Robert Hogan knew something would happen tonight. It was in the air, as Newkirk would say.

Von Reuter had left for Berlin earlier in the day. Before leaving however, he had arranged that Hogan be placed in a barred cell in the cooler. The move meant no tunnel and no Newkirk.

The Englishman had been frantic when he made this discovery. Reluctantly, he waited in Hogan's old cell. He'd already picked the lock and could get out joining Hogan at any time. So they waited.

Just past three a.m., Hogan, who was awake, heard a noise and saw two flashlight beams coming down the hall. He swung his legs off the bunk and sat up but did not stand.

Kleiner's voice came out of the darkness. "Colonel Hogan, you'll be happy to know your time has come. You're going to escape."

Caught in the beams and blinded by their light, Hogan held up a hand to shade his eyes. He could see very little. "I'm delighted. I hope you've arranged some first class accommodations. I hate economy."

The key slid into the door lock. "You won't complain, Colonel," Kleiner replied.

As the door swung open, Hogan could make out Kleiner holding one flashlight. The other person stayed back in the shadows.

"Come on out, Colonel. It's your road to freedom," Kleiner taunted.

Standing, Hogan backed up to the one solid wall. "No thanks. I think it would be a very short road."

Out of the darkness, a knife whistled through the air, embedding itself in the wall next to Hogan's left arm. He glanced down to see his jacket sleeve torn. Looking at Kleiner, who still stood in the entrance with his flashlight and a gun, Hogan remarked, "Your little friend there is good. Does he do sword swallowing tricks as well?"

There was a noise, a thud and a groan from down the hallway by Hogan's old cell. The lights suddenly flipped on, causing everyone to squint.

Steingarten appeared. "You were right, Sergeant. There was some English rat hiding in the cell. I had not seen him before."

Kleiner sneered at Hogan. "So, that was your rescue plan?" He advanced a step closer and suddenly the Colonel could see the syringe in Kleiner's hand. "Do not worry; this little needle will give you strength."

Worry about Newkirk gnawed at Hogan but he would not let Kleiner know that. He backed away. "Oh, no. Please, not that. Not again." Hogan said weakly. Becoming aware of blood running down his arm, he suddenly swayed. "I think your boy there cut it a bit fine," Hogan said, holding up his hand.

The third man, a small, mean looking bald man with a habitual scowl, spoke up for the first time. "He's not that bad; I know what I'm doing. It is right where I aimed it."

Kleiner, who had been about to reach for Hogan, suddenly snatched his hand back. "You are always scheming, are you not, Herr Colonel?"

Hogan straightened up but still kept his right hand on his bleeding left arm. "Every moment of every day, Kleiner. Remember that," he said in a cold, hard voice, so unlike his everyday tone for talking.

Kleiner smiled unpleasantly. "Oh, I will. But not for long; for it will be irrelevant soon. Now, will you come along quietly or do you need this?" He said, holding up the syringe.

He gave Hogan a shove out of the cell. The unknown man went to retrieve his knife. Steingarten stood by, expressionless.


The night was cold with a freezing drizzle. There was a ghostly fog around Stalag 13. The searchlights swung around but their light seemed to accentuate the stark gloom rather than illuminate it. In short, a night that few people would be looking outside on.

The damp cold hit Hogan like a punch in the stomach. He shivered and continued to worry about Newkirk as Kleiner and the small man took him to the cooler entrance.

His fears were justified when Kleiner told Steingarten, "Go back and get the Englander. Let's get rid of both of them tonight."

"Jawohl. Steingarten moved to comply.

The small man left to get a car. Kleiner kept Hogan covered with both pistol and syringe.

The car approached headlights off and keeping out of the search lights. Kleiner gestured with the gun. "Get in, Colonel. You are going to Düsseldorf but you do not have to be alive when you arrive."

The small man got out and opened the back door. Robert Hogan stood in the freezing air in seeming indecision. With an impatient snort, Kleiner gave him a shove.

