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Thread: Swords Made of Letters

  1. #121
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Absurdist
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Congrats Leandros!

    Chapter XXVII: The Choice
    #JusticeForAkar #JusticeForCal #JusticeForCookie #JusticeForAthelchan



  2. #122
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXI - Rolling Towards the Line of Battle

    22nd of December 1938
    8:20 AM
    Dunkirk outskirts
    Picardy Region
    France

    ------

    Knick, knack, knick, knack.

    For some reason, probably due the stress that in the end had got to him, Reythier heard those train wheels way too loud in his mind. It unnerved him, it made him fuss about on his leather train bench, jolting sideways, faffing and pacing through his own cabin up and down relentlessly. It was probably the nerves, he thought, the nerves of knowing too well what the operation meant. The steam locomotive chugged along at a constant pace through the French countryside after it had left Dunkirk with another passenger. Horace had joined the French intelligence team and was now in a different compartment, most likely having lunch with Klaus and the rest of the intelligence officers. Reythier refused their invitation at first but he indicated to Klaus that he would

    He paced three times back and forth again, two and a half steps between the table that sat in the middle of the leather benches and the lacquered sliding door that opened to the hallway.

    The plan in itself had significant flaws. They recognised as such. But Reythier was more concerned with the impact once the lines would break, leaving the counterintelligence officers of the Reich to roam free in the Eastern part of France without any significant opposition. Reythier slid to the edge of the table and looked at the map again. Four points were of significant interest. One at Colmar, one at Strasbourg, one just north of Metz and one near the joint Belgian-French border where the guard posts were notoriously lax and were even susceptible to attacks since the Belgians took little into consideration the threats from the Reich. They countered off the Belgian point as indefensible so they focused their efforts on the three other choke points scattered around the border. Even so, with an improvement in officers, assigning around sixty field officers to do counter-espionage and to have the local Gendarmerie supporting the border posts was not enough. The Reich's men would not attack a defended guard post. No, of course they wouldn't, thought Reythier. They would simply go around it.

    Reythier scratched his head, his hand slipping down to his cheek. A slight stubble grew on his face, unshaven as he was for the past 2 days. Neither of the officers took his suggestions to heart but he shrugged them off. He was not in the business of pleasing people.

    A slight knock echoed on the window of the sliding door, forcing him to turn around. A restaurant waiter smiled at him from the other side.

    "Monsieur Reythier, I have been instructed my Monsieur Klaus to invite you over to the restaurant compartment. We are serving an easy breakfast right now as the light has now bathed our little train."

    Reythier smiled. "Yes, tell them I will join immediately."

    "Merci, Monsieur."

    Reythier looked back at the map. What if the intelligence was wrong? Judging from the reports they had received in Paris, for every man they had as a counter-espionage agent, the Reich would be able to muster four and some other auxiliary teams that were linked to the paramilitaries. Worse, some of them were already infilftrated. The reality was rather grim; there was little they could do about it but fight back. There were not enough resources mustered to them and worse, the Army Command ignored their warnings. Horace was joined by three other intelligence officers but that was about the most they could hope to get extra. In short, nothing. Reythier wrapped the map inside a cloth napkin and slid out of the compartment, reaching the exquisite dining place of the train minutes later. The waiter from earlier smiled to him and

    "Ah, Alexandre, welcome to the table!" said Klaus as he smiled, inviting Reythier to join him and Horace for breakfast.

    "I trust I do not interrupt your conversation, gentlemen," replied Reythier.

    Horace grinned. "Not at all, Mister Alexandre. Is that how I pronounce your name?" Horace made an attempt to imitate a French accent but it sounded rather like a radio garble, lost in the accents of the vowels. Klaus laughed.

    "Close, but not quite Mister Horace," replied Reythier. "So, what shall we eat?"

    Arranged on silver platters were bits and bobs of a small French breakfast, duly finished with fresh butter croissants, local jams, some tea for their English guest that was to be in ample supply hidden in white ceramic teapots. Reythier helped himself to some fresh sausage and handed over the folded napkin with the map to Horace, who smiled when he saw the map.

    "Never a moment of pause I see. And the map is scribbled from top to bottom."

    "I'm worried, Mister Horace," replied Reythier.

    Horace raised his eyebrows, drawing a cup of tea to his lips. "I've got three other men who are specialised in counter-intelligence. Post two of them to the headquarters in Strasbourg and another one comes with me for the field assignments. We know and they know a war is coming up so it's best that we know where, when and how they're doing it."

    "What's your take then, where are they going to strike?"

    "Belgian border or near Metz or Sedan. Somewhere close enough to their base."

    "They have bases everywhere."

    "Elbe is based in Aachen." countered Horace.

    "That makes it at most a four hour drive to Metz without the guard post. And it's been snowing lately." Reythier trailed off. "Which is perfect cover in fact."

    Klaus looked up to them. "Do we expect an imminent attack?"

    Reythier shrugged from side to side. "Yes, and no. They will infiltrate because we have no resources to counter so the problem is, how do we catch them?"
    Last edited by Basileos Leandros I; May 11, 2020 at 04:29 PM.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  3. #123
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXII - Take Up Your Arms

    22nd of December 1938
    9:55 AM
    Oberkommando HQ
    Aachen
    Germany


    -------

    It sounded pleasant when the neatly folded paper revealed itself from the envelope. It was nothing of importance, a simple note informing him that more intelligence officers were assigned to his unit in preparation for the next operation that was planned for the next twenty four to forty eight hours. Elbe was not worried. He smirked to himself. He felt nothing, a devoid blankness that was rather uncommon for him, the usual excitement of complex operations wiped away by a rather nasty realisation that war was the upcoming goal and he would have to be either on the frontlines, or behind the frontlines, to direct both officers and actual army troops if he would to be assigned to any of the Army Corps. He crumpled the paper in his fist and threw the note into the trash. For a couple of moments he forgot about the fact that Wilhelm, his eager and rather stern appearance, stood in front of him and rather expectant as well. Elbe glanced at him and shook his head.

    "Yes, Wilhelm?"

    Wilhelm shifted in his position. "Herr Elbe, I am waiting for your orders."

    "My orders?"

    Wilhelm slightly raised his eyebrows. "Yes, Herr Elbe, I am here to be assigned my orders about our operation."

    "You want them now?"

    "If you have them ready, Herr Elbe."

    "Not now, Wilhelm, I have to think a bit. Let us get together later with the rest of the officers, this is a delicate situation."

    Elbe saw Wilhelm's confused expression but made no effort to address his concerns. His intelligence soldier saluted and left the office, leaving Elbe to slouch in the leather chair with his eyes lost in space, transfixed on the emptiness that was now the area around the open door to his office. In the background the secretaries from the Oberkommando hangar turned headquarters typed furiously, their clattering of thousands of keys reverberating like a melody through his lost thoughts. Would all of this still be here in a couple of years or will it disappear? Is their operation a warning, is it going to be successful?

