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  1. #61
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XLI - Drive, And Keep Driving

    24th of December 1938
    4:20 PM
    Oxford Street
    London
    United Kingdom


    --------

    Soaking wet it was, and it did not seem to stop any time soon either. But that was London for you, like this since the beginning of time.

    He dove foot first into a deep puddle, the water splashing around his ankles and inside his ankled boot, the unpleasant feeling of cold water sticking to your skin jarring his senses as he looked into the distance. He expected a car to draw up any minute now, a long limousine sent by the office. Horace paced back and forth around the largely deserted main street of London city. Another car stopped just in front of him but a lady dressed in a long blue dress climbed out and ran inside a nearby building, visibly shaken by the downpour that sloshed through the streets. The car showed up moments later, a sleek Rolls Royce with a specialised plate and no visible markings. Horace climbed into the back seat and was greeted by a familiar face, the three-piece suit granting the man a very dignified demeanor.

    "Lord Howe."

    The old fox smiled to him from under his thin white mustache. "Horace, it's good to see you again."

    Horace nodded. "Same with me Sire, hope all has been well in London."

    "It was. I heard you did some interesting feats down in France in the past couple of days."

    "Not really comfortable with those Sire, but I did what had to be done."

    "Just two of them?"

    Horace nodded. "Just two."

    "That will be solved, not to worry. The French are in gratitude to you, I've gotten a dispatch this morning from the French embassy." Howe pulled out a paper from his jacket pocket as the car swayed rather wildly because of an unseen, water-clogged pothole. "Ah, London roads. So, this dispatch I have for you, is a token of gratitude, recommendation of a medal and it will almost guarantee you a good job in the next promotion period Horace. You've done well, very well."

    Horace smiled thinly, the concern still evident. "Thank you, Sir."

    "I see I do not manage to get you of your mood."

    "The mission was difficult, Lord Howe." Horace paused, still unsure of the words to say to his superior. "Our French friends were very gracious, they took it the mission with utmost professionalism but some errors that they've made will cause a significant problem down the line for them and for us if we don't manage to put a lid on it. And fast."

    "What problems, Horace?"

    "They've missed their chance to get the leader of the intelligence group while he was there. They dabbled, discussed and tinkered with it, but when it came to the actual action, one of their senior officers, Reythier, was critically injured and they also failed to capture the rest of the men. Two of them were my action but the last one, the driver, escaped and was then shot in one of the actions by the military. Point is, any actionable intelligence they may have gathered was lost and with the failure to capture the leader we now risk some significant reprisals. This will be ugly."

    "Do we know their leader?"

    "Yes, Sire. We do. Personally. Closely. Call it what you want."

    Howe looked with a grave expression to his intelligence officer. "Horace?"

    "Remember Lord Beckett, Sir? You gave me the dossier on the brother of his mistress' husband. What the dossier failed to specify was that Richard Elbe was the chief of the intelligence groups, the leader of spies of the Reich on the Western part of Europe, the ones who directly infiltrated France and our territory as well. Richard Elbe was their leader, an important cog in the whole intelligence and military activity in the West. Capturing him would have meant a significant blow and possibly some very good actionable intel." Horace paused. "But they lost that, Sir. And also his brother was left free by the Dutch."

    "I remember that. I told my counterpart they're making a mistake but they didn't want to antagonise the Germans."

    "I have no clue where his brother might be, but you can bet that right now Elbe senior is making some significant plans with the military. And that might include his brother whom I've heard became a running joke in the military."

    Howe laughed. "That's another one on you, Horace."

    "Indeed it is. But this will get ugly."

    "What are you saying, Horace?"

    Horace hesitated for a moment. "War, Sir. War is coming."

    "You think?"

    "It's a guarantee. War is coming and it will be quite soon."

    The car stopped in front of a large building, the entrance flanked by a number of armed guards who peered through the windows to look at the occupants. One of the soldiers came up to the car and was about to open the door when Howe waved him away. He tapped the front seat and the driver's shoulder.

