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All In A Day's Work

Titile: All in a Day's Work
Fandom: Hogan's Heroes
Word Count: 8901
Summary: The camp is upset by the arrival of two German officers and one American civilian.
Author's Notes: I have loved Hogan's Heroes since I was a kid catching the re-runs in the 70s so I can't understand why it's taken me this long to write a fic. I've included an original character of mine whose stories can be found here. I'd also like to thank Rebecca, Linda as well as Patti & Marg of the fabulous "Game" series.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All In A Day's Work




Steven Taylor sat in the back of the car and looked out the window at the rain hitting the window. He was at the lowest he had been in sometime. The adrenaline from the job was long gone and he had the swag in the briefcase that was conveniently handcuffed to his wrist. God forbid if Hitler didn't get another piece of stolen history from a conquered country under his thumb.

The two escorts in the front were conversing about the storm, the road and whether or not it was safe to keep going. They didn't bother asking his opinion because, as far as they were concerned, he was just an extension of the briefcase, another thing that had to be returned unharmed to Berlin. He also had a feeling that even though they were dressed like regular soldiers, they were more than that.

At that moment there was a bright flash and a loud clap of thunder followed by a crash. The driver, Steiner, slammed on the brakes nearly sending Steven in the to seat in front of him. "What is it?" he asked.

"There is a large tree blocking the road. We can't go any further."

"Can you move it?" Maybe they'll get struck by lightening and I can get out of here.

"We'll look." Schumann turned in the passenger seat to face him. "You stay here."

"Sure, like I want to join you in the middle of a thunderstorm," he muttered.

He watched through the rain as the two men tried to shift the tree. The Master Race and they can't even get the better of a tree.

They returned dripping wet. "We need to turn around and find another way through," said Steiner.

"I saw what looked like a group of buildings back about a mile."

Schumann checked the map by flashlight. "Stalag 13. It is the most secure location and it should just be overnight. In the morning we can use the prisoners to move it."

"Good idea," Steven responded. More time to think of a way out of this. Though how I'll manage it from a POW camp is another thing.

They slowly backed up and turned around before driving back until they came to the high wire fence and guard towers. A guard in rain gear looked in the window and saluted when the Steiner showed his ID card. With a salute he waved them through. They drove up to the Kommandant's office and once the car stopped, Steven stepped out and rushed up the steps to the small porch where he waited for Schumann and Steiner.

Schumann pounded on the door and it was answered by a large man who looked like he should be working behind a bar or a restaurant of sorts, certainly not in Hitler's army. "What is it?" he asked in a tired voice. "Oh, gentlemen, please come in," he added when he actually saw them.

"We would speak with the Kommandant," stated Schumann.

"He is in his quarters. I will tell him."

"We will speak with him there," said Steiner.

Not knowing what to do, the large sergeant just nodded and led them to the kommandant's quarters.

Steven wanted to hang towards the back but Steiner wouldn't let him. He didn't say or do anything threatening, but acted like a herd dog moving him towards the front. He would have to rid himself of these two before he could try anything. He had heard of a resistance and espionage unit that worked somewhere in the area and if he could just get to them...

"Come in!" They entered the main room of the living quarters and stood there waiting for the man sitting in the easy chair to look up. He was skinny and balding--again, not one you'd expect to see in the German army. Maybe they used these "less favorable" types in positions like this and put the real soldiers on the front. He tied the belt of his dressing gown. "What is it, Schultz?" he demanded in an irritated voice as he placed a monocle to his right eye.

"You are the Kommandant?" Schumann didn't even wait for an answer. "We require a place to stay the night."

"There is a hotel in the town."

"Colonel..."

"Klink. Wilhelm Klink."

"We are on a mission for the Führer himself and require a secure location to stay the night."

At the mention of the Führer, Klink was ready to do anything for them. "I can place your briefcase in the safe in my office. I am the only one who knows the combination."

Steven gripped the handle tighter. No way am I lettin' this baby outta my sight. "I'd prefer to keep it with me."

"I assure you, the safe is perfectly secure."

"Nothing's perfect, not even a perfect stranger."

"Herr Taylor is to keep the case in his possession until we return to Berlin where he will give it to the Führer." He looked at Steven. "You will take the guest quarters. Steiner and I will sleep in shifts in the guards' barracks," announced Schumann.

Steven sighed inwardly. Of course, they believe me to be loyal. I should get an Academy Award for this performance.

"Yes, of course. Right this way." Klink led him to the guest quarters.

Once left alone, Steven took a deep breath. He would need to think out all his options if he wanted to take advantage of the situation. He lay awake on the bed and ran through a number of scenarios. He'd sleep eventually.

**********************************************

Colonel Robert Hogan watched through the barracks window as a car pulled into the compound. The storm must have forced them off the road. It looked to be a dressed down staff car-traveling in style but not attracting attention. It was confirmed when a man stepped out of the back with a briefcase chained to his hand. When the two soldiers joined him he knew this was something big. "Kinch, put the coffee on."

Sgt. Ivan Kinchloe plugged the coffeepot into the wires that they had running to the bug in Klink's office. He took off the lid and placed it on the table where it acted as a speaker.

"We are on a mission for the Führer himself and require a secure location to stay the night."

"That's not something you hear often," Hogan commented to his men as they listened.

"I assure you, the safe is perfectly secure."

"That's a laugh!" joked Cpl. Peter Newkirk. "My gran could do that in her sleep."