    From his perspective, they held all of the advantages that one could think of. Men, resources, planning, weapons, intelligence, everything was accounted for and the headquarters planned accordingly. The teams were ready to go, raring to go in fact, and all he had to do was issue the orders. In a small drawer within his desk stood four false passports under various names, ready to be used once they would transport themselves to Strasbourg int he next twenty for hours to ostensibly participate in the holiday events as part of the local German community. That was false, and probably the Deuxieme Bureau knew about it, but they had to go

    No, that was not it. Elbe extracted from a pile of documents the little note from the northern headquarters. It concerned his brother.

    His younger brother had been humiliated by the British intelligence officers, and worse, the news had spread out not just to the Army but also to the public. The Dutch gossip newspapers were reeling over this fantastic spying story, complete with a charming, beautiful wife that had betrayed one of the men, or so they spun the yarn. None of it was true but none of that mattered. While he had to clean out the reputation of the family there was this worrying idea that the French and the British are expecting them. Either his brother was beyond careless in allowing himself to be apprehended again after the British fiasco in London or their counterintelligence was of top quality. The risk was real.

    He picked up the phone receptor from his desk and called for his henchmen to joust themselves immediately to the office. The men duly obliged, springing a group of eight men, including a confused Wilhelm, into his crammed office. Elbe stood up, saluted and pointed to a large map on the far wall.

    "Gentlemen, so good to see you again, because I will not be seeing you any time soon most of you. We will start our operation, and we start it fast, because we have no time left and I have received indications that our war will start in the East in about six months." Elbe paused for effect. "If any of you are shocked about this, please get a different job. If not, then what I will tell you right now is of the utmost importance."

    Elbe stood down on his chair, cupped his hands together and looked at his standing officers.

    "Our plan will spring into action right now. Fourteen intelligence teams will go over the border and create intelligence cells, which will gather information for us about every single military aspect in France. We have numbers to overwhelm them and while our initial endeavour was a failure, this time it will not be. We need networks, we need information, we need to overpower them. You will get the resources, the cash, the weapons, the documents and of course the safe houses. We start today, under the cover of the joyful events of the winter holidays."

    Elbe stood up.

    "As you all know, my brother has been rather humiliated by the enemy. Make no mistake, our enemy is strong. He's not a fool. So be on your step and fight to the end." Elbe paused. "As for me, I will be directing a small troop into Strasbourg tomorrow, under the cover of the events of the German community in Alsace, where I will be living for the next year gathering information and coordinating our teams." He gave all of them an individual salute. "Gentlemen, it is an honour to fight with you. Let's get to work, I will see you on the other side of the border."
    Last edited by Basileos Leandros I; May 20, 2020 at 05:42 PM.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  4. #124
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXIII - Overzealous

    22nd of December 1938
    4:15 PM
    Oberkommando HQ Aachen
    Aachen / Alsace border post
    Germany - France border

    --------------

    "Are you ready, Herr Elbe?"

    With a swift movement of his arm, Elbe indicated to the three other men to jump into the limousine. Sleek, quiet and most important of all, black, the Mercedes limousine started at the first flick of the ignition key and roared for a couple of moments until it settled into a low, continuous whir of cylinders. Wilhelm and Elbe stood in the back, with the driver Andreas and another bodyguard Manfred sitting in the front. Behind them the trunk of the car kept machineguns, pistols, bags of cash and supplies, along with forged documents, all of them carefully concealed in boxes filled with holiday presents. They dumped their overcoats and jackets on top of the wooden boxes, slammed the lid and locked it tight to keep all of it together. Manfred was the only one who kept a small Luger pistol hidden underneath his shirt. Everyone else was defenceless, in case of an unpleasant moment.

    "Are we ready?" asked Elbe, looking around the car. Andreas and Manfred gave a curt nod, Wilhelm however glanced from Elbe then towards the window.

    "Are we sure they're not expecting us?" asked Wilhelm, pointing his finger towards the trunk.

    "Well, we have to find out I guess. Andreas, let's go. South towards Staufen, take the road leading to Kehl and then towards the border post linking to Strasbourg. We should arrive there by late evening."

    There was some preparation beforehand for their trip. There would be no police escorts for them to the border but there was some preparation beforehand for their trip, the comfortable Mercedes encountering very little traffic that would slow them down. Snow flecks sometimes encouraged caution but there was not enough to bother them more than the usual driving safety that Andreas practiced. Focused on saving as much time as possible, Wilhelm phoned in beforehand to the border posts on their side of their border, ensuring a smooth transition to the French border post. By the time they arrived at their own border post, they were the only car around the area and were waved through their own side of the border without any interruption. They spent the next thirty odd seconds driving slowly through no man's land, a stretch of land that was neither French nor German. It was a diplomatic limbo, a stretch of land designed to prevent any border incidents. Andreas had slowed down the Mercedes to a crawl, a mere ten, fifteen kilometers an hour, ensuring that the beam lights were set to the maximum in order to alert beforehand the

    "Are you sure it's wise to alert them, Herr Elbe?" asked Andreas in a shaky voice, betraying the uneasiness.

    "We come in peace. Well, at least now. Everything else will not be."

    "They might expect us and block our access, or worse, arrest us."

    "None of that will happen."

    "I hope you are right, Herr Elbe."

    As they got closer and closer to the French border post, the shadows flickering at the base of the trees became visible in the powerful beams of the Mercedes lights. But the flickering shadows were not just men. The border post had been heavily militarised, with six men manning the border post and three others posted at the very barrier blocking the entry to France. Behind them two small armoured carriers stood guard, their machinegun positions trained towards the road into the country. Wilhelm and Andreas were right, the French were expecting this package of information. Elbe swore under his breath.

    "Steady. I see they expect us but I'm not sure they know who we are."

    Andreas stopped the Mercedes just in front of the barrier, the men and guns starting to circle around the car. One of the border guards, presumably the leading officer, beckoned Andreas to drop down his window. Andreas saluted respectfully and spoke in heavily accented French, handing the false passports towards the border guard. Glancing around the car, the officer scanned the faces of the four men with a mobile light and then beckoned to Andreas to stay in his car. Outside of the car the soldiers attached to the border post circled around the car, some enjoying the beautiful lines of the limousine, some rather more interested in the people who were inside the car. Neither of them were dressed in any particular way, keeping their suits and overcoats as expected to match the fashion of the day. Their uniforms were long forgotten in the headquarters.

    After six, seven minutes, which to Elbe seemed rather short, the officer returned with only one of the passports. He beckoned to Andreas to lower the window again.

    "One by one I will ask. Your purpose?"

    Andreas made a circling motion. "We're all going to Strasbourg for the cultural events for the holiday, with the German cultural exchanges."

    "One by one, Mister Andreas, did I not make myself understood?"

    Andreas nodded. He asked each one of them in German and then translated to the border guard who noted their answers on a piece of paper, using the car's bodywork as a writing plank. He nodded to Andreas and returned to his border post.

    "What was that all about?" asked Elbe.

    Andreas shrugged. "They're examining us. And our soldier friends are very interested in this car."

    Five minutes more passed. The officer returned, but this time with Elbe's passport.

    "Mister Richard Dietrich. I could not find you in the official register of the event that will occur tomorrow evening in Strasbourg. I have telephoned and asked for their list, and your name does not appear there."

    Elbe replied in German to Andreas, despite knowing French rather well. "Tell our friend that a certain Mr. Otto Muller, the host of the event, has invited me on a personal list. Ask him to find the name Otto Muller."