    "Drive, Albert. Keep driving, I will tell you when we can return to the office." Howe turned to Horace. "You know what you're saying Horace? You carry an important weight in our intelligence community now, your words will be taken seriously. This is not to be taken lightly."

    "I understand that, Sir." Horace made a circular motion in the air. "Imagine this is France, Sir. According to the intelligence shared with me by the French officers, there are about sixty different intelligence teams, known to the Second Bureau of Intelligence, each of them with at least one or two active operatives. I personally doubted this intel, I've expressed my concern about it with them, saying that it is a gross overestimation but they countered by saying they have information that this is in fact underestimated. Point is, their actual knowledge of the intelligence teams is very doubtful, and while they can easily read military reports and transcripts because the Poles gave them a hand, they don't know exactly about the underground units."

    "Are they concentrated in a place?"

    "Not quite. Most of them are spread out, but some of Elbe's teams operate mainly around Strasbourg because of the German community over there. They've infiltrated the upper echelons of the public administration."

    Lord Howe frowned. "What's your pick?"

    "Most of the teams focused on the border, Maginot line, Ardennes, Belgian line. The usual, Sir. I won't rule out another Belgian dash like in the war."

    "Again?"

    "Maginot is too well defended. Ardennes are complicated, too many trees. Belgium is a flatland perfect for Reich tanks."

    "I'll send your intel to the forces, maybe we can have a British Expeditionary Force over there to bolster the French in case needs be."

    Horace hesitated. "Sir, the BEF is all good and dandy, but that's a military matter. What happens to the operatives behind the enemy lines?"

    "Find them. It's their job, the French intelligence job."

    "I object, Sir. They won't be able to find them."

    Lord Howe gave him a surprised look. "Alright Horace, then tell me, how are we doing this?"

    "Go back in and give them a hand. Root those out, work in the field and help them shore up their defenses. They're sitting ducks and their intel is actionable at best."

    "And are you offering yourself to do that, Horace?"

    Horace stood silent, rather more than hesitant than before.

    "Sir, if needs be, I will do it."

    Howe said nothing, his displeasure hidden in a perfect disinterested expression. He gained a very good intelligence officer yesterday, mentioned in dispatches, bringing up the prestige and operational budget for their office. He just lost him today.

    "Albert, drive to the office."

    ------------

    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

  2. #62
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    A note of update from my side - there are about 5-6 chapters left, plus a long Epilogue, which means that we are quite close to the ending. Surprises still left, so be prepared in the next weeks to see how it unfolds!

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  3. #63
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    Chapter XLII - You?

    24th of December 1938
    10:15 PM
    Strasbourg HQ
    Strasbourg
    France


    ------

    Despite the explicit orders of the doctors, Reythier declined to be in the hospital for more than two days until he convalesced.

    Slumped over a large four poster bed in the upper floor of a house controlled by the Bureau, well hidden in the western side of the city and away from the border, Reythier beckoned to Klaus to have a seat, his eyes lightning up ever so slightly at the sight of his friend and comrade in arms. A white sling stood over his injured right shoulder, visible over his undershirt. Two bullets were extracted from his right side, bullets fired by Andreas, Elbe's driver, in the tussle that occured after a botched apprehension and arrest.

    "How do you feel?" asked Klaus, his eyes darting from the sling to Reythier's wincing expression.

    "I feel as if I got hit by a Renault truck without brakes down a hill."

    Klaus laughed. "Specific."

    "That's all I could think of when it happened." Reythier pointed to his shoulder. "How does it look?"

    "Like it got hit by a truck."

    Reythier smiled. "Sounds like how I wanted it to be."

    "Are you sure that's how you wanted it to be?"

    "I couldn't help it. They were there. And one of the officers was too eager to prove himself. So this happened."

    "Are you kind enough to explain to me what happened there?"