"Nothing's perfect, not even a perfect stranger."

"He must've met your gran," joked Sgt. Andrew Carter.

"Herr Taylor is to keep the case in his possession until we return to Berlin where he will give it to the Führer."

"Kinch, call London and see what they can tell you about someone named Taylor working with the Nazis. And see if they know of anything that's been taken from one of the Reich's conquests that would need this type of secrecy and security. No matter what, we can't let Hitler get his hands what's in that case. We go in tonight."

"I might know something, sir," said Newkirk. "If it's who I think it is."

Hogan looked at him expectantly. "Well?"

"'E's a jewel thief, quite notorious. 'E was only just a name, as few people knew who he really was. Story goes, 'e disappeared from 'is flat in the middle of the night. No one knows wot 'appened."

"It looks like he joined up with Hitler. I can only guess what he was offered."

"Nah. No way would 'e sell out 'is country like that."

"'E was a thief, Newkirk," put in LeBeau.

"A gentleman thief."

Hogan looked at his men. Carter and Newkirk seemed excited over the prospect of meeting someone infamous. "Kinch, see if London knows what happened next. Newkirk, get what you need."

"I'll sharpen my lock picks, sir," said Newkirk with a smile.

Around midnight, Hogan and Newkirk made their way into Klink's guest quarters through a tunnel that came up under the stove. Hogan looked over and saw the sleeping figure on the bed and nodded to Newkirk. The Londoner then made to open the briefcase.

A flashlight switched on, catching them in the act. "A key might make things a bit easier," said an American voice.

*****************************************************

Lt. Erich Steiner stood outside the door to the camp's guest quarters. Hauptman Schumann had ordered him to take the first watch and would relieve him after 2:00am. The kommandant had guards patrolling outside so all avenues were covered. He had been chosen for this task and he would not fail. Herr Taylor and the briefcase would both make it safely back to Berlin. Reichsmarshal Himmler wanted the man guarded at all times, as he still did not trust him. Herr Taylor was a thief and still had many contacts throughout Europe. He could evade them and sell the contents of the case or even hide them for blackmail purposes.

Steiner shook his head. It was not his duty to understand the man's motives but to follow orders. That was the way to advancement. He could use initiative once he attained the position that would allow it.

He quietly opened the door and saw Herr Taylor asleep on the bed, wrapped in blankets. He had barely moved from the last time he had checked. How nice to be able to sleep so deeply. He closed the door and took up position once again.

******************************************************

Steven had a feeling that someone would try and come for the case, but he didn't expect them to come up through the wood-burning stove. From the way they were dressed, they were obviously "guests" of the Third Reich, but why would they tunnel further into the camp instead of out? This had to be the espionage group he had heard about!

While all this was running through his head, the two men remained silent and still, waiting to see what he would do. He decided to try something a little risky. "If you're here to tell me a bedtime story, I've always been partial to Goldilocks." He saw the taller one twitch just a bit. Ah, hit a nerve with that one.

Neither of the men spoke which hinted that their voices were recognizable. The masks over their faces probably played into that as well. OK, maybe if I babble enough they'll say something.

"You came for what's in the case but I can tell you now it doesn't have any true monetary value--it's not gold or jewels--but it's valuable for who owned it. So you see, it really won't help you finance your movement."

Still they said nothing but he could tell by their eyes that they understood every word. "OK, guys, you really need to work on your conversational skills."
The taller of the two nodded with his head and the second man moved out of Steven's view but he didn't dare look away from the gun. "If you're going to do something, I'd do it before my guard checks in again." He heard a rustle of fabric and his vision was blocked by the pillowcase being thrown over his head. At least I didn't tell them to shoot me. His hands were then tied behind his back and he was pushed forward. He could then smell earth and knew they were entering a tunnel. He was guided towards a ladder and helped down. Now I know why they didn't knock me out.

Once on the ground, Steven felt a light pressure on his back guiding him along. He only hoped that they would believe his story and not just shoot him out of turn.

****************************

Corporal Louis LeBeau was the first to see the colonel and Newkirk arrive back in the main tunnel under the barracks-and the first to see their prisoner. I guess things did not go as planned. "Kinch contacted London and has a report on the traitor," he said in French. The colonel nodded in understanding but didn't speak. He must not want Taylor to know he's been taken by an American.

Newkirk took up guard duty as he pushed the man into a chair. LeBeau followed the colonel into the radio room where Kinch was waiting. "Tell him what London said."

"Steven Taylor worked with the Resistance out of occupied France before the cell was discovered. In London he met with Churchill and the Cabinet, briefing them on all he had learned."

"So what's he doing in Berlin? Deep cover?"

"If so, London didn't order it. They believe he was abducted."

LeBeau could not help but be amazed. How had he remained alive? It was well known that Hitler was very fickle in his likes and dislikes. Taylor must be very good in order for the Boche to believe he had joined them. Then something Kinch had said clicked in his mind. "Colonel, if he was with the Resistance, he must speak French..."

"And?" prompted Col. Hogan.

"And understood every word you said," came a voice from behind him.

****************************************

Sergeant Andrew Carter looked anxiously at his watch. Roll call was in ten minutes and the others were still below. They couldn't all be down there when Schultz came in. He wasn't that good a liar. He walked over to one of the bunks and pressed on the side of the top bed. The bottom bed opened exposing a ladder leading underground. He clambered down to the radio room to see the colonel, Kinch, and LeBeau staring at a stranger who was holding
Newkirk's arm behind his back. "Oh, boy."

