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Thread: Swords Made of Letters

  1. #101
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    It sounds like the French will get some useful intelligence (particularly the maps, I imagine) if they find it. I wonder what Elbe will do, after what Reinhard said to him about being 'unburdened'. Good updates!

  2. #102
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XXV - A Walk in the Park

    8:55 PM
    16th of December 1938
    Amsterdam
    Kingdom of the Netherlands


    --------

    It took him the better part of four hours to finally notice the younger Elbe brother in the small crowd huddled in the streets by the side of the Amsterdam Centraal train station.

    By now the night had fallen over the city, quieting down the usual raucous streets of the city by the canals, leaving way to a muted hum of voices, a slew of cars, some trucks and groups of party-goers who insisted on spending their time on the streets by 9 o'clock. Horace spotted a carefully crafted movie poster earlier, advertising a new movie from the United States about Christmas, a poster that drew enough people in the neighborhood around the train station to arouse his attention. His interest served him right as soon after the younger, dashing Elbe brother showed up around the cinema selling movie tickets with a smiling Mathilda by his arm. Dressed in a white dress and walking gently in arm with Elbe, she looked the part in the cosmopolitan Amsterdam. And so did he, but any close examination would show the pin that was not something the locals would be excited about. Horace smiled himself. His eyes were fixed on the couple as they arrived and placed themselves in the line for tickets, probably the last showing of the day for that movie.

    For some reason, the Luftwaffe officer, dressed in civilian garb that resembled his somber uniform and sporting a Luftwaffe coat pin, decided to saunter around the cinema rather lazily with Mathilda for a while until they left abruptly. Horace raised his eyebrows as he noticed the couple appear and then disappear from his eyesight in a matter of seconds. Only a couple of minutes after appearing in his line of sight for the first time, the couple dashed through the streets beside the train station and much to his chagrin, Horace had no chance of following them through the streets. Just as fast as they appeared they went back into hiding. Had they spotted Horace?

    "Improbable," Horace said to himself. "Or maybe he did. But hard to say."

    Luck, however, smiled on him as he stood his ground, reclining against a lamppost underneath a warm and rather dim street light. All but two hours later, an agony of waiting for the Englishman, Elbe's brother returned to the cinema, this time alone, eyeing in a very interested manner the poster of the movie. Why was Elbe so interested in the movie?

    That mattered little. Horace eyed the officer, mirroring his steps at a respectable distance from the other side of the street. For about ten minutes the officer hesitated around the poster and then at the ticketing office but in the end decided against it, placing his top hat on his head and returning to the streets. Sliding the Dutch newspaper he pretended to read underneath his armpit, Horace started a small gallop to close the distance to the officer which became closer and closer until they both entered a small block of apartments just three streets away from the train station. Horace entered just as the door closed, taking a couple of moments to adjust his eyes to the difference in light.

    Unnerved, he slid the newspaper from under his arm and held it in front of him.

    Elbe's brother missed his punch seconds later, and missed by a mile, making him an easy target for an experienced brawler like Horace.

    With a quick lunge, the Englishman struck Elbe's knee, collapsing him to the ground in a matter of seconds. A rapid-fire of careful punches immobilised the Luftwaffe officer which allowed Horace to drag him into the apartment on the bottom floor, tie him up to a chair and place him in the middle of an expansive room lined with maps, documents, and geographical instruments.

    Horace's eyes darted from corner to corner, spotting a large map of Northern Europe placed on the far wall overlooking the entire room. A mixture of old Barocco furniture and some Art Deco pieces, a jumble of tastes more like it, the room was probably created as Elbe's office. The large map on the wall was rather detailed, highlighted with numerous points darted around the edges of it, explanations scribbled on the side in various coloured pens. The main teak desk was scattered with documents, unopened envelopes, and a Reich engraved envelope opening knife. Horace smiled at the random elegance of the silver knife. His eyes turned from the documents to his prisoner.