    The border officer drew up to Elbe's window and beckoned him to lower it. The intelligence officer obliged, flashing a curt smile to the border guard.

    "I trust Mr. Muller is expecting you, Mr. Dietrich?" asked the guard in perfect German.

    Elbe paused for a moment, returning a wider smile. "Excellent German, Sir. Yes, Herr Muller is indeed expecting me tomorrow night at the event. Hence why I am with my associates, they will be joining me."

    "All four of you will go?"

    Elbe hesitated. "Not all of us. Myself and Misters Wilhelm and Manfred will join me. Mr. Andreas will take care of our beautiful car."

    The guard smiled. "Beautiful it is. French cars are better however."

    "Yes, of course, I am sure some of them are better. No doubt."

    The guard flashed a wry smile, looked one more time at the false passport and returned to his border post. A small wooden house, that clearly could not house all of the military men sttationed at the border, was the border post near the city of Kehl. Five more minutes passed, another five, another fifteen then another thirty minutes until finally the border guard returned with all four passports and handed them over to Andreas.

    "It took some time gentlemen. You can never be too safe in these times. Have a good evening, and enjoy your event in Strasbourg!"

    With a small, rather mechanical move of the arm, one of the guards rose the barrier and waved the Mercedes inside France. The four men saluted the border guards and set a course for the city of Strasbourg, their nerves rattled and sweating profusely through the suits. Elbe was sullen faced.

    He knew the French knew.

    -----



    About 15 chapters left!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  5. #125
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXIV - Shadows

    22nd of December 1938
    7:45 PM
    Kehl - France border post
    Alsace
    France

    ------------

    "Otto Muller, Otto Muller, who are you actually?"

    "He doesn't exist. It's a rather Otto M. Waltz that's in fact the host of tomorrow evening's event in Strasbourg," replied Reythier. He gave a curious look to Klaus who stood beside him in the border post, well away from any side glances that might have revealed them from prying eyes in the Mercedes limousine. "Mister Waltz is the one we are looking for, in fact."

    "So why did we let them go then?"

    Reythier smiled. "My dear Klaus, you do not interrupt the enemy when they make mistakes. Besides, we will have to go to that event, to keep an eye on them."

    They made handwritten copies of their false passports, noting down individualities and even side markings on the back pages to make sure they had registered everything about their unwelcome guests. The Mercedes was scanned by a significant number of soldiers but unbeknownst to their guests, two military attaches stood in the personnel carriers with their photographic devices trained on the car, spotting out the four men inside it. Reythier knew of Elbe and his henchman Wilhelm; the other two, Andreas and Manfred, were unknown to him or to their colleagues in the Deuxieme Bureau. Richard Dietrich was elbe, Wilhelm was a certain Hans Seydlitz and the other two most probably were listed under their real names. Odd, Reythier thought, it made no particular sense to

    "Something wrong, Alexandre?"

    Reythier leaned back in his chair, pensive, holding up two files indicating two different passports. "Why would you travel under false names for two people, while the other two kept their real names?"

    "You mean Elbe now being Dietrich?"

    "Their driver and bodyguard kept their real passports, but faked.

    Klaus was lost for a second. "Real, but faked?"

    "Their real names, location, characteristics, all of them were real. But their actual passports were brand new, spotless of any markings."

    "It depends what do they plan on doing with those two."

    "Scapegoats?"

    Klaus frowned. "For what?"

    Reythier stood up and drew to the side of the table, glancing at Klaus who was now forced to look upwards also in the light of the only bulb bathing their little guard post.

    "What would Elbe be doing at an event of the Alsatian German community in Strasbourg? I mean, yes, community, cultural and everything else that you could possibly imagine without any bad intent. But he's a high ranking intelligence officer, he's deliberately putting himself in jeopardy."

    "I doubt it's in jeopardy."

    "Why then?"

    "Intelligence gathering?"

    Reythier laughed. "From a bunch of local Alsatians who are mostly loyal to our government but want to keep their old traditions? Look at Jean-Jacques Waltz, he's German but rather French. And rather adamant about it too."

    "He's only one."

    "Not the only one, Klaus."

    Klaus spread his hands. "Alright. Say you're right. It makes no sense for us, but for them it does. What would it be so important at that event to put himself into our lap?"

    "This is what I do not know. And you're going to have to find out."

    Klaus leaned back in his chair, the shoddy wooden frame of the thin chair creaking like an old boat wracked by waves. "Me?"

    Reythier took out from his overcoat a small envelope which he handed over to his friend. "You're going to the event tomorrow night. Make sure you dress up properly."

    It was a surprise, a rather welcome and unwelcome one, as Klaus opened the delicate envelope with a frown, an amazed look and trembling hands. Sure enough, the invite was under his name and it was handwritten by a certain Otto M. Waltz who took deliberate pains to write in as much of a cursive script as possible. This made no sense to Klaus whatsoever. Why would someone invite him? Unless there was a reason.

    "Waltz is a false name as well, isn't it?" asked Klaus.

    Reythier nodded in silence. "There's no Otto M. Waltz. His name is Friedrich Rohm and he's the leader of the local Alsatian German community. The important part here is that he's been a sympathiser to the other cause and a double agent for almost twenty years now. He's the organiser and he's the main point of contact." Reythier smiled. "I hope you enjoy the dinner Klaus, I heard the food is excellent."

    -------

    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  6. #126
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Good updates, I wonder if Reythier's belief that his enemy are making a mistake will turn out to be true. I'll be interested to see how Klaus will get on at the dinner!

  7. #127
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you Alwyn.

    Indeed, expect some fireworks very soon! With the next chapter we will be close to 10 chapters left, so the climax is coming soon!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  8. #128
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXV - Masquerade For Me, Please

    23rd of December 1938
    8:10 PM
    Hotel de Ville
    Strasbourg
    France


    -----

    It slipped perfectly on his weathered skin, the soft Egyptian cotton woven into the tuxedo shirt that touched his arms and his back as he slid it on.

    Two cufflinks followed, a slow reveal from underneath the striped cuffs, elaborate golden fleur-de-lys imitating the imposing flowers on the medieval banners of France. Klaus felt they were a good touch, something to remind him that he owed his devotion to the country he was born in. And as a reward of that devotion, he got to wear these beautiful jewelry pieces handed down to him by an uncle who was part of the nobility during the time of Napoleon the Third. Not so long ago in fact. A black tuxedo jacket followed, all of it tied together with a discreet silk bow tie that was rather too tucked inside the collar. Satisfied with his look in the mirror, his crop of grizzled hair slightly spiking towards the sky, Klaus left his hotel room all dressed up and left for the Hotel de Ville where the reception banquet was held. One of the military officers was assigned as his guard duty but that was not needed. The hotel was shadowed by multiple teams of officers, with Reythier himself disguised as one of the cellar workers, so all he had to do was inform.

