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Chapter 3: "Schlaukopf"
Holz Haus Kommunikationsvorposten, Berlin, Germany
OSS Spec. Ops Agent Peter McCain
October 30th, 1939
“You've heard of Brünnhilde, right?“
The voice at the other end of the comms radio let out a bregudging sigh.
“No, Peter, and I'm not sure how that applies here.“
“Oh come on, you don't know Götterdämmerung? I thought you read books, Cornellius.“
“That's a play, Peter.“
“So you have heard of Brünnhilde?“
“I vaguely remember the story, Peter. Now, you need to get back to the mission.“
“Yeah, yeah, that can wait. Wait... hold on a second.“
Peter McCain heard light footsteps and the muttering of German from outside the restroom. He paused the light-hearted conversation with his handler, Cornellius, to evade detection. A minute passed as Peter stared intently at the flickering light above the stall of the outpost restroom, before the voices faded out and there was only silence within Peter's peripheral. Peter reactivated his comm-link, jumping right back into the fray.
“So, anyway, it's this German play. There's a lady named Brünnhilde that gets put under a spell and laid to rest until the perfect hero with no fear can rescue her from her eternal sleep. Are you following?“
“Yeah, Peter, get on with it.“
“So this guy named Siegfried rescues her, gives her a fancy ring, and is going to marry her or what-have-you. Then later, Siegried drinks this potion that makes him forget everything. Probably a stand-in for a hell of a lot of alcohol, I think. So anyway, he takes the ring back from her, which is fair, because I mean it is his ring.“
“So basically he tries to marry his mortal enemy's sister with the ring, and Brünnhilde is having none of it. The lady plots with the bad guy to literally stab Siegfried in the back since that's his weakness, which, thinking of it now is anyone's weakness really.“
“Is there a point-“
“I'm getting to that. So she takes the ring from the two bad guys that killed Siegfried, and has a pyre made and she immolates herself in the pyre with the ring to cleanse it. So the point I'm trying to make is even German women from centuries ago are just as crazy as my ex-wife.“
Peter stood for a moment in the bathroom stall, silence over the comm-link, tapping his foot awaiting a response.
“Is that the message you got?“
“You know, Peter-“
“Wait, hold that thought.“
Peter took his hand off of the comm-link and drew his Colt from a concealed pocket on his German uniform. Just outside the stall a man had entered the restroom, whistling nonchalantly. There were two stalls, yet the German outside approached his, attempting to push the door inward before knocking on the wooden divider.
Without a formal knowledge of the German language Peter had no idea what the question meant, nor did he study German dialects enough to understand the tone of the officer outside, whether it be angered or sincere. Following a moment of internal panic, Peter half-heartedly uttered the extent of his limited knowledge of German phoenetics as he held his weapon drawn and aimed at the doorway.
The German outside then entered the stall next to his, before shutting the door and sitting down on the toilet. Peter let forth a sigh of relief and returned his pistol to a concealed position, thinking over his next move.
Once Jerry von Comode was finished, the next move would be entering the command center undetected and jotting down on paper the coordinates of the other command posts around Nazi Germany. After the successful mission, an extraction team also in disguise will be in a stolen military Volkswagen ready to transport him out of dodge and back home to see the fruits of his labor. Maybe then this whole war can be avoided and Peter could see his son for Christmas. That's the ideal plan, at least.
Without warning, the German on other side of the wall let out a grunt, and reached his hand below the divide, pointing upwards towards Peter. Peter drew his weapon with haste, pointing it to the lone hand close to the floor. The hand continued to point upwards as the man spoke out from within the stall.
For a moment, Peter was confused, before understanding the request. The seemingly sentient hand was pointing to the toilet tissue just at waist level within Peter's stall. He returned the weapon to his side, and removed the roll from his holder, placing it into the officer's hands.
“Ah, Danke Schoen!“
Peter continued to wait as the German fouled up the air and cleaned his hands at the sink just outside the stall. Soon the water finished flowing and the man left for the exit, leaving Peter with some final assuring words.
“Ich entschuldige mich für den Geruch! Bitte!“
With no idea what the German meant, Peter waited until he was out of earshot, before opening communications with Cornelius Pernell once more.
“What happened in there, Peter?“
“I would tell you, but it wouldn't sound pretty. I'm sure it doesn't look pretty in there either.“
“Look, I'm about to enter the command center. Have the team ready to pull me out. I'm going dark. If I'm not out in thirty minutes they need to leave to avoid arousing suspicions. I'll find a way out then. Peter, out.“
Peter removed the headset, folding it and placing it in one of his uniform's pockets. This reproduction German officer uniform looked enough like the real thing to get this far into the outpost, but the fake ID number and photo would be the true test of OSS planning.
