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|and Sep0815||Action/Adventure||PG-13||None yet||No update page|
|The Home Army|
December 5th, 2014
Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
Long ago, in a time of oppression and war, there existed a country called Poland. For a while we lived in peace and harmony. But then, everything changed on the first day of September, 1939 when the German war machine invaded. My parents died during the opening hours of that fateful day, and I was imprisoned by the invaders.
After making my escape, I joined the Armia Krajowa, a band of freedom fighters seeking to reclaim Poland's freedom. Now, the time has come for the people of Poland to rise up and take back what is ours. But I will not be apart of the Uprising. My superiors have assigned me to protect and escort the Avatar, a girl named Tanya.
The coming days won't be easy, but I will face them head on. I will do my duty and protect Tanya, I will avenge my parents, and I will prove that Poland is Forever Unconquered.
Henryk inhaled slowly as he lowered his body toward the floor, and then pushed upwards again. Pushups were what began his daily routine, usually followed by situps, pullups by hanging from the rafters, and finally, practicing his bending with a few stones that he kept in his flat. The Germans, or almost anyone for that matter, raised hell when he used bending around them.
If it wasn't religion it was always something else. Too many times he had heard claims that bending went against the laws of nature, or the word of God, and once he had been accused of being the source of evil in the world. He didn't know the general background of the benders, only the basics. And that was thanks to his time with the Armia Krajowa.
Neither of Henryk's parents had been benders, and as a child they had urged him to hide that part of himself. Now though, it was what made him special in the AK. Like the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, the Armia Krajowa used benders like a form of wonder weapon. Unlike like the fascists or the communists, however, the Home Army treated benders with dignity and respect.
It was because of that respect that Henryk would forever be grateful to the AK. He still had the scars from his time in Auschwitz. Some, like the identification tattoo on his left forearm, would never fade. These markings would be a dead giveaway to any German soldier that he was an escapee from the concentration camp, and his cover would be as blown as if he had walked out into the street with a sub-machine gun.
As long as Warsaw was in German hands, his cover was all that kept him from certain death. Every day, the forces of the Soviet Union had inched their way closer to the Polish Capital, until finally they had reached the city outskirts on the other side of the Vistula River. With the Red Army being so close, the commanders of Armia Krajowa had called a meeting for all officers in the Warsaw area. Henryk had been requested to attend as well, although the exact reason remained unknown to him.
"Henryk, are you up? Our shift starts soon!" came a shout from beyond the door. The young earthbender groaned and pulled himself upward into a standing position. Of all the times he had to come, it was now during his morning workout.
"Yeah, I'm getting dressed, the door is open!" he replied as he began to pull on a shirt. They were speaking in code, of course, a precaution in case the Germans were listening. Talk of going to work meant that another member of the Armia Krajowa was there in order to meet for an operation, usually raiding Wehrmacht trains and outposts for weapons and to free prisoners.
"Henryk, Henryk, Henryk, after all this time I would have thought that you didn't let just any old person walk into your place," said the man as he walked in and closed the door behind him.
"The building is almost totally deserted and the only people who know I am here is with the Home Army. Anyone else would have been shot to death by now," Henryk said as he turned and faced the man, holding a cocked Nagant M1895 at the ready. The man, tall and in his early thirties with jet black hair, raised his hands in surrender. But the corner of his mouth tugged upward into an amused grin at the sight of the gun. Danielius Urbonas' appearance had changed very little since the last time Henryk had seen him. The Lithuanian Captain was wearing a black jacket and gray trousers, a far cry from the Polish Officer uniform he had worn when they had first met.
"You have changed much my friend, you are no longer that boy I met in prison," he said. Henryk eased the hammer forward on the revolver and returned it to its hiding spot on his person.
"I've had plenty of experience with the Gestapo in this past year, they don't knock like the Home Army does," he replied.
"I'm sure. But, as you've probably guessed, this isn't a social call," Danielius said as he picked up a stone and tossed it in the air absentmindedly.
"Why exactly does Command want a sergeant at an officers call?"
"They have something special for you in mind, now get ready, we've got a long way to go," the Lithuanian said, ending the conversation. Henryk nodded as he slid on a dark brown leather jacket and hid the revolver in his pocket. With a simple nod, he followed Danielius out the door and into occupied Warsaw.