    "Not really." Reythier tried to stand up on the bed but he grimaced in pain, slowly lowering himself to the left side to look at Klaus. "We tried to apprehend Elbe's driver when we saw the car. We had a warrant, one made on the spot by the officer."

    "That's illegal."

    "I know. But it was too late, the officer took up three men and almost ran to the car. With me in tow to protest but it fell on deaf ears."

    "And a tussle occurred?"

    "No tussle. A fight. After being initially understanding, the driver faked that he was taking the papers but instead he pulled out a fully loaded pistol and shot two of the men, he shot me twice in the shoulder and tried to shoot the officer but in the fight the pistol got discharged on him."

    "All of it in the middle of the street?"

    "There were some people, who immediately called the police, so the area was quickly cordoned off from what I understood." Reythier glanced at Klaus. "I heard you nearly got the same treatment."

    "Horace saved me. Elbe's party goons were looking for me, after I had a chat with Elbe beforehand."

    "Horace knew?"

    "Apparently so."

    "How did he know and we did not, Klaus? What did we overlook?"

    "He told me afterwards that he realised something was wrong when the two left their table and headed straight for me."

    A slight knock rasped on the wooden entrance, the creaking, lacquered door pushed aside by one of the guards who doubled as a secretary. The man saluted.

    "Sirs, you have a guest. He is here to see you, Mr. Reythier."

    Reythier looked at Klaus and vice versa,

    "We are not expecting anyone," replied Klaus.

    "The Bureau granted this appointment. Can I send him in?"

    "Yes. I do wonder who that will be though."

    Klaus stood up, nodding to the officer, his eyes glancing from the officer to Reythier who looked just as puzzled. Their puzzlement turned to slight smiles when the wiry figure of Horace appeared through the door, carrying a leather duffle bag and a fedore hat to disguise his appearance.

    "Horace. What a surprise," said Klaus.

    Horace took off his hat and saluted, shaking hands with Klaus and then with Reythier who smiled back in return.

    "Gentlemen. It's good to see you again, Mr. Reythier. I am glad you are faring well, Sir."

    Klaus drew closer. "How come you returned, Horace? Why?"

    "We've got work Sir. I have here two letters of recommendation to arrest two persons of interest on French soil. Mainly in Paris."

    "Who are we to arrest, Horace?"

    "Thomas Elbe and his wife Mathilda. They have set up shop in Paris, fronting as members of the social circle and are currently infiltrating themselves into the Parliament."

    Klaus swallowed nervously, his somber expression mirrored by Reythier who looked away through the window in the distance.

    ------

    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

    Proud

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    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

  4. #64
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    Chapter XLIII - Ciphers, Rotors, Jumbled & Foreign

    28th of December 1938
    15:15 PM
    Deuxieme Bureau
    Paris
    France


    ------------------

    It was dusty, a dry air with a pungent smell of paper mixed with the uneasy smell of paint, a smell you could almost taste as a metallic mixture on your lips, tongue and the back of your mouth.

    Hidden in a corner of the Bureau headquarters, the clang of typewriters resonated every millisecond, the clicks of rotors being twisted rasping through the air. Codebreakers were perched over tables in small teams, analysing assiduously all of the codebooks and ciphers that spelled out the enemy intelligence reports. A flurry of activity erupted in these offices in the past three days, since Elbe's escape and the close shave for Reythier, but nothing ever surprising for the tactical teams of the Bureau. Constant connections with their English and Polish collaborators made this area of the Bureau a Babel's tower of sorts, mixing multiple languages to decipher the reports in another foreign language.

    Perched over a table in one of the darker corners, Reythier and Klaus stood beside Horace as they waited for Colonel Raymond to join them. They stood silent, their eyes observant on the scurrying of the intelligience officers between the cipher teams and the secretaries typing furiously to relay the orders to the army. The colonel joined them as they rather ogled at an officer trying to talk up a secretary, only to have his advances rebuffed rather rapidly before one of his superiors dragged him by the arm back to the decipher job. Raymond, stern and with a buzz cut underneath his cap, saluted and took his cap off in a ceremonious manner.

