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  1. #1
    False Flags (Historical - World War II Era)

    False Flags (Historical - World War II Era)

    Gilda Engel

    "You can tell me," Gilda said with a mock pout. "I like to know what you're doing at work. It makes me feel important."

    She met his eyes. He felt like he was drowning. Blue eyes like deep pools, like ocean waves...

    "We're liquidating the ghetto in the morning," he heard himself saying. He wasn't supposed to tell anyone that. He hadn't even told his subordinates yet. But what did it matter? This was just some silly girl, a pleasant diversion from the stress of war. "As soon as the sun rises, I'll give the order."

    "Oh, you will?" she said, her expression suddenly unreadable as she looked away from him. When she looked back, though, her face was as coy and worshipful as ever. "Let's drink to it, then!"

    Gilda poured two glasses of champagne, and raised hers in a toast.


    ***


    She poured him another glass, and another. Did he realize he'd polished off most of the bottle? He probably didn't care - as far as he knew, the worst thing he had to fear was a hangover.

    He was already stumbling as she took his hand and led him into the street, her high heels clicking on the cobblestones as they made their way to the spot with the broken streetlamp. She stopped dead center between the two lanes, gripped both of his hands, stared into his eyes, and began to sing. Minutes passed, and he didn't look away. He couldn't.

    She waited until she heard the hum of the incoming bus. Then abruptly, she dropped his hands, turned from him, and walked away.

    He stood alone in the street. Dazed. Unsure how he had gotten there or where he was supposed to go.

    The bus horn just made him blink in confusion. He didn't so much as turn to look as the brakes squealed and metal met flesh.


    ***


    Morning came.

    Party headquarters was informed that a terrible accident had taken place. No one thought to relay the news to his mistress - but of course, Gilda already knew.

    The order was never given. People who would have no idea how close they came to death saw another sunrise. And Gilda moved on to her next mark.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #2
    Headquarters of the Fae Resistance

    "Can't I just kill him?" Gilda asked bluntly.

    Staring down at the file in her hand, she had no doubt that the man deserved to die. Of all the monsters in the Nazi regime, Gilda hated their doctors the most. Those who had the ability and the duty to heal should not use their power to inflict harm. And even among the doctors, Dr. Hermann Kraus had distinguished himself as a villain. The file contained page after page of descriptions and photos of people he had tortured and maimed.

    "No," Marco said firmly. "I understand the desire to avenge this - and Kraus is no benefit to the world, trust me, I know that - but we have bigger fish to fry here."

    "Bigger fish than this?" Gilda asked in disbelief, waving the file in Marco's general direction.

    "Yes," he replied calmly. "Our intel people have recently started receiving reports that Kraus believes he's found the key to winning the war. He's been bragging that his new experiment will allow the German soldiers to plant their jackboots all over the globe. If we simply kill him without figuring out his secrets, then a successor will likely just take over the program and bring it to fruition. We need information. We need an in for getting information."

    He gave her a significant look. A look Gilda knew all too well.

    "You need me to seduce him," she said. More a statement than a question.

    "Yes. Do what you do best."

    Was that really what she did best? Gilda wondered, a cloud of depression starting to settle. But yes, it was what she did. The idea of sleeping with Kraus made her shudder, but lives depended on getting this information, and she didn't have a better option.

    "Oh, and one other thing," Marco said, trying to sound casual, like he'd only just remembered something, but not quite pulling it off. "The experimental subject."

    He pulled a black case across the table and opened it. Inside was an antique revolver.

    "I don't do guns," Gilda said - and really, Marco should know that. She had killed four Nazi officers in impeccable fake accidents - one falling off a balcony, one drowning at the seashore, one falling onto a train track, and the most recent manufactured bus accident. She had never shot anyone, and trying to do so now just increased the odds that she would fail.

    "In this case, that's the only option," Marco said, his voice suddenly intense. "The experimental subject is too dangerous to live. You have to use this gun to put him down." Anticipating Gilda's protest, he added, "It will be a mercy killing in this case. Trust me. But it is vitally important that you not leave a survivor. If you do, you risk the whole world falling into Nazi hands."

    Gilda bit her lip, and wondered if she had agreed to more than she bargained for with this mission.

  3. #3
    Gilda Engel

    In order to 'casually bump into' Hermann Kraus, it took a number of carefully veiled inquiries and some snooping around for Gilda to learn his schedule. When a secretary let slip that the doctor would be attending a party at the hospital where he worked, though, Gilda considered it a stroke of luck. It didn't take much to finagle an invitation when you were young and pretty and could act convincingly starstruck - especially when you already had the reputation for interest in men of a certain class.

