A story inspired by Castello di Briolio – Episode 41

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 with 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…

——

Jackerby trusted no one.  He had been given orders by someone further up the ranks than Wallace and his people, someone who suspected that some or all of the Englishmen turned German turned Englishmen were traitors. 

The only men he could trust fully were those who had come with him in the glider, a dozen at most.  It’s why he had just completed a secret briefing with his second in command who would take over the operation if anything happened to him.

Not that it would, but he liked the idea of being prepared, and humoring the others into believing they were essential to the operation.  Eckhardt would be a good man in a crisis, battle scarred from the Russian front, and glad to be on this operation for obvious reasons.

He would do anything Jackerby asked, even kill Wallace and Johannsen if he was required to.

That might yet be necessary because Wallace didn’t seem interested in going after Atherton which made him think that Wallace wasn’t all that he appeared to be.  Atherton was a thorn in their operation and had to be eliminated.  The fact Wallace and Johannsen didn’t agree with him raised suspicions as to their motives.

Was there ultimately going to be a triple cross?

He had been lurking in the shadows when Wallace gave the drunken fool Leonardo his orders to go down to the village.  More defectors.  Jackerby couldn’t understand why anyone would want to leave the Reich, especially when they were winning the war, and, if it were up to him, he’d executer the lot of them not send them back.

But, orders were orders.

He went back to Eckhardt and told him he was going down to the village to observe Leonardo and his team in action, and that he was in charge of the men in his absence.

Eckhardt, on the other hand, knew that Jackerby, if he could find a way that would not cause them trouble, was going to eliminate Leonardo because they were a liability.  The plan was once Leonardo and his men were gone, Jackerby would take over rounding up the defectors.  Or, more to the point, they would go missing before reaching the castle.  There was only one that mattered, the rest were dead weight.  And once the prize had been captured, Jackerby would escort him home and collect the kudos for himself and his men.

The ultimate prize; leave to reunite briefly with their families and a cushy job in Berlin, away from the horrors of war in the trenches.

Leonardo and the five others that made up the resistance left the castle by one of the underground tunnels.  Leonardo knew of two, both of them shown to him by Carlo.  He knew that Carlo knew where more were, but Carlo was not particularly helpful at the best of times.

He also knew Carlo might be stupid enough to storm the castle, especially after what Leonardo had done to Martina, and, when it hadn’t happened, he suspected Atherton had appealed to him to wait.

Atherton, too, he knew had some idea of the layout of the castle, have been told to keep an eye on Atherton when he first arrived because he was reportedly an archaeologist.  Leonardo had, and reported back to Wallace that it appeared Atherton had been surveying the castle.  He had simply been told to keep Atherton under surveillance, and make notes of any discoveries, and particularly what Atherton was doing.

He had, not that it amounted to much.  Not when he realized Leonardo was following him.  Leonardo decided not to tell Wallace Atherton had rumbled him, just that he was roaming the passages looking for something.

It had worked so far and kept Wallace off his back, but it wasn’t going to last.

Bottom line, Leonardo had to find and kill Atherton before any trouble started, otherwise, it would be his neck on the block.

Jackerby followed.

It wasn’t hard to follow Leonardo because he and his man were the last people to know what stealth was.  He could hear them crashing through the forest between the castle and the village up to 250 meters away, he was making so much noise.

But, Jackerby thought, perhaps Leonardo didn’t need to worry about alerting his presence to Atherton, not if he was already working with him.

To Jackerby and his paranoia, it made sense.  Maybe he was going to meet with Atherton right now and do a deal with the defectors.  How many others had turned up at the village in the last week or so, and never made it to the castle?

He was right, Jackerby told himself, not to trust them.  Everyone, in the end, was an enemy of the Reich.

It took 20 minutes to reach the outskirts of the village, and when Jackerby could see the edge of the woods, and the barn and remains of the farmhouse just the other side of the tree line, he dropped back, found a suitable observation point, and waited.

Leonardo and his men had stopped at the back of the barn, and one of his men was about to go find the defectors.  The rest of Leonardo’s men would wait with him, and surprise their guests, before taking them back to the castle.

As far as “Jackerby was concerned, they would never reach the castle, and this time, he would take care of Leonardo, and the others.

It would be easy to say that Atherton had killed all the members of the resistance, and then got killed himself in a shootout with Jackerby.  It was a plausible reason for all the deaths, though he would have to come up with a suitable excuse for leaving the castle and following Leonardo and his men when Wallace had expressly forbidden it.

Wallace.

Perhaps if he got his hands on Atherton he’d ask him if Wallace was a traitor.

——-

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

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