Written by: Charles Gray
Disclaimer: Baloo, Rebecca Cunningham, Don Karnage, Kit Cloudkicker, Molly Cunningham and WildCat are (c)1990/1991 Walt Disney Company and are being used without premission. The writer has made sure that all material represented here is not used for profit and is used with the upmost respect to Disney and the Tale Spin team. All other characters are the property of the writer.
The sky was gray, with flurries of snow running up and down it. At the corner, the burned out schoolhouse stood, the King Tiger tank enshrouded by the building where it had died. If you lingered long enough, you could smell the sickly sweet smell of rotted flesh coming from inside the buckled hull.
The young Alemenian Wolfhound darted across the street, under the posters declaring the victory of the greater Reich, and the bullet shattered windows that lay open to the wind above them. As Kara turned the corner, she stopped short, looking at the jeep with the Usland soldiers sitting in it.
"Don’t you know that it’s past curfew?" One asked the thin girl. The other laughed, and then jerked a thumb at her.
"Must be heading to a party somewhere, she’s dressed for it." He said, pointing at her threadbare dress. She didn’t understand either one of them.
"Nein-" she paused, then continued in Alemenian <I am going home to my family… please let me pass.>. Neither soldier looked as if he understood her. One pointed at the bundle she had in her hands.
"What’s that?" The other one grunted.
"Dunno… check it?"
"Well, orders said to look for counterband… here, give it to me…" He said, reaching out towards the bundle. Kara didn’t know the language, but she did know the gesture. She shrank back, trying to keep the bundle out of their hands. "Don’t be difficult, give it here." The soldier said, grabbing it and trying to pull it away. She screamed.
"Nein!!", as she bit his hand and took off down the road. She heard curses behind her and the sound of the jeeps engine starting up, then the vehicle was rolling after her, it’s searchlight stabbing through the gathering dusk.
Pounding down the street, she looked from left to right, for any way of escape, but the buildings had all been mined in the last days of the war, the skull and crossbones signs giving grim warning of what might await anyone who entered them. She desperately turned a corner, already too close to the Usland camp, when she ran into a wall… or at least it seemed a wall as she hit the ground.
Rolling to her feet, favoring the one knee that she had painfully scrapped, she looked up and then whimpered. In front of her were several troops… the ones called. "Fliegerjager’s" she shuddered, there were reputed to be as deadly as the SS… the uniform even had a Luftlandetruppen patch on it. It was then that she looked up to the face that surmounted the muscled frame. It caused her to relax just a little. A brown furred bear with kind eyes looked down on her. She looked up at him, as the jeep came screeching around the corner.
"There you are.. got you, you little oh-shi-SIR!" the two soldiers came to quick attention. Kara looked back at the bear and realized that he was the source of their sudden tension. A political officer? He turned away from her for a moment and looked at the other two and started to speak.
"Well?" Captain Kit Cloudkicker said. "My I have an explanation?" Behind him, two of the soldiers who had been with him during the entire war, Maurice and Lew, exchanged glances. Maurice, a thin ferret and jovial as he was deadly raised his eyebrows. He wondered if the two poor schmucks realized just how angry Kit had to be before he got that tone of voice to him.
"Found this Alemenian smuggling counterband, SIR!" the driver said. His companion was too busy wishing himself elsewhere to speak. Kit looked over at the girl.
"How old are you? Ah." He paused, and got a small book out of his pocket. "ah… Ich Bin zwanzig." He looked at her expectantly. Kara brightened… he was asking her age!
"der Zwölfjährige!" She said, with all the pride a twelve-year-old could muster.
"OK." Kit said, then looked back at the two enlisted men. "now gentlemen, did this lady." He stressed the term, "threaten you?’
"well, when I grabbed it, she bit me." The formerly silent soldier said, showing his bruised hand. Kit looked back at it, and the soldier had the grace to look down as he noticed that Kit, and both of his subordinates bore the wound badge ribbon… probably gained from considerably more then a bite.
He then looked at the bundle and gestured towards it. Another quick page flipping session and kit said:
"Ich bitte um…" his vocabulary ran out. Kara looked at him and noticed that he hadn’t made any motions towards her… besides, he had kind eyes. She handed the bundle to him.
Kit opened it, and wrinkled his nose in disgust. It was a bundle of meat and bread… days old, obviously. He turned to Maurice.
"Maurice, go get some K rations from the jeep."
"Oh, man, boss, you’re gonna inflict those on that poor kid?" the ferret said, turning towards the jeep and coming back with several tins of food. Kit put the bundle down behind him, and handed the tins to her.