    Her dress was a perfect match for her blue eyes, with a low enough cut to show off her physical assets without being scandalous. Her lips were red, and her curls fell fell in perfectly arranged waves. As she entered the hall, she got plenty of looks, which she returned with an appreciative smile that was entirely manufactured - everyone here had connections to either the Nazi party or the German military, and Gilda was not going to make any friends. She had eyes only for her target.

    "Doctor Kraus?" Gilda asked when she managed to spot him, as if were a happy coincidence. Her voice was breathy, full of admiration. Men like Kraus generally enjoyed a good simper, Gilda knew, and apparently he was no exception. "Sir, it's so wonderful to meet you. I'm a great admirer of your work!"

    Kraus looked her up and down - not even bothering to hide it, or to refrain from taking a good stare at her chest. "Nice to meet you too, Miss...?"

    "Engel. Gilda Engel." Touching her lips. Touching her hair. Shy smile.

    "Miss Engel, then," He smiled back at her. "You don't strike me as the type to be interested in medicine or science. So tell me - what is it about my work that has so intrigued you?"

    "You do so much for our soldiers! You're making our army strong, and promoting the purity of our race!"

    Gilda wasn't sure she'd managed to make that sound convincing, but Kraus didn't question it. It appeared to be the answer he'd expected, and the ego flattery he craved. "Would you like to hear more about it?" he asked affably.

    "Oh, I would be honored, sir!" Playing with her hair again. Smiling coyly, looking up at him through her lashes. Lightly brushing his forearm with her fingertips.

    Nothing Kraus told her was of any substance - it was more just vague bragging about terribly secret projects for the military that were far too important to disclose - but that was all Gilda expected at this stage. Extracting information took time, and there was no alternative to spending that time with Kraus to accomplish it.

    The doctor seemed to enjoy having an appreciative audience, and when the time came to be seated for dinner, he took her arm to escort her to the table. Gilda smiled. He would think it was because she was flattered, but in reality, she was thinking he was a surprisingly easy nut to crack, especially for a married man. A little flattery and a few eyelash flutters, and he was rapidly turning into putty.

    "What do you think of the hospital?" he asked during dinner, shoveling a forkful of beef into his mouth. "An impressive facility, no?"

    "Very much so," Gilda agreed. "If it's not too much trouble, perhaps you would consider giving me a tour?"

    "A... private tour?" he asked with a sparkle of anticipation in his eyes.

    Gilda nodded, averted her eyes, and answered with a charming little giggle and a nod of her head that bounced her curls playfully.


    ***


    An hour later, they were sweaty and entwined on his office couch. She allowed him to kiss her, to loosen her dress and slide his hands beneath, but when he went to unzip his pants, she playfully swatted his hand away.

    "We've just met!" she chided him with a smile. "And I am a lady. If that's what you want, you'll have to work a little harder to woo me."

    Gilda knew that a man like Kraus relished the chase. Give him too much too soon, and he would lose interest. She had to allow him just enough to pique his interest, but not enough to satisfy.

    Kraus grinned back. "Then I suppose we'll have to see each other again, won't we, so I can woo you properly?"

    Gilda bit her lip and nodded encouragingly, and he kissed her deeply again. Then Kraus sat up and started straightening his attire. "Well, I suppose we should get back to the party, shouldn't we? How did you enjoy your tour?"

    "It was fascinating!" Gilda gushed. In reality, though, she had seen absolutely nothing helpful. It was just an ordinary hospital, mostly treating soldiers who had been wounded in the field. Wherever Kraus was conducting his cruel experiments - it wasn't here. At least not anywhere that he'd shown her. She decided to take a risk. "Is this really where you do all the amazing research that I've heard and read about? I can't believe I really got to see where genius is at work!"

    "Oh, the real work takes place in the basement," Kraus said casually. "That's where my truly innovative research happens. But of course, I can't just show all that to civilians. Policy, you see."

    "Of course," Gilda replied amiably. "I would never ask you to compromise our county's safety to satisfy my curiosity."

    Jackpot! Maybe this was going to be easier than she had expected...


    ***

    When they emerged from his office, they discreetly went their separate ways. Not that it wasn't painfully obvious what had been going on in there. Gilda beelined for the powder room, her hair in disarray and her dress badly askew, giving knowing smiles to a few people who met her eyes as she passed.

