A few days late and a bit shorter than usual.
Chapter Eight: January 8th, 1942
Gathering his greatcoat and pulling it on, Joachim Hoch stepped out into the blinding cold Russian winter for the first time in nearly a year.
Here he stood on the outskirts of Rzhev, the local rallying point for the 8th SS Calvary Division. It was not so much as an actual equestrian centred division, but rather, they were a combination of motorized infantry and light armour, meant to stay back in reserve and keep the partisan activity from becoming a full blown epidemic – a near impossible task. The only ways to force the Russian people into subservience was to humiliate or destroy the Soviet government so terribly that the cancer would stop forcing them to live in fear of their return. The common citizen only fought because of the certain terrible retribution if the Reds were able to reclaim the occupied zones.
"Welcome to Russia Herr Hoch. Or rather I should say welcome back."
Stepping off the last step and hitting Russian snow, Joachim turned his head up and noticed an older man approaching him. Joachim came to attention, his snap snapping out the Nazi salute that was his second nature to give. The gesture was returned as the superior lowered his hand and extended it out to Hoch, his expression bright.
"Heil Hitler, Brigadeführer..." Spoke Hoch, trailing off as he shook the general's hand.
The General dropped Joachim's hand, still smiling slightly.
"My apologies for not introducing myself;" The general spoke apathetically, gesturing to the Kubelwagon that was awaiting them, a driver standing at attention. Smiling slightly, he added. "My name is Jürgen Stroop; I was requested to bring you to the 8th SS command."
Although Jürgen Stroop was two, technically three ranks above him, Hoch found himself surprised at the strange display. Hoch chocked it up to a man stuck doing a necessary job, when he wanted to do something more, preferably away from the front lines. He could not exactly blame the man for feeling that way.
"No, I was here on a personal call." Hoch informed the General, taking seat in the car after the General. "I haven't seen my old commander in some time. I wanted to check in on him. Last time I saw him was back in France, just before we were deployed to Romania for the attack on Yugoslavia."
Smiling slightly, Stroop nodded his head, offering the junior rank a cigarette. Hoch obliged as the car started moving and the Brigadeführer lit his cigarette for him. He leaned back and watched as they passed by a column of trucks and troops reorganizing for another attack or defensive attack. Silence fell as only the sound of the car engine and distant blasts from what sounded like the K38 artillery. Jesus, how did he know that? This war and it's littlest of details was all he was going to have at the end of the conflict.
"As I understand it, you're close to the big three, then."
Joachim casted a look to Stroop, who continued to look out of the window of the car as the car passed by captured Russians armoured cars, sentries and dogs. Stroop removed his cap, still handsome looking for middle aged. Hoch squinted and turned away from the General as he too looked out the window.
"Why, Himmler, Heydrich and Kaltenbrunner, of course, my friend." Stroop decided to humour the younger man, looking close to grin at the lack of understanding. Inhaling his cigarette, he added. "For an Obersturmbannführer, you have most certainly fostered a reputation around the SS command circles. They call you unusually ambitious, which really is no surprise… You are the youngest man in the history of the SS to hold your rank. Did you know that? Twenty four, nearly twenty five? At least the youngest I am aware of."
Hoch blinked as Stroop chuckled. He was the youngest to attend this sort of rank? He really hadn't had the time to call his old classmates back in Officer training to get a heads up. He doubted most of them were alive, even.
"I would not know what you are talking about." Mumbled Hoch, staring into his lap intently, ignoring a hand slapped against his back and a low chuckle emitted from Stroop.
"Of course you do, modesty doesn't suit you, be proud of it." Stroop retorted, cutting through Hoch's low tone. "They whisper your name back in the SS villa's and Wewelsburg… They say that you and your Standartenführer are in charge of special projects. Devising new ways to destroy the Soviets and the West..."
Joachim ignored that last remark. Whatever Stroop was saying, sounded as though he already knew. He had enough difficulties keeping the quarians secret while he spent his spare time collaborating against his cause. He did not reply, knowing that the Brigadeführer was a high enough rank to ask the question out loud, but not high enough to receive an answer from Hoch. No, he would do as he always did. Kept his mouth shut.
Sighing, clearly bothered with not getting his answer, Stroop pulled his hand off Hoch's back and turned to look out the window once again.
