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  1. #41
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    Now? Thirteenth? Chosen ones? For the first time in his life, Gerhard felt something akin to panic rising in his chest. It was shock that held him in place while Kraus plunged the needle into his arm. Only afterwards did he manage to recall the rest of what the man had said to him. He was grateful to the nurse for interrupting what was certain to be a very awkward hour involving being stared at and asked questions about how he was feeling. How was he feeling? Gerhard looked down at the wound on his arm and pulled out a handkerchief to mop up the rivulet of blood and apply some pressure to the point of entry. He felt a bit cold where the needle had gone in, but that was about it. Should he feel something?

    When Kraus returned, he would find Gerhard sitting calmly where he had been left, holding a plain square to his arm. Not so much as a sweat touched his face, though the man's eyes belied a concern upon the sight of the bereft doctor.

    "Herr Kraus? What happened? Was it...the others..." Gerhard looked down at his arm, lifting the cloth away to inspect the wound. No blood remained, though the small hole in his skin was still visible. Should he be expecting to drop dead any minute? Berta...no, he needed to stay strong. "Should I expect something...unpleasant to happen?"
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #42
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    "Oh, I'm sure it will be fine," Kraus said in the forced, breezy tone of someone who had reason to believe that it would not, in fact, be fine.

    He inspected the tiny wound, then took Gerhard's temperature and felt for his pulse. The injection site looked... surprisingly good. The temperature and pulse perhaps only slightly elevated, if at all. Apparently Gerhard was tolerating it better than the others.

    "You are doing well, Gerhard," Kraus said. "Very promising."

    His tone had changed to genuine - if cautious - optimism.

    "I did not mean to worry you. There were... some complications with some of the other participants."

    'Some complications,' actually meaning 'everyone died.' But it wasn't as if he was going to tell Gerhard that.

    "I believe that I told you the original sample was from a Jew, and you know how they are..."

    Kraus ranted at length about 'the Jews' being untrustworthy, and the conspiracy he imagined they were pulling. Nothing was expected of Gerhard except polite nodding at appropriate points.

    "Well, Gerhard," Kraus finally said. "I'm so relieved that you weren't harmed by the enemy's tricks. I need to do rounds - just sit here and rest. If you're still doing well when I return, I'll clear you to leave."

    It was beginning to occur to Kraus to wonder why Gerhard was more fortunate than his comrades...
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #43
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    He had a feeling that the Doctor had expected to walk in to find a corpse lying on his chaise. That idea made him a bit nervous, but he couldn't deny the fact that he didn't feel any different than he had before the shot. Perhaps the serum he got was a dud? Or maybe it just took more time... Either way, he was stuck in Herr Kraus' office for an unknown amount of time. Which meant that he should probably be doing something useful with that time.

    As soon as he thought the coast was clear, Gerhard moved to the desk. Most of the files readily available were on patients in the hospital, but twelve files were sitting somewhat conspicuously apart in a lower drawer. Those might be the other recipients of the serum. So, if this information was here, then maybe the information where Isaac's parents were being held would also? Yes. Excellent. Gerhard committed the numbers and location to memory. Somehow he had to make it so that Kraus couldn't get a hold of them. He didn't need more people to torture or more deadly serum to make. He tucked the papers back into place and gingerly closed the drawer before returning to the chaise.

    So, if the serum came from Isaac, who was clearly not dead, why did things go so poorly for most of the other injectees? A bead of sweat dripped off his brow and he stared at the dark spot on his pant leg where it fell. Maybe things weren't going to go well for him either. He had to get this information out the office, though. The Resistance needed to know about the serum and Isaac's parents needed to be reunited with their remaining son. But how was he going to do that if he ended up dead?

  4. #44
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Upon returning from rounds, Kraus greeted Gerhard with a warm smile - and another check of his vitals.

    It didn't occur to him to worry about the security of his files with the young man alone in the office. Surely Gerhard was too bland and loyal to get up to anything untoward. Even if he did, none of the really sensitive stuff was here. The material from his secret experiments all stayed in the basement lab. The only thing in the office with even slight potential to damage him was the information about the Fishblatt parents - and even that potential was so exceedingly low as to be practically nonexistent. Why would anyone be concerned about an elderly couple incarcerated in a ghetto?

