What's new
Frozen In Carbonite

Welcome to FiC! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Merkels Operation Walküre - Story Only

Chapter II, Part 54: Stalin's Rant New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Moscow, the Kremlin, November 7th, 22:30:

Molotow was running late, but he had needed to get confirmation first before approaching Stalin. He hurried towards the room where Stalin was already receiving reports about the state of the war. Beria and Alexander Wassilewski, chief of staff, were accompanying him. He entered the room without knocking on the door. Stalin, who had just spoken, stilled in his movements and only looked at him. Molotow shook his head in a barely discernible gesture.

"So these filthy capitalists don't want to give us the supplies we need?" Stalin asked. His voice was too calm, like a volcano shortly before its eruption.

"Yes, indeed. I just received confirmation,” Molotow replied. “They won't send any more convoys to Murmansk."

"Woschd, we need to start talking with the Germans," Wassilewski said. "While we have still substantial forces..."

"That´s the talk of a coward,” Stalin interrupted him angrily. “We won´t crawl to the Germans, asking them for peace.” He nearly spat the last word. “Without the possibility of occupation and denying them any warfare capabilities we will soon have a juggernaut right in front of our gates. No, what we need is to continue.”

"Woschd, we don’t have much of a choice,” Wassilewski tried again. “We can start one offensive, maybe a second one later. But for that we would need new forces and means to supply them. With the recent German attacks we just don’t have the industrial base to do that..."

"We need to fight on," Stalin inisted.

"With what?" Wassilewski wanted to know.

"He is right,” Molotow threw in. “We need to sue for peace while we still can.”

"Njet! Njet! Njet! Njet! NJET!" Stalin ranted.

The other participants looked at each other. For Molotow it was clear the war was over. And now they could gain something at least. For Molotow the silence that suddenly hung over the room felt like hours while in reality it probably had been just a few seconds. Stalin took a large breath and Molotow was ready to hear their execution order barked but it should not be.

"Da. You're right." Stalin started to laugh. The others looked at each other, wondering if their leader had finally lost his mind.

"You know what's so funny?” Stalin asked, a rhetorical question, so no one answered. “We are a land power. Germany is a land power. And yet the area in which they have beaten us decisively in, was the sea. Where there was not a single Soviet warship was involved." Stalin took another breath. "Yes, we need to make peace. I need a special ambassador. Beria?"

"Yes?" Beria hadn't say anything until now, trying to stay as much in the background as possible.

"I need one of the captured German officers to take my offer of peace talks to the German government. A personal letter, I think, would be the best."

"I guess, I know someone," Beria replied.

"Excellent. I want to see him now," Stalin ordered.
 
Chapter II, Part 55: A Prisoner's Fate New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Moscow, Lubjanka prison, November 7th, 23:10:

For Annika the last two months had been hell: When she had arrived at Lubjanka prison she was first stripped off her clothes and given rags that barely fit her. The next day the interrogation started: The man questioning her was a mindless brute who did barely more than beating her while he asked his questions. Annika didn’t say anything, for which she paid dearly: On some days her whole body one big bruise, on others she wasn't able to walk back to her cell. She had to crawl instead. And even though they repeatedly threatened her with it, she hadn’t been raped.

After three weeks Annika started to tell Major Iwanow some things. Mostly lies. She knew that at this point most of the information she could give were outdated and of no use for the Russians. Unfortunately, there was some which weren't, For example the existence and concept of the laser flak panzer. The truth had to be protected by lies. Annika would have never thought that a quote by Churchill would ever be of such use to her.

On some days they left her alone. One those Annika could even sleep longer than a few hours. But then Major Iwanow returned, even more furious than usual. He beat her again, so hard that day she had to be carried back to her cell. After that she would never see him again.

Her next torturer was a man who looked polite and sophisticated, not a brute like Iwanow. An educated man. Colonel Josef Lominadse, a Georgian. But unlike Iwanow, who took no pleasure in his activities, Lominadse was a pure sadist. He started with waterboarding. The water was so cold and Annika felt like she died a thousand deaths every day. But still she wouldn’t tell him anything.

After another week she was brought into another room, bare except for one single bed. Annika knew what was about to happen as she took a deep breath and mentally steeled herself. Then Lominadse came in, followed by his brute, Sergeant Nowikow.

“So, you won't tell me,” he started, circling around her like a wolf stalking its prey. “I don’t care either way. I will break you.” He let out a laugh, ugly and cruel. “To be honest, I like your spirit. That´s why it´ll be me who´ll have the honours.” And then the horror truly began. While his soldiers watched, Lominadse would rape her again and again, seeking more his own pleasure than the answers his superiors probably thought. But Annika was strong: She disassociated, reciting “Die Glocke” by Schiller in her head, a piece of which she knew every single line by heart.

Yet, deep in her heart Annika knew that her breaking point was soon to come. She could feel it in the brittleness of her bones, the numbness of her mind, the weak beating of her heart. She was ready to die; she would take her countries’ secrets with her.

But not today. Lominadse hadn't come. His ‘work-out’ as Annika liked to call it secretly, didn't happen. She was drifting off into some sort of half-sleep, when the door suddenly opened. Nowikow stood in the door.

“I have bad and good news for you,” he spoke in that baritone voice of his. “Bad news is Colonel Lominadse has fallen ill. But luckily we´ve found someone even better.” She was taken out of her cell to a shower room, where she was washed. Then she was brought to a car. Despite it being November and just having had a shower she was still only clothed in her prison rags.

Annika didn’t know how long the drive lasted, but when the car finally stopped were her hands tied on her back while she was brought to a building. She couldn't really discern what building it was as it was dark and she couldn't see out of the window. She was brought into a room, where three men were already waiting for her. Two of them she didn't know, while the last one she knew very well from countless pictures and shows back in Germany: It was Stalin.

He looked at her without uttering a single word. A silence hung over the room, full of tension ready to explode at any given moment. But it wasn't joy she saw in his eyes. It was anger. But not towards her. He started to speak with Nowikow. Annika couldn't really understand what he said, but from the tone of it she could tell that it wasn't something good.

"Towarischtsch Woschd, here's your whore." Nowikow reported.

“This is Hauptmann Annika Schröder?“ Stalin asked Nowikow in Russian.

“Yes, that´s the whore´s name,” Nowikow grinned.

“So, you are telling me that you took her?” Stalin asked calmly.

“Of course!” Nowikow boasted. “But it was mostly Lominadse.”

Beria paled at that: He knew too well that this was not what Stalin had wanted to hear. Lominadse was one of his best men, but it looked like he would have to sacrifice him.

“So, Lominadse took his liberties with her as well?” Stalin asked for clarification.

“Daily,” Nowikow replied.

“IDIOT!” Stalin barked. Even Annika could understand that particular word.

Seemingly out of nowhere Stalin held a pistol in his hand, shooting several times. Annika took a few steps back, thinking that this was how she was to die, but the shots hit Nowikow instead. The brute fell over, surprise still etched on his face.

As she looked upon the body, barely feeling anything, Annika noticed that something warm was running down her side. She looked down on her side and took in the blood and brain matter as well as some splinters. Bone splinters. Somehow, after all the death she had seen and the torture she had endured, this seemed to be her breaking point. Her hands started to shake and her breath became shallow. The next moment the world turned black.
 
Chapter II, Part 56: Breakfast in Moscow New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Moscow, Kremlin, November 9th, 06:10, (Part I):


When Annika woke up she was lying in a warm bed and was wearing pyjamas. She stretched. Everything felt like a nightmare, a terrible one, but at least she was at home now. But then realisation suddenly hit her: This wasn’t her bed. And this wasn’t her room, either.

As if someone knew that she was awake – which was probably true, anyway – the door opened and a nurse entered the room, speaking at her in rapid Russian. She took Annika´s pulse and her temperature and afterwards led her into an adjacent bathroom. Thankfully, the nurse left so that Annika could unclothe herself and enjoy her first hot bed since practically forever.

When she re-entered her room, with only a towel wrapped around her, someone had put her old army uniform over a seat. Her helmet was missing, as well as its technological components and her weapons (obviously), but the rest – even her purse – was still there.

Then a young girl – around eighteen years, Annika would assume – came in.

“Hello, I´m Swetlana,” she introduced herself in German with a Rusian accent, a kind smile on her face. Perplexed, Annika wrapped her arms around her body, even though her towel was still wrapped snugly around her body.

“What is going on?” Annika dared to ask.

“Well, my father can explain everything much better,” Swetlana replied. “His German isn’t quite as good as mine, so I shall translate for him. Better than some translator you can´t trust, though.”

“And who´s your father?” Annika asked, even though she had a suspicion.

“Josef Stalin,” Swetlana replied, as if that was a normal, ever day thing to say. Momentarily shocked, Annika sat down.

“Well, I better get dressed then, I suppose,” Annika said, doing just that.

“And what does your father want?” Annika asked as she pulled her t-shirt over her head.

“I don’t really know,” Swetlana replied. “He shall tell you when you meet him. But you don’t have to hurry, there´s still time. Let´s take breakfast first.”

For the first time since she woke up, Annika recognised how hungry she was. Finishing dressing up, Annika followed Swetlana and two bodyguards out of the room into another part of the building where the table was already covered with finest dishes. Annika took tea from an old samovar which eliciting a laugh from Swetlana as it hadn’t been filled with hot water yet. When that was finally done, Annika took her first sip. The was very strong, but good. Annika added a little bit of sugar and some milk, which Swetlana found very interesting. Annika was well aware that English teas was an acquired taste to some.

“Can I ask you something?” Swetlana spoke up. Annika nodded. “My father only allowed me to visit you with at least two bodyguards, because he thinks you´re dangerous. Can you really kill someone without a weapon?”

“Yes, I can,” Annika replied. Swetlana´s eyes widened in shook. Apparently she had thought that her father had been exaggerating. “I could have easily killed you and your bodyguards would have been too late to save you.” She doubted the latter, but impressing the dictator´s daughter could yield useful results.

“Did you ever do it?” Swetlana inquired. “Kill someone like that?”

“No,” Annika replied, no wanting their talk to go into that particular direction. Swetlana, oblivious to her inner turmoil, continued on: “But you killed in combat?” More a statement than a question. Annika just nodded silently.

“And outside of war?” Swetlana just didn’t stop. Tense silence hung between them before Annika answered: “Once. A French soldier at Boulogne. He was severely wounded and nobody could help him anymore. So I shot him.”

“Could you teach me how to fight?” Swetlana asked. “How to defend myself?”

“I could,” Annika answered. She didn’t think that would ever happen, but Swetlana was a nice girl, albeit a little bit naïve.

Soon the breakfast was over and their meeting with Stalin would commence.

“I knew you had to be tough fighter,” Swetlana chatted. “Not many survive being dragged into his office.” Well, there went the naïve part of Annika´s character assessment.

“Don´t mind my father,” Swetlana continued. “He was very impressed by you. I don’t know exactly what happened, but Uncle Lawrenti was really pale when he left the office the other day.”

“How long was I out?” Annika sked.

“Two days,” Swetlana replied. She stopped in front of two impressive oak doors.

“We´re here,” she announced. She nodded at one of the soldiers who then stepped forward and opened the door.

And there he stood: Stalin. Just like the photographs in her history books. The men next to him, though, Annika didn’t know..

“Ah, Hauptmann Schröder, come in,“ Stalin spoke jovially. His German wasn’t flawless but Annika managed to understand him. However, soon after Swetlana started to translate. “Let me extend my sincerest apologies for everything that happened during your captivity here. Towarischtsch Berija, too, wanted to offer his apologies.” He pointedly looked at a relatively small man with glasses.

“Frau Hauptmann, indeed, I have to apologise as well,” the smaller man spoke. “I´m responsible for the action of my personnel and what happened to you was beyond anything we allow. But please, be assured, that our justice is swift and merciless. Just this morning Mr. Lominadse was sentenced to death for his mistreatment of you. Please, look out of the window.” Annika stepped closer to the window and looked down upon a small courtyard. On its opposite end a man – as far as Annika could see it from her position it was indeed Lominadse – was standing at the wall, a row of five soldiers standing in front of him. Their commander looked up to their window and when Beria nodded he bellowed to his soldiers who like a well-oiled machine riddled Lominadse with bullets.

Annika couldn’t help but feel a little bit satisfied. Maybe it wasn’t ‘real’ justice, but at least the swine was dead. It didn’t change what had happened to her, didn’t erase the scars her mind and body now bore because of the man, but it would help her sleep better at night. However, she would not accept the apologies of Stalin and Beria even though the two continued as if the whole issue had been resolved.

“Hauptmann Schröder, I did see your last mission report,” Stalin remarked. He hadn’t bothered to hide the tablet away, too used to working with it already. “Such bravery is truly remarkable: You managed to free you men even though you had to sacrifice your own freedom instead. And still you managed to kill or wound many enemy soldiers. If I was your commanding officer, I would have recommended you for the Lenin Order.”

Annika was perplexed. “Sir, what is it that you want from me?” she asked.

“Direct as ever, typical German,” Stalin laughed. “Well, you did withstand the enhanced interrogation techniques of the NKWD; techniques that were forbidden a long time ago and should never be part of the legal interrogation methods again.” He looked at Beria who just nodded. “For the harm you have suffered the Soviet Union will, of course, compensate you. What I really want, though, is for you to take these letters to your chancellor, Ms Merkel, in which I extend the offer of a truce between our great countries.”

Annika gulped. That wasn’t really what she had been expecting, to be honest.

Annika was a bit perplex. "Sir, what do you want from me?" she asked directly.

“And the second letter is for your commanding officer,” Stalin continued as he held up the second letter.

“Does this mean I will be released?” Annika wanted to know.

“It does,” Stalin confirmed. “You will be accompanied by Marshall Konew as signal that we truly mean what we´re offering the German people. Do you understand?”

“I do,” Annika nodded, still wondering why it was her that had been chosen.

The meeting ended soon after that. Annika was led out of the room and had just enough time to say her farewells to Swetlana before she was brought to a car that drove her to an air field where a transport plane was already awaiting her. A number of soldiers were already embarking onto the plane while Konew was awaiting her on the landing stripe.

Annika and Konew entered the plane. A few soldiers let their gazes wander over her, but Konew´s presence put an end to it. Then two great suitcases were loaded onto the plane.

‘Well,’ she shrugged, ‘Konew is probably used to fly with much stuff.’ In her opinion, such a behaviour would be more fitting for a Czarist officer, but it seemed that some some things just didn’t vanish, even after a revolution happens. Flying with two big suitcases. To armistice talks.

Then the plane started. Annika hoped that no German pilot would detect them and be trigger happy enough to actually down them. Especially as the their pilot was flying very low. It seemed to Annika as if she could touch the trees if she could jest lean out of the window. Well, it seemed that not only German pilots were a danger to this plane.
 
Chapter II, Part 57: Coming Home New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Near Kiew, November 9th, 13:08

The Panzergrenadierdivision 12 Maréchal de Saxe had been formed of the former parts of the UT French forces, consisting of the former Franco-German brigade and other French volunteers. The French soldiers who had been affected by the Event as well – the only other foreign UT unit was the Dutch Marines – had accepted the NATO responsibilities after Germany had invoked Art. 5. Some few had left to fight for France again, even if it wouldn’t be enough.

Their only stipulation had been that they wouldn’t have to fight on the Western Front, so the others were used at the Eastern front instead. In a few days the division would be switched again after seeing some heavy fighting. Many of the French soldiers were still longing for a home that no longer existing. Sure, their families had been with them during the Event, but their home country had turned hostile towards them. How could a proud Frenchmen (and even worse, women!) fight alongside the archenemy? Some regarded them even as traitors, clamouring for them to be trialed should ever come back to France. They couldn't understand: Germany had done so much, atoned for its past crimes and had extended its friendship towards France who had taken it happily. And now everything was supposed to be forgotten? It had been such a shock for them, as it had been for the Dutch as well, who hadn’t received a warm welcome at home either.

For legal reasons the French soldiers had accepted a commission in the German army, as France of 2014 didn't exist any longer. However, they fought for Germany as they were sure their German comrades would do the very same if their roles were reversed.

The French 1st Infantry regiment was used at the very front and saw heavy fighting. They had stopped here, at the road to Kiew. A captured T-34/85 was used as a gun turret within the fortifications. Officially, it was damaged and should have been left behind, but nobody wanted to give up the firepower without need. In case of a retreat, the tank could guard the light vehicles of the infantry. At least against Soviet tanks.

Corporals Jean Baptiste Lemarc and Pierre Dumoulin were manning the tank. Their lieutenant had was suffering some ‘health troubles’ after eating the sausages Jean-Louis had ‘organized’ from an undisclosed location. Both were chatting about their girls when they suddenly saw a lone rider with a white flag coming up to them.

>Pierre, look! Over there!< Lemarc exclaimed.

>I have him.<

>Are you crazy? He wears the white flag. Someone wants to parley!<

>I am not so sure.< Dumoulin countered. >Look! There´s a truck and a Jeep as well!<

Before something could happen, Capitaine Picard ordered all of them to not commence any offensive actions. He let the gates open and waved with a white flag as well. The Soviets, who had stopped a few hundred meters away, started to drive to the checkpoint. Within a minute they were there.

“Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the French, erm, Bundeswehr.” he saluted after recognizing the leading officer as a Soviet general. Surprisingly a female German Hauptmann was with them.

“You aren't the captain of the space ship Enterprise, are you?” the woman joked in English. He was thrown off, as he didn't expect anyone around here to have knowledge about that particular show. He had heard the joke before. Often. But that showed him, that she was real German officer and not just an impostor. “I am Hauptmann Annika Schröder, German Bundeswehr and former prisoner of war. This is Marshal Konew, who is here to start armistice talks with Generalfeldmarschall Heinrici. I would suggest calling the HQ.”

“Monsieur le maréchal,” he continued speaking a heavily accented English, "I am honoured to have you as my guest. Please come to the officers’ quarters. I will phone the HQ immediately; unfortunately, you won't be able to talk to the Feldmarschall. He suffered an accident yesterday and is in hospital. I am however, sure that we will find someone else."

General Dietrich von Saucken stood in the central room of his HQ in order to assess the situation. A short while ago, he had been only second in command, but then Feldmarschall Heinrici's helicopter had crashed. Fortunately, the Feldmarschall had survived, but his arms and legs were broken. He would be out of action for some time. A replacement had not been found yet and so the leadership of the Heeresgruppe Süd fell to him.

The plan had been to attack with this group. Heinrici should have taken over the Heeresgruppe Nord and Guderian the Heeresgruppe Süd. Therefore, they had made plans for totally different units which they now weren’t in command of. But war plans never survived for long anyway and now they were hoping to fool the Soviets as they would not expect an offensive in the North. For Saucken this was bullshit and he had said that openly.

Nevertheless, he had his orders and he would follow them. He was still looking at some data sheets, when he received a call from a French captain. A few months back that would have been crazy, now it was a normal occurrence. Nearly, at least. Though, a captain calling a general never meant a chat about football. After the call ended, von Saucken called three helicopters to bring the Soviet armistice delegation to him. Afterwards he called his staff to get information about this Marshal Konew. Finally, he called the Ministry of Defence, where he need to inform Minister von der Leyen about the events that had transpired.

“Frau Ministerin, I have to report a Soviet delegation asking for an armistice arriving in soon,” he told his superior.

“Very well, Herr General. You're authorised to start the negotiations. I will have my staff sent you an E-Mail with our preliminary positions,” von der Leyen replied.

She didn’t seem to be very surprised by that turn of events., which was a surprise to von Saucken, though.

‘She already knew something before I got the call,’ he thought to himself. ‘Politicians. Typical!’

“Erm, of course. However, there is still the question of protocol. Marshall Konew is leading the delegation. I am only general..."

“I see,” von der Leyen hummed. “When were you promoted to general?”

“In July," he answered.

“Then you shall get another one, Herr Feldmarschall!” she proclaimed.

Von Saucken was a bit stunned. “Madam, I do not want a promotion I haven’t earned. I ...” He couldn't finish the sentence, as he was interrupted by her. “Well, if this helps end the war in the East, then we shouldn’t get hung up on technicalities. Besides, it isn’t as if you don’t have the experience and the deeds under your belt to make General, anyway. But, von Saucken, please don't mess it up! Oh, and prepare for the arrival of the chancellor in a few hours!”

Then she ended the call, leaving a confused von Saucken behind, who still wondered, how the government in Berlin had known before him.

http://www.jmarkpowell.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Von-Saucken-looking-left.jpg

Dietrich von Saucken

The following moment was one of the most surreal Annika had ever experienced: She sat at the table with a French unit at the Eastern Front and was drinking tea from a Samovar that seemed to have been “liberated” from somewhere. She didn’t stay long for very soon three helicopters arrived to taje them to the HQ near Kiev.

The city had suffered much fighting and you could see that.

Most of the city was in ruins, buildings completely destroyed. However, it was remarkable, that civilians still lived in some areas, as she could see children playing. It was very dangerous, though. And she didn't really want to think about their living conditions.

The helicopter landed at a free area near a large building. Annika assumed that this had been a hotel before the war. Here one could see the damages of war as well: There were only few windows still unbroken. It had been partly repaired, at least in a makeshift manner.

Annika got out of the helicopter after the delegation members of the Soviets had already exited. And there she saw him: If there was the arch-type of a Prussian officer, then he would be it. A figure surrounded by an aura of dignity and strength. He carried a monocle and a cavalry sabre. Only the Bundeswehr uniform didn't really fit. After he had greeted the Soviet delegation, she did make her report.

“Herr General, erm, pardon, Herr Feldmarschall,” Annika started, recognising the rank a second too late. “Hauptmann Annika Schröder reports for duty.” She saluted. The Feldmarschall responded ain kind. “Herr Feldmarschall, I have two letters for you and Chancellor Merkel. I gave my word that I would give it to her in person.” Annika doubted, though, that he would simply accept that.

“Frau Hauptmann, I accept the letter. I will also make it possible that you give the letter to the Chancellor in person,” he replied. “You must be tired and hungry. Please join Major Krantz. He will show you a room to rest and will have the staff prepare you a meal.”

“Jawoll,” Major Krantz said and led her away to her room.

+++

For the Feldmarschall the situation had suddenly become much more interesting. The letter was addressed to him as well as to the commanding officer of Hauptmann Schröder. He was more astonished, though, that Stalin himself had written the letter. When he opened the envelope a small piece of plastic fell out of the envelope and landed on the ground. A member of the staff picked it up and handed it back to him. It was written in bad German and, surprisingly, seemed to have been printed by one of the modern printers.

“Herr Feldmarschall,

It is very uncommon that the supreme commander of an enemy nation writes the commanding officer of an army group. Nonetheless, this letter had to be written. I have to report the bravery of Annika Schröder, Hauptmann of the Bundeswehr. I have enclosed a chip with the recordings of her latest deployment. As you can see on it, Ms Schröder has done everything to fulfil her soldier oath and even more. Simply unparalleled in bravery is her last action, where she alone forced a whole company to seek cover due to her MG fire and thus allowed her own platoon to escape. Her leadership and her combat actions deserve the highest praise. If she was a member of the Red Army she would have got the Lenin order just for this.

Unfortunately, there have been several overeager officers of the NKWD to interrogate her later. These officers, as well as any other individuals who overstepped their bounds with her, have been severely punished. Despite the enhanced interrogation techniques that were used on her, Miss Schröder remained silent or gave only worthless information or simple lies. She was never broken. That, too, would justify the Lenin order.

This I can personally testify.

Josef W. Stalin

P.S.:...“

He couldn't read further, as he was called in for the armistice talks.

Annika was laying in one of the HQ´s hospital beds and thought about how unreal the last few hours had been: After she had rested and eaten she had been taken to Chancellor Merkel herself to whom she had given the letters that Stalin had entrusted to her, telling the woman that she believed that the dictator was genuine in his attempt at peace talks, at least in her impression. She also mentioned that she had seen some modern amenities, such as the tablet, being used in Moscow, which meant that there seemed to be a thriving black market for modern German goods. They didn’t interact any further, as Mrs. Merkel had her hands full with the new developments.

Afterwards, Annika had been ordered to the hospital ward, again, this time for a thoroughly examination. When they wanted to do a rape kit on her, she had refused incidentally, but in the end she had relented, fuming that apparently everything that had happened to her was already public knowledge somehow.

There was something else, though, which the examination brought to light: Annika was pregnant. When the nurse told her, all those awful memories of her times at the hand of the Soviets tried to resurface, but with brutal ruthlessness Annika squashed it down. There was a war going on; she had no time to be weak.

In this moment Feldmarschall von Saucken entered the room.

“So, Hauptmann Schröder, how are faring?” he inquired.

“I am fine, thanks,” she replied automatically. He just smiled, like you would smile at an upset child and sat down on the empty bed next to hers.

“I recognise when a soldier is lying to me," he commented nonchalantly. “You are not fine.” Annika just shrugged.

“I can't change it, so I might as well go on,” she answered.

“You're confirming my worst and my best expectations of women as soldiers," Saucken continued. “The worst because of what has been done to you and the best because of your actions. I saw the film made on your last mission. And I can say your bravery has ended my personal reservations on this topic.” He paused for a moment before he continued. “However, you need help. No matter if the Soviets managed to break your or not, you still suffered a horrible fate.”

“How can you be so sure?” Annika challenged him. “You don't know me. In fact, I could be a Soviet spy. I could have been broken and turned...”

“But you weren't,” he stated firmly. She looked at him in confusion. “You weren't. I´ve known this since I first met you.” His eyes were full of kindness and warmth. “Still you need help. Everyone, even I, would need it.”

