So sorry for the extended delay, I was worn out completely by nonstop writing since early June. I was just in need of a weekend that didn't feature me slaving away. Hopefully the following makes it up.
Chapter Nine: January 9th, 1943
A hand on his shoulder woke Otto Skorzeny from his slumber.
Rolling his head over and realizing that Waltraut was still curled up on him, like an overgrown feline, he turned his head over and found his wife, Emmi hovering over him, her expression one of great concern. Otto rubbed his eyes and sat up only slightly, shuffling over to allow Emmi to sit, which she did.
"Frau Kaltenbrunner is in the kitchen." Emmi murmured, her hand grazing through Waltraut's hair. "She's in such a state; all she wants is to speak to you..."
Skorzeny arched his brow at the unexpected guest. What could Ernst wife being doing here at this time in the morning? Rubbing the sleep from out of his eyes, he carefully extricated himself from out of his daughter's grip and pulled himself off the couch, all the while making sure the girl did not wake from her slumber.
Successful in leaving his child unperturbed, he stood up, pulling his suspender straps back over his shoulders and pulling on his boots. He headed to the atrium of the house where the woman was left by Emmi. Emmi herself was only a few feet behind him.
Otto frowned slightly as he found Elisabeth standing there, turned away. Clearing his throat, she shifted back to face him, her dark eyes focused on to his. They were red and stained with tears. From what he could see in her movement towards him, there were no signs of abuse, Ernst was a heavy drinker but he had never heard of him taking it out on her physically. No, he did it by fucking his mistress.
Elisabeth's hands clutched his forearms. He could feel her shaking. Not sure if he wanted to physically comfort her, he simply held her at bay, his head tilting slightly as he worked up the best look of sympathy he could possibly offer her.
"Frau Elisabeth, are you okay?"
Still shaking nervously, Elisabeth shook her head and before Skorzeny could react, the wife of the acting head of the RSHA had wrapped her arms around him and pulled the Reich's greatest commando into a bone crunching hug. Otto glanced behind him and found Emmi standing there, confused at what she was seeing and the sobs that had suddenly escaped the woman.
"Otto... Ernst didn't come home last night. He said that he would be home by midnight or later, but he just simply did not." The woman spoke in between her tears. "I-I... I didn't know who to go to about this. He's got this new job and I didn't want to get him in trouble."
Otto remained silent. That was it? He didn't show up when he said he would? Sure, Kaltenbrunner was a very punctual man, but Ernst also enjoyed the drink and loved to fuck his Countess Mistress. He was probably staying with the Countess while he slept off the hangover.
Of course, being friends with Ernst meant that he wasn't going to say that to his wife. He would play along with her fears, if only to keep up Kaltenbrunner's image of loyalty to this rather unattractive woman now hanging off him.
Carefully, Skorzeny pulled out of her grasp, his hands clutching her thin biceps as he offered her the best smile he could produce for her without it contorting his mensur scar and making his expression come off as a sneer.
"You came to the right place..." Skorzeny reassured the quivering woman, who stared up at him with wide, searching eyes. "Listen, I'm going to get dressed and have a look around. Do not worry about Ernst, I'm going to go find him, I promise I'll find him."
Watching Elisabeth nod her head, Skorzeny turned his eyes back and nodded to Emmi, who stepped forward to join her husband's side. She wasn't particularly friendly to Kaltenbrunner's wife, but, like a good Austrian wife, she took an interest in her husband's responsibilities; If Otto's responsibility was to Ernst and his family, whether through work or personal friendship, then she would do the same.
"Why don't you go home, gather the children and spend the day with Emmi." Otto tacked on as he let go of her, still smiling faintly for her. With that said, Emmi stepped forward, replacing him as she escorted the fellow mother back towards the door.
"I'll make us breakfast." He heard Emmi whisper to Elisabeth as he took a seat, reaching for his cigarettes. "When you return it will be ready, we'll take our minds off this matter."
"Bless you, Otto." He heard Elisabeth say from the door. Otto glanced up from his lighter and noticed Ernst's wife smiling for the first time as she added. "You're the only man in the Reich who can make me feel at ease about this. I know you'll find him."
Exhaling, he nodded and watched as the woman stepped outside, closing the door behind her, leaving Emmi to turn around to join Ernst. She sat down, taking a cigarette from his pack.
"What do you think that was about?"
Lighting his wife's cigarette as he inhaled his own, Otto could only shrug at his wife's question; she was clearly displeased with being volunteered to spending time with the shrew of a woman.
"Ernst has only two vices, his drinking and his mistress." He informed his inquisitive wife. "I can imagine this mystery involves one or the other."
Smirking at how unfazed Emmi was to hear of Ernst's infidelity, he leaned in, kissing his wife's forehead, Otto stood up and headed to find his uniform and have a shower. He was to meet the Aristocrat Ernst was sleeping with, Gisela von Westarp.
Three hundred thousand kilometres far above the Skorzeny, the blow of a fist connecting against his cheek woke Ernst Kaltenbrunner from his drug induced slumber.