    "Gentlemen." Raymond saluted again. "Monsieur Reythier, I've heard of your exploits. I am glad you are with us."

    Reythier smiled, his shoulder still in a sling. "Always ready to serve our France."

    "Good to hear that. Please, come this way, we need to show you some information."

    Raymond dragged them to a table in the midst of the sea of analysts' tables, a table flanked by two young officers who seemed to be twin brothers. They saluted and gave Raymond a stack of small sheets. Raymond held them up and dropped them, rather unceremoniously, on the table. Reythier stood rather behind, but Klaus and Horace stood by the edge of the table, expectant.

    "Gentlemen, what you have here is our codebreaking expertise. We have been furiously trying to find, intercept and analyse all of the information that the Germans have been relaying to their teams. Army, intelligence, police, whatever goes we need it." Raymond drew his breath, his speaking pace rather rapid even for him. "We try to analyse what is being output from a machine called the Enigma. It's the way of the army to encrypt and jumble their transmissions, but our friends from Poland have been helping us to decipher it. More than that, one of our double agents, Agent Axel, has supplied us with a lot of valuable information and first hand documents, plus components."

    Reythier looked at Klaus. "I presume Agent Axel is German?"

    "Correct. He provided us with a whole stack of Enigma operating books, ciphers and we managed to even get some components such as rotors."

    "How do we stand then?" asked Reythier.

    "Relatively good. We can intercept about seventy to eighty percent of the Army communications. It's not enough but more than doable for what we need."

    "Do you have a full machine?"

    "Unfortunately we don't. Neither do the Poles. Neither do the English."

    Klaus shifted on his feet. "How did you decipher it then?"

    "Using the codebooks and ciphers provided. Based on the transmissions, jumbled as they are, we managed to understand most of their communications and how the system works. For the most part, it's a relatively simple substitution cypher. It means they substitute some letters with others from the alphabet, and we know how they do it. Most of the time."

    "What about when they don't use that?"

    "Well, this is where it gets complicated. As I said, most of the information is available to us, and we have some commercial versions of the Enigma machine. But those are different from the military versions." Raymond paused. "And, to be frank, the High Command uses a different machine or a different set, we do not know yet."

    "So you can't break that code?"

    "Not yet. The British have something up their sleeve to solve that."

    Klaus and Reythier glanced at Horace. Raymond nodded to him.

    "The Special Operations has a mission planned out to usher the Polish codebreakers out of Poland. We know that an invasion is planned, and the divisions are massing, but we need to get them out to help us in our codebreaking otherwise we have no chance of knowing what the German army will plan any time soon."

    Reythier looked at the analytical reports. "But you know what the military does, no?"

    "The brass. The local batallions. Brigades. Soldiers. Not the generals."

    "And what will this take?"

    "Save the codebreakers, get them out, and have them sent through Romania and then to us or to England. We need their expertise." Raymond paused again. "Apparently, they have more components as well and they know more of the system than we do. Since 1932."

    Klaus frowned. "You're saying we're behind."

    "Not behind, but not ahead either."

    Reythier turned to Horace. "I guess you know now why they agreed to send you back, my friend."

    -------
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

  5. #65
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    A small historical note from my side - the Enigma machine, cryptanalysis (ciphers / rotors / cryptography) and Alan Turing's contribution to cracking the code.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_machine


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypta..._of_the_Enigma


    https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-a...he-enigma-code


    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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    Been to:

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XLIV - Foreshadowing

    30th of December 1938
    8:46 PM
    Chiefs of Staff HQ
    Paris
    France


    -----

    "Gentlemen, they are waiting for you. Join us, please."