"You know... rumour has it, your Standartenführer has effectively destroyed your career for further advancement." Stroop spoke idly, ignoring the snapping of Joachim's head back to him. "He held back your promotion to Obersturmbannführer, revealed your secrets when command was thinking of a new promotion for the work you have been putting in; a promotion that would put you on equal standing with him after all those many loyal years of being an apprentice to him. I suppose he must have seen you as a threat to him. Not a particularly bright one if he could trick you into marching across France on his behalf."
Stroop's laughter caused Joachim to lower the cigarette from his mouth and simply sat there, numbed at what Stroop was saying, what Stroop was implying. No, that was impossible. He was in Russia; it was hard to get a promotion out to him there. He marched across France on his own accord; he wanted to spare Langer and his family the heartbreak of potentially losing a Father, a husband. It didn't make sense. It just didn't make sense.
Yet… a small part of him did acknowledge Stroop's implications. The parts of his mind that reminded him that Langer had hid the past, then sold him out.
"He wouldn't do that." He breathed, shaking his head. "That's impossible."
Stroop didn't reply at first, his laughter dying away as he sat there smoking.
"Yes, that is something he would want you to believe, isn't it?" The Brigadeführer remarked, highly amused now. "That you matter that much to him… Have you believe that he is family to you, setting you up with family dinners and Julfest celebrations... It makes twisting the knife in your back all the more easier to do, because it makes it less likely you'll retaliate when you're thrown under the Panzer tracks just when you needed him the most."
Snorting as he rolled down the window and tossed the last bit of his cigarette out, Stroop leaned back comfortably into his seat and turned to look into the shocked, younger soldier's expression.
"You children are all the same." Stroop pressed on, his eyes never blinking, never leaving Joachim's as he smiled almost sympathetically. "You... just like Peiper, Meyer, Eichmann and other young SS men who were children from unstable homes, giving a mentor, enough power to satisfy you, and suddenly... as loyal as a dog to a handler. No independent thought process… just what is imprinted upon you by your masters. Just like the Hebrew and Negro slaves of years past, really."
Smirking slightly, Stroop crossed his leg over his knee.
"It's admirable and yet, pathetic at the same time." He said, still with that simpering sympathy for the frozen Joachim. "So, I am going to ask this question again, and please, this time look into my eyes, little slave. Why are you visiting Wilhelm Bittrich?"
Joachim locked eyes with Stroop. Burying his fears and rage, he forced himself to remain as neutral as he could possibly be.
"He was my old division commander, Herr Brigadeführer..." Joachim dully repeated for the Brigadeführer's benefit, his words becoming unnaturally formal. "And you weren't sent by Bittrich, were you?"
Stroop could only smile at the reaction.
"Don't worry..." He reassured Joachim with a pat on his knee. "I am taking you to him, but yes you are right. Kaltenbrunner made a request I could not refuse. Normally I would not say anything, but Kaltenbrunner explicitly told me to tell you that he's keeping his eyes on you. He knows you're also here to pick up a couple of Heer soldiers as well. Kaltenbrunner isn't nearly as theatrical as Himmler and Heydrich. He's a policeman, he gathers his evidence, he frightens his suspects into confession and since your time in his protective custody, you are now his suspect. The only reason he doesn't act is that accusing our kind of treachery openly without hard evidence is a serious offense. So watch yourself, boy."
The car came to a stop outside of Bit rich's headquarters. Stroop leaned over and opened the door for Hoch, who clambered out of the car quickly. "Give Kaltenbrunner my best." He muttered as he turned back to the older general.
Stroop merely smiled kindly and nodded before closing the door and tapped the driver on the shoulder. Hoch stood there, watching the car drove off, out of the courtyard and back towards the direction they came to.
The moment Stroop's Kubelwagon was no longer in his vision, Joachim bent over and vomited.
"My driver did not find you."
Stepping into the offices of Wilhelm Bittrich, Hoch watched the Brigadefuhrer step past him and collapsed behind his desk, his hand rubbing his forehead as though he was suffering from a perpetual headache.
Wilhelm Bittrich, for man no more than twenty years older than Joachim was, he appeared considerably older than Jürgen Stroop, yet Bittrich was only a year older than he. He was bald, underweight, his greatcoat giving him more weight than he actually had on him. Though he might have been bias, Joachim thought of him as the aspiration for every Waffen-SS general ought to be; Loyal, but not afraid to buckle when command acted stupidly.
"I was picked up by Jürgen Stroop, nothing to worry about, other than political garbage, Herr Brigadeführer."