“I am fine,” Annika kept insisting. She just wanted this talk to end. She really felt fine, at least that was what she was telling herself.

“I want to tell you the story of a man I once knew,” Saucken spoke. “He received the highest orders. He was a man of great courage. He had fought from Liege to the retreat of 1918. All the years. He was lucky to survive. A year later he shot himself because of the problems. In the days back then we had no such possibilities as we have now. Perhaps he could still live. I don't know. But you need help."

"I am fine." she just answered.

Saucken sighed. “I hope you´ll change your mind.”

In this moment four soldiers entered the room, carrying between them four large trunks. Annika recognised them as belonging to Marshal Konew.

“Where should we take them?” one of them asked Annika.

“I don't know. They aren't mine,” she replied. “I´m pretty sure they belong to Marshal Konew.” She was certain that this must be an error.

“No, these are yours,” Saucken remarked. “They´re part of Stalin's compensation. We did search them, obviously.”

“I don't know if I can accept...I have to ask...” Annika couldn’t really express what she was thinking.

“Of course, you can,” Saucken interrupted her. “Here is a permission written by Chancellor Merkel and me. And if someone troubles you, send him to me.”

“We have a small break in the negotiations,” Saucken informed her. “Everything´s going fine; better than expected, actually. We´ll soon have an armistice with the current front lines and no further operations taking place. Then peace talks will start soon, though we still need to find a suitable location. Shouldn’t be that hard, to be honest. However, I´ll stop boring you with politics.” Saucken laughed. “There are a few people who want to see you.” He stood up and nodded towards one of the soldiers in the room, who then proceeded to open the door, through which three men, well known to her, entered; Johnson, her former Spieß, Schneider and Meyer. Annika was surprised to see them.

“Harry, Markus, Fritz!” she exclaimed in excitement. “What are you doing here?”

“We heard that you were back from your holiday in Moscow. Quite a shopping spree you had there, eh?” Markus pointed at the trunks.

“Who did it to you?” Johnson asked, his voice tense and quiet. He hadn’t even greeted her.

“Did they tell...”, Annika wanted to ask, but was interrupted by Harry, who simply exclaimed “No!” and looked at her.

“He was executed by Stalin,” was all she said.

“He got lucky then,” Johnson said, clenching his big black fists. “Very lucky, indeed.”

It was that simply statement of friendship and trust that managed to make Annika cry. She felt like being on a sinking ship, thrown into the water and drowning because of the suction. Awkwardly, Johnson hugged her, careful as if he was afraid that she would break if he applied too much pressure.

Saucken, who until then had stayed at the door, left. He hoped Annika had now recognised that she needed help.

+++

In the late evening Annika still laid in her bed, alone for now. She read over the list of the things the trunks entailed. She hadn't yet opened them, even though she was allowed to keep them. A part of her told her that she should keep them. Another part said: ‘To hell with them’. Well, until Annika decided what to do with them, she was now in the possession of a samovar, dishes, likely Meißen, golden silverware, some jewelry and a fur coat. A sable. Unlike others she liked fur, however, she wasn't sure she could even wear that coat, as it was way too costly. Like everything else.

Then her thoughts came back to the main problem now: She was pregnant.

The first thought that had crossed her mind in affect had been to just abort it and be done with it, but the longer she thought about it, the more unsure she was about it, conflicting feelings warring inside her. The baby was innocent. The boy – because she wanted a boy and was pretty sure it would be one – should not be punished for the crime of his father. But carrying the baby to terms would mean giving up her life as soldier, the only life she knew.

No, Annika thought, steeling herself, she would sell the stuff, abort the child and move on with her life. Like she had done before. She would go to Hamburg soon and abort the child, do her psych evaluation, as it was required by the Bundeswehr and then back to her unit. That was her plan.


“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Helmuth v. Moltke the Elder
 
Dietrich v. Saucken New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
*16.05.1892, Fischhausen, East Prussia

Abitur 1910 at the Collegium Fridericianum in Königsberg (German Gymnasium)

01.10.1910 Fahnenjunker Grenadier-Regiment König Friedrich Wilhelm I., 1. Division, Königsberg

19.06.1912 Leutnant

WW1:

1914: Gumbinnen, Stallupönen, Tannenberg, IC 2nd Class 19th October 1914

1916: Verdun, IC 1st class 23rd May 1916

1917: Battles in the Carpathian Mountains, 18.08.1917 Oberleutnant

1918: Spring Offensive, Baltic Sea Division, Knight's Cross of the Royal House order of Hohenzollern with Swords, Austrian Order of Merit, Bavarian Order of Merit (both 3rd class)

Interbellum:

1918-21: Member of a Freikorps, provisional army

1921: Joining the Reichswehr

01.04.1925: Rittmeister (Captain)

1927: Special assignment in the USSR, speaks Russian fluently since then

01.04.1934: Major, Instructor of the war school in Hannover

01.10.1936: Oberstleutnant

01.06.1939: Oberst

WW2:

Brigade commander in the 4th Panzer division, Battle of France, Balcan Campaign, Operation Barbarossa

01.01.1942 Generalmajor, divisional commander during Battle of Moscow, WIA

06.01.1943: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, Commander of the Schule für schnelle Truppen

01.04.1943: Generalleutnant

June 1943: Commander 4th Panzerdivision, Battle of Kursk

22.08.1943: 281st Oak Leaves to the KC

31.01.1944: 46th Swords

EVENT

01.06.1944: Joining the Bundeswehr and promotion to Generalleutnant (indeed only a few generals were given their respective rank of the Bundeswehr, as a Generalleutnant of the Wehrmacht is a Generalmajor today).

01.07.1944: Commander of the 16th Army, promotion to General (as several generals and high officers were not accepted, the remaining officers were getting a fast promotion again, especially the competent ones).

24.08.-31.08.1944: Battle of Dünaburg, Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr für Tapferkeit

01.10.1944: Joining the Staff of Army Group South

08.11.1944: Acting Commander of the AG South

09.11.1944: Starting preliminary armistice talks with Marshall Konew, promotion to Generalfeldmarschall

CENSORED
 
Chapter II, Part 58: A Radio Address New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Moscow, November 9th, 19:00

Radio speech by Josef Stalin


Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters!

Soldiers of our army and navy!

I speak to you, my friends!

It has been nearly three years ago that I last addressed you, the brave and noble citizens of great Motherland, when in a mad grabble for power the Fascists attacked us from the West without any reason. I promised you then that we would win. I promised you that together we would stop this invasion. I promised you to defend our homes and our mother country. Now I´m standing here to proclaim that I fulfilled that promise: We won!

Yes, I know that news from the front paint a different picture with us unable to reconquer Minsk and Odessa and Kiev having fallen into the enemy´s hands. However, it is also true that back in June the German government sued for peace. We made the mistake of not trusting them. Claiming to have come from the future, their story sounded too unbelievable, a weak attempt to cover up the death of Hitler and keep us from inflicting our righteous anger on the Fascists and their allies.

Our western allies, the British Empire and the United States, hellish capitalist hellholes, with which we only allied out of necessity, convinced us that the Germans were sprouting lies when in truth it was them who weaved nothing but lies.

Because, brothers and sisters, it wasn´t lies. It was the truth! The Germans are, indeed, from the future, and their attempt to atone for their predecessors’ sins was sincere. They wanted to make peace, they wanted to pay us reparations. They offered us back their prisoners of war, your fathers, your sons, your brothers and your husbands. They offered to give back everything Hitler and his Fascists robbed from us. And what did we do? We had won. The Fascists were no longer and we had a sensible peace offer.

Yet, we didn’t accept. But for what reasons did we continue the war? Hadn't we achieved everything we´ve wanted? The Germans were about to leave our territory. They wanted to pay reparations. They wanted to make amends. And we didn't accept. And, again I ask, for what reason?

Because insidious as they are, the Western capitalist powers forced our hand. The Western Allies are adamant to dismantle Germany. They want to destroy them and rob them of their technology. That's the plain reason. They want to loot Germany! And they want to use Soviet men to do their dirty work, so they don’t have to!

I promised you that we would defeat the Fascist: That we would stop their invasion. That we would get reparation for our losses. I know, many for you have literally spilled blood for this great country. Many of you have lost dear ones: Shot down by an enemy fighter, killed by an MG, sunk by a depth charge; I could go on endlessly. And many of you want revenge for that; that is only human. But that is revenge, not justice, and revenge only causes more grief. It is justice that we demand. And justice we could have gotten half a year ago.

We were used by the Western Allies. We were used to fight their war; no, not war, but a raid. Their greedy elites are responsible for all the dead; be they Soviet, German, Hungarian, Fin or any other race, including our working-class brothers and sisters in the USA and Britain, who have to suffer because of the treachery of their governments. But we, the people of the Soviet Union have seen the truth and shall no longer be used as the capitalists’ attack dog!

My friends, there is no sense in carrying on this war. No sense in dying for the capitalists sitting in London or Washington. No Soviet and no German should die any more. We demand reparation! We demand justice! But we also need to give the new government of Germany the chance to fulfill our demands. We need to come together and find a way out of this war.

We need peace!

Because of that I sent Marshal Konew to Kiew and ask for an armistice. He succeeded. At midnight the guns will be silent. All offensive actions were called off. Peace talks will take place soon. We will talk in earnest and I am sure the Germans will as well. We never fought the German people, but their Nazi leaders. Now these leaders are either dead or awaiting a trial. For centuries the German and the Soviet peoples were friends. Let us rekindle that friendship!

For peace and friendship!
 
Chapter II, Part 59: Churchill's Choice New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
London, November 9th, 21:15

Churchill reread the telegram sent by ambassador Kerr again. By now he could recite it word for word already. In front of him stood half a bottle of Whisky, the glass next to it filled with the amber liquid. After the Soviet armistice talks had become public, he had taken out the bottle again and filled this glas. But he hadn't drunk a single drop. Yet.

“Rumors verified...STOP...Stalin's making peace...STOP...Radio speech by Stalin himself...STOP...Armistice agreed...STOP...Peace negotiations to follow...STOP...Britain and US blamed...STOP...Speech and commentary will follow soon...STOP”

He didn't need the speech or the commentary, because he could already guess its content: Stalin was throwing them under the bus in order to save himself. Well, to be honest, they were indeed trying to steal German technology, but Stalin had fully agreed to it. He had been the one demanding it after all! And now he wanted to make a deal with Germany instead. And the problem was that the Germans would give it to him as they wanted to end the war, but on their terms. And now it looked like they had won.

If only... No. Italy was too narrow, favouring its defenders. Even a short victory there meant they would still have to cross the Alps. With the Soviets out the picture the full might of the Germans would hit Britain. Millions of men, thousands of tanks and planes. And Britain and the US had severe losses and would continue to suffer severe losses. They would have to accept them if they decided to continue this righteous war.

He needed to think about the possibilities still available to him. Or rather the lack thereof. With the Soviets at war the Germans had been bound in the east with most of their forces. Now that had changed. A new invasion wouldn't be possible in the near future. Not in 1945 and likely not in 1946 as well. And the Soviets were likely going to sell their vast resources the Germans needed to continue the war.

Damn bastards! Damn Stalin! Well, to be honest, Churchill had known that continuing the war had been a gamble. Great Britain could carry on with losing men and money or make peace. From Italy it were over 1.000 km to Berlin, the Alps, the terrain. The use of ABC-weapons? No way! The Germans would retaliate. London would be a radiated swamp afterwards. No, that was no possibility.

Churchill read the second telegram he had received from Roosevelt.

“Stalin making peace...STOP...Treacherous action...STOP...War goes on...STOP...Prepare for new offensive actions...STOP...New loans possible...STOP”

Was the man an utter fool? He barely managed to get re-elected and then he talks about continuing the war. How? How could they still win? Preparing for new offensive actions? Against the Germans?!? Roosevelt should realize that war was lost. The Germans had won, the Allies had lost. Perhaps the Germans would still agree to the offer that had been on the table half a year ago.

Churchill took the glass and held it in his hand, the lamp shining through the liquid and making it shine like a thousand diamonds. An awe-inspiring spectacle. The last words of the telegram had been more than an offer for new loans. They were a reminded that Britain was deeply indebted to the United States. There would be no money in the future. And the debts? That was indeed a huge problem. It had to be solved. But who would give them money in the future? The Germans? Perhaps. Perhaps, but only if they wanted to make peace in the west as well.

Britain needed to receive loans from Germany in order to solve their entanglement with Washington. But would Germany even be able to give out such loans? But how far would Roosevelt go? Would he be crazy enough to declare war on the British Empire as well? Unlikely. After the elections the man couldn’t risk dragging the US in another war. No, it was unlikely, but still a possibility. They needed to prepare for such a case, though. Officially they could call it preparations for defending Britain against an invasion. Negotiations with the Germans had to be kept top secret.

Churchill had already sent a man towards the Germans. They were agreeing to meet secretly in Stockholm to conduct preliminary peace negotiations. So Stalin was not much faster than him.

He should have done that half a year ago, Churchill thought to himself. Perhaps then the Germans would have finished off Stalin instead of making peace with him if they had had the British Empire standing behind them. It would have been the better alternative.

He looked at the Whisky bottle. He took it and put it in his desk. Then he locked it.

Now one can only hope.
 
Chapter II, Part 60: Alea iacta est! New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Berlin, November 8th, 08:45:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sitting at her desk when Peter Altmaier entered the room. She looked at him expectantly as the last time they had met Altmaier had promised to return once there was more information about the elections in the USA.

“The results are in,” Altmaier spoke. “It´s Roosevelt again.”

Merkel let out a long-suffering sigh. In the months leading up to the elections Roosevelt had always headed every poll, but only with a slim lead. Over the last few months lack of decisive victories had caused war fatigue amongst the American population, something that Dewey picked on with his promise of making peace with Germany if it gave up his Japanese ally. Japan had been the one directly attacking US soil without prior declaration of war, so they were the main enemy, not Germany.

That proposal was soon rejected by her, though. Giving up Japan meant losing every bit of influence Germany had in Asia and would only lead to its defeat at the hands of the US which would give the country a foothold in the world´s most populous region and would sooner or later also lead to China´s ascension. No, better to keep supporting Japan and use their influence to have it prosecute its war criminals once the war was over like Germany was doing with its Nazis.

Her stance hadn't particularly helped Dewey who remained adamant about fighting the Japanese, an enemy that the US had cowed into submission once before. Since the Event, though, there had been no major US offensive either. That had been a weakpoint Dewey had gone after, forcing Roosevelt on the defensive. Why did he send so much forces to Europe? Why didn't he finish off Japan at first? Dewey also started to question the unconditional surrender demand and if it could even be enforced. Slow but steady he had caught up to Roosevelt in the polls.

Then the attack on New York commenced, the timing of which had been a mistake, Merkel realised. The harbour had been the intended target, but soon the fires spread to Brooklyn and destroyed much of the quarter. At least tens of thousands, if not more, had lost their lives, their homes and their possessions.

The population wanted revenge, a sentiment Roosevelt had exploited ruthlessly. They had handed him the reason to remain at war with Germany on a silver platter. The defeat at the battle of Alta had been regarded as a necessary sacrifice. The narrative now was that the destruction of New York harbour and its yards, the loss of four Essex and a Midway class carrier being built, as well as the other ships and harbour facilities had been as dastardly as the attack on Pearl Harbor but would not deter the American people on their way to victory.

“It was New York that tipped the scales, wasn’t it?” Merkel asked, even though she already knew the answer. Altmaier just nodded

“Yes, it was,” he sighed. “Such a mess. And it wasn’t even our intention.”

“Just bad luck,” Merkel sighed.

“In the end it was pretty damn close,” Altmaier continued. “New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania made the difference. They switched back to Roosevelt. He´s set to make his first public speech soon.”

“That's nothing I need to hear personally. I know what its content is going to be: Down with Germany, down with Japan. And so on.” Merkel rolled her eyes. “Anything new from Operation Büroklammer?”

“No,” Altmaier shook his head. “The event a few hours ago led to a small disruption to the time table.”

“Anything serious?” she inquired.

“No,” Altmaier assured her. “I think we can expect it for tomorrow.”

“That will give us the chance to finally put an end to this war.”

“Yes, it will,” he remarked. He knew of the importance of the project after all.

“Please prepare everything,” Merkel ordered. “I don't want anyone to make an error just now!”

“I will,” he said. He stood up to leave the office.

“Oh, and Peter,” Merkel called after him. “Please commence the necessary preparations for some distinctions. They really deserved it.”

Altmaier just nodded and left the room.

If this works the war is as good as won, Merkel thought to herself. It was a strange feeling, sitting here in her office with the knowledge that she would be the face of the Germany that would win WWII the second time around. She didn’t know if she should be elated or terrified by the prospect of having the power of reshaping history in a way that no one else ever had.

There was still Roosevelt to be dealt with, though. Merkel still hoped that he would accept defeat. Maybe if she offered him a white peace. But he hadn't accepted one earlier and would probably try to sit it out. She had to admit that she would do the very same. However, with the events coming other nations might accept peace. A separate peace.

Alea iacta est!
 
Chapter II, Part 61: Family Reunion New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Memel, November 10th, 10:03:

Working for Donald Trump had been lucrative for Dr. Voss. The man might be his main client; however, he wasn’t the only one as Dr. Voss didn’t want to be bound to a single man, who was more than a little erratic. Besides, there were other lawyers working at his firm who could do the work when he didn’t want to. This gave him the possibility to reject cases which might only cause him trouble, but also accept the ones he thought would be interesting.

Today was such an interesting case: He had taken on 72-years-old Mr. Gustav Toleski who wanted to take care of his younger self and sister, who in the old timeline had been separated when she had been adopted but he hadn’t been. Before that both of them had lived in an orphanage. His whole life Toleski had tried to find his sister, but it had been in vain. Now, with the Event granting him a second chance, he wanted to do better.

It was only thanks to Dr. Voss help that he had even found out that his real name had never been Toleski but Toleikis. Some official had simply written his name wrong and it had been never corrected! This, at least, finally enabled them to find Mr Toleikis younger self.

So it came that Dr. Voss and his client had sought out the orphanage and were now sitting in front of its director, one Dr. Wilhelm Gernodat.

“Mr. Toleikis, Dr. Voss,” he greeted them amicably. “This is truly a strange situation; one I didn’t find myself in before. Someone asking to adopt his younger self is, well, not very common, if I may say so. Anyway, according to the new laws introduced, one set of the same person is to be viewed as siblings, therefore making your request even possible. All necessary paperwork seemed to have been filled out and approved.” He made a show of going over the papers again even though he must have already read them. “And your children agreed to take young Gustav in should you pass away before his eighteenth birthday.”

“Is there anything amiss with my client´s paperwork?” Dr. Voss inquired. His office had taken uttermost care to have everything completed and approved, even going so far as sending both the original and an additional copy so nothing would get lost.

“Oh, no, there´s nothing missing,” the director assured him. “There´s no problem at all.” By now Dr. Voss was getting irritated but year-long work as a lawyer enabled him to hide his annoyance. “Do you have a sister, Mr. Toleikis?”

“I do,” the man replied hesitantly. “Or I did, I don’t really know if she´s even still alive. I haven’t seen her since 1944. I tried to find her, but I never could. All because of a simply spelling mistake.” He shook his head.

“Did you try to contact her?” the director asked.

“No,” Mr. Toleikis replied. “Though, I wanted to attempt one last try once this affair has been finished.”

“And what about her younger self?” Gernodat inquired.

“Well, I know she´s already been adopted. I´m not sure if I should even attempt to find her and disrupt her life.” By now Dr. Voss could guess where this was going.

“I presume there´s something else you want to talk about?”

“There is, indeed,” Dr. Gernodat answered. “Someone else requested to adopt young Gustav. A request made by someone you know very well.”

“Does that mean...” Mr. Toleikis started, his voice breaking as for the first time in years hope rekindled in his mind.

“Mrs. Regina Ehrlich, née Toleikis is currently sitting in another room talking to my deputy,” Mr. Gernodat said. “All I can say is that she, too, tried to find you. With the very same result.”

By now Mr. Toleikis had fallen completely silent, his expression a mixture of hope, elation, sadness and worry. “Do you want to see her?” Dr. Gernodat asked. The man opposite of him just nodded.

The next moment an elderly woman entered the room, her lips quivering and silent tears running down her cheeks.

“Gustav, my little brother...” she cried, her voice thick with emotions and barely above a whisper. Carefully, Mr. Toleikis stood up and walked towards his sister, as if he could barely believe that she was truly there and not some figment of his imagination. When he had reached her, he, too, couldn’t hold back his tears as after all those decades he could finally hold his sister in his arms again.

Seeing the siblings reunited again, reminded Dr. Voss why he took such cases in the first place. It was a good feeling to know that you just made the world a little bit better, even if it was only a small action.

Soon afterwards Mrs. Ehrlich declared that she would give up her request for adoption. Then little Gustav, a shy boy, was led into the room where he was told in kid-friendly terms that his aunt and uncle were here to take him home with them.

The family would stay at Memel for some days. Dr. Voss, though, had to travel back to Hamburg soon after. Later he was told, that neither Mr Toleikis nor his sister would raise any claims against the family who had adopted Mrs. Ehrlich as she had told his brother that she had had a good childhood with them. They would stay in contact, though.

This story is based upon true events. The Hamburger Abendblatt of August 30th reported a sister finding her brother after 73 years. Both had to flee from Memel and both hadn’t been able to find each other afterwards due to an official misspelling the brother´s name wrong on official forms.
 
Chapter II, Part 62: Innocence New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Hamburg, November 15th, 18:09:

Annika Schröder was in the military hospital of Hamburg. She had wanted to get rid of the baby as fast as possible and return back for duty. The abortion should have happened today, but the woman before her had had some complications, which meant that Annika was supposed to be the first one the following day.

She stayed in her room. At first, she thought it was quite an advantage to have a room to her own, but now she had cabin fever and yearned for someone to talk to. Not the psychologist the Bundeswehr had assigned her to. She had talked to him, but it hadn’t been helpful. She had only done it to keep the Bundeswehr happy, which the psychologist knew, of course. She probably wasn’t the first one to try that. But for the moment he was playing along, probably hoping that she would give in to him and let him help her. But she simply didn't want to speak to him about her problems. She had to solve them on her own. That´s what she had been taught all her life.

No longer able to stand the smothering silence of her room, Annika got dressed and went out to go for a walk. It was dark outside already, but that didn't matter to her. She walked past the entrance to the maternity ward, where – not paying attention to where she was walking – she collided with someone. After she had picked herself up from the ground, Annika noticed that the other person was male, about 1,80 m, blue eyes, brown hair and wore the uniform of a Kapitänleutnant.

“I´m so sorry,” he apologised profoundly. “Are you alright?” He looked at her which made Annika notice his red-rimmed eyes: He had cried not so long ago. “I was lost in thoughts.”

“Nothing happened,” she assured the man. “I was in thoughts as well.”

“I´m so relieved to hear that,” he said. There was a moment of awkward silence before he nodded at her one last time and walked away.

Annika watched him walk away. Then her gaze turned towards the building housing the maternity ward looming in front of her. She didn’t know why – it was as if her feet had suddenly developed a life of their own – but somehow she went into the station.

Through the windows she could gaze upon the rows of new-borns that were cared for by nurses and doctors. Some were sleeping, some were crying and some were just babbling into thin air. Suddenly Annika felt as if she couldn’t breathe anymore. All noises sounded so subdued and far away, as if she was underwater and water was slowly filling her lungs. Only the cries of the babies pierced through her mind like gunshots.

Coming here had been a mistake. She turned around and even though she wanted to walk away in a dignified manner, she couldn’t help but run outside, just trying to escape what lied behind her. So absorbed in her panic, Annika didn't notice the dark uniform which suddenly appeared in front of her as she ran along one of the paths in the park. This time the collision was harder, as she had been running and no time to stop. Both fell.

“Oh, it is you,” the man spoke after he had recognised her. “I think we´re even now, aren’t we?”

Just now she recognized him as the soldier that had come out of the maternity ward only a few minutes ago.

“If we continue literally running into each other we should at least know each other´s names,” the soldier joked. “I am Martin Dräscher.”

“Annika Schröder,” she introduced herself. “Nice to meet you.”

“I always thought such things only happened in romcoms,” he remarked.

"You´re right!” Annika laughed. “It´s like some Hollywood movies starring Sandra Bullock.”

“Yes, indeed,” Martin agreed. “And then they get married in quite the dramatic fashion.”

“Indeed,” Annika replied curtly. That line of thought wasn’t something she was comfortable to talk about.

Martin seemed to recognize it. “I´m sorry. I didn’t mean to creep you out.”

“You didn’t,” Annika lied. “It´s quite weird that we ran into each other twice.”

“Ehm, I only wanted to find some space for me and my thoughts,” Martin explained. While he spoke, Annika noticed the way he was fidgeting with the ring he was wearing on his right hand. He seemed to be a little bit nervours.

“Me, too,” she replied. “I´ll leave you to it then.”

“That's really not necessary,” Martin said. “I can go elsewhere.”

“If you insist,” Annika agreed. Then, because it was only a logical conclusion to arrive at she added: “And my best wishes to your wife and child.” It had been a honest congratulation, and yet Annika realised too late that she had misread the situation, when Martin´s eyes started to tear up until he couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.

“Oh, I´m so sorry!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t know…how insensitive of me.” She didn’t really know what to do, so she just stood there awkwardly next to the man until he had calmed down again.