    Slightly late, Klaus worked himself up the carpeted stairs of the hotel and into the lobby of the Strasbourg mayory, converted into a New Year event banquet. Stands of flowers overflowed on every corner of the first floor halls and rooms, their delicate touch and smell overwhelming the heavy scents imposed by the local notables from their expensive French perfumes. He knew no one within the banquet but that mattered little. Somehow Mister Rohm knew him, as he spotted a tall, lanky man reach out to him with a wide smile as he entered the banquet hall on the first floor. Rohm shook Klaus's hand, a strong, firm grip, his blue eyes shining brightly as he stared down the French intelligence officer.

    "Mr. Langstross, so great to see you!"

    Langstross. Reythier gave Klaus his own fake German sounding name for the list. Klaus, Klaus Langstross now, woke up from his reverie and smiled back, baring his teeth. Otto Waltz was his name, don't forget that, thought Klaus.

    "Mr. Waltz, is that correct? I believe we have not met yet but I do know you well from the business community. Heard a lot about you!"

    Rohm, or Waltz, smiled back. "Indeed, we did not have the pleasure of meeting. But I have heard of you quite a lot, being an important member of the security forces around this area, so it's very important to us to have you for our event. Please, join us, your table is close to the main centre table where me and the rest of the group leaders sit. I trust this is good with you!" yelled Rohm over the sound of the suddenly booming orchestra blanketing the entire hall with loud music.

    Klaus judged the event to have close to three hundred invitees, most of whom he guessed were either members of the community, business partners or infiltrated agents. There was no sign of Elbe and his goons yet but he expected to see them rather soon. Waltz hosted him at a table slightly towards the right hand side of the hall, placed well enough to give him a rather good view of most of the invitees but a complete lack of visibility on the back side. That matter little, it was easy for him to turn around. He sat down at his table, smiled and saluted the six other people at the same and waited

    "Looking for someone? Mister... Langstross, have I said that correctly?"

    For a moment Klaus was startled, woken from his deep thoughts, then smiled to the stocky, bald man seated to his left. "No, no, all is good, I am curious about the other people. I do not know anyone here so naturally I am interested."

    The man extended his hand. "Ludwig Benningsen. I'm a lawyer in Strasbourg, good to meet you Mr. Langstross!"

    Klaus smiled and shook the man's hand. A lawyer, good, he will know people, Klaus thought. They exchanged words for a couple of minutes until Waltz came into the midst of the hall and beckoned the orchestra to stop their music.

    "Ladies and esteemed gentlemen," thundered Waltz, his heavy voice resonating through the banquet hall "welcome to the event of the German community of Alsace. With the dawn of a new year coming upon us, and with this delicate times ahead, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for joining us tonight to celebrate our community and our friendship. I will beckon the orchestra to start once more to sing but before that, I would like to make an announcement."

    It was in that short pause that Elbe revealed himself, standing with an observing eye in the other corner of the hall, flanked by his men at a table to the right of the leaders'. Wilhelm was there and Manfred the brute was there as well, his bulky stature overpowering everyone at their table. The driver was not there however, conspicuously absent, probably in the car, Klaus thought. He shifted his gaze away from Elbe and back to Waltz.

    "Tonight I would like to announce, and cherish of course, the fact that our community has never been more united and never more in spirit with our fatherland, all while respecting the laws, regulations and of course the communities in which we live in. I would like to extend a toast to our fatherland Germany and to the community that we are here today." Waltz rose a glass of champagne. "Thank you everyone, and have a wonderful evening!"

    Thunderous applause enraptured the audience, some of them giving the five fingered salute in response. Shadowy, delicate even, but the salute was there. Elbe and his men abstained from any overt celebrations but were visible enough to have a host of men go up to their table and shake hands. It was enough for Klaus. They were spotted. All he had to do was wait now. Klaus took a glass of champagne and pointed it in the direction of every single person at his table, cheering with them and initiating small chat to know them better and to understand who they were. Apart from Herr Benningsen, with the odd name, everyone else was mostly the socialite group of Strasbourg. No significant interest to him.

    Klaus glanced back to the orchestra, now picking pace in their sonatas as the waiters immediately appeared with heavy trays of food laden with all sorts of local specialties. Roasted chicken, braised lamb, warm pastries on golden platters as small snacks and of course, endless amounts of wine to grease up the conversation made it a splendid banquet which he would have enjoyed had it not been for his work. Benningsen initiated discussions more than a few times, a rather chatty fellow for Klaus's thoughts, but he tried to make sure he got as much information as possible. After a couple of minutes he held up his hand

    "Mr. Benningsen, since you're a well known lawyer around these places, what does Mr. Waltz do for a living? I will confess I have never met him."

    Benningsen placed the champagne glass back on the table, rather surprised. "You have not met him yet? Curious. He's very well known in our communities."

    "Oh but I do know of him. I have not met him personally."

    "Oh, yes, indeed, apologies. Well Mr. Waltz is a commissioned artist in his free time but in his day to day job, he is the head of the clerks. Let us put it as the chief bureaucrat, the man who handles all the papers but has no political power. No one knows of him in Paris but we all know him here."

    Infiltrated at the highest level of government, Klaus thought. Not a good sign.

    "For a long time?"

    "Oh yes, it's already been ten or more years. He's an important member of the administration."

    Not an encouraging sign but Klaus nevertheless thanked Ludwig for the bureaucratic gossip. He took a couple of more nibbles and excused himself after five minutes, heading back to the entrance of the Hotel de Ville where he casually leaned himself amid the carpeted stairs to one side. By clockwork, thirty seconds later Reythier appeared, dressed in a waiter's tuxedo with an empty golden tray beckoning up the stairs. He gave a curt salute to Klaus.

    "We found him. Towards the main table, to the left of it as you enter."

    Reythier heard the words, slipping from his pocket a small envelope to Klaus as he walked past into the building. Klaus opened the envelope.

    "Wait for him, talk to him, engage. His driver is ours."

    Good, Klaus thought. The driver is ours. He glanced at his golden Doxa watch, the yellow gold hue matching perfectly with his cufflinks. 8:50 PM. Elbe would come out for a smoke in twenty or thirty minutes. He had nothing else to do but wait.

    ---
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  9. #129
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXVI - Enchante, Monsieur! (Enchanted, Sir!)

    23rd of December 1938
    9:08 PM
    Hotel de Ville
    Strasbourg
    France

    -----

    "Careful, Sir, those wooden tables are rather flimsy. I would not lean against them, they're just for show."

    The waiter stopped beside Klaus, his eyes widened in concern for the French officer who leaned against a tall wooden table placed by the edge of a door in the main hall. Klaus was eyeing the main door of the hall on the first floor, not particularly paying attention to the eager young waiter who blocked his view. Klaus looked at him rather irritated for a couple of moments until he realised the waited only meant to help him. He took his hand off the table and nodded in agreement.

    "Yes, of course, sorry. I apologise."

    The waiter nodded and scurried off rapidly, leaving Klaus to his own thoughts. Ten minutes had passed, perhaps more than then, but the main course was not over yet and there was nothing he could do but wait. He watched Reythier juggle along four times from the makeshift kitchen to the hall on the first floor, bringing food, drinks and rapid movement to an otherwise lethargic waiter corps that was not particularly eager to serve the guests. Small groups of ladies, lined up in their exclusive furs jutted down to the small rear garden for an evening breather despite the bitter cold and the occasional gust of wind that swept through the city. Klaus fidgeted from one

    He glanced at his watch again. Twelve minutes. He sighed. Klaus placed his hands in his pockets and watched as one of the waiters tried to impress one of the younger ladies. He did not have much luck but he did manage to steal a laugh or two out of her. The sound of her laughs reverberated through the main hall of the building, adding a cheerful note to his otherwise gloomy evening. Klaus looked again at his watch. Fourteen minutes.

