June 1943, Germany. Somewhere in the Black Forest:
The castle stood on top of a hill. From his position in the forest, Joe wasn’t impressed. It didn’t match up to the castles he’d imagined when he’d read Ivanhoe. This castle wasn’t much more than a big tower connected to a house. Both were made of stone, but at the end of the day it was smaller than the old monstrosity of a house that Giles Hardwick had grown up in.
He found it hard to make out details in the darkness, but the moon gave enough light for him to notice the two soldiers standing at the top of the tower.
He’d have to kill them both, and he doubted it would be quiet.
Well, if they wanted quiet, they’d have sent Chuck in. As Night Wolf, Chuck could have been in and out of the castle, or taken out all the guards before they had any hint that anything was wrong. Choosing to send in a man wearing powered armor with rockets on the back argued that they didn’t expect stealth.
Softly, he said, “You ready, Al?”
“I’m in position all around the hill. The Jerries aren’t expecting anything, or they’d have put more guards outside the house.”
Joe turned the Rocket suit’s helmet toward where Albert Nakamura crouched behind a bush. If it had been lighter, he’d have looked like any other GI (even though he was a Jap)–olive green uniform, M1 rifle, helmet and belt of pouches.
“How many of you?”
“Twenty. I’ll split a few more off if it gets bad.”
“How’re John and Giles doing?”
“They’ve placed the charges. John just told the other me that he’s ready to blow the bridge any time.”
“Let him know he can. I’m going in… Oh, and just like we said before, if I manage to get in quietly, don’t attack right away.”
Al grinned. “Think that’s likely?”
“Not a chance in hell, but I’m hoping.”
“You too. All of you.”
One step at a time, he walked away, keeping as quiet as he could. No sense in revealing Al’s position when he took off.
Once he couldn’t see the castle through the pine trees anymore, he stopped and started the rocketpack, shooting upward, past needle covered branches, and into the sky.
He didn’t give them time to think. He shot toward the tower, grabbing a guard’s arm, dragging him off the tower, and letting go.
The soldier fell four stories while Joe turned around, aiming himself at the top of the tower again.
By the time he returned, the other guard had pulled his rifle off his back, and begun to aim. He never got the chance to fire.
Moving at nearly two hundred miles per hour, Joe punched him in the helmet. The Rocket suit protected Joe from feeling the impact of the hit.
The soldier slid across the floor, his neck at an impossible angle.
Joe flew past him, turned around again, and landed on top of the tower.
Six months ago, when he’d first gone to war, he might have reflected on how the soldiers he’d killed were people doing their jobs just like he was, and been saddened by their deaths.
Now he merely felt relieved that he’d been quiet.
Compared to normal, anyway.