    "So, care to explain what you were doing in my country, casually walking around power plants and military airfields?" Elbe's brother gazed at him blankly. "One time I can understand, we all make a mistake of walking into a military airfield. But sixteen times? Sixteen? You nearly got arrested twice. And the police reported back to the intelligence four times."

    "You've done your job." Emotionless, calculated. Cold. "Good work."

    "Thanks. We strive to do our best." Horace turned to him. "Are you gonna tell me or am I going to keep you here until you tell me?"

    "As you wish."

    "Annoying you are."

    "You broke into my house."

    Horace raised a finger. "You spied in mine." Horace turned back to the table and the carefully organised wall of information. "What do I see here?"

    "What you want."

    "Dashing," replied Horace, with a smirk only to himself. "A map of northern Europe, with points placed along the borders, military airfields, defensive military posts. If I didn't know you better, I would say you're aiming to do the same thing as 20 years ago, aren't you Herr Elbe?"

    "No, of course not."

    Horace nodded. "Sure. That's why I see all of the military sites you spied while you were living in Tottenham with your lady Mathilda. Which reminds me, where is she?"

    For the first time, Elbe's brother stood silent, brooding in his chair, his chin pointed downwards and in a complete refusal to divulge any more information."

    "Fine, leave her aside, I have no interest in her." Horace knelt beside the chair. "Are we doing the same thing as we've done twenty years ago, are we not?"

    "Is that what you think?"

    Horace pointed to the wall. "Well, that's what you're planning to do. But why you of all people, a Luftwaffe officer?"

    The remark struck a nerve as Elbe rose his eyes from the ground. "You ignore the power the air squadrons have now?"

    "I fail to see how you can take over two countries or more with just airplanes. You need people on the ground."

    "Yes, yes, of course."

    Non-combat again, Horace thought, something is wrong. A wall clock sounded in the background, probably from another room of the apartment, indicating 10:00 PM.

    "Herr Elbe, have you been arrested in the Dutch provinces? I would hope not." Horace smiled. "At least not for our precious Mathilda's sake. Let us say this meeting never happened, yes?"

    "I have recorded every word you said, Englishman."

    Horace feigned disappointment. "You don't know my name? Shameful."

    "Does it matter?"

    "I would hope it does after you shot yourself in the leg with me near you."

    Elbe's brother rose his eyes and shot Horace a penetrating look. "I do not concern myself with petty trivialities like this, Englishman."

    "Fine. Stay here, I will make sure my time will be well rewarded."

    Angling to finish the job fast, Horace opened every drawer, nook, and wardrobe searching for briefcases. He eventually found three, which were spacious enough for him to carry all of the maps and documents strewn across the office without making it too difficult to carry them. It mattered little for form as he threw the maps inside, the documents, printed or handwritten, all of the notes, pens even and some envelopes marked as secret and stamped with Reich insignia on them. Elbe did not protest but his agitation in his seat suggested otherwise. These were sensitive documents and Horace only cared about them. In the grand scheme, Elbe's brother mattered little. And he wanted to avoid any problems.

    A good twenty minutes later, Horace knelt once more near the chair and looked directly at Elbe's brother.

    "We'll meet again my friend. Say hello to Mathilda for me."


    --------
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  3. #103
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XXVI - Quellenhof Ball

    9:20 PM
    16th of December 1938
    Aachen
    Germany


    ----

    Reythier blew for fun in the night air, small clouds of mist drifting above his head.

    Slipping into Aachen was rather easy for him. There were no controls, no restrictions, a free-flowing movement of goods and people that did not seem to announce anything ominous. Only to those who worked in the higher echelons, the reality was different. But to most people, every new day was more or less like the last one. A small cluster of clouds brought the first snowflakes over the city a couple of days before, settling over the meadows around it for a couple of days as the temperatures went lower and lower with the advent of winter. Aachen, much like the rest of Germany and France, was preparing for the kindest period of the year and not for the ominous clouds that seemed to hover around the continent.