“I´m so sorry,” he apologised. “I thought I had it under control, but…well, obviously I didn’t.”

“Is it the child?” Annika inquired hesitantly.

“The girl is fine. It is her mother…” Martin swallowed. "Maria is...was from Münster. Very catholic. I didn't mind. We married four years ago and she moved to Kiel where I was stationed. We were happy at first but then the problems started to appear: I wanted children while she didn't. Additionally, I often had to leave her several weeks or months.” He paused for a moment. “I really don't know, why I´m telling you this.”

Annika just shrugged. “Maybe telling a stranger is easier than talking to someone you know. After all, we´ll never see each other after this.”

“Last year she left,” Martin continued, “but her parents could persuad her to come back. I was happy. She even seemed to have considered her refusal and now wanted to get a child. And it worked.” Another pause. “At least I thought so. But then, shortly before the Event, we had a huge quarrel. She thought that returning had been a mistake. That she wanted a divorce and abort the child which she thought had been forced upon her.”

Martin swallowed. “I was stunned and hurt. She only didn’t do it because her parents pressured her to. It just hurt so much, you know, because she didn’t even consider carrying the child to terms and let me raise it." He sighed. “The next day she left me and travelled back to her parents to Münster. And then the Americans attacked.”

“Oh my God!” Annika exclaimed. Martin just nodded.

“Her parents were killed, and she was hit by a splinter,” Martin continued. “She was delivered to the hospital with severe head injuries. But they were too severe; they told me that she would never recover. But the child? She was innocent, completely innocent. Only a child. A baby in need of help. They told me that saving the baby would risk the mother´s life, but I didn’t care. I told them that she would have wanted the baby to live, even if though it was a lie. And now she is dead.

I thought that I was finished with Maria, but now that she is dead, I feel this all-consuming guilt. Because I made the decision that killed her. And I feel even guiltier because I´d do it again if it means saving my child.”

As if a valve had been opened, all emotions seemed to leave the man. Only now he seemed to realise that he told his whole story to a complete stranger.

“I´m so sorry,” he stammered. “I shouldn’t have told you that.” And before Annika could even react, he was already walking away.

Annika was completely stunned. She couldn't really find it in herself to judge him for what he had done. But one sentence struck a chord in her: The baby was innocent. Of course, it was. But wasn't that also true in regard to her own baby?

She returned to her room. The next morning, when Annika was about to be prepared, she refused. Instead she took her stuff and went out to find Martin.

“Herr Dräscher, I need to talk to you...” A little later, at the very same place as the evening before, she told him her story. And that she would keep the baby.
 
Chapter II, Part 63: Interview with a Despot New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Hamburg, November 17th:

DER SPIEGEL, Nr. 23, 1944, 8 pp.

Interview with Stalin


by Dirk Kurbjuweit

When we received the news from the German embassy in Sweden a day after the armistice was signed that the Soviet embassy wanted to contact us, we were very surprised as we had simply no idea as to why. Nevertheless, I went to Stockholm the following day which also meant that for the first time I had to use a Lufthansa Ju-52 as the Swedish capital does not yet have the facilities to accommodate modern panes.

I met with the Russian ambassador Alexandra Kollontai in one of the many parks of the city. What I did not expect was for her forward an interview request from Stalin in person. When I inquired as to why he would want such a thing, her reply was that the Soviet dictator wanted “to correct the wrong and outdated impression the German people had of him”. She continued to offer us safe conduct and a plane ride that would take us from Stockholm to Moscow. We were to meet again the next day to tell her our decision.

The following night was a short one. I contacted the office in Hamburg and the German embassy. After long back and forth we finally accepted. On November 15th a plane would take us to Moscow. And a day later we would meet Stalin.

It was a strange feeling, despite the assurances, to take the C-47 to Moscow. The crew was friendly and welcoming; however, I assume that most of the personal were agents of the NKWD. The interview was supposed to take place in Stalin's office. What took me by surprise was that Stalin used a tablet; a fact which he didn’t even bother to hide. That the tablet must have come from Germany should be pretty obvious to everyone. After taking some photos we started the interview.

DER SPIEGEL: Good morning, towarischtsch woschd. The first question we would like to ask and which is surely also asked by our readers is why you requested this interview in the first place?

Stalin: Well, there´s much discussion and heated debate about me in Germany, much of it based on misinformation and misunderstandings. Some of it even on malicious lies and slander. I´d like to correct that impression.

What lies are you referring to?

Well, much of what was said and written about me after my…well, I suppose death is the right word? After my death in your timeline.

So, you are stating that much of what we know about you isn´t true and you´re in fact not the dark historical figure you´re made out to be?

(laughs) No, no. As leader of the USSR you have to be hard and unyielding, otherwise this big country would fall apart. And as a former theology student I can tell you that no one is ever innocent. However, the USSR is a complicated state and unlike what most people believe I´m not some spider sitting at the centre of the net, knowing what´s going on all the time.

So you claim that you don´t have complete knowledge of what is going on in your security apparatus?

Does your chancellor know what is happening in every ministry all the time? I introduced the Gulags but I did not approve or disapprove every single inmate and that made it possible for some overeager agents to incarcerate citizens that were in fact innocent. We are currently conducting investigations to uncover how exactly this could happen. I suppose it´s only one of the many mistakes that were made.

What were the others?

Well, there was the famine in the Ukraine, where too many people died. A great tragedy that could have been prevented. Our biggest mistake, though, I suppose was that we left the path Marx so clearly set out for us. Lenin wanted too much too soon and we followed him. The Chinese of your time found a middle way and that is the path the USSR will take as well. Don´t get me wrong, communism will come one day, but for that the people need to be ready. Right now they aren’t. Marx recognised that in his writings, Lenin didn’t. He rushed things and we made the mistake of following him.

That sounds like you plan to majorly overhaul the economic policies of your nation?

Indeed. I plan to introduce a system similar to the Chines where the Party remains in power but the economy is liberalised. But that is only another step on our way to the communist revolution.

And when will that be?

Not in the foreseeable future. Something like Holdomor shan´t happen again. Still, I do not regret the steps I have taken to get here. We needed to defend ourselves against the reactionary and fascist forces all around us and rapid industrialisation was the only way we could archive that.

Then why didn't you react earlier when Hitler attacked?

To be honest, I did not expect it. And because of that we lost time and – even more important – men. Our small dispute with Finland revealed the weakness of our armed force where I tried to do everything myself. I gave the generals the authority to act on their own and suddenly we fared much better. I learned from my mistakes; Hitler didn’t and that cost him everything.

You call it a ‘small dispute with Finland’?

I do. We feared that Hitler would get his hands on Finland and thus we attacked first. I knew that he would attack us, but I thought we would have at least another year, maybe even two. That Finland would resume hostilities against us was only logical.

You knew that Hitler would eventually attack. Still you entered a non-aggression pact with Nazi-Germany and used it to partition Poland.

Indeed. I still think that back then it was without alternative. We got back the territory Poland robbed from us and it also bought us time to prepare. Without that time Hitler could have taken Moscow back in 1941. Preventing that justifies everything I did until then.

And what about the massacre of Katyn?

Only recently we received intelligence that some overeager NKWD officers thought they would do their country a service by murdering innocent Polish citizens. It's a horrible crime and the officers responsible will be punished. That I can promise you.

You must be aware that some people may not believe you?

(sighes) Yes, I am. And I do not deny that I made some mistakes along the way, while others were forced upon us. You must know that it was Churchill who demands the expulsion of Germans from all non-German territory, so that any successor state cannot lay claim on those territories. It is also he who wants to give Poland German territory. I have no such intentions. Additionally, from what I could gather about the future, my proposal from 1952 was only meant to be a political manoeuvre and never a serious suggestion.

What makes you think the the proposal of 1952 was not serious? The USSR did claim that.

(loughs) Of course, we would! But seriously, the borders should have been the ones of 1933 and the army strong enough to defend the German border which should have been guaranteed by all parties. But our biggest problem was that Germany would always be too big to be just neutral.

What does that mean for the current negotiations?

They are just being conducted. I can't tell you much, as this would hurt the whole negotiations. Let me be clear, though: We are tirelessly working on stopping this war, something which every negotiation party is keen on. That means that we will come to an agreement.

Could that be still in this year?

Good question, but yes, I think it could. At Christmas our soldiers may be celebrating at home.

You don't believe in god, do you?

I was a student of theology, so I don't, not anymore. (Laughs.) No, I don't believe in him. That's a private issue.

Does that mean the USSR will stop the prosecution of religion?

Yes, it does. However, that doesn’t mean that the church is allowed to get itself involved in anything else but worship. The state belongs to the Party.

So the Civil Rights are to be enforced again?

Yes, of course. That was always our intention. Sadly, due to the circumstances of war we needed to restrict them. But should peace be archived, this won´t be the case any longer.

Currently there are some trials against communists in Germany. They are accused of murdering Ernst Thälmann. Some traces are leading to Moscow. Do you have any comment?

As this is an ongoing case I won´t say much; that I leave to the courts. However, let me be clear that it is not acceptable for any communist to murder others, especially our own comrades. Should Mr Ullbricht be found guilty, he will be sentenced accordingly.

Is there anything else you want to tell the German people?

Only a few years ago Germany and Russia were allies, united against a world that saw both our nations as pariahs and our people prospered because of it. Let us revive those good old times; let us be allies again. Let us not only talk about peace, but also about friendship. Let us forgive the sins of the past and forge a new path into a bright future.

Thank you for this interview.

On a personal note we can confirm that Mr. Stalin is indeed very charismatic.
 
Chapter II, Part 64: Poland isn't lost yet New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
London, Chelsea, 43 Eaton Place, November 9th, 22:03:

President Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz was sitting in his bureau, deep in thoughts after heaving heard the speech Stalin had given during his radio address. He was baffled: He really hadn't expected that move. Raczkiewicz had genuinely believed that Stalin would want to loot this new Germany for its advanced technology, but now he had apparently changed his strategy. He obviously wanted to get the Soviets out of the war without losing face. A communist who acted so very capitalistic.

A knock on the door. Only a moment later – without even waiting for his reaction – Stanislaw Mikolajczik, Prime minister of the Polish government in exile, entered the room.

“Mr. President, we need to talk,” Mikolajczik stated breathlessly. “There is important news!”

“I know,” the president replied. “Stalin's making peace with the Germans.”

“Yes, but that's not the reason why I am came; or at least not the main reason,” Mikolajczik declared. “We´re about to lose another ally: Britain will soon seek peace as well! I got that from a trusted source within the British government.”

Raczkiewicz would have toppled over if he wasn’t seated in his chair already. “Seriously?”

Mikolajczik only nodded. The president just stared at him as silence descended over the room. It was the premier who finally broke the silence. “And we got news from the Germans.”

“Let me guess: Another offer of peace?”

“Indeed, sir.”

“What a déjà-vu,” the Raczkiewicz chuckled. “It feels like we had the same talk only a short while ago.”

“Yes, we did,” Mikolajczik replied. “Their offer from then still stands. However, they also say that they won´t be able to lend us any more help once the peace treaty with the Soviets is concluded.”

“Hrmpf.”

“This is the best offer we´re likely to get,” the premier added.

“I know,” Raczkiewicz admitted. “They want plebiscites in Pommerania and Upper Silesia. They offer reparations and they offer help with the Soviets. That means nothing.”

“How so?”

“They´re dealing with Stalin,” Raczkiewicz sneered. “He will dictate them his condition and they´ll agree. Except for some insignificant border villages, he will get Eastern Poland. And the Germans will try to sell us these villages as a success. However...”

"Yes?”

“...however, we might be forced to accept the German offer anyway.”

“You can't be serious!” Mikolajczik exclaimed. “This is Polish soil. It is as Polish as the blood in my veins! What about the United States?”

Raczkiewicz thought about it for a moment. “The USA?”

“Yes,” Mikolajczik nodded. “Roosevelt is adamant to see Germany destroyed. If we help him, we can get all of Poland. Then it will be us who will be the US’ main ally in Europe. Not the British and certainly not the Soviets. We can claim everything! And we can get US support to deal with the Soviets.”

“The US were dealt some serious blows over the last months,” Raczkiewicz pointed out.

“But their industry is virtually unlimited,” Mikolajczik tried to convince the president. “They can still outproduce the Germans and win. Their forces are only 1.000 km away from Berlin.”

“I know that. Our soldierss are fighting with them, after all.”

“We need to stay strong. Stay strong for Poland, because it isn't lost yet!”

Raczkiewicz was silent again. Then, in a voice that tried to convey resoluteness he spoke: “I don't want to be membered as the president who turned Poland into a German vassal again after only two decades of independence. Without the Soviets the US will rely on us more than ever before and we can use that to get back what´s ours. And there is still the Home Army... Yes, we can win this.”

Half an hour later, after Mikolajczik had left, Raczkiewicz prayed to God that he had done the right thing.
 
Chapter II, Part 65: Pawn Sacrifice New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Washington, DC, White House, Oval Office, November 12th, 11:02:

President Roosevelt sat in his wheel chair looking out of the window. It was a cool and grey day, mirroring exactly how he felt. Everything was breaking apart: The Russians seeking peace. And now the British, too, if he could believe his secret service. He still needed confirmation. In this depressing moment someone knocked on the door. FDR turned around.

“Enter!” he barked and Secretary of State Stettinius entered the room.

“Ah, Edward,” FDR greeted him. “Do you have any news?”

Stettinius nodded. “I just received the confirmation. They sent a man to Lisbon to start negotiations.”

“Oh, those filthy, perfidious Limeys!” FDR started cursed. “That’s why I hate them nearly as much as the Germans. And now they won´t even honour our alliance any more. They want to make peace with Germany, thus betraying everything we achieved so far. I will prevent that.”

He grabbed to the telephone and called George C. Marshall. “George, execute Capri special... Yes, special... Yes, that's a clear order!”

“Edward, I put my trust in the wrong people,” he continued. “Churchill, Stalin: They all are the same scum. Like Hitler.” Hearing that Stalin was making peace with the Germans had taken him by surprise. He could barely believe it at first.

“Sir, you are completely right. They betrayed us...”

“We were warned. By the Germans. The Germans! Our enemies!” FDR spit out. “They told us that our allies would betray us.”

“And now the Limeys,” he added after a small pause.

“Mr. President,” Stettinius wanted to remain formal. “May I suggest...”

“No,” FDR stopped him, already knowing where this was going. “We will continue so that Germany may never be a danger to our interests again.” He sighed. “I am sorry, Edward. That wasn't fair. And I'm sorry I have to ask you for your resignation.”

Stettinius was not completely surprised by that, but it was still a shock anyway. He had been the main proponent of propping up the Soviets and with the current political climate in the US it made him a huge liability to Roosevelt. He was under heavy political fire and had to go in order to preserve the president´s impeccability.

“Of course, Mr. President,” he just answered.

FDR sighed again. “It's a mess. I know it's unfair, but that's politics.”

Stettinius just nodded. “And who will replace me, if I may ask?”

“Byrnes. He's a good friend of Truman,” FDR replied. “Damn! In this situation I need someone like Morgenthau, but that's not possible, I fear. I need to keep the US in the war. The only reason why the population is even still willing to support us is the attack on New York. And I shall use it as long as I can. Germania delenda est!"

Shortly after Stettinius was on his way to his office to prepare everything for his leave. Secretly, though, he was relieved: He could wash his hands off this whole mess. He knew that the war was lost. And Operation Capri would only make it worse.
 
Chapter II, Part 66: After Action Report New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Rostock, December 12:

From: OBM (1)

To: BKAmt; BMVg (2)

Streng geheim!

The Battle of Alta – A Summary




Over a month after the battle of Alta we can finally analyse the battle more thoroughly.

...

Summary:

The battle of Alta was a much closer run than it looks now in hindsight. The aim of the enemy – the destruction of our major surface fleet – was within their reach several times. Several of our ships were damaged or were even destroyed completely, amongst them the carrier Deutschland. Three of the frigates – the Rheinland-Pfalz, the Niedersachsen and the Emden – were total losses, the latter of which even need to be scuttled. Near the end, the whole fleet had run out of ammunition and would have been unable to continue to keep the enemy at bay if the enemy morale had not been broken by then, which rendered them unable to exploit that weakness.

It is this professional’s opinion, that the US soldiers fought bravely, but it was only a question of time when their morale would break as it must have appeared to them as if they were only receiving losses while our fleet appeared to receive no such damage in return. An attack with more ships, which thankfully didn’t occur, would have led to a catastrophe for our forces. Intel reports and interviews with captured flag officers indicate that the enemy command did not think the numbers for our fleet was real and therefore did not send the forces necessary. If they had done so we would have suffered a great defeat.

The possibility that the enemy tries the same attack again – this time succeeding – is still in the air. Our stocks of guided missiles, especially of the type Harpoon and Exocet AshM are depleted. We have enough of the former to re-stock our ships one last time, but the latter are out. The S-Boats did an admirable job in the Channel, de facto stopping any ships operating there, at the expense of our stocks, though, which means they cannot maintain this operation for much longer. Currently they are used as backup for the smaller torpedo S-boats by directing them into position.

The loss of so many ships and trained men, especially, is a hard it against the enemy as it will take years to replace them. If we can believe our historical sources, the economical strain building a fleet as big as the enemy plans to have will cause shortage of nearly all sort of goods, be they of military or consumer nature, even more so as we have destroyed several of the enemy´s main yards. From a military point of view, we need to carry on with these attacks.

To prevent any kind of counterattacks to take place we need to build more ships carrying missiles and develope new weapons.

The next capital ships to be built should be a ship type similar to the Forrestal class. A carrier capable of carrying the most modern jets for the next 40-50 years. Planning a ship such as this will take time and resource we don’t have during the war. What we can build, though, are ships we already know how to build. The class 180 frigates should be ordered. We know that the Bremen class is no longer a class that we can keep in service for several years after the war. They will do their duty but they will need expansive overhauls after the war, which would be too costly. Therefore, we should build at least 12 of the class 180 and another 6 Sachsen class frigates. Plans should also be made for an even bigger destroyer similar to the Arleigh Burke class.

However, these ships will be costly. Therefore, we need to look for other supplements. Currently, the navy has ordered 4 type 1936C, 12 type 1945 destroyers, 9 type 1941, 12 type 1944 fleet torpedo boats, 8 type 1941 frigates. Several type 1943 minesweepers and smaller craft are being completed as well, including 24 MZ-2 type multipurpose boats. New orders are given to replace the M-Boot type 1943 with the new type 1944, which is about 100 ts larger and is carrying two 53,3 cm torpedo tubes. And the class 140 S-Boats are ordered as well. It's worth considering to build some ships in a modular fashion, so that they can be assembled near the Med where we still lack the numbers. These ships should be upgraded after the war to carry more modern weapons. That can supplement our fleet of modern warships for less money.

Operation Wintersturm will be conducted soon. 200 Type XXI boats are ready to attack US ship lanes on the East Coast of America from Canada to Brazil. New boats are to be produced while the Type XXIX boats are not available.

The battleships, heavy cruisers, the Nürnberg, Königsberg, the captured Cleveland class CL, the captured US DD, the Type 1936, 1936 B, C, 1942 and 1945 destroyers and the fleet torpedo boats should be considered for upgrades after the war.

There are also some early proposals to use the Italian OTO Melara LW turrets as base to integrate the 8,8 cm, 10,5 cm and 12,8 cm guns. We will need further evaluation.

As for missiles, we suggest introducing the TAURUS as a shipborne cruise missile to attack heavier units or targets on land. As battleships and carriers are difficult to sink with either Harpoon or RBS 15 missiles, I suggest to develop a missile similar to the SS-N-19 shipwreck missiles of the Russians. That should be supplemented by a variant of the SS-N-22 Sunburn to attack cruisers. The RBS 15 should stay the main AShM of the lighter units up to the destroyers.

Signed Schniewind

(1) Oberbefehlshaber der Marine (Supreme Commander of the Navy)
(2) Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Federal Ministry of Defense)
 
Chapter II, Part 67: A Light in the Dark New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Berlin, December 15th, 1944

Dr. Angela Merkel was sitting on her chair in her office, looking out of the window while contemplating the current situation. What a weird year it had been! What a mess! However, there was also light in the darkness; quite literally as in this moment the street lights outside were turned on.

She was torn out of her thoughts by someone knocking at the door.

“Come in, Frank!” She already knew who it was as she had been the one to send for him. And indeed Frank-Walter Steinmeier, her foreign minister, entered the room.

“Hello, Angela,” he greeted her. He looked a little bit tired, which was understandable as he had just arrived from the peace talks in Stockholm a few hours ago. She looked at him, not saying anything. He just nodded in return.

“So everything is finalised?” she inquired. She stood up from her chair and walked towards the large window front that offered a direct view of the Reichstag. Steinmeier walked up next to her and followed her gaze towards the building where the German parliament did its work.

“Yes, nearly,” he answered. “Some issues did arise, but we were able to solve them.”

Merkel sighed. It had been tough talks, but both parties had wanted – and needed – a treaty, so they sat down and worked tirelessly. A treaty – or rather a series of treaties – was nearly ready to be signed.

“To be honest, Frank, I don't want this peace,” she admitted. Recognising that her statement could be taken wrong, she hastened to add: “Don't get me wrong, I want peace, but I not with Stalin. He's too great of a danger. But I don't see an alternative, especially as long as we still fight the Allies in the west. You don´t have a magical solution to that problem, do you?”

“I have to disappoint you there,” Steinmeier replied with a grim expression. “If we didn’t have to fight the Allies in the West…” He didn’t need to finish that sentence. She knew what he was trying to say.

“I have this feeling that this treaty will come back to haunt us sooner or later,” she spoke.

“You may be right, but for the time being we can't do much,” Steinmeier shrugged. “The Allies are still at war with us. You know, that they declared their will to continue the war immediately after we signed the ceasefire with Stalin? Didn’t even wait to see how it´d turn out.”

“Yes, I know.” She shook her head. “But still, several Allies already asked for separate peace talks, to be held in secrecy.”

“That´s all fine and well, but most of them are too small to contribute anything to the war, anyway. Whether Abyssinia is at war with isn´t of any real concern to us,” Steinmeier pointed out.

“You're right,” Merkel conceded. Both went back to her desk, where they both sat down, she in front, Steinmeier before it.

“How fare the talks with Britain?” she asked. So far, Britain had been the only major power to enter secret negotiations.

“Difficult, but not impossible to finish,” he answered. “The British are still very dependent on the USA. They demand some, well, guarantees...”

“Money,” Merkel stated. This was to be expected.

“Yes, money,” Steinmeier nodded. “And Herr McAlistair hinted that they are also afraid of the US forces in Britain.”

“What are we supposed to do about that? Invade Britain?” Merkel laughed.

“Well, that's a problem of the future,” Steinmeier replied. “We still hope that with the USSR gone and even Britain making peace the US will also move and agree to talks.”

“Yes, we can only hope.” An eternity seemed to pass. “We´ve been side-tracked. Let´s get back to the issue we can actually do something about.”

“Stalin accepts the 1939 borders,” Steinmeier immediately picked up. “He also agrees to pay reparations for them, but only indirectly.”

“Indirectly?” Merkel repeated with raised eyebrows.

“Well, we agreed to 100 billion Euros reparations payment, 25 of which will be paid to our allies instead of the USSR. Stalin saves his face because he doesn’t have to pay and can also play it up as the merciful USSR helping other countries ravaged by war. And we save money and don´t have to pay him even more. Our allies have already accepted. 7,5 billion per anno for 10 years, payable in goods and money. However, he wants to get more goods. And the payments will start six months after the end of hostilities with the western powers.”

“Fine,” Merkel huffed. “We´ll send him older factories and equipment. On this way we can get rid of our old staff and replace it with new infrastructure. A giant economy program, if you will. A factory from the '50s or '60s is also an improvement for him. And some power plants, I guess. Anything else?”

“Yes. The Polish border. Or rather the demarcation line.”

“The Polish government?” Merkel asked. Steinmeier just shook his head. They had heard nothing from them. It would have been easier to help them now, but not later. The Poles had not accepted the German peace proposals. Indeed, they, along with the French and the Czechs had urged Roosevelt to carry on.

Merkel looked down, took a breath and used her computer to look up a map of 1931 Poland. “Let´s see…we could say, we would accept the ‘demarcation line’ including Nowogrodek and Lemberg and some of Tarnopol voivideships. In the latter case the areas with a majority of Poles should stay Polish. If possible.” She knew, she could throw the Poles under the bus completely, but she hesitated. She knew very well, that any border they agreed to now would be permanent as long as Germany put its support behind them. They needed to make sure to have all outstanding grievances settled, so that they might have a few decades without another war. Quite an impossible endeavour, she was well aware of that, but they could at least try.

“Stalin won´t be all too happy about it, but I guess he will accept,” Steinmeier said.

“And the treaty about trade and traffic?” Merkel wanted to know.

“Looks good so far. We can use the Transsiberian Railroad to ship things to and from Japan, via Murmansk. Also, the USSR will sell us as much oil and gas as we can pay.”

“Then it seems that everything is concluded.”

“Ehm, there´s still one open issue left,” Steinmeier added. “Stalin wants to see Hitler´s corpse.”

Merkel sighed again. “Quite morbid, but that can be arranged. He has to come to Berlin, though. I don't want to ship the body to him; a lot can happen on the way to Moscow. It must be made clear that Hitler is as dead as a Dodo. When there is peace again, the body will be cremated, and the ashes sent to the fishes.”

“I already told him that this was the most likely offer he would get and he already accepted. It seems, he wants to come before Christmas.”

