It was a good plan.
Wallace, once he discovered his search team had gone missing would send another group to find them, and we would dispatch them in the same manner.
Each foray would reduce his group at the castle until it became, for us, a manageable size. Currently, it was 35, with four already killed. There was also the Leonardo factor, and his men, according to Martina, numbered seven.
If I was Wallace, who would realize once he discovered the body on the road to Chiara’s, that sending his own men out to be picked off was a bad idea, would eventually send Leonardo and his men as the first foray to resolve the problem.
That, of course, would present the same problem as Wallace’s men, there would be deadly retribution. The villages had all hated Leonardo, and he had dislike them for not selecting him as the local head of the resistance. That had fallen to Martina, a more popular person, and one more capable.
It seemed to me, from what she had told me, Leonardo was more a mercenary, one who would work for the highest bidder, and that was the sort of man Wallace would have no trouble employing.
Martina was right to round up the villagers to keep them safe
But, for Carlo and I, we needed to pre-emp their strike, and the safest assumption was that they would return to Chiara’s, looking for her, and for answers.
There was some discussion as to who would be in the attack group, and I agreed that the more we had the better chances we had of beating them, but in the end, we also needed people with the villagers, just in case the worst-case scenario happened, Leonardo knew of the underground wine storage facility and came there instead.
As far as Martina was concerned, he didn’t. Very few people knew of its existence.
In the end, it was decided that Carlo and I should go. He had no doubt he could take Leonardo’s seven by himself, and I didn’t doubt him, so I went along just in case he needed some help.
I took the distant ground with the sniper rifle, and when I saw them, I was not to hesitate to shoot them. Carlo would be closer and clean up what I missed. We had enough ammunition to take out at least twenty.
And that’s where we were, from dusk until the following morning, waiting for the search team to arrive. It did not occur to Carlo, or me, that there was a possibility they might not come, or that Leonardo might have something else in mind.
Alone, in the dark, and surrounded by what could only be described as an eerie stillness, it was hard to imagine that a deadly war was being waged.
In this part of the world, it was not so intense, that according to our intelligence, the Germans were getting stretched very thin on the ground, and were withdrawing soldiers from the extremities of Europe to bolster the fighting closer to home, and the imminent attack in France by the allies.
Of course, there was no way the Germans could know where and when, even I didn’t know that, but it was coming. It seemed odd to me, by way of contrast, that the Germans high command had basically wasted a formidable and hitherto undetected group of double agents to rescue a rocket scientist which, in my mind, was hardly going to save or lose the war for them.
Perhaps that’s why it had not been up to me, and I hoped that our people knew exactly what they were doing. Those that had been filtering through the castle were not exactly the sort of people Thompson had been expecting to defect, but once he learned of Meyer’s desire to leave, that assessment had changed.
It also caused a reassessment of the operation at the castle, which led to the discovery people were not making it beyond that point and became the reason for my mission. The fact I’d been attacked before I reached my objective was coincidental, but it didn’t take long to realize why.
From that to here had been the proverbial hop, step, and jump.
I had not anticipated having to join the resistance, not be involved in becoming a guerrilla.
Not had I expected a dog for a companion. Jack was lying on the ground next to me, and it looked like he was getting a well-earned rest.
Then he heard something, and lifted his head, ears pricked up.
Then I heard it.
The sound of an airplane passing overhead, but some distance away.
It was not the clearest night so all we could do was hear it, not see it. A patrol? A plane that had lost its way. It was a bit south of where the action was, or where I’d expect the Germans to have either fighters or bombers.
Perhaps the allies then, but late at night surrounded by darkness, there would be little to see.
A minute later, nothing.
Jack put his head down, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Something had better happen soon, or I would miss it.