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Das Haus aus Wachs, chapter 8

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Thursday, December 15th, 2011 | 6:53 am
mood: rushedrushed
music: "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" -- the Monkees
posted by: rose_of_pollux in 30_losses

Title: Das Haus aus Wachs, chapter 8: The Chessmaster's Next Move
Author/Artist: Crystal Rose of Pollux (rose_of_pollux)
Rating: PG13
Fandom: Hogan's Heroes
Claim: general series
Theme: 22A: The power of goodbye
Genre/s: Mystery/Suspense
Warnings: World War II-era fandom
Words: ~2400
Summary: As things turn even worse, Hogan is forced to make a difficult decision.
Disclaimer/Claimer: The characters are not mine (except for the OCs) and the story is
A/N: crossposted to http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7505118/8/

Hogan stared long and hard at the paper before crumpling it back up in a fury.

Colonel, we will not let them do it!” LeBeau vowed. “We will not let them take you!”

“Louis’ right, Sir,” Newkirk said, emphatically. “I ain’t about to let any of me mates become attractions ‘ere, and certainly not—”

“And just how are you going to stop them from making their next move?” Hogan asked, quietly. “So far, everything they’ve done has gone according to their plan, except for Klink just happening to be close enough to me to stop me from falling through that trapdoor and joining the others!”

“I think I know what might ‘elp, Sir,” Newkirk said. “While Klink is looking through the storage closets for the flashlight, I can unlock the front door, or maybe a window; you can sneak out, and we can pretend that you vanished.”

Hogan gave Newkirk a sharp look, and the corporal understood exactly what was on the colonel’s mind.

“Don’t think of it as you running away, Guv; a good soldier knows when to retreat. And besides that, well… That paper was right, you know.” Newkirk hushed his voice further. “You are the most important one out of all of us; compared to you, we’re expendable.”

Hogan inwardly winced at Newkirk’s words and at LeBeau’s nod of agreement; it was London that seemed to give orders without much regard for his men. He often felt that London indeed considered his men to be expendable, and it sickened him to think that his men had resigned themselves to that idea.

“You are not expendable,” he hissed, surprising the corporals with the noticeable edge in his voice.

“Well, we ain’t as important as you, at any rate,” Newkirk said. “Please, Guv; if you’re out there, doing what you do, we’ll ‘ave a better time of it knowing we’ve actually got a chance!”

“That only works when I know what I’m doing,” Hogan whispered back, trying not to look at the empty tableau that was slated for him as they passed through the room that contained it. “And I’m at a loss; aside from finding out who’s behind this, we need to find a way to get to the bottom level without falling through a trapdoor. Even if I come back with the reserves or members from the Underground, we’re still stymied; they might end up catching all of us regardless of how many I bring.”

“We do know that there must be a way between the rooms that we cannot see,” LeBeau. “If only we can find that, we can probably end up in the lower levels on our own.”

“And it’s that ‘if’ that has us in this mess,” the colonel replied. “We’re all a mess right now—nervous and edgy. We’re not getting anything accomplished because we’re waiting for the next one of us to vanish.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense, then, for you to get out of ‘ere, at least for a little while, and clear your ‘ead?”

Hogan sighed. There was that, but then there was also the chance of him coming back to find that everyone had been taken.

“Think about it for a while, Guv; it would take me only a minute to get that front door open, or I could even try a window; I could do it now or after we leave that storage area. Just let me know.”

Hogan gave a nod; it was worth considering, at any rate.

As they arrived in the storage area, they found the doors locked again; Newkirk got them opened fairly quickly, insisting that they were stuck, for Klink’s benefit. The German colonel didn’t contradict him, instead focusing on trying to find a flashlight. Suddenly, he froze.

Was is das…?!”

Carter now peeked in to see what Klink was looking for, and his eyes widened.

“Holy smoke! It’s a box of money—American money!”

“Aha!” Klink exclaimed. “I told you—this is by someone on your side! …Granted, someone disgruntled enough to try to trap you, as well…”

Hogan sighed to himself.

Great. Who did I annoy back home enough for them to want to take revenge on me? Which traitor knows all there is to know about us and would willingly try to trap us here?

