Status

User has no status, yet

Bio

User has no bio, yet

Most Recent Posts

----------------------------------------------------
July 1960 - Somewhere in the North of Spain
----------------------------------------------------

Father Ángel Vicioso had lived in the Northern foothills of Spain for nearly sixty years, first as a young boy, then as a farmer turnd soldier, and now as a man of god. The revival of the Catholic Church under the late King had been a great boon for men like him and he had taken to the task of reinvigorating the flagging Spanish soul with nothing short of zeal. He now walked great distances in his threadbare brown Dominican robes to bring the word of god to every corner of northern Spain.

There had always been farmers up here, sheep herds, small roving packs of wild dogs, and the ever beautiful Spanish wild horses. Forests had sprung up where forty years ago there had been barren hillside after the King began his program to "re-forest the nation." Millions of trees had been planted to replace those harvested to build the great Armadas of old. Even building codes only allowed for wood to be used as a minimal supplement to other building materials. The country had bloomed, become beautiful again in such a way that one might walk for hours beneath heavy branches without seeing another person.

Farming techniques had been refined, tractors and other technology introduced to assist the peasants in gaining greater yields from their land. Olives were still vitally precious, as were vineyards, but they had been limited, thereby driving up the price for them, boosting Spanish economic growth. New roads had been carved through the mountains and the rail lines upgraded.

Vicioso had seen it all. He was a popular figure himself on the trails and roadways, well known to all. He was paid a pittance by the church and survived off the charity of others when he stopped for the night in small villages or campgrounds. He was certain he knew most people worth knowing in the north.

That was why he had begun to notice a gradual change that began three years ago. The day to day life of the north was unaltered but he had first noticed more police patrolling the roadways, and he had seen the officers taking pictures of bridges, culverts, roadways, buildings, etc. At first he took them to be new and just doing the usual tourist things but then sharp eyed younger men who wore no uniforms appeared and he knew soldiers when he saw them.

Those men had studied the same things the police had and, in some cases, whatever they were looking at was suddenly visited by engineers from the Public Works department. Some things were replaced, others strengthened, and always, the police patrolled diligently.

Word in the villages was of Communists filtering south from France and stirring up trouble among the peasants. Vicioso had seen some of this but not enough to cause much worry. They were usually young men who had been north for their education and come back filled with strange ideas. More and more the leanings seemed to be toward a general sense of pride at being Spanish.

Then, quite suddenly, a year ago, he had witnessed something he knew he was not meant to see. One night while hunkering down beneath a tree to keep out of a spring rain he had seen two men running along the roadway. They were young from what little he could see in the dying evening light, young and terrified. He had meant to call out to them but god had spoken to him and told him to keep quiet as the two leapt the ditch opposite from him and tried to wiggle into the bushes.

Headlights appeared suddenly on the road and the sound of voices shouting made him shrink against the tree. They were not the type of happy shouts to which he had become accustomed in this peaceful land. They were the sharp crashing bark one associated with soldiers. They were angry.

The light armoured vehicle that appeared was one he knew well from his time as a soldier and the insignia of a red and blue cockade on the side made his blood run cold. The Cazadores, Spains elite Military Police unit. They were well known throughout the country for their fanatic loyalty to the military leadership.

"You! Out of the bushes! Now!" One of the soldiers was yelling, waving his rifle barrel toward the verge of the roadway. Vicioso could tell the soldier didn't know exactly where his prey had gone but it didn't matter as two dogs dogs began to bark from further down the embankment.

"Okay! We give up! Don't shoot!" One of the fugitives had called out from the bushes. Vicioso recognized a French accent when he heard one. The two men had emerged from the brush with their hands raised, blinking in the bright headlights of the vehicle.

To Vicioso's horror the Cazadores shot them then and there. Nothing was said, two soldiers simply raised their rifles and fired without a second thought. The two men had been thrown backward against the side of the embankment, their bodies sliding slowly down into the rain filled ditch.

The soldiers had retrieved the bodies and taken them back toward town. Vicioso had heard nothing else about it. Though, over the next year, as he continued his duties and walked the length of northern Spain and back again, he heard more than a few stories of such incidents witnessed by the local population. Always it was "Communists" or "French spies" who had been shot. Whatever, or whoever, the Cazadores were looking for, they were being careful not to upset the locals.

And so the year had come and gone. Vicioso has seen more and more soldiers slowly appearing in the region. On more than one occasion, and only in the dead of night, had he seen long lines of military vehicles moving into the region along main highways before turning off into the countryside to go only God knew where. On more than one occasion he had attempted, out of curiosity, to follow their tracks, but he had always been politely turned back by police, or some cases, Cazadores.

The police had always shown him great deference but been firm in their refusal to let him pass. The Cazadores had been equally polite but their smiles did not reach their eyes when they laughed with him. Maybe it was true what everyone said, they were dead inside.

Then, just a month ago, he had seen a long line of covered lorries pulled up along the side of the roadway. They looked much like your standard delivery lorry, well used and very common in Spain. The big flat beds often carried farm machinery, new vehicles for the villages, produce, and much more. The wind on this particular day had been quite strong and one of the tarps had come loose. Two of the drivers were fighting to drag it back into place but it snapped open for an instant and in that moment Vicioso saw the treads of a tank. He couldn't be sure but the more he stared at the shape beneath the canvas the more he was certain he could see the outline of a Zorro Medium Tank.

