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The Home Guard Episode Five – Behind Enemy Lines

And here is the fifth installment of the Home Guard Project!

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Episode Five – Behind Enemy Lines

Date: March 21, 1941

Location: Birmingham

The Man in the Moon pub was quiet; the only sounds within its plain shell coming from two seated Home Guard soldiers drinking the local malted ales. They acted as if there was no war on, but no one in the country could blame them for wanting to escape.

Samurai tapped the bottom of his empty pint glass on the counter and then waggled it at the barmaid as a hint. He beamed as she took it from him and pulled another pint into it. ‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ he smiled. He rested his head onto his hand, elbow on the counter, and looked at his drinking companion. ‘How many you had now, Ollie?’

Ollie slurred something from within his arms and tilted his head to one side to look at Samurai. ‘I… think not enough.’ He glanced up at the barmaid. ‘Could you pour… me… one too?’

‘Please?’

Ollie belched. ‘Please…’

They were both handed a pint of dark ale with a strained smile.

‘Thanks, love,’ said Samurai before sipping the top half of his pint away. ‘Good stuff.’ He looked at Ollie expectantly, half laughing.

Ollie stared at the drink and then laughed loudly. ‘I can do this.’ With that, he picked up the pint glass and drank the dark brown liquid until it was all gone.

Samurai looked at his watch. ‘About five seconds… new record for you.’

‘Yes, damn right. For Mother Russia!’

‘But you’re not Russian…’

‘I know, but… I felt like saying it.’ Ollie slid his glass to one side and held his chin in his hands. ‘I’m fed up.’

‘Aren’t we all?’ said Samurai, shuffling around on his stool. ‘I hate this war.’

A sharp breeze whipped their backs as the door to the pub was opened, the sound of heavy boots stepping onto the wooden flooring.

Shay tousled his hair with his hand and marched over to where Samurai and Ollie were hunched over the bar. ‘Guys?’

‘Hi, Shay,’ they both said in a drunken unison.

‘Can we talk in private?’ Shay nodded at the barmaid who took the hint with a dejected look. ‘Sam, we have a problem.’

Samurai felt his stomach churn, whether or not from the alcohol or potential bad news he didn’t know. He groaned, rubbing his beard. ‘What is it?’

‘Wapz is gone.’

Ollie lifted his head. ‘What you mean he’s gone?’ There was a sudden panic creeping into his voice and face.

Shay hung his head and scuffed his feet. ‘MIA.’

‘What was his last location?’ asked Samurai, standing up.

‘Somewhere outside… Banbury, is it?’

‘That’ll take us a couple of hours to get there,’ Ollie mumbled.

Samurai lifted Ollie up to his feet and ushered him and Shay towards the door. He shouted thanks to the barmaid who was polishing some glasses up. ‘Give us the lowdown on the way to Banbury.’

***

Date: March 21, 1941, Later That Day

Location: Outside Banbury

It had taken them about two hours in the truck to get to Banbury and Wapz’s last known location. Finding him in this literal wasteland was going to prove to be a harder job than they would have liked.

Shay jumped out of the driver’s seat and grabbed his rifle from behind the seat, checking its magazine and grabbing a pouch of extra clips.

Ollie slid from the back of the truck, staggering as he landed. ‘Oh man.’ He turned to lean on the back of the truck. ‘Too many.’

‘I know what you mean,’ Samurai remarked as he appeared from the passenger side. ‘Luckily it’s kind of worn off a bit… but I still feel sick.’ He clutched his stomach and belched loudly. ‘I hate feeling like this.’ He closed his eyes for a moment.

‘Wakey wakey,’ Shay chimed from the front of the vehicle.

‘OK, OK,’ Ollie called. ‘Hey Sam? You think I got enough?’

Samurai opened his eyes and looked Ollie up and down. ‘Are you serious? How many grenades you taking with you?’

‘You can never be too careful.’

‘Don’t go blowing yourself up, for the love of God.’

Ollie shook his head and smiled.

‘Come on,’ Shay beckoned. ‘Wapz’s last known location was in a church just a few hundred yards from here. It’s in the north side of the town.’

Samurai reached into the back of the truck and pulled out a sub machinegun from a satchel.

Shay raised an eyebrow. ‘What kind of gun is that? Never seen one of them before.’

‘It was designed last year after the Dunkirk incident.’

‘You mean “tactical withdrawal”?’ Ollie asked.

Samurai shook his head. ‘No, I mean the cock up. Anyway, this is a… Lanchester, I think, and they’ve given us a few to test out.’

‘You think this is the right time for a test?’ exclaimed Shay with a worried look. ‘We’re here to save one of our own.’

‘We’ll find out soon enough. Let’s make our way to the church.’

***

‘Ollie? You go check the church tower out… me and Shay will scout the ground floor. OK?’ Samurai looked stern faced, his eyes scanning the extent of the well-kept walls, pews and flooring.

With a firm nod, Ollie wandered toward a room behind the altar, looking around intently; curiously. He peered inside and observed the bookcase, desk and holy depictions hanging on the wall – a stereotypical vestry. He noticed the wooden staircase in the corner and hurried over to it, clutching his assault rifle. A quick glance around the corner and he crept up the stairs, his heart remaining surprisingly calm. Everyone told him that he was fearless, hence his carelessness with grenades.

As soon as he reached the top of the stairs he found himself tumbling back down them, the butt of a rifle smacking into his shoulder with surprising force. He landed at the bottom of the top flight of steps, clutching his shoulder and wincing with pain. ‘Ack… God damn it!’ he cried, trying to refocus on the figure standing at the top of the stairs, gun poised.

‘Who are you?’ the figure asked.

‘You Wapz?’

Silence.

‘We’re here to rescue you.’

‘Ollie… of course! You’re the nutter with the grenades, right?’

He scrunched his mouth and puffed through his nose. ‘I suppose I am,’ he replied blankly.

‘Can’t be too careful at the moment, my friend. Who’re you here with?’

‘Samurai and Shay.’

‘Oh so Sam got off his arse at last did he?’ Wapz chuckled.

Ollie eased himself up and breathed slowly. ‘We gave up our drinks to come get you.’

‘He drinks too much anyway… he’s a beast.’

‘A beast?’

‘Well… that’s what Brak calls him anyway.’

‘Oh… right.’ Ollie shook his head. ‘We need to get you out of here.’

‘Can’t at the moment… place is crawling with Nazis.’

‘We saw no one here.’

Wapz raised a knowing eyebrow. ‘Oh trust me, they’re here alright. They know I’ll snipe them if they come out the buildings – one shot, one kill.’

‘So… we’re actually surrounded in here?’ Ollie felt his stomach churn.

‘We sure are. German reinforcements inbound no doubt. I’m expecting a tank as I can’t kill that with a bullet.’

‘Wait here.’ Ollie found himself racing down the stairwell to the ground floor. ‘Sam? Shay?’ he shouted.

They both emerged through the vestry door, their faces awash with anxiety.

‘What is it?’ Shay asked.

‘Wapz is up in the tower.’

‘Is he OK?’ Samurai could feel his heart smashing against his chest.

Ollie nodded. ‘Yeah he’s fine, but he says there’re Germans all over the place.’

‘Since when?’

Shay raised a finger. ‘Where are they then?’

‘Wapz thinks they’re awaiting reinforcements. I’ve heard Wapz is a crack shot with a sniper rifle so they’re probably afraid to poke their heads out.’

It was then that all three of their chests tightened. A voice echoed from the stairwell. ‘Company!’

***

In the distance, a set of crystal eyes peered through the scope of a rifle. Behind the elevated gun was a scarf covered face, a black bandana wrapped around locks of golden hair, and vows of revenge. The figure – a mercenary – edged the gun sideways.

‘The Nazi bastards are assaulting the church,’ a female voice said, muffled behind the scarf. ‘We should move in. I spotted a tank on its way… a Panzer.’

