Blood on Thy Hands

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Artemis, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. Blood on Thy Hands

    Forever the Fuhrer
    Forever the Imperium
    Forever our Loyalty

    Forever our Perseverance
    Forever our viciousness, as well as our Benevolence
    Eternal our Oath
    Righteous is our Crusade
    Forever the Imperium

    - Oath of the Imperial Soldier


    November 28, 1945
    Imperial controlled Dublin, Ireland
    Eastern Division Headquarters

    Oberst Kline strolled out from a building that served as his lodging. His feet parted the veil of mist as dewed grass bowed before him. It was barely dawn in Dublin. The sun hinted at the tree lines, but the city remained in pitch blue twilight.

    The era of clockwork was the Imperium’s greatest boon. Weapons were created that far exceeded surrounding European countries. Their gears, carefully fitted to rifles, didn’t jam like France’s. The gears on the tank took the brunt of mortar fire. Their air force dominated with the combination of clockwork and steam. Steam. It was relatively new to the world, but the Fuhrer’s scientist were ingenious. Somehow, they had made the two work in tandem. With the rebirth of the Imperium, orders were made anew. Though weary from Europe’s Reunification, the Imperial Wehrmacht’s heart pulsed as strong as ever. Their target was America. Their greatest threat since the damn communists to the west. They, of course, were pacified at the moment.

    Kline returned a salute to a passing patrol as his boots clapped against paved streets. He was the perfect image of pure Aryan. His hair was a bright blonde, his eyes a piercing ice blue, and his physique so toned that he could model for the recruitment posters and perhaps magazines as well. His uniform was neatly pressed. The Imperial Eagle proudly stitched onto the uniform’s shoulder. Walking with tempered calmness, he still couldn’t ease the pit in his gut. Any day now, the orders would be sent. After longed prepared for a renewed offensive, the Imperium would cross the Atlantic and repay the Americans in kind to what they did to the Fatherland.

    His people learned from the Allies’ D-Day attack. Though the enemy had managed to gain significant ground, it was the Desert Fox’s tactics which saved them. Trapping the scattered enemy with armor and destroying their footholds one by one. That was what his people had learned to counter and would avoid at all cost on their landing.

    “Oberst Kline!” Kline looked up, slightly miffed from being interrupted from his thoughts. “Regiment 24, Scout Pod 7, Hamlein reporting sir.”

    “Scout Pod 7 …” Kline looked up in thought. There were so ma— “From the Eastern bound? Yes. From the East. Report.”

    “Small pockets of resistance were found, but have been dealt with. We’ve captured several.”

    “What did you do with them?”

    The soldier hesitated. “We … spared them. They are being transported to Outpost Fox,” said the soldier. “Some opted for field execution, but I—“

    “You spoke against your superior?” Amusement entered Kline’s voice. He tried to keep it neutral, but Imperial doctrine discipline was warranted. The soldier should be executed. “In the future, you’d do well to not voice such objections. Article 5, section 16, principle 13. Are you aware of its contents, Hamlein?”

    “Field execution of insubordination, mein Oberst.”

    Kline let the silence linger before breaking it again. There wasn’t a frown creasing his lips but smile instead. “You probably secured a treasure trove of intel.” Kline clapped the man on the shoulder as he felt a visible shrug in relief. “Your pod should be able to manage. Get some sleep.”

    “Thank you sir!”

    Soon enough, Kline arrived at the headquarter building. It was a old victorian thing of the past. Surprisingly it remained standing even with all the heavy artillery fire the Auxiliary Corps had used. Though pockets dimpled the building’s clock tower, it was still beautiful. Funny how beauty existed in destruction. The welting gardens enriched this haunting, silent vestige.

    Within was an entirely different matter. Intelligence personnel were all in a fuss. Handfuls sat at tables looking as if they would fall from the weight of the radios. Aids were attending to junior officers as a large map of the Eastern Seaboard was displayed on the table. Kline recognized the arrows immediately. Five arrows, fire possible attack points. There would be two fleets in total. A guessing game Kline wagered. He wasn’t sure if the gentlemen who suggested this was a mad or not. Where the fleets would go would be announced today to the Admirals.

    “Oberst Kline,” a rather largely built man stepped towards him as he gestured to the table. “Did you catch the Fuhrer’s speech this morning? Fine oratory, fine indeed.”

    Kline proffered a smile as he soaked in the map and the pegs on it marking positions. “I’ve requisitioned a new radio. An untimely accident took away its use. How are goes the fleet preparations?”

    “4th Invasion fleet is nearly complete. 6th is ready to push off when the orders come through.”

    “Wonderful.” It was then Kline noticed a crossed zero peg. The symbol filled him with a modicum of dread. Of course, they had been sent months before this day to prepare the way. “Any reports from the them?”

    “They’ve gone dark for some time, mein herr.”

    “How long have we known each other Gatz?”

    The large man scrunched his brows together as he breathed deeply. “Since the academy mein herr.”

    “Since the academy. Conrad will suffice,” said Kline. It was against regulations, but for this instance, regulations be damned. “Lets pray the Zeros have carried out their mission.”

    “They managed to assassinate Churchill.”

    Kline nodded as he knew the ears of the other officers were listening. “All the same, Britain and America are two different beasts altogether. Where Britain has undergone years of conflict, the Americans have lost nothing — save for her allies. No Gatz. For the sake of the invasion, I hope the damn assassins are successful. They may save thousands of lives that shall depart the Imperium soon … my humble opinion of course.”