    Stern, with economical movements to mirror his expression, the staff aide ushered them inside a large, well-adorned room with expansive paintings in golden frames, the former French generals depicted in the canvas towering over the table and the gathering of current French Army generals. Silent, with only the creaking of the wood parquet and the wooden chairs stifling the heavy air, they sat down at the table in the eyes of the commanders, moustaches and all aimed directly at them. Just as economical as he was with them, the aide scurried over to the general at the top of the table, presumably the chairman of this meeting

    "Gentlemen, welcome to our headquarters. I trust you have been briefed on why we are expecting you so insistently, so I will spare the diplomacy and ask that we get on to it right away." The general, a dark haired, eagle nosed soldier with enough tresses and medals to adorn an entire room, rose his hands towards the rest of the table. "I believe you know the rest of the commanders, at least by name if not in person. Some of us do know you, so we can skip over the pleasantries. Time is ticking and we have no time to waste."

    Reythier shifted in his seat. Horace and Poitou took up the seats on the other side of the table, in front of him, along with one other officer, while to his right stood Klaus and one of the cryptanalysts from the Deuxieme Bureau's basement team. He signaled to the general's aide who then produced eighteen copies of the intelligence dossier that was shared with him and the team earlier.

    "Gentlemen, I trust some of you know me, and us, by now. Through the channels of the Deuxieme Bureau we requested this meeting because we felt it is our national duty to warn you of the difficulties that we are facing right now when combating the efforts of our enemy on our own soil. This is not new, this is not news to anyone. But the recent increase in the efforts sustained by the Reich has culminated in an all out assault on me, some of my team members and some other military officers last week during an event in Strasbourg."

    "We have heard of that. Carry on, Reythier."

    Reythier nodded. "Indeed, Marechal Devin. What is not surprising is the increase. What is surprising is the brazenness on how it was done." Reythier opened the dossier. "As we have seen in the dossier, collated by the teams of cipher analysts, working in tandem with our colleagues from Bletchley Park and our partners in Poland, we have managed to identify some of the implications of these actions."

    "Which are?"

    "Page four, Marechal. Unfortunately for us, this increased intelligence activity correlates with some troop movements we have intercepted and observed on land in the Reich. Our consulates have been hard at work over this."

    "Suggesting?"

    "A preparation of an invasion of some sorts." Reythier paused, glancing at the chief of the Army who noticed Reythier stopped. "Messieurs, we have significant evidence to indicate that sooner or later, an invasion will occur in the East. This will impact directly on our alliance with Poland and the United Kingdom."

    Marshal Devin stood back in his chair. "East?"

    Reythier hesitated. "Well, if you analyse the entire dossier, well, we have some other suspicions. We expect an attack on French soil. Again."

    As expected, a heavy silence blanketed the table, the eyes of the generals firmly set upon Reythier's own glancing. The chief of staff, Marshal Devin, looked from beneath his thick eyebrows.

    "An attack on us, Reythier?"

    "Yes. We expect that to happen."

    "Do you realise what that means?"

    "Yes, we do."

    "When do you expect that to happen?"

    Reythier glanced at Klaus instead. "Page fourteen of the dossier." The generals, more out of curiosity than belief, turned to page fourteen where the collated work of the Polish and British cryptanalysts deciphered multiple Oberkommando messages sent from Berlin to Aachen. "Once the campaign in the East is done, and we've seen that Sudetenland is only the beginning, they will follow here."

    "Nonsense. Intelligence rubbish as usual, just like in '14," retorted one of the generals, his grizzled grey hair and blue eyes casting a rather spiteful glance to Reythier and his team.

    "Sir, we are confident that this will be the case."

    "Rubbish, Monsieur Reythier. Absolute rubbish."

    "Sir, allow us to disagree. And to explain."

    The heavy handed general put his elbows on the table. "Go ahead. Through were? Belgium again? We know that trick. South? Maginot is there and no one is crossing it."

    Klaus raised a hand, the gesture almost schoolboy like in nature.

    "Allow me gentlemen to take up the mantle here. We've captured a number of intelligence officers, or pawns as we call them, prancing about and sniffing around the Maginot line. We don't know for how long they've been there, but they were there, and it was not a good sight. They were captured, interrogated, but as you know our incident in Colmar destroyed most of what we learned. Point is, the Maginot line will not be attacked."