    Alone in the powder room, Gilda dropped the bolt to lock the door, then bent over the toilet and vomited uncontrollably, voiding all of the expensive dinner she had just eaten. She frantically wiped her face, hands, and other exposed skin. Still she felt dirty where the Nazi doctor had touched her. She rinsed her mouth out again and again, but she imagined she could still taste him. She couldn't wait to go home and stand in the shower till the hot water ran out. Maybe then she would finally feel clean.

    Gilda arranged her hair again, reapplied her lipstick, pasted a smile of triumph on her face, and exited the powder room wearing the countenance of a proud woman who had caught the interest of the great doctor himself.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 07-06-2019 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #4
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    He never would have been invited to one of these parties and if he had been, he would have politely declined. It wasn't as though he disliked gatherings per se - at home he had certainly enjoyed himself at many a barn dance and festival, drinking his fair share of beer and laughing with his friends. Therein lay the problem - these people were not his friends. They were his countrymen, but they had little in common beyond that.

    Fortunately, he didn't have to dwell on this subject at this point in time. Today he simply found himself at the dinner because he had a missive for Herr Doctor Klaus from High Command. The party was dispersing as he arrived and he caught a glimpse of the doctor on his way out of his office. Gerhard put some extra speed into his step to catch him up, announced his presence and passed over the papers he had been given. He couldn't help but notice that the doctor had lipstick on his chin and collar and one of the buttons on his suit was undone. Gerhard subtly indicated the general locations of the evidence of impropriety. As much as he didn't care if anyone saw Herr Kraus in such a state, the doctor would know that he hadn't assisted him as soon as he saw himself in a mirror, which could go poorly for Gerhard's commission.

    His mission completed, Gerhard turned to leave - and came up short. That woman. No one could keep their eyes off her: men clearly wished to pursue her and the jealousy on the faces of the women was unmistakable. However, he was interested in her for a completely different reason. As a glorified delivery boy, he saw a great many officers regularly and at various times of the day. This woman had been on the arm of many a high-ranking general as of late, so it really wasn't surprising that she was a guest at this party as well. Still, something seemed off.

    Perhaps it was the fact that many of those officers were now dead. He shook his head - now he was being ridiculous. All those deaths had been ruled accidental. How would a woman such as that be able to throw a man in front of a bus? She couldn't have - but if his time in a law office had any impact on him, it was how coincidences often weren't. Gerhard moved toward a wall, scanning the assembled guests, but kept an eye on Gilda. He couldn't confront her with anything as he didn't even have a real suspicion, but he could keep an eye on her to see if he could determine what her game was.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  5. #5
    Gilda Engel

    Once she thought she was unobserved - one could never be sure, and Gilda knew she attracted attention, but she didn't notice anyone paying heed to her - Gilda made a beeline for the basement access stairs. Although she was nervous about the uncertain nature of the mission, better to get it over with as soon as possible. Now that she had the location, with any luck she might not have to deal with Kraus again at all.

    "Excuse me, miss?" a young officer said, stepping into her path as she entered the restricted area. "Are you lost? This part of the building is off limits to civilians!"

    "Oh, Herr Doctor Kraus put me on the pass list," Gilda assured him. "See - there are my initials. G.E. for Gilda Engel."

    Of course, Gilda was not, in fact, on the pass list. She merely shared initials with someone who she knew was on it: Gerhard Einsbrect. Under normal circumstances, no soldier would fall for such an obvious ruse. But Gilda gave him a siren smile, and he held open the door for her. She hastily made her way down the hallway before the effect wore off, and ducked down the basement stairs once she was out of his line of sight.

    As she crept down the stairs, Gilda tensed - and not just because she was doing something insanely dangerous, breaking into a restricted area of a Nazi-run hospital. No, the reason for Gilda's rising dread was that she began to sense the presence of another immortal. It was rare to meet an immortal in Germany these days - most seemed eager to get as far away from the current regime as possible - but there could be no doubt.

    Suddenly, it all clicked into place. There was a reason Marco had insisted she take the gun. With shaky fingers she fished it out of her purse and pried it open to investigate, and her suspicions proved right. The gun contained silver bullets.

