Casca 11: The Legionnaire

BOOK: Casca 11: The Legionnaire
2.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



This is a book of fiction. All the names, characters and events portrayed in this book are Fictional and any resemblance to real people and incidents are purely coincidental.

CASCA: #11 The Legionnaire

Casca Ebooks are published by arrangement with the copyright holder

Copyright © 1984 by Barry Sadler

Cover: Greg Brantley

All Rights Reserved

Casca eBooks are for personal use of the original buyer only. All Casca eBooks are exclusive property of the publisher and/or the authors and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. You may not modify, transmit, publish, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the content of our eBooks, in whole or in part. eBooks are NOT returnable.


Table of Contents






















Continuing Casca’s adventures, book 12 The African Mercenary










A thorn vine whipped at Langer's face, blinding him for just a second. That's all it took. In that instant, when he couldn't see, the world around him exploded. A hammer hit his chest knocking him clear off his feet. He could hear the thud of the bullets ripping into him. Blood filled his mouth, running down his ragged tunic. Ever so slowly, he twisted half around, falling face down to the earth, mouth and eyes open.




Ashes swirled around him, a gray snowstorm whipped into life by the flames which were devouring the heart of the Third Reich. Cyclones of fire reached for the sky, sucking the air out of the lungs of any who ventured too close to the whirlwinds of searing, cleansing death. The Panzer soldier hunched over, his camouflage jacket trying to spark and burn, but the coals were smothered by the ashes, which starved the hungry fire. A ten story building crashed to his left, collapsing in on itself as the frame was eaten away to leave only a skeletal shell. The insides had been gutted and its once human occupants turned into charred puddles of melted tissue. A new barrage thundered from the guns of Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian front, the flash of their muzzle blasts lighting up the horizon as if a great storm were gathering in the distance. Not two miles away, he could hear the salvo going overhead to smash near the park.

He left the worst of the firestorm behind him as he twisted around a mass of rubble into a street, which was amazingly clear of damage. It looked now as it would have four years ago. Not a building was touched; and yet only one street over, not a structure was left standing.

The sounds of straining engines reached him. He knew the sounds well. Tanks! The Ivans were moving in, closing the last of the thin distance that separated them from their comrades of the force under Konev and their own Third Guards Tank Army, commanded by Comrade General Zhukov. Once that was accomplished, the fate of Berlin would be sealed; except for the very few who would manage to slip through the Russian lines.

The man now known as Carl Langer shifted his Stg 44 to a handier position, using the shoulder strap to hold part of its weight. He scanned the street in front of him before racing across it in a half crouch, ready to fire. Nothing! He paused, heart pounding, in the shadow of an alley. A howl by his foot sent his heart into his mouth. The sound was completely unexpected. A dog, driven mad by the shelling, ran past him snapping its jaws spasmodically. Froth dripping from its open mouth, the animal screamed again, then began to bite its own haunches, turning in an ever tighter circle until it dropped still in the center of the street, dead.

Langer took his eyes away to watch for the more dangerous beasts that roamed the streets of Berlin this night. The victorious legions of Comrade Ivanov (Stalin) were pouring into the city killing or raping as the whim took them. There was no real resistance left to hold them back and they knew it. A few pockets of diehard fanatic SS men and some of the paratroopers of the First Parachute Army were still holding out at the air field of Templehof.

But the Ivans were not going to risk getting themselves killed this close to victory by engaging them man to man. They had time on their side, plus the equipment. They would merely wait until tanks and artillery were brought up, then pound the Fascists into jelly via long distance.

A patrol of Mongols and Tartars under the command of a Don Russian, who wore the shoulder tabs of a sergeant major, broke from cover and headed in his direction. Langer moved further back into the shadows of the alley and tried to blend in. The splinter pattern of his camouflage under its gray coat of ash made him nearly invisible. Slowly he hunched down to rest on his right knee, easing the strap pressure of the Stg 44. Raising it up a bit, he followed the motions of the advancing ten man patrol with the barrel. He would prefer not to have to fire and draw attention to himself, if they would just pass on.

The sergeant major was in the lead, a PPs 43 submachine gun in his hands. He wore the order of Suvarov third class on his breast and cursed his half savage patrol members when they bunched up too close together. Langer knew what they were doing and thinking. They were overconfident, cocky, believing there was no need to take normal precautions anymore. He knew what they were thinking from his own experience when his panzer had rolled to the gates of Moscow. He had seen the same carelessness come over many of the German troops when they'd entered a conquered city. Thinking themselves invincible, they'd fall a moment later with a sniper's bullet crashing through their brainpan.