Smirking at his former subordinate's situation, he opened his desk, and showed Hoch a crystal glass and a bottle of Vodka. Joachim nodded as he took a seat as Bittrich requested he join him. Yes, he called a superior in the SS, Herr. Yes, he was a hypocrite, but in the early days of the war, Joachim was Bittrich's Fuhrmann, wanting to impress much more influential man then him.
"Wilhelm will be fine." Bittrich assured the Obersturmbannführer, who wasn't sure he could call Bittrich by his first name. "How have you been?"
Knowing he could not very well show the general his new arm, tell him why his face was disfigured, or that he was being investigated by Ernst Kaltenbrunner for a crime he did not volunteer to do. Hoch instead merely smiled and accepted his first drink, the two of them clinking their glasses together in a toast for the future of Germany, both of them having very different visions of Germany in the near future.
"Well enough, all things considered." He said as he sipped and set his glass down.
"I wish I came here with just old times in mind, Herr Brigaderfuhrer. But, I would like to ask about something that I just found out. Something I think you might know something about." He spoke out loud to the suddenly curious looking Bittrich. "The 2nd Panzer…. We did not participate in that sort of extracurricular activity involving the Members of the Tribe did we? I would have known about it…"
The expression on Bittrich's face vanished as he simply stared inquisitively at the younger man. He understood the slang; he understood the reasons behind the question. He downcasted his vision and focused on his drink as he thought about it.
"Why do you think I pushed the division so hard?" Bittrich mused, his mouth quirked curiously. "Doing those sorts of activities would stain everything we worked for, whether or not we win or lose. I tried to fight clean as war can be waged out here."
There was an expression of nostalgia on his face. As though they had been the good old days, back when the war had been simple back then.
"Not so now." 8th SS was specifically assigned reserve duties for a reason. Volksdeutsche are much more inclining to commit to these sorts of... extracurricular activity. Even if I stop it, my hands are blood soaked now. I am just a figurehead to this division. This division report directly to the RSHA."
"It's all the Allgemeine-SS's fault. Pencil pushing, cowards who would not dare do this work themselves." He explained, shaking his head. "They take their blood supremacy too far. There is no doubt that a German is superior to a Russian, but that superiority is not in our blood, but rather fighting spirit, our intellectual superiority over the Russian who would let themselves become slaves to a system that privately hates them."
Rubbing his bald head, he used his other hand to pour the two of them drink.
"Men like those windbags Himmler and Heydrich; they shifted all the problems Germany was plagued with to a vast Jewish conspiracy that was based upon what the Führer had written. It's a conspiracy that has shown no sign of its existence beyond the ranting and ravings of that weasel, crippled Propaganda Minister. The Jews of Germany are gone because of their paranoia, so are the rest of the civilized Jews of Europe."
Bittrich downed his drink and poured himself a new one.
"We are all now culpable now in the crime."
Joachim wasn't going to accept that, no matter is a party of him felt it was true.
"I had nothing to do with it." Joachim furiously denied. "I put no pistol to the head of the Jewish Nation. They put themselves in this situation. They had almost a decade to run, take what little material wealth they could carry and leave. They are a race of sheep, what kind of people could allow a thousand of their own people to be deported or killed by ten men armed with machine guns. They won't even fight for their children, Jesus Christ, I saw Jews working against their own kind so that they were the last to be deported. How can any people be so self-serving? It's despicable. Almost as monstrous as what the Allgemeine are doing."
Taking an unsteady breath, Joachim exhaled his cigarette; he was sickened as he thought about what he witnessed in Poland.
"I have no sympathy for them, but I didn't do it. This is not my responsibly." He growled as he stubbed his cigarette out. "I fought men who fought back. I haven't turned my gun or ordered my men to attack men who haven't deserved it."
Bittrich merely laced his fingers together.
"That's noble, but it does not matter whether or not you had anything to do with it. In the end, the Jew will not be destroyed, no matter how hard these few men push." Bittrich retorted Joachim's denial of responsibility. "The Jew will become radicalized, driven by Zionism, damaged national identity and contempt for the Gentiles who did this to them, contempt for the collaborators, who sold them out and contempt for those that simply stood around and did nothing. Having a psychological scarred nation will present problems in the future…"
The two men drank in silence, leaving Joachim staring off at the desk in front of him.