    They want me to fight a werewolf! Gilda realized with blinding panic. There was no way she could win that fight. Gilda had no idea if her song would even work on a Lycan, and even if it did, the sheer difference in their physical size and strength would put the odds strongly against her. Had Marco sent her here to die? But that made no sense. She was a loyal and valued agent with a powerful unique skill; why waste her on a suicide mission?

    Only because she couldn't think of a better alternative, Gilda continued down the stairs, her heart pounding. She stayed alert for guards, but didn't see a soul as she walked down the empty corridors. Most of the doors stood open, and she saw bare cells awaiting new occupants. Two doors were shut. She pushed open the first of them, and found herself in a tiny operating theater. Gilda shuddered. She wasn't particularly afraid of hospitals in general, but this room just felt... wrong. Contaminated with darkness by all the dark deeds that had surely been done here.

    A single file folder lay open on the desk in the corner. Gilda picked it up and began to read... and as she read, her heart broke.

    The experimental subject had been a concentration camp inmate. Jewish. An ordinary man, by all accounts. But then he had been beaten by a camp guard for some unspecified and possibly nonexistent offense. He was not expected to survive the vicious attack, and Kraus had been summoned the next day, expecting to find him dead or nearly so. Instead, the man was alive, and well on the road to recovery. Kraus had been intrigued... which was never a good thing.

    Gilda continued reading. His interest piqued by the miraculous recovery, Kraus had ordered the man to be brought to his lab at the hospital for further experimentation; such things normally took place right in the camps, but it seemed Kraus wanted some privacy for this little endeavor. Kraus had identified an unknown virus in the man's blood - Gilda found a detailed diagram Kraus had meticulously drawn of it - and Kraus had postulated that this virus was responsible for the man's unusual healing.

    Then Kraus had seen fit to test his guess. For the past three weeks, the Lycan had been imprisoned here. Every day since, Kraus and his men had come in to break his bones. They would measure his healing, then repeat the procedure the next day. Over and over and over. Gilda gasped, and felt like she was going to be sick.

    So Marco hadn't sent her here to fight a Lycan. He had sent her to execute a torture victim.

    Her horror was so deep that Gilda felt numb. Almost as if propelled by something outside herself, she fished a set of keys out of the desk, then unlocked and unbolted the door to the adjoining room.

    The man in the cell lay curled on his side on the cold concrete floor - a slightly less painful option than the hard springs of the bed frame with no mattress. He was filthy, emaciated and malnourished, clad only in a thin hospital gown. Numbers stood out starkly in black tattoo ink on his forearm. The Lycan didn't seem to notice Gilda's entrance. His breathing was shallow and uneven. His life was ebbing away, his body unable to withstand the prolonged mistreatment he had suffered. Gilda suspected that without intervention, he would be gone in a few hours.

    She knew what she had been sent here to do, and why Marco had decided that a rogue Lycan was too dangerous to live.

    Gilda couldn't help thinking about the torture this man had suffered. What that would do to a person's body. To their mind and soul. And she made a decision.

    It couldn't end this way. Not in this cell, his last moments full of agonizing pain.

    "Hey, look at me," she said, kneeling beside the Lycan. She took his head in her hands, and he mustered enough energy to meet her eyes. "You aren't going to die tonight," she said firmly. "This isn't your time. You're going to live to be old. The pain will end soon, and not by your death. You just have to trust me, and keep fighting."

    The Lycan gave her an almost imperceptible nod.

  6. #6
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Gerhard Einsbrect


    The woman began moving away from the main ballroom, which piqued his interest. Shouldn’t one such as her be looking for the life of the party? Gerhard followed at a distance and when the guard stopped her, he breathed a sigh of annoyance and relief. However, much to his great disbelief, he let her pass into the stairwell! He gave it a few seconds, then practically ran up to the man. He seemed to be in some sort of stupor - what did she do to him? Was it some sort of spray that semi-knocked people out? It didn't really matter. The guard came around and Gerhard reiterated his urgent need to follow the woman down into the basement. After painful seconds pulling out his identification and waiting for the man to find his name on the list, he was finally free to pursue the blonde woman. As he made his way down the steps, he hoped he had made the right choice not bringing another officer with him. It really would make no sense to alert anyone else – yet. If she was up to something, then all he’d have right now is a woman who was “lost” and he’d have tipped his hand. No, Gerhard needed to see what she was up to and catch her at it.