Peter exited the rank bathroom into the hallway with an array of doors but no one on site. According to the mission intel Peter had skimmed briefly before the drop, most officers were in the cafeteria at this time leaving only the highest ranking officials and ill-informed Nazi guards to stand in his way.
Recalling the layout of the outpost, Peter navigated his way towards the center where head officers communicated with Nazi High Command.
At the doorway just before the room a Nazi soldier stood at attention, pistol at his side. As Peter approached the soldier, the flunky outstretched his hand.
In lieu of context clues, Peter drew his forgery identification card, and displayed it to the soldier, who let him in. It was almost comical to Peter how pointless the whole process was. The grunt had no idea who he was either way; He may as well not have presented his identification.
Within the room were two high-ranking officers, chatting with each other and chortling as they shoved clumps of bread into their mouths from their trays. As they laughed, Peter approached laughing as if he were in on the conversation. The others paused, looking to him. The moustached, mildly overweight officer to the left turned his body to face Peter, looking him up and down.
“Sie müssen aus dem Breslauer Außenposten sein?“
“Sie werden froh sein zu wissen, haben wir die Nachricht an den Reichstag zur Überprüfung weitergeleitet.“
“Sehr gut! Gibt es noch etwas, was wir tun können?“
Peter hesitated for a moment, becoming irked by the conversation.
“Was wäre das?“
Peter sighed, annoyedly reciting the one of two phrases he knew.
The officer paused, puzzled.
“Was wäre das?“
“Worüber sprichst du?“
Peter took note of their reactions, choosing to re-gear the conversation in a different direction.
The officer looked to the other at Peter's right, speaking to him before waving at him to join in leaving.
“Sie müssen von der Reise müde sein. Kommen Sie, Herr Müller, lassen wir ihn vor sich hin...“
The two officers left Peter on his own to complete the mission. The conversation had only taken but a few minutes, and there was still time to acquire the intel and get extracted.
The room was bordered by tables with radios and devices for sending encrypted ciphers between outposts in the region. Peter scrounged through piles of paper on the front table beneath the clock, searching for what he needed. For what he lacked in knowledge in the German language, he made up for in his ability to consolidate and sort important intel. Held together by a clip were two pages worth of coordinates, each a location in Nazi-occupied land with codenames for the outposts scattered across German-occupied space.
Peter removed the notepad from his jacket pocket, putting pen to paper as he marked each individual letter and number of the coordinates before returning the clipped stack to the position it began in. As he prepared to leave, Peter noticed another stack of clipped pages beneath the coordinates, and at the forefront of the stack was a letter that had arrived the week prior from a man by the name of Maxis. The German writing was unreadable to Peter, but near the bottom of the page was a set of coordinates: 51°4'28.33"N 17°2'27.57"E. Peter jotted them down at the bottom of his notes, underlinding them and looking back to the letter. It was sent from a place called Der Riese. He wrote down the name of the location as well as this Maxis figure. On another page, in a frenzy he began to sloppily write out the contents of the letter before realizing the amount of time that had passed.
Almost at the thirty minute deadline, Peter scrambled to place the paper back where it was found and headed for the door with a cool head, nodding to the soldier as he left and closed the door behind him. A minute passed as Peter traversed the halls, retracing his steps from where he entered, before finally arriving at the metal doorway at the facade of the outpost. Outside were five men surrounding a military Volkswagen, one of which being the guard posted at the front door. Peter feared the other men around the car, his allies, were in the process of being caught. To his shock, the guard and OSS agents were having a calm, heartfelt discussion in German until the driver's eyes met Peter's. The driver's right hand jolt up and into the air in a Nazi salute to Peter. The other three men sat in the back seat saluted as well, causing the guard to panic and salute Peter, not even knowing his rank or purpose being there.
Peter smiled, waving his right hand side-to-side, stating eloquently, “Ja.“
The Nazi guard placed his right hand on the passenger door handle of the Volkswagen, opening it for Peter before saluting once more. The driver started up the engine of the automobile as Peter entered and the crew drove away from the outpost.
After passing back through the front gates and being sure the coast was clear, Peter spoke out in English to the driver.
“I thought I told Cornellius not to have you guys wait over thirty minutes for me.“
“He said you'd say that. He also said you'd be running late and to keep 'em busy as long as possible.“
“Well, it wasn't for the reasons you'd think this time. I found something OSS command might find interesting.“
“So the mission was a success, then?“
“Yep. Went off without a hitch. So, what are we having for lunch, then?“