He had begun to pay closer attention to the trains that drew into the local stations he passed, and the long convoys of lorries that crawled up the mountain passes. Though he could not say for certain, he believed that at least one in three lorries or cargo containers was carrying army equipment.

Now, today, on this hot July morning, he was kneeling next to another lorry. He had fought with temptation to go closer, to look, but curiosity had gotten the better of him. The lorry drivers did as they usually did and went inside a local cafe for a morning cup of coffee before the long climb into the mountains. The lorries were parked all in a neat row. Their cargos wrapped as they always were in brown canvas. He reached out a trembling hand to touch the canvas.

"Ever heard the expression, curiosity killed the priest, Father?" He started violently like a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar and turned, still on his knee's, to see a well built young man watching him. The man was leaning on the side of the lorry cab, an apple in one hand while the other wagged a finger at him.

"I... I... I don't know what you mean." He stammered. The protest sounded hollow in his own ears. This other man was nearly thirty years younger than he, in far better shape, and he could just see the hint of an outline in his baggy shirt that suggested he was armed. "It is not crime to touch a lorry after all."

"Come on father," The man laughed, his white teeth flashing in the sun. "You don't think we haven't noticed you poking around up here. It's not like you're a nobody after all. In fact, you're somewhat of a celebrity."

Vicioso desperately wanted to ask who "we" was, but doubted very much the man would tell him. In fact, he was fairly certain that one wrong question out of place and the man would kill him. That smile hadn't reached the grey eyes that still seemed to bore into him despite the friendly tone.

"Well, maybe I should have just asked then. Why are their so many Cazadores and police up here now?"

The mans eyes gleamed slightly and he chucked the apple core over his shoulder, wiping one hand on his jerkin. "How should I know Father? I just drive a lorry. And, speaking of, time to get cracking. Do yourself a favour Father, stick to preaching, you have a gift for it and the world is in sore need of decent people like you."

The man waved and then scrambled up into his lorry. The engine roared to life and the convoy slowly began to move away up the road. Vicioso stood at the roadside and waved to the drivers as they passed, a smile fixed on his face. He had been shaken to his core by the incident and only when the lorries had vanished up the road did he allow himself to sink back to the grass with a sigh.

"Why the long face Father?" For the second time that day he nearly jumped out of his skin. A young boy, no more than ten, had appeared from the bushes and sat beside him.

"Nothing, my son. Just a long day."

"Did you want to know what is under that tarp?" The boy asked and Vicioso looked at him in surprise.

"You know?"

"Sure, Father." He boy smiled innocently. "No one minds me running around looking for my lost dog." He leaned over and whispered conspiratorially. "There is no dog, Father."

Vicioso could only look amazed the audacity of the child who was grinning at him with impish delight. The boy looked around and then leaned in close again.

"It was an airplane father."

At first Vicioso thought the boy was joking but the look of serious earnestness on his small face caused the Priest to pause and think. First soldiers, then tanks, and now planes. It was not impossible.

"But why..." He muttered the words to himself but the boy couldn't help but overhear him.

"Obviously he wants to go flying, Father."

Vicioso threw back his head and laughed, patting the boy on the shoulder. There was still some innocence to youth. Though, there was truth in the words. They would certainly fly the plane, but to where?
-----------------------------------------------------------
July 1960 - Andalusia Province, Kingdom of Spain
-----------------------------------------------------------

The sun beat down on the Spanish countryside, the temperatures rising steadily into the high 40's as workers scuttled for home, or in most cases, the pub. Here, protected by heavy stones painted with white plaster, many of them would spend the hottest hours of the afternoon playing cards while nursing a beer pulled from the recently installed refrigerator. There was only one in pub in down simply called Pacos. It was owned by Paco, son of Paco, son of Paco and so on. Even the current Paco still tended bar with some help from his son, Paco. All in all it was terribly confusing to outsiders but the locals didn't mind.

There was a lively debate raging about the one room space, the thirty or so men crowded into its space offering their various opinions on the state of politics in the country. Truth be told, none of them, not even the two uniformed police officers in the corner, really knew what they were talking about but they all understood the short stick when they were getting it.

"The fucking Royal Council." Snarled one farmer. He was broad in the shoulders, his hands heavily calloused from labouring in the fields and olive groves. "They talk of levying a new "road tax" to pay for the roads in to our village. I still wonder where the "improvements tax" has been going since there is nothing of the sort around here!"

Several other farmers pounded their tables and chanted "Here here!" in approval. Others shrugged and looked down at their drinks. This was the way it usually went during the hot hours of the day. They would all come together and someone would rant about the situation in the country, the new taxes, the King and his playboy ways, the corruption of the Royal Council. It rarely altered at all.