    Adrian Schuler, Gray
    November 27, 1945
    Warsaw, Poland

    Adrian walked amongst the crumbling city of Warsaw. He was dressed in commoners clothes rather than his dress uniform. They were akin to that of the SS. The one exception was the absence of the SS tag on the collar. In its place was a zero with a diagonal slash crossed through it. It was the uniform of the Imperial zeros, Hitler’s answer to the Allies’ commandos.

    Though wishing he could participate with the infiltration of America — even Russia for that matter — Adrian was ordered to hunt the Polish resistance. At first, he saw the directive as a punishment. For what? He had not a clue. His record was exemplary. From his beginnings in the Waffen-SS transitioning into a zero, he had orchestrated the assassination of Churchill. Absolved Jewish partisans. Even procured intel that ultimately drove out the Americans. High in the ranks of the zeros, he belonged on the main theater of war.

    But that was then. Having time to reflect, he had seen what the resistance was capable of. Everyday dirty bombs killed his kinsman and those in command had not a clue in fighting against this enemy. They were organized unlike the other groups he had encountered during the period of unrest in Europe, Adrian finally understood why he was here. Someone experienced must’ve been leading them.

    Turning a corner, soldiers of the Imperium came into view. The officer standing by saw him and hurried over. “This area is closed!” said the Sergeant. “Turn back now.”

    “But my home…” Adrian replied as he looked around. He had to play pretend for the time being. “It wasn’t blocked here this morning. Please, herr Soldant. I don’t want any trouble.”

    “We’ve received word that a resistance group is active here. No mercy for the traitors. Now off with you! Or are you a collaborator? Well?”

    The soldiers were all concentrated in one area. The intersection up ahead. Adrian wanted to berate the officer and have him punished for addressing a superior in such a way, but it’d destroy his integration into the populace. Becoming a part of the enemy was no simple matter. He was here to hunt the resistance independent of the Wehrmacht or SS. It’d destroy everything he had worked for so far. But perhaps the stupidity of the Sergeant would still serve his needs. The resistance would go for a big group. Yes, the soldiers would be his bait.

    “No trouble Sergeant,” Adrian finally said as he walked back the way he came.

    Adrian looked back as the officer returned to his squad. When he was confident they weren’t looking, Adrian ducked into side street. With luck, the resistance would show themselves soon. He needed information. He needed only one alive.

    Adrian crouched behind a wall as gunfire erupted from the building he hid within. Waiting for for an hour past, his targets finally showed up. Like clockwork, the resistance was predictable. Dangle a piece of meat in front of a crazed, starving animal, it couldn’t resist. Yes, he did use his own comrades as bait, but such were the ways of a soldier. Expendable and usable in every way — the same logic applied for him no doubt. Laying beside him were two dead bodies. Unable to fire off a round, Adrian had dealt with them in a manner befitting his order. Silent and quick.

    Moving up the stairs, he cradled a steam powered machine gun in his hands taken from one of the freedom fighters. Such weapons were saved for the veteran battalions. He had to find out how they got them. Making it to the top, he peeked around the wall as he saw several figures pop up on the window, fire onto the streets below, then ducking back over. Taking a deep breath, Adrian sighted the first man that came into sight and fired. The man closest slumped over dead as the others began to panic and returned fire in his direction. Adrian threw himself back behind the wall and reached onto his utility belt. He took off the safety pin from his grenade and tossed it in.

    An explosion rocked the building.

    Shaking his head, Adrian stormed in as he shot the bodies of those still moving. As he scanned the room, he saw a survivor as he ran up and kicked his weapon away. “Cooperate and your passing will be quick,” he said as he heard shouting from outside. “The resistance. Where are they?”

    The man laughed. “Sell out the only hope of Poland? You don’t have a uniform … you flithy collaborator!”

    Adrian settled the nuzzle of the machine-gun on the man’s kneecap and pulled the trigger. The screams were deafening. “This is kinder than what the soldiers outside will do. Now, answer the question!”

    The look from the man’s eye told Adrian all he needed to know. He knew nothing, must’ve just joined the others on a whim. Cursing out loud, Adrian heard a sound from behind him as he saw a soldier focus on him and fire. Already rolling to the side, Adrian burst through the adjacent room and ran for the window. He heard the order to stop, but he ignored it. Only command knew he was here, and he intended to keep it that way. Vaulting through the window, he landed hard on the ground below as he hissed in pain.

    Not stopping, he ran further into the city as the footsteps of his pursuers faded away. As his adrenaline wore off, he felt an unpleasant feeling in his side as he looked down. His clothes were stained red. The damn soldier got him after all. Finding a spot on an alley wall, he slumped down as he felt the exhaustion from running and the blood loss get to him. His eyes began to close as shame seeped into him. Failure. He never forgot its thorny touch.
    • Love Love x 1
  2. G-d, filled with mercy, dwelling in the heavens' heights,
    bring proper rest beneath the wings of your Shechinah,
    amid the ranks of the holy and the pure, illuminating like the
    brilliance of the skies the souls of our beloved and our blameless
    who went to their eternal place of rest. May You who are the source
    of mercy shelter them beneath Your wings eternally, and bind
    their souls among the living, that they may rest in peace.
    And let us say: Amen.

    Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue "It's not safe." Her sister's hand pulled gently at her clothing. "Ana, it's not safe."

    "Hush, Kassia. You can't make too much noise or they'll hear us."

    "You know what they do to people they overhear?"

    "Quiet!" The word came barreling forth in a harsh whisper. Anastazja still remained ignorant of her sister's insistent pleas as she folded her hands before her, bowing slightly in prayer. "Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d and G‑d of our fathers, G‑d of Abraham, G‑d of Isaac and G‑d of Jacob--"


    "--the great, mighty and awesome G‑d, exalted G‑d, who bestows bountiful kindness, who creates all things--"

    "Ana, please!"