    He moved silently through the hallway, which was no mean feat under the circumstances. Fortunately, he saw the woman's silhouette framed in one of the open doorways for a moment. As he crept toward his quarry, Gerhard had a moment to observe his surroundings. He peeked into the rooms as he passed - they looked more like cells than a place for a patient to recover. Perhaps they were for the patients that became violent during treatment. That seemed plausible, but he couldn't help but think that if he were mentally...shaken, that being in a room like this wouldn't help him feel better. He inched closer and peered in the room. She was gone...but there was another room and the door was open. Gerhard started to move toward the door, but stopped at the open folder. Maybe it had to do with whatever was on the other side of this wall - what she came down here after.

    It came to his mind that he probably should have drawn his pistol as he leaned over the folder and began skimming the report. What he read made him forget about the pistol. About the woman. About the room that housed - something. A man. Just...a....man. With a gift for healing, certainly, but that was no excuse...for this. When he surfaced, Gerhard found that his hand was clamped firmly over his own mouth, stifling all sound. He felt like he was choking. Doctor Kraus was a monster. So much for the Hippocratic Oath. So, if he had been testing this man then the other room...

    He wasn't sure what he was expecting to find. The woman was bent over the...thing on the ground. The lump with a green cotton shift barely looked like a man. Gerhard heard the woman's assertions and realized that he was, at this very moment, going to have to make a choice. It should be obvious. He should be grabbing her by the arm, locking the door behind him and turning her in to the authorities. But could he really do that? After what he had just read? After what he was seeing right now in front of him?

    A sharp cough would alert Gilda to his presence, if she wasn't aware of it already. Gerhard did his best to look imposing, thin and blind as he was - he still had his uniform. His nose twitched and his mouth moved as though it was full of marbles. Finally, he spat out the words, throat tight with emotion so they sounded strained.

    "Well. What do you intend to do with him, Fraulein? This was your target all along?"

  7. #7
    Gilda Engel

    "My target?" Gilda repeated with a note of mockery in her voice. The anger masked terror. She'd been caught red-handed by a Nazi, and now she and the Lycan were both most assuredly about to die. Einsbrect was so loyal he was practically an automaton. If he didn't shoot them both on the spot, he would go get Kraus - and then things would be even worse.

    Gilda wasn't afraid to die. She had never expected to survive the war. Eventually, her work would catch up to her. It wasn't as if she had anyone to mourn her. Still, she was full of the fear and deep regret that she was going to break her promise to the tortured Lycan, because she wasn't going to be able to save his life.

    "No, he wasn't my 'target.' I didn't even know who was down here - though I'm sure you did. I'm just surprised you were able to stop kissing the Führer's butt long enough to notice what I'm doing. Or did you just come down to admire your Nazi handiwork? Torturing a defenseless man - there's that fabled German bravery, hm?"

    If she got him annoyed enough, maybe she could distract him long enough that she could get the gun that unfortunately was no longer in her hand. She had set it down to help the Lycan. But she could sing to Einsbrect. Sing a siren song, mesmerize him long enough to reach the gun, and shoot him point blank. Would someone from upstairs hear the shot? Could she drag the wounded Lycan out in time? Gilda would just have to take the risk.

    She wouldn't get the chance, though, because the Lycan started taking gasping breaths, barely able to get air. Gilda knew she couldn't do both. She couldn't use her powers for two separate things at once. She had to choose. Since the whole thing would be pointless if the Lycan died, she decided to take the risk of ignoring the Nazi and hoping he waited a few minutes before pulling the trigger, even if only out of curiosity.

    “Trust me,” Gilda told the Lycan again. She stared deep into his eyes and started to sing. This was something she’d never tried before – a new use for the siren song. She could only hope it would work. Her eyes commanded obedience, and her will overrode the failings of a dying body.

    Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing.

    He couldn’t do it on his own. But she could force him to.

    Heart, keep beating. Heart, keep beating. Heart, keep beating.

    The damaged organs couldn’t resist her. He began to breathe more deeply, absorbing more oxygen. His heartbeat became stronger and more regular.

    The body begins to heal itself. The pain eases. The hurt seems far away.

    It was enough. Not enough to heal him – that would be a long road, if he got that chance – but enough to keep him alive for now. The Lycan was breathing better again, and he wasn't quite so pale or lifeless. It might all end in a hail of bullets in a moment anyway... or if Kraus found out, she would soon be occupying the next cell.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 07-17-2019 at 07:46 PM.

