Manfred sighed heavily. “Well, as far as that goes, you’ll wear the uniform, but in truth, you’ll be retired. The Fuhrer wants you to make a few appearances around his empire, beginning with Heldon Square.”
“Where’s that?” blurted Xleta.
“Oh I’m sorry, Xleta. I didn’t see you there. It’s a beautifully historic building in Austria.”
That made sense to Sudenjah. Hitler came from Austria where else would he make his debut gloat, but in the country of his birth?
“He wants you to land your Stormbringer in front of the crowds,” said Manfred. “Apparently he wants to show off the saviour of the German empire. Try to revel in the moment, Sudenjah. Both the Germans and our enemies hold you in highest esteem as the ‘Champion of the Skies.”‘
“I see,” Sudenjah said dryly.
If not for the fact that his closest friend and his wife watched him, Sudenjah would have allowed tears to fall.
“What about the uranium negotiations?” interjected Xleta.
“The Fuhrer has told me personally that Australia is yours to do with what you want. Please believe me when say I tried to change the Fuhrer’s mind about letting you stay, Sudenjah.”
“I believe you,” Sudenjah said.
“We know you tried,” said Xleta.
“Thank you; both of you. That means so much to me. It will be a sad day when the Otarkwans leave Earth. There are millions like me who have gained friends among you. I had hoped the Fuhrer might have been swayed by public sentiment. I truly believe Otarkwans and humans could have co-existed. Unfortunately, the Fuhrer is fanatical about keeping a pure race.”
Sudenjah sighed dejectedly.
“It seems we’re to be politicians now,” said Manfred, then suddenly smiled. “It’s not so bad.”
The screen went blank.
Not so bad?
The day the Luftwaffe retired Manfred from flying almost totally shattered his spirit. Late one winter’s evening, he came to Sudenjah’s house unannounced. When Sudenjah opened the door, he saw his friend swaying on the front porch, whilst carrying a crate of his favourite scotch, imported from Scotland. Manfred utterly insisted on his friend drinking with him.
Xleta left them alone to talk in the study. The conversation began on a moderately good note as they recounted the victories they’d won together. As more scotch found its way down Manfred’s throat, his tone became more melancholy. The tone itself worried Sudenjah. Manfred never complained about his lot, nor expounded on the misery in his heart, yet Sudenjah strongly sensed his friend was on the verge of suicide. If he sent him home, he knew he’d never see him again. Despite not being in the mood, Sudenjah matched Manfred drink for drink until the older man surrendered to sleep on the leather couch. As Manfred snored, Sudenjah placed a thick blanket over him and retired to bed. As small an act of kindness it may have seemed, he realised he had saved his friend’s life.
Sudenjah sighed. “It seems I’m off to Austria in a week.”
Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5