Gods! He hoped they would just move on away from him. He had to be out of the city before dawn or he would probably be trapped with the rest of those that remained of the Berlin garrison. The thought of the years he would have to spend in a Russian slave labor camp beyond the Urals gave him no comfort.

Gregory Ilyich Sarkorsky cursed his undisciplined Asiatics again, beginning to lose his temper. The beasts were hard enough to control at the best of times. He thought about shooting one of them to make an example of him for the rest, but decided against it. After all, there seemed to be little danger left for them on the streets of Berlin. Every time they had come across Germans out in the open or in buildings, they had seen abject terror so intense that the once mighty and arrogant Fascists would willingly lick their boots or hand over their wives and daughters to be used by the Russians.

A scream jerked their heads around. A woman came running out of a smoking building where she had been hiding. Red coals had set her dress on fire. She screamed as she ran, her own speed feeding air to the flames which were spreading over her. One of the Mongols knocked her down as she ran blindly by them. He covered her body with his own to smother out the flames. Before the smoking of her seared dress had even stopped, he had her legs open and his pants down. His comrades gathered around him to cheer him on. Sergeant Sarkorsky spat in disgust, but there was nothing he could do unless he shot the pig. And after all, the woman was a German. He knew how many of his own country women had met the same fate at the hands of the Nazis. Still it was disgusting to watch. But these were not normal men. Their animal instincts were only a hair's breadth beneath the surface of their skins He could do nothing. Let them have their fun. Afterward he would put the woman out of her misery with a single shot to the brain. He was, after all, not a cruel or uncaring man. Turning his back on the scene, he lit up a "papirosa," sucking in the yellow acrid smoke as he turned away.

The sudden burst of a star shell overhead lit up the sky, throwing everything on the street into strange surrealistic patterns of glaring white. He saw something in the alley to his left. He blinked his eyes to clear them of smoke and saw the muzzle of the assault rifle pointing straight at him. He had no chance to cry a warning before the first of the Kurz 7.92mm bullets smashed his cigarette back into his mouth, blasting the tobacco out the back of his skull along with most of his brain.

Langer moved out of the shadows, turning his weapon on the backs of the bunched up Ivans. Most of them went down immediately. Only one managed to get his weapon to his shoulder before his face was blown off. The Mongol on top of the woman came to his feet, pants over his knees, only to have his belly ripped open by the last six rounds remaining in the thirty round magazine of Langer's assault rifle.

Replacing the empty magazine with a full one, he advanced carefully on to the street, stopping to check each of the bodies. Two weren't dead and he put them out with a single shot to the head. When he reached the woman, she was nearly dead. The fire had eaten off most of her hair, leaving a red seared welt on the side of her face that reached to the top of her head. Her left ear was gone, burned off. Not a pretty picture, but he had seen worse.

Langer picked her up in his arms and ran from the street, trying to get some distance between them and the ambush in case any of the Ivans's friends came to investigate the sounds of shooting. He ran for three blocks before he gently set his load down in the doorway of what had once been a toy shop. It was now merely a gutted frame with only a few unwanted relics from a happier time watching him from the broken windows.

The woman's breathing was ragged. He knew she was in great pain. He gave her a drink from his canteen, letting the water drip between her lips. She never swallowed.

"Oh shit, "he muttered. "Why this now. I don't have time to spend with her, yet I can't just leave her the way she is. " Urgency was driving him. What was the best thing to do? Stay with the woman and hope to be able to get out of the city later or be kind and put a bullet in back of her ear to stop her suffering? He didn't think she had long to live at any rate. His problem was solved for him when the woman opened her eyes for a moment, screamed out "Papa," then died. He left her in the doorway. Just one more of the millions who died in the name of some political process that always promised a better life for those who would follow it.

The Third Reich was burning. He moved out, keeping close to the sides of buildings where it was possible to crawl on the piles of rubble, so that he could orient himself in the mass of smoking ruins.