"da hast du es…" He said. That phrase at least he knew. Kara’s eyes widened, and involuntarily, her mouth started to water it was more food then her family had seen for weeks!
"Danke vielmals!" She said, taking the package from the soldier. She started off down the street.
"warten!" The soldier called. She froze, feeling the fear return. "Wie heißt Du?" the soldier asked.
"Ah… Kara… Kara Von Groning"
"Hauptmann Cloudkicker… ah, Kit Cloudkicker." Kit said, kicking himself. He’d learned the Hauptmann almost by heart, with the never-ending series of surrendering troops…. But the last thing the girl needed was another military type. "Heimfahrt"… "Hurry home" that was another phrase he’d learned by heart. She smiled, then was off, the wind blowing her thin dress.
"Boss, should we follow her?" Kit shook his head.
"No… if she thinks she’s being followed, I can tell you the last place she’ll lead us is where her family is." Then, he turned to the enlisted me. "You two….go back to your posts… and try to use your brains this time. The war is over."
Later, after finishing the "report on civilian Unrest," USArmy document #2826737-A, limited release item, in triplicate, and after finishing the "Soldier/enemy civilian incident form" USArmy #275636-C12, Kit groaned and leaned back in the chair that had formerly belonged to the local Party bigwig.
Two months after the surrender, and this sector still looked lousy… half the civilians hiding in the woods, the other half paying extortion to the local criminal element, and the MP’s couldn’t do a thing when the people wouldn’t even talk to them…
"Arrrrgggggghhhhh" The brown bear groaned again, looking up at the ceiling, in the hopes that the stain patterns would answer his unspoken question. Nope. No answer there. He rummaged about in the desk, and came up with the last set of letters from home. The first one that came to hand was Ms. Cunningham’s letter. Kit opened it up and started to read it. He enjoyed it for several minutes, until it got to the part about Molly and Michael’s courier business. That stopped him, and brought him sitting up straight.
June 1st 1938.
"Remember, Kit." Rebecca told the young bear. "The things you need for a business is something to sell, someone to sell it to, and for them to have the money to pay for it… or some service you need!"
"OK…." Kit said, looking up at the wall map. He needed something to get the people back into town, and that needed someway to get division to cut loose the EOD people to remove the last of the booby traps and mines. But he had nothing that could get them away…. Another thought came to his head. What had Maurice been yowling about last week… something about having to play baseball with wooden sticks instead of a good old fashioned….BASEBALL BAT! Kit was at the door in one motion, and looked over at Maurice.
"Maurice… that factory in town… what did it make?"
"Ah… rifles, boss…. That’s why we haven’t demined it… nobodies gonna let the Alemenians back into that place." Kit grinned.
"Don’t be too certain. Did they make the stocks there too?"
"Don’t guess, let’s go." Kit said, heading out the door.
Later, they stood by the hulk of the factory. Even though it had been heavily damaged by bombing, like most factories, much of the heavy equipment remained undamaged. Kit walked in the front, ducking under a hanging door, avoiding two tripwires and carefully stepping over another wire leading to a bouncing betty mine. Finally, he and Maurice came to their objective, a series of lathes, complete with wooden material.
"Maurice." Kit said, "You think these things could turn out baseball bats?"
"Sure… a lathes a lathe… and the woods lots better’n most bats use." Kit nodded. "Ah, boss." Maurice continued. "what are we gonna do with bats?"
"Remember how you wanted one?"
"How many bored soldiers are there in Alemenia… or for that matter the rest of Eporue?" Maurice blinked… then started grinning at the image.
"Who were you thinking of handling the selling of these bats boss?"
"You want the job?" Kit asked. At Maurice's quick nod, he laughed. "OK…. But remember, we’ve got to get this town back on its feet… so all profits come back here." He paused, "Now, since you were the one that got Jack out of the room before the general came back to check on his daughter… why don’t you go ask Jack if he could see his way to cutting lose some EOD people."
"That’ll just about use up that favor, boss."
"It’s in a good cause, Maurice." Kit assured him. "I’ve gotta go find the people who ran this factory, now." Maurice paused and looked at him.
"You should take some back up with you, Captain." He said, using Kit’s title the way he always did when trying to discourage his boss. "There might be some Alemenian's out there who don’t know the wars over, if you get my drift."
"I’ll take care of myself." Kit said, as he headed back to the HQ.