"We have gone this far... a small part of me hopes that Heydrich and Himmler go all the way and get the job done." Joachim confessed, unable to believe he was admitting such things aloud. "It might be better that way... having no witnesses. Do it now while the world thinks the Jews are over exaggerating like the British and Belgians did in the first war... Calling us Huns, saying we raped the Belgians when it simply wasn't true."
Joachim wearily sighed. He tried to be compassionate to a Jew, once upon a time. His compassion left him with a bullet through his face. Exhaling more smoke, he glanced back up to Bittrich. He could believe he was doing this.
"Wilhelm, what If things were to change? What if something was going to be done about this matter?" Hoch spoke delicately to his former commander, who stared at him curiously. "What if I was to say the paranoid ramblings of the higher echelon of the SS were correct and something was being organized to stop all of this madness from getting worse than it already is…"
There was a strange combination flash of anger and resignation in Bit rich's expression. Hoch could empathize. It was the exact same anger he held in his heart for the quarians who would lead him down this path without giving him even the illusion of a choice. Well, Hoch was going to going to go about this the right way. Bittrich had earned the right to have that. So silently, he sat there in front of the general, awaiting his judgement.
Slowly, Bittrich leaned back into his seat and continued to stare at Joachim, his eyes narrowed.
"The oath you took to the Führer about serving him until his death rings true too every man in the organization." Bittrich spoke slowly, deliberately. "The Waffen-SS stand behind the Führer and through him, the Party until his death. If something were to happen to him… I believe that Hausser, Dietrich and I could end our obligation to the Party, with that, the division's we command. It would show who is in the Wehrmacht and the SS are loyal to Germany, and who is simply loyal to the cause."
Suppressing the urge to spill anymore of what he knew, he simply nodded. While Bittrich appeared to have been able to condone it, he would not support it. Deciding that this had gone on long enough, Hoch decided it was time to change the subject to something lighter, the thoughts of betrayal swimming in the back of both men's minds.
"HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? RISK EVERYTHING WE HAVE WORKED SO HARD ON SOME RUSSIAN SHANTY TOWN?"
Halid'Zorah winced at the reaction. For a man in his seventies and usually snarky rather than boisterous, Gerd von Rundstedt could shout up a storm.
His target today was Erich Von Manstein. He stood there amongst his fellow holographic projections of Heinz Guderian and Erwin Rommel. Manstein appeared amused by the reaction, as though he had done no wrong. Well, in the long run he hadn't, but now? He had waged a surprise war on an entire contingent of SS volunteers from collaborationist Latvia while using the 6th Army as his trigger men. It was messy, OKH appeared to have not noticed it and accepted Manstein's logic, but that did not mean he would get away with it just yet. He needed to get the 6th Army into the conspiracy on a quickened pace.
"I have no explanation to give other then it was well deserved."
Rundstedt blinked at the statement.
"You killed eight hundred men of the Latvian Legion and you have the gale to sit there and pretend that what you did was helpful in any possible way." Rundstedt said, unable to comprehend the lack of reason behind his actions.
Manstein could only offer a thin smile.
"This may come as an interest to the two of you, Rommel, Guderian." Manstein readdressed, turning to Rommel and Guderian, who was now recalled back into the desert, about to assume the western command for Rommel while Rommel focused on building a defence against the east, just in case Montgomery attacked.
"The French SS volunteers have been recalled to Vichy France." The Feldmarschall continued, now having both of the desert commander's full attention. "They left on the 1st of January; they will be heading across the sea to Algeria. A French Waffen-SS unit in Vichy territory and you can't stop it. It appears the SS have taken a keen interest in your front since you allowed the Leibstandatre to operate there."
Rommel's projection rubbed his mouth thoughtfully as he held his eyes downcast, clearly in a state of deep thought. He did not seem bothered by the prospect, if anything, he appeared pleased.
"That is interesting." Rommel murmured softly, looking up finally. "More SS men, place them in the ranks of the Vichy army to make sure they do not surrender the moment the Americans and the British make their landings… It would buy us time to mobilize what I can spare."
Halid watched Rommel's reaction very carefully. He did not seem impressed to have heard that his front was going to be taking on more members of the political army. If anything, Rommel did not seem to have realized what he was doing. He was isolating more SS units away from a potential counterattack against the infant rebellion.
Next to Halid, Rundstedt appeared ready to speak. No longer furious with Manstein's rash actions, he instead turned to face Rommel, who, by comparison, looked like a saint at the moment.