    "A drink, Sir?"

    Klaus turned around, startled at the sudden voice that erupted in the back of his ear. The waiter from before, smiling and reverent, returned with a silver tray laden with three glasses of bubbling champagne. The fizzing drink caught Klaus's eye, tempted as he was to down one to lift his spirits but before he had a chance to respond a slim hand snatched one of the glasses and raised it to his eyes.

    "A drink, Sir?"

    Elbe. Klaus faked a smile and then snatched one of the other glasses, his fingers clenched tightly against the glass. He was not a field agent, that was clear enough, but Elbe did not seem to notice that.

    "Yes, of course. Klaus Langstross, nice to meet you!"

    "Enchante, Monsieur. Je suis Richard Deitrich." (Enchanted, Sir. I am Richard Deitrich)

    Klaus faked another smile. Elbe knew French, and with a good accent. "Mr. Deitrich. It is good to meet you, an esteemed member of this community."

    Elbe smiled. "Ah, people talk, as usual. Mr. Waltz recommended that I have a chat with the new people in our community and he recommended me that I have a chat with you. Allow me to introduce myself. I work for the German Foreign Ministry, as a cultural attache. This is why I am here, helping out the German speaking communities around the border."

    "So I've heard. Anyhow Mr. Waltz has thrown a spectacular soiree over here, I am quite glad to be part of this community. Paris has sent me over here to oversee the civil administration and the civil service, so I believe I will be working closely with the community."

    "Ours?"

    "Yes, of course. I am glad to be invited here."

    "You are of course, of our own origin?"

    Klaus smiled. "Yes, somehow. I believe it to be so. And I believe this is also why Mr. Waltz invited me here."

    Elbe laughed. "Truly. He knows everything, I often suspect him of being a French intelligence officer. Where are you from?"

    "I am Alsatian but my family is originally from Staufen. My mother's family at least. We speak everything in our house, including English and some more dialects from the south. My cousins are from the south, they taught me Occitan."

    Elbe raised his glass. "I'll drink to that. I never heard about that before." He downed the entire glass, placing it with careful movements back on the table."Do you know many people from this community?"

    "I have only met Mister Bennigsen earlier. A nice fellow, a local lawyer I understood. I presume I will be working with him quite a lot."

    Elbe smiled, his gaze suddenly turning away from Klaus and towards the hall where a burst of laughter erupted. He folded his hands and drew closer, leaning slightly on the table.

    "Mr. Langstross, I know you're with the French intelligence. But I assure you, we're only here with good intentions. We're only here to support our communities, that's all."

    "Just that?"

    "Just that, I assure you."

    "Why would you need to assure me of that? Is there something I should know in my civil service about this community?"

    Elbe raised his hands. "Not entirely, I do not think so. But we are here with peaceful intentions, nothing more."

    Klaus placed down his champagne glass. With economical hand movements he extracted a small note from his jacket pocket, unfolding it as slow as possible to capture Elbe's attention away from any distractions. He held the little note up to their eye level, the cursive handwriting indicating Andreas's rather swift arrest and the search of their car. As Klaus and Reythier had suspected, the trunk revealed more than they had hoped for.

    As if by clockwork, two gunshots rang in the distance.

    ----



    Spicy times ahead!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  10. #130
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXVII - Need a Hand?

    23rd of December 1938
    9:35 PM
    Hotel de Ville
    Strasbourg
    France

    -------------

    "Need a hand?"

    Klaus blinked, stunned at Horace's thin smile under his even thinner moustache he faked with glue to blend in as a waiter. He was still dressed as waiter but for some reason small red dots were staining his dress shirt at random areas. Klaus blinked again, realising the heavy ache on his beck and back. It happened too fast for him to comprehend, from the moment Elbe saluted and left him, to the moment where he went to the kitchen to look for Reythier only to be violently kicked in the chest all of a sudden, sending him through a wooden door. He smashed through the door of the pantry and collapsed on a row of empty wooden barrels on a lower level, crashing with a force that almost knocked him out and left him reeling for the better part of a minute. But the assailant never materialised, only for Horace to show up instead.

    "Come on, get up," said Horace.

    "Someone kicked me in the chest."

    Horace nodded. "Yeah, he won't be any danger any more. Come on, up you go," motioned Horace, drawing Klaus to his feet. "Are you all right?"

    "I'm injured, my back hurts, I think I got kicked in the chest."

    "Yeah, leave that. We've got problems. Hard ones. Reythier is injured, critically, he's been shot by that stupid driver when he tried to escape."

    Klaus exhaled. "How bad?"

    "Tough to say, he's in a rough spot the old lad. He's being patched by a team of soldiers who were with us but we'll see."

    "Driver?"

    "Yeah, about him, no need to worry about him any more."

    Klaus raised his hands. "We're supposed to capture them, not finish them off."

    Horace beckoned to the door. "Tell that to your guys, they have no trigger discipline. The driver's gone, the car smashed to bits and they're moving in on Elbe and his guys. Since Reythier is no longer barking the orders, some officer names Alain is leading the men to surround this area."

    "What? That's a mistake, don....."

    Klaus's voice trailed off, covered by the loud crack of the door as the wooden planks were thrown aside and trampled. From their lower level, the pantry extended a flight of stone stairs up to an upper level balcony of sorts that prevented people from falling directly into the storeroom. That did not prevent Klaus from barging down the railing and into the barrels below but it made the two men who entered stop for a moment to assess where they entered. Their extended pistols were telling, their eyes scanning the illuminated pantry below, the destroyed wooden barrels and the planks scattered and splintered all over the place. Before they had a chance to react, Horace had taken out his M1911 pistol from underneath his shirt and aimed two perfect bullets, striking the two men at close range and without any chance. Both of them collapsed over the bent railing and onto another set barrels, silent from the .45 rounds planted by Horace's pistol. The rounds blasted through the closed, cavernous walls of the storeroom, forcing screams from the kitchen and Klaus to wince in pain as the vibrations barged through his ears. Horace placed a hand on Klaus, indicating calm, and went over to the two men.

    "Wilhelm and Manfred, the ones we looked out for." Horace turned to Klaus. "Elbe's missing, he ran off."

    Horace motioned to Klaus, beckoning him upstairs and back into the main foyer of the building. Some inquisitive eyes and ears asked about the loud sounds from the kitchen but before the panic could take hold, they both extracted themselves out of the building and lost themselves in between the darkened streets of Strasbourg. They stopped after a couple of minutes by the edge of a small boulangerie, a cutesy bakery, a row of five small lamps hanging by the side of the walls and into the narrow street. Klaus stretched his back, the vertebrae cracking with an audible sound.

    "Does it hurt?" asked Horace.

    "Not that much, but it's clear I need to see a doctor. I'm not getting any younger."