Once there, the young bear grabbed probably the units most prized possession… an authentic Louisville Slugger Baseball bat… which hardly ever got used for fear it’d get wrecked. Sticking it in a bag, he started out towards the woods, whistling.
Most of the Alemenian civilians in the woods probably thought they had been hidden… but Air Commandos, and especially air commandos who had become commander after the previous commander had neglected his scouting duties, with fatal results, did not park and ignore the neighbors. The Alemenian's had been watched, discretely, but closely, since Kit and his three companies had moved into the neighborhood…. And they had been watched by the air commando and ranger qualified soldiers, not the enlistee’s patrolling the town.
Kit paused at the camouflaged post near the edge of the woods. The private quickly snapped to attention… the sergeant, who had spent more time with Kit, just nodded, then turned towards the new private.
"Ya’know, son…" the forty year old noncom said, "If there were any snipers out there… you just gave ‘em a real good idea of who to shoot at." The young fox looked frantically at the Raccoon, then turned around to Kit and squeaked out.
"Sir, Sorry Sir!" Kit laughed.
"Save that for when the generals show up." He paused, looking at the nametag. "Jenkins… what’s your first name?"
"Tom, Sir!" The private managed to avoid the first sir this time. Kit grinned.
"New here… so you missed the war… how do you feel about that?"
"Thank God! Oh,shi- I mean, I regret that I-" Kit waved him off.
"Your happy you missed the chance to get shot at?" The private nodded, Miserably, knowing he had just torqued off a superior officer. He started when Kit clapped him on the shoulder.
"Tom, that’s about the smartest thing I’ve heard in a long time… people try to make you feel bad about it, ask ‘em where they served… I’ll bet it was about five hundred miles behind the lines." He paused. ":Now, I’m gonna go into the woods, to talk to some people. Do you want to come with me?"
"Ah… ok sir."
"Good, " Kit paused. The kid (he laughed, the "kid" was all of a year younger then him), was a bit nervous to be carrying heavy iron… but the sergeant needed to stay out here. If something did blow up, kit wanted a steady voice on the field radio. Still….
"OK, leave your rifle here. All you’ll need is this pistol… but keep it holstered unless I specifically tell you to pull it."
"Yessir." Tom said, calming down a little bit.
"Good. I’m going out here to try and make a deal with the locals… maybe help both them and us, so we need to keep from scaring them." Kit continued, "Remember, a lot of the propaganda they’ve heard says things like we killed our kids or parents to earn the right to be part of the occupation… so they’re gonna be a little nervous."
The two started out, heading into the dense forest. Kit hadn’t been much of a wilderness type, but being the spearhead for the army tended to broaden your horizons. He’d never be as good as a true woodsman, but it was easy to see the signs of occupancy. See… and smell. Kit’s nose wrinkled at the smell of wastes. He hoped that they had had the sense to keep that away from the water, even if they hadn’t buried them deeply enough. Finally, Kit came to the area where all the signs of habitation lead, a series of small openings in a bank. He paused, took out his English/Alemenian dictionary (published in 1901 for diplomats not wanting to embarrass themselves in front of the Kaiser), and started to speak.
"Hallo?" he called into the openings. A rustling in the surrounding forest as well as in the holes answered him, as Kara, a much older man, possibly her grandfather and two other children came out. The older man, a silver haired Wolfhound looked at Kit suspiciously.
"Ja?" He said. Kit paused, rummaging through the dictionary.
"Können Sie…." Kit paused, "me, what is the word for me.. page page page, "mir…" Then kit was stumped. There was a word for "make," but nothing for bat. He turned to Tom. "Hand me the bat will you?" Maybe he could show them what he wanted.
"Yessir" Tom said, and pulled out the bat.
And then all hell broke loose.
Kara screamed and leaped, grabbing Kits arm trying to get the bat away from him, the old man recoiled… one of the kids ran off into the forest screaming: "Hilfe!! Hilfe!!" Kit was busily holding Kara at bay, trying not to hurt her, the girl so thin that he was worried he might actually break bones. He had a moment to yell over to Tom to stay away and not to draw his gun. Kit had an idea of what the problem was and he felt stupider then he had in a long time. Finally, he managed to toss Kara away and backed off, leaving the bat on the ground.
"Halte!" he shouted, which froze everyone for a moment. Kit paused, tried to remember, and then started to talk again.
"Das schadet nichts, Ichs" (which confused the Alemenian’s, as Kit stated, "That won’t hurt- I.") Kara looked at the older man, but nobody moved, and then the one child who had ran off came back with another teenager, who got in front of Kara protectively.
