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Von Roar

Hear Him Roar

(Von Roar Estate, Germany – 1918)

Looking at Bren, Colonel Von Roar, smiling, said to Hans, “I see war has made you a man after all. Frankly, I did not know you swung that way.” Turning towards Hans, Colonel Roar said, “Very well, you may keep your play thing for a few days,” and handing his gun to Hans, finished with, “then dispose of her.” Signaling some nearby soldiers, the Colonel barked, “Take this man and clean him up, and his Fraulein, too.” Von Roar watched as the soldiers escorted Hans and his captive away, then shouted, “Fahrzeug verbrennen, dann loslassen. Schnell, schnell!”

The gift of tongues

Several days later, after an exhausting and uncomfortable journey from the front to Germany, Bren sat in an ornate room in a large estate. Fed, washed and clothed, she’d been treated surprisingly well by her captors. Presently, Bren heard a timid knock on her door, then it opened as a blond-haired, middle-aged woman walk past the two armed guards.

“Guten Tag, Fraulein, Ich bin Helene”.

“Guten tag.” Bren said.

Looking surprised, the woman said, “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“Nein.” Bren replied.

Coming to stand opposite where Bren sat on her bed, the friendly cleaning woman studied her intently. Bren, golden hair the perfect shade of blond every young women desired, looked back at her through dark, green eyes.

“Aber du sprichst so gut Deutsch!”

“Ich spreche kein Deutsche” Bren replied emphatically. Then, as the Helene stared are her, Brenzel realized she had just spoken in German. Bren, after a moment, said in perfect Deutsche, “You can understand me?”

“Yes, of course, I can understand you perfectly! Your German is very good,” Helene replied in her native tongue.

A good boy

Tidying up the room, Bren chatted with her efficient housemaid in German, asking her about where she was and what was going to happen to her. “I do not know, but Colonel Von Roar will be arriving later today.” A chill ran down Brenzel’s spine at the mention of that name, remembering her capture days before.

“Have you seen Hans, Von Roar’s son?” Bren asked.

“Yes, he is in the west wing. How do you know of Hans?” Helene asked.

Bren, feeling that it would be ok, told Helene everything as her housemaid finished up her room. At one point, as she spoke of Sam’s death, Bren noticed Helene crying, and pausing, said, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to make you sad, Helene.”

“No, no, it is alright, I am just very sorry that your friend was killed.”

“Thank you.” Bren said, and seeing Helene obviously still troubled, asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I cannot imagine Hans doing that. He was such a gentle child.”

“I can, Helene, he is a killer.” Bren stated with a flash of anger in her eyes.

Wiping away her tears, Helene said, “War does many things to us, Fraulein, but I know Hans, he is not a bad man at heart.”

“How do you know that?” Bren accused.

Helene looked away for a moment, then looked back into Bren’s eyes saying, “I know Hans because I was his nursemaid.”

Descent into purgatory

(Vatican City – 1647)

That night, just past 3:00 a.m., a tall, thin, sickly man, dressed rather smartly in a top hat, walked briskly through the great, marbled hall. Briefly looking up at the canopy, he opened two, low swinging gates, then descended a set of curved steps to the ornate floor that lay underneath. Pausing for a moment, wheezing, he continued past a set of wrought iron gates into a small underground chapel. Above, in gold relief, angels and saints floated on sky blue backgrounds. Approaching the altar, Mr. Jenkins took a silver crucifix from around his neck, touching the larger crucifix that rose above it, waiting.

With the sound of rusty gears turning, the altar shuttered, then slowly sank to the floor and the gate, composed entirely of golden rings, slid to one side. Slim, coughing slightly, waited. Presently, the faint smell of rotten eggs grew stronger, and a sultry, female voice said, “Greetings Mr. Jenkins, you may enter.” Grimacing, Slim Jenkins willed his feet to move forward and disappeared into the gilded room.

Shards of the past

(Germany – 1918)

After her maid left, Bren sat on the bed, crying softly. Lying beside her was a beautiful laced nightgown of obvious purpose. Helene, trying to make the best of a very bad situation, had encouraged Bren to be cooperative and accept her lot. “If you please Hans, Fraulein, Colonel Von Roar may let you live for his sake.”

In the silence, Brenzel thought back to a terrible night, so long ago, when she sat waiting, as she did now, for another man to enter. The surroundings weren’t as luxurious, but the purpose was the same, only that then, she had agreed to do so.

The son of a local baron appeared nice enough at first when she allowed him to touch her thigh as they drank beer together in the pub. Though her job was officially a barmaid, she soon found out why the pay was so low, but so many girls wanted to work there. The first time she entertained a man, she cried all night afterward, but the coin she found on her bedside table in the morning (more than twice her weekly wage) somehow made the pain more bearable. In fact, even after the owner took his cut, not only could she feed herself, she had money left over to buy some proper clothes.

Waiting in the dark

When the baron’s son entered that small room upstairs at the inn, she sat on the bed much like she did tonight, waiting. However, instead of acting like a gentleman, or some semblance of one, he viciously backhanded her across the face, sending her sprawling on the floor. Dazed, Bren tried to get up when he grabbed her by her hair, pulling her to the bed and lifting up her dress. “Please, you don’t have to do this. I’ll do whatever you want. . .” Bren pleaded.