"It doesn't have to be that way." A voice said quietly from the bar and everyone turned to find Paco Junior staring out over the counter top at them. He was a handsome lad, not more than a week over eighteen, and already he had been into Antequera to see the greater world beyond. The big farmer raised an eyebrow. The boy might be young but this was his fathers business and manners had to be maintained.

"What do you mean, Paco?" His father prompted from further down the far. The young man licked his lips and looked about the room at all the faces turned toward him. Even the two policemen appeared to be listening.

"I met a man in Antequera. He said that we, the people, should have the ability to chose the taxes we pay, the places we can go. It isn't fair that we cannot leave our region as the government says. It isn't right that they can just demand more money of us while they horde their own Pesetas!"

There was a genuine grumble of approval now. No man liked paying taxes and they certainly enjoyed it even less when they were paying it to a group of wealthy landowners who already took a quarter of their yearly income for the "rental" of the land they lived on.

"This land should be our own." Said another farmer as he nodded toward Paco. "Why can I not own my own land?"

"It will never change." Retorted the Baker, he was always a pessimist.

"But it is changing." This time one of the police officers had spoken and everyone fell silent as he took a long pull at his beer. "This is not the first village we have heard this in. Everywhere we go there are rumblings of this change. The demand for the right to own land. To go back to how things were under the old King. And," He paused, then grinned. "We agree too. Our families are farmers as well. We have children, uncles, nephews, all of them deserve the right to be their own master. This is 1960 by god! Not the dark ages."

This passionate outburst from the embodiment of justice and order brought a furious round of cheers from the gathered farmers. The policeman held up his hand to quiet them down and then looked them over, one by one, meeting their eyes as he did so.

"Pick one among you who will represent your village and I will provide you to a travel pass to Malaga where there is to be a meeting of those who feel like you. After all, we are all comrades in a greater struggle."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
June 1960 - Two Weeks Ago - Vemork, Norway, The German Empire (FLASHBACK)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A jet black Mercedes Benz swept sedately through the Norwegian countryside, the late afternoon sunshine already blocked out by the mountains that towered up on either side of the steep valley. It was not a warm place, but it was ideal to prevent Allied bombing raids. Scattered throughout the valley, crews standing at the ready, were numerous anti-aircraft batteries. The car had already passed through six security check points and the final one was coming up quickly.

Obergruppenführer Heinrich Himmler was leaning back in the rear seat, smoke curling up from a cigarette held between two fingers, a blue stream that swirled for a moment before being sucked out the window. His SS uniform was immaculate, the silver buttons, lace, and pips, all seemingly glowed in the later afternoon light.

Next to him, staring rigidly ahead, sat SS-Major Rowan Hagen. Her red hair was pulled back in a tight bun beneath her cap, her sharp features complimented by a pair of pale blue eyes that hid a savagery he had rarely seen in a woman. He had no doubt she would be an excellent choice for the position he had selected for her.

"And here we are." He said, breaking the silence. "Your new command."

The road had come to a right hand bend, the view of the valley altering until, at last, the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant came into view. The massive concrete edifice sat squatting on the edge of the valley like an ancient Teutonic Castle. "The home of our Nuclear program."

Rowan had to admit it looked impressive, maybe even more so since she had worked for almost two years to get here. She had done horrible things to convince the Nazi's she was one of them. Torture, executions, murders, espionage, and so much more. All to bring her to this moment when she could at last answer the questions Churchill and Eisenhower, well, just Eisenhower now, needed to know beyond all else.

"It looks formidable." She said with a nod of agreement. Part of her wanted to reach out and stab the man next to her. He was the embodiment of everything she hated, everything the Allies had fought against, and now she sat, only an arms length away. Men like him had killed her father after all.

She pushed the feeling down least it show on her face and turned her attention back to the approaching building. Her hard work had earned her several promotions, mainly through her work in the occupied Russian territories, and her attention to detail and security had gotten her here, the new Commander of Nazi Nuclear Program. Had this been an Allied nation she would never have come so far so quickly but in the German Empire Hitler kept his underlings constantly at each other throats to protect his own position. As a result, someone like Himmler could quickly come to rely on someone he viewed as an invaluable asset. Someone like her.

The final check point came and went, black clad SS guards snapping to attention as the car passed. A pair of black wooden gates swung slowly open to admit the car into the compound and the vehicle came to a halt before the tall doors that would lead inside.

Equipment was everywhere, piles, mounds, heaps of it. Scientists bustled in and out, guards with dogs seemed to be everywhere. Say one thing for the Nazi's, they were organized, and they never failed to amaze with what they could accomplish.

"Out we go Hagen, time to meet your command." Himmler said with a smile as he climbed from the car.

A Detachment had been drawn up and they slammed to attention as their Lieutenant saluted the two SS officers, both of whom ignored him as they headed for the front doors of the building.

Rowans heart was pounding in her chest now. This was it. In a few days she would have the knowledge she needed to return home and be rid of the Nazi's forever. The feeling was almost overwhelming and she had to swallow it again, forcing it beneath the character she had become for this, the ultimate mission.

"Heil Hitler!" A second young Lieutenant snapped to attention just inside the front doors and this time both officers returned his salute.

"Your office is just here Major." The young man said without emotion, gesturing toward an open door behind him.