The burly looking man next to her nodded his approval. He then adjusted his army uniform and trotted back to his portable radio. He frantically turned the handle on it and brought the receiver up to his ear. ‘We are a go,’ he mumbled.

A few minutes passed.

The British Crusader tank roared through a hedgerow, followed by a squad of British infantry wielding an assortment of rifles and sub machineguns. Some more plain clothed figures flanked across to the right, along with the mysterious female sniper who seemed to be leading them.

She crouched down and scoped again, watching gunfire coming from the church’s main entrance, quickly followed by a series of grenade blasts. ‘They’re not going to last long in there,’ she growled. ‘We need the British to make a move now.’ She glanced back at her group. ‘When the Crusader moves in we’ll secure the church from the right; I’ll keep you all covered as much as I can.’ Her team all nodded and mumbled their acknowledgement.

‘Ready?’ She bounced on her feet, loosening her knees up, ready for what was about to occur.

The tank fired its mighty turret, the shell pounding into the side of the German Panzer. There was a commotion as German troops realised they were being flanked, repositioning to fight on two fronts all of a sudden. The Panzer had no time to react as another shell hit it on its turret, disabling its capability to fire.

‘Brilliant!’ the tank commander shouted with a laugh stifling his breath.

The team moved along to the right while the British engaged the Nazi forces. The female mercenary moved fast with the others, rapidly advancing on the church. She pinned her back to the wall and dared to look around the corner.

‘They’ve got a sniper up in the church tower and he’s pretty good at what he does.’

One of her team nudged her in the side. ‘But you’re better, right?’

She laughed softly. ‘We’ll see.’ She waved them through, six of them. They were armed with a wide variety of guns from different countries, ranging from Russian PPD-40 sub machineguns, French MAS rifles, and an assortment of Czechoslovakian weaponry.

All she could hear from her corner was the deafening sound of gunfire, screams, explosions and orders. She steadied her breath and whipped from her place, unleashing bullet after bullet from her rifle, each of them hitting its mark. ‘One by one they go down,’ she sang to herself from beneath her scarf.

She suddenly froze as she spotted a British soldier powering his way from the church, grenades in hand. She watched him through her scope and swore to herself. ‘They’re primed! Is he mad?’ she exclaimed loudly, knowing nobody would hear her. ‘For God’s sake throw them already! Have you got a death wish?’

A grenade was tossed through the air, one to the right, and then the second went to the left. The soldier dived to the dirt floor and rolled up behind a wall as massive, eardrum bursting explosions engulfed the other side of the wall in a sea of shrapnel and flames. They had not been ordinary grenades by the looks of things, but they had done the job of ridding the front line of German troops from the assault.

The mercenary heard the distance cry of victory, followed by fervent shouting from the church – curses and scornful reprimands. Two men hurried from the entrance over to the kamikaze soldier, picking him up and leaning him against the wall. The one with the beard was red-faced and angry, shouting every name under the sun.

She checked her gun and proceeded toward them, watching as the British secured the rest of the town and shot after the retreating Nazi troops. Her squad had reformed and were giving each other reports, one cracking some bad joke about his ex-wife and her new lover. She pulled the scarf from her face as she walked up to the British soldiers she had just helped save.

Ollie grunted and stared at her. ‘I… It’s a… woman,’ he stammered.

She smiled, nodding at each of them in turn. ‘Lucky we came along isn’t it?’

Samurai shuffled his feet. ‘Erm… yeah, thanks darling.’

Shay dropped his rifle.

‘Pick it up, Shay, she’s only a woman, not a bloody goddess.’ Samurai rolled his eyes.

He scrambled for his gun and steadied himself. ‘Nice to meet you,’ he blurted. ‘Don’t see many women wielding the guns on the front lines.’

The mercenary chuckled. ‘Well life as a mercenary is full of surprises.’

‘Ah, I’d heard about us hiring people from all over,’ remarked Ollie as he rubbed his chest, soothing it.

‘I’m Samurai, this here is Shay, the one up in the tower is Wapz… and the crazy man sitting here is Ollie, who will be getting disciplined for his actions.’

She smiled at each one of them and rested her rifle on her shoulder. ‘Good to meet you all. My name’s Lolita.’

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Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to comment!

The Home Guard Episode Four – Assignment

Sorry for the lateness of this installment. Here is episode four!

Episode Four – Assignment

Date: March 20, 1941

Location: Manchester

It was yet another dreary day in the city of Manchester – wet, grey and depressing. It felt to the locals like the thick shroud of Axis control was already upon them, especially with the harsher rationing and grip of fear hanging over them. Regardless of what was happening to their homeland, most of the residents kept themselves in high spirits – smiling, chatting, drinking and helping out the armed forces whenever they could.

In the centre of the city lay the British Defence HQ: an underground facility that spanned half a square mile underneath Manchester and housed some of the top brass in the British military. Guarded around the clock, it was a near impenetrable place with only two ways in and out.

The war room was dimly lit and smelled of cigar smoke and aromatic scotch, off-set by the faint whiff of freshly brewed coffee coming from the canteen nearby. Daas’s towering figure was hunched over a large map of Britain displaying locations of Allied and Axis forces across the country, ranging from infantry to artillery to tanks to ships and aircraft. He scanned the numerous figurines that were placed along the Commonwealth Line and then glanced at the known Axis forces that were slowly being added to. Allied forces were grossly outnumbered at least three to one; the gravity of that fact weighing heavily on Daas’s shoulders. He was one of the Generals in charge of the defensive operations that were relied on to stop the Nazi dead in their tracks.

‘Have the Nazi’s gained anything on the western seaboard?’

Skippie plonked a couple of Allied warships on the section of map where Daas pointed to. ‘They have tried time and time again to break through but a majority of our naval forces are stationed in that area and successfully kicking their ass!’ He raised a fist into the choking air in celebration.

Daas eyed Skippie’s hand and said nothing, instead turning his attention back to the map. ‘Eastern seaboard?’

‘The Scandinavian fleets are proving to be quite resilient in repelling the Nazis. They’ve surprised us greatly.’ He smiled and picked up a small ship representing some of the Scandinavian fleet and placed it behind the rest. ‘More ships were said to have arrived in reinforcement to help tackle the aircraft trouble.’

‘Good. That’s good.’ He massaged his forehead and picked up his glass of whisky, sipping it gently. ‘This stale mate is taking it out of our front lines, though.’ He nodded at the area just north of London. ‘We’re running out of man power fast. We’re relying on the Home Guard forces a lot now that we’ve had them properly trained and armed.’ He grunted and said something incoherent to himself. ‘If we’re not careful this is going to turn into a damn slaughterhouse!’ He pounded the table with his fist, making the secretaries and war room attendants jump out of their skins.

Skippie strafed around the table and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘Daas, I know things are dire at the moment but we mustn’t give in or let our frustrations take over.’

‘Oh please don’t pander to me,’ he growled back through clenched teeth, pain throbbing in his mind. ‘No… I’m sorry. We will push these bastards back and out of this country.’

‘You’ll be home soon enough, Daas.’ Skippie glanced around the room which was enough for everyone to resume their tasks and not stare for longer than they dared to.

Daas lowered his voice to a harsh whisper, barely audible above the din of the phone calls, typewriters and strategic meetings. ‘Where the hell are we supposed to get more forces? You can tell things are bad for the British when they give us direct control of things.’

‘What else are you to do? You were a General back home and they saw your abilities when you fled over here the other year.’

‘Like a goddamn coward, you mean.’   ‘Don’t think of it like that, my friend. You would’ve been killed otherwise if you had stayed, or even forced to work for the Nazis.’

‘God forbid. I’d rather shoot myself in the head.’

‘You did the right thing, believe me.’ Skippie smiled reassuringly.

Daas nodded and then sighed heavily. ‘I suppose we’d better get back to it.’

