Fandom: Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Archive: yes, please
E-mail address for feedback::Ronnee M
Series/Sequel: The Following Orders Series
Disclaimer: All characters from the TV show Man from U.N.C.L.E. belong to the show's owners, not to me. I make no money from writing, I do it for fun. I have nothing worth suing, so please don't.
Note: Anyone who notices a historical goof on my part, please, please, tell me. I tried to get rid of them all, but I'm not perfect. Summary: Illya’s finals are different from the norm.
Final Exams Following Orders Series By Ronnee M
Illya quickly settled into his seat and studied his classmates. They weren’t above getting into a little bullying before the teacher arrived but it never was something that got out of hand. After all, he was, in an odd way, one of them. All of the other boys were older than he was. In the six months since his arrival, Illya had been learning at a prodigious rate. He had moved through classes and grades, absorbing all of the knowledge of his teachers as fast as he could. This was his fourth day with this group – all eleven, twelve, and thirteen year-olds.
The older boys glanced at him before finding their own seats. They weren’t quite sure what to make of him and he knew it. As long as the bullying stayed at friendly level, Illya ignored it. The few times it had started to get rough, the younger boy had quickly and decisively fought back, earning their respect and the teachers’ wide-eyed approval. It was an open secret that Victor Artzen was considered the brightest student to ever attend the Hitler Youth Academy.
He no longer shared any classes with his age group. Instead, he studied medicine and chemistry at the university (he was ahead of Nicholas now). He had the revised history classes with the older youths at the academy. Behavior, gymnastics, and fighting were taught him at the local SS barracks by grinning but carefully gently officers specially chosen for the task. His only ‘normal’ class was the ballet he secretly took with the little wizened man behind the closed door of the resistance chapter house. His free time, and he had more of it than most children, was spent roaming the city on errands for the underground: gathering information, transporting small items, studying the enemy, whatever was needed.
“I heard we have a special treat today.” One of the older boys whispered loudly. The others quieted to listen. “The Gestapo are bring in examples of degeneratives for us to practice on.”
Illya kept his face blank. This group of boys was part of a special advanced class. They received the best teachers, special training, extra food at school and extra ration tickets to take home, better clothes, and many other little extras – all aimed at turning them into the Fuhrer’s best, most loyal leaders for the next generation. All of them fit into the pattern of the ideal Aryan genotype – blond or light brown hair, fair skin, blue or green eyes. All were exceptionally intelligent.
During the past few days with this class, they had been dutifully trained in the use of the measuring devises and coached through practice sessions measuring each other. They had learned how to read the devises and know when they were seeing a true Aryan or someone trying to pass himself as one. Today, it seemed that they got to practice on other races and learn to distinguish them from each other. It was all Illya could do to keep from rising and racing out the door. If they ever found out that was Russian… he knew the punishment for an inferior race pretending to be German.
The lively hum of speculation and excitement died as the door to the classroom opened and their instructor entered. Two uniformed SS officers escorted their prisoner to the front of the room. Illya’s stomach tightened as he recognized the man. Aaron was one of the Rom, a runner who traveled from group to group, passing news and instructions. He knew many of the underground cells and could identify their members. The man’s bright eyes were dull with fatigue and his limbs trembled under the weight of the chains binding him. Illya fought a sigh of relief, as Aaron showed no sign of recognizing him as his gaze swept the room. The man’s fingers spasmed, passing a silent message of reassurance.
Behind the trio stalked a black clad major and this time Illya knew he was in trouble. He wasn’t sure if the major had ever seen him, but he recognized the man. He had been introduced as a member of the Czech resistance. At the time, Illya had thought his stomach was upset due to something he’d eaten. Now he knew better. They had been infiltrated, and from the number of medals on the man’s uniform – this man was very good at his job. Somehow he had to get the word back to the groups.
“Guten Morgen, mein Herren.” The professor’s calm voice brought Illya’s attention back to the class. In short order, Herr Weiss introduced the major as one of the most decorated members of the SS intelligence unit.