    "--who remembers the piety of the Patriarchs, and who, in love, brings a redeemer to their children's children, for the sake of His Name--"

    The small child's hands gripped bowed shoulders, pulling them upwards to look deep in shocked eyed. "Anastazja, proszę. I beg of you. Don't pray anymore, it'll only bring bad things upon us."

    "Prayer saved papa," Ana retorted. "It brought me back from all those meetings. It'll save us, Kassia. It'll save us all."

    "Maybe it would have. Maybe." Kassia's eyes filled with tears and Anastazja knew she had lost. "Not anymore though. Ana. Please. Just...don't. They'll humiliate you or take you away, or worse. Aren't the badges enough?"

    Ana looked down the large Star of David emblazoned on the breast of her cream corded sweater, a symbol of pride transformed into one of shame and utter mockery. She traced her fingers along the word, a part of her undeniable identity turned into the laughing stock for the sons of godless pigs. "Żyd," it read. The Polish word for "Jew". Anastazja bit her lip and let her hands fall to her side again in admitted defeat. "Prayer is all I have left, Kassia."

    "Pray in your mind, then." The girl took her elder sister's hands in hers, squeezing them in gentle reassurance. "Even the Amidah. Just not out loud, you don't want to anger anyone who might be listening. And if you pray in your mind no one can hear you. You're safe there. G-d can hear you better."

    "If He can hear me at all."

    The earth shook with a sheer force of the divine's reply. Explosions from less than a mile eastward rattled the ground under their feet and sent Kassia toppling unsteadily to the floor, Anastazja slammed back against a cracking wooden wall. Gunfire followed the temporary quake, the sound dwarfed by distance and insulation, but the audible threats of battle loomed dangerously over the Jewish household like a zeppelin ready to unload grenades and high-powered explosives. Anastazja peeled back laced curtains to view empty streets, noticing that residents of Warsaw remained in their homes to obey curfew despite the immediate presence of danger. She blinked once and saw the figure of a struggling soldier round the corner into the alley adjacent to their home, and then he was gone, no doubt hovering over his wound and running from the threat that sought to end him.

    "Stay here," Ana stated, snatching a warmer jacket from the coat rack near door. "Don't let anybody in, okay? Not even the soldiers. Pretend you're sleeping or something."

    "Where are you going?"

    "To help that man."

    "Are you crazy?!" Kassia scrambled to her feet and threw herself between her sister and the door, holding her arms out wide to symbolize the impenetrable wall she thought she was. "You can't go out there! It's curfew, and that man--"

    "--could die!" Ana finished. "Move, or I'll make you move. The world has no kindness for me anymore, but that does not mean I cannot still have some."

    "I can't let you go." The child began to weep. "I can't lose you like we lost mama."

    "You won't lose me." She pushed the girl aside, grabbing a warm winter scarf to wrap about her neck. Under thick stitches of wool, the Yellow Badge was hidden. "Open the door when I return." Anastazja left no room to hear her sister's response. She forced open the door and slammed it shut behind her, rushing off toward the alley she had seen the wounded stranger stumble to.

    The gunfire was eminently louder from the outside, but the young Jew did not let it deter her. She ran for the small culvert between two larger buildings, spotting where the man had fallen. Ana wasted no time. She plunged forward through the darkness, only lit by a single street lamp that cast an eerie golden glow across the stranger and his golden hair.

    "Panie?" she asked in her native tongue, kneeling beside him and cupping his face in his hands. His eyes were slowly beginning to close, no doubt from blood loss and the stresses and weariness of battle. Carefully, she tapped his cheek several times in attempt to wake him. "Panie?" she asked again. "Wszystko w porządku? Panie? Panie?"

    He isn't responding. He doesn't speak Polish. Scrambling, Anastazja switched tactics and went with what her gut told her, a sick sense of intuition that suggested something she didn't want to admit.

    "Herr? Du bist verletzt. Kannst du gehen? Can you walk?" She tapped his cheeks continuously, trying desperately to gather his consciousness enough to lead him into the minuscule protection of her home. "I can help you, but please, you must give me some sort of sign that you can walk. I can't carry you. I'm not strong enough."

    Is this what it means to bring a lion into my cage?
    #2 moffnat, Dec 12, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
  3. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    For the longest time, Adrian had accepted death. That was the burden of the zeros. Minimal success yet the expectations perched upon their shoulders were heavy. However, crossing over from mere friendly fire - in the Empire - was not the way he envisioned it to be. While the wound was still fresh and he tried to his best to compress it, his body wasn't responding. His eyes remained closed as the feeling flowed to and fro. The soldiers would find him. They would probably kill him before he had time to give his rank. his mind demanded his body to move, but his limbs wouldn't listen to him. How pathetic.

    It was then he heard a voice. It was close, yet distant at the same time. His ears processed what the speaker was saying. Polish. He knew the language given he was to infiltrate the resistance group and dismantle it. He felt someone hold his face then felt light taps on his cheek. He flinched as his eyes opened. His instincts moments away from acting until he saw the person who spoke to him. It was a young woman - or a girl. Her appearance brokered the assumption of a youth. His eyes studied her then rested on her breast. The crest that she wore was unmistakeable. If it weren't for his years assimilating into the tainted people, he would have lashed out in unmasked disgust. The better question was why she wanted to help him. Were jews always welcoming to strangers? Could it be a trap? They couldn't know who he was, right? There was no one else in the house except the Imperial soldiers.