His eyes wretched open and caught a second blow, dizzying his vision as the chair he was sat in fell back, tumbling the giant to the ground. Groaning, he rolled on top his back, his hands restrained yet there was no chains wrapped around his wrists. Looking up, he found his attacker standing over him. He stood there, bright eyes half closed, his skin grey, almost lifeless. He was twitching as though he was both in a state of furious rage and anguish.
Kaltenbrunner sneered upwards at the alien, spitting and drooling blood out of his mouth that splattered onto the white floor. He groaned and took a kick in his ribs.
That has to be some hangover.
Rolling onto his back, he again groaned as he pushed himself across the floor until his back hit the wall. Carefully he propped himself up. Again the alien kicked him, the heel of its chicken like foot kicking in his cheek. The alien leaned down, grabbing Kaltenbrunner up by his collar; keep the man just lower than he. Huffing and rasping, the human still bared his teeth defiantly at the quarian. He could feel the hands shaking against him.
"I'll live." Ernst murmured, spitting up more blood. "I can't say the same for one you were with, however."
The words were like a hot iron that cut through the quarian's arrogance. Before Ernst knew it, the quarian slammed his knee into Kaltenbrunner's gut and slammed his forehead into his, a sickening crunch as his nose broke. The alien let go and delivered another blow to his chest before stepping back, pacing back and forth in a state of uncontrollable rage.
"You bastard… you disgusting overgrown vorcha." The alien screamed down at him. "She had a child, a son... You killed her for WHAT?!"
Not giving a shit what vorcha was, Ernst instead grinned weakly as he struggled back up to his feet, towering over the enraged alien. He raised his hands and slicked his parted hair back into place, his hand falling to his nose as he gingerly wiped the blood away. The alien thought he could elicit an emotional response. What the hell right did he have to guilt him? They attacked him, not the other way around. The bitch got exactly what she deserved. Besides, how in their right mind sent goddamn women into military operations?
"Then she should have stayed at home tending to a child like a woman ought to be." He taunted as he looked down on the quarian, his hand digging into his jacket pocket and surprisingly finding a cigarette. Slipping it into his lip, he added derisively. "To think I doubted my friend's assessment of your species. Behind her technology, she still screamed when I shoved a chunk of sharp steel through her head..."
The alien roared, his hand backhanding the cigarette out of his lip, his other forming a fist that uppercut the giant. Ernst, winded and dazed, fell back hard on the floor, groaning as he lulled his head to one side, breathing erratic as he tried to control himself.
Ernst turned back, his blood stained teeth bared.
"I wonder what she must have felt in that last moment..." He egged the alien on, his voice growing more and more bold. "Standing over me so smugly, thinking that capturing me would be so easy. I wonder how it felt in the brief moment when she felt blade slowly cut through material… then... that last plunge... You should have protected her better..."
Again the physical abuse started again. This time however, it was weaker than before. The quarian was too blind and already hurting from the amount of abuse he had already used on Ernst. His knuckles were swollen and bleeding. He could not keep this up any longer. Throwing Kaltenbrunner back against the wall, the alien fell down next to him, drawing what appeared to be a pistol at him.
Kaltenbrunner spat a mouthful of blood and rumbled a taunting chuckle as the barrel of the pistol was pressed into his scar.
"Go ahead, finish the job." He slurred as he swallowed another mouthful of pooling blood. "I don't think your boss will be impressed. Their plans ruined by a pion like you… a disposable resource..."
He trailed off, his grin growing even wider.
"Just like her… like your wife… whatever you things call your dependents…"
He did not make a noise, nor show his delight at the devastated reaction brought upon by Kaltenbrunner's deduction. His bright eyes widened, his mouth dropped open, his pistol wavered and pulled back a few inches. Kaltenbrunner listened to the breathing as it tightened to a shallow rasp. Ernst, still expressionless, leaned inwards.
"You didn't think I wouldn't catch onto that, did you?" He posed his question, sickeningly sympathetic. "Well, I read a person, that's my greatest talent... with that, I break people. You… you're just another man I broke without even you realizing you're broke. No professional soldier would do this to their target, even if I killed one of you... So this display was clearly something else. What kind of military would send married couples into service together… Pathetic…"
Pausing briefly, Ernst added. "To think forgetting your manners has left your child to be an orphan..."
The alien, still stunned, blinked. But it was too late, much too late now.
Kaltenbrunner's restrained hands flew up, bashing the pistol in the alien's hands out of his direction and lashed out. He lunged at him, his teeth latching around where Kaltenbrunner assumed his jugular was. With all his might, he bit as hard as he could, ignoring the screaming of the alien as his teeth slowly grind back and forth as he shredded and tore through flesh, the sound of the pistol firing shots through the cell, eventually hitting the light source, closing the room in darkness.
The alarms sounded over them as the alien continued to scream and gargle, dying as Ernst continued to bite through quarian flesh.
Breaking in her new desert uniform, Hanala'Jarva sat down and, as Joachim taught her, loaded her magazines for her newly issued STG-43. The handling of the rifle was significantly smoother then the MKb-42 they had the last time they were in the desert. It was much more bulky however. Not that Hanala exactly minded it. It felt far less fragile in her mind, like she could use it as a club if the situation arose that she needed to bash in American skulls.