Hogan turned the shove into a lunge at the small man. He felt the point of the knife enter his right arm but this time he managed to knock the small man to the ground. Reaching inside the car, Hogan laid his hand on the horn and held it down.

The shrill noise shattered the ghostly stillness. The searchlights swung around, the guard dogs began a frenzied barking and more guards rushed out of their barracks. Sirens sounded. Suddenly there was shouting, barking and chaos.

Kleiner raised his pistol to shoot Hogan in the back but the small man stopped him. "Not while I'm here. It might trace back to the boss!"

With an angry hiss, Kleiner rushed Hogan, dropping the syringe and the gun, which he had tried to place in his coat pocket. The Colonel turned and took his hand off the horn to meet Kleiner's attack with some blows of his own. He peppered Kleiner with sharp jabs to the face and one hard blow to the midsection. Surprised, Kleiner fell back under the attack.

The small man charged in with his knife, swinging wildly. Hogan managed to evade the deadly blade but Kleiner jumped him again. Hogan was hampered a bit by the need to protect his ribs but red hot anger and frustration fueled him. The two fell on the wet, frozen ground, trading punches.

The small man watched intently for an opening. He became concerned however when he saw all the German soldiers running at him. His presence would be hard to explain at a POW camp. Panicked, he jumped into the idling car and headed for the gate.

His plan stopped in its tracks however when the gates were blocked by another car coming through. A staff car that bore General's flags on the fenders.

Surrounded by armed soldiers and caught in the searchlights, the small man raised his arms in surrender.

Tapping on the window that the small man reluctantly rolled down, Corporal Karl Langenscheidt smiled unpleasantly. "Abend. Papers please."


The fighting between Kleiner and Hogan was brutal and dirty. Once Kleiner picked up the syringe and made a wild swing. The needle cut a long and shallow furrow on the back of Hogan's left hand and it started bleeding profusely. But it did not stop Hogan punching Kleiner again and again. Kleiner returned the favor but his punches were getting wilder and missing a lot.

The German soldiers were confused and leaderless. Prisoners tried to break out of their barracks but most were driven back. The other guards were torn between duty and the desire to see Kleiner defeated. He was not popular with most of the guards, having abused his authority far too much.

The two combatants picked themselves up off the ground and broke apart for a moment, both gasping for air, bruised and bloodied.

Kleiner slowly looked around, just now realizing that German guards were standing and watching. "You will all be in Russia by next week!" He hissed angrily. He then charged into Hogan, trying to ram his head into the American's midsection.

Hogan fell back under the onslaught but interlocked his hands into a two fisted slam onto Kleiner's neck. The effect staggered the German and Hogan followed up with several quick blows to the face. On the last punch, Hogan hit Kleiner so hard he felt like he'd broken his own hand. Tottering for just a moment, Kleiner finally went down hard.

Everyone stared in shock at the unconscious German sergeant. Then, Steingarten shouldered his way through, thoughtlessly dropping an unconscious Newkirk to the ground. He faced Hogan with a malicious smile. "I am going to enjoy breaking you."

One of the German soldiers, Private Schlausen, made to stop Steingarten but he raised his pistol and pointed it at the young man, who backed off fearfully.

Hogan, too, took a half step back, fear in his eyes. He couldn't take Steingarten on his best days, certainly not now. In a moment however, Hogan squared his shoulders. He probably wouldn't live forever anyway, so might as well go down swinging.

"Hey! Do you ever take on a fair fight or only those you've made sure you're going to win first?"

Several eyes bulged out at this open taunting and Steingarten looked to face the brazen man.

Sgt. James Kinchloe stepped into the circle. He, LeBeau, Carter and a few others from Barracks 2 had made it outside. Kinch looked contemptuous of the German. "I'm waiting, big guy."

Steingarten smiled; his gold tooth glinted in the searchlight. "Come on, savage. I'll take care of you and then I'll finish with your commander."

