to aid the war effort. A new enigma machine based on their native Khelish, their ships monitored enemy flights towards the Reich, anti-sonar paint that had made the U-boat quite possibly the most dangerous weapon the Third Reich had, even an oilfield courtesy of Alaan'Jarva's daughter.
"Admiral Jarva, thank you for coming on such short notice." Himmler greeted the alien, his voice with a strange foreign sounding submissive tone. "We are in your debt for allowing your physicians to try to save him, no matter the outcome; you have made a friend in me."
The quarian stared briefly before nodding his head, stepping out of the way for the quarian medical team that carried the unconscious Heydrich back into their ship, his face wrapped in a strange breathing apparatus attached to a small electronic device. It was a miniature iron lung.
"I can appreciate your concern for the General, Herr Reichsführer." Alaan praised as he turned back to the very silent Himmler He will be in safe hands, I promise you."
Eichmann, in a moment of desperation, stepped forward, catching the attention of the Admiral and the third highest ranking man in the Reich.
"With your permission, I would like to join you."
Admiral Jarva absorbed the request in a matter of seconds and swiftly shook his head.
"With all due respect to you, our command was weary about inviting Joachim'Hoch to be treated there. Heydrich will be cared for as though he was one of our own, but it shall be the only human up there." Was the Admirals measured response. "You will be needed with Herr Gerald'Langer. The two of you can coordinate supplies for him; He'll be up there for a few weeks."
Looking to Himmler, who agreed with Jarva's sentiment, Eichmann nodded, defeated.
Offering a final respectful bow to both men, Alaan'Jarva turned and joined the medical team back on the transport ship. He stood in the doorway as the sides closed. With surprisingly little noise, the machine ascended in the sky and roared off faster than anything Himmler and Eichmann had ever seen before.
The two men turned from the landing sight and stepped at a marching pace back to the ambulance they had commandeered from the hospital. Both men were silent as they both worried for Heydrich. The silence was only broken once the two of them climbed into the truck, Eichmann roared the truck to life and headed back to the hospital. He had a family he had to comfort. three children and a pregnant mother who would be devastated by this news.
"What should we do, Herr Reichsführer? We need a plan." Eichmann managed to find his voice, earning a nod from Himmler as he removed his spectacles and wiped them clean with a piece of cloth.
"First we go to the Führer, tell him the situation. I'll tell him that Heydrich was moved to a facility in Norway, somewhere out of the way." Himmler replied as he put his spectacles again. "We'll listen to his judgement on the Slovakian people before we act."
"Regardless of his decision, we do what Heydrich would have done if it was either of us targeted." He added, a slowly forming smile itching into his face. "We burn the Czechs and the Slovakians to a cinder until they hand their assassins to us. The Fuhrer will not disapprove."
Eichmann nodded grimly at Himmler's words. It would have to do for now.