Authors: Christopher Nuttall
Chosen of the Valkyries
(Twilight Of The Gods II)
Christopher G. Nuttall
Cover by Brad Fraunfelter
All Comments and Reviews Welcome!
Cover Blurb COTV
Council has fallen and the
is sundered in two, but the uneasy peace will not last long. To the east, Karl Holliston - now styling himself the
of the Greater German
- is planning the conquest of Berlin and the destruction of the rebels, while to the west Germany’s former satellites are planning a bid for independence and the North Atlantic Alliance is uneasily considering just what will happen to the
vast arsenal of nuclear weapons.
As the civil war begins, as the Panzers begin their advance on Berlin, the rebels are forced to fight to save their revolution ...
... Or watch helplessly as a jackboot stamps down on Germany, forever.
I’m not particularly fond of books, even alternate history books, that attempt to reproduce foreign accents or make excessive use of foreign terms. Unfortunately, writing a book set in Nazi Germany makes it impossible to avoid the use of
German words, including a number specific to Nazi Germany and the SS. I’ve done my best to keep this to a bare minimum and, just in case the meaning of the word cannot be deduced from context, I’ve placed a glossary at the rear of the book.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s a word I’ve missed during the editing.
Near Cottbus, Germany, 1960
Jordan Haizmann allowed himself a sigh of relief as the train pulled into the station - with nary a welcoming committee in sight. He’d been granted a week’s leave two days ago, but the Mayor of Cottbus had welcomed him and his fellow graduates from Wewelsburg Castle with a parade and a whole series of endless speeches. Attendance was technically voluntary, yet Jordan had been in the SS long enough to know that it was actually mandatory and their absence would be counted against them. By the time he’d finally been allowed to board the train to his hometown, he couldn't help feeling as though he’d been cheated of some of his hard-earned leave.
He rose to his feet, picked up his bag and made his way to the door, silently enjoying the way the other passengers made way for him and his uniform. The SS was as much feared as loved, he knew; their duty, to defend the
from internal as well as external enemies, made them few friends. But Jordan refused to allow himself to take it personally. The good citizens of Cottbus and the surrounding towns could sleep easily in their beds, knowing that Jordan and his comrades stood between them and the barbarians at the gates. This time, the
would endure a thousand years. Adolf Hitler had promised no less.
The two policemen on duty at the barrier glanced at his uniform and nodded him through, even as one of their comrades berated a Slavic
for daring to ride in a carriage, rather than one of the cattle cars attached to the rear of the train. Jordan paid no heed, even when the policemen started to beat the Slav with their truncheons. Serve the
right for daring to think he could sully a German train with his filthy presence! He’d be in the camps by nightfall, if the policemen didn't beat him to death. No one would care, either way. He was just an
Jordan glanced around, looking for his driver. He’d been told that ...
... would be there to meet him, although his uncle hadn't been very specific about
It was odd - Uncle Rudolf was a Town Clerk, with the breed’s passion for being as specific as possible - but perhaps his uncle merely wanted to surprise him. Maybe he’d even come himself, leaving the office in early afternoon. His superiors wouldn't object too strongly if he wanted to welcome his adopted son home.
He turned as he heard the voice - and stared. A young woman was hurrying towards him, her arms outstretched. For a moment, he didn't recognise her. The ugly uniform concealed almost everything, save for her pale face and bright green eyes. And then it struck him.
Kathie blushed. “I’m glad you remember,” she said, as they hugged. “Your father thought you’d like to see me again.”
Jordan blushed too as she took his hand and led him towards the gates. They’d courted, on and off, over the last two years before he’d gone off to Wewelsburg Castle, then exchanged letters infrequently. Her parents had not raised any objection to their courtship, but Uncle Rudolf had insisted that Jordan complete his training before he formally approached her parents for a betrothal. It had made their relationship more awkward than it had any right to be. Kathie was eighteen. Most of her friends from school were already married, with children on the way. It was what was expected of a young girl in the
He found himself staring at her as they walked towards his uncle’s car. Kathie had changed in the last two years. The skinny girl he recalled from childhood was gone, replaced by a stunningly attractive young woman. Her uniform concealed her curves, but it couldn’t hide her face - or the sparkle of light in her eyes when she smiled. He wondered, feeling a pang of bitter pain, if anyone else had tried to court her while he was gone. They might have had an ... understanding, but he found it hard to imagine the young men leaving her alone indefinitely. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
“My father isn't too keen on me driving,” Kathie said, as she opened the passenger door for him. “But your uncle thought it would be good for me.”
Jordan shrugged. “And is it?”
“It has its moments,” Kathie said. “Your uncle keeps me busy.”
Jordan nodded as the car rumbled to life. Uncle Rudolf was the Town Clerk - and that made him a very powerful man, easily one of the biggest fishes in a very small pond. He might not have the fame of the mayor - who’d been decorated for bravery during the war - but very few people would willingly get on his bad side. Certainly, no one had objected to Uncle Rudolf adopting Jordan after his parents had been killed. Jordan would never have known that Uncle Rudolf and Aunt Mary weren't his real parents, if they hadn’t told him so. They’d been nothing but loving to him.
Kathie chatted happily as they drove through the streets, heading down to Uncle Rudolf’s house. Jordan listened, torn between the desire to get home as quickly as possible and a mad impulse to suggest she drive out into the countryside. He resisted the temptation, somehow, even though he wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her. He’d completed his training, now. He could ask Uncle Rudolf to approach her parents this evening, if he wished, and be married in the office tomorrow. But he wasn't sure if she’d want a formal ceremony ...
“It’s been a while,” Kathie said, as she parked the car. For a moment, she sounded utterly unsure of herself. “Did you ... did you find someone else while you were gone?”