"What is it, Carter?" asked the colonel without even looking at him.

"Roll call coming up." He couldn't take in what he was seeing. "What's--"

"Just a little misunderstanding."

"Misunderstanding? You're holding a gun to one of my men!"

The man pushed Newkirk forward. "The gun's back in the tunnel. I didn't think you'd take too kindly to that."

Newkirk rubbed his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Colonel. 'E was too quick."

"Colonel, roll call," Carter reminded him.

"I haven't forgotten, Carter." He reached into a cabinet and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. "Sit." Once the man was in the chair, the colonel pulled his arms back and cuffed his hands through the chair. "Once roll call is over, we'll be back so don't even think of trying something."

"If that's what it takes, Colonel."

Carter had never seen anyone so calm while being held captive. They would sweat, plead, or make excuses. This guy just sat there and let the colonel cuff him.

They all climbed back into the barracks and the entrance had just closed when Schultz came in dripping wet. "Roll call! Raus! Raus!"

"Aw, c'mon, Schultzie! You can't make us go out in the rain. We'll catch pneumonia!"

"If I go out in the rain, you go out in the rain."

"Some of us don't have as ample protection against the damp as others," said Kinch dryly.

"Jolly joker. If you go out when the rain is light, I might be able to finish before it gets heavy again."

"All right, Schultz. We're coming." The colonel pulled his collar up around his neck and zipped up his jacket.

The men walked out hunched over. Carter fell in between LeBeau and Newkirk. "What's goin' on?"

"That was M. Taylor," supplied LeBeau. "London says he was with the Resistance."

"Then he's like us."

"No, 'e's not!" hissed Newkirk. "'E's with them."

He didn't know what it was, but Carter didn't believe the man was with the Nazis. Newkirk would say he was just being naïve, too trusting, so he'd just keep it to himself.

"How did he disarm you?" LeBeau asked Newkirk. "His hands were tied behind his back and he was blindfolded."

The Londoner just glared.

Klink strode over to them. "Report!"

"All prisoners present and accounted for, Herr Kommandant."

"Dismissed. Col. Hogan, a word."

While the colonel followed Klink across the camp, the prisoners filed back inside. "I think it's time to entertain our guest," said Kinch as he opened the tunnel.

******************************************************

Colonel Wilhelm Klink hurried out of the drizzle and stood on his porch, deftly blocking Hogan from joining him. Make him uncomfortable and start off with the upper hand. "Hogan, the storm has knocked down a number of trees, blocking the road to Berlin. You and your men will work on clearing them in the morning."

"Kommandant, the Geneva Convention says--"

"We both know what the Geneva Convention says, Hogan. I am willing to offer you an extra thirty minutes of electricity for two weeks."

Hogan wiped the dripping rain from his face. "An hour for a month."

"Thirty minutes for three weeks."

"Okay, throw in some extra firewood and we've got a deal."

"Very well, you can use the wood from the trees you clear tomorrow."

"You're too magnanimous, Kommandant."

"I like to be firm but fair, Hogan." Klink knew that if he kept the prisoners pacified with such gestures, there would be less resentment and anger brewing towards their captors. Plus he felt that just because they were enemies, there was no reason to treat them like anything less than human.

Hogan readjusted the collar of his jacket. It was time to end the discussion. "Dismissed, Hogan."

Klink watched as the Senior POW strode across the muddy compound to his barracks. He had expected more of an argument over working the prisoners tomorrow. He would make sure the guards were extra vigilant tomorrow. It wouldn't do for anything to happen while there were agents of the Führer in the camp.

*****************************************************

Kinch was the first to arrive in the radio room and saw Taylor stretched out in the chair--well, as much as possible. He tried to straighten when he realized he wasn't alone. Despite all he had been through, the man was sitting there relaxed and comfortable with no outward signs of nervousness. To Kinch, that made him dangerous. "Tell us your story."

"Where do you want me to start?"

"How about with how you got to Berlin?"

"I was abducted from my flat and taken to Berlin," he stated. "It was either pretend to work for him or get shot."

"Why not try to escape?" Kinch asked him.

"They watch me every minute of the day. Not Hitler and his minions, but Himmler, Canaris--even Göering--don't trust me. I'm not sure if they think I'll run back to England with all their secrets or that I'll supplant them in the hierarchy. Those guards were supposedly for the...case, but they're watching me too. One false move..."

"An' 'ow do we know this ain't a double-cross?" questioned Newkirk.

Carter stepped forward and asked, "What's Pete Reiser's number on the Yankees?"

"He was on the Dodgers. He never played for the Yankees."

"Right. You got that one."

"All this shows is that 'e knows baseball," said LeBeau. "There must be some other way to prove 'is loyalties either way."

Going by what London had said, Taylor had the names and locations of other agents in his head as well as plans discussed with Churchill. All they needed to do was see if he had given that information to the Nazis. "Give me the names of the Underground agents you worked with."

The others looked at him as if he had gone nuts but Taylor nodded, understanding. "You want to see if I compromised anyone. OK." He rattled off some names and Kinch wrote them down in his own shorthand before calling London and repeating the names and asking for confirmation.

"All functioning normally, Papa Bear. No recalls."

"Uncuff him," said the colonel as he entered. "Seems he's telling the truth."