    Leaning slightly against the edge of a building overlooking the Hotel Quellenhof, hidden in the shadow of a streetlamp that cast a weak, flickering light into the street, Reythier had a clear view over which was used by the Party as the main nightlife attraction particularly at the end of the year. Imposing, with a white facade casting an elegant glow during the day, the Quellenhof was often used by the Party as a makeshift headquarters. Small pockets of light flickered in between the darkness of the December night. Reythier found out the Party was throwing a ball. And most likely Herr Elbe was there. Reythier listed slightly forwards, drawing his wristwatch into the light of the streetlamp in front of him. 9:20 PM. The ball had started at eight, based on what a local guard had told him, and it was due to finish at 10:30 PM. One hour and ten minutes were all that he had. Whilst the Quellenhof was in the midst of the city, the Oberkommando HQ which he sought was hidden somewhere towards the south, at the tail end of an industrial park that was, in fact, a gunpowder and artillery factory. The reports from his intelligence colleagues had been correct; on his way to the Quellenhof he took a quick glance around, the factory was heavily defended.

    And yet the Oberkommando headquarters was not.

    Fifteen minutes to get there, thirty-five minutes at most to sift through what he could find. He took one last glance at the flickering lights that bathed the ball at the Quellenhof and returned to the back streets in a zig-zag of movements to lose his track to any curious onlookers. He reached his car, an old Horch parked near the garage of a small brick house, shifting it into gear and jogging towards the headquarters which he had seen earlier. He arrived just outside of the compound, a compound of four hangar-like structures that were built by the side of the road with easy access to the main military pathways the army had carved from Aachen towards the Rhineland back in 1936. Reythier left the car.

    Much to his chagrin, the compound for the Oberkommando was lightly defended. Five guard posts were constructed at each key point of the entrance but only three guards stood about, all of them concentrated on some jokes one of them said which left the other two in a chorus of laughter that emanated in the night. Without much difficulty, using the shadow of the outposts, Reythier slipped inside the compound and headed towards the closest structure which had a small heraldic symbol plastered by the front door. The Oberkommando HQ.

    Just as he had expected, the hangar-like structure was deserted at this hour but in between the lights he could make out the endless rows of intelligence officers' desks in the shadows. He left them behind, carefully sliding to the right side of the hall where a large metal staircase led to Elbe's office. He jumped through the stairs, opening the door that led to the office.

    To his surprise, Elbe's office was remarkably spartan.

    Nothing of any particular value stood out on his desk, planted in the middle of the office, a small fireplace made out a jumble of wood in the corner. Three chairs stood to his right, one of them occupied with what he presumed was his army officer uniform that he used a couple of days ago. With one ear to the sounds that emanated from the hall below, Reythier stood down on the desk chair and looked around the desk. Jumbles of documents were on the corners, with some documents with official Party stationery were huddled around a group of fountain pens which Elbe probably signed with. The stationary on the documents indicated official correspondence but the content was not of great value to Reythier. Simple advancement in positions,

    Slow, methodical, Reythier opened the drawer desks on both sides.

    Four maps with military plans, each of them centered around key border points around the French, Belgian and Dutch border indicated specific target areas with a clear delimitation of army divisions and their force details. Underneath every division were plotted small groups which Reythier presumed

    "What are we trying to do, Herr Elbe?" he asked himself.

    To him, it was a clear analysis of military points but it was easy to get carried away. He remembered the Deuxieme Bureau, the French intelligence services, often plotted the same plans on the borders with the almost the same key points and simulation war game results. Nevertheless, the plans were important. And to him, the small brigades, or divisions, of intelligence teams were crucial to neutralize their actions. Reythier took a couple of seconds to calculate all of the intelligence units operating around the border. Forty-seven units. Reythier jolted his neck sideways, a nervous move to calm himself down. He only had four teams. Elbe had forty-seven.

    "Forty seven."

    Reythier repeated to himself. But to no avail.

    -----

    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

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  4. #104

    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Everytime I come here to read this tory, I'm in awe at the tone, the mood, the rythme...