The rumble of the Russian big guns was persistent and, in front of them, the metallic grinding of tank treads was constant as long columns of Russian armor moved deeper into the city. The heavy JS-1s, named after Stalin, followed their lighter cousins, the tough T-34s that had been such a surprise to Langer and the others of the Panzer Armies when they had run into them in 1941. Steel dinosaurs, they swung their lethal, fire spouting snouts from side to side. Occasionally, one would, stop to belch fire into a storefront or the top floor of an apartment building, rock back on its suspension system as if pleased with its work, then move on looking for another target.

He kept moving, staying away from the sounds of any firing. Before dawn he had reached the suburbs of Charlottenburg and was near the limits of the Russian encirclement. Here there were few survivors left. Nearly everyone who could move under his own power, or had someone to help them, had been forced back into the inner city. He had passed several lines of Russians coming in, and had twice seen Germans being rounded up for labor gangs to clear a path through the mounds of rubble where they obstructed the advance of the Russian tanks. He was getting tired.


The events of the last days had been exhausting, both physically and emotionally. He would have to rest. The homes and buildings still standing were to be avoided. He needed a place where the Russians would have no need to go. He found what he was looking for, a burned out church with only one wall partially standing. Poking around, he made a shelter, a small cave of bricks and stone near the wall. He crawled inside and sealed the entrance up after himself. From the outside it would appear as no more than another of the tens of thousands of rubble piles that littered the city. There would be nothing here for the Russians to take; they would go after more profitable pickings in what structures still remained standing. Easing out of his pack, he opened a can of rations, chewed the tasteless ersatz compound slowly to let it dissolve in his mouth, then took one swallow from his canteen, curled up and went to sleep in his homemade tomb.

As he slept, the body of Hitler and that of Eva Braun were turned into smouldering, charred, twisted caricatures. Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet, had obeyed his orders and wrapped the Fuhrer's body and that of Eva Braun in army blankets. He then carried them out to the Chancellery garden, soaked them in petrol, and set them on fire. Those left in the "Fuhrer Bunker" were now on their own. Each made his decision whether to try for escape or to wait for the Russians. Either choice was not likely to give them any reason to expect their lives to have much longevity.

Those who did survive would obey their master's last orders and would never speak of the visit of the scar faced Panzerman, who had gone with Hitler into his quarters for their leader's final moments. They would obey Hitler's command that: "This man does not exist. You have never seen him. He has never been here. You may speak of me after this is over, but never, never must you ever in your lives however long speak of this man. "

A rat, nearly the size of a small cat, poked its head between a pile of bricks, twitching its nose from side to side while smelling the sleeping man. For a moment, its tiny brain thought about taking a bite, for the rats had grown brave in the past weeks and now seldom hesitated to attack anyone who was lying down. The figure shifted in its sleep, startling the rat who changed its mind about trying a tentative nibble and decided to go elsewhere for its dinner. It didn't like the smell of this man. A quick jerk of its tail and it was gone.

During his sleep, the Russian main force bypassed him. The Russians had advanced their lines again and he was behind them, though there would still be wandering groups of NKVD men searching out party officials and members of the hated Brown Shirts and Storm Troops of the SA and SS. He slept the full day, only opening gritty eyes when the sun began to set. His mouth tasted like someone had crapped in it, his gums, fuzzy and foul tasting. He wanted a smoke but decided against it. Groaning, Langer stretched out his legs as best he could in his confined quarters. Listening closely for any sounds from the outside, he carefully removed the bricks and stones that concealed him from view. Once he had a few stones cleared away, he looked out and waited, listening. When he heard nothing, except the distant rumble of explosions from the inner city, he crawled out and tried to get his bearings by looking at a still standing street sign. Taking a look at the setting sun, he headed west, always taking the most difficult ground when possible. He knew that the Ivans would not want to go climbing about or picking through burned out shells when there was an easier road to follow for plunder and rape.

He had to swim across two canals before he was finally clear of the last of the city of Berlin. Soaked, he gave an involuntary shiver and turned his back without looking behind to the east. He knew that he had to get as far from the Russians as possible. Somewhere to the west were British, American, and French forces. It really didn't make much difference which of them he met. From past experience he knew that if he managed to stay clear of the occupying forces for a few weeks, he would be able to blend in with the hundreds of thousands of refugees that the new masters of Europe would have to process. That could provide him with a chance to acquire new identity papers, which he would definitely need.

BOOK: Casca 11: The Legionnaire
2.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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