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"I just lost another ten years," Maralyn said. She was white as snow. She also commented on my paleness.
We had just started our meal, when the siren blew. Everyone rushed out of the caf to the shelter next door.
We stood up, and let them pass. The cook was the last to leave, and motioned for us to follow.
"Hurry, you don't want to get blown up do you," he said, in a panicked voice.
As the door closed on the shelter, the bombs began to hit. The ground shook, and I could feel the concussions from the explosions. I noticed everyone looking around, as to wonder if the shelter was stable.
After a while the all-clear siren sounded. The cook opened the door, and we began to file out. As we left, the Nazi office that had given us his table, slipped in behind us.
"I think we've had it. Are you ready?" I said, gripping my pistol.
Before Maralyn could answer the office said, "Don't worry, I am not a German officer. Just keep walking to the corner, then turn left.
We kept a grip on our pistols, and did as he said.
"My name is Bertram Geiss. I recognize you from a description given to me by a group connected to the Baroness. The directive said to help you if encountered. I am sure that you are wondering what an officer is doing working with partisans. The fact is that few of us in the military like Hitler, he is an insane menace to the world. We can use that car with the flags in front," he said, adding, "I hate the cold."
"Where are you taking us?" Maralyn asked.
"My mother's house," she is Jewish. You'll like her, she's a good shot, and has a lot of radio equipment," he said, turning to look at us.
"How do you know we are the people mentioned?" I asked, keeping a grip on my pistol.
"By the way you turn so pale at the cafe, and you fit the description. My mother can connect you to the Baroness. I must be back on duty in an hour, so I will just make a quick introduction and be off," He answered.
"I guess we should introduce ourselves, I am " He interrupted me, and stated that he would rather not know what ever names we were using, and that we must not meet again.
He introduced us to his mother, and was on his way.
"Nice to meet you, call me Mila. Let's talk," she said, leading us to the kitchen table.
"You have a very nice house here." I said.
"It will do. It will do. Now, let's get down to business," she replied.
She lifted the glass cover from a delicious looking cake. She than lifted the cake, which turned out to be plaster, to reveal a radio.
"Romance, romance, romance. Old dog " she said, waiting for a response.
"Romance, receiving," came a voice.
"Missing pair retrieved, repeat, missing pair retrieved," Mila said.
"Tape to Walker, tape to Walker, out," the voice side.
I had no idea that the orders we were giver came from Hanna, and she had no idea that I was receiving them.
"They want you to work with the Walker. You'll be in the thick of it with him. I should mention that there are big actions going up," Mila said, raising her hands over her head.
"Like what?" Maralyn asked.
"I'm not privy to details, but I was told to immediately stock up on weapons, including explosives. We have the impression that the invasion is almost upon us," Mila stated.
"What invasion, and when do we meet with the Walker," I asked.
"You must have been in the field for a long time. The Americans are coming. You know, the Allies," said Mila.
"We haven't had time to listen to the media," I replied.
We told her about the missiles, and she said, "That explains it."
"Explains what?" Maralyn asked back.
"The reason the Nazis want you so bad," replied Mila.
"You should stay here until the Walker sends for you," Mila suggested.
I was happy with staying at Milas house, Maralyn and I needed the rest. I was thinking of how Hanna and Hans were doing, and I asked Mila if there was a way to find them. She said she would look into it, but she did not want to raise my expectations.
Hanna and Ida were busy coordinating dozens of partisan groups. Some the Nazis had captured or killed. Some were just out of touch.
"Have you made contact with C14?" Armand asked Ida.
"Not yet. I haven't heard from Valley Down yet either. For that matter, I haven't made contact with several groups," Ida answered.
"I'm shifting our operation to the farm bunker," Armand said, shuffling off in a hurry.
Armand told the Baroness of the evacuation, and she agreed.
As prearranged the castle was totally evacuated within an hour.
The Baroness and her staff were the first to leave through the catacombs, then the partisans and equipment.
"I'm going to miss the old place," said the Baroness, looking down the hill at the castle from the exit shaft of the catacombs.
"I'll wait until it's full of them sons of bitches," said Armand, holding the detonator.
"Be sure you get a large number," said the Baroness, as she turned away looking over her shoulder for one last look.
A few minutes later, a Gestapo staff car pulled up in front of the castle at the usual time. They waited a minute for the concierge to come out and open their door.
On one came out, so a soldier went to the front doors, and knocked several times, then looked through the windows.
"It does not look as though there is anyone inside," the soldier reported.
The officer got out of the car, and walked around to the back. He stopped and looked through the widows as he went. When he got to the back, he stood for a moment slapping his hand with his cane. He then walked as fast as he could back to the staff car.
On the radio, he ordered a company of soldiers to secure the castle, and for some other Gestapo officers for the purpose of investigating the disappearance of the Baroness.
By nightfall, there were hundreds of soldiers and officers in the castle.
It was obvious that they had been had, and they were not pleased.
Armand watched with binoculars in one hand, and the detonator in the other. In a rumbling blast, the castle collapsed. The dust cloud, fire, and smoke were massive, and hung in the air until the morning light.
By the afternoon, the fire was out, and the castle was rubble. It was unknown how many soldiers and Gestapo were killed, but it was estimated at a few hundred.