    "How can you be so sure?" retorted the general.

    "They know, and we know, the effort will be far too high."

    "So that leaves Belgium then."

    Klaus glanced at Horace. "Well, not really. There's also the Ardennes."

    Some of the generals smirked, a faint laughter echoing from the other side of the table. Marshal Devin drew closer, his elbows now on the table as well.

    "Ardennes, Klaus? Ardennes? Really?"

    Klaus nodded. "Back in 1936, our French consulates in the Basque region reported flash attacks and bombing runs done by the German airforce on the Republican army positions, often fully entrenched. Their efforts were very well welcomed and we've seen that military theorists are planning to put this to good use in the upcoming operations. Adding to that, there's been a significant upshift in using tank brigades and battalions to pierce through infantry rather than having them as support units."

    "And how will tanks go through heavily forested areas, Klaus?"

    "Most of them can fell smaller trees, so that's no problem. Building some roads and heavy infantry support through the forest will make them unbeatable, Marechal. We have no counter to that right now, as far as our own intelligence sources go with regards to the equipment of the French army."

    Silence fell again over the table, the eyes of the former generals casting a wary, uneasy presence on Reythier's psyche.

    "How, well, how sure of this are you, gentlemen? The accusations are beyond grave."

    Reythier intervened. "A close 80 to 90 percent trust in the collation of this intelligence, Marechal Devin."

    "How can you make it 100%?"

    "We have one more critical operation to undertake, with the help of our friends from Special Operations in England. Polish cipher teams have decoded the Enigma machine way before we managed to do it, and we need their help. We can decode only about fifty to sixty percent of Army communications but they can go even up to eighty or ninety percent. Their expertise is extremely important so we need to act on it right away."

    "What do you plan to do?"

    "Extraction from Poland, Sir."

    Devin looked aghast. "And how are you going to bring them here? Through Germany? Norway? The whole of Europe is swarming with enemy intelligence eyes."

    "Through Romania, Sir. Extraction through the common border point in nothern Romania, then by boat through Turkey and from there to Marseille."

    "How long?"

    "Probably next month. End of January."

    "Too slow. Faster, Reythier. We can't lose time."

    Reythier nodded. "Understood."

    Devin glanced at his generals. "As for your dossier, gentlemen, we will analyse it. But until we get to that 100% our actions of defence around Maginot will remain the same. So if it is as you say, get those men out and get on to it."

    -----
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    A little note from my side - with about 3 chapters remaining, I will add a detailed historical note to serve as a background for the whole period, highlighting the huge impact the of the intelligence community. One final Reythier chapter to follow and one final Horace chapter.


    And one special Epilogue.


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  8. #68
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    Chapter XLV - Pensive on a New Year

    1st of January 1939
    2:45 AM
    Villa on the outskirts of Strasbourg
    Strasbourg
    France

    ----------------

    Laughter echoed from inside the estate villa, the booming voices jolting outside into the dark, cold January morning. It was New Year's Eve, a welcome reprieve from the edge of the older year of 1938.

    A voice sounded right behind him.

    "Thoughtful? At a party for New Year's?"

    Reythier glanced to his right. His friend Klaus came up to him, champagne glass in hand, dressed in overcoat and tophat to shield himself from the biting freeze. Reythier stood by the edge of the outer lower balcony, his left hip against the small stone railing, his own champagne glass on top of it.

    "We party, Klaus, but it's not out partying. We laugh but it's not our laugh. We know, some of them know, but it doesn't make it any better even if we know or don't know."

    Klaus sighed. "Where are you getting, Alexandre?"

    "You've seen the disdain and the distrust. I don't think we'll get anywhere to where we need to be, and fact of the matter is, neither is the army getting the required importance it deserves. Sooner or later war will come to us and we won't be prepared enough."

    "You're not giving them enough credit, Alexandre. The army knows and will act on it."