“Jesus Christ! A state visit by Stalin!”
 
Chapter II, Part 68: Troy New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Moscow, Kremlin, December 16th, 1944:

It was late, 23:48 local time to be exact.

Marius Kreisler was sitting in a large office belonging to some Russian by the name Dsu- Dschu- somewhat Wili to the end. Didn’t really matter, those Russian name were all unpronounceable anyway. Kreisler just called him Willi in his head.

Like his twin Lars, Kreisler was a computer freak; a damn good one in his honest opinion. Not really interested in politics or history, he didn’t even bat an eye when Janine had come to him asking for help to fix some stuff in Moscow. He knew she was a communist, but he didn’t really care and besides, getting paid ten thousand Euros for looking at some tablets? Who the fuck would say no to that offer? Besides, Germany and the Russia were at peace again, so it wasn’t really treason, anway.

Kreisler too a sip from the can of coke he had brought with him. He had gone through some of the tablets already: No problems so far, besides a little bit too much energy drainage. He just needed to find the faulty drivers and fix them, then the tablets would be as good as new.

Suddenly the door opened and a man whose face was graced by a great moustache entered the room. Kreisler just looked up: He thought he had seen the man before somewhere. He looked somehow furious, spewing something Russian at him. Kreisler couldn't understand the language, so he just gave him the paper he had gotten from Olaf. Olaf Walther was a left radical, who was a kind of eternal student at Hamburg university, where he studied computer sciences. The man remained furious and called someone with the phone on the desk. Only a little while later a new man appeared, probably a translator.

“The Führer wants to know what you're doing,” he translated.

“Der Führer ist tot,” Lars imitated without looking up. "Well, Sir, I am just checking the tablets as I´ve been told to do. You can have it back in five, if I don't find anything.”

After translating the interpreter then asked who he was.

“I'm Marius Kreisler from Buxtehude,” he answered. “I´ve been hired for maintenance of some electronic equipment. Tell Mr. Willi he can calm down, I´ve got official papers proofing it.” Mr. Willi and the translator were furiously discussing something, before the translator turned back to him.

“Well, is everything in order then?” he wanted to know.

“It seems so,” Kreisler shrugged. “Only small irregularities, like all electronic devices are wont to, but I´m on it. And I´m really sorry for having disturbed you. I usually work at night and didn't anyone would be here.”

Mr. Willi seemed to have calmed down a little bit. Right in this moment his analysing program came back with its finding and it wasn’t any good.

“Ow,” Kreisler winced.

“What´s the matter?” the interpreter asked without tasked.

“Erm, it seems, you've got Trojans on those computers,” Lars remarked.

“Trojan? Like Hector...”

“No,” Lars interrupted the interpreter. “A Trojan Horse is a nefarious computer program. This is likely a backdoor, a computer program, which gives someone the possibility to control the tablet.”

The interpreter translated. Kreisler could watch Mr. Willi getting more furious with each passing word. Suddenly, the man grabbed the tablet Kreisler had been working on and shot it with his pistol. Now it was Kreisler´s turn to get angry.

“Are you crazy?!” he shouted. “I could have deleted the program! You didn't have to destroy it. Besides, what are you thinking, just destroying something that doesn’t even belong to you? I won´t be made responsible for this. What´s your name, so that I can report you for the damage you did?” Kreisler was determined: Nobody would blame him for this man – who was obviously having mental problems – destroying Russian stuff.

After the interpreter had translated his outburst Mr. Willi just laughed.

“Mr. Dschugaschwili likes you,” the translator, barely subpressing a grin of his own, spoke “You don't seem to be a communist?”

“I don´t care for politics,” Kreisler replied. “It always screws you over, anyway, no matter if left or right.”

“So, you´re just here for the money?” he was asked.

“Yep,” Kreisler confirmed “And because of Janine. She has great tits. She had asked me to come and maybe if I help her she´d be more willing to let me have a go.” He sighed. “She doesn’t like me very much, you know.”

“But you´re willing and able to search the other tablets for those trojans?”

“That´s what I´ve been paid to do and I always finish the job,” Kreisler replied with pride colouring his voice.

After that Mr. Willi and his translator left him in peace and Kreisler could finish going over the rest of the tablets, where he, indeed, found spyware on each of them. He spent great care to erase all of them and proof the tablets against future attacks.

When he came back to his room that night, he received the surprise of his life when Janine was waiting there for him, clothed in nothing but the smoothest silk. Apparently, she had been in Moscow the whole time, but Kreisler didn’t care much for explanations when there were other things he could do instead.

Not even the news that Mr. Willi was indeed the fearsome Stalin could make Kreisler regret his choice to come here to Moscow. Not when it had led him directly into Janine´s arms.
 
Chapter II, Part 69: Paris has fallen New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Berlin, apartment of Admiral Canaris, December 17th 1944, 01:08:

Canaris was sleeping, when he got the call. He was torn out of his sleep by the insistent ringing of his mobile. Still groggy from sleep, he absent-mindedly grabbed it from the nightstand next to his bed.

“Yeah,” he just breathed into the phone.

“Herr Admiral.” He couldn’t quite put a name or face to the voice, but he remembered that it was someone who was also working on Projekt Paris. A scientist maybe. Or a military attaché? “Schneider speaking. Hector was found. We...”

“I´m coming,” Canaris interrupted “Convene a meeting with Mr. Altmeier. We'll meet at the chancellery in two hours. I'll meet you in half an hour.”



Berlin, Bundeskanzleramt, December 17th 1944, 02:07:

Peter Altmaier whose many tasks also involved keeping the four German secret services at least somehow under control (originally it had only been the BND, but now it was all of them, and wasn’t that just the cherry atop the cake?) wasn’t very pleased to have been ordered to the chancellery by Admiral Canaris. Usually, it was him ordering people to come to him. However, by now Altmaier knew the Admiral well enough that he would only do so if he had a very good reason for it.

He took a sip from the coffee-to-go he had grabbed on his way here.

The voices of the people already present in the conference room could be already heard on the hallway. Admiral Canaris, president of the BND Schindler, Hans-Georg Maaßen from the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz and Ulrch Birkenheier from the Militärischer Abschirmdienst (MAD).

“Good morning, meine Herren,” Altmaier interrupted them as he stepped in to the room. “I guess there´s a very important reason why we´ve been summoned at this early hour.”

“Jawoll, Herr Minister!” Canaris replied, falling back into his military stance. Never a good sign. “Hector was found.”

“Shit,” Altmaier cursed. “How?”

“Ehm, we…” Maaßen started, his hesitance an instant sign to Altmaier that the Verfassungsschutz had messed things up…again.

“For God´s sake!” Altmaier hissed. “Nearly seventy years in the past and your office still manages to cause me headaches like no one else.”

“Well, we were aware that Stalin wanted to get his hands on computer experts,” Maaßen continued, now cowed into submission. “A few left-leaning students under the leadership of a certain Olaf Walther went to Moscow. We knew about that and had agents placed near them. Shortly before they travelled to Moscow one student fell ill and had to be replaced.”

“Wait,” Altmaier interrupted him. “Are you saying that this replacement found Hector?” By now he was furious. Maaßen sank even further into his seat.

“Ehm, yes,” he replied. “One of our agents dug into his past and he is only a third semester at university. No signs of outstanding intellect or anything. And our operatives assured us that they would hide that trojan so good that only an expert would find it…”

“Sometimes I get it why the Americans never took us seriously,” Altmaier muttered “Are you telling me that a third semester student found a trojan our ‘experts’ placed in those tablets? Who is this student anyway?”

“Lars Kreisler,” Canaris answered before Maaßen could.

“I´ve heard that name before,” Altmaier remarked.

“He´s Marius Kreisler´s twin brother,” Canaris offered. “The man who programmed the artillery direction program for the navy?”

“Any political inclinations?” Altmaier wanted to know.

“As far as we know he´s not interested in politics at all,” Maaßen replied. “Only in computers.” Altmaier rolled his eyes.

“Well, if it´s as far as you know…why didn’t we hire him, too?” Nobody answered.

“I see,” Altmaier spoke, his lips pursed. “Well, I guess we can only wait and see how Stalin will react.”
 
Interludium V: Guilt New

Tyr Anazasi

Active member
Hamburg, December 10th, 7:58:

The Christmas party had lasted the whole night and Eduard Tramsen, Kommissar of the Hamburg police, had made the mistake of drinking too much. Boy, he was really not feeling well. Everything was too loud and too bright, and he had a headache so bad like he had never had before in his life. Well, there had been this one party anno '38... anyway, he had still managed to appear at work. ‘Those who are fit enough to party are also fit enough to work’ his father always said. And partied he had. Long and hard.

Shortly after entering his office, his partner Ali Yüksel arrived.

“You can keep the coat on,” the man said in lieu of an actual greeting. “We've got a body in St. Georg.” Ali handed Eduard a coffee-to-go-cup. Coffee was rare in Germany these days, but inside the cup was indeed hot, strong black coffee. Eduard didn't know from where Ali or one of his brothers, cousins, brothers-in-law, or whoever, got their stuff, but one day he would have to thank this person greatly.

The coffee and the two Aspirin Ali handed him, did a good job of alleviating the worst symptoms of his hangover. Ali drove the car, which was a rare occurrence, as Eduard would usually drive, because, in his opinion, Ali was a horrible driver, but right now there was no other way.

It was in this moment that Eduard suddenly noticed that Ali didn’t seem to be hung over despite having had much mire to drink.

“Why aren´t you hungover?” Eduard wanted to know.

“I kept to my vodka the whole time,” Ali shrugged. And yes, this Russian Vodka had been good. Mehmet, his younger brother was stationed at the Eastern Front and as he was working in a supply unit, he got his hand on some goodies, some of which he sent home. Like this excellent Vodka.

Surprisingly for Eduard, Ali didn't cause any accidents. Both arrived safely at the Alexanderstraße.

“Moin!” Ali greeted in a very loud way. Ede's “Guten Morgen.” was barely understandable.

“So, who do we have here?” Ali asked the next best officer standing around. But before the man could answer, he had already spotted the coroner.

Damn, Eduard cursed inwardly. It wasn't Dr. Müller, but Dr. Lange. Dr. Müller had a broken foot, he just remembered. She had slipped on a frozen puddle she hadn't seen due to the snow which put her out of commission for the next few weeks. Ede didn't like that Dr. Lange, a downtimer, who was an ardent Nazi, but had somehow managed to avoid being ‘purged’, had taken over her work.

Lange just nodded to Ali, cold and short, a gesture Ali returned. Both greatly disliked each other and didn’t hide the fact, however, none wanted to cause any trouble, so they kept it on a professional level.

“Tramsen, you look like some of my patients,” Lange remarked, loud enough for everyone around them to hear. “You shouldn't drink so much.” Eduard didn’t deign him with a reaction, so Lange continued.

“Well, this is Margarethe Beyerlein, born Eberhard. She's 94. Or better was 94. Her rollator is over there and here´s her body.” He pointed towards the body lying between two cars. A wound in the chest seemed to have been what killed her. Knowing Lange Ede didn't ask for the cause but since when she had been dead instead.

“Oh, a little bit over two hours,” Lange replied. “An anonymous call arrived here quarter to six. A unit was sent and they found them both here.”

“Both?” Ali repeated.

“Yeah, there was another body as well,” Lange told them. “Found a tramp over there.” He pointed towards the side of the street. “The tramp´s name is Kevin Schmudtke. Mrs. Beyerlein´s purse was found lying next to him. He seemed to have robbed the old lady, stabbed her, tried to run but slipped and hit the bollard with his head. He's badly wounded. It's a surprise, he's still alive.”

“And what was the weapon he killed her with?” Ede inquired.

“This is the bayonet,” Lange replied and showed him the long knife fitting to a K98k rifle.

Meanwhile, a crowd had been gathering behind the red-white warning tape. “Folks, there's nothing to see here!” Ali shouted. “Please disperse.” And indeed, soon after the crowd dissolving.

Then he looked after the traces in the snow. It hadn´t snowed last night, which meant that the traces were hard to make out. Many of them could be disregarded. Only the traces of the rollator gave some hints from where Margarethe Beyerlein had come from.

Ede had remarked, that the place where the body had been found was curious, as the rollator didn't fit between both cars. And why on Earth was the woman out and about so early in the morning? What kind of business would make her leave her home during such weather conditions? And who had been this anonymous person who had called the police?

Only little later they were in the flat. They found nothing except for some regalia that indicated that Mrs. Beyerlein had been an ardent Nazi in her past.

“It really seems to be a hit and run,” Ali remarked as they went back to their car.

“Yeah,” Ede agreed.

“There are some discrepances, though,” Ali added. “We should take a closer look.”

“Yes. We should drive to the hospital and talk to the robber.”

Luckily for them the AK St. Georg wasn't far away.

AK St. Georg was one of Hamburg's most central hospitals which also meant that it was an enormous structure, even before the Event. Now it was even bigger, as many parts of the DT hospital had been transferred to adjacent estates by whatever power had coordinated the Event. It had been a chaos at the very beginning, but now most people had a rough idea about where they needed to go. It was kind of similar for Eduard as he had found the house with his flat about 200 m away from its original place. It had been weird.

Anyway, here they were. The clerk at the reception told them that the vagrant was currently still in surgery, but so far it didn't look good for him. So they asked for the personal things the man had had with him instead, which they were given, along with a small room where they could look at it undisturbed.

“Yes, here we have his clothes,” Ede said. “Washed out jeans with holes and a shabby anorak.” He showed both to Ali didn’t seem to share his disgust for the clothing. “Why are you looking so surprised? Those are rags.”

“No, they aren´t,” Ali disagreed. “Those are brand-new pants.”

“Well, then he must have done something with them, because they don´t look new,” Ede remarked.

Ali laughed at that. “No, he didn’t. They are produced that way. Washed-out and with holes.”

“Why on earth would anyone buy damaged pants?” Ede wanted to know, baffled.

“Well, it´s fashion,” Ali replied as if that was answer enough. “And that´s even one from a well-known brand: Levi. Those ain´t cheap, I can tell you, they´re starting at 50 Euros.”

“14 Reichsmark?!” Ede exclaimed aghast. He was still counting in the currency he was most familiar. Both, the Reichsmark and the Deutsche Mark were still circulating, with 3,5 Euros equalling one Reichsmark. “My mother would have torn me a new one if I had dared to come into her house wearing these.” He could very well remember the times he had come home with holes in his pants and the following tongue lashing (sometimes even more) he would then receive from his mother.

Ali just shrugged. “My dad forbade me wearing those. But Aysche, my little sister, just looked at him with her big puppy eyes and he caved in. My mother wasn’t very pleased and my grandparents were outright scandalised when they saw her running around in pants similar to these the first time.”

“Hm, but the anorak isn’t new,” Ede pointed out, steering their talk back to the topic.

“Indeed,” Ali agreed. “But given the circumstances, it´s still in good shape.” He started to examinethe belt while Ede took a look at the vagabond´s wallet.

“68,85 Euros,” he counted. “That must be the money he stole.”

“No, it isn´t,” Ali replied. “We found the victim´s purse in his hands and it´s already on its way to the station. But look at this.” He showed Ede the inside of the Belt where a little pouch was sewed on. It contained around 200 Euros.

“Can you tell me what kind of phone model this is?” Ede asked, handing aforementioned handheld over to his colleague.

“Damn,” Ali whistled. “That´s a Galaxy S5!”

“Which means?” Ede prodded.

“Well, the S5 only started being sold a few weeks before the Event,” Ali explained. “And you had to dish out nearly 700 Euros for it. And contrary to your phone, this one´s even got a full battery.”

“Hey, I haven’t forgotten to charge my phone for three weeks,” Ede defended himself. “Somehow I don´t think he´s a vagrant. Why were we even told that?” He continued to inspect the wallet and found a driver´s licence, an ID, some credit cards and finally an army ID: Leutnant Kevin Schmudtke. And a ticket for a parking space in Calw. “Seems our vagabond is really an army officer from Calw.”

“Did you say Calw?” Ali asked, suddenly having stopped the inspection of the rest of the stuff.

“Yeah,” Ede hummed. “Why?”

“It´s the base of the KSK, amongst other things,” Ali replied.

“You mean, he could be…”

“Yeah, a commando soldier.” Suddenly the case seemed to have become a lot more interesting.

“Ali, you don´t really believe a commando soldier would rob an old lady here in Hamburg, do you?” Ede asked.

“No, not really,” Ali replied. “We really need to speak to him.”

“At the moment he isn´t very likely to speak to us,” Ede pointed out.

“True, true,” Ali agreed. “But it doesn´t hurt to go and take a look does it?”

So, they both went to the waiting area in the surgery wing where they found a distraught young woman of about twenty years, tears running down her face while she was murmuring a prayer.

“Morning, Fräulein,” Ede greeted her. She looked at him, slightly confused before she replied with a barely audible ‘Moin’. Ali inquired whether she was a relative of the injured Kevin Schmudtke, which she affirmed with a nod of her head. Both detectives looked at each other and silently agreed that this was perhaps not the right time for any kind of questioning.

As they turned around to leave, the doors were pushed open and a corpulent man, with sparse hair, wearing a bespoken suit, entered the area.

“Ah, good morning, gentlemen and my lady. I´m Dr. Voss, Mr. Schmudtke´s attorney,” the man introduced himself. However, before he could continue, the door leading to the operation rooms swung open and a doctor walked through and towards them.

“Frau Schmudtke, I´m happy to inform you that we succeeded in stabilising your brother,” he told the woman. “However, the situation is still critical. Until he wakes up, we can´t say if his cognitive abilities have in any shape or form been affected by the trauma he lived through. “In any case, the low temperatures and the space blanket did help a lot, though.”

“Can I go and see him?” she asked. The doctor denied her request, as Mr. Schmudtke was still in post-surgery and would need some time to recover. She thanked him, nevertheless, and sat back down.

“Lena, I think those police officers have some questions,” Dr. Voss started to talk to her. “Is it alright for you to come along while I take them somewhere else?” The woman just nodded.

“Ali and Ede were surprised. Space blanket? Ede just looked at Ali. Ali shrugged.

“Gentlemen, I think we should go to the Cafeteria and talk there,” the attorney added and looked on his watch. “There should be few persons at this time.”

“Aren't you Mr. Trump´s attorney?” Ali asked, attempting to regain the upper hand instead of actually wanting to know the answer.

“I don´t disclose my client list to third parties,” Dr. Voss replied. They entered the cafeteria, which – as Dr. Voss had predicted – was nearly empty at this time. They sat down at one of the tables, Ede and Ali on one, Miss Schmudtke on the other side while Dr. Voss was getting them coffee.

“Fräulein Schmudtke, how are you?” Ede asked her.

“Better,” she replied. She didn’t touch the cup of coffee in front of her. Very good coffee, though, Ede thought to himself, at least for a hospital.

She sighed and continued: “Well, you surely want to know more about Kevin. He´s my brother, obviously, the doctor already mentioned that. Our parents died in a car crash shortly after he became a soldier. A drunk driver on the Autobahn. I wasn’t of age back then, so Kevin took me with him. Last year, I finally cam to Hamburg to study law, interning at Dr. Voss’ law firm, which is why I called him immediately.”

“What was your financial situation?” Ede asked. Miss Schmudtke just looked at him perplexed before she broke out into laughter.

“Sorry,” she apologised. “It´s just…it´s just so ludicrous. My parents weren’t poor by any stretch of its definition. To believe hat Kevin would kill someone for twenty Euros is as insulting as it is ridiculous.” She looked furious now, her hands gripping tightly at the edge of the table, her lips set into a thin line.

It was Ali who picked up the conversation: “Has your brother´s behaviour changed recently? Has he become more withdrawn or is he maybe angry all the time?”

“He did change,” Miss Schmudtke admitted. “It all started with the Event. He was sent on a mission shortly after it occurred. I don’t know what happened, but he was…different after that. He volunteered for one mission after another until he was forced to take a break by his superiors. That was last Friday. Since then he barely left his room and he wouldn’t even talk to me. But then, yesterday he suddenly wanted to go into town in those horrid clothes of his, but he loves them.”

“He isn’t much of a drinker, is he?” Dr. Voss asked.

“No,” Miss Schmudtke shook her head. “He drinks only with friends and even then not much.”

Lena just shook her head.

“That´s weird,” Dr. Voss commented. “According to the preliminary toxicological report Mr. Schmudtke´s alcohol level was at 1,2 per mill. He was hardly able to walk, which the barkeeper of the establishment he frequented before the murder took place can attest to.” He handed over a report mentioning these things. “Besides, the taxi driver the innkeeper called for Mr. Schmudtke can testify that upon his arrival, which was ten minutes after the innkeeper´s call, Mr. Schmudtke had already vanish. This leaves only a narrow time frame in which Mr. Schmutdke could have left the bar, which in turn means that he could not have had the time to kill the victim. To me it looks like there are two victims in this case. This old woman and my client.”

“Your client, eh?” Ali commented.

“As next of kin Mrs Schmutdke has the right to appoint an attorney for her brother as long as he cannot make that decision himself,” Dr. Voss explained. “It is ridiculous to believe that my client, with an alcohol level of 1,2 pro mill and barely able to walk, would be able to kill the victim.”

They wanted to ask more questions, but they were interrupted by a nurse that told Miss Schmudtke that she would now be able to visit her brother, although he still wasn’t responsive.

While Mrs. Schmudtke and Dr. Voss went to her brother, Ali and Ede went back to the Mr. Schmidtke´s things. While on their way, they received information from Prof. Wagner who told them that a space blanket had been indeed the decisive factor that had saved the soldier´s life.

There was indeed a space blanket amongst the things found with Mr. Schmidtke. Ede had mistaken it for trash and hadn’t paid any attention to it, which was truly embarrassing for a detective such as him.

“An easy case?” Ali scoffed. “I don’t believe that Mr. Schmudtke had anything to do with Mrs. Beyerlein´s death. It certainy looks like another person needed him as a scapegoat.”

“Yes, I agree,” Ede concurred.

“They mistook him for a vagabond and tried to pin the blame on him.”

“They?” Ede repeated.

“Yeah, I think there were more people involved,” Ali explained. “My gut tells me that and it has never led me wrong til now.” He scratched his chin. “But who helped Mr. Schmudtke? And why didn’t they also report the crime?”

Ede just shrugged. That was indeed a mystery.

“Let´s drive to her flat,” he suggested. “Perhaps we find something there.”

“Good idea,” Ali agreed.

Searching the flat hadn't brought up anything useful, but while they had been busy rummaging through everything their colleagues had gotten them the address of Klaus, the only child of Mrs. Beyerlein. Both detectives though that this was an avenue worth exploring, so this time Ede took the driver's seat, as he felt much better now. Also, he didn’t want to get killed by Ali´s driving.

A few moments later, Ede turned on one of Hamburg´s main streets towards their destination: a small village about 10 km from Hamburg.

“So, we didn't find that much,” Ali pointed out.

“Nothing at all,” Ede agreed. “But perhaps we just didn’t find anything because we didn’t know what we were searching for. Perhaps we need to come back again when we know more.”

“Mmh,” Ali hummed nonchalantly. “We really don't know much. We could have stumbled upon the reason for all this and wouldn’t have recognized it.”

“Well, there were only books and very few photos,” Ede replied. “Not much to show for such a long life.”

“Indeed,” Ali agreed. “And most of the photographs were from the 1950s and 60s, with only a few having been taken later.”

“Her ID said that she was from Bialystok originally. Perhaps that's why,” Ede thought out loud.

“Hmm, yes. We should ask our colleagues across the border for help,” Ali suggested. “Perhaps they know more.”

“Not very likely,” Ede harrumphed. “The occupation regime might have changed, but the Polish police is notorious for not cooperating and only doing what they really have to. And even that only very slowly.”

“It's still worth a try,” Ali said before he fell quiet.

After a few minutes Ede broke the silence.

“Is it just me, or do you think there is something fishy with the case?” he asked. “First this ‘vagabond’ turns out to be a scapegoat. Then we have this mysterious caller who called the police. And why were there so few real traces in the snow even this early?”

“What makes me wonder is how this attorney got his hands on all this information even before us,” Ali grumbled.

“True,” Ede concurred. “I don't like it, either. And why did Prof. Püschel take over this case, which seemed to be at first so clear? I... Hey!”

“What's going on?”

“Look the car over there!” Ede exclaimed and pointed to an older light blue VW Jetta. “Its licence plate: HH AS 3838. That's the date where my sister Sieglinde married her Albert, 3.8.38. They wanted to get it for their car. Too bad.”

“Your brother-in-law has a car?" Ali asked.

“Yes, an old Adler,” Ede replied. “He got one shortly before the war. Now it's in his garage.”

Ede hoped that Ali wouldn’t question him any further. Only recently he had got to know that Albert had been part of a smuggling ring that had helped Jews escape the city during the Nazi regime. The car had been a donation from those he had saved. At first Albert had been set dead against accepting it, but then he had relented, reasoning that the car could help him get more refugees out of Hamburg. Ede had never told him, but after the Event he had gotten his hands on a list of to be arrested ‘traitors’ from the Gestapo archives. Albert´s name had been on it. Ede wouldn’t tell anyone because there were still Nazi fanatics running around.

“Too bad for him,” Ali remarked, disrupting Ede´s thoughts. “He needs a new license plate, anyway.”

Ede just nodded. The old license plates would become obsolete in April next year, then everyone needed to change to the new German ones. Too bad that his sister and Albert couldn’t get their favourite one.

A little later they arrived at their destination. There was a young boy of about five years helping an old man getting rid of the snow on the driveway that led up to the house Mrs Beyerlein´s son was supposed to be living in.