    "Jestem w porządku," he replied back in Polish. He assumed it was the girl's mother tongue. "German soldiers are coming. They had a run in with the resistance - I got caught in it."

    Struggling to his feet, Adrian leaned against the wall. His senses were slowly returning thanks to the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He wanted nothing to do with the Jew, but he needed help. For the time being, he'd welcome her hospitality in hopes of finding out something else about the resistance. He would not return to Command empty handed. Looking towards the young girl, he took a deep breath.

    "We must go," he said. "We cannot be on the streets. We'll die in violation of the curfew. Do you know a doctor, tęsknić? It was not a clean shot."
    #3 Artemis, Dec 12, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2014
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue "I know, I know. Here." Anastazja, assured that he was no soldier of the Reich for the time being, extended an arm to wrap around his waist and support him down cobbled streets. "I'm not the best or the strongest person to lean on, but you're going to have to make do." She kept a strong grip around his body while her other hand pressed against his chest to encourage some form of stability. The unlikely pair scrambled over trembling stone and ground toward the entrance to the Budzinski home, and Ana drew in a deep breath to keep the fear of discovery at bay.

    "Kassia!" she cried out over the roars of enemy gunfire. "Kassia, open the door!" Anastazja looked toward her wounded stranger and whispered little phrases of encouragement, passing glances toward the growing flames in the east before finally smuggling him through the open front door. Kassia, a girl of only twelve years, stood horrified at the threshold and stammered to make a sentence.

    "Close the door," Ana barked, laying the wounded man gently on a small couch smothered in old sheets. "Get the kit from my bedroom and boil some wine. He'll need water, too." She didn't lift her head to see if her younger sister had obeyed her commands, deciding instead to tear open the cloth of his shirt and look down upon the wound. Instantly, her face coiled in disgust. "One of those steam-powered weapons did this," she observed, lightly grazing her fingers along the still-healthy skin surrounding the bullet's entry. "Some of those bullets are dipped in poison, you know. I'd start praying to whatever god you believe in that this isn't one of those."

    "That makes one of us." Kassia grumbled and flipped on the nearest lamp, setting the box of first-aid supplies beside her sister on the small table and trudging off into the kitchen to boil wine at Anastazja's command. The elder sister paid no mind to the complaints and silent protests of the younger and set immediately to a determined sort of work. "You wanted a doctor," she said soothingly toward the physically ailed stranger. "You found the closest thing to it."

    "Siostra, I don't think we should--"

    "Stop it," Ana shot back, pulling the corded sweater along with the Jewish star over her head. She tossed it aside, content to feel the cold autumn atmosphere through a simple silk blouse and moved to tie long brown curls up in a high bun to keep strays from her face. "There's no exit wound," she said, though who she was speaking to remained a mystery. "I'm going to have to get the bullet out."

    "Do you know how to do that?"

    "Yes." She pulled out a pair of tweezers and squeezed them to test their functionality, and dipped it in the boiling wine that Kassia brought over atop a crocheted table-cover. "Get him a dreidel to bite on."

    "A dreidel?!" Kassia scoffed and folded her arms. "Are you completely insane?! No, I won't! I'm not gonna let some stranger come into our home and--"

    "Fine," Ana growled. "I'll get one myself." She yanked open a drawer and retrieved one of many small wooden toys, shoving it into the man's mouth. "Bite down if you want to keep your tongue," she instructed, "and bite harder if you want us to keep ours as well."

    Without warning, she plunged the tool deep into the soldier's bleeding wound.
    #4 moffnat, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
    • Love Love x 1
  5. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Though his body protested, Adrian willed himself up as he put some wait on the girl. She was so frail. He feared that if he leaned on her more than he did now, she would surely collapse. As she helped him limp away, it took every ounce of control for Adrian to resist the urge of shunning her away. The filthy sub-human was touching him. Him! His upbringing demanded him to push her away, but the nature of his occupation appeased that side of him reluctantly. He would play along for now - until he found the resistance. Who knows? Maybe the girl would be a valuable asset down the road. He would accomplish the mission the Fuhrer had entrusted to him without fail.

    After a short walk that felt painfully slow to the injured soldier, Adrian was glad to have something comfy to sit on rather than the wall. He grimaced as his side gnawed at his senses like a famished animal. The damn thing was intent on making suffer. He looked at the other girl in the room. She was younger. Either the child was an orphan or his savior's sister. Could've been her child for all Adrian knew. He tugged away as she studied his side. It troubled him that he was so vulnerable. Helpless though his injuries numbered in the dozens.

    He sighed. "You're a doctor? I know of the poison," he said. He demanded his mind to make up a story. Anything. "I suppose I can't be picky, eh? When I was in Lodz, there was this young girl. Hardly knew how to thread a needle, but she saved many. Have you heard about the resistance there? We fought. But tanks versus human flesh? It was no contest. The young one your sister? Don't trust strangers? Good kid. Always be wary; I'd appreciate the help though..."

    Before he received an answer from the younger jew, he saw something move quickly towards him as a dreidel was stuffed into his mouth. Then a wave of intense pain pulsed through his body as his teeth clenched down on the wooden toy. He groaned in agony as he felt the woman's fingers dig into his wound and fish for the bullet. His face contorted into a pained fit as his vision blurred. Pain was something seldom people got used to. Either one could dissociate the brain from the act or simply endure.

    Adrian tried to think of a place. His estate back in Germany. He pictured himself sitting in one of his great leather chairs reading a classic while his phonograph played the maestros of the piano or the orchestra. If he had a pet, he pictured the mangy animal would be snuggled on his fur carpeting in his study. A roaring fire in the hearth would perfect the scene. Alas, no matter how much he tried, the pain was still there. A reminder that he was still alive.