Hogan took a step forward. "Kinch, don't," he said warningly.

Kinchloe shucked off his jacket and tossed it to LeBeau, who stood by with Carter. "Colonel, you've more than done your part. My turn now. Besides, I need to atone for my part in this mess. I'm the one who got us all sent away. Let me make it right."

Hogan looked confused but LeBeau nodded. "Later, mon Colonel." He and Carter drew Hogan out of the way.

Kinchloe turned to Steingarten. "Well, can you fight or only hold guys down for Kleiner?"

Steingarten smirked and charged. Kinchloe, who had golden gloves boxing experience, expertly dodged and weaved. While Steingarten flailed at the air, Kinch peppered him with jabs and body punches. It quickly became a pattern. Steingarten chasing Kinchloe and getting punched as he pursued the American sergeant.

Finally, Steingarten had had it. He pulled a pistol out of his pocket.

"Enough. I will kill you both," he declared, looking at Kinchloe and Hogan. He pointed the gun at them.

"You are right, Private. That will be enough!"

General Burkhalter's voice was instantly recognized and the German soldiers immediately pointed their weapons at Steingarten. Burkhalter, Klink and Sergeant Schultz pushed through the crowd. "Guards, if he shoots, kill him," Burkhalter said with an unpleasant, shark like smile.

Looking at the hostile faces surrounding him, Steingarten stood in uncertainty. He badly wanted to kill Hogan and Kinch; it was plain on his face. But with so many rifles pointed directly at him, Steingarten reluctantly tossed the gun in the mud. He threw it with unnecessary force, hoping it would discharge but nothing happened.

"Guards, take these men to the cooler. Get the dogs back into their pen. All prisoners shall return to their barracks. And for heaven's sake, turn off the lights and the siren!" For once, no one argued with Colonel Klink's orders.


It was a bedraggled group assembled in the Kommandant's office the following morning. Everyone was waiting for another to arrive.

There were voices in the outer office. The door opened and Major Von Reuter sailed through the door. He smirked as he spied Colonel Robert Hogan seated in front of the desk, bruised and battered.

Von Reuter's wide smile froze when he saw General Burkhalter seated behind the desk, with the Gestapo Major Hochstetter standing on the General's right, Colonel Wilhelm Klink on his left. Sergeant Schultz, Corporal Langenscheidt and two other soldiers guarded Sergeant Kleiner and Private Steingarten, both standing at attention and wearing handcuffs. Both men looked like they had been in fights, judging by the black eyes, bruises and swollen faces.

Von Reuter attempted to recover. "Herr General, had I but known you were coming-"

"You seem to have a lot of time to run about the countryside. Your duties are light here, ja?" Hochstetter growled with his habitual scowl in place.

"Yes, a lot of running about. Never seems to have time to do anything here," Klink put in, oozing evil delight in Von Reuter's discomfort.

"Shut up, Klink." Burkhalter said absently. He snapped his fingers and Hochstetter put a file in his hand. "Major Von Reuter, these are Gestapo reports. You are charged with diverting camp supplies from Stalag 13 to the black market operation of Herr Oldham, whose agent, Hans Oberlin, was apprehended here in this camp. You have also been selling the Red Cross packages to the black market. You are accused of having ordered the murder of the senior POW officer. You have been criminally negligent in administering this camp. Your subordinates," Burkhalter barely deigned to flick a glance at Kleiner or Steingarten, "have conspired to help you steal supplies not only from prisoners but also the Third Reich itself. How do you plead?" Burkhalter glanced at his watch, giving the impression that five more seconds was too long.

"Herr General, these accusations are false! There is no proof!" Von Reuter protested, white faced.

"Major Von Reuter, your dossier is bulging with proof. Documents, photographs and eye witness accounts. Some of Herr Oldham's men are not so loyal to you. Starting with Herr Oberlin." Hochstetter grated.

