“All right, so our objective, as far as I can tell, is to go rescue Mr. Francois Gesalle, some fool French doctor who got himself wrapped up more than a temp-estuous lover between the sheets with some Nazi boogeymen. That about sums it up.” River Daniels nodded, knowing there was more to their mission, but content enough with what he said to flip the confidential folder closed and pat on his jacket for a cigarette.
“Mister Daniels, surely there’s more. You haven’t even given his location yet.” Lowsley, Callahan, and Henderson all looked confused, waiting for Daniels to tell them more about the mission. Lowsley looked notably annoyed.
“Huh. And here I thought Spooks would be asking more about ghosts or fairies or some other such child’s play that would waste all our time.”
“Mister Daniels. The location.”
“Boy,” River softly let out a steady stream of smoke into Lowsley’s face while he gathered his thoughts. “You put your hand in the cage, you better expect a paw, you understand? Now you calm that tone of yours while I finish my cigarette here, and don’t ever interrupt a Virginian man while he’s lighting up a cigarette.” There was an awkward silence while River smoked, pleased that he had cowed Lowsley and the young investigator brooded about having to work with Americans. Eventually, Henderson cleared his throat.
“Pardon me for the interruption, sir, but I was wondering about any other details on the mission. Sir.” Henderson even gave a short salute, curious given that River was in the military. Still, River nodded appreciatively.
“See Turnip, you act more like that and we’ll get along just fine. Take notes in your little diary Spooks. Apparently, Frenchy’s in Northern France. Those Nazi Boogey-men got him making some kind of full spectrum… hold on,” River flipped open the file and fingered down to a specific line. “Full spectrum multivapor (that was the word I was not recollecting here) converter. So we’ve got to go into France via England, get the good doctor, and then leave faster than a jackrabbit on a date. Spooks, you know someone in England?” Lowsley looked contemplative throughout the briefing and nodded somewhat impassively.
“Gentlemen, if I could make a request. While in England, please do not refer to me as Daniel Lowsley. That name has some… unfortunate history in the cities. Please call me Trevor Bell.” Callahan and Henderson looked curious but agreed. River just nodded his head and smoked, saying nothing.
“I said do you know anyone who can cross the English channel right now?” Lowsley was getting frustrated. He wasn’t using any of his old underworld contacts, but he still knew where to go to get what you need, at a price. Instead he got dead ends and scared faces.
“I believe I already told you, you uptight, superior fucking twat, no one crosses the bloody channel!” The man was poor, and in poor health. Lowsley wasn’t sure if it was the several missing teeth or the gum disease that he could smell even from ten feet away, but the man’s accent was almost unintelligible, even for Lowsley. Thank God I didn’t bring Daniels along…
“Well surely there is someone who can cross the damned channel! Smugglers, perhaps?” Lowsley took out a five pound note and snapped it in his fingers. The man looked at it with a sense of increased recollection. “Smugglers, you say? Now that you mention it, I do remember the name of this man, you might have heard of him. Baxter Tremont. He can get you across. Now give me that bloody fiver!” Lowsley walked back to the American Embassy with what he considered bad news. He had hoped to never hear the name Baxter Tremont again.
Lowsley pointed out a tall and stocky man standing near a lamppost on a street corner, smoking a cigarette and generally looking quite intimidating. He, River, Callahan, and Henderson all stood some distance away, waiting for further instructions in a seedy and battered part of London. “Talk to that man.” Lowsley didn’t want to have anything to do with discussing transport with Tremont. He knew it would only make the situation worse.
“You want me to go talk with a man on some God-forsaken street corner like a prostitute? Boy, I hope you are running me for a loop right now, because if not…” River was not happy. Neither was Lowsley. Lowsley quickly looked around and found the worst pub he could.
“Fine then, why don’t you take them into the Slippery Hagfish? Finest chips you’ll find in London, they are.” River almost drew his pistol on the spot and shot Lowsley.
“You think I’m going to eat anything at a bar named after some filthy damned fish? I knew leaping the pond would land me in a pisshole, but God-almighty!” As the two streetcorner thugs looked over at the commotion, Callahan patted River on his back.
“Look, let’s just go and talk to these people and see what happens? Worst comes to worst, we’ll fight and get a drink!” River agreed, shaking his head in amazement, and walked off with Callahan. Henderson started to leave as well when River said “You stay with Spooks, Turnip.”
The Slippery Hagfish was certainly a dive; poorly lit, ripped up ceiling and floor, uncomfortable chairs, and a dirty looking bartender who grimaced whenever the door opened. River and Callahan sat at the bar with the thugs in close proximity, both Englishmen looking livid they were taken away from their streetcorner.
“All right gentlemen, first is there anything you might like to drink?”