  5. #105
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you very much for your kind words of appreciation, I truly appreciate it.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

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  6. #106
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Chapter XXVII - A Bureau of Cartographers

    8:20 PM
    17th of December 1938
    A suburb of Paris
    France

    ------

    A soft whimper on the wooden table, a pleasant touching sound made by the papers canvassed into the yellowy intelligence dossier. A large red SECRET stamp was affixed on the cover, as was required by law, but whom only a few people ever got to see. On Reythier's orders, most of the highly sensitive material from the last days was destroyed, known only to the people who took part in the actions. Ethical, that was quite debatable but useful it definitely was since no unwelcome questions were ever asked on his return from the border actions he undertook. Page by page, the clumps of information were collated by an army of intelligence gatherers, crypt deciphers and Deuxieme Bureau field agents who pieced together a rather disjointed picture of the foreign army's capabilities, particularly those at the border. There were far too many gaps in the data for Reythier to fully rely on it. And in some cases he suspected the data they gathered was overestimated.

    Reythier's return to the conspiratorial house was not something he looked forward to.

    A light tap, possibly a knock but Reythier was too tiried to discern, followed his thoughts. Klaus entered the main analysis room, dressed in a grey woolen overcoat and a tophat which he placed without a sound on the edge of the table where a whole raft of maps, scribbled notes and dossiers were thrown together into a jumbled mess.

    "I trust you're doing fine," said Klaus with a cordial voice.

    "Fine is not the word I would be using, but thank you for the trust, Klaus. I trust you are?"

    "None any better since you're doing miserable. What's going on? There's been rumours in the Bureau over here that you and a number of the boys had an unwelcome encounter by the border in Alsace."

    Reythier smiled, rather sardonic. "Correct. Nothing escapes this place, it seems."

    "That's our job."

    "Apparently we're not doing a good one it seems, since we tend to overestimate how many men our close friends have. Or how many they don't have. Or how many they have in the first place, I don't know, all of this is a mess and I can't make heads or tails out of it." Reythier took the top map out of the pile and laid it out. "So, what do we have? A considerable number of border points and a considerable number of intelligence groups. I made a little trip down to the Oberkommando and before you widen your eyes and think I'm crazy, I'm back here, in the Bureau, listening to the gossip."

    Klaus narrowed his eyes. "You took a huge risk. France could have been dealt a significant problem if you didn't escape."

    "But I did. Now, the problem is rather simple my dear Klaus - our friends have almost fifty intelligence units available to them, most of them manning between ten to thirty operatives, which can be used at any time for intelligence gathering. One of those from a couple of days ago was probably one unit, even if they had only a dozen men around."

    "Are you not satisfied with what you found?"

    "We have four units. Four groups of men we send out regularly to gather information up and down the border. That's it."

    "Not enough?"

    "Is it?"

    "I don't believe so."

    "Then you have your answer." Reythier took a stylus pen and circled some points on the map. "These are choke points, around the border with Belgium at the Ardennes Forests, some here near the Maginot line and some here near Colmar and Strasbourg. In case they all decide to take a little vacation to visit our homelands, we have very little chance of stopping them."

    Klaus stood up from the table, tapping the tophat in a rather methodical manner. "Are you sure your information is correct?"

    "Why would I doubt it? They're actively working against us, it's obvious by now."

    Klaus motioned with his finger. "No, not that." He paused for a moment to reflect. "You have been complaining often in the past about the quality of data that has been collected by our teams, saying that it is often unreliable. What makes you think some documents that you took from a localised intelligence headquarters will reflect on what you've been provided with before?"

    Reythier looked at him askance for a moment. "I'm not sure."

    "So why believe it?"

    "I don't think I have much better information, to be frank with you. That's as much as I can get in this short period of time. And our window is even narrower now."

    "What's your action then?" Klaus stood back down. "My dear Alexandre, you've been active, you've been reactive, you've gathered the data, and our team has been working on it as well. And we have Mr. Horace from the British working with us. If all of us are wrong in this case, and we will find out at some point, then something is really wrong."