"Thank you Lieutenant, that will be all." Himmler said before Rowan could speak. The young man saluted again and hurried away. Rowan had so far noted that every soldier she had seen was one of Himmlers personal fanatics. Men who would die at his command. Much as she was now expected to do.

Himmler led her into the office and she noted a massive black drape had been hung over one wall. Himmler closed the door behind her and then nodded to one of the two chairs that sat in front of the large desk. He sat in the other with a sigh and the look on his face suddenly reminded her of Churchill.

"Major, what I am about to tell you is something you can never ever speak of again with anyone other than myself or the Führer, do you understand?"

"No." Rowan whispered and she was already shaking her head as he looked up at her again. Her world was crumbling around her and Himmler hadn't even said the word. He mistook her emotions as he plowed on.

"I am afraid it's true Major, our nuclear program is nothing but smoke and mirrors, we do not posses the nuclear bomb."

Rowan screamed. The sound tore her apart, coming from the deepest part of her soul. Everything she had done to this point suddenly didn't matter. The bomb wasn't real. The men, the women, the children, all those people she had killed or consigned to death in the name of reaching this point. It meant nothing now. She was no better than the Nazi's.

She slid out of her chair and onto the floor, tears streaming down her face. Himmler looked shocked. It was possible he had expected anything but this. He reached out a hand toward her.

"Now Major, come, we must remain strong. We cannot show weakness!"

"Weakness..." She hissed the word at him. A horrible change had come over her face and in that moment she looked more like a Valkyrie of legend than she ever had before. She slowly began to climb to her feet.

"Weakness?!" She screamed the word in his face. He recoiled in shock and surprise, his eyebrows narrowing as his own temper started to rise. He shot to his feet.

She didn't wait, she couldn't, she had reach an emotional breaking point. She snapped. She drew her sidearm and shot him between the eyes.
--------------------------------------------
July 1960 - Tangier, Spanish Morocco
--------------------------------------------

One piece of Africa looked just like another some times. The endless rolling dunes in the distant, the ancient mud brick city in the foreground, and, surrounded by it all, the palatial hotels built by colonial empires. Rhodesia had a few leftovers from the colonial days but nothing quite like the graceful arches and stunning white marble of Spanish influence in Tangier. In fact, this was the closest she had ever come to leaving the African continent and part of her feared just how far her ambition might take her.

"Miss Reicker." The voice that address her was soft, deceivingly so for the alleged power of the man she had come to meet. She turned from the window, the vista of the city replaced with the spartan interior of the room. Her host was a soldier, that much she knew, but what kind she could not say for certain. He wore a desert camouflage uniform with no markings of rank or any other insignia on it. "I am flattered you came at my request on such short notice."

"Well, hard to ignore a note slipped under my pillow while I slept. That takes some skill." She replied with a thin smile. In truth she had been enraged at the action, and maybe a little worried. If someone could train an agent like that however, she wanted to learn everything they could teach. "But I have to ask, who are you? And who do you work for?"

The details had been very vague once she'd made contact with the unknown agent in the Addis Abba's Grand Market. She had arrived on time as the note directed and in the press of thousands a bent old man had approached begging for alms. She had dropped some coins into his bowl and he had slipped her an envelope. Inside had been a one way ticket to Tangier and a phone number.

There was something terribly sinister afoot but Sara was confident in her ability to defend herself and heck, she had always wanted to see something more than Rhodesia and Ethiopia. She had heard nothing from Rhodesian Security Forces since the death of the Heaps and, frankly, she felt somewhat slighted and ignored. One hardly did their job for fame and praise but it didn't hurt to get the odd "atta girl".

Either way, here she was, in Tangier, meeting with a Spaniard who spoke the same flawless english as she, bore no insignia, worked in an office that would have done a disciple of Jesus credit, and had, to this point, no name.

"My name is Antonio. I represent a faction within the Spanish Government that has a vested interest in the future of our country and I would like to hire you to work for us." He stared her in the eye with a level respect she had seldom seen in a Whiteman before. "Your race, your creed, your religion, they do not matter in the struggle that is to come. I intend to wield you like a weapon. You will be ordered to follow people, to seduce people, and, to kill people."

"Just another day at the office..." She muttered and saw the face in front of her crack slightly at the corner in the hint of a smile.

"Yes, another day at the office." He had begun to pace slowly along the far wall of the room, backlit by a huge pair of bay windows that showed off the city behind him. "Any number of days in truth that will leave a trail of bodies across the Kingdom and, perhaps, beyond."

"And whose bodies will those be?"

"Does it matter?" His eyes snapped back to her again.

"No, I suppose not." She nodded slowly. "What of my Rhodesian employers?"

The man snorted and waved a hand. "They are a regional power to be sure but their power does not extend into this part of Africa."

"Okay. What are the terms of employment?" It felt strange to be negotiating terms of anything. It felt a bit like being her own boss and she found she liked it.

"You work for us until such time as you, or we, find the contract to... Untenable." He had stopped pacing behind his desk now and reached into a top drawer and drew out a small wooden box which he placed on the desk top. He placed one hand on the lid, fingers flexed out over the top like a spider.