"No need, Colonel." The cuffs dropped from Taylor's wrists. "I unlocked them when you left for roll call."

Kinch didn't even try to hide his admiration. It was easy to see how he had Hitler believing his story.

****************************************************

Newkirk felt his mouth drop open. The Eagle was certainly living up to his reputation. He had been expecting someone older and had been surprised once he had gotten a good look at the man's face. He can't be much older than Carter. I wonder how old he was when he started.

"'Ow'd you do that?"

"Skeleton key. Working with both the Nazis and the Underground, I know to always have it on hand. Oh, and sorry about before."

"'S'all right. I let my guard down, didn't I?" Pull yourself together, mate. You're blathering like an idiot.

"So, what's in the case?" asked the colonel as it put it on the table.

"I wasn't lying when I said its value is due to a previous owner." He took a key from his pocket and opened the case. "Behold, the Keys to the City of Amsterdam as presented to Napoleon."

The men peered into the open case to see a pair of large old-fashioned keys. They could have been either silver or pewter as they had that same sheen. More likely silver as it was Napoleon. Other than that, they seemed very plain and not very valuable at all. All Newkirk could manage was "Bloody hell."

"So that's what all the fuss is about," remarked the colonel.

"He's been collecting all things Napoleon because (1) they have the same mindset when it comes to world domination, and (2) share the same birthday."

"I don't see what the big deal is," said Carter. "They're just keys."

"It's mainly symbolic," Taylor explained. "They were given to the last man to conquer their country. They don't want Hitler to have them because it would mean he had taken them as well."

"So we have to get these to London for safekeeping and let the Dutch know."

Taylor looked at his watch. "I've got to get back before they switch shifts. I wouldn't put it past Schumann to wake me up just to see that it's really me and not the pillows."

"Newkirk, take Mr. Taylor back to his rooms. We can't have him disappear within the wires."

"Right, Colonel." Newkirk would have a chance to finally talk shop with him.

"You will let me in on your plan, won't you?"

"You should know that I can't do that. Besides, your reaction will be more authentic this way."

Newkirk motioned for Taylor to go first down the tunnel. "Don't worry. The colonel's plans always work out." In the end, he added to himself.

************************************************

Hauptman Karl Schumann made his way across the compound, the mud squelching under his boots. If it weren't for this babysitting detail, he would be in Berlin taking in a cabaret and drinking with friends. Such a task was beneath a fine Gestapo officer like himself. However, he had been handpicked which was a distinct honor. He just hadn't known all the minute details at the time.

The Führer believed that Taylor was loyal to the cause because he was allowed to do as he pleased without fear of the law, something he was unable to do in America. All he had to do was say Hitler's name and people would do anything for him. Reichsmarshal Himmler believed differently. The head of the Schutzstaffel felt that Taylor was just biding his time before he escaped back to the Allies taking whatever information he could with him. Karl felt that
thieves had no loyalty to anyone other than themselves.

This was supposedly the most secure POW camp in Germany without one successful escape attempt-something he found hard to believe judging by the guards and Kommandant. He doubted the prisoners didn't try to escape; maybe they were just more inept than the guards. If he wanted, Taylor could run circles around them.

Steiner was standing outside the bedroom and came to attention. "Herr Hauptman."

Schumann returned the salute. "Anything unusual happen?"

"Nein. He's been asleep."

"Are you sure?"

"Jawohl. I checked in on him."

"Probably just opening the door and looking in. Did you go to the bed? Did you see his face?" Schumann pushed the door open, strode over to the bed and shook the lump under the blankets.

There was a groan and the body rolled over, pushing down the blankets. "What the hell are you doing?" demanded Taylor indignant.

"I needed to make sure it was you," Schumann replied, recovering quickly. "This area is rife with espionage agents and I needed to make sure they hadn't taken you."

"From the most secure camp in the area? Don't be ridiculous." He rolled over. "Now let me get back to sleep. I'll be here in the morning."

Schumann backed out of the room. He was so sure Taylor would take advantage of the proximity of the Underground to make a break for it. Maybe he was loyal to the Reich--or at least the Führer. That was a very large maybe. He would not rest easy until they reached Berlin and he would no longer need to watch over this headache.

He sent Steiner to the guards' barracks and took up position outside the door. Morning couldn't come soon enough.

*****************************************************

Early the next morning, Sergeant Hans Schultz made his way to the Kommandant's office. He didn't dare be late because the colonel was always on edge when there were bigwigs visiting the camp. One word--good or bad--on the right ear could change his career. And the man in the guest quarters was a personal agent of the Führer.

He knocked on the office door. "Come in!" came the Kommandant's voice.
"Schultz, after roll call, I want you to take Hogan and some of his men outside the gate to clear the roads so our visitors can continue to Berlin."

"Col. Hogan will not like that."

"Col. Hogan and I have already discussed this and his men will be compensated. I would have you remember that I run this camp, not Hogan."

Schultz wisely kept his mouth shut.

"Now go take roll call."

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant." Schultz saluted the colonel then walked out of the office and trundled across the compound to Barracks 2 where Col. Hogan resided. He banged on the door and opened it, shouting "Raus! Raus! Everybody up! Roll call!"

The men groaned but they all woke and rolled out of bed. "You're getting earlier and earlier, Schultz," said Kinch.

"I 'aven't even started the coffee yet," added LeBeau.