They did park the car nearby and left it. When the elderly man saw them, he turned towards the boy and hushed: “Benny, go into the house.”

“But I don´t wanna,” the boy grouched. “I wanna help you.”

“No, into the house with you,” the man commanded sternly. “I´ll be with you soon and then you´ll get a hot chocolate. But only if you don´t tell your mother or grandmother.” The boy finally obeyed, albeit reluctantly.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” the man greeted them. “I guess it is I you´re looking for?”

“Good morning,” Ali greeted back while Ede just nodded. “I´m detective Ali Yüksel and this is my partner Eduard Tramsen from the Hamburg police.”

“So, they sent you to give me the news?” the man asked.

“Are you Klaus Beyerlein?” Ali asked. The man just nodded.

“Sir,” Ede started. “We regret to inform you that your mother has been murdered…” Ede couldn’t finish his sentence. The old man had closed his eyes as tears were running down his cheeks. When he opened his eyes, instead of grief Ede saw only relief there and then the man started to laugh as if a great burden had been taken off his shoulders.

“Please, come inside,” Mr Beyerlein invited them in. “I´ll explain everything to you after I made some hot chocolate for my grandson.”

A short while later they were sitting around Mr Beyerlein´s kitchen table.

“Well,” the old man started, “to be honest, I´m relieved that the old witch is finally dead.” His announcement was met with silence, so he continued. “I had feared that you were here to tell me that my son in law has fallen at the front. He´s a reservist and was called in half a year ago. His patrol was ambushed in Italy a week ago and he´s been missing ever since. His wife is pregnant and thank God she wasn’t here, because I think the stress would have caused the baby to be born prematurely.

Anyway, back to my mother. She was a bad person, who delighted in terrorising all of us: Me, my sister and my father. She always thought that she deserved better in life and didn’t shy away from letting us know that. My father died of a heart attack, but I´m sure she was the cause of it. She and her damn insistence to fight about everything. My sister is dead since a few years. Cancer. She, too, had no contact to her since 1968. As far as I know.

I´ve seen her last on his funeral in 1968 and since then I have ceased all contact with her. I made my own luck, married in 1977 and got my beautiful Ulrike shortly after that. I never told my mother that she had become a grandmother.”

Mr Beyerlein couldn’t tell them much more of use. Only that his mother had been a proud Aryan and an ardent supporter of the Nazis and their ideology. So, they bid the man farewell and went back to their car, ready to drive back to Hamburg.

“So, what do we have?” Ede recapped. “An elderly Nazi woman murdered. A Bundeswehr officer who might have murdered her but has been more likely framed by a third party. And then, for whatever reason, is at first nearly murdered but then saved. But by whom? The killers? A third party? And then there´s also Dr. Voss and Prof. Püschel. I just can´t wrap my head around it.”

“Let´s eat something,” Ali suggested. “Everything´s easier when you have something in your stomach.”

Driving back, they came across a McDonald's. The Höltigbaum preserve that bordered the area had been replaced by the DT Graf-Goltz-Kaserne, only a few hundred meters away from the old barracks that had been turned into residential areas a few years ago. It was now again used as training and manoeuvring ground for the army, much to the dismay of the Greens and some part of the SPD currently ruling Hamburg. But, alas, as emergency laws were still in effect, they didn’t have much say in it anyway.

Although the food the army offered had improved vastly ever since the rations had been replaced by modern ones, there were still many soldiers occupying the seats in the McDonald´s when Ali and Ede entered. They were lucky, though, and found a free table between the soldiers, a few civilians and a family celebrating their boy´s birthday. And even though Ede always lambasted the poor quality of the food, he quite liked his burger, even though he would never admit it out loud.

They didn’t talk about the case, instead they choose safe topics such as general news, personal anecdotes or the current status of the peace talks with various fractions.

“Can I ask you something personal?” Ede suddenly asked. Ali just nodded. “Why aren’t you married? All of your brothers and sisters are?”

Ali shrugged. “I just didn’t find the right one yet. I had several girlfriends, but none of them made me go like ‘Wow, that´s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with’. My parents weren’t really disappointed about that, though, because none of the women I dated fit into their, well, conservative world view.” Ede didn’t prod any further and they finished their meal in companionable silence before they were on the road again.

“I think we should take a look at the flat again,” Ali suggested. “Maybe we overlooked something the first time around.”

“Good idea,” Ede agreed. “I´ll just shoot a message to the precinct that they should request assistance from the police force in Bialystok.”

“Already done that while you washed your hands back at the McDonald´s,” Ali replied. “I also requested the military file of our injured soldier.”

“Good work,” Ede praised. When he looked down on his phone, though, he cursed: “Damn! My battery is nearly empty again. I swear, I didn’t use it that much!”

“You just forgot to charge it…again,” Ali laughed.

“I did not!” Ede protested. He was pretty sure about that, but he kept quiet, because protesting wouldn’t change anything.

Ali´s guess that they would find something in the flat didn’t turn out to be true, so they returned back to the station a little more subdued than when they had left. There they received the list of calls the victim had received. Ms Beyerlein hadn´t used her phone very much, so the call she had made yesterday stood out even more so. It had come from a DT phone box near central station. Why would anyone call her from there when she lived nearly next door?

They re-read the neighbours testimonies, but there was no mention of any kind of visitor the woman had received. Indeed, she seemed to have had even less visitors than phone calls. And no one had seen her leaving her flat since the day before her death at around 17 o`clock. That didn’t mean much, though, she could have left without being noticed by anyone after all.

Time flew by and around 22:00 Ali and Ede decided to call it a day and go home. Maybe in sleep they would receive revelations they hadn’t thought of during their waking hours.

When Ede arrived back home, he noticed a great number of empty packages and cartons near the rubbish bins. It seemed like his neighbours had gone on a shopping spree, again, and bought themselves quite a few things the new Germany had to offer. Where they had gotten the money from, Ede didn’t really know – or wanted to know.

His flat was on the third floor, which meant that he had to pass the apartment of Mr and Mrs Wiencke. He considered the woman an unpleasant gossip who stuck her nose into everything that was going on in the house. He also suspected that she had been a Nazi informant back in the old Germany, but he couldn’t prove it – yet. Mr. Wiencke was a nice guy, though, who nevertheless had to live with her. If the guy one day snapped, Ede would testify on his behalf that it was self-defence.

Of course, as nearly always, the woman was on the stairway, pretending to clean the meticulously polished stairs.

“Good evening, Mrs Wiencke,” Ede greeted her.

“Ah, good evening, Herr Kommissar,” she greeted back. “Seems like switching sides was very profitable for you,” she mumbled under her breath.

“Pardon me?” Ede turned around.

“Nothing,” the woman replied and went back into her flat. Ede continued on and soon entered his flat, where he was enthusiastically greeted by his two children Marie and Günther before they, again, vanished back in their rooms to play with their toys.

“Anna, I´m back!” Ede shouted for his wife.

“I´m here!” she shouted from the living room. When Ede entered the room, he saw her sitting in front of a PC.

“Darling, what are you doing?” he asked.

“Oh´, I´m working,” Anna replied flippantly. “I´ll be finished in five minutes.”

“Working?” Ede repeated.

“Ah, I forgot I haven’t told you yet,” Anna said. “Mr Delitsch has agreed to re-hire me as his assistant. It seems he has problems finding the right people to work for him and he asked for my help. But first I need to learn more about these computers.” She continued typing. “Fantastic. Truly marvellous, these things. You can write much faster and more accurate. It even highlights your mistakes! Oh, I just love this!”

“Delitsch? From the shipping company you worked at before we got married?” Ede clarified.

“Exactly that one,” his wife confirmed.

“What about the children?”

“My mother can look after them after school for a few hours,” Anna assured him. “So, you don´t have to worry about that.”

"Yes. And?"

"Well, the children..."

"My mother looks at them after school for some hours. Nothing to worry about." In this moment Ede heard a noise coming from the kitchen. He looked into the room to see a dish washing machine working. And a new stove, oven, refrigerator and microwave oven. He found a list of the delivered cargo on the table in the kitchen, where he could see a new coffee machine, a washing machine and dryer were listed.

“Darling, where did you get the money for all those appliances?” he wanted to know.

“I bought them,” Anna replied. “I´ve been working for Mr Delitsch since November 1st, but until he´s finished with re-organising his company, I´ll be working from here.”

“Mrs. Wiencke will…”

“I don´t care what the old hag or anyone else is going to say about this,” Anna told him, a determined glint to her eyes.

“But why do you feel the need to do this?” Ede wanted to know. “I´m working so hard to support this family.” Anna sighed and finally stopped typing on her computer.

“But you shouldn’t have to,” she said as she turned around to face him. “You were demoted for being a NSDAP-member, a move I was against from the start, but you assured me that it would help your career. Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing, why shouldn’t I work and earn us money we clearly need.”

“But why didn’t we talk about it?” Ede wanted to know, a little hurt when he noticed the accusing undertone in his wife´s statement. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“To be honest, I felt it was better this way,” Anna admitted. “I wanted to work and I didn’t know if you would have allowed me to…”

“Why on Earth would I want to forbid you from working?” Ede exclaimed aghast. He would have tried to talk her out of it, but if she had truly wanted it, he wouldn’t have stood against her.

“You would have tried to talk me out of it, though,” Anna pointed out. “And I just didn’t know if I had the strength to fight you.” Anna had seen the UT woman around her, all so confident and independent. She had wanted that, too.

“Am I not good enough?” Ede asked weakly.

Alarmed, Anna stood up and walked over to him. She laid her hand atop his cheek and forced him to meet her gaze.

“You are the best man I have ever met,” she told him with all the sincerity she could muster. “And you gave me two beautiful children, for which I will ever be grateful for. I love you, and will always love you, like I swore so many years ago when we married. Even if you were unemployed, I´d still stay with you.” Then her lips met his and for the next hour Ede forgot all about his worries.

“You should have told me,” he spoke quietly as he stroke Anna´s hair. “We would have worked something out.”

“I know,” she whispered back. “I should have.” She would think about something to make it up to him. Maybe a short trip to one of the German islands? Just them and the kids? Or maybe something from Ali´s brother Mohammed? She knew that Ede didn’t want to spend their money on frivolous things, but she had seen how he looked at those big TV screens when they walked through Hamburg. Maybe one of those?

Ede, meanwhile, had already drifted to sleep.

Ede was deep in thoughts when he entered his office the next day. As always Ali was already sitting on the desk opposite of Ede´s and was deeply engrossed in a file. When the door closed behind Ede, he looked up from his reading and greeted his colleague.

“Moin,” Ede replied. Proofing again why he was a detective, Ali immediately recognized that Ede had something to get off his chest.

“What´s going on?” he inquired.

“Well, my wife wants to start working,” Ede told him.

“What´s wrong with that?”

“She didn’t talk to me about it first,” Ede replied.

“Then, welcome to postmodern times! Her women do whatever they want!” Ali laughed.

“In our times women did whatever they want, too,” Ede pointed out.

“I know what you mean, but there´s nothing you can change about that,” Ali pointed out.

“Yes, you´re right,” Ede sighed.

“Did Mohammed deliver the washing machine?” Ali asked.

“Oh, yes, he brought it yesterday,” Ede told him. “My wife tried it out immediately, but she used to much detergent. The whole washing room was flooded with bubbles. Eventually a technician came around and showed her how to do it correctly.” Both men laughed.

“Anyway,” Ali changed topic. “I´m looking at the file of our soldier. Quite decorated, the guy, with several medals to his name. A sniper, too. Took out a Taliban commander from two kilometres away.”

“Ouch,” Ede winched. “What were the Taliban again?”

“A terrorist group based in Afghanistan,” Ali answered. “They orchestrated hundreds of attacks all over the world, the severest one in New York, where they brought down two skyscrapers and killed thousands of people in only a few hours. We supported the US when they retaliated.”

“Did we win?” Ede asked.

“Conventionally? We did manage to conquer Afghanistan, but the Taliban just went underground and continued their war from there.” Ede nodded in understanding.

“So, what´s that other stuff on your desk?”

“It´s for you,” Ali replied. “Documents about our victim from Bialystok. Seems someone over there works very fast.”

“Considering we only sent the request only yesterday, it certainly seems so.” Ali just shrugged, so Ede picked up the documents and started reading. He was halfway into the first one, when Ali interrupted him.

“Ede, didn’t his sister tell us about a mission he was sent on the day of the Event? It isn’t mentioned in here at all.”

“She did,” Ede confirmed. To be sure they called her and after asking her after the health of his brother (no change her, still in critical condition), she could indeed confirm, too, that her brother had been on a mission on the day of the Event.

“That´s weird,” Ali commented. “A mission so secret that it isn’t even mentioned in his file? For what reasons?”

“Here´s another mystery,” Ede threw in. “There exist no Margarethe Eberhard, at least none who´s still alive. She died 1921, only two years old, in Bialystok. It seems that our victim´s real name is likely Agnieszka Prz... Przy... Przybilski. A Polish citizen.”

“A Slavic Nazi?” Ali raised his eyebrows.

“She was a collaborator,” Ede sneered. “According to this she betrayed several Jews to the Gestapo, including her former boss, a physician called Dr. Modersohn.”

“So, we have to victims, don´t we? Was one of them only collateral damage? Or were both targets? Is there a connection between them?” Ali wondered out loud.

“Maybe,” Ede shrugged. He stood up and wrote all those question on a whiteboard that hung on one wall of their office, which they called their ‘murder board’. On it was everything they had uncovered until now. “We´re just not seeing it.”

“Did our soldier plan all this as some kind of alibi? To fool us?”

This was the first time that Ali stated such a weird theory, but although very unlikely, Ede thought about it for a moment before he discarded it. “I don’t think so. And even if, he would have needed help.”

In this moment the phone rang. Ali answered.

“Hamburg police, Kriminaloberkommissar Ali Yüksel speaking... Jacek... Is it you?... How... Did you catch the smugglers this time?... Then you had just bad luck- or luck... I'm sorry to hear about Agneta... Oh, she left you a month ago already?... And now she was taking you to court?... Well, then congratulation to your new freedom!... Oh, and thank you for the files... What files? The ones you sent to us!... You didn't?... No idea?... Wait, my partner has to listen as well... Yes, I have a new one...” He activated the speakers and Ede could now, too, hear the heavily accented voice of Jacek Król.

“This is Kriminaloberkommissar Eduard Tramsen speaking,” he greeted the other.

“Ah, so you´re Ali´s new colleague, then?” Jacek replied. “Did he already take you to the Reeperbahn?”

“I´m married,” Ede replied.

“So was I,” Jacek replied. “Maybe that´s one of the reasons why that’s no longer the case. Agneta left me for our dentist and was trying to sue me!”

“Ehm…” Ede didn’t know what he should say to that.

“Anyway, I have no clue about the files you´re talking about,” Jacek reaffirmed.

“You're in Bialystok?” Ede asked.

“Yes,” Jacek confirmed. “I´m kind of a liaison officer here to help the locals building up a modern police force. It´s difficult, though. Most of the Poles around here think that I´m a traitor for working with the Germans. I think I´m staying in Germany once this mess is over.”

“Anyway,” Ali interjected. By now Ede had recognized that you needed a firm hand with this Jacek, lest you never get the information you needed from him. “We´ve got the murder of Margarethe Beyerlein who was indeed Agniesza Prz... P R Z Y B I L S K I.”

“Ah, Przybilski,” Jacek repeated without problem.

“She was born in 1919 in Bialystok, like the real Margarethe, who died only two years later.”

“I´ll check it out,” Jacek promised. “But now the reason why I called you: A Stefan Richter was murdered here – his throat was cut. He´s listed as living in Hamburg, so I´ll send everything we have over to you. Might you get me a little more data bout him?”

“Of course,” Ali replied. “Just give us a little bit of time. The next time you´re in Hamburg, we´re gonna re-visited the Reeperbahn.”

“Yeah,” Jacek cheered. “But this time with your partner, too. He sounds alright.”

“Well, you can´t see how he´s trying to kill you with his gaze alone,” Ali laughed. Ede tried to stay mad at him, but he didn’t really manage it, and soon he was laughing too. They ended the call after that.

“What now?” Ede asked.

“I think we should fulfil Jacek´s request,” Ali suggested. “I need a break from this case.”

“Yeah, maybe we really need some distance to clear our heads,” Ede agreed. “Let´s take a look at Mr. Richter´s flat.”

Mr. Richter lived in Altona, so they drove to the address they had from him. On the way to the flat Ali's mobile rang.

“Yes, Andrea?” he greeted. Andrea Weber was another officer in their department, but usually stayed at the office to do all the tasks the officers on the street didn’t want to do. “You´ve got the information about the bayonet?...I see…Thanks, bye.” He ended the call.

“We´ve finally got the information from the Bundeswehr,” Ali told Ede. “The bayonet belonged to a member of Einsatzgruppe A who died in a fight with partisans back in 1943. His equipment was never discovered.”

“Aren´t those SS units?” Ede asked. Ali´s face was set in a grim expression.

“They were the ones responsible for rounding up the Jews and other ‘subhumans’ for extermination,” he replied. Ede kept silent, the guilt he still felt over joining the NDSAP just for career reasons rearing its ugly head again.

“So, the bayonet was issued to one of those thugs and subsequently went missing,” he steered the conversation back to the topic at hand. “So, what? Some Polish partisan found it and traveled to Hamburg to kill an old Polish woman?”

“Perhaps,” Ali shrugged. “Perhaps someone with a personal grudge against her. One of the people she betrayed.”

“It could also be, though, that the bayonet was sold on the black market,” Ede pointed out.

They were again interrupted by Ali´s phone ringing. He took the call, but it lasted barely a minute before he hung up again.

“Guess what?” he said to Ede. “You won´t believe it, but Magarethe´s…”

“Agnieszka!” Ede corrected him. Ali just glared at him.

“Her DT version has been killed as well. Jacek just got the information that a young German Margarethe Eberhardt has been found killed in Warsaw.”

“Now, that´s interesting,” Ede replied. “How´s she been murdered?”

“He didn’t know yet,” Ali said. “But he´s gonna get new intel soon.”

They arrived at the street where Mr. Richter´s flat was situated. Cars were parked on both sides, making it difficult to navigate through it.

“You´re allowed to drive a little bit faster, you know,” Ali teased. “If you continue like that the food delivery truck behind us will only deliver cold food.” To be honest, Ede was driving that slow, but Ali liked to joke at his expense.

“Asian food at 10am?” Ede wondered as he looked into the rear-view mirror. “Where´s the flat?”

“Just over there!” Ali pointed towards the second house on the left side in front of them. Because the street was already full, Ede parked in front of the garage of the house next door. Perks of being a detective.

Just as they exited the car, a young man of about seventeen years and of mixed race heritage left the house where Mr. Richter lived and looked at them with curiosity.

“Are you police?” he wanted to know.

“We are,” Ali confirmed.

“Wow, that was fast,” the boy replied. “I just reported the burglars a few minutes ago.”

“What burglars?” Ede demanded to know.

“The burglars in Mr. Richter´s flat,” the boy answered, his brow furrowed in confusion. “The ones I called you about?”

“And they are in Mr. Richter´s flat?” Ede repeated, exchanging gazes with Ali.

“Yeah, I just reported them…” the boys started when a white Mercedes Sprinter passed them slowly on the street as two men left the building and walked towards the transporter.

“That´s them!” the boys shouted, pointing at the two men.

The men, now aware that they had been discovered, started to run. The boy tried to follow them, but alas, even though he was fast, he had a longer distance to cover and so the man made it to the car and jumped into the cargo area. Then the car hit the accelerator and was gone.

Ede wanted to pursue them, but the car was already vanishing around the corner. So, instead he reported the burglary over the radio. Later, the transporter would be found abandoned at the side of the street with no signs of the burglars who must have exchanged cars.

Ali cursed. Ede kept silent, because he had already learnt that you shouldn’t interrupt his colleague when he was cursing in his mother tongue.

“Fuck,” he exclaimed. Then he looked at the boy who had come back to them. “Boy, you were really fast, but next time let the police officers do the work. Those guys could have been armed.” Neither of them would have caught them, though, as none of them were as fast as the boy. “I guess only Usain Bolt would have gotten them.”

“Who´s that?” the boy asked.

“Usain Bolt? Just the fastest man alive, my boy,” Ali replied. “You are an uptimer, aren´t you?”

“No, I´m not,” the boy laughed. “I was born in 1926. Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi is my name.”

Ede didn’t care much, but Ali seemed intrigued. “That name sounds familiar somehow.” The boy shifted on his feet.

“Well, it seems that I went on the emigrate to the US to become a famous journalist.”

“Of course!” Ali exclaimed. “You´ve written that book ‘Neger, Neger,…”

“Schornsteinfeger’,” the boy finished. “Yes, that´s the book I have written or will write.”

“And how do you feel about that?” Ede inquired.

“It´s weird,” the boy shrugged. “Shortly after the Event two elderly Americans came to the broken-down house my mother and I lived in and offered their help. Apparently, they´re my sons from the future. Mr. Admoeit´s mother die shortly after the Event and so, as recognised Nazi victim, the city offered us the flat. My ‘sons’ are here helping, too, while my mother´s still working and I may even get the chance to attend the gymnasium.” His eyes shone when he told them that.

“But why aren´t you at school right now?” Ali wanted to know.

“I came back and got my sports bag,” Hans replied and held up aforementioned bag. “When I was about to leave again I noticed these men entering Mr. Richter´s flat. The man´s currently out of town and because I´ve never seen them before I called the police.”

“Alright,” Ede replied. “You really should get back to school. I´ll accompany you and tell the teachers that you didn’t miss anything on purpose.” Ali meanwhile would take a look at the flat.

Fifteen minutes later, Ede returned and went to the flat where Ali and several police officers were already inside.

“Any problems?” Ali wanted to know.

“Nothing,” Ede shrugged. “His teacher was very understanding. He won´t get in any trouble.” He paused. “Anything interesting here?”

“Well, in my personal opinion this flat is way too tidy,” Ali replied. “It looks very impersonal, because there are only a few personal items.”

“Ah, it´s as tidy as a soldier´s room in the barracks.”

Ali just nodded. Ede looked around, too, adding that Hans had told him that Mr, Richter had very few visitors only and was a very reclusive man. He was quite nice and warm to Hans and his mother, though.

“Nothing really fits…” Ali said again. “We have a dead Polish woman, a German soldier used as scapegoat, a man murdered in Poland…”

“The younger version of said Polish woman´s dead, too,” Ede added.

“Is there really any connection at all?” Ali wondered. “And what about the burglars? They didn´t seem to have stolen anything at all.”

“Well, if there is a connection, I can´t see it right now,” Ede said. “But I think there´s definitely one.”

“We should just head back,” Ali suggested. “Tell Jacek what happened.”

“Alright,” Ede agreed.

Now, instead of one mysterious case, they had two cases they needed to solve. Or maybe it was really only one?

An hour later the both of them went back to their car.

The flat had been meticulously clean. A few books, which didn't tell anything about the man who had owned them. No pictures, nothing. As if this man had no personality. Or as if he had hidden it perfectly well behind the white tapestry. Well, their colleagues from the Spusi (Spurensicherung, forensic identification) were still working. If there was anything to discover, they would find it.

Ali and Ede were just starting to drive when they recognized the truck behind them.

“Isn´t that the same food delivery truck that already drove by when we arrived here?” Ede asked.

“Yeah, it´s the same Asian food truck,” Ali agreed.

“We´ve been here at least for an hour and it´s still here?” Ede pointed out.

“Maybe they´ve got a new delivery around here,” Ali guessed.

“Mmmmh,” Ede murmured, not really convinced by that. “Still seems odd.”

Carefully, Ali craned his neck to get a better look at the truck´s license plate. “The plate number is HH-3839.”

“What?!” Ede exclaimed. “That´s enough! We´re gonna stop them and get ourselves some answers. I was already suspicious when we had that car with AS-3838 follow us yesterday. Make a call to the precinct and have someone pull up all information they can get on those plates.”

Ali looked at him, concerned. “That could give us away. What if whoever´s behind all this monitors our logs?”

“You´re right,” Ede sighed.

“I´ve got an idea,” Ali told him. “Turn right into the next street. I live nearby and know that the street is too narrow for that truck, but not right away. If we can get them to follow us long enough, they´ll be stuck and won´t be able to turn around. It´ll happen after you pass my car.”

“But what´s your car?” Ede asked.

“You´ll see,” Ali grinned. “I had to park it on the street because of maintenance work in my garage.”

Ede did as Ali had told him and turned into the next street. It was indeed pretty narrow and he was afraid that he would damage the cars he drove by, but fortunately enough, nothing happened. Then he saw a car that wasn’t very common in Germany at all – or even in the rest of the world right now: A 1960 Lincoln Continental.

“That´s not a car, that´s a battleship,” Ede exclaimed.

“I worked on it for nearly ten years,” Ali replied, beaming with pride. “The day after the Event the post brought me the last piece I had ordered from the US several weeks before. I was afraid that it didn’t make it, but now the car´s complete. And well, we Germans don´t call it a street cruiser for nothing, do we?”

Ede just rolled his eyes. After they had passed the Lincoln, Ali opened the car´s door on his side and exited the car while Ede steered the car forward, the truck following him. Ali, meanwhile, took a seat in his Lincoln and waited for the truck to pass him by before he started the engine and drove onto the street, thereby wedging the truck between Ede´s car in front of it and Ali´s car behind.