  8. #8
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    Gerhard Einsbrecht

    It took a moment for the barrage of words to sink in. Her venomous accusations raised his indignation, then kicked it off the pedestal it had come on. His face burned even as the bile rose in his throat. It was unfair to be accused of bringing about this man's torture, certainly, but how could he claim to be clean when he wore the uniform of a regime that approved every scar this man now bore? The hatred in her eyes brought him to his senses. 'She would end me,' he thought, 'given any more of a chance, this woman would certainly leave me to rot in a pool of my own blood in this cell.'

    Again, the pistol at his side came to his mind, but again he pushed the thought away. The last thing he needed was to antagonize this woman any further. Even when he gained an opening - her attention diverted to the man on the floor - his arm stayed obediently at his side. Gerhard could she her glancing his way, as though she felt herself walking a wire, which seemed curious. Until it happened.

    The voice - her voice - the one that had accused so carelessly seconds before, was now so tender. It had lost none of its power, certainly it seemed as though she had gathered up all the air around her to pour out her song. Gerhard hadn't found any to breathe, at least - or perhaps he'd just forgotten to. He could almost see the words move from her mouth to the injured man's body. And then, miracle of miracles, his body listened. A virus that could heal broken bones? A song that could save lives? Impossible. And yet, the proof was before him.

    His body gasped for air, heart thrumming in his ears. The choice loomed over him more insistently now, like it was a living thing - and he, admitted - it was two living things. Gerhard's mind raced through possibilities, but he stopped it. The order of things was more important that getting something done quickly. First things first. How had she expected to get out...the morgue, perhaps. Yes, that would work. He looked down at the man. Certainly he could be carried, but his condition likely wouldn't handle rough treatment. His eyes met Gilda's and attempted to hold their attention long enough to relay his information.

    "I will get a gurney. You have transportation waiting, yes?" He glanced upwards, "Don't worry, Fraulein, these tiles are meant to keep sound where it is. Your presence likely has not been detected, but we should move before Herr Doctor decides to check in on his desk, hm?" Gerhard didn't wait for an answer, and merely left the way he came, turning left once he made the hallway. The morgue would have a gurney to move this injured man. Retrieving it, he paused long enough to pick up an axe from a fire prevention station, then pushed returned to the room. A plan was forming in his mind as eh pushed the simple cart through the open door, staying well back in case she had brought something even more fatal than her opinions.

    "Fraulein do you need assistance lifting him? We must hurry. And, of course, I need a good excuse for the...loss...of a "prisoner". I assure you, this" he set the axe against the edge of the door and stepped back once more, "is not for either of you. But it would be a shame if it ended up on my neck."

    Gerhard hoped his intentions were clear. While he agreed that the man in the cell should not have been treated the way he had been, while he hated the war almost as much as she did, he wasn't willing to die on this particular hill if he could help it.

  9. #9
    Gilda Engel

    Well, Gilda thought. That was certainly an unexpected turn.

    She nodded when Gerhard asked if she had transportation. "My car is outside," she confirmed.

    It was a modest vehicle - it wouldn't do to call undue attention with something flashy - but to do her work, a car of some sort was sometimes necessary. Finding gasoline for it was often another matter entirely, but for tonight she had the ability to get herself and the former captive away from the hospital.

    When Gerhard left on the pretext of getting a gurney, Gilda decided she might as well wait and see what he would do. If he was telling the truth, it would help tremendously. She half expected him to return with Kraus, and she was prepared to fight them both off as best she could... but no, he returned alone with the gurney as promised.

    He was right that she had planned to use the morgue exit. It was by necessity somewhat concealed by walls and hedges - Kraus wouldn't want civilians seeing him removing the bodies after his experiments - so while it wasn't perfect cover, it was both the best and the most direct option.

    "Yes please," she replied when Gerhard asked if she needed help getting the Lycan onto the gurney. He weighed next to nothing relatively speaking, starved as he was, but lifting a person was still cumbersome, and she would be able to shift him more comfortably up from the floor with a second set of hands. Attacking Gerhard with the axe wasn't even a thought, though she didn't entirely trust him. An axe would be an even more unwieldy weapon for her than a gun. For now, best to bide her time and see what he would do.

    He helped. He just... helped. Once they reached the morgue, Gilda could handle the rest herself. It would be easy enough for one person to push the gurney up the ramp, and then shift the occupant directly to her backseat. She grabbed a black body bag out of the morgue, planning to spread it over the Lycan for the duration of the drive, hiding him from view at a casual glance. Not a great ruse, but it only had to last the short distance back to her apartment building.