"No time for talking, Cockroach. The Kommandant wants no silly business this morning."

"Does this have to do with the car that pulled in last night?" asked Col. Hogan as he came out of his quarters.

"Col. Hogan, they are on a mission for the Führer himself. Kommandant Klink wishes to make an impression do they will mention him."

"Oh, they mention him in Berlin, Schultzie," said Newkirk. "They just use his codename: Dummkopf."

The other men laughed.

"Please, Col. Hogan," Schultz pleaded.

"OK, Shultz. We'll behave."

Relieved, Shultz followed the men out to the front of the barracks and counted them as they fell into line.

Klink strode over to the prisoners. "Report!"

"All prisoners present and accounted for, Herr Kommandant."

"Good. Good. Hogan, you will collect your men then enter the truck. Schultz and the other guards will give you the equipment when you get there."

The men groaned and looked at Col. Hogan in disbelief. He must not have told them what they were doing. He held up one hand and the men quieted. "Sure thing, Kommandant."

Schultz noted the colonel's gaze fall on the men exiting the guest quarters and walking towards the staff car. "He looks familiar. Anyone I should know?"

"No, Hogan, he is not. Just get your work done and leave Herr Taylor alone."

"'Ey, 'e's the Yank who joined up with 'itler!" accused the Englander. "Bloody traitor."

"I don't think we'll have any trouble keeping away, Kommandant."

"Very well. Dismissed!"

"Pick your men, Col. Hogan. The truck is being brought around from the motor pool."

Schultz watched as he picked the usuals: Kinch, Carter, Newkirk and LeBeau. There had to be a reason they were the ones he always chose. He shook his head to clear away the thoughts. I know nothing!

Once the prisoners were secure in the back of the truck with two younger guards, Schultz pulled himself into the passenger seat and headed out of the gate.

**********************************************************

Hogan played the plan over and over in his head, working out any contingencies that might arise. This should keep suspicion away from the camp, which was his main consideration. He did not want to give Hochstetter any more fuel for his suspicions.

The staff car from Berlin containing Taylor and his "escort" followed them down the road, swerving occasionally to avoid the larger branches blown down from the storm. The truck stopped with a jerk and the guards aimed their rifles at Hogan and his men. They should know better. Hogan looked out at the staff car. But I guess with an audience they need to give the right impression.

Shultz and Mueller came around and opened the tailgate allowing them to jump out. "OK, Shultz, we're here. Pass out the sharp tools."

The sergeant removed a two-handled saw from the bed of the truck along with a large axe, hatchet and some rope. Carter picked up the hatchet. "This won't due any damage."

"Try telling that to the people of Fall River, Massachusetts." Carter looked at him blankly. "Lizzie Borden killed her parents with a hatchet."

"Oh." Without further comment, Carter went to work on the tree.

Kinch and Newkirk started with the saw leaving LeBeau with an axe he could barely lift. "Go trade with Carter."

"Oui, mon colonel."

Hogan then went to find a good spot from where he could watch all the action unfold. It wasn't often that he got to see one of his plans play out in front of him without having to take an active role. Schultz had already found a spot on a log by the side of the road, rifle resting against it. "You might want to keep that a little closer, Schultz. Word might get back to Berlin," he said with a nod towards the car.

"You won't do anything. You promised."

"I know, Schultz, and you know, but I don't think they'll understand."

Schultz moved it a little closer.

Hogan grinned. He spared a glance at the car and saw the two officers standing guard on either side, hands hovering within reach of their holsters. If he had had any lingering doubts that they were Intelligence officers, they would be put to rest. Ordinary soldiers would have stayed in the car. These two were alert knowing this was the ideal site for an ambush.

So it wouldn't seem like he was expecting anything, Hogan got up and sauntered over to his men. They stopped when he walked over. "What's up, Colonel?" asked Carter as he wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.

"Just trying to make it look like I'm keeping an eye on you." He walked over to inspect their work. "Think we can try and pull it off the road?"

"Just us? Not yet," replied Newkirk.

"We'd need a couple more men," Kinch answered.

"Just what I was thinking. LeBeau, take the rope and loop it around the trunk." Once the Frenchman was done they all took hold of the rope and tried to pull the tree from the road. They could barely get it to budge. "You mind lending a hand?" Hogan called to the SS men. "C'mon, you've got the guns."

The men reluctantly moved away from the car and headed towards the tree. When they were halfway, a group of villagers broke from the trees and bushes on the either side of the road. They wore masks over the lower portion of their faces hiding their identities but the guns and rifles did nothing to hide their intent.

"Drop your weapons!" one ordered in a deep, raspy voice. The guards from Stalag 13 complied immediately--Schultz even raised his hands without having to be asked. "Now!" he added for the benefit of the agents.

Two other Underground agents collected the weapons from the ground. "We will have you all shot!" declared one of the SS. It had to be Schumann.

"You would need to find us first," answered the same raspy voice. "However, you will be too busy explaining to Herr Hitler how you lost his pet."

He allowed them a glimpse toward the car where Taylor was being pulled out of the back seat. "Now all of you lie face-down! Do not look up!"

Hogan and his men lay dace-down on the ground. After a token resistance, the guards from Stalag 13 followed suit-Schultz being last as there was more of him to lower. Schumann and the other-Steiner?-had to be persuaded by the rifles aimed at their bodies.