Americans. She been planning on fighting the British, but she had received her marching orders from Admiral Falan. Joachim and her would be working for a general named Heinz Guderian who would be in control of the lead elements defending against the American led mission. She had done some background digging and had found that this man was considered in many circles to be a greater commander then Rommel. He was like Rommel. He led from the front, but at the same time, he had apparently a much more cankerous attitude then the pragmatic younger Generalfeldmarschall.
At every mention of Americans, Joachim scoffed them; they had no experience in fighting. That they would be an easy beat. Joachim apparently overestimated the experience of an Army versus the sheer amount of equipment they could throw at the North African Campaign. She was not blind to the truth. Having been granted unofficial admiralty privileges, she had seen for herself the industrial capabilities of the United States. If the war between the loyalists to Hitler and the Wehrmacht did not end quickly, there would be a very great chance that the west would take advantage of it, launch an invasion through the channel with the near unlimited strength the American states possessed at the moment.
Well, there were contingency plans being organized as she thought of this. Apparently Admiral Zorah had been contemplating attacks on the industrial base of America if something like that happened. Cripple America and watch as their campaign in the Pacific become a disaster.
"Um... Hello... Hanala."
Setting down her loaded magazine, Hanala did not look up to greet the source of the voice. She instead grabbed another magazine and continued her work. She did not need this conversation. Not with the Langer's daughter, Helena. She stood there, her hands laced together, as though she was a girl use to being centre of attention. This was not her first attempt to approach her, either; however, this was the first time she made it known that she wanted to talk.
Hanala knew exactly what it was about. She had a real keen interest in Joachim, so much so that Joachim had been basically groomed into marrying her for the sake of solidifying the relationship between him and the Langer's. It appeared to the quarian that, while the girl might have married Fuhrmann, it seemed as though there was still that spark between the two of them. Maybe not so much Joachim anymore, but it was clear she wasn't over it; the evidence being this girl standing in front of her, as though they had any other topic of discussion between them beyond just Joachim.
Pulling off her brimmed forage cap, allowing her dark hair to fall freely to her shoulders, Hanala exhaled slowly and turned her eyes up to look at the girl. She stood there, her eyes judging the quarians battledress as though it was unbecoming of a woman to wear. Helena stepped forward, her hands touching against the table.
"I believe we haven't been acquainted just yet."
Hanala held up her hand.
"I am fully aware who you are, Frau Fuhrmann." She returned, making a point to remind Helena of her new surname. "Why exactly are you here? I'm certain your Father would not want his child wandering around his work."
Helena ignored the comment much to Hanala's annoyance. She had no time to make nice with the human. Especially not with a girl who Joachim had said that he was to be with had it not been for her sudden interest in Fuhrmann. She wanted nothing to do with her.
"I was hoping that we could be could be friend." Helena pressed as though she was not paying attention to the lack of interest in her. "Mother says that you are absolute joy."
Hanala rolled her eyes.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline." Hanala spoke as she continued to load her magazines. "Your mother made an impression upon me within ten seconds of meeting her. Unfortunately for you, you lack even half the same charm she has."
Hanala paused and looked up to Helena, unimpressed.
"Besides," She added her voice distasteful. "I would rather not make nice with you, considering our mutual connection being a man you could not control..."
"Joachim and I had nothing, so you have nothing to be defensive about, alien." Helena shot back, a faint flare up that Hanala could say belonged to Lene appeared. "He's yours if you want him that badly. It was my Father's mechanisms to have us together. Don't get me wrong, he's handsome, he... well... he's just too much like my Father. Heinrich is much nicer...
"Besides," Helena mocked Hanala's words. "If I knew he would have a thing for women with three fingers and a butch attitude..."
She trailed off as Hanala stood up, her Sturmgewehr in her hand with a magazine in the rifle. Helena blinked and realized that she had just insulted an armed woman who, in all likelihood would not hesitate to kill her had it not been for Joachim Hoch's friendship with her Father.
"Your Father certainly likes to use Joachim, doesn't he?" The quarian spoke softly, ignoring how hypocritical the words felt to her. "The very first sign of personal trouble and Gerald hands Joachim off to the Gestapo because he withheld information..."
Helena blinked and recoiled as though Hanala had slapped her face. There was a cardinal rule that Hanala had not yet learned. It was never wise to insult a German's parents, no matter if they deserved the ridicule or not. To Helena, it had been a personal attack.
"It was not like that in the slightest." She hissed at the quarian. "My Father loves Joachim. We all love him. You act as though he was someone we used. Well we love him, more then you ever possibly can. Besides, you are one to talk. You stand there acting as though everything is fine, even when you abandoned him when he needed you the most."
Helena laughed incredulously.
"You think he was in bad shape when you reunited with him?" Helena pressed on, her voice growing higher and higher. "He was jumping at his own shadow. Jesus Christ, we've only just got him back to a respectable weight. He spent every day since he got home in a state of alcoholic stupor, and at least we didn't make him lose an arm!"
Nostrils flaring, Helena shoved Hanala out of the way as she decided to make her leave. She was about to exit when she paused and turned back. Her anger only growing rather than shrinking away; She stormed back to Hanala and backhanded the older quarian.