    After what seemed like hours, he the probing fingers leave and replaced by tiny pricks. He felt his skin shriek from being pulled together, but it was necessary. He let the dreidel drop from his mouth as his sweat streaked face relaxed. "Not bad," he said as he saw the bullet resting in a small dish. It was standard imperial issue. Not the poison kind. "My gratitude. I'd surely die from infection if not for your ... care."
    • Love Love x 1
  6. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue Anastazja cracked a small smile. "It hurts, I know. But it was all I could do. You should be alright, but you'll have to stay here for a while if you want to make a full recovery. Moving you to another doctor would be too suspicious and I can't risk you alerting people that I know medical care. Consider your silence as payment for saving your life." The girl retrieved a small, cold towel from a bucket of ice and and gently rubbed along his forehead, cleansing the sweat and the stress in small and simple motions. "You're not Polish, though. You have a little accent about you. German, perhaps Austrian or Swedish, but your home language is the former."

    "He's a bad man," Kassia pouted from the opposite side of the room.

    "Hush!" Ana threw her sister a look. "He hasn't killed me yet."

    "Because he needed you."

    "Stop. We are Jewish, it is in our moral standing to be hospitable. Even if he killed me right this instant, I would die doing my duty as a Jew and therefore feel no regret."

    Kassia stuck out her bottom lip in a frown, but said no more.

    "Why don't you go up to bed, hm?" Ana stopped her movements along the wounded man's forehead to meet her sister's judgmental gaze. "It's late. The bombs have stopped, we're safe for now."

    "No," the girl replied, trudging up the creaky stairs and off to bed. "We're never safe." Kassia left silence in her wake and for a moment Anastazja was at a loss of what to do, but she continued with tending to her patient, saddened by her little sister's words.

    "I'm sorry," she told him. "Kassia is right. We are never safe. I just wish we all lived in a world where that wasn't true." Ana stroked his forehead with the cool cloth again, her touch soft and genuine, but her gaze was shattered and lost.

    "This war has made monsters aplenty."
    • Love Love x 1
  7. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Adrian smiled as he leaned his head back against the chair. Silence as payment? Oh how difficult of a payment that would be for him to deliver. There was a reeducation camp in Warsaw. In the outskirts anyway. That'd be the first place the Jews would be sent to. The Fuhrer thought concentration camp was no longer a fitting term - uncivilized if recalled correctly from one of his superiors. Now, the Jewish people and all other subhumans were sent there as laborers. They were taught their place in the Imperium and were demanded to fulfill those roles. Instead of death, they'd be slaves with a central dogma. It was kinder than they deserved Adrian thought. Pretty words could only hide the locations true intents so much. The treatment carried out by the SS was still brutal.

    Adrian raised an eyebrow. The Jew picked up on his accent? Perceptive girl. Polish natives had commented on his affinity to the language. War and spying was his life. Language was a simple matter. It wasn't the time to dwell on such trivial thoughts. The girl began to intrigue him. Now what to do? The little one didn't like him. It didn't take a practiced eye nor ear to pick up on that. A conundrum. Lie with a sliver of truth or lie for lyings sake?

    "Don't trust me, mała Niedźwiedzica?" he asked the younger girl. He shifted in his seat as the pain rehashed. He grunted. "Good girl. Especially since the two of you are Jewish. The golden star of David gave you away. You're correct though. My mother tongue is German. The SS took away something precious to me. The Fuhrer took something dear away from me. I can't make you trust me, little bear. Trust is such a rare commodity these days."

    Adrian watched the little one - Kassia - storm up the stairs. It was odd. The Jewish filth behaved like any other child. Any Aryan for that matter. Shifting his eyes back to his pseudo doctor, he allowed her to touch him for now. "They say those who survive a war become stronger," he said. "Some Austrian philosopher my father used to talk to me about. However, what's lost in the process - culture, lives, emotions - makes it seem ... like an unfair trade?"

    Laughing more so to himself, he swore he heard soldiers shout out in the streets. It was distant though. "I've been fighting since Europa fell. It's a tiresome life. Faces come and go, like the seasons. I'm surprised someone of your status has survived for so long. Warsaw isn't the most friendly to the Jewish people as of late."

    • Love Love x 1
  8. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue "My status." Anastazja sighed, letting the gentleness of her touch fall from his skin to rest her hands in her silken lap. "My status is human, sir. My race is human. I deny being anything else but a loyal girl who humbly serves her G-d despite persecution." The girl placed the small rag she had used to calm the fever in his forehead back into the bucket of melted ice beside her, turning her attention to the handsome stranger yet again. There was something about him that plagued the depths of her heart unnervingly, but whether it was the uncertainty of her safety or the discomfort of an unknown face, she was yet to be sure. It brought some sense of relief to know he was no harm to her for the time being, not unless he wanted to risk his life for the sake of murdering two Jewish girls.

    Though, in this world, I would hardly be surprised.

    "You're right, though," she stated as the previous thought was chased away. "We have survived longer than most. There is a reason for that." Anastazja pointed to her eyes, ice blue and radiant in their pale color. "My mother was German. It's a big part of why we have been spared a few of the unholy terrors the Reich has offered my people. Few, but not all. We still suffer daily cruelties, but G-d's hand has protected us from the absolute worst. The same cannot be said for my friends though, or my father..."

    Visibly, Ana struggled to speak. She cast her German eyes out to the window where the silhouettes of rushing soldiers shot by, and she was thankful for the protection of curtains to shield the little candlelight from their view. There was no sense in risking everything by keeping the lights on and alerting the Nazis to her failure of complying with the curfew. Her eyes flickered to the slow-moving candle, and then back to her ward where they lingered longer than they ought to.