The Underground people backed away. "We will know if you follow!" cried the voice as they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

Schumann made to stand and go after them when a shot rang out and the dirt near his right hand flew up. He returned to the prone position.

Hogan smiled to himself. They are good!

*************************************************************

Steven was dragged blindfolded through underbrush. His captors spoke as little as possible, merely directing him by pressure. After maybe ten minutes they reached a clearing and the ground was flat under his feet. He heard creaking metal and he was pushed forward.

The space was enclosed and smelled of animals and hay--a barn. His hood was removed and he blinked in the light. A group of three men and two women surrounded him. No weapons were pointed at him, which was a good thing.

"We will wait here for Papa bear," said one of the older men. "He will be here as soon as he can get away."

This was all part of Hogan's plan? Why didn't he tell me--or at least warn me somehow? "Danke. You risked your lives for me."

"Very rarely do Papa Bear's plans fail," said the same man. "We must now return to the fields or it will look suspicious."

The men left the barn leaving Steven with the women--mother and daughter presumably. "We shall bring you some food," the mother told him. "You will be safe here."

"If it's not too much trouble."

The daughter smiled coyly. "Nein. Mama was expecting you."

"Come, Gretel. There is still housework to do." With a last look over her shoulder, Gretel followed her mother from the barn.

With a chuckle, Steven turned and began to look for a hiding place for the keys. The loft was an obvious first choice. Maybe one of the stalls or even with the tack. He looked up at the roof and saw the pulley. Knowing that most people don't look up when searching he knew he had found just the spot. In one corner near some supplies, he found a cloth bag and slipped the case inside. After tying it securely, he then found the other end of the rope and tied it to the bag. Assured it was tight, he raised it high as high as it would go.

Gretel and her mother returned with a small bowl of stew and warm bread. "Smells wonderful." He sat down on a plain wooden bench and slowly ate, savoring every bite. Between mouthfuls he tried to make conversation. "Have you worked with Papa Bear long?"

Gretel opened her mouth to answer but her mother was quicker. "Long enough."

Knowing they wouldn't share any more--possibly because they didn't know where he stood-Steven didn't say anything further.

There was some noise from outside and Steven was immediately on alert. When no shots were fired, he knew it was Hogan. This was confirmed when the colonel and Newkirk--both in civvies--entered the barn.

"I see the kidnapping went well," commented Hogan.

"You could have given me some warning. I honestly thought they were going to take me to some secluded spot and shoot me, leaving my decomposing body for the Nazis to find."

"You paint such a lovely picture," said Newkirk.

"I have a vivid imagination."

"Now that we've gotten you away from the Nazis, next on the list is your unfortunate demise."

Steven looked at Hogan's grinning face and wondered if the asylum knew he was missing.

******************************************************

Lying in the dirt, Schumann was already planning his revenge. How dare those peasants think they could get the better of me? They will pay for humiliating one of the Reich's elite officers in such a manner! I will make them watch as I interrogate family members before moving on to friends and even neighbors.

He looked up from his position and saw it was clear. He stood quickly, Steiner closely following him. The idiot sergeant from the Stalag needed help. The prisoners must truly be idiots of they can't escape this incompetence.

"You three will help us with an immediate search!" he ordered the Stalag guards. He then looked at the sergeant. "You take the prisoners back and tell Klink to send us more soldiers to help."

"Jawohl." The men saluted and went to carry out his orders.

"What about the tree?" questioned one of the prisoners. "The road's still blocked.

Schumann glared at the young American and enjoyed the look of fear in his eyes. "Without Herr Taylor and his case, we are not leaving."

******************************************************

Klink was at his desk going over the books when Schultz came bursting in, sending receipts and papers everywhere. "Schultz!" He tried to reorganize his piles. "What have I told you about knocking?"

"I'm sorry, Herr Kommandant, but Herr Taylor was kidnapped by the Underground while we were clearing the road," he huffed.

"Right out from under their noses, eh?" He couldn't help but feel a little gleeful, especially after the criticism of his security. "What do they want me to do?"

"I was ordered to come back and tell you that soldiers are needed to help in the search."

Even though it wasn't a Stalag matter, it would look good in the eyes of Berlin should he lend a hand. "Very well. Confine the prisoners to barracks and take as many guards as we can spare."

"And you, Herr Kommandant?"

"This will need to be reported to the Gestapo."

"It will?"

Klink didn't like dealing with the Major Hochstetter either but, apart from the phone call, there would be no interaction. "If we don't report it, we could be arrested for complicity."

"Even though we did nothing?"

"Especially because we did nothing. The Gestapo thrives on that." He reached for the phone. "Dismissed, Schultz." After the sergeant had gone, Klink took a deep breath and picked up the phone.

******************************************************

Gestapo Major Wolfgang Hochstetter stared at the map of Hammelburg and its environs, each act of sabotage and espionage marked with a pushpin. At the center of it all sat Stalag 13. He knew that the senior POW, Hogan, was involved somehow but he could not get any proof. Without any evidence, no one would believe his accusations.

He growled and slammed his fist on the desk. "I know he's involved. He is always there when something goes wrong."

The phone on the desk rang. "Hochstetter." There was no mistaking the voice on the other end. "What is it, Klink? I do not need you wasting my time." He listened as the inept colonel fumbled through his story. The long and short of it was a kidnapping right from under the nose of the Berlin Gestapo. If he could solve this before they did, it would be a feather in his cap and a possible promotion. He grabbed his coat from the rack and yelled for a car to be brought around as he left the office.

