Robert Bischoff crouched in the woods behind the small laboratory, took the last puff of his cigarette, tossed the still lit butt to the ground and stamped it out, all the while vowing for what must have been the hundredth time that it would be his last.
He sighed, contemplating what he was about to do. Was it rebellion, or was it indeed murder?
Bischoff loved dogs, always has; people, not as much, and even less so these days. But a good dog will be a loyal companion to the end, unlike the Nazi bastards that comprised his entourage, people who would sell you out at the first whiff of a potential promotion.
Robert had been contacted by the American Office of Strategic Services soon after it was clear which way the wind was blowing in the Fatherland. He had no other choice to join the Party because it was impossible to get ahead otherwise, and his position in the Ministry of Science made it easy for him to secretly relay information on Nazi research to his handlers. The perversions of science he saw there almost daily made him sick to the soul, and it wasn't long before he started making suggestions about where they could most productively sabotage ongoing projects.
His handlers took his suggestions with amusement, assuring him they'd take care of it. Now and again, an improbable accident would unfold during a project somewhere, with the incidents in question chalked up to bad luck or human incompetence. He couldn't say whether it was the work of the OSS, of course, but he liked to think he was making a small difference.
Then the folder on Project Hollenhund appeared on his desk. It was such a stupid concept that he had audibly slapped his forehead, causing everyone working in the office to look up in united puzzlement. The project's intended goal was to devise methods in controlling a pack of dogs through mass hypnosis, so that they may in turn be used as weapons of terror or assassination. Knowing that it would never work in a million years, he approved Ministry funding for the project; and a lot of funding at that. Better the money to be invested in such a foolish endeavour as this, he thought, than in infecting Jewish children with the plague and seeing how long it took for them to die.
Yet despite all this, the soulless bastards somehow succeeded. When pictures of Russian POW's torn apart by packs of Dobermans, Rottweiler's, and even Dachshunds – Dachshunds – started crossing his desk, he excused himself from the office and spent the next ten minutes retching in the bathroom. It was Robert who had originally approved this project, and he was therefore complicit in both the murders of these men and the very perversion of science he had been privately condemning all this time.
That night, he went to Confession for the first time in many years. The elderly priest had listened quietly, then proceeded to absolve him of his sins, adding that of all the confessions he had received from other Nazi members in the past few years, Bischoff's own was almost nothing.
But while he was absolved of his sins, he didn't feel any less redeemed. What would happen when even more people inevitably died as a result of the project he approved? Could he be forgiven again and again for the same sin? God helps those who help themselves; and so too did Robert resolve to take matters into his own hands.
His OSS handlers had supplied him with a pistol, a specially manufactured .22 semi-automatic with an integrated silencer, specifically designed with accuracy and stealth in mind. It hung in a special case he made for the leather jacket he normally wore.
Bischoff sighed and walked purposefully out of the forest toward the lab. The lone guard spotted him immediately, but this far behind the lines, near Berlin, the guard had probably been chosen for this post because of his incompetence; better to put him here than on the front lines. The guard didn't challenge him until he was too close, and then hesitated when Robert didn't respond. Bischoff shot him through the eye at ten paces, the pistol barely making a cough into the night.
After a quick Sign of the Cross, he dragged the body into the shadows. Searching it, he found two grenades, enough to heavily damage and perhaps destroy the premises entirely, and the key to the lab's front door. He walked around to the front entrance and used the key to gain access.
The interior smelled like a combination of a surgical facility and a dog pound. He heard dogs squealing and whimpering in the next room, and he groped the blindly walls until he found the bank of light switches. He flicked on every other one; he needed to see, but wanted to draw as little attention as possible.
In the next room, he found a hybrid surgical and radio lab. Tables with various radio components lined the walls, and down the center were four surgical tables, with trays of instruments standing at their sides. The room at the back was filled with cages housing dogs in varying degrees of health. The dogs in cages along the south wall had clearly been operated on, as they all had heads swathed in bandages, and found themselves in different stages of misery, made evident by intermittent whimpering or whining. The dogs in cages on the north side were so far untouched, and were excited to see the man who had just walked in, barking as if they expected treats.
Robert resisted the urge to start playing with the dogs, not wanting to get attached; attachment would be both futile and dangerous. He moved to the back of the room, where the stairs leading to the basement were found. He groped the wall next to the staircase until he found a switch. The light flickered into life and he continued downstairs, making as little noise as possible.
The basement was empty save for an uncomfortable looking surgical-type chair, equipped with restraints and lights. In the chair was a man. He appeared to be in his mid-30's, bald, and wearing a black turtleneck and khakis. His eyes were closed.
Well, this threw a wrench into his plans, he thought. How could he possibly get the potentially injured man out of the facility without anyone noticing, return and destroy the lab before sunrise?
Robert walked forward cautiously, then grasped the man's wrist to check his pulse. His heartbeat was slow and steady. Now reassured that he was still alive, Robert began to release the clamps that held the man in place.
Then the man's eyes flickered open.
"Hello, Robert," he croaked. "My name is John Mosley. We need to talk."