    Reythier laughed, drawing a rather irate glance from his friend and collaborator. "Apologies, Klaus. But you know very well that this won't happen. We've got a parting shot with our friend Horace leaving for Romania in about a week's time, preparing the extraction of our Polish friends who know more about the plans of the Germans. That's all I am betting on right now. We need more intelligence, more information, we need more of everything really and we're only getting small, insufficient resources." He took a swig out of the glass. "At least the champagne is up to our standards."

    "Chandon. From Champagne. The owner of the villa and the estate is a good friend of our intelligence boys." Klaus took a sip from his own glass. "He was there at the ball too."

    Reythier glanced at him, his eyebrow slightly raised. "What am I supposed to do with that information?"

    Klaus glanced behind him, taking a step sideways to Reythier. "Our man is a double agent. Feeds information to the Germans on what we give him, and what they give him he forwards to us. For the moment his position is strong but I'm not sure how long this will go on." Klaus took another sip. "Watch your tongue while we're in this place, we don't know all of it. At least yet."

    Reythier turned from Klaus, watching the light snow drizzle over the top of the immense estate that surrounded the villa. Built in the 18th century, the estate was mainly forested but had enough plots of land for agriculture, grazing of crops and raising animals. Above all, the sprawling estate was meant to highlight the power of the owner and the villa was made not for raising herds but for throwing lavish parties for the high society that flocked between medieval Strasbourg and fashionable Paris. Snow blanketed most of what they could see from the lower balcony, creating a superb white spectacle that was perfect for deep, calm thoughts. Because of the snow the night light reflected from it, creating a crepuscular setting even when sunrise seemed hours away. Seeing Reythier rather lost in the mirage of snowflakes, Klaus smiled more to himself, patted his friend on the back and re-entered the villa to rejoin the party.

    With himself all alone in the mist of snowflakes, Reythier took out a crumpled piece of paper from his overcoat pocket and analysed it in the light of the balcony lamp.

    There was much to be done, outlined the small piece, but the plans were aligned carefully. With Horace now in Romania, and soon to be in Poland for the extraction, they were left with identifying the intelligence cells and neutralising them. In other words, find the spies and make sure they have nothing to report. There was enough information gleaned over from some of the spies they already apprehended but it was not enough. They needed more. They needed it now, not tomorrow, not after a week. Reythier drank again, emptying the glass. That was the sixth glass of the night, the alcohol slowly poisoning his mind. He placed the paper back into his pocket and stared into the distance, the snowflakes dashing around his eyes like in a dance of crystal white flurries.

    War was coming. There was nothing to prevent it, but they still had time to change the outcome.

    -------



    This has been essentially the last "main" chapter of Swords Made of Letters. Three years later, the project has been finished. There are still 2 more chapters, 2 Epilogues, one focused on Horace and one focused again on Reythier and Klaus, but those are a bit more different and you will see soon why.

    I cannot thank enough all of those who have read the project, I thank you enormously for the reading. I hope you enjoyed it and keep close to read the last 2 parts! Thank you!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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  9. #69
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    A small, historical note from my side. I would encourage you all to watch The Imitation Game, a powerful movie created in honour of the cryptographer Alan Turing, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Turing's work on cryptography, building upon the work done by his colleagues at Bletchley and also the French & Polish cryptographer teams, was a significant boost in World War 2.

    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    For the final updates, I have a small roadmap for the future, with parts for the next months:

    - Epilogue I (September)
    - Epilogue II (October)
    - Historical Note (November)
    - Final edits & full PDF download (December)

    I will compile, edit, arrange & construct a whole book for those who wish to read it and download it on their e-readers, computers, phones...
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    Epilogue I - Rescue

    24th of January 1939
    7:45 PM
    Poland - Romania border post
    Lower Ruthenia / Northern Bukovina
    Poland / Romania

    -------

    Steam fluttered through the air, or was it smoke from the exhaust, they couldn't tell.