    "Enough about me, though. You should get some rest. You'll have to stay here a few days, but it'll be nice to have some company for the beginning of Hanukkah. If you don't mind, that is." She bit her lip. "Not many are as open and comfortable as you have been, and if you are not, I only ask that you have the decency not to interrupt what miniscule celebrations there will be."
    • Love Love x 1
  9. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Adrian fought the sneer that almost crept across his face. Human? The Jews weren't human. The whole entire race was filthy sub-humans who caused the downfall of the fatherland. The Ministry of Propaganda records stated that the Jew sat back and reaped the benefits of Germany's economic prowess leading up to the first war. They had contributed nothing, but stole from the Fatherland. That's the truth that he believed. When he felt the cloth that cooled his fever leave him, his mental tirade ceased. His attention refocused on the girl. This was not the time to spew his righteous hatred.

    "Of course, miss. You're human," he said. The words tasted bitter in his mouth. "My words were ... poorly chosen. I meant your status in the eyes of the Imperium. The golden star on your chest brokers ill reactions. I saw the brutality of the Imperial soldiers. Grim deeds."

    The next part interested him when the girl told her she was half German. He knew the pole couldn't be pure sub-human blood. Those radiant blues eyes were a trademark in the Imperium - a trait reserved for the finer Aryan females. If she were blonde, it'd be easy to mistake her for a German citizen. She could strip away the star from her chest and simply vanish into Imperial society. However, that wasn't the case. She was a Jew regardless of her bloodline. She was already a tainted cesspool of undesirableness.

    Adrian followed her eyes as he heard a commotion from outside. Soldier's cracking down on curfew she thought to herself. Or, if the sergeant from earlier was as stubborn as a mule, still searching for him. "I'm surprised," he finally said. "But I can see how the soldiers would 'go easy'. It's a shame that the Fuhrer's directives looped German-Jewish couples onto the list of undesirables. No offense intended, miss."

    Instinctively, Adrian stiffened when his savior mentioned Hanukkah. By God would he celebrate such a barbaric holiday! He intended to voice his disapproval, but his words surprised him. "I'm afraid ... I can't - don't - know the customs," he said awkwardly. "I appreciate your hospitality, but I dare not anger my benefactors by ignorance of ... etiquette."

    Why the hell did he just say that? He should report the girl and the sister to the SS for processing! It was his duty, his oath as an Imperial soldier! Something gave him pause. Was it intrigue? He wasn't sure. The girl was integral in his mission, perhaps that was the reason. Shifting in his chair, he groaned as the wound burned. "If I can help, in hopes of repaying your kindness, please do tell me," he said. "Oh, my manners. I'm Adrian. May I ask yours, miss? I understand if your sentiments mirror the little one."
    • Love Love x 1
  10. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue There is something about him that I don't like, and something about him that I do.

    "Anastazja," she replied simply, sweetly. "My name is Anastazja Buszinksi. It's a pleasure to meet you, Adrian, and while I am cautious like my sister and I do not claim to trust you, I have to believe there is still some sense of honor and loyalty to those who save lives. It would be an even sadder world if there was not."

    The girl curled her hair behind her ears and began to clean up the mess from her impromptu surgery, stacking cup atop bowl atop towel, setting about her task as if she had done it countless times before. She moved around the kitchen and washed her hands with care, rinsed a few things, and tended to multiple small chores before finally coming to rest. Such things were hard to accomplish in dim lighting as too much light would alert the guards that she was not sleeping as the law demanded, but it mattered little to her. She had gotten used to accomplishing tasks after curfew, and the lack of illumination was no disturbance to her. From the nearby closet she pulled a blanket of soft wool and plaid pattern, and Ana slowly draped it over the lower half of her ward with a smile.

    "I do not ask you to participate in Hanukkah. remain quiet, and be respectful and mindful of your surroundings. Unlike the Empire, I have no desire to force my views upon others. It's wrong. But some silence during prayer would be nice...I don't know." She sighed, "Hanukkah is a stressful time."

    Ana straightened her back and put her hands on her hips. "Is there anything else you need before I head off to bed? If you need me while I'm asleep, don't shout--they'll hear you."

    I am making a terrible mistake.
    • Love Love x 1
  11. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Adrian nodded as he relaxed even more so. He didn't like leaving things in the abstract though his work demanded it. Normally, being civil to a Jew would make his insides burn, but the courtesy was warranted was it not? After all, if the girl hadn't lend a hand of aid, his own subordinates - damn fine models of duty yet idiots for almost killing him - would've found him and perhaps killed him. Such was the irony of the situation. "Anastazja. That's a good name," he said with approval. "In an ideal world, that would be true on all accounts. You are good to be suspicious of me. Kind strangers are a dying breed these days. Excluding you, of course."

    Watching her leave to clean the various instruments used to clean him up, Adrian closed his eyes. He felt things were alright for him to relax if but for a moment. It was a terrible thought thinking that the girl belonged in the reeducation camps. While he hated her affiliation, he commended the ideals she held onto. If she was still in his favor, he'd request her to be sent to a nurse station though it'd have to be done subtly. The Department of Purity was very strict on who could be considered the chosen people and those who belonged in the serving class. In a way, servitude and slavery were legal in the Imperium. To an extent. It wasn't called that of course, but the basic stipulations of the class system could only be masked so. Adrian opened his eyes once again as he felt a blanket cover him. He returned the smile. "Thank you, Anastazja."