"We will offer you a 100,000 peseta signing bonus, now. You will receive an additional 100,000 per six months worked, and 10,000 per confirmed kill." His hand pulled back the lid and she found herself staring at neat rows of gold coins. He smiled. "In gold of course."

Sara had never before in her life seen so much gold and she felt the intense lure of it that had driven the Spanish to build their great empire. She nodded slowly, eyes still fixed on the golden coins.

"I find the compensation to be acceptable." She looked up now. "What else?"

"Simple," He didn't smile at all now and she suddenly realized that his eyes had a dead look to them she had not noticed before. "If you betray us, we kill you."
Alright, I'm on board for this. Hold on to your hats!

Most Interesting Character

@Vilageidiotx
Bert

I know this dude is new, and not super fleshed out yet but I like him. In the short time he's been "alive" he's got me more curious about any other character so far. Mainly his motivations and personal outlook on things. I look forward to seeing more of him and what drives him. You've also left some mystery to him that makes me want to know more.

Best Collaborative Post

Honestly can't recall any collabs other than the one I did with ze Germans, sorry.

Best Solo Story Arc

Jefferson Thomas
@Byrd Man

Certainly some bias going on here, but the exploration of being a Black Cop in the USA is not an easy one and I think you've handled this quite well so far! I hope to see more of this guy and judge his detective work harshly!

Best Post

33: Murungaru writes, touches a nekkid lady, sees a Dr Sisi brain surgery
@Vilageidiotx

Genuinely gave me the creeps here and that's saying something, I think. Medical stuff in general tends to get under my skin but you wrote it well and without in graphic flair. It was just downright... Ugh. Well done.

Best Character Development

Hou
@Dinh AaronMk

I am unfamiliar with Hou before this RP so I have enjoyed reading up on him. You write well and blend the whole traditional with "western" bit very well. I am sure Hou is going to be one heck of an awesome bad guy down the road.

Best Nation Development

United States of America
@Byrd Man

I'll also toss a vote in here. I like how've you fleshed out any number of various parts in the US. It is something I want to be able to mimic with Spain to some extent as it seems as confusing in your RP as it is to me in the real world. I like the intrigue and you have done a great job of giving us some idea of what your civil war was like rather than leaving it in your CS only.

Best Creative Idea

@NecroKnight
German Afrika

I was wondering how someone would take a non-white country and try and make it work in Africa in a zone not traditionally known for it's white government (IE South Africa and Rhodesia). I am looking forward to how you take this forward and try to make a balance between your Imperialist whites and majority black population given the huge disparity in population.

Best Use of Alt. History

Armenia
@TheEvanCat

I will also vote in here. A lot of military posts, which I am a sucker for, but you also manage to make the whole damn thing seem interesting despite it being, I'll be honest... Armenia. You've wielded your small nation really well and despite the small presence on the world stage, Armenia doesn't feel like it needs more of a world since it's got so much going on within its borders I would never have expected. Well one.

PoW MVP (aka The Prime Preciprick)

Tie: Aaron and Vilage
@Dinh AaronMk@Vilageidiotx

I know you vote for each other, and you're arrogant pricks for it, but you're both right. Without you this RP would not be what it is. I absolutely love how you allow so much flexibility without letting everything descend into anarchy. Nowhere else on this forum is that sort of leadership to be found. Keep it up.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
June, 1958 - Norfolk, United Kingdom (FLASHBACK)
--------------------------------------------------------------------

A jet black Rolls Royce swept sedately through the English countryside, the late afternoon sunshine glinting off the chrome bumper and hubcaps. On either side of the laneway towered great English Oaks, their huge branches reaching across the ancient track to join in an never ending tunnel of bright green, shot through with sunlight here and there. Beyond the trees grazed herds of cattle and sheep, watched over by shepherds who watched the vehicle pass with more than a slight interest.

Rowan Hogan, who was seated alone in the rear of the Rolls Royce, stared back. To the general public, Wolterton Manor House was the stately home of Lord Astleys, an elderly gentlemen who lived most of his time in London and only visited during the hunting season. The ancient red brick mansion dated back to the 1500's and had been significantly modernized since then.

The Rolls slowed as it approached the entrance to the Mansion, an imposing brick archway that was almost completely hidden by the heavy oak trees. A footman, who was quite young and very fit, stepped out into the roadway to greet the vehicle. The driver slowed and then came to a stop, rolling down his window to speak to the footman. Rowan could not hear what was said but she saw the driver speak her name in the rearview mirror. What else he said she could not make out.

The footman glanced in, offering her a smile and a wave as the Rolls passed into the gravel courtyard. More Mansion staff were moving about the courtyard, men and women, all of them watching her without trying to look like there were.

The car ground to a halt before the front door of the building, a huge set of double doors inlaid with the Astleys crest. Another footman, as fit and formidable as the first, appeared and opened the door of the vehicle. The smell of the countryside, fresh cut grass, flowering oak trees, manure in the fields beyond, all of it rolled into the vehicle to greet her as she clambered out.