Had they processed a mole pretending to be a downed flier at some point? No, that wouldn’t have made this so personal; whoever was behind this had unbridled hatred for them more than what their organization was doing.

“There is something else here,” Klink said, pulling a deck of cards from the box. “Though I don’t know why he would keep these with the money.”

“Can I see that, Sir?” Newkirk asked, frowning as he looked at the cards.

Klink handed them over, and the Englishman stared at them, mesmerized. They didn’t seem out of the ordinary; they were a set of playing cards with a normal, red-and-white patterned background. Newkirk owned a similar deck with a blue-and-white background, but something about this particular deck was trying to click in his mind.

“Newkirk?” Hogan asked. “What is it?”

“I don’t quite know, Guv’nor,” he replied. “But as odd as it sounds, I think I remember these cards.”

“Well, if there’s anyone who could remember a deck of cards, it’s you,” Kinch commented. “But what does it mean?”

“I could tell you that once I actually remember where it is I saw these cards…” the Englishman said, turning the deck over. He blinked—all four kings were at the bottom of the deck.

And that seemed so familiar, too—aside from that fact that it was one of the oldest tricks in the book; dealing from the bottom of the deck to benefit the dealer. Newkirk was sure he had seen that before, and not from himself, either.

He cast a silent glance at LeBeau, who shrugged helplessly; if Newkirk didn’t remember anything related to the cards, then the Frenchman was not likely to, either.

“Forget the cards for now,” Hogan instructed. “And you can forget the flashlight, too, Colonel Klink; that money you found proves that this is an American’s doing.”

Klink nodded, and he turned to leave the storage closet, but, suddenly, a rickety sound, similar to the clanking gears they had heard from the trapdoor before, filled the room again. The storage closet door was pulled shut, trapping Klink inside and catching the sleeve of Carter’s jacket as he tried in vain to try to stop the door from closing.

“Colonel Klink!” Hogan yelled, pounding on the door. “Colonel!”

There was no reply; only more clanking responded him. Without a doubt, another trapdoor was opening, taking Klink with it; it was probably the same one that had made Hochstetter and Burkhalter disappear.

Hogan pounded on the door again, this time out of sheer anger and frustration. Klink had saved him back in the fairy tale room, and Hogan had been unable to return the favor. It also meant that all possible Nimrod candidates were now in their captor’s hands. And with all of them gone, it meant that they would start disappearing next.

“Guv’nor,” Newkirk said, quietly, as he read Hogan’s expression all too well. “Guv’nor, it’s not your fault. You said it yourself earlier; none of us are thinking straight. This is all a bloomin’ ploy to unnerve us… and it just ‘appens to be working far beyond anyone’s wildest dreams…”

He now opened the door of the storage closet, allowing Carter to free himself and revealing that Klink had, indeed, vanished.

Colonel, I think you should go along with Pierre’s earlier idea,” LeBeau said. “This is a cruel game of chess—and everyone knows that in a game of chess, you must protect the king at all costs.”

Hogan stared at the empty space for a moment before sighing.

“I hate to think that this is the only option,” he said. “But seeing as though our adversary already has Nimrod, we can’t let him get Papa Bear, too.”

“Exactly,” Kinch said. “Newkirk can get you out of here through a window; that might be better, seeing as though Hochstetter’s men are right out in front.”

“Right,” the colonel said, though his voice clearly betrayed his disdain for the idea of running away, as he was convinced he was doing. “But I want someone else to come with me; in the event that Hochstetter’s men do find out our move, I want to ensure that someone makes it back to camp to get our reserves. The four of you who remain will continue looking for the missing ones.”

The five NCOs exchanged glances. They knew what this meant; one of them would be in a considerably safer position while the other four would be at great risk.

“Volunteering to stay ‘ere, Guv,” Newkirk said, causing everyone to cast a surprised look at the self-confessed “natural coward.”

LeBeau seemed to understand, though; more than the Englishman’s fear for himself was his fear for his friends.

Oui, Colonel; I will stay here, too.”

“You can count me in, too, Boy. Uh, Sir.”

“And I’ll stay here, too,” Olsen said.

“Now wait a minute!” Kinch said, frowning. “You can’t—”

“Look, Kinch, as the second in command, you need to be kept as safe as the Guv’nor,” Newkirk pointed out. “I’ve got to stay ‘ere to let you lot back in when you return.”