Soldiers wearing Wehrmacht uniforms were marching past as the pair of polish men stepped out onto the street. Civilians who just happened to be nearby flinched and hunkered down, avoiding eye contact with the occupiers. Danielius and Henryk looked at their boots, avoiding eye contact as well. The earthbender gripped the pistol in his pocket and clenched his jaw, waiting for the soldiers to suddenly turn and attack them.
"Calm down and let them go," the Lithuanian muttered out of the side of his mouth. Reluctantly, Henryk released his grip on the gun, choosing to trust in his friend's judgment then listen to his instinct. As the soldiers walked around a corner and disappeared, Danielius breathed a sigh of relief.
"You're more on edge then I thought," he said.
"I had petroleum injected into me when I was in Auschwitz, there's no way I'm going back alive," the earthbender hissed back.
"And shooting a Wehrmacht private in the gut on the street in broad daylight, that's the alternative?" Henryk clenched his teeth in frustration. Danielius was right of course. Firing on a squad that was on patrol, at least one that wasn't harming Polish citizens, was forbidden by Command due to the fact that it put lives in unnecessary danger.
The Lithuanian led the way, turning into a small side ally soon after they left the front of the apartment building. Ordinarily, members of the Home Army moved about Warsaw by using the sewers. But with the Germans constantly trying to catch and kill them, entrances in back allies and side streets were used in order to keep this mode of transportation a secret.
"Please, he didn't mean anything by it, he's just a boy!" The woman's voice sounded desperate and pleading. Henryk and Danielius pressed their back against the wall and peered around the corner, looking into the next ally. A woman and a teenage boy were pressed flat against a brick wall. Between them, the black P of an unfinished Kotwica was painted over the red brick.
"Sie haben sich durch Verbindungen mit dem Untergrund schuldig gemacht, macht die Waffen bereit." The new voice sounded gruff and had a Brandenburg accent, "They are guilty by association with the Underground, ready your weapons." Leaning a little further into the alleyway, the two resistance fighters could see three German soldiers. The bone white SS patches on their uniforms immediately gave away just how merciless they were.
Two of the soldiers readied their MP 40s and took aim while the third, an officer judging by his patches, lit a cigarette. Danielius looked back at Henryk and gave a short stiff nod before slipping a Luger out of his pocket. The earthbender immediately understood what he was saying and drew his revolver.
Patrols were one thing, but SS units executing Polish citizens in back allies was something totally different.
The SS Officer took a drag on his cigarette, exhaled the smoke, and began to give the order to fire. But as he began to speak, a cloud of red mist exploded outwards from his throat, silencing him instantly. The other two soldiers looked on in shock as their commander fell to the ground, revealing the Lithuanian Captain that had fired his pistol into the back of the commander's neck at point blank range.
"Verdammter Hurenso- !" The soldier never got to finish as the two resistance fighters emptied their pistols into their bodies. As the echo from the shots began to fade, the scream of a wounded soldier took it's place. The survivor was on the ground with a bullet through his shoulder and left kneecap. His sub-machine gun had bounced away from his reach when he dropped it.
Henryk stalked into the alleyway first, emptying his revolver of spent casings and loading a fresh one. The woman and boy looked on in both awe and horror as he kicked the soldier onto his back and fired the pistol into his face, killing the wounded soldier.
"We are with the Home Army. You are safe now. Please, return to your home and do not speak of this," Danielius said. The woman nodded hurriedly before she grabbed the boy by his shoulders and ran. Henryk paid them no mind as he collected the weapons and ammunition from the dead soldiers. Any weapons that could be gathered for the AK were happily welcomed, as several members were armed with little more than a pistol and many more had nothing at all.
"We must move quickly," Danielius said as he gathered up the officer's gun belt, "the patrols will surely have heard those shots." Henryk said nothing as he stood, slung one of the sub-machine guns, and finished the anchor that the boy had been painting.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Colonel Wilhelm Kruckenberg stalked down the hallway toward the Doctor's lab. He disliked being around concentration camps, and shuttered think about what his leaders had designed places like this for. But on days like today, he ventured in because of new information regarding his targets.
Wilhelm was a hunter, and his prey was one of the most difficult and elusive in existence. Unlike other officers in the SS that hunted Jews or downed Allied pilots, there was no yellow star or khaki uniform to distinguish his prey from the rest of the population. No, as far as the Colonel knew, there was no way to tell a bender apart from an ordinary person until it was too late.