"Don’t hurt them!" He called out, with all the bravado he could muster. Kit looked like the Archangel Michael had just come down to earth.
"You speak English?"
"Ya, A little."
"Oh good. I don’t want to hurt anyone."
"Then what were you doing with the club."
"It’s not a club, it’s a baseball bat, and I was going to ask if the older fellow could convince the people who worked in the factory to make more."
"a baseball…" He brightened. "Oh… you don’t want to beat him, you want to have it to play a game!"
"Yes!" Kit said, feeling the tension drain out of him.
"But there’s no food… and the factory has no power." Kit grinned back at the kid,
"Don’t worry about that…. By the Way, what’s your name?"
"Erwin… I’m Kara’s brother."
"Good. Tell everyone that I’ll handle food… and you’ll all be paid good wages."
The rest of the conversation took a while to finish, since often Erwin had to come back to Kit and translate what he needed for Kara and her grandfather. Finally, the grandfather, who was named Herman, agreed to accompany Kit back to town.
When they got to town, Kit noticed that the factory had already been demined, and butcher paper had been placed over the broken windows. Maurice was waiting for him.
"yeah, well it was a hell of a favor I called in, boss." Kit gave Maurice a thumbs up, and led everyone in to inspect the building. Finally, Erwin relayed Herman’s comments to Kit.
"He says that the power tools are shot, but we can use bicycles to power the wood lathes… there’s enough stock material left for about 4000 bats… is that enough?"
"More then enough!" Kit said. "Tell him that I’ll use the first bats to get the rest of the town demined, and get us some coal for winter."
"Ja! JA!" Was Herman’s reply.
The next several days went quickly. A phone call to the terminally bored CO of the 121st engineering battalion led to the central part of the town being demined in return for 120 bats. The 12 Armored Division agreed to make the trip with nearly a hundred tons of coal from their occupational zone in the Ruhr in return for enough bats to outfit the division. Meanwhile, the towns population began to swell, as more and more people came to the town. Kit began to worry. Many of the houses were dangerous, and getting full construction material was beyond his resources.
While he thought about that, he heard a banging sound coming from outside of the building. Curious, he walked out and looked over to where Kara’s two younger siblings were standing near an Alemenian… probably ex-Luftwaffe, by his ratty uniform. Kit walked over, looked at what they were doing, waving as the Alemenian stood up and said "Mein Herr!" The Alemenian was pulling nails out of burned boards, and leaving them to the younger children, who were laboriously pounding them straight before putting them back into a bucket. Kit looked up and down the street and noticed at every demolished house, similar small groups, pulling out what timbers could be salvaged, wire, for that matter anything that wasn’t ash, and leaving it in buckets and neatly divided piles.
"Wow, boss." Maurice said, "You know they’ve taken three houses down today?"
"No…" Kit said. "what are they using it for?"
"The part of town that got flattened? You know, the place where that SS unit held out and they called in the A20’s to smash em? They’re putting up houses there." Maurice paused… "Oh, by the way, Erwin asked if you could come to the factory." Kit nodded and the two soldiers headed to the factory. Inside, Kit was struck by the difference. Their was still no power, but the factory was clean and neat, with workers moving too and fro. Erwin ran over to Kit and came up with an American style salute. (everyone quickly learned that the Nazi salute…was not appreciated)
"Der Feldmarschall!" Kit blinked.
"That’s higher then Hauptman… giving promotions out so easily, Erwin?" Kit asked. The youth (looking better fed) laughed.
"Grandfather wants to talk to you." He said, leading kit over to a lathe where Herman was ranting at the machinery. Something about somebody had failed to oil it. Kit grinned. Herman and Wildcat should get together. One of the few things that could get Wildcat angry was mistreating machinery.
"Ah, Hauptmann Cloudkicker." The older man said formally. Then, via Erwin, "I have found some leather… Erwin tells me that this game is played using a mitt?" Kit nodded, "Then we shall start making mitts… also, several of the repatriated POW’s are electrical engineers. They think they can get the hydroelectric dam working again… with your permission?" At that, Kit nodded quickly. That would solve numerous problems.