    When she mentioned the Hanukkah celebration, Adrian wanted to rise to the defense of the Imperium immediately. The german blood in him demanded him assert his superiority. However, he couldn't once again. When the Jew asked him if there was anything he required, he bit back a snarky remark. Instead he shook his head and shooed her. "Go to bed. Perhaps if I'm well enough, you'll enlighten me on your customs. For your holiday," he said gently. "It has been a trying day for all of us. I'm fighting sleeps temptations as we speak. I shall see you in the morning."

    Adrian watched her go after a few moments as he sighed. He rubbed the temple of his head as he replayed the day's event in his head. How fortuitous everything was even with the set back. Trying to get to his feet, he flinched as pain shot through his body. Sighing again, he fell back into the chair he was in. He needed to heal. His body demanded it.

    "Disgusting, old boy," he said to himself in German. "Getting caught in this situation. Only a rookie, Adrian."

    Rolling his eyes, he settled into his chair. His eyes closed as he finally surrendered to the welcoming arms of sleep.
    • Love Love x 1
  12. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue
    November 29, 1944
    Warsaw, Poland

    "Kassia," she chuckled, "will you bring the Menorah? I'll get the candle." Anastazja, in a mood as bubbly and bright as any she'd ever had, opened a few drawers and gathered some supplies for the lighting ceremony, along with a reading from a Jewish prayer that her father had written in his own hand. A floating, button-up dress of deep navy clung to her slender, curvy figure, and dark curls hung to the middle of her back. Topped with a pearl necklace and a pair of tan heels, the teen looked as prepared for a secret celebration as any, and she busied herself throughout the small living room to tidy things up. They were expecting company, after all. Another Jewish family from around the corner. When the twelve-year-old brought along the Menorah, Anastazja gently placed it on the mantle of the fireplace.

    "When will they be here?" the girl asked. "I can't wait to see Benji again. It's been a long time."

    "It has," Ana agreed, clapping her hands together. She turned to Adrian, who seemed as confused as she expected him to be, though perhaps it was simply the dim lighting and shut blinds. "I'll get a few more pillows so you can sit up comfortably," she spoke, if more to herself than anyone else. "Oh! And the Challah!"

    "Mm!" Kassia hummed in agreement. "Make the bad man try some."

    "Kassia," Ana groaned, "please don't. Not today. Today is a day of celebration, even if it's secret and rather illegal." The girl bounded into the kitchen, her heels clicking along the tile, the pillows temporarily forgotten. She pulled the towel off a loaf of Challah sitting beautifully in a woven basket, breathing in the scent and giggling excitedly. "This was one of my favorite parts of Hanukkah as a child," she told her wounded ward, slicing off a piece and buttering it before crossing the room and handing her treat to the helpless stranger. He had grown on her in the past two days since his arrival. Perhaps that was a dangerous thing to admit.

    "Challah," she said again, offering Adrian the slice. "It's sweet bread baked with sugar and woven to look like a braid. My people only make it for Hanukkah. I made it this morning."​
  13. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    It had been two days since Adrian had been bedridden. While his body was still to weak to perform what he would've thought routine, he was able to get on and off of the chair he had called his temporary home. The days passed as he thought it would. Hiding with Ana from the soldier's outside while keeping everything as low key as possible. However, today was different. There was a certain festive air emitting from the two girls. It didn't take a saboteur to pick up on this. There were decorations everywhere while Ana dressed up in a rather 'easy on the eye' manner. The living - apart from him - was tidied up. He had heard some Jewish holiday - Hanukkah - was just around the corner. Was this it?

    When he thought he was but forgotten, Adrian smiled bemused. While he dreaded this day, he'd be lying if he weren't the least bit curious on how these people celebrated their heinous holiday. "It's okay Anastazja," he said as he watched the two girls running to and fro. It was truly hectic, yet he felt the excitement. It was a good feeling, no matter from who it was. He rose and eyebrow. "Challah?"

    He couldn't help but laugh at the little one's comments. "Yes yes little one. I'm a big, scary, evil man!" Watching Ana disappear into the kitchen, he wondered what this Challah was. Admittedly, something smelled delectable when he woke up this morning. While his stomach growled he dared not ask for any - due to him not wanting to inconvenience the girl or eat any of their poisonous food. However, when she brought a basket in and showed him what exactly this Challah was, he felt saliva secrete in his mouth. If it tasted as good as it smelled, he'd have no objection eating it. He accepted the bread from the girl as he took a bite. He almost fell back from how wonderful it tasted. "Wow. The Jewish people make this? Why ... it's simply delicious. Perhaps better than the Austrian and German breads I've tasted. You baked this yourself, Ana? A doctor and a baker. Two wonderful trades dear girl."

    As he finished the piece of bread, he looked around. It was already well past the afternoon as the evening drew on. Though the shutters were closed, the light from candles must've leaked out, no? What made him more concerned was the smell of the bread. While he enjoyed, it would've drew the noses of unwanted company, no? He wanted to bring that to Ana's attention, but she surely had done this before. She must've already have counter measures in place.

    As he settled back into his chair, the pillows yet to have arrived, he heard a knock at the door. A twist of excitement and anxiousness churned in his stomach as he looked towards the door. He looked at Ana. "Are you expecting someone?"

    • Love Love x 1
  14. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue "I am," came her rushed reply, looking up to the oaken door as the knock was heard. "Just some friends from around the corner--quick, Kassia!"

    "I know, I know!" The child rushed for the door and flew it quickly open it, waving her arms sporadically for the small group to huddle into the living room. She checked for passing guards on inspection or any who may have followed, and when she found none, Kassia closed the door once again.