    "All right, let's think, you know the plans better than I do. What now?"

    "Elbe's making a run for it. How is he going to get out of Strasbourg I don't know, but I suspect he will, or either he will be hiding around here."

    "So we wait?"

    "No, we need to go check on Alexandre. And from there we need to go back to the border, scan the border and see if we can capture him. He knows we're watching, he got the message, but we need to capture him."

    Horace nodded. "All right. Off to the army barracks it is then. Lead the way, you're the local."

    Nodding in silence, the two men lost their trail in the dark side streets of Strasbourg.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  11. #131
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXVIII - No News is Good News

    23rd of December 1938
    11:00 PM
    Deuxieme Bureau (Intelligence) Local Headquarters
    Strasbourg
    France

    -------

    Klaus nearly barged out of the car by the time it stopped in front of the intelligence building, opening the door with the white-walled wheels of the Citroen limousine still in motion.

    With Horace in tow and three other intelligence officers from the Paris teams they entered the small house under the cover of a small, dimly lit lamp that hung below a small arcade that made up the gate. They said their curt salutes and barged inside the house, rushing towards a large room at the back of the ground floor. Hushing noises floated in the error, small groups of men huddled around various corners of the room and around a large wooden table right beneath a crystal chandelier. The crystals were illuminated, bathing the room in a warm cosy evening light, not exactly what was needed for an intelligence bureau. They needed to be alert. Klaus rushed inside with Horace behind him and the three other officers, all of them panting and creating a ruffle of energy that made all of the men in the room

    Klaus saluted the men. One of them slid out of one of the six groups of men around the table and invited them to his end of the room. Alain Poitou. Poitou's grave expression was vividly visible in the glow of the crystal lights, his mouth drooped slightly lower, a telling expression of concern. He said nothing to Klaus, nor to the other men behind him.

    "Reythier's injured. Gravely. We don't know if he's going survive." Poitou paused. "Come, Klaus, come. We need to talk."

    Poitou extended a hand, his fingers pointing to his group of men, drawing up to the far end of the table. Poitou placed his fists on the table and glanced at the men who slowly left their groups and all huddled around the table. Poitou turned to Klaus who stood there expectant, still dressed in his elegant tuxedo, looking directly to him. Poitou grimaced, wincing slightly, his intelligence teams with all of their eyes aimed at him. Close to thirty men were in that room and with a couple of others who were still on the terrain around the city, searching for Elbe and his other teams if they even had others. Poitou straightened his back and wiped the back of his hand on his ears, his men still expectant, waiting for him to bring them up to speed. But the truth was that Poitou had no answers.

    "You're looking for answers, gentlemen, and you're looking at me. But to be honest with you, I have no answers. Reythier and his team left the Hotel to interrogate the driver, spotted earlier by one of the military teams. They interrogated him but the man had a revolver hidden underneath his belt and shot the team at close range. All three are in grave condition, most probably right now under surgery at the Strasbourg hospital. That's all we have on him." Poitou paused and glanced at Klaus. The Alsatian had not changed his posture, standing almost perpendicular to the table, his eyes fixed on Poitou. "As for what happened at the Hotel, we know that there were some gunshots heard from the lower areas, but we do not know if they were in contact with the driver."

    "The driver is no longer our business. And neither are the two other men with Richard Elbe," intervened Klaus.

    Poitou stumbled. He stammered for a few moments, visibly taken aback by the news. "All three of them?"

    "Yes. Two of them were handled by our friend from the English services." The eyes shifted from Klaus to Horace, who bowed his head out of pressure and perhaps a ting of shame for not capturing the two men. Klaus returned to Poitou, glancing from him and then to the table of eyes fixed on them. "Richard Elbe is on the run."

    "That we know," intervened Poitou. "He's running from us, he might have other men helping him."

    "Yes. I've met him at the gala, he came up to me and we had a direct chat." Klaus paused. "He assured me of his best intentions."

    "And you believe him?" asked Poitou.

    "Are we here to discuss childish jokes and games, Mr. Poitou?" countered Klaus, visibly irritated. "Elbe is on the run."

    "Any ideas?"

    "To the border," intervened Horace. By the third word his voice had become rather meek, drowned out in the attention given to him.

    "To the border, yes," added Klaus. "He's running away from us and we better capture him, or else our entire operation will be a failure. It's important we capture him to prevent them from alerting others."

    Poitou placed his fists again on the table. "I guess there's no time to lose, gentlemen. Block all of the border posts around the Alsace-Lorraine region, triple the guards and send 1-2 platoons around the main areas. We need all the eyes and ears we can get."

    "That won't be enough. Get a team and go inside the German territory, he won't use a border post. They tried that a couple of days ago, they went through the forests and over the Rhine with small rowing boats. The river is calm, it's a perfect opportunity."

    Poitou turned to Klaus, his concerned expression turned to one of shock. "Enter a foreign territory, and risk a war too?"

    Klaus sighed. "Do we have any choice?"
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  12. #132
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXXIX - Escape

    24th of December 1938
    1:15 AM
    Rhine Forests
    Strasbourg / Kehl border
    France

    --------

    Something did not feel right.

    That particular feeling was after he met that grey-haired intelligence officer at the Hotel de Ville. It didn't feel right. No, there was something odd, something hidden, occult, menacing about him. While most intelligence officers are supposed to operate that way, he had a particular feeling about this one. After the heavy sounds rang from outside, he bid a courteous farewell to the man and rushed back to the gala only to find the patrons wholly unconcerned, catting as usual in their high society gossip. Good, he thought. Less panic, less prying eyes. Manfred and Wilhelm rushed to the door by then, seeing them with worried expressions about his long absence from the table. They told him the patrons were expecting him, one was even pitching a business venture, but that could wait right now. Elbe had to think. And fast, if possible, because he was sure what he heard were gunshots. He beckoned for Manfred and Wilhelm to follow the man they spotted earlier whilst he went back to the car to search for Andreas.

    But the car was not there.

    Worse, the car had been destroyed, blood trails along the pavement and Andreas missing from the car. Something was off at this point. Elbe reached for a cigarette from his pocket but he realised he had left them back at the gala. Better that he did, he realised the car was most probably under watch. Feigning the surprise of a bystander, he walked away from the car and turned into the nearest side street, dark and uninviting in the middle of a cold winter night that blissfully was without snow. He huddled against his overcoat, perched his collar up and walked in a rhythmic cadence to make sure he would identify any other sounds that would rise from the sides, from behind or even from ahead of him. He walked for good minutes alone, the thoughts his only companion until he reached one of the main boulevards in the city. For now, he lost his trail but there was no point in slacking off. He had to reach the border and he had to do it fast before they realised what had happened. Andreas, Manfred and Wilhelm had their backup plans so he was not worried about them. He was alone, however, so he had to extract himself now.

    Soon enough the first break for him appeared as a group of three taxis were a good two hundred meters ahead. Elbe bid good evening to the first driver, who saluted his friends and got inside an older Ford limousine from the first days of the decade. The taxi driver, a burly moustached figure, gave a curt salute.

    "Where to, Sir?"

    Elbe fumbled for a moment. "Can you drive me north, towards Lauterbourg?"