Both Ede and Ali slowly left their cars and made their way towards the truck, clasping their police-issued guns (a Walther PPK for Ede and a Walther P99 Q for Ali), ready to use them at any notice. It was only the third time in his career that Ede had actually drawn his weapon.

“Police!” both shouted simultaneously. “Get out of the car with your hands up!”

There was movement behind the front window. Ede could see two shapes moving, but there was still the possibility of a third person hiding in the cargo space behind them. Just when he was about to shout that they should hurry up, the doors of the truck opened and two men got out of it: One of Caucasian and the other of some kind of Asian ethnicity. Ede wasn´t really good at discerning the exact country.

“Don´t shoot!” the Asian exclaimed. “We´re on the same side.”

“What did the Chinese say?” Ali wanted to know, as he stood a little bit behind.

“I´m no fucking Chinese!” the man shouted incensed. “My parents came from Vietnam.” He took a deep breath. “Anyway, you´re going to get a call within the next minute.”

Ali and Ede exchanged gazes. “Who are you?” They hadn´t lowered their guns.

“Leutnant Schrödter and Leutnant Hanh Nguyen, Abwehr and MAD, respectively,” the Vietnamese replied. “We can show you our IDs if you would stop pointing your guns at us.”

In this moment Ede´s cell phone rang. “Tramsen speaking…Polizeipräsident Meyer? Wants to speak... Herr Präsident... Jawoll!... Yes, we do... Goodbye!”

Ede needed a short moment to collect himself. Then he put his gun back into its holster and beckoned for Ali to do the same. “That was the police president. We are to let them go.” He pointed at the two men. “We´re also ordered to accompany them.” Ali scowled.

“We better get some answers there,” he said, turning to the two agents. “Otherwise, we´ll get nasty.” He went back to his car and manoeuvred it back into the parking space it had occupied before, which took quite some time and skill. By now their scene had drawn several onlookers, some of them filming them with their phones.

Ali just scowled. “Fucking vultures, in a few seconds all of this will be on YouTube.”

Ede just kept quiet and followed him back to their car.

Half an hour later they found themselves in an office building in City Nord, a quarter of the city which mainly housed office buildings, including the dependencies of several big corporations. The house they were led to was nearly empty as it was in dire need of renovations. Nevertheless, a certain Deutsch-Argentinische Handelsgesellschaft Buenos Aires-Hamburg mbH had its seat in the building.

An elderly woman sat at the reception and greeted the group with a short nod, which the two agents that accompanied them reciprocated. They were led to an office in front of which door a uniformed man was already waiting for them.

“Damn,” Schrödter cursed under his breath. “The Small W's already here.”

“Ah, there are our lieutenants,” the man jeered. “As slow as always. If it was up to me…”

“Well, luckily it isn’t, Herr Hauptmann,” Schrödter cut him off halfway. It was obvious from the tense atmosphere between them that there was history between the three men.

“For now,” the man grumbled. “The Major wants to see you. He’s eagerly awaiting your report.” He tilted his head towards the door. The two agents left Ali and Ede and entered the room. Meanwhile, the Hauptmann turned his attention back to the two police officers.

“And now to you!” he barked. “I’m Hauptmann Wellmann-Klein and if it was up to me, you civilians wouldn’t even be allowed up here.” He pronounced the word as if it left a nasty taste on his tongue. “But unfortunately, no one will listen to me, so I was ordered to give you these access cards which will allow you entrance to this building.”

“Thank you,” Ali replied. “With such a warm welcome, I feel right at home.”

“Do you think you’re funny?”

“No, no, I just wanted to show my uttermost gratitude,” Ali replied. “Herr Klein-W…”

“Wellmann-Klein,” the Hauptmann retorted indignantly. “Hauptmann Aloysius Wellmann-Klein.”

“My condolences,” Ali joked. “You see, we foreigners aren’t good in remembering strong and honorable German names, especially me. I’m much better with easy ones such as Calhangolu.”

“He’s really bad with names,” Ede concurred, supressing his laughter. “He couldn’t remember mine until a few weeks ago.” The Hauptmann looked like he wanted nothing more than to shoot the two of them on the spot.

“Just go to room 2.23,” he grinded out. “But before that you have to have your cellphones checked in room 2.03, so please proceed there first.”

They went to the room and knocked. They heard nothing at first, but some seconds later a kind of "hai", both interpreted as "Herein" (please enter).

Ali entered first. The shuriken barely missed the tip of his nose.

Ali, who normally reacted instantly, just stood there staring at the shuriken, which was in the centre of a target. Ede reacted faster and pulled him out of the room. He wanted grabbed to his gun, but there was none. He had had to surrender it at he entrance of the building.

In this moment a young woman, about 1,65 m, with short brown hair with a red touch appeared at the door. She was as shocked as the both policemen. She still had her mobile playing music at the side. She wore training cloths.

Ede was furious. “What the fuck are you doing? You could have killed us!” he screamed. The young woman had lifted her hands and tried to apologize, but she had no chance as Ede continued: “What were you even doing? Who the fuck throws shuriken around in an office building?!”

“Ede, just give her a second to explain,” he tried to calm down his colleague. Ede was about to stop his rant, when a Major, together with both known Leutnants, arrived.

“What's going on?” he demanded to know in a voice that was used to be wielded with authority.

“We were told to give up our mobiles for inspections in this room,” Ede started to explain. “When we entered my partner was nearly hit by a shuriken.”

“Lieutenant Engel?” The Major turned around and looked grimly at the petite woman.

“Herr Major, it’s currently 11:30,” she replied with her head held high and back straight. “It’s commonly known by everyone working in this building that I train during this time and that my room is only to be entered after I explicitly allow it.” She turned towards Ali. “Are you alright?” The detective juts nodded.

“We weren’t told that,” Ali remarked.

“Wellmann-Klein!” the Major barked. Seconds later, the Hauptmann appeared.

“In my officer,” the Major commanded and all of them followed him. On the display next to the door his name was noted down as Major Schipper. When they were all crammed into the small room, he started talking to the Hauptmann.

“Herr Hauptmann, I do have some questions for you,” he started. “Did you select the number for the licence plates used in this operation?”

“I did.”

“And why did you take a series of nearly identical numbers?”

“I see nothing wrong with that.”

“And why did you chose for a big VW caddy, marked as food delivery truck for an Asian restaurant wen you could have chosen something more inconspicuous?”

“Because of Lieutenant Nguyen’s Asian descent, I though that a delivery truck would be more unobtrusive than our standard vehicles.”

“And lastly, why did you send the police detectives to Lieutenant Engel’s office despite knowing that it was her training hour?”

“Standard procedure 08/15 c, sir. Everyone being an outsider has to give up the mobile for control,” the Hauptmann replied. “And with all respect, this is a work place, not a fitness studio. If Lieutenant Engel wants to train, she’s supposed to do it in her own free time and not here.”

“So, you see no wrongdoing on your part?” the Major wanted to know.

“Of course not, Herr Major!” The Major just looked at him – his gaze indecipherable – before he turned back to the rest of them.

Now Ede and Ali would finally get some answers.

“Well, Herr Yüksel, how did you know that we were spying on you?”

“We were surprised to see a food delivery truck so early in the morning,” Ali replied. “It’s usually not something that you see so early in that residential area. Then there was also the odd license plate: Yesterday, a suspicious vehicle had the plate number AS 3838, this one had AS 3839. That puzzled us. As our current case was getting stranger and stranger with each revelation, we decided to stop the car and talk to the driver. And now we’re here, nearly getting killed by shuriken.” Ali shrugged.

“I’m so sorry…” Lieutenant Engel tried to apologise again, but she was interrupted by the Major.

“Lieutenant Schrödter?”

“Herr Major, Liuetenant Nguyen and I did try to convince the Hauptmann to let us use a more inconspicuous vehicle, but he was adamant that we use the food truck.” The Major turned towards Hauptmann Wellmann-Klein and just bore his gaze into the man.

“Herr Major, this is the most incompetent executed mission I’ve ever been part of.” The man wasn’t able to stay silent for long under the scrutinising gaze of the older man. “It could even become detrimental to all our career prospects –“ he meant his own, that at least was clear to everyone in the room “- and all because of the incompetence of the Lieutenants here…”

“Lieutenant Nguyen, do you feel like the Hauptmann’s dislike has a racist undertone?” the Major interrupted. The Lieutenant’s eyes widened in surprise as he had not expected to be addressed, but he shook his head.

“No,” he replied. “We may have our disagreements with the Hauptmann, but he never brought my ethnicity into it.”

“I see,” the Major murmured. “Please, Herr Hauptmann, carry on.”

Wellmann-Klein struggled a little bit, before he continued: “It’s obvious that the Lieutenants’ incompetence led us here while Lieutenant Engel’s disregard for basic house rules nearly led to a deadly case of friendly fire. This team simply is not working.”

“The team is not working?” the Major repeated with raised eyebrows. “What about me, then? Come on, Herr Hauptmann, you’ve been honest with your thoughts so far, so let’s not end that streak.”

The Hauptmann gulped visible, but then he apparently found his courage again and straightened his posture. “It was your decision to let everything play out instead of stepping out of the shadows and taking the reins. But instead your blunders nearly revealed the whole affair to the public! This could have been a successful mission if you had handled it differently.”

“What I’m hearing are the complaints of someone who’s only concern is the advancement of his career,” the Major replied, still calm and collected. “I do wonder how you even made it this far. There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but you don’t seem to see that. Instead you chose again and again to put your own vanity before the mission.”

“I did everything as procedures demand it!” Hauptmann Wellmann-Klein defended himself. “The cars I chose were the cheapest ones, which saved the department a lot of money. In my former position as supply officer saving money was something that was acknowledged…”

“It’s not only about the cars,” the Major interrupted. “You committed a series of mistakes that nearly cost us this mission. A series of license plates numbered straight from 3836 to 3840. A Caddy who didn’t even work here and then allowing strangers to walk around in the building unsupervised, which nearly ended in severe bodily harm.” Everyone knew where this was going, even Wellmann-Klein.

“I have connections,” he tried to save himself in a last ditch effort, but it was a weak one, even to his own eyes. Then the other door to the Major's office opened. Two men entered the room. Ede could recognize police president Meyer. The other one was rather small, wearing the uniform of a navy full admiral.

“I have heard enough. Hauptmann Klein-Wellmann,” the little Admiral said. “You are dismissed. You are to leave Hamburg today. In a week, you shall receive your new posting.” That it wouldn’t be something as important as his current posting was left unsaid but not unheard.

The Hauptmann glared at the Admiral but then retreated. The three Lieutenants let out a breath of relief.

“Lieutenant Engel,” the Admiral continued. “I do value the unique skillset you bring to this department but do be more careful in the future about how you decide to hone your skills. I’d like to avoid friendly fire if possible, especially when there’s not even an enemy around.” He chuckled.

“Yes, Admiral Canaris,” Lieutenant Engel replied.

The Admiral turned towards Ali and Ede. “I’d like to have a chat with the Major and Mr. Meyer. May I suggest that you accompany Lieutenant Engel to have your phones checked, like you were supposed to before?” All three of them nodded and soon the two police detectives found themselves following the smaller woman back to her office, where the two shuriken were still stuck right in the middle of the target. Ede noticed that there was also a daisho, a katana and a wakizashi, stashed in the small room.

“We hadn’t yet the chance, but I’m Lieutenant Josephine Engel,” she introduced herself. She opened her mouth, probably to apologise again, but Ali didn’t let it come that far.

“You don’t have to apologise,” he said. “Nothing happened and we should just carry on.” Ede was a bit perplexed that Ali was willing to let the issue go that fast. He had expected a rant about workplace safety or something.

“What are training exactly?” he asked with interest.

“Oh, it’s Ninjutsu,” Lieutenant Engel answered. “I’ve always been fascinated by Ninjas and their fighting styles.”

“Then why didn’t you join a more fighting orientated unit like the KSK or other commando soldiers?” Ede prodded.

She sighed. “I wanted to, but I’m also good with computers, so I landed here.” She shrugged. Apparently, it wasn’t such a sore point any longer.

“How did you even become a soldier?” Ali wanted to know.

“Well, I hacked into the ministry of defence,” Engel admitted sheepishly. “They caught me and gave me the choice between signing up or going to prison.”

“Can’t be that difficult to hack into our government,” Ali joked. “Germany´s cyber security is a joke.”

“I never said it was the German ministry of defence,” the Lieutenant replied cryptically. “But I´m not allowed to say more.” She obviously enjoyed the astonishment on both of their faces. “So, gentlemen, where are your mobiles?” Both detectives handed over their cell phones.

“Mr. Tramsen, right?” Ede just nodded. “Your battery isn’t even charged.” Ede just shrugged, but he could just imagine Ali readying himself to mock him. However, before he could do so, the Lieutenant remarked, Ali's hadn't been charged either. “It’ll take a while, but you’ll have your phones back as soon as possible.” she said before Ali could say anything, completely astonished.

In this moment, there was a knock on the door and Lieutenant Schrödter stuck his head into the office. “The Admiral wants to speak to you.”

“Finally, we get some answers,” Ede thought to himself.

Now that there weren’t so many people occupying the room, he noticed that Major Schipper’s office wasn’t as small as he had assumed it to be. Now the only occupants beside Ali and him were the Major, police president Meyer and Admiral Canaris.

“Mr. Tramsen, Mr. Yüksel,” the admiral greeted them. “I hadn’t yet the time to properly introduce myself, but I’m Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr. You already know Major Schipper and your own police president, of course.” He nodded towards the other two men. “I know you must have many questions, and I have decided to answer most of them. But be aware that you are neither allowed to write anything of it down anywhere nor are you allowed to talk about it with anyone besides those currently in this room.” His gaze hardened. “I don’t need to tell you what the current emergency laws allow me to do with you should you decide to break those terms.”

They both had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Ede didn’t want to read the fine-print because he didn’t really want to know what punishments he could receive, but he was a policeman and a German official, so he just couldn’t bring himself to skip it. He signed, as did Ali.

“Everything seems to be in order now,” the Admiral remarked as he skimmed over the papers before handing them over to the police president. “Have you ever heard of ‘Operation Orpheus’?” Both detectives shook their heads. “That doesn’t surprise me. It was an operation meant to liberate the KZs from the SS shortly after the Event. The official position is that the Wehrmacht forces did that on their own. Which still is the official position, by the way.”

“I’ve seen a few clips on YouTube about the liberation of Auschwitz,” Ali said. “Very emotional stuff.”

The Admiral just nodded. “Indeed. Very useful propaganda pieces. However, it is not known that the KSK was deployed to help the Wehrmacht, The sniper in one of those videos who is shown to kill a guard on a watchtower was no Wehrmacht soldier but Lieutenant Schmutdke.”

“I still don’t get how this leads to this complot,” Ede thought out loud.

“As you know, the Federal Republic does not have the death penalty,” the Admiral continued. “However, it was considered the best option by everyone involved if certain high-ranking or famous Nazis would die instead of receiving a public trial and prison sentences.”

“Are you telling us that their last stand didn’t really happen and they were executed illegally instead?” Ali exclaimed as Ede arrived at the same conclusion only a split second later.

“Exactly,” the Admiral confirmed.

“And Lieutenant Schmudtke couldn’t quite live with that burden?” Ede continued deducing.

The Admiral nodded. “He saw a lot of missions, that the public should and will never be made aware of. We put him on leave as he’s unfit for duty and ordered him to get help, but he refused. I hope he still recovers.”

“And you helped us indirectly as well?” Ali asked.

“Yes we did. We observed Lieutenant Schmudkte and when the investigation started we made sure to leave some breadcrumbs so that no one would prod further into the Lieutenant’s past. It didn’t seem to have worked out that well.” He let out a small chuckle.

“So yes, we asked Prof. Püschel for help and he acted swiftly. The final report is being written at this very moment, neatly tying up everything.”

“And you also hired his attorney?” Ede asked.

“No, we didn’t, but he was also made to understand about the consequences of a breach of secrecy.”

“The military file, the origin of the bayonet, the Polish files...” Ali said, more to himself.

“What Polish files?” the Major interrupted him. Ali looked at him.

“That wasn't you?” he asked. The major shook his head.

“So, you don’t know that we have to other murders in this case?” Ede asked.

“No,” the Admiral shook his head. “Who?”

“It seems Agnieszka Przybilski aka Margarethe Beyerlein was murdered twice. Her DT version was killed near Warsaw,” Ede told them.

“And who's the other victim?” the admiral wanted to know.

“Stefan Richter from Hamburg,” Ali answered. “Killed in Bialystok, the place of birth of Mrs. Beyerlein.”

The admiral paled. “Stefan Richter's dead? Killed?” he looked at the major, who looked quite surprised as well.

“You know him?”

“Yes, I know him- Or better knew. His real name wasn’t Stefan Richter, though, but Chaim Oren.”

“That sounds Hebrew,” Ali pointed out.

In this moment the door to the office opened and Lieutenant Engel entered, out of breath as if she had just run a marathon. “Herr Admiral, I have to report that the detective’s mobiles have been compromised.”

“By who?”

“I compared the code with our data bases of known spying tools,” Engels replied. “It came up with Mossad.”

“Mossad?!? Isn't that the Israeli secret service?” Ede asked. “I thought they didn’t exist anymore.”

“Well…” the Admiral took a sip from a glass of water before he continued. “That’s not quite true. Due to the Event’s arbitrary rules about who got transported back and who not, there were some Mossad members or close associates transported back, as well, who re-found the organisation again, albeit on a much smaller scale. It’s not the only one: There are countless remnants of other agencies around – CIA, MI6, FSB to name a few – which is huge problem for us.” He sighed. “Anyway, we did have a kind of non-aggression pact with the Mossad. They concentrate on laying the foundation for the founding of Israel and keep out of our operations and in return we leave them be. Sometimes we even share information. It has worked well until now.”

“Israel? That’s a real can of worms you’re going to open,” Ali grumbled displeased. His grandmother was a Palestinian who had fled to Northern Syria where she would eventually meet his grandfather at the border to Turkey.

“I do not comment the government’s decisions,” the Admiral replied. “I only execute them.”

“Isn’t there a way to get to know what the Mossad’s up to?” Ede interrupted. “If you do have the Mossad under surveillance…”

The Admiral laughed. “Surveillance is a strong word. We’re already stretched thin as it is, so we really only know what we’re picking up on the go. We did have an inside person, but that was Mr. Oren.”

“So, our only contact is dead?”

“We have some others, but to establish contact with them outside our standard protocols would be extremely difficult and dangerous for them.” Canaris also didn’t mention that you could never be sure about their loyalties as well. “Mr. Oren was a good contact.”

“With him dead, does that mean that the Mossad definitely turned hostile?” Ali threw in.

His question was met with silence until the Admiral spoke again. “Our informal agreement with the Mossad had many opponents on both sides. Some agents thought that the Mossad shouldn’t leave the punishment of Germans to Germans, but they were a minority.” He shook his head. “No, I don’t think the Mossad turned hostile as a whole.”

“But it could be a splinter group within?” Ali continued. The Admiral nodded.

“Fräulein Leutnant,” Canaris turned towards Engel. “Were you able to discern from where this virus came from?”

“Of course!” Engel exclaimed eagerly. They used Lavi 2.8, which isn’t a very new program and has some unique flaws which make it easily recognizable. For example…”

“Lieutenant, we do not need all the details,” the Major interrupted her, probably aware of her penchant for lengthy technological explanations.

“Ehm, yes.” Engel turned slightly red before she continued. “One of the program’s greatest flaws was that you could retrace the original Trojan virus with one of your own; a bug that was fixed in version 3.0. I already deployed our counter-trojan and am just waiting for it to activate itself.”

“I guess it’s a waiting game then,” the Admiral sighed. “Please inform as soon as new information is available.” Engel saluted and left the room.

Although Engel got them an address only an hour later, it still took time to plan everything.

Officially, the MAD and the Abwehr soldiers where helping the Hamburg police in that one particular case. Unofficially, it was Meyer and Admiral Canaris who were planning everything and just needed an official front to make it all look legit. However, they were dead-set against deploying any additional forces that weren’t already aware of what was going on, so in the end it was only Meyer, Canaris, their drivers, Major Schipper, the Lieutenants Nguyen, Schrödter and Engels as well as Ede and Ali.

The Mossad was using a warehouse in Moorfleet, an industrial area where the observation truck they were using didn’t stand out. They rented out a whole car workshop to use as temporary HQ, which earned its owner quite a nice sum.

Before one could even start thinking about storming the building, they had to gather more intel, a task which fell to Engel as she was the most familiar with the various instruments in the van. The others used the time to walk around and stretch their legs.

It was Ese who volunteered to get them something to eat from a nearby McDonald’s.

“So, how comes you’re so good with computers?” he asked the Lieutenant.

“Since age five,” Engel replied proudly. “My mother used to work all the time – my dad left us around that time – and I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who owned an old 486 with MS DOS and later Windows 3.1. Oh, how I loved that machine.” She sighed with fondness.

“486? That´s really old,” Ali remarked.

“Yeah, it was, but it still had great games though,” she replied. “Like Wing Commander, Civilization, Master of Orion, X-COM…”

“…Flight Commander, Task Force 1942, The Great Naval Battles of the Atlantic…” Ali continued.

“…The Glory Days of Origin and Microprose,” Engel finished.

“Yeah, those were good games,” Ali sighed.

“Civ III, Baldur’s Gate…I could go on forever,” Engel said. “And from that age on, PCs were my favourite toys. But my mom didn’t want me to sit in front of the screen all day long, so she made me take a Judo course, but after I watched a documentation about Ninjas, I decided to switch to Ninjutso. My mom didn’t care as long as I got out of the house for a few hours a day.” She shrugged. “The hacking just came. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. I didn’t go ‘Oh, let’s hack into government servers’ one day. I just…ended up there, I guess.” She laughed. “I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. And just after I got my Abitur I hacked…” She looked around as if she feared someone was overhearing them. “Well, that particular government doesn’t exist any longer, but I’m not allowed to talk about it anyway. That was the moment when the MAD knocked on my door and offered me a job.”

“And you accepted?” Ali asked.

“I did it more for my mom than for myself,” Engel replied. “She´s got AIDS from when a stoned junky got her with an infected knife. The MAD pays for a lot of medication that insurance wouldn’t cover, some of it even experimental.” A small pause. “And I wanted to become a soldier, anyway, so it all worked out in the end. What about you?”

“Well, I, too was fascinated by computers from a very early age on,” Ali started. “But my family couldn’t afford one, so I´d always use the one at my friend’s. He was a German, though, and my grandmother didn’t really like that and tried to have my father force me to cease all contact with him. He didn’t really enforce it, though, and I wouldn’t have followed his order anyway. Grandma was just an old bitter woman stuck with traditions that were even outdated in the most rural areas of Turkey at that time. But then my friend moved away and so began the worst time of my life. I felt cut off, with nowhere to belong and I made some of the worst mistakes of my life back then…”

He was interrupted by Ede opening the doors of the van. “Everything’s alright?” Both of them nodded. He squished himself onto another seat, gave them their food and kept silent as Engel and Ali continued talking about games.

The following time, the three of them just sat in the van and ate while Ali and Engel exchanged additional titbits about games and electronics while Ede grew more and more confused as they continued talking. They were interrupted, though, when their instruments picked up someone trying to phone out of the building.

“Asia Restaurant “Süßer Lotus”, how may I help you?” the lady on the other end answered the call.

“I´d like to order some food…” the person within the building started. With great presence of mind, Engel re-routed the call to their van.

“I`m so sorry, but our telephone is currently not working right,” she took over the call. “Telekom, you know?”

“Ah, of course I do,” the man replied. “Horrendous prices for horrendous service.” Engel laughed at his joke.

“What do you want to order then?” she asked. The man gave her his order and hung up. Without wasting any time, Engel called another operative and ordered him to get the food and deliver it to the hidden Mossad base. He did and when he came back he reported that he had seen two guards, perhaps three, and that he had to deliver fourteen dishes, so they assumed that this was the number of people inside.

Then they continued to wait.

“Never thought the van would be useful in this case,” Ede remarked.

“Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while,” Engel replied.

“Was the Hauptmann really that bad?” Ali wanted to know.

“Even worse!” Engel moaned. “He was politically active, so he knew the right people in the right places. Somehow, he managed to become ecology officer in a unit and tried to apply peace-time standards while we were at war.” She shook her head. “He impeded very important stuff at the front because he insisted they follow regulations, instead of making it up as they go and he was constantly trying to save money instead of lives. When he criticized his superior too often, he was sent here to Hamburg where he had little to do with only a small team.”

“Leutnant Nguyen and Schrödter?” Ede wanted to know.

“And me, of course!” Engel exclaimed. “Honestly, we would have fared so much better without him. We had to step in several times to keep him from blowing everything up, which made him furious. Major Schippers was his predecessor and had given us some leeway, which he wanted to take away. He wasn’t man enough to do that directly, so he started to campaign against us behind the scenes. Then you came and now he’s gone. I call that a win.” She laughed.

“I guess there’ll be some disciplinary action in his immediate future,” Ali added.

“Damn right!” Engel agreed.

Someone knocked on the door. It was Leutnant Schrödter who asked Ali and Ede to come with him in order to attend the meeting with Canaris about storming the Mossad building.

A few minutes later they were sitting in the kitchen of the garage and listening to President Meyer, who had called a SEK team (SWAT team) to arrest the suspects. Of course, none of them knew about the true nature of the case; officially they were dealing with armed drug dealers.

“My team is here in five minutes,” Meyer told them. “Not long and we can wrap up this whole mission.”