“Aye, wheel ‘ave the blawdy sayem thin’ we git ’ere all the time.” River could barely understand the man through his overbearing accent and he lowered his head, whispered “Oh dear Jesus, give me strength in my time of trouble.”
“Nothing, get the man… the usual. Do you have any fine whiskey perhaps? I feel like I may need the sweet nectar of the divine to continue through the hardship of such a war-torn country.” After drinks had been served, River looked at the imposing thug.
“Now, I’m interested in hopping across that little waterway towards Northern France, discreetly if at all possible, and I understand you are the man to talk to.” The thug shook his head.
“Not me, ye wanna tawk te Baxter. Wait ’ere.” The man slammed down his ale and then left the pub for several minutes while River drank his whiskey (piss poor drink, I always knew these Brits didn’t know how to make a decent nectar) and Callahan cracked his knuckles in anticipation of something going wrong. After several minutes, the thug walked back in with a small and weaselly-looking man behind him. The man looked well-dressed, had oiled hair, and looked around with a sense of ownership.
“I unnerstand ye need some transport ’cross the channel?”
“Are you Baxter Tremont?” Callahan asked with a not invisible amount of disappointment. Baxter looked at Callahan with disgust.
“Yes, and I suggist ye show more respect. This is my town.” Callahan smiled at him and nodded. This is what Lowsley was afraid of?
River and Callahan had secured passage to and from Northern France on one of Tremont’s smuggling ships, and River had even procured some fine French wines to use as a cover. His plan was that they would pretend they were smugglers if anything went wrong. Lowsley spent the day making fake NICs for everyone, instructing Callahan and Henderson to pretend to be war profiteers or smugglers if caught, as they didn’t speak French or German. As the sun was setting, the four went to a secluded area on the docks and met with their captain, climbing on board the dingy with a small concern about it sinking. It didn’t quite look like a seaworthy vessel.
The only other person on the boat was a man who identified himself as Mark. Lowsley began to ask about his story, but the man kept talking about his family being trapped in France; a common enough story what with the war. Eventually, no one paid the man any mind until Lowsley heard Mark shuffling around in their bags. Quickly he drew his gun and alerted the others, all four facing off against Mark.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Henderson sounded quite upset from the invasive offense. Mark turned quickly and looked nervous, drawing a German Lugger and pointing it from one to the other while Lowsley raised his own.
“Why are four of you going to France?” Mark’s accent dropped and a clear German accent came through. Lowsley narrowed his eyes as River extended his hands in friendship.
“Look here, my good sir, there’s no need for anyone to get hurt. Why don’t you just put that gun down and relax, all right?” River sounded incredibly sympathetic, but Mark looked increasingly frantic. “What your family, Mark? Don’t do something foolish, all right?”
Mark laughed coldly. “Family? I think it’s obvious now what I am.” River’s face hardened. “Ah, what a shame.”
Lowsley’s gun rang out and a bullet smashed into Mark’s shoulder, causing his gun to turn away from everyone. Callahan and Henderson ran up and punched Mark unconscious, a single shot from his gun firing off into the dark. They were tying him up when Henderson asked “Does anyone have a first aid kit?” Lowsley walked up, his long coat flapping in the wind.
“I believe I can help.” Everyone stepped aside, expecting Lowsley to bandage the man. Instead he fired a bullet into Mark’s face, blood and bone spraying everywhere. Lowsley holstered his pistol and turned around to see a livid River.
“Now what in the Hell was that?”
“Perhaps you didn’t see what his people did to London? Did you miss all the broken buildings, the starving families? Mark was a Nazi and I killed it. That’s what you do with Nazis.” Everyone looked away, feeling like the world had just become a little darker.
The four looked at a small city in Northern France, wondering if Doctor Gesalle was hidden somewhere in it. Unanimously, they decided to use on the French Resistance contacts River had acquired and let his gather more information, as he was the only French speaker of the four of them. River strolled around town while the others waited in a vineyard out of town. It took several hours, but River found a more knowledgeable member of the resistance who gave him the location of a hidden Nazi debriefing camp, which is probably where Doctor Gesalle had been taken. Feeling confident and knowing time was of the essence, River walked out of the city, eager to get back to his compatriots. On the way out, he was stopped by a German officer, who began talking to him about the resistance, his reason for being in France, Nazi Germany and other impleasantries he thoroughly detested.
“Of course, Mr. Kline, I understand business is still important to Americans, even in this time of war. You understand my concern your potential threat, I hope.” River nodded and feigned understanding.
“Oh of course, my good soldier. Even in America there are several individuals that I would question on sight as well.”
“Like the Blacks?” River grimaced and nodded, hating everything about France at the moment.