"The Führer has authorized sending the majority of the Dansk occupation force down to you for additional support." He grumbled, still clearly annoyed. "They are only there on a temporary basis, however. You have them for a month or so before they are sent back into Germany to help keep the peace when the plans are enacted. What are your intentions with the 1st SS?"
"Keeping them in the east, guarding the Suez," Rommel responded. "Admiral Falan's intelligence reports are suggesting the South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders are steaming up the Red Sea approach but are deploying at Sharm El-Sheihk. How the English convinced their dominion pawns to part with more troops after I captured the 8th Army is beyond my comprehension... I'm not sure if it's admirable or blind loyalty..."
Zorah's omni-tool blinked, a message coming in. Reading the sender's name, Zorah frowned and stepped out of the projectors range, his arm raised as he tapped the written message to life.
Kaltenbrunner is stalking me. Tapped my phones Austria, knows that I'm out here talking to Wilhelm Bittrich on Rommel's request. It might be time to do that thing we discussed. Heading to Rostov. The moment I land in Germany, I'm going to be tailed. Standard Operating Procedure.
Unable to believe this was happening, Halid closed the message and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He glanced over to Gerd who watching his reaction closely. Taking a resigned sigh, Halid stepped forward as the conversation continued between the Heer men. Zorah cleared his throat, catching Manstein, Rommel and Guderian's attention.
"I will call an end to this for now. Before you leave, our plans are coming to coming together now faster than I thought, but no matter." Zorah informed his co-conspirators. "I will be sending down a special forces team to pick up and deliver Ernst Kaltenbrunner to me. He is starting to make inquiries to our SS assets."
All of them aware of how serious this was, kidnapping the acting head of the RSHA, each of them simply nodded solemnly. One by one, their transmissions ended, leaving Gerd and Halid alone once more. Rundstedt turned away, shaking his head. He did not like this plan and he was still angered over Manstein.
"I cannot believe he did that." The old soldier tried to keep calm. "I expected Rommel to have already wiped out the 1st SS division by now after he killed Eichmann. The fact that Rommel has more restraint then Manstein is troubling me to no end; Manstein is a Prussian, born and educated as such. He should have known better."
Zorah attempted the only route that could work: Reason.
"Rommel isn't witnessing what Manstein is witnessing. Rommel isn't spending his days trying to fight clean in a war that was dirty the moment it begun. The things being done under Manstein's nose… any reasonable man would have snapped." Zorah carefully replied to the angered Feldmarschall. "You cannot deny your collaborationist nations seem to think that if they show barbarism, they try to prove themselves as vicious killers themselves in order to win approval, nor can't you deny that this rebellion will not be bloody."
Watching the Feldmarschall take his nitroglycerine medication, he seemed to understand where Zorah was coming from at long last. His anger was cooled down by the time Rundstedt had finished his glass of water.
"Besides, Manstein's act has some pretty clear and very interesting political manoeuvrings." Zorah added as he gathered his things. "He's setting himself up as the man on the Eastern front who took a stand against the Nazi's. A man who would protect his enemies… The west will eat it up."
Halid paused, his mouth clenched.
"We need to discuss the Luftwaffe question."
Rundstedt said a rather rude phrase that Zorah decided to ignore.
"Well that discussion will be a short one, then. I don't trust the Luftwaffe and neither does any man in the Heer of Kriegsmarine, whether they are a member of our conspiracy or not." Rundstedt dismissed as he took a seat to rub his balding head. "They have been much too infiltrated by radicals. Even if there are good Luftwaffe men, they are simply not in a position to do a thing about it. Usurping Goering is going to take more than a punch to his face, as amusing as it might have been."
Zorah sighed; he had wished he had made more progression into the Luftwaffe. He had spent so much time on the Heer because they served as bulk of the Wehrmacht. He spent time convincing Raeder that he could retain his position if he kept the U-Boats out at sea and surface raiders hunting in packs. The Luftwaffe was much more dangerous territory to encroach. Nothing got past Goering. Rommel had made a few inquiries into one Albert Kesselring, but to no avail. He was sympathetic, but Goering was much too dangerous to double cross despite his comical appearance. If Kesselring was to do anything, it would have to be after Goering had been arrested or, preferably, killed.
But that in itself presented its own challenges. Many of the upper echelon of the Luftwaffe would stay loyal. As much as he wanted to use the bitterness of the Luftwaffe commanders who sent entire flights to their deaths over the killing grounds of Great Britain, the organization was simply too corrupted by being the only military service that the Nazis had built from the ground up.