    "You are doing well, Gerhard!" Kraus said with cautious enthusiasm.

    Why was that? Was Gerhard going to survive the virus, as the prisoner had? Or had the injection failed for some reason? Was Gerhard's survival simply due to a dose somehow rendered ineffective?

    "It seems you are more fortunate than your comrades. You may go take a rest now. You've earned it. Come see me tomorrow, at your convenience. I will tell your commander that I need you in my office for the rest of the week to run tests. Don't worry - it will not be painful. Perhaps tedious, but not unpleasant."

    About this, Kraus was being honest. He would never treat a German soldier as he had treated his prisoner. Gerhard he saw as a person, after all - and Isaac he did not. Kraus would need to figure ways to get results that were more... indirect. That was why he had told Gerhard to allow so much time. If this worked, it would all be worth it.

  5. #45
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    Kraus' cautious optimism was not comforting in the slightest. It meant that the doctor thought the virus was working. Even if it was, Gerhard didn't want him thinking that it did. It would just mean that he would be the new guinea pig in Kraus' experiments and that was not a position in which he wanted to find himself. The week off of regular duties confirmed his suspicions. How was he going to get out of this? The only way was to convince Kraus that the virus had simply not worked...but how? Images of Isaac and the brutal details of his file flashed through his mind, giving him an idea.

    "It is only due to your excellent care, Herr Kraus," Gerhard stood, and in one fluid motion, knocked the tray of medical implements off the arm of the settee. The thermometer shattered on the floor, scattering mercury and shards of glass everywhere. "Oh, Herr Kraus, I am so sorry. Please allow me to - ouch." In picking up pieces of thermometer, a shard pierced his index finger. He dutifully continued to clean up his mess as long as the doctor would allow before pulling the shard from his finger, drawing blood. He took the handkerchief that he'd used on his arm and placed it over the wounded finger instead. "Again, I am so sorry for the bother - I will see you tomorrow. Good night, Herr Kraus."

    In a way, he was experimenting on himself. If the cut was still raw in the morning, the virus had failed. If it was healed...well, then he'd have to think of something. For now, though, he needed to focus on getting the Fishblatts out of Kraus' grasp.

  6. #46
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Kraus felt a flash of irritation with the lad's bumbling. Clumsiness was bad enough, but was Gerhard planning to take out the rest of his office contents with his ineffectual attempts to rectify the situation?

    When Gerhard cut himself, however, Kraus realized he had struck gold. He would be able to see firsthand if the incredible healing ability had transferred. Of course he would never have brutalized Gerhard as he did the prisoner... but if Gerhard was so determined to be a klutz and injure himself, Kraus would accept his good fortune.

    "Not to worry, my fine young man! Go get some rest. You've earned it! I'll see you tomorrow."

    And I'll be watching that cut carefully, he added silently to himself.

  7. #47
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    It felt as though a noose were tightening about his neck as he stepped out of the hospital and into the waning dreary afternoon. He caught himself, though, remembering the Fishblatts had been living under the proverbial noose for quite a good deal longer than he - and that the noose was certainly more of a reality for them. He had to act quickly, but naturally enough that he wouldn't get caught. First things first - he needed some paperwork.

    Technically, he was still on duty, so Gerhard returned to his usual duties. Being a clerk often meant delivering missives and information between camps and he chose this duty specifically to finish his shift. The series of documents needed signing and such took him past a series of prison camps and near a certain cottage by the sea. It was still waiting to happen because no one cared to drive that far in the rain on such roads. How fortunate. On his way to requisition a vehicle, he picked up some additional paperwork and filled it in for the Fishblatts. Death orders. He tucked them into an additional folder, put all missives into a sturdy canvas case, and prepared for a wet, uncomfortable ride by obtaining a slicker and several blankets. The blankets were placed in the boot as he checked the spare tire.

    The ghetto was not far from the base, uncomfortably close as he was certain many viewed it. Though run down, there was no debris in the streets - no German vehicle would be denied access to the area - so no means of doing so were allowed to be left along the roadway. Ger hard saw a few faces in windows, but they and any street passersby quickly averted their eyes. The hole in his gut deepened with every turn of their heads, but he grit his teeth. It wouldn't be like this forever. But for now - he had to play the part.

