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  1. #31
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    "Oh, you mustn't blame yourself, Herr Einsbrecht - may I call you Gerhard?"

    Again, not an order... but not wise to refuse.

    "We are at war, Gerhard, and our enemy is crafty. They will stop at nothing to ensure that we lose this war. That our great nation and our way of life are destroyed."

    He sighed, and placed his hand on his desk as if for support. "I shudder to think of it, Gerhard. Of their vile plans for us. But we are stronger. I have faith in Germany and our leader. We will prevail, fear not."

    Kraus leaned closer, conspiratorial. "May I let you in on a little secret, Gerhard? I have plans that will help us. The theft of my experimental subject has slowed but not derailed those plans."

    Lest he be accused of cruelty, Kraus assured the young man, "Don't worry. My experiment was on a prisoner. A subhuman. No one whose fate need concern you. I'm sure by now he has died."

    Kraus grinned, self-satisfied and too proud of himself to be cautious. "I have two different avenues by which I will continue my research. I have hidden five samples from the prisoner, in separate locations. Additionally, I've been tracking down his family. With luck, I will find more who share his... unusual characteristic. His sister and brother have already been killed - unfortunate for my purposes, but I cannot fault our men from pursuing the greater good - but the parents are still alive as of last report. They can be made useful too."

    Kraus gave him a friendly smile. "So you see, Gerhard? No need to worry. All is not lost."
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #32
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    Another nod. He was somewhat relieved that he wasn't expected to provide much dialogue in this conversation. Truth be told, he was shocked that Kraus would give him so much information. He wasn't a high-ranking officer. He was just...there. Perhaps sometimes being 'there' was enough.

    Having met Isaac, Gerhard had to admit Kraus' diatribe rankled him. Of course, he himself had thought Isaac was a simple prisoner - and that he would die. How wrong he had been. The fact that Kraus had bits of Isaac he'd stolen hidden piqued his interest. Those would have to be found - and destroyed. But any thought along those lines was completely derailed when Kraus laid out his secondary plan. Members of Isaac's family still lived - but at this rate, not for long. The path was clear. He had to get to the Fishblatts first.

    "Of course, Herr Kraus. Thank-you for giving me hope." He allowed a half-smile to turn up his lips momentarily. Of course, it was true - Kraus had given him hope...just not for the same regime as he. He couldn't resist pushing a little, even though he knew a bit of what the experiment was about from Isaac's file.

    "I am looking forward to seeing the results of your research. You have already done so much - and yet you strive for more. It is...an enviable position."
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  3. #33
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Kraus smiled an easy, satisfied smile. Flattery would get you everywhere with this man.

    "You are too kind, Gerhard," he said in a tone that suggested both men knew this was really just his due. "As you know, serving Germany is my great passion in life, and I am delighted to play a part, however small. Though... my contribution may grow before long..."

    He leaned forward conspiratorially. "Of course, there are limits to how much I can disclose, even to a fellow soldier..."

    It was a tease, drawing out the suspense. Though Kraus was not prepared to divulge everything, it was clear that the doctor was about to share more than was wise.

    But it was Einsbrecht, after all. Dull and bland - but utterly loyal.

    "I have discovered something in the blood of this lowly prisoner that may turn the tide of the war. That may give our soldiers regenerative powers that our enemies can only dream of. I know it is... distasteful... to find such a thing inside the body of a Jew. But do not think of it that way. Think of it as a manner of retribution against the Jews for all that Germany has suffered at their hands."

  4. #34
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    He felt his eyes widening on their own, responding to the news naturally as though he'd just found out. Shifting forward on the settee, he drew his face back into composure, even as his heart beat told a different tale.

    "Herr Doctor, that...that is astounding. You should be shouting your achievement from the rooftops! Just think of it..."

    Gerhard too knew how to generate some suspense. He turned his head as though he were analyzing details, then back to face Klaus.

    "The Fuhrer himself will decorate you. I look forward to the day."

    Pushing for more information, like where the serum might be hidden would be unwise. While Klaus was willing to boast about his achievements, Gerhard was all too aware that the two operated on completely different levels. If he was going to find out what he really wanted to know, he was going to have to convince Kraus to draw him into his circle. Fortunately, the man liked people who praised him. He hoped it would be enough to move this relationship in the right direction. He hoped...it wouldn't take too much more. Playing the fawning adorer was a role he was unaccustomed to - especially considering how much he disliked the man. Yet, remembering Gilda's sacrifices for the cause, he steeled himself. He needed to be ready to go the extra mile.

  5. #35
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Kraus dismissed this praise with a raised hand and a modest duck of his head - but in truth, he was pleased. It was a scenario he had imagined many times himself. It was appealing that Gerhard shared his vision of triumph. The young man was hitting all the right notes.

    "Forgive me, though, Gerhard - I don't mean to dwell on my own matters."

    He met the younger man's eyes with seemingly genuine sympathy and caring.

    "How are you doing? You can tell me honestly. I know you are utterly devoted to the cause, and entirely patriotic. But we all have rough patches from time to time - and I can't help but notice that you don't get out and socialize much. Is everything alright? Are you taking time to relax? Or... a girl, perhaps? A man's feelings can get rather pent up without female company, after all. If you're having trouble - of any sort at all - I would really love to help."