"We did nothing for him..." Helena repeated her voice a growl. "You know what? Fuck you, Hanala Jarva. Heinrich is right about you; You're nothing but a stuck up, arrogant bitch. Joachim is slumming with the likes of you..."
Satisfied as she watched Hanala silently rubbed her jaw. Helena turned and left, slamming the door behind her, leaving Hanala wanting nothing better than to break the retreating woman's windpipe.
Even if Hanala knew that Helena had been right about her.
Stepping out of the hospital to leave Mann chatting excitedly to his squad, Joachim Hoch closed the door behind him and took a seat on the chair opposite to the room.
He might have been friends with Mann, he might have earned his praises for this, he even received a laugh as Hammer told Mann why his face looked like he was hit by a Panzer, but still the SS man found himself feeling out of place. This was a reunion for a squad that fought and bled together. He had no right to be here.
Grabbing an old newspaper, he opened it up and read the latest news out of Africa: The British were done in the continent; the Americans did not have the balls to find any place to attack the Reich so they simply relied on cowardly air raids ordered by their Jew masters. It was the typical dribble spewed by that son of a bitch Streicher. Joachim might have disliked the Tribe, but Streicher took it to a whole different playing field.
Perhaps it was best if he took off. Head back to Vienna and spend his last few days in Austria screwing Hanala's brains out until the two of them were called down to Libya like it was planned. It was hard to believe this would be the first time he saw actual combat since he lost his arm. He hoped he would not be rusty at it. Then again, the Americans they would be facing were fresh faced; they did not understand what it was like to fight to the death. It was like what Rundstedt had said. All the Wehrmacht had to do was inflict enough hell on them and they would turn tail and head back home.
The door opened yet again, out stepped the woman that he had picked up with the squad. It had been the Hiwi collaborator, the one that hung off Feldwebel. She stared into the room briefly before she finally closed the door as the hospital room erupted into laughter. From here Joachim could hear the Russian breath, rolling his eyes he went back to reading the newspaper in his hand.
He paid no attention as the woman turned around and stared at him. He did not notice the strange gratitude on her face.
"Thank you." He heard her thick accented voice call; out to him.
Joachim did not reply. He simply turned the page and read the Allied casualty stats of the week. He could hear her inch towards him, her hands fumbling together as she seemed extremely nervous at the thought of forcing a conversation with a man like him.
"Thank you for getting us out of Rostov... "She spoke again, her voice a little more clear, but her words still drowning in her accent and her uncertainty. "City was like hell... how you say... Purgatory. Eating away at me... us. How we are expected to live there is... difficult to understand. Thank you for saving us."
Joachim did not reply, yet again he turned the page of his newspaper. Why couldn't this woman (and he used woman in the most liberal possible way) simply leave him alone? He didn't aim to save their lives. He had a vested interest in a kid who shot his brains out. they simply got out of there by the grace of a favour for a friend he hadn't seen in years.
Leaning into his seat, he pulled out his cigarette case.
"You don't like me, yes?"
His eye twitching, Joachim closed his newspaper and finally looked to meet the woman named Tatiyana in the eye, his eyes were narrowed as he slipped a cigarette into his lip. Lesser men and women had often been startled by his glare. She did not move, she simply stood there. Joachim had to hand it to her; it must have been nothing compared to living with a nation of alcoholic wife beaters.
"You'll forgive me if I don't find myself accustomed to someone who looks and smells like abused livestock." Joachim sneered as he lit his cigarette. "Truth of the matter, I'm surprised you even know how to talk."
The woman stood there like a rock, she did not blink, she did not recoil. Exhaling violently, Joachim dug into his pocket and grabbed his wallet. Prying it open, he threw a hundred Reichsmark bill at her feet.
"If you want to thank me, find the closest bathing receptacle, and buy something that makes you look halfway human." He growled at her as he swung one leg over the other. Raising his eyebrow as he noticed her hesitation, he added. "You do understand the concept of currency, you flea bitten, backwards Communist? Currency can be exchanged for goods and services. It's a means to keep you from selling your body for said goods and services, like I imagine you already are accustomed to..."
The mocking, sarcastic implication he made was right on the mark. Her eyes narrowed, she looked close to hitting him, but she restrained herself from doing anything at all. She must have known that hitting a German like him in Germany was probably grounds for a firing squad. Instead she clenched her hands together into fists.
"I'm not a whore." She protested without so much as raising her voice. "I'm not a communist."
Joachim snorted derisibly as he inhaled another drag.
"I can smell that Jew, Marx rolling out of your pores."
Joachim didn't even know why he was mad at this woman. She presented no threat to him in the slightest. It must have been reactionary. His time in Russia had made him come to hate the citizens of the Soviet Union as much as the Army. They were a backwards people who le6t Jewish Bolshevism take hold of everything they held dear. They were a pathetic race.
Still the woman did not react.
"Please do not pretend to know me." She whispered softly. "My parents were murdered by the communists during the famine. I helped your side out since you arrived in Kiev. I kept your friend's soldiers fed and watered. Why would I do that if I was communist?"