Remembering the pain, shame, and terror of that night, Bren stood up and moved to the table where a hand-mirror lay and, wrapping her hand in a towel, broke it with her fist. Selecting a large sliver, she discarded the rest into the trash. Tearing a broad strip from the towel, Bren wrapped it around the large end of the shard, leaving the jagged point exposed. Steeling herself, she sat back down on the bed and waited.

A moment of truth

“Move aside,” a man’s voice, whom she recognized as Hans, impatiently ordered. Key jostling in the lock, the doorknob turned and the door swung open as she readied herself. Gun in hand, Hans, dressed as an officer, entered. Bren’s blood ran cold as she tensed. Turning the lights on, Hans ordered the guards to shut the door.

“Fraulein”, Hans said, “We must move quickly, there isn’t much time.” Bren’s hand clenched tighter on her makeshift dagger. “My Father is almost here, we must leave before he arrives,” Hans whispered as he holstered his firearm.

Bren said, “What?” her grip loosening slightly.

“We must go before Von Roar comes back.”

“But, I thought…”, Brenzel stuttered.

“You thought what?” Hans questioned.

“I thought you were going to rape me!” Bren whispered.

Hans, looking shocked said, “What do you take me for, Fraulein, an animal?” Hans said indignantly in a hushed tone, scowling.

Trust me

“You must trust me”, Hans said looking directly into her eyes. Hate melting from her heart, Bren returned his gaze.

Moved with compassion, she realized that the man before her was not a cold-blooded killer, but a human being, trying to save her life. “Okay”, Bren said, sliding the shard underneath the pillow next to her.

“You must trust me, Fraulein, we don’t have much time,” Hans repeated earnestly.

The door opened as Bren marched out before Hans with her hands bound and mouth gagged. The guards, momentarily shocked, leveled their guns and blocked her way. “Put those up!” Hans shouted in German. Immediately the two men lifted their rifles and stood at attention. Looking at one in the eye, Hans said, “You know who I am,” to which the man nodded. “One word of this and you will find yourself on the front lines, do you understand me?”

“Yes, commander.”

Turning the corner, out of sight of the guards, Hans unbound Bren and removed the gag.

Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Bren asked, “Now what?”

Hans said, with a slight smile, “We have one stop to make.” Quickly running to the end of the hall, Hans led Bren into a large, lavish study. Hans went to the wall, where he fumbled with something behind a picture of Von Roar, causing it to swing open, revealing a wall safe. Deftly rotating the dial, Hans quickly opened it, taking some folders out, which he stuffed into a satchel that lay on the desk, throwing the bag’s strap up and over his shoulder. Hans, looking at Bren, smiled as he quipped, “When you visit someone’s home, you always bring a present. Come now Fraulein, we must leave!”

Von Roar

As they made for the door, suddenly it opened to reveal Colonel Von Roar looking stern and, oddly enough, not surprised. They both backed away as he strode into the room. “What are you doing, son?” he inquired. Looking at the opened safe, then at Bren, and then at the satchel, he said, “Ah, a bit of espionage this evening, I see.”

Hans, at first trembling, suddenly became very still. Settling something in his mind he, replied, “Yes, Von Roar, I have taken the high command’s plans and I intend to defect to the Americans.”

“I see,” Von Roar said, apparently unperturbed. Striding over to the desk, the commander sat on the edge with one leg dangling saying, “Initiative, innovation, daring,” with a hint of admiration in his voice. “You will make a resourceful commander one day, son”.

You are not my father!

“No, I will not!” Hans said raising the gun and pointing it at Von Roar’s chest.

Visible anger showing on his features, Roar said slowly, “You would shoot your own father?”

“You are not my father, old man, you have never been my father,” and with that, Hans fired directly into the commander’s chest, blowing him back over the desk where he dropped to the floor. Then, with an air of detachment, Hans walked over and emptied the rest of the clip into him in rapid succession, Roar’s body twitching with the impact of each round.

Bren, too shocked to scream, simply froze. Hans, as calmly as if he had just put away his socks, looked to Bren, saying, “It is now time to go, Fraulein.” Wide-eyed, the Seraph Hunter simply nodded as Hans took her hand, making their way around the body.

Almost at the door, they both heard a grunt, gasp, and swearing as Von Roar got up on one knee. Looking at what used to be his Father, a skull, on fire, with four horns protruding, writhed before them. As they watched in horror, it turned into Von Roar who looked directly at them.

That was unexpected…son

“Frankly,” the demon said, “I did not think you had it in you..son. Yes, I thought you might ask for her life, but shooting me, that was unexpected,” the UN-dead man observed.

Hans, looking at the gun, pointed it again at Von Roar, pulling the trigger again and again, it clicking helplessly as he did so. “You’re dead!” Hans shouted, beginning to shake again, face turning ashen.

Von Roar, straightening his uniform, holes and all, motioned the arriving guards to stand outside. Shutting the door behind them, he turned, looking at Bren, and said as the house shook, “I know what you are, Hunter”.