A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 15

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

The new leader of the resistance was the woman, Martina, best if I didn’t know her last name.  Fair enough.  There had been a necessary restructure after the infiltration, and untimely deaths of over half their number.

When I asked what happened to the former leader, I learned that he, and all but five other members were captured and taken to the castle.  They were now, for all intents and purposes, double agents, working for the Thompson at the castle.

The remaining five, of which Giuseppe and Martina belonged, had been forced to hide, dodging the men sent from the castle to hunt them down and kill them.

It was both the lack of reporting from the castle, followed by a message received regarding a possible traitor inside the resistance we had received in London, that set everything in motion, including my arrival to ascertain what was happening within the resistance group, and also at the castle.  Until that information reached us, there had been no reason to suspect that anything was wrong, and that the plans set in place to facilitate the defection of useful German scientists and, in some cases, high ranking officers, or that it had been infiltrated and to put it bluntly, original members had been killed and replaced.

I hadn’t realised who was in charge until the paratroopers had arrived and I’d become a prisoner.  Part of my brief had also been to verify the layout of the castle in accordance with old plans we had found using my archaeology background as a front, and Id managed to explore certain areas before Thompson had become suspicious and basically stopped me.  I’d searched part of the lower levels of the castle, but hadn’t got as far as the dungeons, where I eventually discovered becoming one myself, they were keeping many more prisoners.

I hadn’t long enough in the dungeons to discover whether any of the prisoners were part of the original team sent, whether there were any defectors being still held there, except for two that I’d seen, and definitely one I talked to, but there had to be more.

And, now that I’d found the remaining members of the resistance, it was my intention to return to rescue then, and retake the castle.  What was going to make it difficult, if not impossible, was the fact there were only five, and they were all busy trying not to get caught.  Still, I had to try, and I asked Martina if it was possible to get everyone together for a meeting.

Martina just laughed.  Whether it was my request or my plan to retake the castle was the cause of her mirth.

“With what?”  she said incredulously, “there are only five of us left, and we spend most of our time keeping one step ahead of the turncoats.”

“How many of them are there?”

“Too many, led by that bastard Francesco.  He didn’t like taking orders from a woman, thought we’d picked the wrong side, especially when the Germans killed about fifty of the villagers when we refused to give ourselves up.  They killed his wife and mother  after he refused to send them away.”

That didn’t seem right to me, to align yourself with that sort of enemy, not after what they had done.  Except there was no telling what anyone might do in the face of such an adversary, or circumstances.  But I had to ask, “Why would they?”

“They’ve got hostages from the village up there, in the dungeons.  That’s how they turned them.”

Damn.  I was not going to be able to turn them back, not when the lives of their friends, even family, was being threatened.

“Is that the case for those who didn’t surrender?”

“No.  Our relatives left when we could see what was going to happen.”

“So, the problem we have is, freeing the hostages, freeing the soldiers if there are any of the original group, retake the castle, and get the pipeline working again.”  And, I thought to myself, pull off seven miracles in fifteen minutes.

I was putting forward what was for all intents and purposes impossible.

“There’s more,” she said.  “There is a high-value scientist coming, last advice was that he was in transit from Germany to here.  We know, and they know, courtesy of Francesco.  They want him captured; we want him safely delivered to the submarine waiting to take him to England.  He’s due in three days, and he doesn’t know the castle’s allegiances have changed.”

“Then we’ll have to intercept him.”

“Yes, but we don’t know what he looks like, but we do have a code name.  Francesco and the castle don’t have that, only his real name.”

A name I saw on a highly confidential document on Forster’s desk the day he briefed me on my current mission.  Blackfoot.  I thought it was an operation.  I think that was the code name for the defector.

“Blackfoot?”

“How did you know?”

“A lucky guess.” 

The question I had was, why didn’t he tell me about it?  Did he think I was going to get captured and tortured?

“Well, you’re right.  But it means Francesco and his men are going to be looking extra hard for us, because without that codename, as soon as they fail to confirm their identity to him, he will kill himself rather than go back, which I’m guessing will be their least preferred option.  And to make matters worse, London’s orders are quite specific, this man must be delivered alive.  He has critical information they need, and which will hasten the end of the war”

“Then I think we should tell London the nature of our situation and see what they come up with.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

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