"Do you recall Captain Yagar'Haevjar vas Compassionate Action?" Halid reminded the older man of his trip to Earth's moon. "He has built six hundred ME-262'S so far with another two hundred on the assembly line. If you do not trust the Luftwaffe, I don't see how we can give you them and you need air cover, especially if the Luftwaffe comes down on the side of the SS."
Rundstedt shuttered at the mere mention of his journey to a place where only one other human had gone before.
"Load them up with quarian pilots." Was Gerd's grumbling response to the matter, his words offhandedly thrown at the Admiral.
Halid blinked at the remark offered by the unassuming Feldmarschall. Quarian pilots that were supporting the rebellion, this… this would be a hard sell to make to the rest of the Admiralty. He wanted to keep the actions of the rebellion democratic and all without vetoing objection. Though military action had to be a unanimous decision, this would have to be a volunteer effort. Not official military action. For now it could wait, one thing at a time. He had to head back to the fleet and coordinate the abduction of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, before the man harassed Joachim's fragile stoicism into confession.
"I'm going to go back to the fleet." Halid returned to the Prussian who was staring at him. "I'll have to check into that… quarian pilots getting actual combat hours would be nice."
Christian Bohr wasn't sure how it started, but it did.
Perhaps it had been the tension building since Mann was evacuation. Perhaps it had been the random moments of rage that irritated the Feldwebel to no end. Perhaps it had been the comments about Erich, or calling Tatiyana something along the lines of Slavic scum, bitch or whore, or any variation he saw fit. Whatever it was, something was said by him that made the Unteroffizier lose all his self-control and attacked Bohr.
Fists smashing into his forehead, the screams coming from Tatiyana as she and Oster tried to drag the two men sprawled on the ground fighting. It was a short, violent burst of conflict that ended the moment heavy boots thumped across the creaking wooden floors of the barracks. Tatiyana let go as her eyes turned away from Christian.
"Where is the vaunted Heer obvious to command I was told so much about?"
The fists stopped flying, as did any other struggle between the two men. Bohr looked up and found a giant standing over him, taller than he had expected, donning the uniform of a high ranking Waffen-SS officer. Scrambling out of Hammers grip, he stood, trying unsuccessfully to look as though he was back in control of the situation.
The man, easily a head taller did not appear impressed by Bohr's display. He stood there impressively, dusting snow from off his shoulders as he cocked his brow at the embarrassing sight.
"Which one of you is the lower rank?" The staring officer inquired impetuously. "Which one of you is Kurt Hammer."
Wiping the blood off his mouth, Bohr gestured to Hammer. He should not have done that. It was only a flash before the giant stamped forward, his hand wrapping the collar of Hammer's jacket and dragged him away from his squad, ignoring the protesting roars from Hammer; he carried him across the room and into the lavatory. His foot closed the door to the bathroom, leaving Bohr Tatiyana and Oster in silence.
Screams coming from Hammer broke the silence as the sound of fists hitting flesh made Tatiyana jump next to him. The sound only lasted for a minute or two and the screams subsided into moans as the door opened again and out stepped the Waffen-SS officer, his gloved hands coated in blood as he dragged out Hammer again. Hammer nose was shattered, his face beaten to a mash. Before he knew it the man shoved Hammer to the ground, just under Bohr's feet.
Oster and Bohr came to attention. They did not have to as they were of different services, but the cold glare in the taller man's eyes made them both not want to cross him.
"As it turned out, your Leutnant, Helmut Mann has spent his whole time in Munich looking for a way to get you home." The giant growled at the three of them, plus Tatiyana "My name is Joachim Hoch, I'm taking you all home because I have grown tired of listen to him bitch about his rejects."
Bohr blinked. This was him? Joachim Hoch? The classmate Helmut Mann had mentioned? He stood there, stern faced as his dark blue eyes. Gone was the boyish charm Mann had describe him as, he was simply terrifying now.
"I see your stray is here." Joachim spoke, turning away from the woman. "Now where is Erich Fuhrmann? I was told he would be with you."
Oster and Bohr glanced at one another.
"He's… He's dead, Herr Obersturmbannführer." Bohr spoke extremely carefully as the officer stepped closer. "He died on New Year's eve."