He had barely finished his sentence when his phone rang. “What?” Meyer exclaimed after he had taken the call and listened to whatever the person on the other end had to say. The police president rubbed his temples and hung up.

“The team transporter had an accident near the Horner Kreisel,” he told them. “A fucking Fiat 500. A team of highly skilled combatants stopped by a Fiat 500 who didn’t use his turn signal.” He sighed. “It’ll be at least another thirty minutes until another team can get here.”

“Damn!” Canaris exclaimed. “I don’t know if we have that much time.”

“Well, currently they aren’t doing anything,” the Major interjected. But as if he had jinxed them, a white van drove up to the building and was loaded with moving boxes.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Canaris muttered. “We’re going in.”

“We’re only ten people,” Meyer interjected. “We should wait.”

Canaris shook his head. “No, we’re going in and I know exactly how.”

Five minutes later, their Asian delivery truck drove up to the building and parked next to the men loading the other van. Lieutenant Nguyen, wearing the appropriate clothes, greeted them and asked if they were the ones who had ordered the Asian food. One of the men acknowledged, whereupon Nguyen asked them if they would be so kind to help him carry the containers inside.

It was when the Mossad men were standing behind the van that Ede, Ali, Lieutenant Schrödter and Engel pushed open the door and pulled the men inside where they knocked them unconscious with a few well-placed hits. Meanwhile, Canaris and Meyer had their gun drawn and were walking towards the man still standing near the Mossad’s van.

However, the men’s reaction to being ambushed by German secret service agent was unusual.

“Admiral Canaris!” one of them exclaimed and even saluted.

“Do I know you?” the Admiral wanted to know perplexed.

“Captain Moshe Davidson of the Mossad,” he introduced himself. He didn’t seemed to be unsettled about the guns still pointed at him. “There seems to be a misunderstanding if our own allies ambush us like that.”

“There sure are a lot of things that need to be cleared up,” Canaris replied.

“Well, such things should not be discussed out in the open,” Davidson told them. “Why don’t you follow me inside.”

“We’ll keep your men as collateral,” Meyer insisted. The knocked-out men were tied up and Engel was ordered to guard them – to her very dismay. The others, meanwhile, followed Davidson inside the building.

There was one guard near the door Davidson led them to, but when the Captain shook his head, he stepped aside. Inside, there were dozens of computers with at least ten people walking throughout the room and attending to them.

“What are you doing here?” the Admiral wanted to know.

“We´re trying to stop a Jewish terror attack on German soil,” Davidson replied.

“Explain,” Meyer ordered sharply.

“I´ll try to tell you as much as possible, but I’m only second-in command here until Colonel Oren gets back here from Poland,” Davidson replied.

“What’s he doing in Poland?” Canaris wanted to know, not revealing that the Colonel was dead and would not come back.

“He wouldn’t divulge any details,” Davidson admitted. “He didn’t want anyone to accompany him, telling us that it was something he needed to do on his own. I think he wanted to meet someone.” He shrugged. “Anyway, a month ago, Isaak Modersohn over there –“ he nodded towards a youngish looking teenager on the other side of the room “- contacted us.”

“How would a civilian know how to contact you?” Meyer inquired curiously.

“That’s something I won’t tell you,” Davidson replied firmly. From the expressions of both Meyer and Canaris it was obvious that they weren’t happy with that, but they choose not to press the issue further.

“Please continue,” Canaris asked.

“Isaak told us that his older brother Jeremiah had joined the Irgun who were planning an attack in Germany, right here in Hamburg.”

“Why would you do that?” Ede spoke up, his question directed at the young boy. Isaak looked at the Captain and when said man nodded, turned towards Ede.

“This isn’t Nazi Germany,” he spoke up. “This isn't Nazi Germany anymore, this isn't the Germany that tried to eradicate our people. But my brother couldn't see that, for him you're the same people that killed our family. He's changed; it was as if he was slowly replaced by a person I don’t know; full of hate, rage and self-righteousness. Whatever the German government did, it wasn’t enough for Jeremiah, never enough. I want my old brother back.” He swallowed. “Besides, what’s the point of it anyway? Germany will win this war eventually, and once that happens, we need its support for any sort of new Jewish state to be established. An attack would only erode that support.”

“What can you tell us about the Irgun?” Meyer steered the talk back.

“A right wing terrorist organisation,” Davidson started to explain. “Originally, it was only active in Palestine, but apparently it’s been also established in Europe.” He sighed. “If they manage to commit any sort of attack, German support for us will evaporate and we need that support, especially as we cannot rely on Stalin and the US and UK will be in far worse shape once this war is over and cannot guarantee our safety as they did in the old timeline.”

“So, Isaak contacted you…” Canaris prodded.

“Yes, and then we were sent here. We started to observe his brother, who had already killed a Polish woman and was now planning to kill her uptime counterpart as well, which we were unable to prevent.” Either way he was a really good actor or his sorrow was genuine. Neither Ede nor Ali could tell. “He escaped. We tried to save Mr. Schmudtke, and called the police, before we made our getaway.”

“Finally some answers,” Ede exclaimed as he couldn’t hold himself back anymore. This case had confused them long enough.

“Yes, indeed,” Davidson replied. “Mr. Schmudtke was one of the men who liberated Auschwitz. We owe him much. But we also tried to covertly get evidence to you.”

“So you were the ones who send us the Polish files,” Ali interjected.

Davidson nodded. “We also thought it might send you in different directions while we were trying to clean everything up here.”

“And where are these terrorists now?” Meyer interrupted.

“Ehm…”

“You don’t know,” Canaris exclaimed aghast. “So, now we not only have to look out for a murderer, but a whole group of terrorists wanting to attack civilians. And you don’t have any leads as to where they are!”

“You’re right,” Davidson relented. “But Colonel Oren is in Poland in order to get more information…”

“Captain Davidson, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have to inform you that Colonel Oren has been killed in Poland by an as of yet unknown person,” Canaris informed the other man and he looked truly sorry while he told the man the sad news. “Do you know who he wanted to meet?”

Davidson’s face became ashen as he took in the news.

“No, I don’t,” he whispered. “I need a few moments, if you’d please excuse me.” And then he was already out of the door. Puzzled, the Germans turned to the other Mossad agents in the room.

“Colonel Oren was not only our superior officer, but also the Captain’s uncle,” one of the men spoke up. “I’ve heard he practically raised the Captain himself after his father died. They were really close.” He fell silent as a sombre mood fell over the room.

“I don’t want to sound callous as I know all too well the feeling of suddenly losing a person you hold dear, but the same might happen to innocent Germans if we don’t continue,” Meyer spoke. “Mr. Modersohn, please tell us everything you know.”

“Well,” Isaak started, “Jeremiah and I are the last remnants of our family. While we survived Auschwitz –“ he gulped, trying to compose himself “- the rest of my family didn’t, including my father Dr. Modersohn. If the liberation had happened even one day later, I would have died, too, as I was selected to be killed on the day it took place. It was pure chaos – the alarm suddenly started to blare and then the SS thugs were just running around, shooting and shouting. One of them attempted to throw a grenade in our barrack, but before he could do it, he was shot down by one of the liberators, which later turned out to be Lieutenant Schmudtke. It shames me that Jeremiah tried to kill the man who saved us.” He looked up at them. “Is he…is he dead?”

Ali shook his head. “No, but he’s in a coma and we don’t know if he’ll ever wake up.”

“At least he still got a chance,” Isaak whispered. “I thought we’d come too late.”

“I think you saved his life,” Ali replied. “But why would your brother want to hurt him?”

“I just don’t know,” Isaak said dejectedly. “He’s so full of hatred. After…after Auschwitz the only thing on his mind was revenge. Revenge for the family that we had lost. We had a huge fight about that.”

“And you don’t?” Ede wanted to know.

“No,” Isaak replied, looking him straight in the eye. “There’s a difference between justice and revenge, and I don’t think Jeremiah knows that anymore. I could understand why he killed Agnieszka, because she was the one who betrayed our family. We turned to her for help, gave her our money, so that she would hide us. With one hand she took our money and with the other she took the Nazis’.” He clenched his fist. “So yes, killing her I could understand. But Jeremiah didn’t want to stop just there. In his mind all Germans are to blame for our family’s death, so all of them had to pay. We fought and separated. I won’t bore you with all the details, but through contacts I managed to get a hold of the captain and told him everything. And now we’re all here.”

“Indeed,” someone muttered. They turned around to see that Captain Davidson had come back, probably already a while ago, and was leaning against the door frame. When he had all of their attention, he walked towards them. “Let`s continue.”

“Who did your uncle plan to meet?” Canaris repeated his question from before.

“The answer remains the same,” Davidson replied. “He gave us no name, I only know that it was a downtimer. But no name. He just told us that it was important. That it was to stop a catastrophe.”

“What did he mean with that?” Ede asked.

“I have no idea,” Davidson shrugged. “He usually has all of his data backuped somewhere, as always, but as of yet, we haven’t found anything.”

“Do you have the names of the other members of that terrorist group?” the Admiral wanted to know.

“We have some suspects,” Davidson replied. “But nothing definite. We were following Jeremiah to get some more information, when we had to intervene and save the Lieutenant.”

“You don’t need to cover for me,” Isaak interrupted. “I was the one who gave up his position and tried to save him, even though it costed us Jeremiah.”

“What’s done is done,” Davidson shrugged. “We don’t know how many there are or even where they are. We only know that some of them are former Mossad members who didn’t support our decision to cooperate with the German government.”

“And when did you plan to inform said government of the activities of your former colleagues?” Canaris asked bitingly.

“Best case scenario we would have stopped them without ever informing you,” Davidson replied unapologetic. “The German government would have never known about the schism in our organisation.”

“Well, that did work out splendidly for you so far, didn’t it?” Meyer drawled, an angry undercurrent to his voice. “Maybe we could have caught them already if you had told us about them beforehand. I am responsible for this city and may God have mercy on you if anything happens to it because of your goddamn secrecy!”

“It wasn’t my decision alone,” Davidson tried to justify himself.

“It doesn’t matter whose decision it was,” Canaris cut in. “It won’t change anything. Until now, nothing’s happened that can’t be swept under the rug.”

A few people were killed, but I guess that’s normal if you’re in this line of work, Ede thought, but he knew better than to say it out loud.

“So, you say we should trust them?” the Major wanted to know.

“Yes, I do,” Canaris replied. “I knew Oren and if Captain Davidson is anything like his uncle, then we can trust him.”

“We need to get to his flat,” Davidson told them. “Until now we thought it was more important to stop the terrorists than to find out who my uncle met, but maybe that person’s the key to everything.”

“There was already an attempt to break into his flat,” Ali told him. “But the burglars were seen and fled the scene. We don’t know if they were successful, though.”

“So, they weren’t just burglars, but terrorists?!” Ede exclaimed. “We could have had them already! Scheiße!”

Ede, Ali, Lieutenant Nguyen and Captain Davidson were all driving in the same car on their way to the flat. There were some comments about Ede’s driving style, but he resolutely ignored all of them. Rather arrive late and safe than not at all.

“Mr Yüksel, I meant to ask, but where did you get that Lincoln you’re driving from?” Nguyen asked.

“You’re driving a Lincoln?” Davidson threw in, interest piqued.

“Yeah,” Ali replied. “A 1960 Lincoln Continental. My father got it for me…a while back. It was a wreck, nothing more than an empty shell. It took me years to get all the parts and fix it up, but it was definitely worth it.”

“Josephine’s driving a 1967 GT 500 Shelby Mustang,” Nguyen added. “And despite her name, she definitely doesn’t drive like an angel.” He laughed at his own joke.

“Josephine as in Josephine Engel?” Davidson wanted to know. All three of them nodded.

“You know her?” Nguyen wanted to know.

“I know of her,” Davidson confirmed. “We’ve had a whole file on her, code name ‘Ninja Sword’. She hacked the Americans, the Russians and the Iranians…well, allegedly, because we’ve never got enough evidence.” He shrugged. “Her intel on Lieberman nearly ended his career.”

“She’s really that good?” Ali wanted to know. Davidson just nodded.

“Who’s this Lieberman?” Ede wanted to know.

“An asshole. A kind of Joseph Goebbels,” When he saw Ali’s and Nguyen’s startled expression, he expounded further. “Look, I’m an Israeli, a Jew and a patriot, but that man was a perversion of all those things. Some of his policies were straight out of a dictator’s playbook.” He shook his head. “How he, as a Jew, could even suggest deportations…He was a very dangerous man.”

“The whole Netanjahu administration was kinda right-leaning,” Ali added. “But Lieberman was the worst.”

“I think we need a government that is willing to compromise,” Davidson said. “That’s my opinion, one that’s shared by many other Mossad agents. But you know…politicians.” All the men in the car nodded in approval.

“Your decision to stay here’s very surprising, at least for me,” Ede said. “I mean, there must be a lot of Nazis around you’d rather see dead. A lot of people who aren’t getting punished out of necessity.”

“You want to know why I choose to stay and help the country that gassed four million Jews?” Davidson dead-panned. Ede nodded.

“To be honest, if I were you I wouldn’t,” he added.

“Some didn’t and went over to the Irgun, but I stayed because of the Admiral,” Davidson replied.

“Canaris?” Ali was baffled.

Davidson nodded. “When he was head of the Abwehr he helped my grandparents escape the SS. Also, I like to be on the winning side of things.”

“Folks, I think we have to shelve that conversation because we’re nearly here,” Nguyen interrupted. “Just around the corner.” Ede followed his directions and soon they were in front of the building which they had already visited before. He parked the car and soon after they were in the flat.

Again, they searched every nook and cranny, but it was to no avail.

“What are we even looking for?” Ede wanted to know.

“A book,” Davidson replied. “My uncle used books to hide his secrets. Usually a code that would give away a location or something.”

“Are you sure forensics haven’t found it already?” Ede prodded.

“No,” Davidson shook his head. “I looked over all the items you guys took.” He smirked. “Our hackers aren’t as good as Ms Engel, but honestly? The IT at your department is a joke.” A knock on the door interrupted them. When Ali opened the door, it was Hans, the neighbour’s boys.

“Oh, it’s just you,” he spoke as he looked at them. “I thought the burglars were back.”

“Then why did you knock, when there could be criminals in here?!” Ali wanted to know horrified. Hans shifted on his feet and revealed a kitchen knife which he had been holding behind his back. All four men’s jaws dropped.

“What are you doing with that knife?!” Ali hissed even more horrified.

“Well, in case you were the burglars I needed something to defend myself,” Hans replied.

“I doubt any criminals would have even opened the door,” Davidson pointed out.

“I definitely didn’t think that through,” Hans admitted.

“Where’s your mom?” Ede wanted to know.

“At work,” Hans replied. “I just wanted to see who was there.”

“You should go back to your flat and go to bed,” Ali said. “Tomorrow’s school after all.” Oh, how he wished he could do the same. Hans nodded dejected and turned around.

“Wait!” he exclaimed. “I nearly forgot, but there’s something I need your help with.” He vanished into his flat only to reappear a minute later with a bible in his hand.

“Mr Richter gave it to me,” he explained. “He told me that I should send it to a Mr Jakob if something was to happen to him.” He looked up at them with pleading eyes. “Can you help me find him? You’re police, after all, so you’re good at finding people, aren’t you?”

Davidson gulped. “I am Mr. Jakob. You can give it to me.”

Hans was somehow suspicious, but as Ede and Ali nodded, he handed over the bible to Davidson.

“One day I’ll tell you the whole story,” Davidson told the boy. Hans just nodded, obviously disappointed that he didn’t get told now.

Soon after the three had left the building and were driving back to the Mossad HQ.

Arriving there, Davidson wasted not time starting to look through the book.

“My uncle and I used to play this game when I was a child where he would mark certain words in a book,” he started to explain. “On their own, these words were pretty much nonsense, but if you had the right decoding key, you would know which letters you needed to take from them in order to get the hidden message. The key was usually also hidden in the book.”

“But how would you recognise the key?” Ede asked puzzled.

“He’s marked page 94,” Davidson replied and pointed at aforementioned page. “Which means I need to take the digit sum, which would be 13. Again, that means that I have to take the first letter of the first word and the third word of the second word and so on until I reach the 13th word. Then I’d need to look for the next marked page – 115 in this case – and take the seventh letters of the next seven words and so on and so on.”

“That’s ingenious,” Engels remarked. “But it would have gone a lot faster with a computer.”

“Well, my uncle wasn’t a really technophile,” Davidson shrugged.

It would take some time until Davidson would have the whole message, so everyone not belonging to the Mossad – except Major Schippers who would stay with them as ‘advisor’ on the Admiral’s insistence – left the room in search for something to do until they would be needed again.

Admiral Canaris seemed weirdly invigorated, though.

“Gentlemen…and women, this was the most interesting day since Cartagena in 1916,” he told them. “Keep up the good work!” And then he vanished down the hallway.

“What happened in Cartagena?” Ede whispered to Ali as they made their way towards where one Mossad agent had shown them the sleeping quarters where located.

“Oh, I know,” Engels interjected. “I looked the Admiral up when I started to work for him and let me tell you, it’s quite an interesting story.” She sat down on one of the empty bunk beds that was in the room. “He was a secret agent in Spain but needed to leave the country in 1916. He managed to evade a French submarine and an auxiliary cruiser on a small sailing boat until he and his fellow officer reached the German sub that was supposed to pick them up.” She bent down to get rid of her shoes, letting out a relieved sigh when her feet finally popped free. “He’s had quite the remarkable career: Officer on the cruiser SMS Dresden, fleeing the internment, arriving Amsterdam via Plymouth as Chilean national, secret agent in Spain, caught in France but escaped an Italian prison in 1916 to return to Spain and then to flee via Cartagena.”

Ali and Ede listened to her in rapture. They both were aware that Canaris was a man of deep renown, but to actually hear some of his exploits was a different matter altogether.

“Sounds like a German James Bond,” Ali muttered.

“Who’s that?” Ede wanted to know, pretty sure that it was one of Ali’s UT culture references.

“You haven’t heard of it yet?” Ali exclaimed aghast. “007? ‘My name is Bond. James Bond’?” Ede just let his silence speak for himself. “Damn, once this is over, we’ll be having a movie night…or maybe several, there are, after all, quite a few of them.”

They talked for a while still, but when the clock turned to midnight, they both went to sleep.

“Wake up, you slugabed!” Ede nearly fell off the bed when Ali screamed right into his ear. He had a few choice words for his colleague when he sat upright, but at least his partner had a big and hot cup of coffee read for him. Small mercies.

“How late is it?” Ede asked.

“Already 9 o’clock,” Ali replied.

“Any news?”

“Yeah.” Ali sipped from his coffee. “He’s found the message. Only three words, actually.”

“And???” Ede prodded.

“’Menachim’, ‘Begin’ and ‘Nakam’,” Ali replied, looking as confused as Ede felt. Instead of asking for clarification Ede was pretty sure Ali didn’t have either, he instead went over to the sink in the room and tried to make himself look at least a little bit presentable. There was no saving his crinkled shirt, but he could at least make sure that his hair was neat and his face clean. Only now he noticed that Engels was nowhere to be found.

“One of the guys challenged her to some hacking duel,” Ali told him after he’d asked his partner. “I don’t think he knows what he’s gotten himself into.”

Davidson entered the room while Ede was wolfing down the chocolate bar Ali had brought him from one of the vending machines down the hallway.

Menachim Begin was an Israeli prime minister,“ he explained after Ede had asked him after the code words. “He was a Polish Jew who came to Israel in 1942 whereupon he rose to become the leader of Irgun.”

“Your prime minister was a terrorist?” Ede repeated baffled.

“Who wasn’t at that time?” Davidson shrugged. “I won’t sugar-coat anything, they committed some serious crimes, but as prime minister he managed negotiate the peace deal with Egypt and got a Peace Nobel Prize for it.”

“So, he could be the murderer?”

“I don’t know,” Davidson replied.

“But why would the leader of a Jewish terrorist organisation come to occupied Poland?” Ede wanted to know. “And who is this Nakam?”

“Not who, what,” Davison told them. “It’s another terror group. They tried to poison the water supply of some German cities. They didn’t succeed.” He added hastily.

“Oh, Scheiße!” Ede exclaimed. “And we have no idea where they are?”

“Begin made a mistake, though,” Davidson explained. “He used the name Biegun – his old name – to enter Poland and Germany.”

“So, let me clarify this,” Ede began, “We not only have one but by the looks of it several Jewish terror groups working here in Germany?”

Davidson and Ali just nodded.

“I can’t deal with this like that,” Ede said, gesturing at his ruffled appearance. “I need an ironed shirt for this shit. I’m going to go home, talk to my wife and maybe shower…no, definitely shower, hoping, of course, that neither the Allies nor a Jewish terror group will have blown up the country by then.”

“I already talked to her,” Ali supplied. “Told her we had a really important but time consuming observation going on.”

“See you later,” Davidson nodded.

On his way home, Ede thought about what they had to do now; Finding Mr. Biegun in order to find a terrorist cell, so that they could find even more terrorist cells. Sounded easy, alright…

For three days they were investigating but to no avail. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack, which frustrated them to no end. Tempers were running high when they finally found something on the forth day. Jacek had sent them a list with names of people who had been leaving near the crime scene and then moved away shortly after the murder had been committed. Due to the war, many people were moving around, so it probably wouldn’t be much of a help. Or at least so they thought.

The German government was paying compensation to all victims of the Nazi regime. It had been a little scandal when the pay out of the first tranche of the money – the so called “first aid package”, which entailed 5k Euros – hadn’t been paid for months due to a huge amount of bureaucracy and incompatibilities between the German government and Polish banks, which had led to thousands of people in Poland being unable to support themselves. Pictures of desperate parents unable to provide for their crying children had circulated in German newspapers for days.

One such aid receiver was a Mr. Goldmann, a former KZ inmate, who had received his money the day before the murder of Col. Oren. It wasn’t much to go on, but when they dug deeper, they found out that he had been seen with the Colonel at Warsaw Central Station. They followed the traces to a small hotel near Bialystok where Goldmann met up with four other men, two of which the team was already well aware of: Jeremiah and Begin. The other two could be identified as Mr. Schneider from Tauroggen and MR. Wolski from Grodno. They took the train and – due to forged papers – were able to pass the border near Soldau, East Prussia. By then Goldmann had taken a new name: Hermann from Hindenburg, OS. From Danzig they soon departed to Hamburg where they just arrived the day before the next murder.

From there on the Mossad could supply the rest of the picture: By chance Isaak had met his brother and had followed him, calling Davidson as soon as he could. He observed his brother leading what appeared to be a homeless person away from Central Station into a nearby residential area. In front of one of the apartment buildings they waited until Agnieszka of all people left the house. The woman wanted to cross the street, but couldn’t get her rollator past the densely parked cars. Jeremiah offered to help her, an offer which the elderly woman gratefully took, until Jeremiah stabbed her repeatedly. As the woman laid dying on the ground, Jeremiah went back to the tramp and dragged him towards Agnieszka. Under the streetlights, Isaak could now notice that it was no tramp, but a very drunk and nearly passed out Lieutenant Schmudtke. Without a second thought, Jeremiah threw the man against a boulder that was meant to keep cars from parking on the sidewalk, which was the moment Isaak decided to intervene.

Instead of following his brother, Isaak decided to execute first aid on Schmudtke until Davidson arrived. They called the police and when they could hear the sirens drove away in Davidson’s car.

Jeremiah, meanwhile, had been lost to them.

Their next target now was a warehouse by the harbour, rented by Mr. Hermann. Due to its unfortunate placement, they couldn’t use their usual equipment to stake-out the place. The only thing they were able to find out was that there were, indeed, people inside, as they coulf here voices, but the directional microphone didn’t get much more. Additionally, the only way to get to the warehouse was by boat which would have betrayed them immediately.

In the end, it was decided that the Mossad agents would do the job alone, while the Germans would wait behind.

Ede, Ali, Major Schippers, Isaak and Engels were watching the mission from the safety of the surveillance car, parked a few streets away from the warehouse, which was still in their line of vision, though. There wasn’t really much to do but wait, a rather tedious thing to begin with, but when Ede wanted to open his mouth and complain (even though he knew he shouldn’t), Engels suddenly barked “Masada” in her microphone and jumped out of the car.

A few seconds later the warehouse went up in a big explosion. Even from where they were standing, Ede could feel the of the explosion and the heat on his skin.

“Fuck!” Ali shouted. “Davidson and his team were inside the building!”

“They’re not dead!” Ede exclaimed and pointed towards the water where he saw a few shapes making their way towards them.

When they finally arrived at their position it took all their combined efforts to hoist them up the quay. By now, the police and ambulances had arrived.

“It was a trap!” a female Mossad agent, Sarah Stern told them. She was sitting near Davidson, who was the worst off, but would survive.

“What a shitshow,” Major Schipper cursed. “Where’s Engels?” They all looked around, but found no trace of the petite woman. Coming to think of it, Ede realised that she also hadn’t been there when they had pulled the Mossad agents out of the water.

“You don’t think…” he started, hesitation clear in his voice.

“No!” Ali cut him off harshly.

“There she is!” Isaak exclaimed and pointed towards the end of the street. And indeed, Engels was walking towards them, but she wasn’t alone. With her she was dragging a rather uncooperative and handcuffed Lieutenant Miron.

The penny dropped simultaneously for all of them.

“YOU!” Stern howled and threw herself at her colleague. “How could you, you bastard!” She switched to Hebrew as she continued to scream at the other man. Miron himself shouted back just as loud, but after one particular heated exchange, he suddenly bit down on something. Too slow to react, they could all just watch as the man collapsed and died a fast but antagonising death.