    Kraus' sincere compassion now was a rather startling contrast to the merciless way he had treated Isaac.

  6. #36
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    There it was. The friendliness he had been warned to expect, though he was a bit surprised Kraus would extend it to someone of such low status as himself. And for the first time, he was at a loss. What should he say? Surely he expected some nugget out of Gerhard after baring his own secrets... In the end, he realized that he could simply be honest.

    "Herr Kraus, that you would think of me, a simple soldier of low rank, is sufficient to raise my spirits. It is nice when people recognize your efforts, though I've never expected it - I am simply doing my job. I don't socialize much because, well, I just don't have much in common with my compatriots. I am a simple country lad who cannot fight on the front lines." He shrugged. "It leaves little to talk about, so I busy myself reading. I don't mind. I rather like having a bit of time without being surrounded by people."

    He clamped his mouth shut, as though he feared he said too much, and hopefully served to support his introverted character. Looking up at Kraus, he managed a smile.

    "You have already done, so much, sir. Thank-you for taking the time to speak with me."

  7. #37
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Kraus laid a fatherly hand on Gerhard's shoulder. "No need to thank me, friend," he said warmly. "We are all brothers here. You should never hesitate, if there is anything you need. Anything at all."

    He paused for a moment as if in thought - though in reality, he had planned this even before he had called Gerhard into his office.

    "Actually, I think I have the solution to your problems. As I said, my research has turned up a sort of... enhancement that can be used on soldiers. I believe it will correct your physical limitations, and make you the sort of son of Germany you long to be. But of course, it would require great bravery... and more than that, great loyalty."

    His piercing blue eyes met Gerhard's.

    "So tell me - are you a man of such loyalty?"

  8. #38
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    Gerhard Einsbrect

    His body physically shook; he could not stop it. Kraus was going to inject whatever it was he distilled from Isaac's blood into soldiers...now? Him? He latched onto that last part as part of his brain registered that Kraus was looking hard at him. Gerhard's voice quivered slightly, he hoped it sounded as though it was from shock and excitement, not the disgust he felt keenly in his gut.

    "Herr...Herr Doctor. You would consider me? But...but of course, Sir! I am a man of such loyalty, if not courage, loyalty."

    It didn't feel wrong speaking those last words. He believed that he was being loyal - just to a different Germany than Kraus'. Gerhard's mind whirled with possibilities. If he could find out where the serum was being held, that would be the a great first act as part of the Resistance.

    "Thank-you Sir."

  9. #39
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    "Excellent!" Kraus said, beaming. He gave Gerhard a hearty pat on the back. "Excellent, my good man! I knew you were brave and loyal enough for the task. Now, roll up your sleeve..."

    Kraus wasn't planning to give Gerhard any time to reconsider. If he was allowed to go home and cool off, his courage might fail. Better to have it over and done with.

    "You'll be the thirteenth man to receive the serum today. Don't be superstitious about the number. We soldiers know better than that, don't we? Instead, think of yourself among a small group of chosen ones..."

    Kraus drew the contents of a vial into a syringe.

    "Now then, just a tiny pinch. I know most of the men don't care for needles, but this will scarcely hurt a bit..."

    A more self-aware man might have recognized that this solicitous concern was the extreme opposite of how he had treated Isaac. But Kraus was not one for introspection. The thought never crossed his mind.

    He found a vein in Gerhard's arm and depressed the plinger.

    "There! All done! Not so bad, hm? Tell me how you feel..."

    Kraus never heard the response, if any, because a nurse knocked rapidly before bursting in. Kraus was about to reprimand her, but then saw the look on her face. She began whispering urgently in his ear.

    "Excuse me, Gerhard," Kraus said, following the nurse into the hall... leaving the young man to deal with the results alone.

  10. #40
    Doctor Hermann Kraus

    Kraus raced down the hall to the beside of Hans, the young Bavarian with the injured leg.

    When he got there, Hans was convulsing violently. Bloody froth poured from between his chapped lips, and his skin glistened with a layer of sweat. The young man was hot to the touch - so hot that Kraus suspected the fever alone was high enough to be life-threatening.

    What the hell was happening? Kraus put the ball of his stethoscope to the young man's chest, and the staccato beat was so rapid that Kraus thought the instrument must be malfunctioning.

    Then abruptly, Hans gave a loud grasp. His breath rattled in his throat. Then he died.

    Kraus swore and kicked the bedside table in frustration and grief. Hans had only been in danger of losing his leg. A hard enough thing for him and his family, to be sure - but now he would be returning home to Bavaria in a pine box.

    If Kraus had been a wiser person, he would have blamed himself. He would have acknowledged how reckless and arrogant he had been to inject an unknown substance into human beings simply on the basis of a hunch bolstered by wishful thinking.

    But Kraus had never been a wise man.

    Instead, he placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Jew from whose blood the serum had been taken. Duplicitous! Conniving! The prisoner had clearly been plotting against Germany all along! Damn him!

    His anger only deepened as he was called to eleven more bedsides. Of the twelve he had injected that morning, none survived - and to Kraus, it was all the fault of a Jew. After he had declared the time of death for the last soldier, he went to see how Gerhard had fared. He didn't have much hope that Herr Einsbrecht had survived either.

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