Jordan shook his head, hastily. Recruits weren't allowed to leave the castle until they graduated, unless they quit or were so badly injured that they were given a medical discharge and granted a pension for the rest of their lives. The old sweats had talked about sneaking out of the grounds and going to a nearby brothel, but anyone who tried had been in for a nightmare of punishment. It had been safer to stay in the castle and concentrate on preparing themselves to go to war.
“There were no women at the castle,” he said. It was true. There were rumours of female soldiers, true, but most of them sounded more than a little absurd. Women were just too delicate to fight, even if they weren't required to bear children for the
. “All I had was your letters.”
Kathie smiled, then turned to face him, leaning forward very slightly. Jordan leaned forward himself and kissed her, as gently as he could. They’d kissed before, when he’d taken her to dances and formal events, but this was different. His heartbeat was suddenly pounding so loudly that he wondered if she could hear it. It was all he could do to pull back from her, knowing they were in the middle of a public street. His uncle would be severely displeased if the police pulled Jordan and Kathie from the car.
“Later,” Kathie promised.
Jordan blinked. “You’re not coming inside?”
“I have to park the car,” Kathie said. She gave him a smile that melted his heart. “Go see your aunt and uncle.”
Jordan kissed her again, then opened the door and stepped out onto the street. His uncle’s house loomed up in front of him, easily two or three times larger than they needed. But then, Rudolf and Mary
hoped for more children, even after they’d adopted Jordan. They’d just never had them.
He waved to Kathie - who started the engine and drove away - and pushed the doorbell, hearing it echoing inside the house. Perhaps he could talk his uncle into going to Kathie’s family tonight ... but he knew it was unlikely. Uncle Rudolf would want to talk about his training, while Aunt Mary would want to discuss how Jordan could support a wife on his salary. Kathie wouldn't be permitted to work, once she was married. Her family would never allow it, even if she was working for her father-in-law.
The door opened. “Jordan,” Uncle Rudolf said. “Welcome home.”
Jordan hugged the old man, then stepped backwards to take a good look at him as he led the way into the house. Uncle Rudolf was
, easily old enough to have fought - and been wounded - in the war. Jordan didn't know much about his military service, but the small cluster of medals his uncle wore for Victory Day parades told their own story. Maybe he wasn't
- his training officers had told him that the
was the best of the best - yet even the
didn't give out medals like candy. Uncle Rudolf had been in some of the most intensive fighting of the war.
“Kathie’s just parking the car,” he said, suddenly awkward. He was no longer a child, but not quite a man either. “Uncle ...”
“We have to talk,” Uncle Rudolf said. “Mary will take care of Kathie.”
Jordan felt a sudden lump of ice forming in his chest as Uncle Rudolf led the way into his study. It was a large room, crammed with books and bookshelves; Jordan, as a young man, had been absolutely forbidden to enter the chamber. Uncle Rudolf had always made sure to keep the door locked. But now, it just felt cramped and uncomfortable as Jordan took one of the hard wooden seats and sat down. His uncle had never been one for comfort while he was working.
Uncle Rudolf closed the door and took a seat himself, his blue eyes studying Jordan narrowly. “There's something I have to tell you,” he said. “Something I wasn't sure if you should be told - or not - at all.”
Jordan frowned. His imagination supplied too many possibilities. “Is it about Kathie?”
Uncle Rudolf blinked. “No,” he said. “It’s about you - and your parents.”
“My parents?” Jordan repeated. “You never told me
about my parents!”
He swallowed, hard. His uncle was a calm and dignified man, rarely raising his voice ... but he’d been furious when Jordan had started to ask questions about his parents. Jordan had been just over nine, yet old enough to get the impression that some questions were better not asked. He had no idea why. Hadn't they been taught, at school, to honour their ancestors?
“No, we didn't,” Uncle Rudolf said. “What you didn't know, Jordan, you couldn't tell.”
“You ... you were six months old when your parents were uncovered,” Uncle Rudolf said, curtly. “Mary and I were already starting to realise that we would never have children of our own. She knew your mother, Jordan. When it became clear that there was no hope of escape, she insisted on taking and adopting you. I altered the records to create a false record, then took you far from your natural parents.”
“Uncovered?” Jordan repeated. “Uncle ...”
“My elder brother was killed in the wars,” Uncle Rudolf said. “Even before then ... we were not close. We certainly never lived together. It was easy enough to convince people that you were
He took a breath. “Jordan ... your parents were Jews.”
Jordan felt his mouth drop open in shock. Jews? It was a joke. It
to be a joke! He’d been told, time and time again, that Jews were subhuman monsters. The pictures he’d been shown in school were of shambling cripples, twisted parodies of the human form. But
was no cripple, no monster! He’d showered beside hundreds of other recruits at the castle and noticed no difference. Jews ...
“There weren't many left at the time,” Uncle Rudolf said, remorselessly. “The smart ones fled to Britain or America before the war. Your parents were isolated, their names changed; they thought they could hide forever. But they were wrong.”
Jordan swallowed desperately to keep from throwing up. He wasn't a Jew. He
be a Jew. And yet, his uncle wouldn't have played such a ghastly practical joke on his adopted son. Jordan still remembered just how furious his uncle had been after Jordan and a handful of friends had played a nasty prank on the nearby shopkeeper. Uncle Rudolf had no sense of humour at all.
“I can't be a Jew,” he said. The doorbell rang. Kathie would be standing outside, blissfully unaware of Jordan’s true nature. She wouldn't want to marry him after she learned the truth ... she’d never be able to marry, once word got out that she had kissed a Jew. “Uncle ...”