“A fate way too good for him,” Stern spit.

“What did he say?” Major Schippers wanted to know.

“Tried to justify himself and his actions,” Stern shrugged. “Called all of us traitors.”

The Major now turned towards Engels. “And what role did you play in all of this?”

“A few days ago, Captain Davidson came to me and expressed his suspicion that there could be a traitor amongst his team. He asked me to do a little bit of surveillance as I wasn’t a part of his team and therefor could not be the traitor.”

“Did you spy on us, too?” Ede wanted to know.

“Eh, due diligence and all that,” Engels stuttered. “I had to be sure.” She regained her composure and winked at him. “I won’t tell anyone what you bought your wife on Amazon, I promise.” Ede turned red.

“Now I want to know,” Ali laughed.

“It’s none of your business!” Ede exclaimed, still embarrassed.

“Gentlemen, that’s a topic for later when you two are alone,” Major Schippers intervened. “What did you find out?”

“Well, each team member has a tracking chip in their helmet, so when Miron stepped outside the warehouse for no apparent reason and started to communicate on a channel none of his team members were on, I realised what was happening and warned Davidson.”

“I can confirm that the Captain had us suddenly abort the mission,” Stern threw in. “We were to leave the building as fast as possible, but we weren’t fast enough.” She let her gaze wander over the rest of her team members who were attended by the ambulances.

"We can talk about that later. What did you find out?" he asked Engels.

"In the end I was sure, Miron was the traitor, but the last piece was missing. However, I could see him leaving the team secretly and giving an electronic signal. I tried to jam it, but I knew, I could do so for only a few seconds. So I gave the sign to Captain Davidson to escape out of the building and tried to get this scum."

“Scheiße,“ Schippers cursed. “So, we’re right back where we started.”

“I wouldn’t say so,” Engels replied, looking like the cat eating the canary.

“Frau Leutnant, I don’t have the necessary patience to deal with riddles right now,” Major Schippers warned her.

“I do have the location of the HQ of the enemy,” Engels reported, now all formal.

“Give me the coordinates!” Stern demanded instantly.

“Lieutenant Stern!” Major Schippers barked. “You and your team are wounded and exhausted. None of you is fit for moping the floor, lest of all an assault on the enemy’s headquarters. You will go with the medics, get yourself checked over and keep an eye on Davidson, am I understood?” His gaze could have frozen over the Elbe, so it took Stern only a few seconds before she folded.

“Sir, yes, sir.”

“We,” Major Schippers, turning back to Ali, Ede and Engels, continued, “will deal with this. We’ll be driving to Engels’ coordinates and while doing that, I’ll be calling the Admiral.”

While they were running to the cars, Ali tried to uncover how Engel had discovered the farm’s location, but she replied to all of his questions with a mysterious smile. “A woman must keep her secrets.”

“But only until the final debriefing,” Major Schippers added. “We won’t leave anything out of the report.”

Engel just nodded. She was, of course, aware that she would have to reveal her source, but it was kind of fun to string Ali along. He was so easy to rile up! Anyway, she would mention in her report that amongst Lt. Miron’s possessions a second phone had been found on which she had installed a small program that recorded every number he called. He had only contacted tow numbers, both leading to a remote region north of Hamburg, a farm and a small village. The farm was a far more likely place for a rouge Mossad ring to set up their headquarters at than a village where everyone knew everyone.

After driving for half an hour, they arrived at a point from which they were able to gaze upon the farmstead, which consisted of a barn, a pigsty and a large house. A gravel road led to the farm, branching off from the main road only a few meters from where their car was parked.

Admiral Canaris had been called and would send a unit to storm the buildings, but that would still take some time. Until then they were supposed to observe but take no action. In the back of the van Isaak was wearing headphones as he listened in on the voices they were able to intercept from their location. In the meantime, it had started to snow heavily; big, chunky snowflakes falling from the sky and obscuring their sight.

"Engel, do you have a plan of the farm?” the Major inquired.

“Of course,” the woman replied. She pulled out her tablet and showed them the plan which she had probably gotten from the building authority where it was publicly available, anway. The barn and the stable were just two big rooms, whereas the house consisted of a basement, ground floor and two upper floors; all together 14 rooms.

“Oh dear!” Ali exclaimed. “That’s an absolute nightmare to storm. Those poor sods!”

Ede just nodded. He, too, was glad that it wouldn’t be his task to storm this complex. He had never been much of an action guy.

“Herr Major.” Isaak turned around, his face pale and eyes wide as if he had seen a ghost. “Two men just left the building. Apparently, the group is about to leave and they’re supposed to prepare their retreat. The family that owns this farm’s still alive and kept in the stable, but they’re planning to kill them!” He swallowed. “I think one of the men is my brother.”

The Major pressed his lips together. After a short moment of contemplation, he pulled out his phone and called Canaris, but it was to no avail, as the Admirals response was that the unit he had sent them wouldn’t arrive in time.

“We can’t just let them die!” Isaak insisted.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Mendelson, but it is the cynical nature of both war and politics that sometimes you just have to accept your losses,” he spoke, harshly yet also with understanding. “But fortunately for you, today’s not the day you’ll learn that lesson. We cannot allow those men and women to escape and as servants of the German nation we cannot let her citizen die while we just wait here.” He shook his head. “As there is no chance that the Admiral’s troops will arrive here in time, it falls to us to liberate the farm by any means necessary.”

He looked towards Schrödter. “You have formal sniper training, haven’t you?”

“Kreta, North Africa, Eastern Front. Division Brandenburg,” the man replied.

“Alright, so you will take the G82,” the Major replied. “I shall go with you. Engel, Ngyuen, you will attack the house while we cover you. Mr. Tramsen, Mr. Ali, you are to liberate the hostages in the pigsty. Mr. Mendelson, you will stay in the car, keep observing the farm and keep into contact with the Admiral. Am I understood?” Everyone nodded, even Isaak, who for a while had looked as if he wanted to protest the Major’s orders.

They all exited the car, separating and each going their way towards their destination. Ali and Ede sneaked through then night, snow still falling, crunching underneath their feet and covering their eyelashes.

When they reached the stable, they crouched underneath one of the few windows and looked inside. Three men were standing in front of the family, consisting of six people, amongst them two children and an elderly woman.

“How are we supposed to do this?” Ede whispered next to him, clutching his pump gun, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best weapon to use to sneakily storm a building.

“There’s three of them, so we’ve at least got a chance,” Ali whispered back.

“What, so you weren’t even sure before?!” Ede hissed.

Ali just shrugged. “If we attack them, they’re going to be more focused on defending themselves than killing the family. We just have to make sure that we kill them before they kill us.”

“No kidding,” Ede murmured.

“I`ll go first,” Ali told him. “I`ll make a big spectacle and draw their attention and then you come in and finish them off.”

“Sounds easy enough,” Ede shrugged. “You know what they say about plans and first contact?”

“Trust me,” Ali assuaged him. “What could go wrong?”

He didn’t even bother to wait for Ede’s reply (of which he had many). With one energetic push, the barn’s door opened and Ali stormed inside, already shooting. One men went down instantly, while another got hit in the shoulder and was thrown backwards. Before the third could start shooting back, Ali had already taken cover.

Apparently, the last man standing wasn’t a very experienced fighter, for he didn’t even take cover, instead kept standing where he was. In this moment, Ede stormed inside, a primal battle cry on his lips, as he took aim and fired one shot at the man.

The impact of the shot threw the man backwards and right into the middle of the excited grunting pigs, who didn’t even waited for a second before they started to tear into the man’s corpse.

Ali and Ede glanced at the still living second man, who was clutching his bleeding shoulder. Ali was a police officer, not a soldier or agent, so he pulled out his cuffs and tied him up. Ede, meanwhile, was in the process of untying the hostages.

“Thank you so much,” the only man in the group gushed. “Thank you so much for saving my family.”

“How many men are there?” Ede asked.

“Fourteen,” the woman, the same age of the man, replied.

Ali cursed. “Can you make it up to the street on your own? Our van’s up there and reinforcement should come any minute now.”

“Of course,” the man nodded. “Good luck with these monsters. They shot a worker of mine just to show us what they were willing to do to us.” He ushered his family out of the building, leaving Ali and Ede behind.

A big courtyard separated the pigsty, the barn and the living house from each other. Ali and Ede had stormed the stable through the backdoor, so the way forward would be through the doors that opened towards the wide, open space.

A bad idea, both of them were sure.

Through the windows they could see two bodies on the ground, probably having been shot by Schrödter. If there was anyone competent amongst the Mossad rouges – which Ali counted on – then there would be someone guarding the court from an elevated vantage point.

“I’m going to test something,” he spoke to Ede. “When I tell you to, you open the door and take cover.”

“What are you going to do?” Ede wanted to know, but Ali had already moved back and taken a small bundle of hay.

“Now!” Ede pushed open the door and Ali threw the hay out into the open. Instantly, the object was riddled with bullets from three sides. Instinctively, Ali pulled up his gun and shot at one of the men. Much to his surprise he managed to hit and the shooter broke down.

One down, two left. The man up in the house wasn’t as much of a problem, though, as the one in the barn who would shoot the down the moment they would leave the stables. But unfortunately, Ede and Ali couldn’t reach him.

That didn’t mean that no one else could. A silent ‘plop’ and the man in the barn collapsed. Apparently, Schrödter had taken care of him as well.

Now only one man remained. He was on the third floor of the building, but unfortunately he didn’t do them the favour of coming out of his cover. It seemed as if this particular shooter was actually knowing what he was doing.

“Scheiße!” Ali cursed. “If we try to make it to the house, he’s going to get one of us.”

“Not necessarily,” Ede replied, a smug smile tugging at his lip. “I’ve never told you, but I played rugby back in my youth. I’m pretty good at throwing things.” He opened his palm and showed Ali the Stielgranate 24 he was holding. “I think this will do a nice job.”

Ali didn’t look very convinced. “I’m not really sure I wanna hinge my continued survival on your throwing skills that you may or may not have possessed in your youth. When was the last time you played rugby?”

“Oh, fifteen years or so,” Ede shrugged. “But it’s like riding a bike: You don’t forget how to do it.”

“Ede, I’m not sure…” Ali couldn’t even finish his concern. Ede had pulled the grenade’s string, sent Ali one last cocky smile and threw the damn thing. In a perfect arc. Straight into the window with the last shooter. Only a few seconds later the explosion killed this shooter.

“Well, that was…unexpected,” Ali commented.

“Let’s go!” Ede replied. They ran across the courtyard towards the house, not even bothering to open the door, but straight out breaking through it.

The terrorist in the room behind them was so shocked by their sudden entrance that he didn’t even tried to lift his gun to shoot at them before Ede lifted his shotgun and aimed at him. But instead of hitting his chest, Ede managed to hit his neck which, at the close range they were in, decapitated the other man.

It wasn’t a nice sight.

Both men stared at the corpse in horror and that was nearly their undoing for it allowed the next man to nearly surprise them. The man lifted his gun and Ali already waited for the gunshot to ring out, for the bullet to push through his chest, for the pain to explode in his body.

The gun shot. But there was no pain, no darkness. Instead, their attacker fell over, revealing Engel standing behind him, her gun still held up.

“Of course you’d need me to save you,” she greeted them. “Can’t leave you alone without someone trying to kill you.” She looked at Ede. “Shit, why didn’t you tell me you’ve been hit?” Ali looked at Ede. At first he didn’t see anything, but then he noticed a dark spot near Ede’s calf. From Ede’s surprised look on his face he hadn’t noticed it either.

“Probably a ricochet,” he remarked. “I don’t feel anything, though.”

“It’s the adrenaline,” Engel told him. “It keeps you standing, but your leg could give out at any moment. We need to lay you down somewhere.” She beckoned for them to follow them into the living room where she ordered Ede to lay down.

“Where’s Tranh?” Ali asked while Engel ripped down one of the curtains to use it as tourniquet.

“He’s injured as well,” Engel answered. “Hip. He cant really move, but he’s stable. I hid him on the back, where he’ll see anyone coming and can shoot them before they reach him. He needs a medic, though, as does Ede. You’ve lost more blood than I thought. That’s the drawback of those dark fabrics: It’s always worse than it looks.” With one last jolt she finished tying the tourniquet. “We can´t get you out of here before we can be sure that there aren’t any more Mossad rogues.”

Ali could guess what she was hinting at. And so could Ede: “Leave me here. That’s an order.”

Ali barked. “You can’t order me around. You aren’t my boss.”

“He’s right,” Engel pointed out. “I need you to help me finish this job, so that we can get Tranh and Ede the help they need. How many men are still left?”

“The farmer’s wife said something about fourteen,” he replied. “We got three in the stable, Schrödter got four and then we got another three here. How many did you got?”

“Tranh and I got one each,” Engel replied.

“That’s thirteen,” Ali counted. “One’s still missing.”

“But only if the wife was right,” Engel remarked. “It could also be more.”

“Let`s just trust her for now,” Ali countered. “If there was more, we would have noticed by now.” Engel just nodded, but she looked unhappy about it.

She and Ali left the living room and walked towards the staircase.

“You keep watch on the stairway to the basement while I clean out the rooms upstairs,” Engel ordered him. “I’m so pumped full with adrenaline, I think I know now how heroine feels like. That’s probably the only explanation for what I’m about to do.”

And then she kissed him. But before Ali could even process what was happening and react, Engel had already let go of him and vanished up the stairs.

Too stunned by what had just transpired, Ali was caught unaware when the cellar door was suddenly blown outward and two men stormed outside, guns drawn. Before Ali could react, a shot rang out, pain exploding in his shoulder, hurling him on the ground and forcing him to drop his gun.

The men didn’t go for the kill, though. Instead, they walked up towards him and looked down on him in contempt.

“So, this is one of the German lackeys,” the older man spit. “You need to kill him.” The last sentence was an order to the younger man. Now that Ali could get a better look at him, there was an unmistakable likeness to Isaak. That had to be Jeremiah then. And the other man must be Begin.

Jeremiah drew his pistol at Ali, but he didn’t pull the trigger. His hand was shaking and Ali could see the indecision tearing at him in his gaze. Begin seemed to notice as well.

“He may be just a Turk, but he willingly serves the Germans, which is even worse,” he continued. “We have a mission to save our people. If you cannot do what needs to be done, then you will only be a burden. We don’t need burdens.” The last was said in a more menacing tone.

Jeremiah paled. But then his hand steadied and his expression turned in to resolve. Ali breathed out. He was going to shoot.

“Don’t!” All three of them turned their heads to look at Isaak who was standing in the doorway. Apparently the prospect of seeing his brother had outweighed the possibility of getting killed out here and he had fled his minder. “You’ve done enough, our family is avenged. Please, just stop it, Jeremiah!”

“Do it!” Begin insisted.

“No!” Isaak positioned himself between his brother and Ali.

“Out of the way, boy,” Begin barked at him. “Do not involve yourself in matters you don’t understand.”

“Oh, I understand very well,” Isaak shot back. “You’re a murderer and a terrorist and would have my brother follow you onto a path that would make him no better than the SS men under whom we had to suffer.”

“How dare you!” Begin foamed. “It is the atrocities the Germans committed that drive me on. They slaughtered our people like pigs and for that we shall do the same to them. An eye for an eye, a live for every live we lost.”

“And you think killing people who hadn’t do anything to do with the Holocaust will change anything?” Isaak screamed back. “They’re as innocent as our people.”

“They are not innocent!” Begin shouted. “Only murderers. A plight that we need to get rid of for our people to thrive.”

“How is what you’re saying any different than what the Nazis preached?” Isaak wanted to know desperately.

Begin’s expression shut down. Completely calm, he turned his attention to Jeremiah. “Kill him!”

Isaak looked at his brother. “What is it going to be then, brother? Will you kill an innocent for crimes they had nothing to do with? Will you kill your own brother for your vengeance?”

“He no longer is your brother,” Begin insisted. “Would your brother collaborate with Germans after what they did to your family? No, he is a traitor as is the rest of them.”

Jeremiah raised his arms, aiming his gun at Isaak, but he didn’t shoot. Instead he just screamed, a primal, animalistic sound.

“I can’t,” he whispered and lowered his arm.

“Then I’ll do it,” Begin said and raised his gun.

A clicking sound. But no bullet.

Jeremiah had aimed his gun and shot. But not at his brother; no, at Begin. Bewildered that the gun hadn’t fired, Jeremiah pulled the trigger again.

“You fool,” Begin snarled. “Did you really think I’d take the chance that you would turn against us? This was a test and you failed.”

From where he was still lying on the ground, everything that happened next felt to Ali as if it happened in slow motion. Begin angled his gun towards Jeremiah, intent to shoot him. Isaak threw himself forward, pushing his brother aside, just as the gun spit out its bullet.

It hit him instead.

But yet, Begin couldn’t enjoy his moment of triumph. Righteous fury blazing in her eyes, Engel appeared in the frame of the back door, the light from outside surrounding her like a halo, and threw one of her shuriken at Begin. It embedded itself in the side of his throat. But he wasn’t dead yet.

Like a predator stalking their prey, Engel moved forward, every movement full of deadly grace. For the first time Ali saw fear in Begin’s eyes.

"So you're trying to play Imperator Palpatine? You should have known, where this ends. Oh, no. I forgot. You're a downtimer." She slowly went towards him. Begin tried to say something, but couldn't. "Oh, I fear, I have hit your vocal chords. Either this, or the curare. Anyway, I don't have a reactor, in which I could throw you. But I can help you. I can give you an honourable way out of this." With her Wakizashi she cut off the hand with his pistol from his body, which was still aiming at the boys. Then she pushed the sword into his stomach and conducted a classic seppuku.

He wasn't dead, when she pulled the wakizashi out of his body. Begin hardly managed to look down. There he saw his bowels coming out of the wounds. He wanted to cry, when suddenly he found himself rolling on the floor. A moment later he could see, that it was just his head rolling on the floor, as she saw his headless body with the mortal injuries, slowly collapsing. This German amazon stood next to it, with a long sword in her hand. He would have cried, but he couldn't. And although this lasted less than 10 seconds, it was like an eternity for him. Then darkness came.

“My brother!” Jeremiah screamed and covered Isaak’s unconscious form with his own body. He cried. From outside they could hear sirens. The cavalry had arrived.

“Ede?” Ali managed to say out loud.

“He’ll be fine,” Engel assured him. “As will Tranh and hopefully Isaak. It’d be for the best if you kept calm.” She pressed a faint kiss on his forehead.

“It’ll be over soon.”

Epilogue


When Ali awoke, it was in a room he didn’t know. He tried to get up, only to have pain flare up in his body, forcing him to lay back down.

“Good morning, sleepyhead!” someone next to his bed cheered.

Ali groaned as he recognised Ede’s voice. “For a split-second I thought I was in heaven, but it can’t be, because you definitely wouldn’t be there.” Both men laughed. Only now did Ali recognise that they weren’t alone in the room. There were additional beds that held Tranh, Isaak and Moshe Davidson.

“How long was I out?” he wanted to know.

“Three days,” Ede answered him. “There have been some complications.”

“And where are we exactly?”

“Bundeswehr hospital in Wandsbek,” Tranh told him.

„I guess we have the admiral to thank for that.”

In this moment the door opened and Admiral Canaris entered the room, followed by Lt. Stern, Major Schippers, Lt. Engel and Chief of Police Meyer.

“Indeed,” Canaris spoke. “There’s much less risk involved having you here than in a hospital that’s open to the public. It’s good to see you back amongst the living, Mr. Yüksel, because if you had been unconscious for even another day, we would have been forced to do the debriefing without you as I’ll leave for Berlin soon. Stalin’s visiting, as you know.” His expression turned grim at the reminder.

“Anyway, we all know that his operation was makeshift from the start. And it has also shown that we can’t allow our Allies’ secret services to act unsupervised any longer, which is something I’ve advocated for since the beginning. After lengthy discussions” – and gain his expression turned sour as if someone had forced him to swallow something disgusting – “the Mossad accepted liaison officers, which will check in on each of their cells.”

“Do those Jewish terrorists still pose a threat?” Ede asked uneasily.

Canaris nodded gravely. “There are other cells still active. We need to infiltrate and neutralise them before they can set their plans into motion.”

It was in this moment that Isaak spoke up for the first time. “Do you know what happened to my brother?” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Canaris looked at him and an eternity seemed to pass before he finally replied: “Officially, no terrorist escaped and neither did we take anyone in to custody. Officially, you understand?”

Isaak looked confused, but nodded anyway, probably because he didn’t want the admiral to take him for a dimwit. Canaris sighed. “In exchange for a pardon, he agreed to work for us. I can’t tell you more and you also won’t be able to contact him for the time being.” He turned back to face Davidson and Schippers.

“Hauptmann Davidson, you’re being promoted to Major. Together with Oberstleutnant Schippers you’ll be forming a taskforce consisting of Mossad and Abwehr operatives to fight the rest of these terrorists.”

“Herr Admiral, I’m only a Major,” Schippers protested.

“Not any longer,” Canaris barked. “Congratulations, Herr Oberstleutnant, you’ve been promoted, as well. You get your new badge when the paperwork’s through.” He shook Schipper’s hand who belatedly reciprocated the gesture, still a little bit dazed by the sudden change. “You’ll be in command of this task force. New staff will be sent to you as soon as possible.”

The admiral turned around to face the room.

“Mr. Tramsen, Mr. Yüksel, your work was outstanding and helped us a great deal. Your persistence, despite outward resistance, lends itself to your character. As for Klein – what was the rest of his name? It doesn’t matter – well, I have something nice planned for him.”

“Hopefully an extended stay in hell,” Engel muttered next to Ali.

“Not that far off,” Canaris replied, his gaze at her strict and admonishing as she had interrupted him.

He turned to Davidson.

“You acted bravely and wisely, even though the whole operation tethered far too close on the line of becoming a catastrophe a few times. Still, it’s the result that counts and therefore you’ll be jointly responsible for the new task force.” Davidson nodded while Canaris turned towards Isaak.

“Now, you’ve just turned fifteen and should have never been a part of this operation to begin with. But the past is the past and so we need to look forward: If you’re amicable to it, I can pull some strings to have you officially recognised as Major Davidson’s ward to which he has already agreed to.” Isaak looked at Davidson, who just smiled reassuringly at him, and then looked back at Canaris. He nodded.

“Oberleutnant Nguyen, you’ll be part of the new task force, as will Oberleutnant Schrödter.” Tranh smiled and nodded. Now Canaris turned to Engel.

“Oberleutnant Engel, I don’t really know if this promotion is justified,” he began. “While it is clear that you merit it, it still seems to me that you lack discipline and self-restraint. While you fought bravely, you allowed your feelings to dictate your actions, leading to Begin being killed, which is an unacceptable outcome. You could have been charged with manslaughter. The reports will state that Begin shot at Mr Tramsen and Yüksel and that you had to neutralise him in order to save them.”

Engel looked down and nodded demurely. Canaric continued. “I understand that you wanted to protect them, but those actions were not the one of an experienced operative. Begin was too important and should have been taken in alive.” Canaris sighed. “The police that arrived after we had you all transported here, came to the conclusion that Begin was a victim of whatever happened on the farm, not the perpetrator, which makes things easier for us. At least for the moment.”

“Has anyone been taken into custody?” Ede asked.

“We have one of the three terrorists you engaged in the stable,” Canaris replied. “He knows little, but what he knows has been of great value for us.”

“What will happen to him?” Ede wanted to know.

“He’ll be retained until the end of the war, where he’ll probably be released. He won’t talk or go back to his comrades out of fear that they’ll kill him, should they ever learn that he didn’t keep his mouth shut, something we might use in the future.”

“And is there any news on Kevin Schmudtke?” Ali inquired.

Canaris nodded. “It seems miraculous, but he has woken up two days ago. His physical damage isn’t as expensive as firstly feared and the doctors even spoke of the possibility of a full recovery. However, he still suffers from severe psychological issues that need to be handled with care. I heard that Rabbi Bistritzky has agreed to speak to him about it." Canaris looked to Isaak and Davidson for a moment. "You know him as well." He didn't say, he found Bistritzky being the contact man between Isaak and Davidson.

"There isn’t much left now: Officially, this was a matter for the police who just asked for our help.” Chief of Police Meyer nodded in agreement. “Therefore there are no legal ramifications for any of you. However, to tie up everything as securely as possible, you, Mr Tramsen and Mr Yüksel, will be drafted into the army as Lieutenants. It will be backdated and symbolic only. That also means that you, like every other military personnel involved, will receive the Iron Cross First Class as well.”

Both Ede and Ali were a little bit dumbfounded at their sudden retrospective change in career, but accepted it with all the dignity and grace an overcrowded hospital room could offer.

A few minutes later, after the orders were given and some minor issues solved, the Admiral said: “I indulged myself a little bit and invited your families here. It’s nearly Christmas after all, so I told the kitchen staff to prepare something. I would love to stay, but I have to take off to Berlin.” He bid his farewells and soon after all of their family members crowded into the room, followed by food and drinks.

Ede’s wife was surprised to see s military order attached to him but didn’t ask, Ali had to suddenly introduce his new girlfriend to his family and Tranh’s family eyed the spectacle with the cool distaste of people who were used to more self-restrained celebrations. But only for the first time. Soon they were celebrating as well, at least to a certain level.

All in all, it was a nice party while somewhere else in Germany another group of people came together after their leader had been killed. New contingencies had to be made, new plans to be set in motion, all so that this war would end – in a victory for the Allies.
 
Top Bottom