    It was only when they got to the morgue that Gilda finally started to believe that Gerhard wouldn't double cross her. By that point, he would have gone too far, disobeyed too many orders for it to be a ruse. If he reported her now, it would be his own neck too, not just hers. Gilda wondered why he had done it. Was he Resistance too? There were many more people in the Resistance than Gilda had met or knew about - it had to be that way, so no single person knew too much if they were captured, and also just because many resisted in their own ways without joining an organized effort.

    She didn't think Gerhard was one of them, though. He had hesitated. He had genuinely hesitated about helping the wounded Lycan... but ultimately he had done the right thing. That made Gilda wonder if there was hope for the taciturn soldier yet.

    "You need to understand something, Einsbrect," Gilda said softly. Her voice was serious, but not angry. "This wasn't an isolated incident. Kraus isn't one bad apple. This sort of thing has become commonplace under the Reich. There are many more like this poor man. Millions. I'm grateful that you helped save the life of one man - and he'll certainly be glad of his survival - but by fighting on their side, you condemn others to the same death. You could look away... but please don't. There are options. You could get out of it. It's not too late to turn your back on the Nazis and help stop this madness. If you decide you want to escape it, come to my apartment tomorrow afternoon."

    This was less of a risk than it might have seemed. Everyone knew where Gilda lived - it wasn't a secret. She had to take the Lycan there anyway, though, because he needed time to recover. The cottage was safer, but in his weakened state, the Lycan wouldn't survive a trip that far. It had to be her apartment. Inviting Gerhard wouldn't make any difference; if he wanted to bring the Gestapo, he could do so either way. But somehow she didn't think he would.

    "Come alone, and in civilian clothes, or I won't open the door. Don't answer me now. Think about it. Come tomorrow, or don't. But remember what you saw tonight, and what is at stake. And Herr Einsbrect... thank you. Truly, thank you."

    Without waiting for a response, she pushed the gurney out the morgue door and into the night. Whether he came the next day or not would be his reply.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 07-23-2019 at 07:48 PM.

  10. #10
    Gilda Engel

    Once the apartment door closed behind them and the shades were tightly shut, Gilda let out a sigh of released tension. They weren’t exactly in the clear, but they were far less exposed here than out on the street. She helped the Lycan to the bed – her bed, the only real place to lie down comfortably in an apartment too tiny to fit a sofa – and tucked the blankets around him, then went to the stove to heat some broth.

    “I know you’re hungry,” she said. “But just eat this for now. You’ll get sick if you eat too much too fast. Your stomach has to adjust.”

    She helped him drink the broth and part of a glass of water, then gave him a couple of aspirin to swallow with the remaining liquid. It was a pathetic offering, really; the pills wouldn’t even take the edge off the pain caused by such torture, but it was the best she could do. She had no way to access morphine or any other stronger medicine, and giving him something seemed better than giving him nothing.

    At one point he attempted to muster the energy to thank her, but Gilda shook her head. “Don’t try to speak,” she said. “Save your strength. We’ll talk in the morning.” The Lycan nodded gratefully, and Gilda eased him into a lying down position and tucked a pillow under his head. He was asleep before she’d even pulled her hand away.

    He didn’t wake up during the night, but Gilda slept restlessly. Not because she was taking her own rest on the rug with a pillow and blanket – she’d slept in worse places – but because despite her optimistic words, she wasn’t entirely confident he would be able to survive the night. Every time she checked on him, though, his breathing was a bit steadier and his pulse was stronger.

    By morning, he seemed much improved. A human would have taken far more time to recover, and even a Lycan wasn’t going to be back on his feet for a few days, but immortal healing was already kicking in.

    “Thank you!” he said the moment he was awake and caught a glimpse of Gilda.

    “You don’t have to thank me,” she replied, averting her eyes. It was kind of him to do so, but he really shouldn’t have to thank her. He should never have been sent to a concentration camp. He should never have been tortured by a doctor without a conscience. So much injustice had been done to him, and any small effort she might make to clean up the damage surely didn’t merit gratitude. Nothing she could do would give him back what was stolen from him. Changing the subject so he wouldn’t try to offer further thanks she didn’t deserve, she said, “I’m Gilda. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

    “I’m Isaac,” the Lycan replied. “Nice to meet you too. I wasn’t much of a conversationalist last night.” He glanced around the room, taking in his new surroundings. Gilda was a bit self-conscious about her shabby lodgings, but Isaac wasn’t scrutinizing her home. He was looking at her rather extensive collection of books – the only thing about the flat that personalized it to Gilda, and the one indulgence she allowed herself. “You have an impressive library,” he said with a smile.