‘Excuse me, sir?’ A blonde haired woman saluted Daas and handed him a piece of paper covered with a decoded message. ‘A message from our defence HQ in Birmingham just came through. I think you’d better read it.’

Without a word Daas took the document and dismissed the woman with a wave of his hand. He took a few minutes to look over the message and then bit his lower lip.

‘What is it?’ asked Skippie.

‘A soldier was picked up near Cirencester after having been pursued by the Nazis and claims to have stolen the plans to the enemy’s next operation. Apparently it’s a move that they’re putting a lot of resources into.’

‘What about the soldier?’

‘A Frenchman who says that they don’t know he’d stolen something. He photographed them apparently.’

‘And?’

‘Our Birmingham HQ has confirmed the validity of the pictures and is in the middle of processing the information.’ Daas looked to one side in thought.

‘What is it?’ Skippie shifted his weight and leaned against the table, half sitting on it.

‘I just get the feeling this is too good to be true.’

‘Well you won’t know unless you investigate it.’

Daas mumbled something and began to nibble at his lower lip. ‘I suppose I could send someone to verify it. I mean, I’ve got a position of importance here.’

‘Send who exactly?’

‘Someone I can trust… obviously.’

***

Vaag threw his jacket onto the desk in his office and rubbed his face with slender hands. The fatigue of his last few days was catching him up, making it feel as if he was trying to outrun a tank after a sleepless night.

He ran his fingers through his thick hair and breathed out slowly, gathering some kind of strength from deep within himself. He would have loved to have been given an opportunity to get some sleep but a mound of missives and order sheets had piled up over the past couple of days. He eased himself into his leather chair and leaned back, closing his eyes just for a moment.

‘Lieutenant Vaag?’

He shook his head as his eyes shot open, quickly looking at the clock. He had lost nearly two hours; not what he wanted. He rubbed his eyes and face, secretly glad that he had gotten some sleep, and stared at the figure standing in the office doorway.

‘Shit… General.’ He darted to his feet and saluted Daas, who stood with a single piece of paper clutched in his hand.

‘How was your trip?’ he asked, assessing Vaag with a suspicious eye.

‘It was… fine, sir; anything to help further our cause.’ He balled up his hands and fought an aggressive urge.

Daas squinted. ‘I’ve got something new for you to look into, Lieutenant.’ He slid the paper across the desk, watching Vaag lean over and examine it.

‘Viable?’ he asked without looking up.

‘According to our Birmingham HQ it is, yes. But I want you to go and double check things for me.’

‘But this intelligence has already been confirmed by some of our best guys.’

‘I want to make doubly sure before I take any course of action. As you can see the Germans have no idea anything was stolen.’

‘Isn’t this a waste of resources sending me down there?’

‘As I said before, Vaag, I want it double checked.’

‘But surely they’ve already done more than double check it.’ Vaag’s voice was becoming tainted with two weeks’ worth of tiredness and frustration.

‘I’d also like you to interview the French soldier who obtained this info.’

‘Why me?’

‘Because I said so.’

‘Daas… I need some rest.’

‘Sleep on the way down there then.’

‘I meant like… a day off.’

‘There are no days off in war, Vaag.’ Daas sighed to himself, folding his arms tightly.

‘I’ve done a lot of shit jobs for you lately, Daas. I want a day or two off.’

‘Request denied. I understand you’re tired but I need you to do this for me.’

Vaag eyed his superior with a resenting look and finally sighed, averting his flaming gaze to the floor; silent.

‘Lieutenant Vaag I would advise you not disobey me on this.’

‘Was that a hint at a threat?’ His voice had turned into a growl.

‘How dare you accuse me of such a thing. I’d appreciate it if you would just oblige me and do this task I’ve asked you to do.’

Vaag bit his lip hard, resisting the urge to tell Daas where to stick it. After a minute of heated silence he locked eyes with Daas and nodded. ‘Fine I’ll do it. Straight to Birmingham… want me to call you when I get there? Or wait until I do the job?’

‘Whichever you prefer,’ Daas replied with a smile. ‘I’ll leave it down to you.’

‘Yes sir.’ Vaag grabbed his jacket from his desk and went toward the door.

Daas grabbed his arm and lowered his voice. ‘If you ever speak to me like that again there will be harsh consequences. Understand me, Vaag?’ His breath echoed his sincerity.

Vaag looked him in the eye, taking in the seriousness of his stare. ‘I understand, General.’

***

‘I reckon this beauty’s ready to roll again,’ the engineer called out as he performed one last adjustment to the tank’s exhaust.

Mac popped his head out of the top and pulled his goggles up onto his head, a wide smile on his cheery face. ‘That’ll do it, Al. Thanks a lot.’ He ducked back inside and gave the controls a once over, checking that they worked properly. ‘Perfect,’ he beamed. With a bounce in his chest he exited his tank and took a moment to step back and admire it. His Covenanter tank stood majestically in the middle of the service yard of Manchester’s defence HQ, the peeking sun glinting from its freshly polished hull. It was his lady.

A gunshot followed by a loud ping reverberated through the air, causing Mac to duck down. He swore loudly as another shot went off, a bullet bouncing off his tank.

‘No! What the hell you doing? I just had this thing serviced for God’s sake,’ he yelled before darting round to the other side, his face flushed with anger. He pulled to one side as another bullet whizzed past, again hitting his vehicle.

Mac glared at Vaag, flailing his hands into the air. ‘What the heck are you doing?’ he screamed. ‘Newly serviced tank? Polished? Does that shout out anything to you? Like STOP SHOOTING IT?’

Vaag grunted and tossed the pistol to the floor, angered at having run out of rounds. ‘Damn it!’ he screamed, kicking a nearby barrel over onto the floor. ‘Damn that bastard, smug-faced shit.’ He picked up the pistol and hurled it at the tank without any thought.

‘For the love of God stop it,’ implored Mac, switching his gaze between the tank and Vaag. ‘What’s wrong with you? You slept since you got back?’

‘Not much,’ Vaag mumbled through pressed lips. ‘Grabbed about two hours by accident earlier.’

‘You’re worked up over something more than a lack of sleep, I imagine.’ Mac folded his arms, carefully eyeing Vaag over in case he went mad again. ‘Who’s pissed you off?’

Vaag raised an eyebrow and a sarcastic look appeared on his face. ‘Hazard a damn guess, Mac.’

‘Daas again?’

‘Amazing how you knew that straight away.’

‘You’ve had many problems with him giving you all these things to do.’

Vaag huffed. ‘No chance for a rest or front line action.’

‘Which one you want more?’

After a pause Vaag laughed. ‘Rest… more than anything right now.’

‘You asked for that I presume?’

‘Obviously.’

‘And?’

‘What do you think?’

‘Sleep on the way there? That’s his standard response to everyone.’ Mac laughed.

‘He wants me to go to Birmingham HQ for God’s sake.’

‘What for?’ Mac walked over and stood beside Vaag.

‘Some intel about a Nazi offensive that’s more or less imminent.’

‘Can’t Brummy HQ verify it or something?’

‘They have.’

‘Then why are you going down there?’

‘Daas wants me to.’

Mac scratched his chin free of a spot of grease and mulled Vaag’s words over in his mind. ‘Sounds to me like he trusts you over them.’

‘That’s as may be but he can’t afford to distrust them in times like this, Mac.’ Vaag rubbed his face rhythmically with both of his palms.

‘That’s true… but maybe you need to do this for him.’

‘Have I not done enough?’ Vaag’s voice suddenly sharpened.

‘Well, yes, but this is maybe the major favour he needs from you before a big responsibility falls upon your shoulders.’

Vaag paused and exhaled heavily. ‘You may be right, but I’m not overly sure of Daas’s intentions when it comes to me.’

‘Maybe you should mull that one over when I’m driving you to Birmingham.’

‘You what?’

‘I’ll drive you all the way to Birmingham, don’t you worry.’ Mac smiled and walked over to his tank, patting it on the side.