It was under cover of darkness that the four left for the hidden Nazi camp. There was a curfew, and getting caught wouldn’t be great, but they all agreed to simply not get caught. The directions to the camp ended in a forest that none of them were particularly excited to go into (Lowsley had passed out garlic to everyone). For an hour they walked quietly through the woods until they came across a soft light. All four had to hold back gasps as they looked at the area.
There were only two small buildings and a large campfire in the center area giving the soft glow. Four Nazi’s patrolled around with automatic rifles. But the thing that startled everyone was a massive humanoid shape, standing ten feet tall at least, and five feet wide. It had impossibly huge muscles, and a sunken, unintelligent face, with a skin color that went from a dark red to a stark white, as though its skin was stretched in some regions and bunched in others. It had a Nazi insignia nailed into its shoulder, and a Nazi flag dragged across its chest as though it was a piece of clothing. In its hand was a massive club.
“What in the Sam-Hell is that?” Lowsley was trying to read his journal by the firelight as River voiced his sense of disbelief. “I believe that creature is called an Ogre; a monstrously large and impossibly strong creature. We should avoid it.”
“No shit.” Callahan sounded almost unwilling to continue with the mission but nodded at Henderson, who had since thrown mud all over his face to ‘disguise himself.’ Quietly, they all spread out and started moving along the edge of the clearing. Henderson, crawling low through the brush, snapped a twig louder than he thought possible.
“Vas?” One of the guards looked in Henderson’s direction as everyone froze. The guard walked closer and peered into the forest, coming closer and closer as he held his gun tighter. Ten feet. He pulled the lever back on his gun and readied it. Lowsley holstered his pistol and slowly removed a few vials and chemicals from his jacket. Five feet. The guard looked hard into the forest and then saw a small edge of flesh through Henderson’s mud-covered face.
“Kommen sie hier! Helfe!” Callahan lept out of the forest edge, blindsiding the guard and spin-kicking him in the face. Henderson, hoping to knock the guard out before he fired his gun, also smashed a fist into his jaw. The guard, however, fired a shot as he staggered back, the bullet smashing into the ground and causing dust to fly into the air. Lowsley ran around the tree edge as Callahan finished the Nazi off, but the other two near the campfire ran to help. Gunfire rang out across the small camp as the Nazi’s fired into the trees and fired at Henderson and Callahan. River took aim with his pistol and caught one of the guards in the leg while Lowsley threw a vial of chemicals at the other Nazi who was about to start pumping bullets at Callahan. The vial flashed brightly, blinding the man for a few seconds as he stumbled about. Lowsley ran across the camp and up to one of the cabins, peeking in. Empty. Damn.
Just then Lowsley caught a bullet in the shoulder from the fourth guard who was standing near a Nazi truck. Lowsley pulled out his gun and he and Henderson fired at the guard, dropping the man immediately. River and Callahan, meanwhile, finished off the guard River had injured and took cover behind the cabin from the other. The last guard, no longer blind, took a shot at Callahan and ripped a hole in his arm. Lowsley figured he was safe for the moment when the ogre ran around the cabin right in front of Lowsley. He didn’t even have time to react. Henderson watched as Lowsley was lifted into the air by the ogre’s club, smashing into the cabin like a rag doll and crumpling to the ground in a wheezing mass of broken bone and oozing blood.
Henderson, Callahan, and River all ran around the corner, firing bullets frantically into the Nazi and dropping him after his body was done convulsing from gunfire. Lowsley leaned against the cabin, trying to breathe as his vision blurred and started to fade. He looked at the ogre through bloodshot eyes and saw it ran around the cabin again, chasing after new prey. A single shot rang through the air and the bullet burst out the back of the ogre’s massive head, spraying brain-matter in an arc through the air. The ogre fell with a resounding thump and Lowsley wanted to smile.
Henderson ran over to Lowsley and grabbed a first aid kit from the nearby cabin, trying to bandage him up. His breathing stabilized and soon he fell unconscious, vaguely aware of Henderson snapping a photo of the ogre with his camera. He heard a few gunshots from the other, larger cabin and ran to see Callahan and River helping a worn looking man stumble out of the cabin. It was Doctor Gesalle.
“All right doctor, we’ve got a man severely injured by that Nazi-boogeyman I killed, let’s all take that in by the way; I killed that Nazi Boogeyman. So why don’t you go doctor him up.” The emaciated French physicist looked at River incredulously.
“I’m a physicist, not a medical practitioner. I can no more fix your soldier than you can.”
“So… you aren’t a real doctor, is that what you’re saying to me?”
“Guys, we need to leave. Now.” Callahan sounded concerned as he looked around at the situation, eyeing the Nazi truck eagerly. Henderson carried Lowsley to the truck as he reflected on the oddity of the camp.
So the supernatural is real? Jesus, what the hell did we get into with Division 7?