    “Oh, you’re a reader?” Gilda asked, surprised. Most people in the social circles her work required her to frequent didn’t admit to an interest in books, particularly the men.

    “I am,” he told her. “I used to be a librarian before the war. I miss it.” Spotting one particularly well-loved book, he quoted, “And many knots unraveled by the road…

    But not the master-knot of human fate,” Gilda finished with a sad smile.

    She warmed up his breakfast, and he was able to manage a bowl of porridge as well as some more broth. A good sign, Gilda hoped. She helped him to bathe – the necessity of which clearly caused him some embarrassment, but it couldn’t be helped, not while he was too weak to make it to the tub on his own. Isaac was polite enough not to ask why a woman who clearly lived alone had a few sets of clean men's clothing pushed to the back of her closet. Finally she assisted him with shaving, then combing the nits out of his hair. He was actually quite a handsome man, she realized.

    Isaac, however, was thinking in a more self-conscious direction. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not normally a dirty person. I don’t want you to think badly of me. It’s been months since I’ve had a way to clean myself properly…”

    This apology, like the thanks, was not something Gilda was emotionally prepared to accept. “I’m not judging your hygiene,” she assured him. “After what you went through… it’s a miracle you’re alive at all. I’m not wondering how you didn’t manage a bath in the middle of it.”

    “You’re probably wondering how a Lycan ended up in such a position, though, right…?” There was no point bothering to hide what he was. Not from her. She would have sensed it, just as he had sensed and smelled that she was an immortal too. “We’re supposed to be strong…”

    “No, I was not wondering that,” Gilda said firmly. “It would not have occurred to me to wonder why one werewolf couldn’t stand up to the entire military might of the Third Reich. That seems rather obvious. And you are strong. You have to be, or you wouldn’t still be here talking to me.”

    “I’m really not.” He looked down, ashamed. “You wouldn’t say that if you had seen me with Kraus. I… I wasn’t brave about what he did. I screamed. I cried. I begged…”

    “Of course you did!” Gilda’s voice took on a slightly higher pitch with the vehemence of what she was saying, though her volume didn’t increase. “Of course you did. Anyone would have. Good heavens, Isaac, we’re immortals but we’re not superhuman. You can’t hold yourself to that impossible standard. You suffered. But you survived. That’s the definition of bravery.”

    “Thank you,” Isaac whispered, and lightly squeezed Gilda’s hand. “Thank you, that means a lot to hear. It’s been hard. I almost don’t know who I am anymore. I guess I’ll just have to figure it out.” His gloom passed quickly – with major effort on his part, if Gilda was any judge of character – and he smiled at her again. “So… I’m guessing siren, since you kept me alive by singing to me?”

    Gilda nodded. “Sorry about that. I don’t usually bewitch nice people, but it was an emergency.”

    Isaac shrugged. “You kept me alive. I’m not going to question the method. She combs with a gilded comb, preening,/And sings a song, passing time./It has a most wondrous, appealing/And pow'rful melodic rhyme. Did I get that one right?” When Gilda nodded, he said casually, “I’ve always thought it wasn’t really her fault, though.”

    “What do you mean by that?” Gilda replied cautiously.

    “Well, she was just sitting there. Combing her hair, singing to herself. It had nothing to do with him. If he’d just let her live her life – if he hadn’t felt entitled to a pretty woman just because she existed – nothing bad would have happened to him. Don’t you think?”

    “I agree.” Gilda was smiling broadly now, though Isaac wasn’t quite sure what he’d said that caused this particular reaction. “I think I like you,” she added. “I’ll go get you some more porridge.”

    "Thank you," Isaac said again as he ate. Realizing that she was going to cut that short again, he insisted. "No, really, thank you. What you did for me... it's incredible. Rescuing me last night, and then opening your home. I know it's a lot. I promise I won't impose on your hospitality too long."

    "You can stay as long as you need," Gilda assured him. "My associates and I will help you get out of Germany once you're better, but you need to get stronger first."

    "I don't want to put you out," he said anxiously. "Giving up your bed, stretching your ration coupons between two..."

    "It's no bother," she replied. "I promise, it's not. I enjoy the company."

    It wasn't just a platitude to comfort him, she realized. It was genuinely true.

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