‘In… that thing?’ Vaag pointed to Mac’s armoured behemoth.

Mac raised his hands in amusement. ‘Might as well go in style.’

The Home Guard Episode Three – Targets

Episode three! :-) Enjoy!

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Episode Three – Targets

Date: March 19, 1941

Location: Aylesbury

A low, distant rumble shook the horizon as the sky opened up its waterfalls and started to drown the land beneath. Birds flapped their wings harder to gain speed, desperate to find cover from the wet, their cries muffled by the thundering above them. Down in the vacant street a stray dog, coat drenched and rancid smelling; skittered across from one alleyway to the next, letting off weak whimpers as it went.

Raindrops rolled off a sniper’s barrel as it adjusted its angle, attempting to find its target. A hand slid down the length of the gun to gain more stability.

‘Damn this gun’s a lot heavier than the last issue,’ ZZ remarked as he waggled the rifle up and down. ‘This is gonna take some getting used to.’

Brak looked up from behind his glasses as he crouched next to a window, a pair of binoculars clutched in his large hands. ‘You’ve got to carry that thing around with you all the time so why’s the gun any different?’ he asked, pointing at ZZ’s groin with a laugh.

ZZ adjusted himself with one hand and smirked. ‘The wife never knew what hit her.’ He scanned down the street again. They had both set up in one of the many broken buildings in Aylesbury’s north side – a tall building with a good view of the surrounding area and the Nazi base. A rather large ammunition dump had been located in the rural town and seemed to be a key area for fuel and weapons storage. However, ZZ and Brak were not there for the ammunition and fuel – they were there for a certain Nazi general who was reportedly co-ordinating some sort of imminent tactical operation.

‘You gotten any sight of this Nazi tosser yet, Brak?’ asked ZZ.

Brak hummed quietly to himself as he peered through the binoculars, taking in the ruined views of homes, pubs and shops. A few market stalls still stood among their fallen counterparts, the wares of fresh fruit and vegetables either taken or left to rot in the turbulent weather.

Suddenly something caught his attentions. A small group of German officers emerged from the doorway of some tavern, one of them wearing a General’s insignias and carrying a black leather briefcase in his gloved hand.

‘Got something, ZZ.’

ZZ looked out through his scope, following his cousin’s guidance until he saw the officers. ‘That’s the one. He’s got a couple of captains with him too.’

‘Forget them.’

‘I haven’t got a clear shot.’

‘Shit. We might have to relocate. At least we have a fix on him.’

‘You heard the rumours about this guy?’ ZZ asked as he lowered his weapon.

‘Yeah… no surprise really.’ Brak laughed and flicked his hand down, a smile on his face.

‘You might be in with some luck then.’

***

The rain had somewhat let up, giving one German soldier a divine opportunity to have a cigarette without hindrance. He flicked a steel lighter open and puffed a few times before stuffing it back into his tunic. He watched the wispy plumes of tobacco smoke whirl upwards, disappearing in the moist air before he breathed in the inviting aroma around him.

The ammunitions dump was filled with numerous barrels, crates and trucks that stored everything from fuel to weapons to rations. He gazed over at the far end of the courtyard and hummed a familiar tune.

A pat on his shoulder caused him to drop his cigarette into the pool of water by his feet. He swore to himself before biting his lip, turning around to address whoever had just made him lose it. He nearly jumped out of his skin as a captain stood, steel-faced, in front of him, a flaming glare in his eyes.

‘What are you doing out here? Smoking on duty?’ the captain asked in German.

The soldier gaped like a fish before clearing his throat. ‘Ah… yes sir. I’m sorry,’ he replied awkwardly.

‘Well don’t just stand there looking at me,’ the captain snapped. ‘Get back inside and help move the crates over to the loading bay.’

With a clip of his heels the solider raised his arm and salute and trotted off, a grumble in his throat that quickly fell out of earshot.

‘What is it with these Nazis? They’re all a bunch of morons,’ the captain said to himself, a small smile in one corner of his mouth.

***

‘Where? For the love of God where?’ ZZ grunted as he refocused the sight on his scope.

Brak sniffed harshly then spat onto the floor. ‘I dunno, mate.’ He looked around again, this time from an abandoned house that looked down the main street of the town. ‘Wait a minute… there in pub down the street on the left, second window on the right.’

ZZ moved his sights onto the pub’s bricked form and breathed slowly, eager to finish his mission already. He waited for a minute, his lips drying up like a well in a drought. ‘Come on you Nazi scumbag.’

He squeezed the trigger.

The bullet travelled with unimaginable speed; spinning through the air with a high pitched whoosh. ZZ grinned widely, watching through the scope as the German general turned in the direction of the gun shot before his head snapped back with ferocious force, a dark red hole now fresh in his forehead.

‘Yes!’ cheered Brak, clapping his hands excitedly, laughing.

‘Got ya you bastard,’ ZZ chuckled as he flicked the bolt action chamber back to release the shell casing. It pinged on the wooden floor with a precious echo. ‘Now let’s get out of this place and go have a drink.’

Brak shot up to his feet and grabbed his cousin’s arm like a startled child, still holding the binoculars pressed up against his face. ‘Wait. Look at this guy outside the ammo dump entrance.’ He let out a guttural sound, confused. ‘The German captain… there.’

ZZ pointed his gun in the direction Brak was signalling to. ‘What the…? Is that a… bomb?’

***

Whatever the shot had been, the bullet had not been meant for him. Trigger wiped his forehead and kneeled down, the explosive growing heavy in his hands. Being undercover as a German officer was passable, but being a German officer planting a bomb at an ammo dump was not. Silently he prayed, hoping that he would remain unnoticed for a few more seconds.

‘Thank God,’ he muttered as he stood up, his leather boots creaking. He ran his hand on the Luger in his belt and steeled his breathing as he made his way back into the makeshift office, which had been someone’s living room some months beforehand. The ammunitions dump had been erected in the service yard of an old motor garage; chain link fencing cordoning off the areas between old homes and businesses.

Trigger walked through the office authoritatively, eyeing the underpaid secretaries as they sorted through papers, typed up document after document, and signed on numerous dotted lines. He would never understand the need for all these pieces of paper – he was a man who believed in actions speaking louder than words and red tape ever could.

He counted the explosive as bomb number four. There were just another two to go and it was up to his partner to sort that one out.

***

Blue Eagle stepped on his discarded cigarette and coughed hard. There was a certain chill in the air around the ammo dump; he could not be sure if it was the weather or his unease about the situation. He had one last explosive to plant before moving toward the extraction point to meet Trigger at the car. He was waiting for a patrol guard to head off before he made a move.

He didn’t have to wait long. The guard had strolled off with a puff of boredom.

Blue Eagle moved through the yard, dressed as a run-of-the-mill soldier, with a weight in his belt that seemed to be a pulsing mass of despair to him. He felt a bead of sweat trickle down his neck as he checked his surroundings.

It was clear.

He overcame the initial shaking of his hands and inserted the detonator into the top of the device, releasing a sharp sigh of relief. A small crate proved to be a sufficient form of covering the explosive from being spotted by any other patrolling guard. A quick glance around the yard and Blue Eagle was rapidly making his way through the door of one of the commandeered houses on the north side.

The next obstacle in the plan was the escape.

***

‘Blue? You’re driving us out of here.’ Trigger stood up in the open-top turret and barked his order like a true Nazi superior.

Blue Eagle furrowed his brow underneath his helmet and puffed through his nose. ‘Are you serious?’ he asked, sceptical. ‘Are we going to drive out in one of these things? How’re you gonna pass that one off to the checkpoint guards?’

Trigger peered around from up top and gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. ‘I’m sure they won’t argue with captain Trigger,’ he chuckled, licking his lips.

‘Let’s hope so,’ Blue Eagle remarked as he clambered inside the panzer wagon and slid into the driver’s seat. ‘Here, take this.’ He handed a grenade to Trigger.