    The taxi driver narrowed his eyes. "North? Lauterbourg? At this hour? That's at the German border."

    Elbe pulled out a stack of French francs and dangled it in front of the taxi driver. "Drive. No questions asked. And all of this is yours."

    Sensing danger and both opportunity, both of which flashed in front of Elbe's eyes, the driver nodded and fired up the engine. Elbe slid back into the rather comfortable backbench of the limousine and watched as the dim lights of Strasbourg, the pearl on the Rhine, faded away and replaced with darkness pierced by the two front lamps of the car. The plan was rather simple. Get as close to the Lauterbourg border post as possible, where the river Rhine also narrowed, and find the three boats moored in a lower delta particularly for special escapes. If they were still there. The Ford roared through the national roads and after about an hour's drive, they entered into sleepy Lauterbourg, the small village completely asleep and devoid of any people. Only some streets were illuminated which made it both useful and perilous but the moon illuminated the clear skies well enough for him to judge. He threw the stack onto the driver's other front seat, slid away from the car and dove through the side streets, waiting close by until the car had left. The taxi driver had accelerated as fast as he could in his car, screeching tires and all, until the roar of the engine was only a faint, distant echo.

    Satisfied, Elbe huddled again against his overcoat and dove through the empty backstreets of a nondescript Alsatian village. The route he needed to follow diverged soon enough and he entered the forests close to the border zone, the calming sound of the water flowing perceptible to his ears. Through the thickets, with an occasional crack of a broken twig, Elbe advanced until he noticed three dots by the edge of the water when the trees cleared to reveal the river.

    The boats were there, moored against the trees. Three of them, as they had planned.

    The danger, and excitement, was palpable. He threw his overcoat on the edge of the boat, using it as a carpet to secure his entry into the boat, preventing any slips into the water. But he retreated immediately after in the shadow of the tree, waiting for any hidden lurkers that were out for him. Five seconds, twenty seconds, forty-five seconds. Only the sounds of birds chirping in the distance, and perhaps a sly nocturnal fox in the background, were the only vibrations reaching his ear. He seemed to be in the clear.

    Slow, meticulous, Richard entered the boat and cut the rope with his army knife. Using one of the paddles, he pushed against the shore and then against the thick trunk of a tree half-collapsed in the water, breaking free of the French border. Leaving the water to carry him southwards and towards the other shore, he gently guided the little boat into the German border, finding a small nook between the trees of the forests to dock his little boat. Securing the boat on to the shore, he jumped out of the boat and hid immediately in the shadow of a great tree, crouching at it's base and training his ears to the sounds in the distance.

    Nothing.

    Richard had escaped.

    -----
    Last edited by Basileos Leandros I; June 05, 2020 at 06:58 AM.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  13. #133
    ggggtotalwarrior's Avatar Primicerius
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    I’ve started this the last couple days and will prob finish the second half/two-third within the next day or two. I’m definitely enjoying so far but will give more detailed feedback when I’m caught up fully
    Rep me and I'll rep you back. (IF YOU LEAVE YOUR NAME!)
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    Congratulations, you just lowered my IQ by 10 points.

  14. #134
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    The ending of Chapter XXXVI is nicely done (I enjoyed the contrast between Elbe's description of his intentions and what Klaus then hears - and I'm intrigued by the note. The tension and intrigue continue to build.

  15. #135
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    ggggtotalwarrior, Alwyn,

    Thank you gentlemen for your feedback. I'm striving to improve for every single chapter so I'm very glad you are enjoying it to the maximum.

    There's not many chapters left unfortunately, but there's still interesting details to come.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  16. #136
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XLI - Drive, And Keep Driving

    24th of December 1938
    4:20 PM
    Oxford Street
    London
    United Kingdom

    --------

    Soaking wet it was, and it did not seem to stop any time soon either. But that was London for you, like this since the beginning of time.

    He dove foot first into a deep puddle, the water splashing around his ankles and inside his ankled boot, the unpleasant feeling of cold water sticking to your skin jarring his senses as he looked into the distance. He expected a car to draw up any minute now, a long limousine sent by the office. Horace paced back and forth around the largely deserted main street of London city. Another car stopped just in front of him but a lady dressed in a long blue dress climbed out and ran inside a nearby building, visibly shaken by the downpour that sloshed through the streets. The car showed up moments later, a sleek Rolls Royce with a specialised plate and no visible markings. Horace climbed into the back seat and was greeted by a familiar face, the three-piece suit granting the man a very dignified demeanor.

    "Lord Howe."

    The old fox smiled to him from under his thin white mustache. "Horace, it's good to see you again."

    Horace nodded. "Same with me Sire, hope all has been well in London."

    "It was. I heard you did some interesting feats down in France in the past couple of days."

    "Not really comfortable with those Sire, but I did what had to be done."

    "Just two of them?"

    Horace nodded. "Just two."

    "That will be solved, not to worry. The French are in gratitude to you, I've gotten a dispatch this morning from the French embassy." Howe pulled out a paper from his jacket pocket as the car swayed rather wildly because of an unseen, water-clogged pothole. "Ah, London roads. So, this dispatch I have for you, is a token of gratitude, recommendation of a medal and it will almost guarantee you a good job in the next promotion period Horace. You've done well, very well."

    Horace smiled thinly, the concern still evident. "Thank you, Sir."

    "I see I do not manage to get you of your mood."

    "The mission was difficult, Lord Howe." Horace paused, still unsure of the words to say to his superior. "Our French friends were very gracious, they took it the mission with utmost professionalism but some errors that they've made will cause a significant problem down the line for them and for us if we don't manage to put a lid on it. And fast."

    "What problems, Horace?"

    "They've missed their chance to get the leader of the intelligence group while he was there. They dabbled, discussed and tinkered with it, but when it came to the actual action, one of their senior officers, Reythier, was critically injured and they also failed to capture the rest of the men. Two of them were my action but the last one, the driver, escaped and was then shot in one of the actions by the military. Point is, any actionable intelligence they may have gathered was lost and with the failure to capture the leader we now risk some significant reprisals. This will be ugly."

    "Do we know their leader?"

    "Yes, Sire. We do. Personally. Closely. Call it what you want."

    Howe looked with a grave expression to his intelligence officer. "Horace?"

    "Remember Lord Beckett, Sir? You gave me the dossier on the brother of his mistress' husband. What the dossier failed to specify was that Richard Elbe was the chief of the intelligence groups, the leader of spies of the Reich on the Western part of Europe, the ones who directly infiltrated France and our territory as well. Richard Elbe was their leader, an important cog in the whole intelligence and military activity in the West. Capturing him would have meant a significant blow and possibly some very good actionable intel." Horace paused. "But they lost that, Sir. And also his brother was left free by the Dutch."

    "I remember that. I told my counterpart they're making a mistake but they didn't want to antagonise the Germans."

    "I have no clue where his brother might be, but you can bet that right now Elbe senior is making some significant plans with the military. And that might include his brother whom I've heard became a running joke in the military."

    Howe laughed. "That's another one on you, Horace."

    "Indeed it is. But this will get ugly."

    "What are you saying, Horace?"

    Horace hesitated for a moment. "War, Sir. War is coming."

    "You think?"