Von Reuter flicked a bitter glance at Hogan, the only person seated in the room other than Burkhalter. "I cannot imagine the Gestapo caring over much if this man should die," he spat out.

"No, we wouldn't," Hochstetter agreed pleasantly. "But we wouldn't have botched the job!"

"Nice to know I'll get the very best," Hogan said sweetly.

"Bah!" Hochstetter replied.

"Herr General, this is all a mistake. My brother in law is with the Gestapo; he can vouch for me."

"Your brother in law cannot vouch for anybody now. He was executed by the order of Reichsfuhrer Himmler himself this morning. It seems your little operation caught the Fuehrer's attention personally. The Gestapo have very shifting alliances in times when one is more trouble than one is worth. I suspect Herr Himmler thought it best to limit the damage before it spread any further through the ranks, hey Hochstetter?" Burkhalter inquired with a sly smile.

The Gestapo major was clearly uncomfortable with the subject. "Er, whatever you say, Herr General."

Burkhalter slammed a meaty hand on the desk. "Enough. You are guilty, Major."

"I do not get a trial?" Von Reuter demanded, incredulous.

"You just had it," Hogan murmured.

"Major Hochstetter will take you to Berlin where you and Herr Oldham will meet justice. The car is waiting. Guards!"

Two Gestapo guards joined Hochstetter and they escorted the stunned Von Reuter out. Burkhalter turned to Kleiner and Steingarten. "You two have demonstrated an affinity for fighting, although neither of you seems very good at it, I observe. You are going to the Russian front. Private Steingarten to Minsk, Private Kleiner to Stalingrad. You leave immediately. Dismissed."

Schultz got the door and waved through Kleiner and Steingarten. Langenscheidt and the two soldiers went as guards. As Kleiner brushed by Hogan, he lashed out with his cuffed fists. Hogan was expecting something though and moved quickly out of range.

Schultz, of all people, took the situation in hand. "Hey!" he said, swatting the back of Kleiner's head. "You call yourself a sergeant! You can't even follow orders. Walk straight. Head up. Pretend you are a German soldier. In the Kaiser's day, you would have been shot already!"

As the others watched in amazement, Schultz shooed Kleiner out, peppering both him and Steingarten with criticism and shoves.

"Sometimes he really can be a sergeant," Burkhalter remarked with surprise.

"I wish it happened more often," Klink said uncharitably.

A few moments later, Schultz came back in, making a show of holding the door for Fraulein Hilda, who carried a tray with a coffee pot and cups and on it. Being a smart girl, she was sure to smile prettily at Burkhalter, who beamed back. After pouring however, on her way out the door, she gave Hogan a sultry smile that made him forget some of his exhaustion and aches.

"As you can see, Fraulein Hilda has consented to come back to work at Stalag 13. Klink, I do hope you can hang onto your command this time."

"Oh yes, General. When I sink my teeth into something, I never let go. I am relentless in my determination, sir."

"Yes, yes," Burkhalter waved a hand of dismissal. "And Col. Hogan, I have restored your man Kinchloe to you. I trust we will have no more prisoner riots."

"I will do my best, sir." Hogan looked earnest which immediately raised Klink's doubts about his sincerity.

"The little French chef is back as well on my orders," Burkhalter announced. "I trust he will have a decent dinner prepared upon my return?"

"If we have any food, General," Hogan said pointedly.

"I'll send some things on ahead," Burkhalter replied hastily, remembering his last meal at Stalag 13.

"Hogan, I've already contacted the Red Cross. Your packages should be here by next week," Klink informed them. Is there anything else, General?"

"No. Try to stay out of mischief, Hogan." Burkhalter admonished with a pointed look.

"Yes, Hogan keep out of mischief. Any funny business it will be the cooler!" Klink blustered.

"Home, sweet home," Hogan shot back.

"Hogan," Klink warned.