    He tapped on the door. It opened for him as its occupants stepped back into their hovel. Once inside he could see them, but he asked for assurances of their identities anyway. He instructed them to dress for the weather - the rest was implied. It seemed as though they expected what they assumed was coming. He couldn't meet their eyes. Not yet, at least. Ushering them out of the doorway, he placed a mark on their door and nodded toward the backseat of the vehicle. Again, the flashes of faces in the windows - but those faces were all looking at the Fishblatts - not at him. He tugged on the brim of his hat anyway, and moved the vehicle out of the grim setting as quickly as he'd come.

    The camps were further out from headquarters, past the warehouse district, which he took full advantage of. Taking a slight detour off of the main street, Gerhard parked behind a low shelter and turned to the occupants of the back seat. "I am acquainted with your son, Isaac. You will see him again if we succeed. Please, get in the back - I have a few blankets, but it will not be the smoothest ride. For this, I apologize." A faint smile accompanied the last line before his face returned to its typical stoic mein. If he were to allow himself any emotion now...it would likely give way to fear.

  8. #48
    Hirsch and Sara Fishblatt

    When they saw the Nazi officer standing outside the door of the hovel they had been forcibly relocated to, it was obvious to the Fishblatts what was happening. People had already been rounded up to be shipped to extermination camps in Poland; others had been marched out into the woods and shot. Since there was no crowd of fellow victims, it appeared that they were going to face the latter fate. Hirsch and Sara knew what that entailed - a bullet to the head for each of them, at close range. All that remained to be seen was how much humiliation and suffering was to be inflicted in the meantime.

    As they stepped through the doorstep into the street, they briefly clasped hands. A subtle gesture - a silent farewell. They had been married for a long time. They had watched all three of their children and their son-in-law dragged away to their deaths. Now it was their turn. Resistance was impossible. Dignity was all that was left - and they fully intended to maintain that to the end, as much as it would be allowed to them.

    People stared as they left... but no one met their eyes. Nor did Hirsch and Sara try to make eye contact with the officer who was taking them away. It would be seen as a sign of disrespect. But more than that, it was pointless. They had no desire to spent their last few moments on earth gazing at the man who would be their killer. Better to focus on each other, for as long as they could.

    The guards posted along the ghetto walls watched without interest. Those guarding the gate waved them through. After all, the guards were there to prevent escape or attempts at help from the outside. Prisoners being taken away by men in uniform was nothing remarkable.

    Getting in the car was a surprise for the Fishblatts. Everyone else had left crowded into vans to be taken to the trains, or herded away on foot. What did it signify? Maybe nothing...

    But then, their captor spoke. Hirsch suddenly felt light-headed and wondered if he was hallucinating. "Isaac is alive...?" Sara murmured - then caught herself. Talking was not a good idea. That was the sort of thing that would get you shot... and for now, they seemed to have borrowed a little more time. Both of them hurried to comply with the instructions that had been given without further comment, and waited to see what lay ahead.

  9. #49
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrecht

    This was the part that Gerhard was most dreading, though he knew it should be the easiest bit. His next stop was a death camp. With two Jews in the boot of his car. Still, no one need be the wiser if he kept his head. The soldier did his best to avoid the worst of the potholes, but couldn't allow himself to focus on steering around them. No one else did, so why should he? In too many agonizing minutes he was outside the door of the camp's main office. He left he car running and dashed inside with a handful of papers. The clerk at the front desk was required to obtain a signature from an officer somewhere on the grounds and left his desk with a weary sign, a sigh mirrored by Gerhard. As soon as the man was gone, he leaned forward, plucked the date stamp off the desk and stamped the fake order for the Fishblatt's with the day's date. The stamp was returned as he blew lightly on the paper before pushing it into the pile of outgoing mail. The man returned, handed him the signed document, and Gerhard was out the door and back in his car within five minutes.