“You are in for a treat.” Major Grumner smiled at them as he paced. His boots sounded ominously against the wooden floorboards. “This prisoner is a Gypsy, a thief, vagabond, and shirker. Today, you will get the chance to practice with your measuring instruments on him and on other representatives of the inferior races.”
Illya tuned out the political and social commentary. He focused his gaze on Aaron’s and with a slight movement of his eyes acknowledged that he was ready for the Rom man’s instructions. The man’s fingers began moving, passing on his information. Illya concentrated on memorizing every single movement.
The final four words Aaron signaled nearly made Illya jump out of his chair. In complete disbelief, he stiffened and met the Rom’s eyes. Aaron looked resigned to the fate he had just requested. Illya furtively glanced at his classmates and the adults. No one had noticed their silent communication but that glance reminded him of the importance of Aaron’s cover not being completely destroyed. Deep inside his mind he weighed the risks and acquiesced to the man’s demand.
“So, who wants to do the first measurements?” Grumner rounded up his soliloquy with the question. The oldest boys immediately began clamoring for the right to be first with this unprecedented honor. They all knew the theory by heart and all wanted to be able to prove it to themselves.
Illya watched silently as the first two boys used their calipers to measure Aaron’s ears, the length of his nose, the width and height of the bridge of his nose, the depth of his eyes, and the angles of how his features came together.
“Herr Artzen?” Illya looked up to see the teacher looking down at him worriedly. Beside him, Grumner stood silently. “Why did you not volunteer?”
“If the boy is worried about the Rom being dangerous, Herr Immelmann, I assure you the creature is safe.” Grumner said with a sneer, his eyes studying Illya with a faint frown.
“Nein, that is not the reason I have not yet gone to measure him, Herr Major.” Illya responded. He forced himself to glance at the boys at the front of the class with distain. “I am the youngest in the school, therefore for the morale of the class I must not always be placed before the others. Let them inspect the Gypsy first. I will get a chance to take measurements without making my peers seem less than me.”
The two men glanced at each other at his calm words. “I told you the boy was not too young for this.” The instructor told the intelligence officer with a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes. “He has learned his lessons well and knows how best to serve the Fatherland.”
“So I see.” Grumner’s eyes were speculative as he gazed at Illya. “But as intelligent as the child is, he must still get close enough to measure the gypsy. I don’t think he can do it.”
Illya felt his shoulders tense at the comment. It wasn’t the first time Illya had received that look from an adult. It mixed part condescension, part disdain, and part something Illya didn’t understand. But he knew what it meant – trouble. He pocketed a small item from desk as he stood and was escorted to the front of the class.
Aaron’s eyes glanced over him and he snorted as Illya approached with another boy. Illya carefully dropped a small piece of wire into the Rom’s hand and began taking measurements. He had just finished measuring the man’s ear when it happened.
In a swift move that threw the open handcuffs at his guards, Aaron grabbed Illya and held him in front of him like a shield. Illya let his feet dangle as if surprised by the move that held him high, protecting Aaron’s chest and head. Around them the other boys scattered, fleeing and yelling in surprise. Major Grumner drew his Luger and aimed it at the freed prisoner and his captive.
“No! You might hit the boy.” The teacher yelled.
Behind them, Illya could hear the movements of the guards and knew Aaron would soon be captured again. He shifted his grip on the calipers, quickly spinning the wheel connecting them. The wheel fell free after a moment and Illya whispered an apology in Rom before slamming the instrument’s pointed leg back into Aaron’s chest. He fell, Aaron falling along with him.
“Victor! Are you hurt?” “Herr Artzen?” “Talk to me boy!”
Frantic voices spoke to him, but Illya kept his eyes locked on Aaron’s. He could not let the man feel abandoned by the only member of his people who could understand. The light in the Rom’s eyes and the smile on his face was his reward. With his last breath, the man murmured, “Thank you, little warrior.”