"I'm going, I'm going." Hogan paused at the door. "Besides, it's so embarrassing to watch a grown man with a monocle slobbering with happiness over being reunited with an office!"

Burkhalter smiled and Klink said angrily, "Dismissed, Hogan!"


"Well, isn't it lovely to see you looking so well these days? Been feeling fine, have you, Powers?"

Samuel Powers froze; he knew that voice too well. "Um, Newkirk, how nice to see you. I'd heard you'd gotten hit in that fracas last night."

Peter Newkirk stepped away from the building's shadow, hands in his pocket, cigarette dangling from his lips. "Oh, just me head. That chap Steingarten knocked me out. Bad headache I got out of that. Really disappointing, you know. I was so looking forward to sorting that blighter out. But the Colonel got Kleiner, Kinchloe took care of Steingarten and ol' Burkhalter sent Von Reuter packing. That only leaves you, old chap."

"Me?" Powers yelped. "Look, your precious Sgt. Kinchloe came very near to giving me brain damage. Surely that's payment enough. Besides," Powers added nervously, "I only did what a lot of chaps talked about doing."

Newkirk flicked his cigarette away and gave Powers a disdainful look. "A lot of chaps might have talked it but you were the one who betrayed Colonel Hogan to the Krauts. I take a dim view of that, Powers. I really do." Without warning, Newkirk gave Powers a hard shove.

The young Englishman fell back squarely on his dignity. He stared up at Newkirk, his face a mixture of fear and reproach. "You're as bad as Jerry."

Newkirk shrugged. "War is war, mate. I'm not a fair play type guy like the Colonel or Kinch." Leaning over the fallen man, he added, "You know, I've never had much use for you toffs but I did meet one in hospital in Hammelburg who earned my respect. We talked a goodly long time that night and then he died the next afternoon. Have to send his last letter home with the Underground. Think how sad his family is going to be. When I think of the difference between him and you…." Newkirk bent over so he was face to face with Powers. "Just know that I will be watching you. Every little thing you do. What I don't see, your pal Sgt. Kinchloe will. Or Corporal LeBeau. Or Sgt. Carter. Or Olsen or Baker. Know that you're a marked man. Don't slip up again."

Powers watched from the ground as Newkirk left. As he got up, he saw other prisoners watching him, as well as the guards. He felt eyes on him everywhere. He shivered.


James Kinchloe viewed the scene in front of him much like a family reunion. The barracks was crowded and noisy as some of the men moved out by Kleiner returned to Barracks 2. LeBeau, wearing his chef's hat, stood by the stove, stirring something that smelled delicious. Sgt. Schultz stood nearby, his tongue hanging out. Kinch expected the big man to sit up and beg at any moment.

Andrew Carter sat at the table, talking to Olsen and Baker. He was trying to show them a card trick Newkirk had taught him but the cards flew out of his hand and went everywhere. Olsen and Baker burst out laughing. Red faced but good natured, Carter picked up the cards to try again.

Kinch lit a cigarette and glanced at the window. The sun was setting and the night promised to be long and bitter. Just like the war, Kinch thought ironically.

He spied Newkirk coming back to the barracks and Kinch worried, wondering what the RAF corporal had been up to.

Newkirk entered, bringing the cold air in with him, to good natured protests. Putting his collar down, he said pleasantly, "What sort of slop is that, LeBeau?"

"It is not slop, Newkirk!" Schultz exclaimed, horrified at the thought.

"Pay him no mind, Schultzie," LeBeau soothed. "Everyone knows the English have no taste in anything."

"Enough to know when we're being poisoned." Newkirk ventured a look into the steaming pot. "Er, what is that?"

"I wanted to have mon Colonel's favorite, steak, but there is none to be had. War, you know."

Everyone looked at Schultz, their usual supplier, and he became instantly defensive. "I tried, believe me!"

"Oh, we do," Carter replied. "You wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to have LeBeau cook. "

"Exactly," Schultz agreed with gusto.