That was why he was here. Despite the grisly and inhumane means, German doctors were learning more about the human body than ever before. And, sometimes, they learned more about benders as well.
The two SS troopers that stood by the doors to the lab snapped to attention, their StG 44s held at an upward angle across their chests. Wilhelm got the suspicion that they weren't there to keep people from getting into the lab, but rather to keep them from getting out. Regardless of why they were there, the Colonel ignored them as he pushed open the metal doors.
"Sieg Heil, Herr Standartenführer!" The Doctor was wearing a lab coat and spectacles, and stains of various colors covered his coat and trousers. Some of the stains Wilhelm recognized as blood, and some he had no clue what they could be.
"Ich habe Hinweise, denen ich in Warschau auf den Grund gehen muss, verschwenden Sie meine Zeit nicht mit Formalitäten, Doktor!" spoke Kruckenberg, somewhat annoyed by the Doctor's greeting, "I have leads that I must attend to in Warsaw, do not waste my time with formalities Doctor."
"Natürlich, natürlich. Bitte, kommen Sie herein. Sicherlich wundern Sie sich, warum ich Sie kontaktiert habe," replied the Doctor, "Of course, of course. Please come in. I am sure you're wondering why I contacted you." Wilhelm said nothing as he waited for the Doctor to continue. He didn't particularly like the man that stood before him. Partly because his work horrified him, and partly because the Doctor's grand gesturing and over patriotism annoyed him.
"Wie Sie sicherlich wissen, sind Sie der bester Bändigerjäger, den unser Reich anzubieten hat. Weshalb Sie von dieser neuen Entdeckung erfahren müssen." The Doctor got straight down to business. "As I'm sure you're aware, you are the best bender hunter our Reich has to offer. Which is why I am giving knowledge of this new found discovery to you." The Colonel wasn't sure that he was the best that Germany had to offer when it came to this subject. He knew of only three other units like his within the Reich's borders. One was stationed in France, one in Norway, and according to last reports the third had been wiped out in North Africa shortly after the Allies had begun Operation Torch.
Regardless of the attempted flattery, he made a rotating motion with his hand, silently telling the Doctor to pick up the pace. Any new information about his targets could go a long way to saving his men's lives when it came to a cornered bender.
"Ich habe einen Weg gefunden, die Kräfte eines Bändigers kurzzeitig außer Kraft zu setzen, aber sie trotzdem bei Bewusstsein zu halten, genug, dass sie aus eigener Kraft gehen können. Das Geheimnis sind die natürlichen Energiepfade," the Doctor said as he pointed to a chart that showed the diagram of a human body, "I have discovered a way to temporary neutralize a bender's ability to bend, but still leave them with enough coordination to walk under their own power. The secret is in the body's natural occurring energy pathways." Wilhelm listened with interest. His superiors had, unwisely, restricted the information he was allowed about his targets. Their argument when he had protested had been that he was the hunter, all he needed to know was how to capture them.
"Indem man den Körper unter Strom setzt, werden diese Pfade unterbrochen und die Fähigkeit, zu Bändigen, ist kurzzeitig blockiert. Ein Netzteil der neuen Vampir-Nachtsichtgeräte würde genug Strom liefern, um dies zu erreichen," the Doctor explained, "By applying an electric current to the body, the energy pathway is interrupted and the ability to bend is temporarily disabled. A power pack used for the new Vampir scopes would provide enough power to achieve this."
"Sind schon Feldversuche durchgeführt worden?" inquired Kruckenberg, "Has this been field tested yet?"
"Nein, nur im Labor. Ich werde es Ihnen überlassen, Feldversuche durchzuführen," answered the Doctor, "No, only in the laboratory. I will leave it in your good hands to do the field testing." Wilhelm ran over the possibilities in his head. This new information could very well lead to saving more lives, and maybe even the capture of the ultimate bender. Of course the set backs could very well outweigh the results.
There was only one way to find out.
Home Army Command, Warsaw.
"Gentlemen, please come in." Henryk and Danielius stepped into the cramped office and snapped crisp military salutes. Behind the wooden desk that sat before them stood an officer, a Colonel judging by the patches on his Polish Military uniform. Around the office, which had been hurriedly converted for military means, sat maps detailing troop positions and outlined targets for the upcoming Uprising.