    Reythier stood up, extracting form the pile a couple of papers inscribed with Party insignia. He selected four of them which

    "Here's what I got from our friend Elbe and his private room. As I've said, operational units close to fifty, but they are currently training hundreds of potential agents and are actively cultivating cells in our internal society to then use in the case of a conflict. Apparently they compromised one British Member of Parliament, which I hope Horace can enlighten us about, and four members of our own Parliament are in contact with them. What's more is that they have a very comprehensive map of the chokepoints and easily attackable areas for the army to move through, and rather fast, with all of the detailed battle plans drawn up already and ready for execution. Klaus, I'm sorry, but the threat is real and I really don't want to have the Bureau just an office of cartographers."

    Klaus looked up. "Fine. The information is there. What's your proposal?"


    "Well, here's my problem. I don't know. Right now, well, we wait."
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  7. #107
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XXVII - Linking The Puzzle

    8:45 PM
    18th of December 1938
    Battersea Embankment
    London
    Great Britain

    -----

    "Good evening, Mr. Reythier." The entry guard tipped his black felt tophat, distinctively lacking any military insignia. "Sir Horace is expecting you."

    Shuttered behind a number of decrepit looking houses and right by the edge of the Thames River, the intelligence house was, as expected, as nondescript as one could imagine. Despite the rather large surface, surrounded by a red brick wall that blended it with the house, the local headquarters of the MI6 was a square two storied house overlooking the river, ivy branches sprawling on the sides of the building from the roof all the way to the lower levels. Charming it's way, thought Reythier, but rather forgettable. As it should be. Alexandre saluted the guard and entered inside the house, gazing at a spiral mahogany staircase that led to an upper floor, bathed in a warm chandelier light and a soft carpet running from the top down to the last stair. Horace Cunningham, his contact and ocassional working partner, soon joined him and shook hands together.

    "I trust you arrived well, Mr. Reythier," said Horace with a sly smile, his shining hair motioned to a side and now sporting a thin moustache.

    "A house by the docks, Mr. Horace? How ungentlemanly of you and the intelligence officers."

    Horace smiled. "We use it to monitor the traffic up and down the Thames from here. Plus, we have an easy way out of the country and out of the city should we need to."

    "You escape by boat?"

    "Sometimes. There's a small wharf just a couple of meters away from the entrance, two small motor boats are moored over there. Whenever we need to, we can get it, use it and drive away."

    Reythier nodded, rather absent. "Interesting. Did you arrive early after your escapade?"

    "Not so. In fact, just a couple of hours ago. With one of those motorboats."

    Reythier raise an eyebrow. "Crossing the North Sea in a small dinghy?"

    Horace straightened. "Well, you see, Mr. Reythier, it's not really a small boat. It's a commercial yacht that's been modified by us. But anyways, on to more important discussions, so let us go upstairs. Lord Howe, the chief of the bureau from the political side is waiting for us to discuss."

    They went up to the second floor, the soft carpet on the staircase lifting Reythier into almost cloud-like steps, taken inch by inch until they reached the war room. Motioned inside by an intelligence officer, probably doubling as a guard, they were greeted by Lord Howe and two military advisors sitting beside him as they analysed a cluuster of maps and documents that Reythier judged were stolen by Horace in Amsterdam. Howe stood up, dressed impeccably in a custom-made three-piece suit with a golden pocket watch adorning his jacket pockets. Wiry, with a crop of grizzled hair, he shook Reythier's hands firmly and smiled to him.

    "Bonjour, Mr. Reythier. I am glad you could come here to our little headquarters."

    "Likewise, Mr. Howe. I think we have a lot of worrk to do."

    Howe nodded, rather impatient. "We do, yes. Horace brought us back some important pieces of intelligence."

    Howe's imposing demeanor struck a chord with Reythier. Alexandre placed a hand on the nearest silk-lined chair and glanced at Howe.

    "I trust we've forgiven Agincourt and Poitiers?"

    Howe looked up at Reythier, rather bewildered, changing his expression to a slight smile. "It's been five hundred years, give or take. I think we can work together by now, our ancestors won't mind."