‘Just in case?’

‘No one can escape Blue Eagle’s grenades, you know?’ He laughed.

Trigger smiled. ‘Come on let’s head through the checkpoint and get out of here.

The wagon roared up and started to roll forward, it’s plated hulk an impressive sight. The checkpoint was only a few hundred yards away but it seemed like an interminable wait as they both readied themselves for the worst.

‘Papers please,’ the guard asked at the gate as they pulled up.

Trigger fumbled in his jacket for his identity papers and then handed them to the soldier who had climbed up the side to grab them.

The guard stared at the slip of paper for a few moments before looking back at the yard. He angled his head to look up at Trigger. ‘Do you not know what has happened, sir?’ he asked hesitantly.

‘Of course I do,’ Trigger replied, bluffing it.

‘Why are you taking the panzer wagon out?’

‘It has recently been… repaired. We need to put it through its paces ready for the next phase.’ He hoped that was enough.

The guard mulled it over as he chatted with his partner, a chunky shouldered man with deep blue eyes. ‘You should be careful, sir. That sniper is still out there.’

Suddenly the air around them vibrated with a massive wave of energy as an explosion boomed up from the ammunitions yard, creating a fiery plume of smoke.

‘Go, Blue!’ Trigger bellowed above the din.

The wagon coughed back into life and the wheels skidded in the dirt. Trigger twisted the German hand grenade and dropped at the feet of the startled guards as they fell into a daze over what had happened.

The vehicle rocked slightly from the grenade as it sped away, the two guards falling to the ground in multiple, bloody pieces. Shouts could be heard above the second explosion as German soldiers and officers scrambled for some kind of order amidst the chaotic fires.

‘I told you so,’ Blue Eagle called up over the growling engine. ‘Nobody escapes a Blue Eagle grenade.’ He laughed heartily.

‘Just drive, will ya?’ Trigger grunted as he swivelled the turret around to cover their backs. ‘Shit.’ Another panzer wagon was fleeing from the explosions in the ammunitions dump. ‘I think they’ve sussed us out.’

‘You know they could just be trying to escape from the bombs we planted.’

The wagon suddenly jolted from side to side as a shell smacked off its hull.

Trigger angled the turret and returned fire. ‘You can take that as a no.’

***

‘Come on! Go, go, go,’ ZZ shouted as a hail of bullets ricocheted off a nearby wall.

Brak powered his legs, running as fast as he could; his breath stinted. They were not far from their extraction point but things looked dire as a squad of German soldiers pursued them relentlessly through the streets.

ZZ turned and fired a shot, catching one of the soldiers in the leg and sending him to the floor. He swore as he fumbled for a clip to reload. ‘Shit I’m out,’ he groaned, tossing the gun onto the floor as he whizzed by, his legs scaling the rubble of broken buildings.

‘Crap. We’ve got an armoured car on our tail,’ Brak said, looking behind. ‘We need to find another way out, ZZ.’

‘I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Give me a chance.’

‘The chance isn’t going to last long.’

The armoured car fired its turret.

Brak and ZZ heard a shower of screams from the pursuing soldiers, much to their surprise. The whir of the engine quickly gained on them.

‘Guys? Get in,’ came a voice from above.

The two cousins stopped in their tracks and looked up to see a man in a German captain’s uniform.

‘Is this some kind of trick?’ ZZ mused defensively.

‘I wouldn’t have just blown up a group of my own soldiers now, would I?’

Brak grabbed ZZ’s arm. ‘Just get the hell on. There should be enough room to sit on it.’

They both shrugged and climbed up the hull, each finding a spot to perch and hold on tight. The wagon roared into life again and sped off.

‘I’m Trigger and the driver is called Blue Eagle,’ Trigger said as he fired the turret.

‘I’m ZZ and this is Brak.’ He looked up at the back of Trigger’s head. ‘What the hell were you doing in there to piss them off like this?’

‘The explosions not enough of a hint for you?’ Blue Eagle asked sarcastically from within the shell of the vehicle.

Brak laughed and tapped the armour. ‘You alright in there, youth?’

‘Fine, thank you.’

‘Trig… try and aim for the wheels,’ ZZ suggested as he peered up over the turret.

Without hesitation Trigger aimed and fired a few rounds and nearly yelped with delight as the pursuing wagon toppled. ‘Fantastic. Nice one, ZZ, thanks.’

‘What were you two doing in Banbury? Was that gunshot earlier anything to do with you?’ asked Blue Eagle, his voice muffled through the armour.

‘We just took out the general in charge of this place,’ ZZ explained, a smug smile on his face.

‘No one told us of another op in this place,’ Trigger remarked blankly, a certain level of irritation in his face.

‘Likewise,’ said Brak. He put his hand into a pocket in his tunic and produced a brown paper bag, handing it over to ZZ. ‘Here’s your sunflower seeds. Get munching.’

ZZ took the bag eagerly. ‘Ta mate.’ He shovelled a handful of seeds into his mouth and began working on them.

Trigger turned in the turret space and leaned over to them both, satisfaction in his eyes. ‘Clear for the moment. We’re heading back to the Warwick base. You’re going to have to come with us.’

‘Fine by us,’ said ZZ through a mouthful of seeds. ‘When we get back I’ll give you a Masonator.’

‘A what?’ asked Trigger, his eyebrow rising.

‘It’s a drink,’ Brak pointed out.

Blue Eagle piped up as he turned the wagon round a fallen tree. ‘Is it made with a mace or something?’

Brak laughed again. ‘No it’s named after someone.’

‘Who?’

‘One of the most reliable men around.’ Brak smiled, adjusting his glasses.

ZZ pursed his lips before spitting our sunflower shells. ‘I’m not giving you a kiss again, Brak.’

**********

And there we have it. Hope you people enjoyed it :-)

The Home Guard Episode Two – Patrol

And here is episode two of The Home Guard Project. Have fun!

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Episode Two – Patrol

Date: March 18, 1941

Location: Cirencester

Smoke filled the air in the pub, creating a toxic haze that lingered like an ominous fate. There was a tinge of hatred in the air that was almost tangible, a series of eyes focusing on one stool at the bar.

Fazer sipped his half pint of ale, his mouth tingling from the bitterness of its hoppy body. He lifted the glass up in front of his face and gazed at the dim lights behind the bar through an amber film. It wasn’t that bad, but he yearned for something from back home in his hand. Now they were proper beers in his opinion.

He could feel the scorning looks from the other drinkers in the lounge burning into every part of his body. Anything more intense and he would have gone up in flames. He looked out the corner of his eye and down to his Bren gun which was leaning up against the bar. No matter what happened he would never use it against his allies.

‘Hey you…’ A tall blonde man tapped his on the shoulder.

Fazer rested his drink down on the counter and breathed out slowly. ‘Can I help you?’ he asked in a throaty, accented voice.

The guy sniffed heavily. ‘You a German, right?’

He knew exactly where this was going. He turned to look at the guy, who was dressed in a mottle-grey suit and wearing a light brown cap. He was sturdy and looked like he could handle himself alright. ‘I am from Germany, yes.’ He stared at the man, dead-eyed.

‘Why don’t you get out of here and go back home, eh?’ The man pointed to Fazer’s Home Guard uniform. ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that either.’

Fazer sighed wearily. ‘I don’t want an argument or a fight. Can you leave me alone? I want to finish my drink.’ He went back to concentrating on the bar.

‘Is this your gun? Nice model.’

Before he could react, the man had picked up his Bren gun from where it was leaning and was testing its weight. ‘That’s not yours.’

‘Terribly sorry,’ the man replied sarcastically. ‘I could give you the bullets back if you want them?’

Fazer glanced around the lounge and saw a mixture of faces, some expressing hostility and others horror. It was then that he saw a familiar figure approaching the well-suited man from behind like an ill wind.

‘Hey, you look at me, OK?’