"Anyway, I compromised. We are having a chicken stew, LeBeau style, which I know the Colonel will enjoy very much." LeBeau declared, shooing Schultz away.

Newkirk looked around. "Speaking of, where is the Colonel?"

"General Burkhalter and Kommandant Klink made him see the Luftwaffe physician who is here. He had several cuts on his arms and hand. Did you know one wound took four stitches?" Schultz was round eyed with ghoulish horror.

As the other peppered the Sergeant with questions, Kinch drew Newkirk aside. "You all right? You disappeared for a while."

"Yeah, fine." Newkirk, seeing Kinch was not satisfied with that answer, sighed. "I just had a quick chat with our mutual friend, Powers."

Kinchloe looked alarmed. "Peter, you didn't-"

"Naw, nothing like that. He fell down once, that's all. But just glance over his way once in a while; that will be enough to keep him in line."

Kinch looked dubious but LeBeau came around with the coffee and the conversation was tabled for later.

Later, Robert Hogan came through the door and was inundated with questions about his health, Burkhalter, Klink and what was happening with Von Reuter

Kinch and Newkirk came over to him, Carter pulled out a chair and LeBeau sat a full cup of coffee in front of him. Hogan sat down wearily. His bomber jacket hid the bandages on his arms but the left hand bandage was visible. "Hold it, guys. I'm all right, Von Reuter is gone forever – Schultz, I can't believe you didn't already tell them that."

"He was too busy drooling into the soup pot," LeBeau said acidly.

"I know nothing about it," Schultz said self-righteously.

"Well, you'd better get back over there. Burkhalter wants his boots off and Klink is ready for his bedtime hot cocoa and a shoulder to cry on. The General is talking about bringing Frau Linkmeyer back with him next time."

"But I won't get any stew!" Schultz protested.

"It's not for you," LeBeau snapped. "Now, get out!"

Watching the diminutive LeBeau push the rotund Schultz out the door was always entertaining and everyone admired the show.

Kinch sat down beside Hogan. "So, what has happened to Von Reuter?"

"Well, he didn't get executed. Not right off. Burkhalter got word late this afternoon that Von Reuter is going to the Russian front as well. I think he's going up in a plane that is expendable. His life expectancy is not likely to be long."

"Good riddance," Baker declared.

His mouth watering, Hogan sipped his coffee. "What are you cooking, LeBeau? It smells great."

"It is chicken stew. I also have fresh baked bread, thanks to Newkirk and pumpkin pie, thanks to Schultz, who got the pumpkins."

"Um, Newkirk? Not that I'm not grateful but I think you're going to have to cut back on the visits to town now. We can't risk you getting caught." Hogan said with real regret.

To his surprise, Newkirk shrugged. "Oh, that's all right, sir. It's time to stop; she's getting strange ideas. Wants me to marry her and buy the bakery. As if!"

Everyone burst out laughing. LeBeau dished out the stew (thankfully they did have extra for Schultz) and the men of Barracks 2 had the best dinner they'd had in weeks.

They talked until Schultz came back with a lights out warning. Hogan said his goodnights and headed for his office, with Kinch trailing behind.

His eyes questioning, Hogan shut the door so it was just the two of them. "Kinch, are you all right? Why did you say you had to atone for something?"

Seeing the exhaustion in Hogan's eyes, Kinch said gently, "How about I tell you about it tomorrow? You look like you're out on your feet, sir."

Hogan had been about to argue but Kinch was right; despite the glow of contentment, he was very tired. "All right. But we need to get something arranged with Klink to bring back the 'escaped' prisoners tomorrow. Gotta make the old Iron Eagle soar again, at least in Burkhalter's eyes." Hogan rubbed his gritty eyes. "But everything else all right now, isn't it, Kinch?"

Thinking about all they had been through, Kinch had no problem with that one. "Yes, sir. Everything is all right now."

Thanks for reading!