Rowans style was clean, simple, well fitted, with perfectly matched accessories. She wore a green dress without collar, and a blue jacket. She wore sensible low heel shoes that were ideal for quick movement. She dressed so that you would notice her, but then forget her the moment she was gone.

"This way ma'am." Said the footman as he led her up the short stone steps to the great wooden doorway. She had counted the watchers in the courtyard now and was beginning to feel a sense of excitement building in her gut. There were normally fewer here and she could detect a distinct division between them, as if there were two separate groups brought together. Something was up.

The interior of the Mansion had been redone in a tasteful white plaster, the roof properly resealed, and everything still looked as one might expect the home of a Country Squire to look. More servants, far more than was practical in such an older home, seemed to be everywhere, cleaning rooms that did not need cleaning, moving items from one room to the next. All of it purposeless bustle.

The footman who led her turned left into a small sitting room where a fire burned in the hearth despite the heat of the spring day. Two large arm chairs sat facing the fire, a small table between them shared a pair of empty Scotch glasses, and an ashtray held the stub of a cigar. Those small clues, plus the increased security of the mansion, led her to conclude that the Prime Minister was in the building. The identity of his guest would remain a mystery for a few minutes more.

Through the sitting room was a final wooden door, currently closed, with two soldiers in uniform, pistols on their hips, sub-machine guns across their chests. They nodded to the footman, glanced her over, and then the one on the left stepped back to push open the door. Two men stood in the room, their backs to her, and they both turned toward her as the door closed behind her.

The man on the left she knew very well, Winston Churchill, his scowling visage and trademark cigar exactly as she had pictured him. The second man however brought her up short. It completely explained the increased security, not to mention the strange sense of division amongst the security forces. This second man was none other than Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States of America.

"Ah, Miss Hogan, please, come in." Churchill waved her forward. He was leaning heavily on a large chair for support but gestured her to sit in it. Eisenhower simply smiled and Rowan had the distinct impression that she was being very severely judged.

"Thank you, m'lord." She said as she sat in the offered chair. Eisenhower sank into another while Churchill painfully shuffled his way to a third chair and slowly sat with a thankful sigh. He puffed at his cigar for a moment and then looked over at Eisenhower with a raised eyebrow.

The American President sat forward in his chair, elbows on his knees, and looked very keenly at her. It was a strange moment for a simple Irish farm girl from Dún Laoghaire, to be seated in the same room as the two most powerful men in the free world. Eisenhower seemed to be weighing her for a moment before, finally, he began to speak.

"Miss Hogan. As you are no doubt aware, a current Cold War exists between the Allies and the German Reich. This entire state of affairs is based on the assumption that, should one or the other resort to nuclear warfare, the other would retaliate and doom us all."

The room suddenly seemed cold. Rowan had seen the images from Russia and Japan, of huge cities turned to rubble in an instant, hundreds of thousands dead. There was no greater fear for people of her generation than to know that they could be next. She felt her fingers digging into the soft fabric of the armchair as the President continued to speak.

"What we are about discuss cannot, ever, be discussed again outside of this room." Eisenhower sat back slightly and regraded her carefully through his glasses. "You have been selected for a mission, perhaps the most vital one ever undertaken by an agent of the Allied powers. I will not bore you with the process. But you have been chosen for your ability to speak four languages, your determination, flexibility in crisis, and complete loyalty to the Allied cause."

Rowan nodded and sat up straighter in her chair. Churchill was watching her like a hawk and she had no doubt he was the reason she was sitting in front of them. He had known her father during the war, he had been killed during an SAS raid on Nazi Occupied France. Since that time she had found a powerful friend in the Prime Minister, a secret friend, who had opened many doors for her that might have otherwise remained closed because of her gender.

"I need to know, we, need to know, that what I am about to tell you will never pass between your lips. The mission, should you choose to accept it, will end one of two ways. With your success, or your death. There can be no capture. Your mission will not be acknowledged by the Allies, and you will report directly to us. Are you prepared to do that?"

Eisenhower stared at her intently, Churchill puffed on his cigar, a log popped in the fireplace and somewhere outside a hound gave a long low howl. All of it seemed suddenly very intense. Rowan stared into the flames. She had served the Allied cause as an agent for the last seven years, moving effortlessly through the German Reich under any number of aliases, gathering intelligence on German troops movements and dispositions. She had waited her entire life for this type of opportunity, and, if she was honest with herself, she didn't anything else to do. Her father was dead, killed in the war, and her mother had been killed in an automobile crash five years ago.

"Okay, Mr. President. I won't say a word." She brought her gaze back up to meet his, and then transferred it to Churchill. "You can continue to have faith in me."

Churchill smiled and nodded. Eisenhower allowed a flicker of a smile before the deadly seriousness came rushing back. He sat back fully now and gave a deep sigh. It was Churchills' turn to sit forward and take up the narrative.

"Miss Hogan, I will be blunt. The only thing that has prevented the Nazi's from invading our fair Island and, indeed, conquering the world, is the threat of a nuclear strike on their own territory." He paused now and such was the look on his face that she had to fight the urge to jump up and run from the room. He suddenly looked wasted, tired, spent, defeated, and, worst of all, afraid.