*****************************************************

LeBeau sat at the barracks table mending one of the jackets they used for disguises. He hated waiting when the others were out on missions. There was only so much he could do to pass the time especially when they were confined to barracks.

He finished the jacket and went down to talk to Kinch in the radio room. "Any word yet?"

"Louie, give them time. We'll know when they've done it."

"C'est vrais. Carter does know his explosives." He was quiet for a moment. "What do you make of him?"

"Taylor? I'd say it takes a brave man to do what he does. Probably has a little crazy mixed in."

"Like the colonel. But do you think he is really on our side? That it is not just some elaborate scheme?"

Kinch put down the component he was working on. "He passed Col. Hogan's tests. Besides, London confirmed his story. Even if he had the slightest doubt, the colonel would have a back-up plan."

"You are right. I don't think I could do what Taylor has done for as long as he has. I would kill myself if I had to be kind to the Boche."

Kinch chuckled. "It's a good thing all around then."

*******************************************************

Carter secured the explosives underneath the car. When it went off, the explosion would go straight up leaving little or nothing for the Germans to examine. Without a body, they would believe Taylor dead and call off the search. They had done something similar before, but why change a classic?

He joined the others in the barn. "All set, Colonel. Once you give the word, it'll go BOOM!" He grinned.

"It's nice when people show enthusiasm for their work," Taylor commented. "I take it your plan is to let the Germans see me in the car, give chase, and then..." He looked to Carter.

"BOOM!" How could he know the colonel's plan like that? It's strange seeing someone who thinks like the colonel does.

"They'll believe you died and you'll be free to go back to London."

"I think I might want to make an alteration or two."

Wow! Nobody's dared to change the plan before. Carter looked at the colonel to see how he was taking it.

"This is all pretty well mapped out, Taylor. What do you think needs changing?"

"The part where I go back to London."

Carter was half-expecting the colonel to either keel over or at least yell a bit. It looked like Newkirk expected the same. Could he be playing us? If he went back to Berlin, would he turn us over?

"OK, now you all think I'm either mad or that I've really sided with the Nazis. I think madness is the closer of the two."

"I never thought I'd see anyone to match the colonel for madness," commented Newkirk. "I think you've surpassed 'im, mate."

"As much as I'd like to get back to me pope and put up me plates every night, I feel I can do so much more this way."

Is that English he's speaking? Newkirk seems to understand him.

"The information I can pass along is worth it," Taylor continued. "Besides, I can be a contact for you in Berlin and you can provide a bolt hole for me."

"But why back to Berlin?" Carter needed to know. "They'll kill you when they find out."

"If they find out," said the colonel. "I think they'll do some torture first, anyway. They don't like it when people make fools of them."

"It's something they like to do themselves," joked Newkirk.

Carter thought for a moment. "I could fix it so you have time to jump free before the explosion."

"OK, Carter. That'll work." Col. Hogan seemed to study Taylor. "There's something missing. What do you think, Newkirk?"

"'E looks like 'e's been out for afternoon tea, not kidnapped by the Underground."

"You're right. He's too neat."

"Too neat? My grandma always said you can never be too neat."

Newkirk rolled his eyes. "'E's gotta look roughed up, like 'e's been worked over."

"Oh. Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

"Carter, why don't you just go see to the car?"

"Yes, sir." As he walked out of the barn, Carter heard a punch land followed by a grunt. He flinched but kept on walking.

*******************************************************

Steiner was the first to see the car coming down the road from Hammelburg. Two small flags declared it to be Gestapo. How can I prove myself with the locals underfoot?

"Heil Hitler," he saluted. "I am Maj. Hochstetter. A kidnapping was reported to my office and I came to assist in the search."

Steiner could tell assistance was the last thing this man had in mind. He was also out to advance himself and what better way than to solve this kidnapping?

Hauptman Schumann came over to see who the newcomer was. "Your offer to assist is generous, Major, but unnecessary. We will find the Underground members ourselves." He started to walk away.

"But my men and I have knowledge of the local area and possible hiding places."

Yes, he was trying to ingratiate himself in order to be involved.

Schumann hesitated and the weasel of a man looked at him expectantly, like a puppy anxious to please, "Very well." He pointed to the opposite side of the road from where they had disappeared. "We haven't made it to this area yet. If you do locate them, do not engage. Send one of your men to us."

"Of course." With a salute, the major yelled to his men and went into the bushes.

"Why did you allow him to search, Herr Hauptman? I would have sent him away."

"This way he feels like he is ahead of us while we go off after Taylor. One of the guards knows of a farm down the road where they might have gone. We'll 'borrow' his car since it's on the right side of the tree." Schumann walked towards their car.

As Steiner followed, he realized that sending the major away would have only made him more determined to find Taylor first. Instead, he was happy off searching in the wrong direction. He knew he had much to learn on how to manipulate others.

**************************************************************

Schultz called to Mueller and Farber. "See if you can finish moving that tree out of the way. I need to follow with the truck to hold the prisoners they take." He then stood to the side and watched as the younger men struggled with the heavy trunk. "Danke. Now you can continue the search towards the Mahler farm."

Mueller and Farber saluted before disappearing into the woods. Schultz then hoisted himself into the driver's seat and squeezed behind the wheel.

About a mile away from the Mahler farm Schultz slowed the truck when he saw the Gestapo car and the men from Berlin standing alongside. Why have they stopped? Has the car broken down?