"You summoned me, sir?" Henryk asked, still standing at attention after the Colonel returned his salute.
"Yes, I did Sergeant. Please, at ease." Both the Sergeant and the Lithuanian relaxed, but clasped their hands behind their backs.
"Sergeant Henryk Piotrowski: Age 20, formally incarcerated at Auschwitz before escaping with Captain Witold Pilecki on the night of the 26th of April, 1943. Participated in numerous operations in the Polish countryside including raiding of German outposts, freeing prisoners from trains bound for Auschwitz and other camps, destruction of a troop transport train bound for the front lines, and the most outstanding: Operation Kutschera, executed this past February." The Colonel held up the file he was reading from, and Henryk felt a lump form in his throat as he realized it was his file, a record of everything he had done for the Armia Krajowa.
"With a record like that I can understand why the boss chose you."
"I'm afraid I don't understand, sir," Henryk said, confusion evident in his voice.
"Do you know what the Avatar is, Sergeant?" Henryk cast a glance toward his Lithuanian friend. Like his bending, Henryk had only heard scattered roomers about the Avatar. Supposedly, the Avatar was the one person who could bend all four elements, but beyond that his knowledge was nonexistent.
"Someone who can bend all four elements is all I know, sir," he answered truthfully.
"According to legend, the Avatar is a person who comes forward during a time of great duress during the world and restores peace and balance. This person is said to be the most powerful bender in the world and can easily flatten a small army or level a city."
"Sir, with respect, why are we worried about a legend this close to the Uprising?" The Colonel simply placed another file on the desk and slid it toward Henryk.
"Because it's not a legend, Sergeant." Henryk picked up the file and opened it. On the page was a picture of a young woman, appearing to be a few years younger than himself.
"We pulled her out of the Ghetto during the Uprising last year, and have been moving her to various safe houses around the city since. But with the Red Army getting so close to the city, it's time to for a change. Which is where you come in, Sergeant."
"What will you have me do for Poland, sir?" Henryk asked, a hint of patriotism in his voice. He had found that showing love for the county gained him some elbow room with his superiors. This was mostly an act, as he was driven more by revenge than patriotism.
"Your mission is to escort Tatiana Rosenberg out of Warsaw, and out of Poland. Get her to Sweden where she is beyond the reach of the Germans and the Russians. General Komorowski personally chose you for this mission Sergeant, and the fate of Poland as well as the world may very well rest upon your shoulders."
"Sir, permission to speak freely?" Henryk asked. The Colonel didn't answer, but simply gave a curt nod of approval.
"If this Rosenberg girl is as powerful as the stories say, why don't we put her on the front lines during the Uprising? We can recreate a free Poland," he said. The Colonel sighed as he opened a desk drawer and produced a bottle of vodka along with a few glasses.
"The simple fact of the matter is that we don't have the manpower nor the resources. We have a couple hundred thousand members throughout the county, but the Red Army numbers in the millions. Even if we recreate a free Poland, we'd be overwhelmed in a matter of days. No, Poland is doomed to fall under the boot of communism. The only thing we can do now is get Ms. Rosenberg out of the Red Army's path," The Colonel said as he poured out a drink for the three of them. Both Henryk and Danielius took the glasses that were offered to them and raised them in a toast.
"Gentlemen, to a free Poland."
"To a free Poland."
Notes & Trivia
1. During the entirety of the German Occupation of Warsaw, a minimum of six Wehrmacht soldiers were killed each day by operations carried out by the Home Army.
2. The Vampir scope was the world's first night vision scope. It was used to great effect by German snipers on the eastern front until the final days of the war.
3. Captain Witold Pilecki was a highly active member of the Polish resistance movement throughout the war. He is mainly remembered for his infiltration of Aushwitz and his publication of Witold's Report, a record of what the concentration camp was being used for and the first information to reach the Western Allies about the Holocaust.
4. Operation Kutschera was the assassination of Franz Kutschera by the Home Army on February 1st, 1944. Kutschera had been the SS Commander and Police Chief of Warsaw, and was a major target for the resistance. This was one of the last assassination missions carried out before the Warsaw Uprising.
5. General Komorowski was the commander of the Home Army from mid 1943 until the end of the Warsaw Uprising.