"Miss Hogan," His eyes met hers and she saw the weight of the world in them. "The Allied powers do not posses the atomic bomb."


June 1960

CHARACTERS:
Rowan Hogan/Hagen (Murderer)
Georg Hegel (German ex-pat)
Manon Juillet (French Hobo)
July 1960 Barcelona, Kingdom of Spain


Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, commonly know as Sagrada Família, sat like a great brooding monolith in the heart of Barcelona. Begun in 1882, it was now only three quarters of the way completed and workers still swarmed over the building from dawn to dusk. Once it had been funded by private donation but now, in a revived Spanish Kingdom, the Royal treasury was "donating" a portion of the taxes it collected toward the buildings construction.

For Grand Inquisitor Juan José Omella of his majesties most Holy Inquisition that "donation" rankled. There had been a time in the Churches history where it collected its own taxes and was powerful enough to rival the power of the royal family but the late King, Alfonso XIII, had refused to return that power when he reinstituted the monarchy. Instead Churches had to rely on private donations and basic tax exemptions, based on the American model of organized religion. His Majesty had found a use for a resurrected Inquisition however.

Though many still referred to the Inquisition as the Hounds of God, their attachment to the Catholic Church as an institution was symbolic at best. No longer did they seek to hunt out radicals, heretics, or witches. Now they served as a Royal secret police that answered only to the King and Royal Council. Even then, their powers had been limited. They held no authority to arrest anyone in the Military or the National Police Service, only to observe and report to the Royal Council. Omella himself sat on that Royal Council, the largely secretive group that ran the country while the young King broke every conceivable commandment. One law for the poor, another for the King.

Omella had slowly been rebuilding the power of the Inquisition over the past fifteen years, and the money that flowed to the Sagrada Família was proof of that. While it was certainly a religious building, it also served as the Headquarters of the Inquisition. In exchange for his support on other matters, members of the Royal Council had voted more powers to Omella. It was a slow process but he was a patient man.

Now, as he frowned up at the huge building, something else was bothering him. He, and the other members of the Royal Council, had worked tirelessly to solidify their positions and grab as much power for themselves as they could, the sheep required shepherds afterall. But it seemed the sheep might be awakening to the power of their shepherd. The influence of Communists in the working classes was gaining strength every day and he could see it even in the workers on his beautiful building. Every day the men came to work and more of them wore a red bandana or scarf about their waist.

On the other side were the Royalists, the wealthy who drove by him everyday and sneered up his building and his ambition. They were not safe from his reach but one had to tread carefully. Many had children who had become close to the King and it was unwise to anger such a petulant child. The Royalists controlled the government, there was no doubt about that, and with it most of the money in the Kingdom.

The third faction was the one that worried him most. The Nationalists. They were quieter in their movements and had so far managed to thwart his attempts to infiltrate their meetings. They were found among the military and police throughout the country. All he knew was the name of their leaders, one Captain Martín Fernández de Navarrete, and Colonel Francsico De Le Cal Delgado. Both were highly decorated military veterans and part of a younger officer core that was not of noble birth. Both harboured a certain... hatred, to ward the Royal Council for how it had decreed that all flag officers must have noble blood.

The High Inquisitor was not a betting man, but he was certain that when, not if, but when strife came to Spain, one of those two men would be found at its heart. The only real question left to him now was who he would support when the time came to chose sides. He had no doubt the usefulness of the Inquisition would not be lost any side. Well, maybe the Communists, their bleeding heart ideals were coming south from France and nothing good ever came from France. He very much doubted they would have any interest in keeping the Inquisition around.


June 01, 1944: The German Reich drops a single atomic bomb on the United Soviet Socialist Republics. The Soviet leadership is annihilated. The city of Moscow wiped from the face of the earth. Faced with the possibility of further nuclear attack, the Soviet Union surrenders unconditionally.

June 01, 1945: As the German Reich prepares to accept the unconditional surrender of Great Britain, the last European power to stand between Germany and total domination of Europe, the Americans drop two atomic bombs on Japan. Japan, abandoned by their German allies, surrenders unconditionally. Rumours surface that the Americans have further devices in Britain and the German attempts to annex the island nation grind to a halt.

June 01, 1960: The Cold War is in full swing as the Allied powers stand toe to toe with the German Reich over the English Channel. Only Vichy France, a staunch German ally on paper, remains somewhat open to the allies as a "neutral ground" between the two major powers. Threats of a nuclear exchange are no uncommon as each side seeks to destabilize the other. Hitler has not given up on his dream of a world wide Third Reich and the Allies strive to free those enslaved by the Nazis.

While politicians hurl challenges, and armies prepare for the inevitable, there is a shadow war within the Vichy State as agents of both sides attempt to gain control of the neutral territory. Amid all this is a woman with an incredible secret, a secret that could change the world forever, a secret so powerful that she may have no choice but to take it to her grave.
--------------------------------------------
July, 1960 - Strait of Gibraltar
--------------------------------------------

Captain Martín Fernández de Navarrete stood ramrod straight with his feet shoulder width apart, hands clasped behind his back, dressed in his spotless black formal uniform festooned with gold braid. His peak cap sat at an ideally rakish angle, his pistol and sword held in place by a painstakingly polished white belt and cross belt.