‘OK.’ Fazer smiled, his eyes lightening.

The man froze as a gun was cocked and pressed against his temple.

A hot, heavy voice breathed menacingly into his ear. ‘Word of advice… you should take the safety off on the gun.’ Dad looked at his friend reassuringly. ‘I think you owe Fazer an apology, yes?’

The man stood silently, his hands beginning to shake.

Dad forced the gun harder against the man’s head and grabbed the Bren gun off him. ‘Sorry is the word you’re after.’ He laughed heartily.

‘S…sorry,’ the guy blurted out, his face nearly drowned by tears. He skittered away, encouraged by Dad’s boot.

‘Hey Fazer, you OK?’ asked Dad, holstering his pistol.

His friend snorted with amusement. ‘I am a lot better at handling myself than you think.’

‘That’s what my wife said last night, isn’t it?’

They both laughed, ignoring the uncertainty of the people around them.

‘We should get going,’ said Dad, patting Fazer on the shoulder. ‘We’ve got a job to do, mate.’

‘Yes. This beer is terrible.’

***

The roar of the motorcycles echoed down the dirt track road as Dad and Fazer cruised along their allocated patrol route; plumes of dust rolling up behind them, the sun beating down with a fierce gaze for springtime. Fresh budding trees blurred past their eyes before changing into the abandoned fields of local farmers and livestock owners. A few decaying corpses of cows and horses were dotted around, picked bare by scavengers.

‘Ah, it’s a goddamn wasteland,’ remarked Dad as he slowed his bike down to observe the area a bit more thoroughly. ‘This is not good.’

Fazer slowed down to a crawl and looked over his shoulder. ‘It is not good at all,’ he replied matter-of-factly. ‘Dad?’

‘Yes mate?’

‘Do you miss it? Holland, I mean.’

Dad rolled alongside Fazer and gauged his eyes, if not for a brief moment, and saw the deepness of his buried sorrows. ‘Of course I do, mate. I miss the lovely scenery, my family, and the great beers.’ He gave a warm smile. ‘You remember the bike rides we did up to the mountains occasionally?’

‘Brilliant times, Dad.’ Fazer chuckled. ‘Sit in a bar, have some jokes, play games, relax… it was great.’ He paused.

‘What about you?’ asked Dad. ‘You miss your home?’

‘I miss how Germany used to be. I couldn’t live there while the Nazis are still about – it’s the whole reason I left in the first place. Being a German fighting on the English side is hard to be honest.’

‘I can imagine.’

‘We need a good ride up into the mountains to take our minds off it.’

Dad looked off into the distance, a reflective look forming in his face. ‘We’ll do it again, Fazer… I promise you.’

‘If you don’t then I may have to kick you.’

Dad laughed but suddenly stopped. ‘Wait…’ He said sharply, his head angled to one side trying to focus on something in the distance. ‘You hear that?’

Fazer quietened and cupped a hand behind his ear. ‘Hear what?’

A burst of gunshots sounded in the distance, birds scattering through the horizon.

‘That,’ said Dad.

‘Sounds like some fun.’ He adjusted the strap that was holding his Bren gun onto his back. ‘Gives me a chance to test the new model.’

Dad stood up in his seat and peered into the expansive wasteland of fields. ‘That way.’ He pointed eagerly along the road. ‘Let’s get over to that hill further up the road.’

Both of their engines roared and they whizzed up the route, gaining on the hill in front of them with surprising speed and determination.

They eventually reached the brow of the hill which gave them an improved view.

Fazer raised a hand in front of him, indicating the source of the disturbance. ‘There,’ he said. ‘Someone running through that field; see in the distance behind him? Looks like a group of men are after him.’

With a rev of his engine, Dad took off down the road without a word. Fazer didn’t need any encouragement as he followed suit.

***

Grnahh was rapidly running out of breath, his sniper rifle growing heavier and heavier every advancing yard. He had been running north for the past 20 miles or so, trying his hardest to escape the grip of the Nazi hunting team. He remembered that there were about five or six of them, armed to the teeth and dressed plainly in case they crossed the border lines into British territory accidentally. Very smart.

He dared to look behind him. He could see the small outlines of his pursuers, making his stomach wrench and sicken. He swore harshly in French and concentrated on keep his legs upright as they were crying out to him for some R&R. How he was wishing to be in a café somewhere having a drink instead of this.

It took everything he had to clamber over the fence at the end of the field, his hand pressing firmly against the pouch on his belt. He glanced up desperately and could feel a jumping sensation in his chest – there was a road ahead and two men mounted on motorcycles. He slowed his pace, expecting his inevitable capture… that was until he recognised the sound of English being thrown in his direction, albeit in a slight accent. He swallowed his nerves and ploughed onwards toward the two men.

‘Come on, mate,’ called Dad as the soldier drew closer. ‘Fazer? Give him some covering fire. I bet those Nazis haven’t realised they’ve come onto our side.’

Fazer jumped from his bike and grabbed his gun, crouching down and pressing it into his shoulder. He waited for a few moments, the soldier’s pursuers getting closer.

Dad looked at the man as he reached them, his face a sea of sweat and dirt. He had to ask him what was going on.

Grnahh rambled on to them both in his own language.

Fazer, who was now lain down on his belly, looked to one side at them both. ‘English only please,’ he grumbled.

‘Oh… I do… I’m sorry.’ Grnahh nearly collapsed as he sat on the dirt track path. ‘I’m… tired. Those Germans have been chasing me for 20 miles. I…’ He gathered his breath. ‘I have important information about the next Nazi operation – the one they’re going to use to punch through the defensive line.’

Dad mulled over what the Frenchman had just told him, rolling his tongue around the inside of his cheek. ‘Do these guys know you’ve stolen those plans?’

Grnahh shook his head. ‘No. They found me in one of the communication offices just outside London. They know I’ve stolen something but don’t know what. I photographed the plans so they won’t be missing anything.’

Fazer suddenly let loose a hail of gunfire as the Axis team were only a hundred yards away, all five of them quickly hitting the floor or taking cover behind carcasses. ‘We might run out of ammo before we kill them all,’ Fazer grunted as he reloaded.

‘Hey… what’s your name?’ Dad asked.

‘Grnahh.’

‘Take my gun and help Fazer hold them off.’ Dad handed him his own Bren gun and a pouch of clips along with it.

‘I ran out of rifle ammo miles back so this is no use to me now.’ Grnahh tossed the rifle onto the floor and checked Dad’s gun.

‘Fazer? Grnahh? Hold them off for a few minutes while I go for some backup. There’s a checkpoint a couple of miles down the road – they should have some spare guys there.’

‘They better do,’ Fazer croaked as he squeezed the trigger for another storm.

Dad started his bike up and sped off like a bat out of hell.

Grnahh setup a few metres away from Fazer and started shooting. ‘I am so used to using rifles and not these things,’ he bawled above the rhythm of the gun’s cries.

Fazer reloaded again, satisfied that he had killed one of the team. ‘Four left.’

‘I cannot shoot to save my life,’ Grnahh grunted breathlessly, his arms shaking as he held the gun off the ground. ‘I’m… so… tired.’

‘Keep awake for God’s sake.’ Fazer looked over at him and swore. Grnahh had blacked out, most likely from exhaustion. ‘Shit.’ Fazer crawled over like a snake on the hunt and grabbed the pouch of ammo. ‘Damn it,’ he growled as he got back to his position.

He gritted his teeth, his view of the team lost. They had taken the opportunity to move when he had stopped firing. Where the hell had they gone? Fazer guessed a flanking maneuver was on the cards. He lifted himself up to a crouch and stayed by Grnahh’s unconscious body. ‘Wake up, please, wake up.’ All he needed was a few minutes to hold them off until Dad returned.

A few minutes passed.

A movement to his right caught his attentions. He fired his Bren gun, unloading an entire clip until he heard a scream. He stood up after the few seconds he took to slot a new clip into the top of the gun.