    Reythier smiled. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

    "I cannot argue against that in good faith, Mr. Reythier. We've fought side by side the in the War, so now it's up to us to fight again to prevent another one."

    "Do you think we can prevent another one?"

    "No."

    Lord Howe's blunt answer took Reythier aback, frowning slightly. "No?"

    "No. It's a given." Howe waved his hands around. "But what we can do is to prepare for it, to be best equipped to fight what we see will come ahead." Howe extended his hand. "Please, sit. Let us discuss. Tea?"

    Reythier nodded while a butler left the room and returned minutes later with four pots of freshly brewed tea, wisps of steam sauntering around the room all of a sudden. Howe raised his hand.

    "Horace, the discussion is yours. I understood Mr. Elbe's brother was rather fazed by your visit."

    Horace went to the edge of the table and plucked out a detailed map of the Belgian and Dutch borders, highlighting several border points and blockage points around the common delimitation lines.

    "As things stand, there are rather conflicting reports. Most of the information that I've gleaned from Elbe's papers is that they are actively considering another attack through Belgium and Netherlands, but at the same time, the Ardennes Forest is a key target for them. A high number of tank divisions are massed right around Luxembourg, or will be massed, we shall see, and from there they can attack either sideways or frontal through Luxembourg and then right into France. Either way, this is very delicate, as they will be supported by hundreds of aircraft of all types including heavy bombers which they developed in the last three years."

    "Some of them are known to us, their airbases, and we can do a measure of a retaliatory attack," countered Howe.

    "Yes, and no." Horace pointed out strategic areas around the border with Luxembourg. "These are heavily forested areas, easy to defend and it will cause a lot of aircraft damage. Can happen but ineffective."

    "Preemptive strike?"

    "Possible. However, despite the plans that I've found in Elbe's apartment, from what sources we have right now there are no tank divisions or even brigades stationed there. There is only one infantry division used mainly as a border guard."

    "Is it possible they will amass later?" asked Reythier.

    "Possible. Hard to know. So far they indicate no build-up, which we find odd."

    Howe raised a hand. "Not so odd. They're focused on the Eastern side first."

    "That does not explain the presence of just one division. Invading Czechoslovakia required almost no divisions and shots fired. And neither did Austria."

    "Still their focus."

    Horace relented. "Correct. But ii might not be all. We have some reports of them preparing for an invasion of Poland."

    Reythier motioned forward, glancing from Howe, then to the two silent advisors, then to Horace. "This will trigger our alliance." Reythier's response was rather meek, a matter-of-fact reply to a delicate situation. He didn't like his own response, shifting awkwardly in his seat afterwards.

    "It already did. But we failed to act upon it. And in reality... well, I guess there was little we could do."

    Reythier pointed to the documents. "What else did you find, Mr. Horace?"

    "All kinds of battle plans that were linked to the aviation rather than the army, but they were useful. Some information about intelligence officers operating in our territory which we will use accordingly and these maps, or plans as we call them, about a possible new front in the future war."

    Howe raised his hand. "Horace, what happened to Elbe?"

    "Nothing."

    "Horace."

    "I used him as bait, I called up his contacts and just like in London, a whole team showed up to protect him and take him out from the apartment. Whoever he is, he's very well connected, he's not just a simple aviation officer. There was a small list of numbers taped to the back of his desk. A quick call solved that."

    Howe frowned. "Not ideal."

    "Gentlemen, while taking care of Elbe is our business, what are our next plans in accordance to what we expect?"

    Howe stood up. "You want my honest opinion? Nothing. We wait. And in the meantime, we send our men to military training."
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  8. #108
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    That's a sobering moment for Reythier, when he learns how many units Elbe has - as is Reythier's meeting with Howe. Good updates!

  9. #109
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you Alwyn!

    Expect some more updates soon, the part 2 of the book will be wrapped up and then we move on to the final piece of the puzzle, the main action.
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  10. #110
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    Chapter XXVII - Reporting Your Findings

    9:20 PM
    18th of December 1938
    Quellenhof Hotel
    Aachen
    Germany

    ------

    It seemed different, eerie to a point of shudder.