Below his feet he could feel the rumble of the ships engines as the 50,000 ton Héroe-Class Battleship, RSN Don Quixote, steamed into the Strait of Gibraltar. To the left, low and barren, lay Spanish Morocco. To the right lay Spain, green and lush. But, along that coast lay the greatest insult to Spanish pride, the British Fortress of Gibraltar.

Navarrete longed to turn his ships 15 inch turrets against the rock but he had been expressly forbidden. He knew, as did his crew, that the British would be watching them as well, their own massive 10 inch guns more than enough to reach completely across the strait. The Don Quixote might have the bigger guns but you couldn't sink The Rock. It didn't help that the British emplacements were nearly 1,300 feet above seal level and their gunners would have an unobstructed view of the Spanish Armada passing through.

Instead, Navarrete would do what he had always, he would pretend the rock was not there, and the British would pretend that he wasn't pretending. It was a farce. Eventually Gibraltar would return to the Spanish. It was only a matter of time. Modern advances in warfare had made the once strategic location a death trap for its garrison. Navarrete privately hoped that it would not surrender peacefully so he could unleash his guns on the hated British.

The Armada, the Don Quixote and five escort ships, stayed true through the middle of the channel. Navarrete might not be able to fire on the British but he would be damned if he hugged the Moroccan coast like some child afraid of a bogey man. Merchant vessels scattered out of their way, the Spanish flag flying proudly from the stern of the big ship as they finally began their turn North to steam into Rota, the massive Naval base that had been built just thirty years ago when the Old King was alive.

Navarette had to be honest with himself, he missed the old man. He might have been a tough screw to get money out of but when he did something, he threw his weight behind it. This son of his, a playboy without an ounce of idea how to rule. And the nobility, fat fools.

He was the son of an olive merchant who had paid a considerable sum to send his only son to the Naval Academy back when the King had believed that anyone could command, noble blood be damned. Navarette had done his father proud and moved swiftly up the ranks under he saw the Senior Captain of the Spanish Armada, next in line for an Admiral's position. Next in line until the Royal Council, nobles all, had decreed that only a nobleman could hold Flag officer rank. Bastards, all of them.

Nor was Navarette alone in his musings as he began to pace the steel deck of the outer bridge. A good number of military officers were the sons of middle class families who had flourished under the King. Now the complete lack of regard for their achievements by the Royal Council was stirring unrest and, in some cases anger. That anger was kept close to chests and only whispered about in dark corners but Navarette had not become a Post-Captain by being a fool. Change was coming. He only hoped it would not be to bloody.

Various factions were at work within Spain and already he, along with many officers, had been discreetly approached by someone enquiring as to which way their political thinkings might be. Navarette had never truly been one for politics but he was worried about Spain. The country had grown wealthy and powerful over the past forty years. While other countries had fallen on hard times and waged world wars, or civil wars, Spain had kept her nose clean, more or less.

Spain had quietly been involved in supporting the winning factions of both the German and American Civil Wars. "Quietly". Spanish Naval power had assisted the victorious forces of the Kaiser and Spanish "Volunteers", now known as the Condor Legion, had served with American forces against the southern states. Had they been a war winning help? Maybe? He doubted it. But he did know that Spain had learned much from their interactions about the new age of modern warfare.

To this day, not more than a few hundred Spaniards had died in trench warfare, and for that he was thankful. Spain has been spared the horror of an entire generation wiped out and the economic disaster that followed. Selling to both sides in the Great War, and then to the various warring factions around the globe, had brought the Spanish great wealth, and valuable feedback on their weapons systems.

The Don Quixote and her sister ships, three in total, were the pinnacle of Spanish Naval engineering. Fast, powerful, heavily armed and armoured, they could stand toe to toe with any other ship of their class. This voyage, however, was to see a new type of warship. The Spanish had long been working an aircraft carrier of their own, eyeing the few the Americans had managed to build. None of them were very impressive but it was a start and if Spain were to regain her former glory, well, she would need to be able to deploy air power.

He had heard that the latest vessel, yet unnamed, was nothing more than an old cruiser with its super structure torn down and replaced with a long flat deck from which only the lightest aircraft, in this case bi-plane torpedo bombers, could launch, but only it sailing directly into a ten knot head wind. It would be a tricky task and Navarette had been assigned to protect the vessel while it was undergoing sea trials.

The thought of a plane launching from a ship was fascinating to him. His own vessel carried four seaplanes that could be lowered over the side before take off but to have planes that could simply take off and land at will! It was a fascinating idea.

He halted his pacing, aware it was making his Deck Officer nervous, and glanced back to see Gibraltar slowly sinking in the distance. Some day soon, he promised himself, they would retake The Rock.

"Deck Officer,"He snapped. "Flank speed. Get us to Rota in record time."

"Aye aye sir!"

Orders bellowed out but he was no longer listening. Beneath him he could feel the engines begin to increase in power and the ocean spray became more pronounced as the Don Quixote started to slice through the waves. It was a good day to be Spanish.
© 2007-2017
BBCode Cheatsheet