Damn it. It was only one of the team he had killed… the other three Nazis had gone the other way around.

Fazer gulped, trickles of tension running down his forehead.

A shot rang out and he yelped, his leg taken out from underneath him before he could turn. His body slumped to the floor; gun clattering to one side, his hand grabbing his bleeding thigh. The pain seared up through his body, burning with hell’s own fiery rage. His eyes went fuzzy from the shock and he gasped as the pain grew worse. He fought back tears.

‘We got him. The spy is out cold here.’

Fazer lifted his head as he heard the words spoken in his own tongue. ‘You will be sorry,’ he sneered loudly in German.

A shadow quickly overpowered his view. ‘You speak German?’ asked the Nazi.

‘You are a disgrace,’ Fazer spat.

‘And why is that?’

‘You serve that psychotic maniac! Look what he has done to our country’s honour.’

‘Oh so you are German.’ The Nazi crouched down, looking at the wound in Fazer’s leg. ‘You are on the wrong side, my friend. You disgust me. We are on the winning side.’

Fazer saw his other two team mates walking up behind him, keeping a distance of a few metres. ‘You… you are on the side of someone who cannot win. Hitler cannot take over the world – he is mad.’

The Nazi stood back up and called back to one of his team. ‘Have you found the stolen articles on the spy?’

‘A roll of film, sir. He must have photographed something.’

‘Do you know what the best thing about the British is?’ asked Fazer, his voice softening.

‘Do tell me before I kill you.’

Fazer glanced down the road and sighed. ‘They do not give in and follow a dictator.’ He laughed. ‘Welcome… to your fate.’

A gunshot rang out from the distance. One of the Nazi team went down. Another shot. The other collapsed in a sea of gasps as his throat was blown out.

The Nazi standing over Fazer turned around without hesitation and shot off a few rounds from his rifle. He darted over to his fallen comrade and grabbed the film from his dead fingers without a care for his demise.

Dad raced on in front of the armoured patrol car, his bike raging onwards like a bull. He felt a sharp pang of anger as he saw his friend on the floor, writhing in agony. ‘Damn you, you Nazi scum!’ he screamed as he angled his bike, aiming for the fleeing German.

It was a rough ride down the grassy slope. The Nazi turned to fire his gun.

The bullet missed Dad as he flew through the air, his bike toppling over. He landed on his enemy like a ferocious lion, wrestling the gun out of his hands and discarding it.

‘Bastard,’ he cried as he thumped the man in the face with such a force that it broke his nose. He pummelled him relentlessly, the Nazi not being given a chance until his life was beaten out of his body.

‘Dad? Dad!’ Bjorn ran down the hillside, dropping his sniper rifle, and pulled Dad out of his white rage. ‘He’s dead already.’

‘What about Fazer? Is he OK?’ Dad asked frantically, his voice breaking as he calmed himself down.

Bjorn looked up at one of his men, who nodded back at him. ‘He’s fine by the looks of it,’ he explained soothingly. ‘So is that Frenchman you told us about.’

‘Thank God for that.’ Dad looked at the badly bloodied corpse in front of him and noticed something clutched in the man’s hands. He prized it out and looked it over. ‘It’s the roll of film that Grnahh mentioned.’ He looked at Bjorn. ‘Good thing we got here when we did, eh Bjorn?’

‘Yeah, sure is.’

They made their way up the hillside and back to the road, the air stinking of petrol fumes and gunpowder.

Dad kneeled at Fazer’s side. ‘What are you doing on the floor, Fazer?’ he joked.

‘Well I am wondering what took you so long.’

Dad hung his head. ‘Yeah, sorry about that, mate.’

Fazer laughed. ‘You arrived just in time. One more minute and I would have been dead.’

‘Well that’s OK then. Come on, we need to get you into the car and get you to a medic.’ He took his friend’s hand and lifted him up, wrapping his arm around his waist for support. ‘Have you put weight on?’ Dad chuckled.

‘Yes I have, but you’ll carry me to safety anyway.’

‘That’s because you’re my friend, Fazer. We don’t do those bike rides for nothing, you know?’

‘You’re like a brother to me, Dad.’

Bjorn stood next to the car and watched Dad carrying Fazer toward him. ‘Look out men, there’s some male bonding going on.’ He smirked and ran his fingers through his hair.

Dad looked up at him. ‘We’re all brothers, Bjorn,’ he announced.

Fazer smiled to himself, eventually laughing.

**********

Thanks for reading. Episode three will be here next week! :-D

The Home Guard Episode One – Rescue

Here it is! Episode One of The Home Guard project. Enjoy!

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Episode One – Rescue

Date: March 16, 1941.

Location: Somewhere outside Cambridge.

The night air was cool underneath the blanket of stars, owls hooting one another from a nearby wood as they scavenged for their dinner of mice and shrews. Amongst the patchy woodlands and calm, rolling fields there was something unnatural creeping through; the stench of death and misery dripping off it like a waterfall.

The German transport truck rolled over the bumpy ground with an eerie cadence from its engine. A standard escort of two motorcycles and half a dozen light infantry accompanied it as it journeyed south with its cargo. The darkness was pierced only by the headlights and the moon, leaving the rest of the surroundings as dark as the underworld.

‘Bill? Bill!’ Drex peered through the night, his voice a razor sharp whisper.

From within the treeline came a shuffle followed by a hushed, deep voice. ‘What’s up, mate?’ Bill flicked open his pocket watch and attempted to read the time in the strained moonlight. ‘Should’ve expected as much,’ he cursed.

Drex ground his teeth anxiously. ‘You sure this is gonna work?’

With a sigh Bill rolled his eyes, taking satisfaction that his friend could not see the annoyance in his face. ‘There’s only one way to find out. Look… we’re to camp here until the convoy passes then we ambush. A nice little tactic, wouldn’t you say?’

‘Hmm… suppose so.’ Drex sat up from his place on the floor and dusted the front of his tunic down. ‘Bloody dirt,’ he grunted.

Bill patted his hand over the ground next to him, attempting to locate the binoculars. He grabbed them and brought them up to his face, angling them toward a distant bundle of encroaching lights. ‘Well hello there boys,’ he cooed before chuckling to himself menacingly.

‘I think you enjoy this too much y’know, Bill.’ stated Drex with a slight apprehension. ‘How they looking?’

‘Erm… two motorcycles leading the way in front of the truck; four guards trailing behind and to the sides. I expect there might be another couple in the back with the prisoners. Should be an easy run I think.’

Drex huffed. ‘I salute your optimism.’

They both waited for the Germans to edge closer and closer until they were only a few hundred yards away, about to enter the grassy path between the copses of trees.

‘Wait a minute,’ Drex blurted out suddenly, laying a hand on Bill’s shoulder. ‘What if we hit our guys? Santa’ll be firing blind, basically.’

Bill raised a knowing finger at Drex and smiled broadly. ‘Hence why I’ve gone and gotten a flare gun to fire at them. Every little flaw is covered, don’t you worry.’

Drex nodded firmly and hoisted his anti-tank rifle up from the floor and rested it into his shoulder. ‘I hope I can bloody well fire this thing properly.’

‘We’ve all been given training by the army boys, albeit a crash course, but we’re just as deadly to the Germans as anyone else.’

‘Have you been drinking?’

‘Hmmm… maybe a tiny little drop earlier.’ Bill glanced at Drex’s sceptical face that was now outlined in the moonlight. ‘Hey what do you expect? I just happened to stumble across a rather rare case of single malt in that house we passed by yesterday.’

‘That wasn’t yours.’

‘Can’t let it go to waste.’

‘How much you had exactly?’

Bill mulled it over. ‘Maybe… half a bottle?’

There was no point in arguing about it, Drex knew that much. ‘Oh bloody hell,’ he grumbled, rubbing his face. ‘Well this ought to make things fun.’