Two months later, Kit looked up at the steadily burning light in the ceiling. The Alemenian engineers had been good at their word, and with a few shipments of vital materials. (arranged via Maurice and some shipments of bats, mitts, and now furniture, which the factory was turning out), the city was now electrified again, with a newspaper (running through the OSS… kit trusted the people, but he knew some of them had to have been members of the Nazi party, and that was one particular serpent he didn’t want to help grow again.), and running water again, which had made the luxury of a bath available to all. He was grabbing the newspaper "Zukünftig" (the future) to try his hand at reading Alemenian again when several bellows of "Attention!" warned him just in time to bolt to his feat as two officers walked in. One Kit knew, being attached to his army. Omar Bradley was a tall, hefty hound dog, and General Eisenhower was a Eagle with piercing eyes.
Kit felt his backbone try to leap out of his skin as he stood to attention, with a perfect salute.
"Sir!" he said, saluting Eisenhower as the senior officer present.
"At ease, captain…" Eisenhower said with a grin. Kit relaxed… by about a millimeter. He had been on the general’s staff, but until one learned why two generals, one CNC of the entire theatre and the other a general of an entire Army were there for….
"There’s been some irritation with you in London, Captain Cloudkicker." Bradley drawled out.
"You see… we have an entire stable of very expensive experts, who are eating food, and drinking drinks, and generally driving prices up throughout London… who are supposed to be planning to do what you have done already—Get the Alemenian’s back on their feet economically." Kit relaxed at that… it didn’t seem a chewing out was in the offing.
Eisenhower looked at him, then spoke in a more serious tone.
"Captain, we can’t leave this place like we did after the last war… if we don’t lay the seeds for a prosperous, democratic government, we’ll be condemning our children to go through this again." He nodded at the door. "That’s why I’m here. You’ve not only started this part of the country on its way back, you’ve done so without resorting to handouts or driving the people like serfs." He nodded at Bradley, who brought out a small package. "And for that reason…" he said, then Bradley started to talk.
"Captain Christopher Cloudkicker, of the Third Air Commando Regiment, you are hereby awarded the Bronze Star, for actions in keeping with the honor of the United States Army." He leaned over and pinned the Star to Kit’s uniform. "Of course," Bradley said, "I’d suggest you watch it… you’re running out of room for medals," Kit made the appropriate laugh.
"ON a more serious note," Eisenhower said, I need you to head for London, ASAP. Churchill has been making noises about us not letting him thank you enough for what you did for the Brits in Market Garden, and I need you to light a fire under those previously mentioned individuals.
"Sir, but…" Kit gestured around the room, and by extension, the town outside.
"Don’t worry. OSS checked out Herman… and the Gestapo had him watched for liquidation… you did know his grandmother on the maternal side was Jewish, didn’t you?" Eisenhower shook his head, then continued. "I’ve signed your suggestion, we’ll put him in as Bürgermeister, and that’ll set the pattern for the whole occupation, hopefully. The last thing I want US soldiers to get used to doing as acting as the lords of a conquered people." He paused, "If you’re ready, we can be off in an hour."
Kit nodded. When A general offered on a ride, you took it. Still, it was a bit depressing, he thought, as he walked around, gathering material to get ready to go. He walked down the steps and paused by Maurice.
"Well, Maurice. It looks like we won’t be working together for a while." The other soldier grinned and lit a cigar.
"Well, don’t worry, the war’s over, so I don’t need to keep you from getting your fool head blown off." Kit laughed.
"I’ll remember that." He said, then noticed that Erwin, Kara and Herman, along with others were coming up the road.
"Oh, by the way boss." Maurice continued. "I kinda told everyone you might be leaving." Kara and Erwin came forward.
"Feldmarschall Cloudkicker!" Erwin said, a tiny catch in his voice. Kara was crying unashamedly.
"Ja?" Kit asked, "Was haben Sie auf dem Herzen?" He finished, asking Erwin what was on his mind. Kit was proud of getting that much done…though he thought that Herman might be weeping for the accent that Kit had mangled the words with. Erwin held out a bat. Kit took it, and then paused and looked at it again. It wasn’t a bat, it was a work of art. The engravings on the sides and the enlaid metal work could have held place with the best treasures of Europe. On the side it read: "HAUPTMAN CLOUDKICKER" In old-fashioned calligraphy. Kit said nothing for a few moments largely because he didn’t trust himself to speak. Then:
"Danke…. Ich danke Ihnen vielmals!" He thanked them again. Then Erwin pulled out a bag of several bats.
"And these are to use when you get home." Kit looked at one, and realized that in quality, the bat he held had no equal, not even among the big leagues.
"Ich danke Ihnen vielmals…" he said again. Then nodded to them all. Kit hugged Erwin and Kara, and then exchanged a more restrained, but still heartfelt handclasp with Herman, turned waved a little awkwardly, and got into the waiting car.