Pursing his lips, Joachim finally exhaled, dropping his cigarette to the ground and stamping it. Slowly, he chuckled lowly; perhaps there were some redeemable qualities in the stray.
"I'll give you this, most women I know would start to cry and run away the moment I called you a pig." He muttered as he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.
The woman named Tatiyana shrugged.
"When you're beaten and nearly raped, words don't hurt as much."
Joachim blinked at her candid remark. Reluctantly, he allowed his guard to drop. He would drop the attitude for now, being here. It must have been a God send. Silently he watched as the woman eyed the currency on the ground. It wasn't so much out of greed but of longing. It was probably more money than she had seen in some time. What she could do with it was unlimited.
"Take it; God knows you need it more then I." He spoke softly for the first time, his tone snapping her attention back to him. "Find something to eat or wear, it's yours." Pausing, he stood up and looked over her shoulder to the hospital room, adding. "Just... tell Mann that I'm being deployed to North Africa... I will speak to him if I get back."
Nodding his head he grabbed his coat and wandered down the hallway to the nearest exit, not paying mind to the woman she leant down and gingerly grabbed the bill. She stood back up and pocketed the money.
"Thank you..." She called after him.
"I don't know, Admiral! Specialist Vael discharged himself from the medical bay. He went to interrogation! He hit me when I tried to intervene!"
Storming down the corridors of the Kareon, Halid'Zorah and Alaan'Jarva were followed by guards as overhead the alarm system blared. He could not believe this had happened, he understood why Vael would do it, but surely he knew better than to attack a prisoner that they needed to keep in one piece. Sure enough, the attendant on call was sporting a bruise that wrapped around his eye.
"Get your assistants and head to the holding cells." Jarva ordered the doctor on Halid's behalf. "Prepare for Xeno medical treatment."
As the doctor nodded and left, Halid ducked his head and kept his expression neutral as Alaan glared over in his direction. He had deserved the scorn; he should have kept a closer eye on the situation. It was bad enough Kaltenbrunner killed one operator, to have him die now would ruin a perfectly good plan he had devised.
Turning the corner they found half a dozen security personal gathered around the entrance to the interrogation centre. Two were working their omni-tool, trying to bypass the security. The others had gone the manual approach; they had raided the mechanic shop and were trying to jam crowbars into the sealed door, behind them stood a pacing older man, his hand burying his face. He was the warden and he had screwed up big time. Turning to see the two Admirals marching towards him only made everything worse.
"What in the Ancestor's name is happening here, Warden Mayva?" Alaan shouted at the warden as he stopped paced back and forth while his tech team tried to unseal the doors locked by the grieving Special Forces operator. "I thought I told you no one is to enter the cell with Kaltenbrunner. Can you confirm that Vael in there?"
"Yes, Admiral, I did." The warden admitted his voice growing high as he tried to defend his action. "He lost his partner grabbing that alien bastard. I thought he was right to get a little pay back. I didn't know he was going to lock the place down and kill him!"
Rubbing his forehead, now throbbing from the stress of what this mess was causing, Halid pushed the Warden out of his way.
"I will deal with you later." Zorah growled at the Warden whom had failed him. "Fry the locking mechanism with an EMP chip. We'll fix it later."
The tech team glanced at each other, but listened, placing the small charge into the opened circuit panel. Closing the panel, one of them activated their omni-tool and remote activated the charge. The panel hissed and the light s over the doorway flickered. The door groaned and unhinged, giving the crowbar welding security team just enough room to pry the doorway open.
The doors to the observation room opened, the room was minimally lit by ambient light from the terminals. The interrogation room behind the glass was pitch black; there was no sign of anyone alive in there. The security detail, weapons raised, rushed to try to power the room. The two Admirals moved out of the way as the Physician and his assistants stepped into the room, prepared to enter and treat if necessary. Zorah could only hope that the human had not been killed by the widower.
He was going to have to change the policy on service. A married couple allowed working in special operations two man teams. What kind of bosh'tet would sign off on that garbage? Now Specialist Vael's son was motherless. This was a complete disaster.
"Emergency lights activated, Medical team prepare to enter."
The emergency lights flashed on, with that the security team stood up, gripping their submachine guns tightly as looked to assess the situation. They should have been in the room by now, yet they weren't. They did not move, they simply stood there, frozen as they stared through the observation window stepping forward and pushing through the security; Zorah blinked and bit back the gasp building in his throat.
Standing there in the newly lit room was Ernst Kaltenbrunner, staring back at them, hands trying to flatten out and button up his uniform. His face was smashed up and covered in dark blood belonging clearly to a quarian; his cheeks were puffed out as he glared through the mixture of his own blood and quarian. It was obvious he was having a reaction to the dextro bodily fluids.
There at his feet, laid Vael, lying on his chest, his head pulled back at an unnatural angle, revealing his throat shredded open. It took all the efforts of Zorah not to throw up in disbelief.
Smirking as he realized he was being looked at with such a fear that it spread through the entire observation room, Kaltenbrunner opened his bloodied lips and allowed a mouthful of Vael's flesh and blood to slowly drip out of his mouth, pooling a puddle in front of the dead commando.