Only after it was over did Illya look up. The rest of the class was gone. One of the German guards was prying at the dead man’s hand, trying to break the grip on Illya’s belt. Finally, it let go.
“Are you all right boy?” A rough voice asked and Illya looked up, confusion crossing his face.
“They die just like Germans do.” He spoke softly, his voice holding a trace of wonder.
“What do you mean, Victor?” The head master of the academy sat next to him, eyes worried. Beside him, the pair of guards lifted Aaron’s body and began dragging it away.
“From what Herr Obermeister Traupt said I thought they would die like animals.” Illya referred to his SS fighting instructor, knowing the man would be questioned. Traupt was well known for his vehemence against the inferior races. He wouldn’t get into any trouble and it would take the pressure off Illya. “But he was obviously inferior.”
“What makes you say that?” Grumner asked quietly.
“No German would let a child kill him with a measuring instrument.” Illya answered flatly. “May I go? I must get to the university on time. We are conducting autopsies today.”
The men winced at his enthusiasm. Finally one of them nodded and Illya stood. He looked down at his hand. It was reddened from the pressure of Aaron’s weight but there was no blood. “Odd. He didn’t bleed. I must have hit the heart. May I autopsy him to see?”
The class instructor gagged and quickly left the room.
“You need what?” Nicholas stared down at Illya, eyes wide.
“A rifle. Grumner might recognize me and he has infiltrated at least one of the cells.” Illya repeated quietly.
“Where do you plan on shooting him?” Nicholas asked. The cell leader watched him solemnly.
“From the roof of the church. Grumner will be debriefing most of the afternoon in the Obermeister’s office. I will have a clear shot.”
Berholdt nodded thoughtfully, adding, “Yes, you would. What about Aaron’s group?”
“I can go to them and explain.” Illya hadn’t told them about the rest of it. He looked from Franz to Nicholas. “I promised Aaron I would finish his mission.”
“Was Aaron on a run when he was picked up?” Franz’ rumbling voice was distressed. “We’ll have the Gestapo here any minute.”
“No. My sources say he wasn’t carrying anything when he got caught in
the round up. He told you where he hid his pouch?” Berholdt calmed the
others. At Illya’s nod he relaxed. He turned to the silent man beside him.
“Get the boy a sniper’s rifle. He’s the only one who can fit in the steeple
without being seen. Grumner is too dangerous to let live.” ~~
Illya carefully assembled the rifle. He needed to get this right on his first shot. There would be no chance for a second shot. Tightening the last bolt, he stared across the street and into the Obermeister’s office. The window framed the three men perfectly, making this a perfect shot for a sniper. He jacked a single bullet into the rifle.
Discipline. Take calm, easy, rhythmic breaths. Slowly tighten the finger on the trigger. When the shot is taken, place the rifle on the ground and leave. Don’t stop for anything. Don’t look to see if the target fell. Don’t run. Just walk away before anyone can come looking for the sniper. What you are doing is for the survival of us all. There is no anger, no fear in it. You only kill to protect the ones who cannot protect themselves. Even God forgives the warrior. And you are our Little Warrior. What you do is right. The liturgy rang through Illya’s head as he followed his instructions.
He walked out of the back entrance to the church and down the street. He had a courier pouch to find and deliver. Aaron had been transporting stolen papers. Some of them were to be passed on to the Allies, proof of the German dictator’s plans. The rest of the papers were for Aaron’s clan, which was carefully scattered through the city.
Without the paperwork and its carefully forged information, the Gypsy clan would be unable to get the food coupons and would be forced to steal to eat. That would bring the Nazi’s down on them faster than anything else. As long as they had forged papers to say they were German citizens, the Rom had a chance at survival.
“Did you hear what he did, Thinker?” Franz’ voice woke Illya. He didn’t move, wanting to know what he had done this time. “He killed Aaron with one single blow! Will he kill us too?”