Bill slung his Thompson over his shoulder and moved as fast as he could while still crouching, his breath rhythmic and well-paced for a man with a stomach full of whisky. The few months he and the rest of the Home Guard had spent training physically had paid off.

Drex observed him moving deeper into the darkness of the tree trunk shroud. He sighed before adjusting his helmet and looking across the way. He cupped his hands over his mouth and attempted an owl call. He grimaced at the poor quality of it, but then laughed as a sharp whistle was sent back to him. ‘A lovely whistle there, Santa. Sounded just like an owl’

There was a pause in the air, waiting for the executioner’s axe to fall.

Santa gazed at the approaching headlights like a child mesmerised by Christmas lights. He adjusted the sight on his Lewis gun and eased his body into an effective position. ‘Come on then you filthy foreigners. Come and walk into my bullets.’ He let a small smile etch onto his face as he controlled his breathing.

Back in the gloom of the woods, Bill removed the flare gun from his belt and crept sideways as the motorcycles travelled past, closely followed by the truck and troops. He could feel a lump in his throat and cold sweat start to run down his back.

This was it.

Bill looped his finger around the trigger and aimed at the enemy. ‘One, two…’ He paused as he scrunched up his face. ‘Three.’

The flare gun fizzled as it was fired, a dazzling white jet of light hurtling toward the German escort. He laughed quite loudly as the entire scene was lit up. ‘Fantastic! Now that’s how you…’ He swore as he watched the infantry pointing their rifles and submachine guns in his direction. ‘Shit!’ He dived to his left as a hail of bullets ripped through the woodland. He could hear the motorcycles revving up along with the truck. He assumed they were going to try and escape. ‘Come on Drex.’

A deafening explosion reverberated through the night air as the anti-tank rifle hit its mark. The distant sound of swearing followed it.

Santa unleashed hell. The second cyclist flew from his saddle as the bullets slammed into his side. The bike rolled off to one side, out of control, while the other lay in a sea of flaming doom.

The truck skidded to one side and stopped as it collided with the fiery wreckage. The driver hopped out with his pistol only to meet a wave of bullets that turned his body into Swiss cheese.

‘Filthy foreigners!’ cried Santa from his machinegun.

Bill moved up from his belly, a feeling of dread rising into his throat. He sucked it up and raised his head, gun poised in his hands. He hoped that the Germans were distracted by Santa’s deadly stream of fire. He squeezed the trigger as he saw two of them backing into the trees for cover. They both went down with screams of agony as his Thompson answered their fears.

Where were the other two guards?

He pushed his doubts down and moved forward, reloading his weapon. His legs hesitantly took him towards the truck where he noticed the other two guards dead on the floor, riddled with holes.

Bill breathed a sigh of relief… that was until a German soldier jumped out of the back of the truck, quickly bringing his submachine gun up. He babbled in German, saying what Bill assumed to be something about dropping his gun and surrendering. Bill edged backward, the guard moving toward him.

Suddenly the German soldier careened to one side, half of his head having been blown off by something powerful.

Bill glanced to his left.

Drex laughed as he eased his anti-tank rifle onto his shoulder. ‘Now that’s what you call a headshot.’

There was a ruckus from the back of the truck, sounds of a fist fight ensuing. A thick, regional accent mumbled something angrily.

Bill and Drex watched as another German guard was tossed out onto the floor, his face bloodied and swollen from whatever encounter he had just seen. Two men dressed in Home Guard uniforms hopped down, one brandishing a pistol.

‘Try that again you Nazi bastard,’ the unarmed one said in a Black Country accent.

‘Sammo!’ Bill cheered.

‘About time you showed up,’ Sammo snapped

‘You can’t seriously be angry?’

‘What if you’d killed us by accident?’

‘Don’t worry, we had Santa on the machine gun… he had it covered.’

Sammo sighed heavily, annoyance still rising in his voice. ‘You nearly had Thule’s head off at one point.’

Thule laughed. ‘I’ve got a bit of a headache so it would’ve helped. No head, no headache.’

Drex walked up to the front of the truck and peered inside. ‘D’you think we could salvage this to take us back up north?’

‘Sounds good to me,’ replied Bill, still having a stand-off against Sammo.

‘I’ll leave you three love birds to get reacquainted while I go get Santa,’ Drex remarked before jogging off.

‘My back is killing me,’ Sammo eventually said, breaking the silence.

‘You’re both rescued now so less bickering, please.’ Bill looked around for any more activity.

‘What am I doing with him?’ asked Thule, the pistol shaking in his hand. Whether or not it was from rage or fear was only for him to know.

‘Take him with us as a prisoner, of course.’ Sammo ran his tongue over his lips, moistening the dried cracks in them, trying to calm down.

Thule nearly choked. ‘Are you serious? We can’t let another one live.’

‘Geneva Convention, mate.’ Sammo grabbed the gun from his hand. ‘Just calm down.’

‘Look, we need to get you guys away from here,’ Bill pleaded. ‘Let’s get you back into the truck.’

Sammo squared off against Bill, his eyes blazing. ‘Again… my back is killing me. I’m driving.’

‘OK, fine I’ll go in the back then.’

The sound of footsteps stopped their heated conversation. Drex returned with Santa in tow, his Lewis gun resting firmly in his hands.

Santa looked down at the captured guard. ‘Oh… you mean to say I missed one?’

Bill patted him on the shoulder. ‘Sorry mate but he’s our prisoner.’

‘Are you sure about that? I mean… he looks beaten up already. Could I have his kneecaps as a trophy?’

Drex laughed hard.

They all did.

‘OK lads,’ Sammo interrupted. ‘I’m driving.’

‘I’m up front,’ Drex butted in before anyone else, turning and racing to the passenger side seat.

Thule lifted the prisoner up and signalled for him to get in the back of the truck. They both climbed up, Thule throwing at smile at Bill as if to say thank you.

‘After you, Santa,’ said Bill.

‘Oh thank you, Bill. I want to keep an eye on this… this filthy Nazi foreigner prisoner.’ Santa eased his way up.

‘Everyone’s a filthy foreigner to you, Santa,’ Thule said from inside.

‘Bill?’

He looked up at Sammo who was now holding out his hand.

‘Thanks for saving us.’

Bill took his hand firmly and smiled. ‘It’s what friends do – look out for one another.’

**********

Thanks for dropping by and reading it :-)

The Home Guard Side Project

Hello all.

I am embarking on a writing project for the benefit of an online gaming clan called “The Home Guard”. The series will be set in an alternate timeline of World War II whereby the Germans successfully invaded Britain. The names of the characters are the names used by the gamers so they’re not your stereotypical Tom, Dick and Harry! :-)

Here is the prologue:

Prologue

It is springtime in the year 1941. The success of the Axis air force in “The Battle of Britain” over the RAF paved the way for Hitler’s “Operation Sea Lion”. In September 1940 the German forces, having won air superiority over the English Channel, parachuted over 12,000 troops into southern England to gain a foothold. Coastal defences were either taken or destroyed, members of the Home Guard, Territorial Army and the regular army captured, killed or pushed back, and Winston Churchill died after a direct hit on the war rooms.

Following their initial invasion force, a compliment of 2,000 panzers and a further 25,000 troops were brought in across the channel to help further the triumph of the Nazi jack boot as it made its way up Britain, turning the green and pleasant lands into smoky, ruined acres of rubble cities and muddy, sodden ground.

The remaining commanders of the Armed Forces created the “Commonwealth Line”, which people nicknamed “The Stiff Upper Lip”, that was a proposed line of defence running from Bristol in the west, over to Great Yarmouth in the east. This barrier would be held by anyone and everyone – armed forces, volunteers, and even willing young men stepped forward. The Commonwealth Line was not a line of weapons, artillery and tactics – it was a line of hope, strength and freedom.

To any of the HG guys reading this – thank you for dropping by and I’ll keep you all posted!

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