“There’s no time for these discussions!” Hogan snapped, once again sounding harsher than he had intended. “Kinch, they volunteered to stay; you’re coming with me.”

Kinch sighed and nodded; he didn’t like the idea of leaving the others behind any more than Hogan did.

“Don’t worry about us; we’ll be fine,” Carter assured him.

“‘ere you are, Guv,” Newkirk said, as he got one of the windows unlocked. “Nothing to it. And the coast seems to be clear out there.”

“Right…” Hogan said.

He slipped out of the window, quietly, and Kinch followed him.

“It’s going to take us a while to get back to camp and get back here, but we’ll be here,” Hogan promised. “Just try to hang in there. Stick together; that’s going to be your one …”

He trailed off; the four men were right by the window, but there was a fifth man in the room—standing in the back of the room by the light switch. The colonel got a brief glimpse of a dark-haired man just as the lights went out, and he yelled out a warning.

A struggle started inside, and Hogan now attempted to vault back into the room, but someone—Newkirk, he expected—had quickly shut and locked the window again to keep him out of it.

“Newkirk!” Hogan fumed. “Newkirk, if you don’t open this window, it’s going to be missing its glass in a minute!”

“Colonel, you’ll have Hochstetter’s men out here if we don’t leave!” Kinch said. This was hard for him, too, leaving his comrades in the midst of an ambush, but he, as well as the colonel, knew all too well that they had to proceed with their original plan to get help for them rather than risk entering the fray.

Kinch headed towards the wooded area nearby, with Hogan following, the both of them looking over their shoulders as they retreated.

Inside the darkened lobby, Newkirk had, indeed, been the one to close and re-lock the window; his idea had been to ensure Hogan’s safety from their assailant.

His attention was soon diverted, however, by a sharp cry from LeBeau, followed by a yelp from Carter; it sounded as though someone had sent the Frenchman flying into Carter. But before Newkirk could call out to them, he found himself choked by an arm around his neck, trying to drag him off.

“Well, Newkirk,” a voice whispered in his ear. It sounded very familiar, but the Englishman couldn’t place it in the heat of the moment. “This is an interesting reversal, isn’t it? Come along quietly… unless, to quote you, ‘You want to get killed—not that I care.’”

With his gasping breaths, the Englishman cursed his attacker, trying to elbow him in the stomach. When that didn’t work, he tried to grab at a small chain around the man’s neck, which only broke off in his hand.

LeBeau now let out a furious flurry of French curses. Newkirk heard his captor grunt in pain, and then the man allowed him to fall. Newkirk let out a set of gasping breaths as the pressure around his neck was lifted, just barely able to hear the sound of retreating feet, followed by the now-unpleasant sound of clanking gears; their captor had made his escape through one of his trapdoors.

Carter now hit the lights, and let out a cry—both at the sight of Newkirk nearly passed out, and also at the fact that Olsen was nowhere to be found.

“He took him!” the sergeant exclaimed. “He took Olsen with him!”

LeBeau was fanning Newkirk’s face, furious as he realized that he had not been able to save Olsen, too.

“He had tried to get Pierre, as well,” he said, needing to catch his breath, as well, from his fury. “He would have taken the both of them had I not intervened! …I would have done something for Olsen had I known—!”

“Well, we can still do something for him!” Carter said, clenching a fist. “For him and everyone else who vanished—don’t forget that he got Nimrod, too! And we’re going to do our best to help them until the colonel and Kinch get back!”

Oui, we will,” LeBeau agreed.

And Newkirk, still trying to ignore the overwhelming dizziness managed a nod of agreement, but his mind was still on the voice that had been taunting him during the fight; LeBeau had not said anything about hearing the whisper; Newkirk had to assume that he hadn’t heard it. But Newkirk was trying to wrack his shaken brain to figure out to whom he had said those words.

The words, the voice, the money, the burnt passport, and the playing cards they had found all swam around in his mind, making no sense—not yet, at any rate. Things were still trying to click, and it was all Newkirk could to hope that he would be able to make the connection.

If they knew who they were up against, it might give them a chance at last. And a chance was something they desperately needed.

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