Schultz turned off the engine and stepped down to offer his help when he heard the reason they stopped. A car was racing towards them. Then he heard the shots. Being no hero, Schultz cowered beside the truck hoping it would provide enough cover.

He peered over the hood and saw the car explode. He tried to curl up as small as possible to protect himself from the bits of falling metal. After a few moments he could hear the officers yelling and knew it was safe. He straightened up and saw the two at the side of the road leaning over something--or someone.

Something else caught his eye. A flash of something bright in the woods along the road. When he took a better look, he saw three familiar faces that shouldn't be there. He shook his head to clear his vision and looked again. Hogan, Carter, and the Englander smiled and waved at him. I see nothing! Nothing! He walked over to the officers to see if he could help.

*****************************************************************

Christ! That hurts! Steven lay on the ground cradling his possibly broken left arm. The timing for his jump from the car was spot-on. The problem came in the landing. He should have checked for rocks first.

After the debris from the explosion finished falling, he opened his eyes, and, after his sight focused, he saw Schumann leaning over him. "Where is the case?"

Typical. Ask for the case first. "It was stuck under the seats and I couldn't get it out before jumping."

The sergeant from Stalag 13 came huffing up behind them. "Are you all right, Herr Taylor?"

"I think I broke my arm but I'll live, Sergeant. Thanks for asking."

They helped him stand and Steven felt light-headed. God, not a concussion! "Can we just get back to Berlin now? I've had enough of the local hospitality."

Schumann looked at the wreck of the car. "I will take you into town to the doctor. Steiner, you go back with the sergeant and get the car."

"Jawohl, Herr Hauptman."

At that moment the remaining guards from Stalag 13 arrived out of the woods. "We heard the explosion," said one of them. "Is everything all right?"

"Everything is under control," declared Schumann. "You can return to camp."

With a salute, the men climbed into the back of the truck.

With Steiner's help, Steven walked to the car and slid into the back seat. The German was quite solicitous, making sure he was comfortable. Probably afraid of losing me as well as the keys. Schumann started the car and went as fast as he could without making it too jarring.

Steven knew it was imperative he stayed awake. If it was a concussion, falling asleep could kill him. If not, and they drugged him for the pain, he might talk in his sleep and give away vital information. He would just have to stick it out until he got back to his flat in Berlin. At least the arm would curtail his activities for a while. He'd just have to find another way to be useful.

He groaned as Schumann went over a large pothole.

At least Hogan had the keys and would get them to London. He wasn't even going to contemplate how. That would have to wait until they met up after the war. He would make a point of tracking Hogan and the others down as soon as he could.

*****************************************************

Hogan followed Carter and Newkirk into the radio room where Kinch and LeBeau were waiting. "Mission accomplished." He patted the case. "We have the keys and Taylor's cover with the Germans is safe."

"But where is he?" asked LeBeau.

"He decided to go back to Berlin," Carter answered. "We couldn't talk him out of it."

"Said 'e'd be a contact for us," Newkirk said as he sat down.

"If I ever hear anyone say that he sold out to the Nazis, I'll punch his lights out."

"You'll have to wait in line, Kinch," Hogan told him. "Call London and tell them we have the keys but that the Eagle has gone back to Berlin."

"Will do, Colonel."

Hogan climbed up to the barracks and went into his room to try and get a little rest. It wouldn't be long before the call came from Klink.

He had barely closed his eyes when Schultz came banging on his door. "Col. Hogan!"

With a groan, Hogan rolled off his bunk. "All right, Schultz. I'm comin'." He grabbed his jacket and cap before opening the door.

"Col. Hogan, the Kommandant wants to speak with you." He sounded quite pleased.

"What's up, Schultz? Everything go OK outside the wire?" Hogan asked as they crossed the compound.

Schultz mimed buttoning his lip.

"OK, if you don't want to tell me, I'll guess. Klink usually asks for me so he can gloat, so I'll say that Taylor is back on his way to Berlin. Am I right?"

"His car exploded," said Schultz.

"I thought I heard something."

They arrived at Klink's office and after a light knock by Schultz, Hogan went in and sat in the visitor's seat. "You asked for me, Kommandant?"

"Yes, Hogan. I wanted you to know that Herr Taylor escaped from his kidnappers and on his way back to Berlin."

"Well, you can't have everything. So did the SS guys get the Underground agents?"

"No. Apparently, Herr Taylor stole their car and it exploded when a bullet hit the gas tank."

"Obviously he made it out before it exploded and everything's hunky-dory and he's going back to his comfortable Berlin apartment."

" 'Hunky-dory'?"

"Good. Fine. Great. Nothing to worry about."

"Ah. Schultz informed me that Herr Taylor was not all right. He injured himself jumping from the car."

I saw he was hurt but he didn't look too bad. "You're just sayin' that to make me feel better, Kommadant."

With his trademark grunt, Klink pointed to the door. "Dismissed!"

Hogan stood and walked to the door. Just as he reached for the doorknob, it burst open to reveal Maj. Hochstetter covered in dirt and leaves. "You need to work on your camouflage, Major. I can still see it's you."

The Gestapo man growled and Hogan made a quick retreat back to the barracks with a bounce in his step. Aggravating Hochstetter was an added bonus to an already fruitful mission. He wished Taylor luck and knew they would be seeing each other again at some point.

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