Behind a numb Jarva and a nauseated Zorah, the room burst into a collective scream at the sight.
Tightening his great coat, Otto Skorzeny shuffled in place as he knocked on the manor doors once again.
Expecting her servants to open the door, Skorzeny froze at the sight of the Countess standing before him; a faint look of curiosity was there. She was certainly a step up from Elisabeth Edler, a light haired beauty with every classic aristocratic feature that he thought she would have. Otto pulled off his cap and pressed it against his heart respectfully. He might have been a soldier, but beauty didn't escape his eye.
"You must be Herr Skorzeny, please come inside." Countess Gisela von Westarp ushered him in, her voice light and almost a song, "What brings you here? I trust it not be of great national security concerns."
Ignoring the hand touching his shoulder and the slight befuddlement he felt, if only for a brief moment, Skorzeny shook his head.
"My apologies for appearing on your front steps uninvited, I'm looking for Herr Kaltenbrunner, Countess. Is he here?" Otto inquired as Gisela allowed her hand to slip off him. "I'm afraid his wife feels it necessary to look into it."
The Countess frowned at the mention of Elisabeth. To think this woman was playing second fiddle to the likes of that Edler dog must have rubbed her the wrong way. Even Otto had to question his decision. Regardless, Gisela erased the distasteful expression off her face and instead simply smiled a clearly false smile.
"No, he left last night just before midnight." She sighed, crossing her arms. "He wanted to see the children before we headed back to Berlin... Would you like to stay for a drink? I should think you have earned one having had the good nature to indulge that snaggletooth bitch's request to find a man well out of her social standing."
It took all of Otto's efforts not to burst out into laughter.
"I'm afraid not, thank you for the offer however." Skorzeny declined as gracefully as he could. "May I check around your grounds for clues?"
The Countess inclined her head.
Accepting the response, Skorzeny nodded respectfully and turned away. Paying no mind to the door closing behind him, Skorzeny's eyes searched the snow. Sur enough he found the imprints of what appeared to be boots that Kaltenbrunner wore, his imprints long, his strides even longer, no real disciplined movement to his movement caused by indulging in alcohol.
Skorzeny smirked at the trail, Yes, it was Kaltenbrunner alright.
Perhaps it was high time he intervene. Ernst could not possibly keep doing this, drinking this heavily. Normally he would not concern himself with such matters, but with Heydrich down for the time being and Ernst now the acting head of the RSHA, the last thing he needed was having this addiction dictating his command decisions. Heydrich might have been a son of a bitch, but he was a sober one.
His smirk vanished as he reached the end of the trail. near the wheel imprints left by the car, the entire bank of snow had been flattened out, as though Kaltenbrunner fell and had a seizure. As far as he knew, that was not the case. Narrowing his eyes, his eyes scanned around the surrounding area. That was when he noticed it. Frozen in the cold was blood. Not a lot of it, but enough to tell something happened.
Squatting, he touched his finger against the stain, his eyes noticing that buried around the bloodstain were shards of what appeared to be glass. It was peculiar, to say the least. Perhaps he had tripped, hit his head against the side window, or he punched it out after locking the keys inside. Both Hypotheses made sense once he factored in Kaltenbrunner's drinking.
Of course that was before his eyes widened as he caught sight of another peculiar sight. It was a new set of tracks... then a second pair. As surprised as he might have been, it paled when he realized that the tracks were not human.
Humans did not have two large toes.
Skorzeny unclasped his pistol as he kicked the tracks as he headed up to their source. He had come to one conclusion that made his blood run cold.
Quarians. Those Quarians grabbed Ernst.
Son of a Bitch…
Groaning slightly as he touched his nose. Doctor Ernst Kaltenbrunner's eyes watched as Vael's body was wrapped up in a body bag and carried out. There was not a moment of remorse in his posture. Halid did his best not to show how angry and apprehensive he might have been.
"Shame, he and his partner seemed so talented."
Pushing his false praise aside, Kaltenbrunner turned back to Zorah, ignoring the dozen rifles pointing at him from behind Admiral Zorah. He paid no mind to the trembling nurse injecting him with an antiallergenic. His face now cleaned, but the wounds left unattended. If they were going to release him, it had to look like a car accident now. He had been seriously intoxicated so it made sense that a crash was bound to happen.
Let him go. It was the last thing that Halid had ever wanted to do now. Joachim was right about him. Sitting before him was the worst that humanity could ever possibly offer, and here he was, about to make a deal with him. Had this been under any other circumstances, he would have ordered his sniper team to kill this bastard last night.
"You know, the blood of those two assassins you sent for me is on your hands." Ernst spoke lazily as he grabbed a cigarette from off the table in front of them. "If you wanted to have a conversation, you simply had to ask me. I'm not normally like this… But when you push a man like me to an edge, what the hell did you expect would happen?"
Waiting for Zorah to reluctantly lean over the table to light his cigarette, Kaltenbrunner exhaled and sat back into his seat.
"I'm going to lay this out as simply as I can." Things in Germany are soon going to be shaken up, whether you want to come out of it alive is up to you in the next few minutes. So let's cut all the loyalty to the Fuhrer garbage and get right to the matter at hand."
