Sudenjah waited within the confines of a barbed wire enclosure as the rain and bombardment of heavy canon fire continued over the river. He wrapped the blanket he had been given by one of the guards, over the shoulders of Xleta, his science officer.
She suddenly screamed, “Eek!”
Sudenjah turned to see a smooth skinned man in a square-cut helmet, jabbing his bayonet through the fence with a menacing growl, and then withdrawing it, laughing hysterically.
“They’re hideous; I’ll never get used to the sight of them,” shivered Xleta.
The man scraped his bayonet along the fence, making more of the female Efelverons scream, “Eek, eek!”
Some of the males barred their fangs at their tormentor, and he continued to laugh until he was slapped across the face from behind. The soldier spun indignantly, but suddenly straightened, snapping his rifle against his side.
The other man, wearing a peaked cap, stared hard into his face.
“Only a coward torments prisoners,” he hissed.
“I am sorry Kapitan Richthofen.”
Richthofen glared at him in disgust, nodding his head aside. As the soldier left his presence, the officer approached the fence, scanning the prisoners.
“Who among you was the pilot of that giant…plane?”
He waited, receiving no answer.
“Come now; one of you is the pilot! You all know the plane I’m speaking of; it almost hit me before crashing into no man’s land! Mine was the red plane!”
Sudenjah sighed, rising from the bench he was sitting on. Xleta’s hands tightened on his arms.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he just wants to talk,” he said, rubbing her hand and pulling free.
Sudenjah approached the wire, unafraid, but still remaining out of arm’s reach.
“I was the pilot of the Leviathan,” he said, suddenly smiling, “but it could hardly be referred to as a plane. We first flew to the stars over a thousand years ago.”
The young man looked wide-eyed into the sky.
“The aircraft you fly now is similar to what our children build and fly as a game,” said Sudenjah.
“That can’t be,” gasped Richthofen.
He suddenly adopted a more serious expression.
“I didn’t think you were monsters. I came to say thank you for saving my life. Those guns from the ground almost hit me until you got in the way.”
“Who were they?”
“Just Australians,” sneered Richthofen, “none of them are fit to dine at table with civilized people. Even the English who command them think very little of them, but I must give credit where it’s due; they fight like demons.”
Richthofen stared at Sudenjah’s bemused expression.
“We are Germans,” he added for clarity. “We are at war with the rest of the world. Our only allies are the Turks.”
“I see,” said Sudenjah as Richthofen passed a small packet through the fence.
“They are cigarettes; you do smoke where you’re from, don’t you?”
“Yes,” said Sudenjah, taking them from him. “We are Efelverons, by the way. Do you know what they’ll do with us?”
Richthofen leaned closer to the fence.
“I have heard a whisper from high command,” he said in a hushed tone. “There is an officer coming from the Abwehr; our intelligence. It is said that Oberstleutnant Walther Nicolai himself will conduct the interrogation.”
“Thank you,” said Sudenjah, receiving a nod from the young officer in reply and watched as Richthofen walked away.
He felt Xleta’s hands sliding over his back.
“We’ve got to escape,” she said.
“Agreed, but without the raw materials to build another ship, it’s just not possible. You did manage to make a rudimentary scan of the planet before we crashed though; didn’t you?”
“It has similar minerals to ours Sudy,” she said, making him curl his lip fondly, “But there’s also bad news.”
“What is it?”
“The materials we need to make the power cells are in huge quantities, but they’re buried in a huge island mass in the southern hemisphere of this planet.”
Sudenjah surveyed the fighting, which spanned from east to west across the horizon in the south. He didn’t relish the thought of crossing the German enemies’ lines to get to their destination. Even if all the Efelveron prisoners were free, and even if they were armed with their own technology, it would be suicide.
A smile broadened on his lips as a plan began to formulate in his mind.
“What’ll we do Sudy?”
“For now; nothing,” he whispered, looking forward to his meeting with the intelligence officer…
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