    Ana was swallowed in the great warm hug of Rafal, her dearest friend for many years, and the security of her world flooded back to her. "Shhh," she chuckled, "we can't be loud. Quiet the excitement a bit."

    "You look beautiful," he told her with a boyish grin. "It's as if these tragedies have never happened."

    "I wish." Ana cupped Rafal's face and kissed his cheek in a friendly manner, sighing while Kassia ensured the comfort of Rafal's grandmother and sisters. Though the silence was forced and the light was dim, the celebration had begun and nothing would take it away from Anastazja and her small group of rebels.

    Or, so she thought.

    "This is Adrian," she stated, gesturing to the wounded man sitting upright on the couch. "The man I was telling you about. He's getting better quite quickly, I'm proud to say."

    "Wonderful!" laughed the old woman, well into her eighties, and she lifted her hands to the sky. "G-d has truly smiled upon you then, both of you, the healer and the healing."

    "I like to think so." Ana chuckled, glad for the praise.

    "Good. I smell Challah." She sniffed the air and smiled. "Your mother's recipe! I should have known."

    "Would you like some, Lidia?" Kassia came to the elder's side. "I can bring you some if you like."

    "Please, child, thank you. Then we can get this on, put the candle in the thing and say the words and get to the important bits."
  15. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Adrian watched as the girls went to open the door. Especially Kassia. Behind that scrutiny was a kid. He smiled as she reminded him of his family - relatives anyway. Though he swore them off as a part of his order, he still kept tabs on them. Family wasn't something that could be brushed aside so casually. They were a link to his past before becoming what he was. The Fuhrer had wanted to eliminate that for his Zeros, yet here he was reminiscing.

    Remaining silent, Adrian watched as the Jews exchanged greetings with one another. He had to admit. It was hard ignoring the energy. He'd probably be pursued by the Gestapo for thinking such thoughts, but the girls had grown on him.

    When he heard his name called, he smiled at the old woman and nodded respectfully - reluctantly of course. "Indeed he has. Delivering a gifted healer and her little helper, I'll be back to health in no time at all," he said. As Challah was mentioned, his mouth began to water yet again. The memories of Austrian bread came back to him. He didn't know why. It was a favorite of his when he was a kid. Before the rations began. When the elder mentioned the beginning of the ceremonies, he settled himself higher in his chair. "May I join? I'm ... not a Jew, but dear Ana has intrigued me on this celebration."

  16. Anastazja Budzinski, lightskyblue "Of course you may join," Ana said with a flattered little smile, one that suggested she had been waiting for him to ask. It seemed to say a great deal about his character, that he would willingly delve into the world of a persecuted religion because a teenage girl had intrigued him into curiosity. It made Ana feel powerful, and powerful women were undoubtedly dangerous. She sat around the Menorah with Kassia and her friends, with a wounded soldier, and for moment she thought all could be well.

    We can overcome, she prayed as the small sermon began. We can all make it out of this alive, together.

    Her thoughts were stolen in the cruelest of fashions.

    The harsh slams of fists on the door made all in the room jump out of their skins. Angry shouting in German was all Anastazja had the time to register, and what was meant to be a peaceful introductory to Hanukkah turned into a frenzy of chaos, fearful for survival. The pounding on the door grew louder and louder and Ana could only react so quickly.

    The decision of which prayer to say first became a choice of which lives to save.

    "Kassia!" shouted the elderly woman. "Get Kassia! Ana, take your patient and leave by the back door!"

    "But what about--"

    "We'll cover you!" From the small, cloth bag, Ana's only remaining friends retrieved two of the German-issued, steam-powered guns. "Go, go!"


    "Go!" There was no time to refuse.
    • Love Love x 1
  17. Adrian Schuler, Gray

    Adrian struggled up to a sitting position. He sat around the menorah - a strange nine candled thing. His indoctrination screamed for him to smash the thing, but he was curious. He tried rationalize his actions and chalked it up to intel. If he was going to use these people, getting accustomed to their culture was a necessary step. Surely the Order and the Fuhrer would understand. A sermon began. The context was lost on the German soldier as he listened quietly. Not knowing what to do, he opted for silence as he listened. While the Polish wasn't lost on him, the way the sermon was vocalized was mesmerizing.

    Snapped out of his reverie, Adrian's training kicked in as he heard German soldiers pounding on the door. Bolting to his feet, he cringed as his wounds burned. He needed to leave. None of the soldiers here knew he was here. If he were captured ... he dared not think of the consequence before the misunderstanding was cleared. When the old woman and the boys pulled out weapons, he was about to ask for one, but something compelled him to remain.

    The Jews were protecting him! An Imperial soldier that imprisoned hundreds of their people. The irony. Grabbing a hold of Kassia - much to the young girl's dismay - he shuffled towards Ana as he gripped her shoulder. "Do not make their efforts vein," he said sternly as the boys he had just met started barricading the doors. "The door Ana. Come! Kassia stop hitting me, girl!"

    Dragging the girl with her sister in tow, Adrian found the backdoor as he saw a german soldier standing to the right. Letting go of Kassia, he lashed out at the soldier as they became locked. He could feel his wound reopening, but it didn't matter. Grappling with the soldiers rifle, Adrian struck the man's mask giving him the opening. Pulling the steam-powdered machine gun from his kinsman's hands, he pointed and fired several rounds into the soldier's chest.

    Gasping, he turned around as he pushed Ana and Kassia towards the alley way. "Come on!" he said as footsteps thundered towards them and gunfire rocketed from the home he had been nursed in. Kassia tried to run back, but he caught her and redirected her back to her sister. "Ana! Make sure Kassia stays by your side. We have to move before the rest of the soldiers get here."