    Once out of the compound, he let out the breath he didn't realize he had been holding. Sweat was rolling down his back, and he was sure down his face as well, but the rain kept him from knowing for sure. The next stop...the next stop was a small grocery store on the way out of the city. He bought enough items for himself and hoped it would be enough to last the pair until Gilda could send them more sufficient aid. On his way out, he chanced to spy a small rack of postcards - one of which happened to display a seaside view - which gave him an idea. It had been plaguing him how he would inform Gilda and Isaac of what he'd done without using the telephone or stopping by. But now, now he had a very nice idea. Groceries wrapped in some oil cloth, he dashed back out to the car and tucked them under the seat.

    How fortunate that Gilda had given him the address for her cottage. How he wished it was Berta in the car with him, flying over the roads to safety. Still, he couldn't think of better tenants than the two he had brought with him. Hopefully this cottage was as remote and unknown as she'd said. All he had to do was get there, settle the Fishblatts, and get back to the head office with the paperwork he'd had signed. Hopefully he would have time for a quick nap before seeing Dr. Kraus in the morning. That whole affair was something he didn't feel he had enough energy to deal with at the moment. Of course, his finger would still be cut and Kraus would surely be disappointed and send him home. He hoped against hope that he wouldn't be stuck in the hospital under observation for a week like the 'good doctor' had threatened.

    The dim day was fading into a pitch black night as the headlights struck the side of the small house. With the aid of his flashlight, he found the hidden key, opened the door, and did a brief search to ensure that the place was still safely uninhabited. To his relief, it was. Now, the Fishblatts. He opened the trunk and stepped back to allow the Fishblatts to exit. "Come now, it is all right. I am sorry for the rough ride. Please, go inside, I will join you in a moment." Retrieving the groceries, Gerhard ducked inside and placed the small package on the table. He fumbled for matches in his jacket and lit a candle before extinguishing his own flame. The Fishblatt's faces looked so pale and haggard. So many lines added because of fear, pain and hunger. It wasn't fair.

    "I have a few supplies here for you. It isn't much, I'm afraid. I did not want to arouse suspicion. Which brings me to this." He pulled the postcard and a pen from his jacket pocket, placing them both on the table. "Your son would recognize your hand, yes? If you would, please write 'Wish you were here' - in German, of course - and sign it 'G'. This should let him know where you are and bring him to you. For now, you are safe."

  10. #50
    Hirsch and Sara Fishblatt

    Hirsch and Sara Fishblatt climbed out of the trunk of the car - slowly, awkwardly. They were not as young as they used to be, with arthritic hips and knees, and they were far from peak physical health after months of deprivation and harsh conditions.

    They hadn't been sure what to expect... but certainly not this. They had assumed they were being driven to some new torment. But this just seemed to be a simple beach cottage. No soldiers. No guns. No dogs.

    ...And no barbed wire fence. No high walls of stone to keep them caged. By all appearances, they were free.

    For the first time, Hirsch actually took a good look at the man who had brought them here. No eye contact - too dangerous - but he risked a solid glance at the man's stature and demeanor. The uniform was terrifying. It always would be. But oddly, nothing else spoke of menace.

    "Sir, this is... I don't know what to say. We are so very grateful."

    Sara nodded, staring at the floor, afraid to convey the slightest sign of disrespect. "To know that Isaac is still alive. That perhaps we might... that we could see him again..."

    She was about to cry, and that wouldn't do. She wasn't sure how the officer would react to such a display of emotion. Fighting back tears, she took the postcard and printed the requested message in her customary neat penmanship and handed it back to Gerhard.

    Hirsch knew he should say more. If this was what it seemed, the officer had done an incredible service for them, and they must not seem ungrateful. But why had he done it? Why had a Nazi helped a family of Jews? Hirsch couldn't see the angle - what was in it for the young man. It was hard to know how to avoid being presumptuous. Say the wrong thing, and undoubtedly there would be a gun in their faces again.

    Was this about money? Did the officer expect to be paid off? Surely he couldn't imagine they still had anything left to pay him with? They had never been more than middle class, and even that was long gone.

    How to appear useful enough to continue to keep alive, without making promises they couldn't deliver on? He hedged his bets. "Sir, we don't know why... I can't imagine why you would be so generous as to help us... but... please know that we will do our best to compensate you for your efforts as soon as we are able. You will not regret this. Thank you."

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