“Do you need killing?” Nicholas asked quietly. Illya could hear the amusement below the surface of the words.
“Nico!” Franz gasped. “It was one thing for the boy to take out Nazis but this… this is different.”
“Was he supposed to let them figure out that Aaron was our best messenger?” Nicholas’ voice turned cold. “The boy knows the gypsies well. Aaron told him to make sure he was dead. I believe him.”
“You won’t hear anything bad about your son, but he is too cold. Too much the killer.” Franz’ words wavered. “The gypsies called him the Little Warrior of Kiev. Is that true?”
“I heard about that boy. He killed and never seemed to notice what he had done. He was playing with the other children the same day.” Franz answered.
“And what would you have a child do? They play. It is our war, not theirs. Once they finish our errands, they go back to being children.” Berholdt’s voice surprised Illya. The other man rarely jumped in, letting Nicholas handle the other members of their cell.
“You have created a monster – who knows no difference between right and wrong.” Franz spat. “He can kill one of us or one of the Nazis and then go on was if nothing had happened.”
Illya climbed out of bed and slipped into the room. “I know the difference.”
There were six members of the resistance cell in the apartment. All of them turned to face him. He met Nicholas’ blue eyes before turning to glance at the others. All of them looked weary. The short rations of the past few months had made them all thin. He knew that he and Nicholas were the only ones who rarely had empty stomachs thanks to their university ration coupons.
“The Nazis want to rule the everyone. They will destroy anyone who opposes them. They have broken every treaty they made. They are killing everyone they consider inferior.” Illya’s voice was soft and the men leaned forward to listen. “They are opening more of their concentration camps every month. At this rate, the final solution will be complete by 1949 or 1950 on the outside.”
“The what?” One of the older men asked, eyes bewildered at the phrase.
“My academy instructor has been telling us about the reason for segregating the races and how the Fuhrer has come up with a perfect solution to the problem of keeping the races separate.” Illya explained. His eyes grew dark at the thought of the information his class had read. “The others will die. Men, women, children – all of them.”
“Gott im Himmel!”
“What was Aaron carrying?” Berholdt asked.
“Proof for the British. So they will know what is happening.” Illya felt his stomach clench at the memory of the words he had read. Those documents felt as if they were burned into his memory. He shuddered at the memory of the pictures he’d found. “Things that will make them move faster and never give up the war.”
Illya met their gazes, letting them see what he felt. It was harder than anything else he’d ever done. He was so used to protecting his emotions, pretending to be calm and untouched when the others wanted to see if he had been touched by the war around them. One by one, the men looked away. Only Franz kept his eyes on Illya. And something in that gaze made Illya uneasy.
“Herr Artzen?” The voice made Nicholas and Illya look up from their work. Both of them blinked at the SS officer who stood near them. They stood, not daring to sit at the dissecting table in his presence.
“Ja?” Nicholas asked, shifting to stand between the man and Illya. “Is something wrong?”
“Nein. Nein. I would like to congratulate you, Herr Artzen.” The man beamed at them. “You have been selected to finish your studies in medicine at a very special place. With Dr. Schneider.”
“I do not understand. I am not that close to graduating from my studies.” Nicholas stammered, his knuckles going white around his pen.
“Due to the shortage of doctors, you and your son are being sent to assist at a P.O.W. camp. You will finish your studies under Dr. Schneider. This will free two doctors to go to the front lines.” He smiled. “It is an honor for you.”
“Thank you. We will, of course, be happy to go. As soon as we clean up our place we will go pack.” Nicholas exchanged salutes with the officer and sank back onto the bench. Beside him, Illya trembled. This was not part of their plans. Nicholas looked down at the boy and spoke very softly, “I think they were too impressed by Aaron’s death.”
Illya nodded. He had garnered them the attention of the SS. That was not good. He wondered it they were really going to work with a doctor at a prison camp or if they were being sent to one of the work camps as prisoners. They would find out soon.