Kaltenbrunner tilted his head slightly, his smug expression was amused at the Admiral had said, but he appeared to be interested.
"If that is what you wish, I'm listening."
Halid remained silent. His hand reached over the table to grab a cigarette for himself. Lighting it like he had gone a hundred times before the various German officers he had dealt with, he took a deep inhale, trying his best not to cough, which would probably lead to insults from the acting head of the RSHA. He could not be viewed as not in charge of this, He had already damaged his position and respect amongst his contemporaries. The brute had already killed two highly trains specialists and had frightened every other quarian on the ship...
"If you want your survival you will first cease all investigation into Joachim Hoch." He spoke, blowing spoke in Kaltenbrunner's direction. "When I call on you next, you will promote Joachim to Standartenführer. With his new promotion comes a new assignment. You will make him head of Herr Hitler's personal guard for his retreat at the Eagle's Nest."
Kaltenbrunner flicked his cigarette at one of the marine guards, bouncing of his rifle. slowly he chuckled, unable to believe what he was hearing.
Zorah did not blink. Both he and Rundstedt had come up with the plan. Joachim, along with a small team hidden away in Bertesgarten would capture the Fuhrer as Guderian marched a couple divisions into the mountain town that was essentially one of the SS hotbeds. With any luck, capturing Hitler would bring about a peaceful, if somewhat bloody transition to Wehrmacht control. IT would also win points with the west. That the war Criminal Hitler was alive and could be placed on trial for his crimes, including the genocide that was ultimately his responsibly.
"You want me to aid that Jew loving traitor slit the nation's fucking throat?" Kaltenbrunner growled at the Admiral, leaning forward into his seat. "And what if I refuse? What if what I was to Himmler and the rest of the SS leadership and I capture your advisors, and string them up along with whoever you are working with."
Ignoring the worry built up in the pit of his gut, Halid opened up his briefcase and slid a file folder over to Kaltenbrunner. Glaring at the quarian, Ernst turned his eyes down and opened it.
"I take these files, doctored to look as though you are looking to speed up Heydrich's succession to Fuhrer, I hand them to Hoch, who in turn, takes them to the Fuhrer himself." Zorah explained as he enjoyed the sight of Kaltenbrunner growing pale as he read what was essentially the coup's plans, only altered to fit the SS's ascending to power. Trying not to grin, he added. "The power you think you hold will then evaporate faster then you'll have the chance to use it."
Halid trailed off as he watched the human now shaking with rage, he clench his hands into fists. Before Kaltenbrunner knew, Halid leaned over the table and punched him in the cheek, knocking the giant to the ground. The human groaned, not realizing that Zorah was standing up, His hands wrapped around Kaltenbrunner's collar. Halid drug him towards the guards who trained their weapons at him, -just in case.
"Hitler will destroy the three of you. Himmler, Heydrich and yourself." He said as he shoved the numb sensation in his knuckles. "He would not look beyond the threat presented to him... Your death will be assured while our plans go unhindered..."
Zorah kept his eyes on him. He was bluffing in all likelihood. He could not read what would happen if he were to place the three of them in the crosshairs of the most powerful man in the Reich. From all accounts, Hitler was a delusional paranoid, a hidden psychopath by Rundstedt's estimates. It did not matter, for now Kaltenbrunner seemed to be inclined to doing exactly what was asked of him.
Seeing the man nod, Halid pulled Ernst closer to him, then pushed him back hard, releasing his grip and slamming the bastard hard against the floor. Readjusting his uniform, Admiral Zorah pushed his way out of the interrogation room. He had grieving parents to lie to and a plot that was now becoming a reality.
Closing the door of his Kubelwagon, Joachim pulled off his cap, tossing it onto the side seat; he lowered his head onto the steering wheel, his eyes closing.
Having spent most of the past few days on a transport plane made him want nothing more than to go to sleep and not wake up for the next few days. He found himself wishing that he had been able to convince the quarians to loan him a pilot and one of their shuttlecrafts. He would have been in and out of Russia in a matter of minutes
Of course, that would lead him having to answer a lot of awkward questions asked by the squad he was shuttling around. Still, anything was better than air lag he was suffering from. Leaning backwards he rubbed his eyes. He needed a drink.
Justas he fantasized about being drunk, the omni-tool on his machine arm beeped, catching his attention. Pulling up his sleeve, he activated the device and suddenly found himself staring into the strained expression of an older man, weathered by leading from the front rather than behind.
"Herr Guderian?" He greeted the Panzer General.
There was no exchange of pleasantries. Guderian as a very terse man who only respected those who could prove themselves to him; Well, Joachim would have to do just that for the General, the Father of the Blitzkrieg.
"I am to inform you that you are to report back to Vienna and pick up your... associate." He said, sounding rather bothered at the mention of the quarian. "The two of you will be transferred down to me in Libya in two days times. Quarian spy drones are watching an armada leaving port and heading our way."
Joachim widened his eyes briefly. So it was about to begin. With any hope, the quarians had made contact with the Kriegsmarine and sent down a few U-boats to harass the fleet. IF they sunk a few troop transports ships, the operation would be hampered significantly.