    Hairs rose on his arm. The tea he drank was warm enough but the memory of hearing so much laughter and joy from only a night before, only for it to be replaced by heavy silence seemed too much to him. He shuddered, recoiling at the thought, his back arched into the soft silk cover of the chair. The hot ceramic of the tea cup imprinted itself into his palm, a constant source of warmth that gave him comfort in his anxiety. Dressed in his officer's uniform and his patent leather jackboots, Elbe looked like a real military careerman except he was anything but. He worked his entire life in intelligence but his brother's arrest was both a personal and professional failure. Elbe was seated in his superior's office, Oberst Reinhard Muller, the leader of the military intelligence for the Western border.

    "Elbe. Welcome, hope the tea is good."

    Elbe smiled. "It is, Herr Muller. I trust you are well?"

    Muller sat down, shrugging his shoulders. Of middle height, Muller always wore his officer's cap even inside, creating him a grave air whenever he spoke. His bushy eyebrows and dark eyes made him a rather imposing figure and was a well respected leader of the intelligence services, continuing his tradition of organising the Western intelligence front since World War I. He took off his cap, revealing a crop of grizzled hair that was cut on the sides as was the fashion in the late 1930's, brushing his hand through it as he adjusted himself on the chair. Muller produced three papers from his desk, which he placed in front of Elbe who glanced at them with narrowed eyes and a considerable amount of visible worry imprinted on his expression. Muller took on a grave expression.

    "Elbe, I need a victory. The Party needs a victory. I need you to recoup your brother's arrest."

    "I know, Herr Muller. I know."

    "Do you know the outcome of your brother's arrest?"

    Elbe shook his head. "Something wrong?"

    "Yes, very wrong." Muller's stuffy eyebrows arched in a menacing way, his eyes focused on every inch of Elbe's face. "Your brother's carelessness lead to us losing battle plans, military intelligence, marked maps and official letters, with state insignia, right to the British and most probably the French."

    Elbe bowed his head. "Can we recover it?"

    Muller waved his hand. "Too late now. Do you even think you can? Of course not. You cannot." Muller pointed a finger towards Elbe. "Solve it, and solve it quickly. We're right now under enormous pressure to hide this from the generals and when I have to go and tell them that the British and the French know of our plans, and eventually the Belgians and the Dutch, we have to scrap everything and do everything again."

    With another wave of his hand, Muller pointed to a large map of Europe placed right behind his chair, circling in the air around their position.

    "See that? We need to know everything about our place."

    Elbe shifted in his seat.

    "Herr Muller, with all due respect, my brother was infiltrated in the British Parliament to proide us with information."

    "Your double-agent supplied us with nothing interesting!" Muller slammed his fist on the table. "Nothing, absolutely nothing, nothing of value, nothing that was useful to us. Just idiotic Parliament gossip which we could have found anyways from those useless tabloids! That's it!" He leaned back into his chair. "Worse, we have an intelligence leak right now."

    "What do you ask of me?"

    "We need to know their defensive capabilities, plant information and find a way to counter what they know with what they already have."

    Elbe tilted his head. "We have information. The Maginot line, all of the construction plans. Everything."

    "Don't fool me Elbe. That's not enough."

    "Is it?"

    Muller learned forwards, eyeing Elbe again with a menacing gaze. "Are you taking me into contempt, Elbe? Should I send you to work the mines in the Ruhr, because that's what usually we do to incompetents."

    "So why is Keitel in the Oberkommando of the Army then? If you talk about incompetents, Herr Muller."

    "That's none of your business, Elbe. Solve this debacle your stupid brother made and maybe you'll find yourself in a comfy chair too, and not in your surly hangar that's colder than the Arctic."

    Elbe nodded. "I need resources."

    "You'll have everything that you need. Go do your intelligence plan and you will get all of the resources that you need. Just do it."

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

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

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