What little colour in Joachim's Hoch's face vanished before Bohr's eyes. For a moment, a brief moment, he actually appeared devastated. Like Fuhrmann was essential to something important. The Obersturmbannführer turned away, his hand running through his hair as he pulled off his visor cap. He exhaled slowly, his hand falling off his head and looking for his cigarettes.
"Cut off from us, he got caught, blew his brains out." Hammer corrected for Bohr, his head bowed as he clutched his mashed up face, shattered by the Waffen-SS man hovering over him.
Though, Hammer winced, expecting another blow to the head from Hoch, it simply did not come. A flash of something crossed his expression; it looked like regret, regret or something along the lines of guilt. Whatever was wrong with the man, he didn't say, he simply nodded instead, accepting the news of Fuhrmann's fate.
"That's... unfortunate." Was all Hoch had to say on the matter. "Come along, I'm not staying in Russia any longer than I have to." Pausing, he glanced to back to Bohr, his eyes flickering to Tatiyana briefly before adding. "Grab your stray; she had better learn to clean herself up when we get there."
Grabbing Hammer's shoulder and followed by the silent Oster, Hoch left, leaving Tatiyana and Christian alone in the now empty building. Tatiyana stepped forward, in her hand a piece of cloth in her hand that was suddenly dabbed against his bleeding lip.
"I'm sorry." She mumbled.
Christian looked down at her. Her express was that of a woman who had a secret on the tip of her tongue. She seemed both rather pleased and rather regretful.
"He only attacked you because I called him incest product." Tatiyana admitted as she grabbed his hand and dragged him after the SS man and his squad mates. "He was going to hit me... you got in the way."
Christian could only moan in annoyance as the woman roughly laughed.
"Two targets… close proximity… one female, unconfirmed, one male, confirmed to be the target. Awaiting your orders."
"Take the shot when he reaches the car. It would be preferable you did not have to bring in his Mistress as well." A voice returned the deliberate in nature. "I know you have read the file on him, so again I'm going to remind you that this is not an assassination. He comes in alive."
The Spotter glanced to the Shooter. They both turned back to the house. Yes, they had moist certainly read the file on this man. He was the sort of man the Shooter was quite willing to get reprimanded for, for shooting the target despite orders. The only reason the Shooter wouldn't do it was because how much his superiors stressed that this man, out of the whole of the rotten regime they were supporting and working against could bring about a peaceful resolution to the end of Nazism.
A light came from the doorway as the heavy door opened. Out stumbled the human known as Ernst Kaltenbrunner, swaying heavily, clearly intoxicated as he slammed the door shut behind him and stumbled down the long, winding pathway towards his vehicle. Both the Shooter and the Spotter had agreed that the best course of action was an assault. Hit him with enough sedatives then keep him quiet until the drugs took over. They'd take his car and drive him to a secluded area for a transport back to where ever the Admiralty wanted to talk to him.
"Take him now!" the Commlink ordered.
With that, the black ops sniper team stood up from their place on the hill side and moved swiftly through the night, thermal vision on as they bolted down the hill towards the human now in front of the car, his back turned. The Shooter raised his rifle, now forty metres away. They could feel the eyes of Admirals Zorah and Jarva on them from orbit, both of them hoping that the operation did not fail.
Well it didn't. Now twenty metres away, the intoxicated human turned and before he knew it, his chest was suddenly penetrated by three bolts, two Tranquilizers, the other muscle paralyzers. A growl escaped the human, like a wild beast that hadn't realized what was happening to him until it was too late.
The drunken man did not fall right away. Instead, he turned and charged at the two of them. The Shooter widened his eyes as he realized how much taller he was compared to them. Pushing past the apprehension, the two quarians ducked his attack and went for the giant's legs, dropping the man and pinning him down as he furiously struggled, his fists swinging up to punch the Spotter's helmet so hard that the faceplate cracked, Human blood staining the Spotter's mask.
Forcing his forearm into Kaltenbrunner's mouth, the Shooter held it there, furiously working to turn off the nerve stimulator shoot pain through his arm from the gnawing of the human's teeth. The darts were working, but then again, not to the effectiveness they needed. How was still struggling against the inevitable? That should have put down an overgrown turian!
A flash of white pain shot through the Shooter's face. His mask was shattered as Kaltenbrunner reared his head back and slammed at his mask with three quick, devastating blows. The Shooter, now panicked by the exposure and to the violent reaction from the human, whose face was now coated in blood from the gashes and glass stuck in his face, his teeth bared as he wretched the arm out of his mouth for only a moment. Forcing it back in, the shoot turned back to the struggling Spotter.