"I'm already back in Vienna." Joachim replied finally. Taking a deep breath, he added. "What about Kaltenbrunner? Has he been dealt with?"
"Kaltenbrunner was picked up last night by Halid'Zorah. No word yet if he's been dealt with." The General informed the Obersturmbannführer. "Regardless, I will see you soon enough, Herr Hoch."
Guderian disconnected, leaving Hoch in a suddenly better mood than before. Turning the car key and listening to the engine rev to life. Hoch hoped to God that the quarians were making Kaltenbrunner suffer as bad, or worse, then he had.
Kaltenbrunner opened his eyes.
He looked around his surroundings There wasn't much to look at. He was back in his car, but the car was planted face first into a ditch. Ernst blinked, had it all been an alcoholic dream? Had he simply had the suffered from the side effects of a car crash?
Looking into the mirror, he opened his mouth and found his teeth stained with blood that did not belong to him. No, it had certainly not been a dream. The quarians had grabbed him; he killed two of them and had now found himself blackmailed into a conspiracy to overthrow the Party.
A knock on the window caught his attention. Before he knew it, the door was pried open and he was suddenly dragged out of the car. One look at the familiar mensur scar running down the side of his face made the acting head of the RSHA breathe a sigh of relief.
It was Otto Skorzeny, he could not have been more happy to see this son of bitch in his life.
"Ernst, had a rough night I see." Otto jested as he sat Ernst up and opened the bag on him, in it were medical supplies. Carefully, Skorzeny's finger's realigned Ernst's broken nose and held it in place as he searched for medical tape.
"Otto?" Ernst managed to gasp, ignoring the agony of Skorzeny's rough hands mangling his nose even more than it already was. "Otto I am glad you stopped by."
Chuckling lowly, Skorzeny finished bracing the nose and pulled back, his hand running along his snow covered moustache. He sat back in the snow and gave Ernst room to move his hands gingerly through the medical bag to cover his various lacerations.
"Your wife sent me to find you." He explained as he pulled off his jacket and handed it to Kaltenbrunner. "I was expecting you with the Countess. Not grabbed by the quarians... You left quite a mess."
Pulling the coat over his shoulders, Kaltenbrunner accepted a cigarette and allowed Skorzeny to light it for him. Skorzeny knew... of course he knew, the man spent a good year combined tracking the French Resistance and then destroying the Czech's a tussle between him and two aliens would not have gone unnoticed.
"The quarians..." Ernst repeated, his voice disgusted, "They do not like me all that much. I killed two of them. You were right about them..."
Kaltenbrunner laughed as Skorzeny stared wide eyed at what he had said. Yes. He had killed two these aliens and had essentially gotten away with it. They weren't special beyond their technology. They were just as stupid as any other human they wanted to comingle with.
My God..." Skorzeny whispered. "Why did they grab you?"
"To place me into their little plot," He said, deciding not to explain it for the time being. "They plan on overthrowing everything we have worked for. Judging from the way they talk, there is mutiny in the air amongst the Wehrmacht hierarchy."
Skorzeny scowled at the mention of the Wehrmacht. He stood up and leaned over, helping the taller man up to his feet.
"What is our next move then, Ernst?" He questioned as he wrapped his arm around Kaltenbrunner's waist and led him back to the road. Kaltenbrunner lowered his head as he deliberated.
"They're not the only race that knows how to plot." He informed the Commando. Glancing to Skorzeny, he added. "Will stand by me? It will get messy and we will have to do things that, on the surface, may look questionable to our loyalty to the Fuhrer. In the end, our work will expose every bastard that is helping the aliens."
Yes… he would go along with what he had promised. If the quarians and the rest of this conspiracy thought that they had bought his loyalty by implicating him in a plot to kill the Fuhrer, then they were delusional. He swore there and then that he would make their lives a living hell, whether they succeeded or not.
"I stand by the Fuhrer." Skorzeny spoke, his voice dull. "If you have this new opportunity to protect Him, then I stand by you as well."
Kaltenbrunner nodded. Together they wandered back in the direction of the Countess' manor. Perhaps he would get a quick fuck in before they left.
He had certainly earned it.
I was going to add a Hanala/Joachim scene, but it was a bit of a hassle. Oh well. Next chapter then the five chapters in North Africa will be the start of the heavier romance angle. Nothing is more romantic then being knee deep in English and American blood, lol.
Again, I'm sorry about the extended delay, but it has given me time to think about adding a new time period set between 2012 – 2030ish. I would write it after I finish the John and Tali quadrilogy. Of course, you would know that if you are reading Uplifted: Miracle Workers. It's an odd crossover, and I can see why some would be turned off by it, but you have to remember it's me writing it. I'm aiming for it not to be stupid. Besides, it's the introduction of John Hoch as something more than just a wealthy man as well as several new OC's that are going to be very huge characters in the next series, Uplifted: Integration.
Apparently you want to see Tali and John next interlude. alright then. It will be a change up, considering. Perhaps I'll have Tali drunk, telling history like the Funny or Die series Drunk History.
Until next time!