    "It's a guarantee. War is coming and it will be quite soon."

    The car stopped in front of a large building, the entrance flanked by a number of armed guards who peered through the windows to look at the occupants. One of the soldiers came up to the car and was about to open the door when Howe waved him away. He tapped the front seat and the driver's shoulder.

    "Drive, Albert. Keep driving, I will tell you when we can return to the office." Howe turned to Horace. "You know what you're saying Horace? You carry an important weight in our intelligence community now, your words will be taken seriously. This is not to be taken lightly."

    "I understand that, Sir." Horace made a circular motion in the air. "Imagine this is France, Sir. According to the intelligence shared with me by the French officers, there are about sixty different intelligence teams, known to the Second Bureau of Intelligence, each of them with at least one or two active operatives. I personally doubted this intel, I've expressed my concern about it with them, saying that it is a gross overestimation but they countered by saying they have information that this is in fact underestimated. Point is, their actual knowledge of the intelligence teams is very doubtful, and while they can easily read military reports and transcripts because the Poles gave them a hand, they don't know exactly about the underground units."

    "Are they concentrated in a place?"

    "Not quite. Most of them are spread out, but some of Elbe's teams operate mainly around Strasbourg because of the German community over there. They've infiltrated the upper echelons of the public administration."

    Lord Howe frowned. "What's your pick?"

    "Most of the teams focused on the border, Maginot line, Ardennes, Belgian line. The usual, Sir. I won't rule out another Belgian dash like in the war."

    "Again?"

    "Maginot is too well defended. Ardennes are complicated, too many trees. Belgium is a flatland perfect for Reich tanks."

    "I'll send your intel to the forces, maybe we can have a British Expeditionary Force over there to bolster the French in case needs be."

    Horace hesitated. "Sir, the BEF is all good and dandy, but that's a military matter. What happens to the operatives behind the enemy lines?"

    "Find them. It's their job, the French intelligence job."

    "I object, Sir. They won't be able to find them."

    Lord Howe gave him a surprised look. "Alright Horace, then tell me, how are we doing this?"

    "Go back in and give them a hand. Root those out, work in the field and help them shore up their defenses. They're sitting ducks and their intel is actionable at best."

    "And are you offering yourself to do that, Horace?"

    Horace stood silent, rather more than hesitant than before.

    "Sir, if needs be, I will do it."

    Howe said nothing, his displeasure hidden in a perfect disinterested expression. He gained a very good intelligence officer yesterday, mentioned in dispatches, bringing up the prestige and operational budget for their office. He just lost him today.

    "Albert, drive to the office."

    ------------

    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  17. #137
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    It sounds like Horace is keen to help despite the danger, but I wonder if his assistance will be enough, considering the manpower which Richard Elbe has at his disposal. I'm enjoying the speculation about the war which they expect, the uncertainty about whether they are overestimating or underestimating the strength of the enemy sounds realistic. Good update!

  18. #138
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you very much Alwyn.

    Indeed, Horace is an unexpected but very welcome guest in the future. Particularly by Klaus.

    Separately, I've updated a bit the first / main post with links to all of the chapters and will do so as the story progresses. I will update the Wattpad to it as well so you can read it on your app / browser easier if you're a fan of that platform!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  19. #139
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    A note of update from my side - there are about 5-6 chapters left, plus a long Epilogue, which means that we are quite close to the ending. Surprises still left, so be prepared in the next weeks to see how it unfolds!

    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  20. #140
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XLII - You?

    24th of December 1938
    10:15 PM
    Strasbourg HQ
    Strasbourg
    France

    ------

    Despite the explicit orders of the doctors, Reythier declined to be in the hospital for more than two days until he convalesced.

    Slumped over a large four poster bed in the upper floor of a house controlled by the Bureau, well hidden in the western side of the city and away from the border, Reythier beckoned to Klaus to have a seat, his eyes lightning up ever so slightly at the sight of his friend and comrade in arms. A white sling stood over his injured right shoulder, visible over his undershirt. Two bullets were extracted from his right side, bullets fired by Andreas, Elbe's driver, in the tussle that occured after a botched apprehension and arrest.

    "How do you feel?" asked Klaus, his eyes darting from the sling to Reythier's wincing expression.

    "I feel as if I got hit by a Renault truck without brakes down a hill."

    Klaus laughed. "Specific."

    "That's all I could think of when it happened." Reythier pointed to his shoulder. "How does it look?"

    "Like it got hit by a truck."

    Reythier smiled. "Sounds like how I wanted it to be."

    "Are you sure that's how you wanted it to be?"

    "I couldn't help it. They were there. And one of the officers was too eager to prove himself. So this happened."

    "Are you kind enough to explain to me what happened there?"

    "Not really." Reythier tried to stand up on the bed but he grimaced in pain, slowly lowering himself to the left side to look at Klaus. "We tried to apprehend Elbe's driver when we saw the car. We had a warrant, one made on the spot by the officer."

    "That's illegal."

    "I know. But it was too late, the officer took up three men and almost ran to the car. With me in tow to protest but it fell on deaf ears."

    "And a tussle occurred?"

    "No tussle. A fight. After being initially understanding, the driver faked that he was taking the papers but instead he pulled out a fully loaded pistol and shot two of the men, he shot me twice in the shoulder and tried to shoot the officer but in the fight the pistol got discharged on him."

    "All of it in the middle of the street?"

    "There were some people, who immediately called the police, so the area was quickly cordoned off from what I understood." Reythier glanced at Klaus. "I heard you nearly got the same treatment."

    "Horace saved me. Elbe's party goons were looking for me, after I had a chat with Elbe beforehand."

    "Horace knew?"

    "Apparently so."

    "How did he know and we did not, Klaus? What did we overlook?"

    "He told me afterwards that he realised something was wrong when the two left their table and headed straight for me."

    A slight knock rasped on the wooden entrance, the creaking, lacquered door pushed aside by one of the guards who doubled as a secretary. The man saluted.

    "Sirs, you have a guest. He is here to see you, Mr. Reythier."

    Reythier looked at Klaus and vice versa,

    "We are not expecting anyone," replied Klaus.

    "The Bureau granted this appointment. Can I send him in?"

    "Yes. I do wonder who that will be though."

    Klaus stood up, nodding to the officer, his eyes glancing from the officer to Reythier who looked just as puzzled. Their puzzlement turned to slight smiles when the wiry figure of Horace appeared through the door, carrying a leather duffle bag and a fedore hat to disguise his appearance.

    "Horace. What a surprise," said Klaus.

    Horace took off his hat and saluted, shaking hands with Klaus and then with Reythier who smiled back in return.

    "Gentlemen. It's good to see you again, Mr. Reythier. I am glad you are faring well, Sir."

    Klaus drew closer. "How come you returned, Horace? Why?"

    "We've got work Sir. I have here two letters of recommendation to arrest two persons of interest on French soil. Mainly in Paris."

    "Who are we to arrest, Horace?"

    "Thomas Elbe and his wife Mathilda. They have set up shop in Paris, fronting as members of the social circle and are currently infiltrating themselves into the Parliament."

    Klaus swallowed nervously, his somber expression mirrored by Reythier who looked away through the window in the distance.

    ------
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

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