"Ancestors, shoot another tranquilizer into him!"
The Spotter obliged, his hand reaching for his holstered dart pistol, he fired yet another round into Kaltenbrunner's leg. Before he realized it, the Spotter was thrown off the bucking human
"Damn it, this guy isn't going down! T-take my place and taser him!"
The Spotter nodded and climbed onto the human's chest, her knees digging in to him. It gave the Shooter a moment to stand up; injecting antibiotics into himself with shaky hands he ignored the wringing as electricity shot through Kaltenbrunner by the shock of the Spotter's omni-tool. Dragging his hands along the human's body, he fumbled to grab the pistol and threw it into the car before turning back.
"He's-He's disarmed, l-et's get out him out of here-"
The Spotter, as close to Kaltenbrunner's face she could be as she tried to keep him from breathing too much. The Shooter could see the drugs were starting to take their hold. That was when it happened. In his state of fear, the Shooter had not been able to focus on the check. As a result, in one final effort, Kaltenbrunner sprung up under the woman, his hand gripping a dagger that the Shooter hadn't spotted. The blade swung in quick succession's under the Spotter's neck piece until the blade tore through the material and went through the bottom of her, jaw, through the roof of her mouth, right into the edge of her brain.
"Kalas!" the Shooter screamed out her name as she fell off Kaltenbrunner, her body twitching as she struggled to scream and breath as the blood drained out of her brain and pooled into her mouth, inside of her still mostly intact faceplate. Her hands reached to grasp the base of the dagger as she continued to silently scream and plead for help.
Forgetting Kaltenbrunner, forgetting his status, he rushed to her side to help her, but it was too late… much too late to do anything for her. Her body still twitching, she went limp. She was gone, leaving him by himself with Kaltenbrunner, whose weak chuckled sounded like taunting laughter.
Turning back to face the bastard, he found Kaltenbrunner was struggling to stand up even as his limbs were no longer working for him. The paralyzers had kicked in before the tranquilizers, leaving the giant somewhat aloof. Rage swelling inside of him, the sniper turned back and smashed the butt of his rifle into his back, dropping the human once and for all.
The deed was done. It screwed up beyond belief, but it was done.
Tears streaming down his eyes for his partner, the Shooter slumped over and cradled the smaller woman in his arms, pulling her out of the snow and carefully laid her in the back seat of Kaltenbrunner's car. He paused only briefly, his mind numb from the exposure now. He glanced to the front passenger seat and, pushing his sobbing aside, he reached for Kaltenbrunner's pistol.
"Don't you dare do it, soldier. He comes in alive!"
Remembering that the Admirals had been watching, very reluctantly he relented against his mind telling him to execute the human, whom, had the Shooter been in his position, would have done the exact same thing. Instead he dropped the pistol down. The shooter closed the back door and slumped against the side of the vehicle. His eyes staring at the bloodied Kaltenbrunner laying there, his head turned to him, his eyes still open. They were blank as he stared. His mouth was twisted up, though at this point it appeared more a reaction to muscle control loss.
"I'm sorry that this had to happen." The commlink spoke, catching the Sniper's groggy attention. "This should have been an easy grab... but you have to get him now." A pause occurred, and then the voice on the com gently added. "If you don't... Then Kalas died for nothing."
Shutting off the link to command, the Shooter stood up and wandered over to Kalas' murderer, his hands reached down to grab Kaltenbrunner's forearms, dragging him towards the car for exfiltration.
This had better been worth it.
Sorry that there was no Hanala. I tried to write some, but I will save it for the next chapter. Hanala sort of takes a backseat until we take the story back to North Africa.
The first episode in the Uplifted: Integration series Uplifted: The Miracle Workers is on a crossover section. I choose it to crossover because I had no ideas for OC's about it, and I already liked the established characters.
I know I said that I said it wouldn't be very alien related, but since I moved it to a different section, I have decided to add more. The next chapter will be out Saturday night and it will feature the second part of the story, a second story that will eventually combine with the first. The second story is centred on John Hoch shortly after the death of Alexandria, (Adam's wife, his best friend) With the help of his youngest sister as they head to the NAU.
So, for the sake of storytelling, I hope you will give it a chance. It will be important detail to the next generation series coming up in about fifteen more chapters.
Thanks for reading!
PS: New poll: Round two of the last poll, only this time, where they will be set in.