    Their car stopped at the border post in no man's land, ushered through by the Polish border guards after a routine check of their papers, the headlights unmasking a thin red and white barrier that blocked their way. It was in fact a double barrier, illuminated by a small floodlight attached to the door of a small border post, one on each side of the border to prevent any ramming or intentional border crossings without a proper check. Horace stopped the car just before the first barrier, glancing at the border post for a couple of moments until a border guard in a dark blue navy uniform stepped outside, pulled his cap on and drew closer to the car. Horace saluted, his Polish interpretor sitting on the passenger's seat in front saluting the guard in formal Romanian. The guard saluted back and asked for the passports, which Horace was happy to oblige.

    Rather surprised, the guard backed away for a moment when he felt four passports inside his hand. His eyes darted from Horace and his interpreter to the two men sitting on the backseat couch.

    "Four of you?" asked the guard.

    The Polish interpreter chimed in before Horace. "Yes, four of us. We have all of the necessary stamps from the Romanian consulate in Warszaw."

    "Let me see about that."

    The guard made an odd double-check of the passports with his fingers, glanced one last time at the car and returned to his border post. Horace watched as the man nearly collapsed to the ground, between the two barriers, seeming rather drunk and out of shape for a border guard. He stopped the engine fully and motioned to his interpreter to lower his window, despite the chilling cold, wanting to touch on every single sound he could hear out of the secluded cabin that made the border post. They had the stamps, of course, but they also had a significant luggage with them. Two Polish codebreakers were on the backseat, experienced minds in cryptography, each of them ordered by the French and British services to leave the dangers of Poland and establish themselves somewhere safer. And safer meant above the English Channel, in the south of England. Horace was tasked with extracting them, and they got all of the approvals but they had one last issue to take care of. Getting to the port of Constanta to catch the freighter bound for England. And that was due to leave in nine hours, which he was not sure they had.

    The interpreter cleared his throat, giving Horace a thin smile and a worried glance.

    "You think there might be an issue?" asked the interpreter in English.

    "Your guys waved us through. Not sure what his issue is. Should not take this long."

    Horace glanced at his watch. Five minutes. Another ten passed, with only muffled sounds reverberating in the utter silence at the border of Poland and Romania. The area around them was rather mountainous, at the edge of the Carpathians, a slight fog descending over the smaller cities and villages in the past four days, sprinkling them with light snow showers every other night. Sure, it was rather majestic to see it so crisp and beautiful but it would make their road so much slower.

    Fifteen minutes. Still no sign of the border guard. Jittery, Horace got out of the car, closing the door ever so slightly to not make too loud of a noise to distract them.

    Twenty minutes. Silence. And the first sprinkles of snow.

    Thirty minutes. The interpreter got out as well, looking behind the car towards the Polish side. No cars, no guards, just slight fog and snow.

    Fifty five minutes. The border post door creaked, revealing a rather tall and thin intelligence colonel who saluted Horace with a curt military salute. He drew up to him and handed him the passports, all of them stamped with the right duties including for the port in Constanta.

    "Mister Horace?" the colonel asked in English.

    "Yes?"

    "Apologies for my colleague. He's rather off duty tonight." He paused for a moment to glance at the interpreter. "We've received word from the consulate and from our intelligence post in Bucharest. Apologies for the confusion, we knew of the mission but we had no idea when you would come. All of the stamps and duties have been approved, even for the port in Constanta. Freighter time to departure has been extended by an hour so you should have still about nine hours left to get there. It's a bit of a stretch but you should do it. Take the best of care and don't forget the mission. Have a good evening, gentlemen."

    Eight hours later, they were on the freighter. Horace had made it.

    -----
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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  12. #72
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    A small note from me - while Swords Made of Letters is nearing the end, I would like to announce that a new project is coming soon, far more ambitious.

    A Painted Shield of Honour will be out soon.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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  13. #73
    syö minun šortsini Member Space Invaders Champion, Metal Slug Champion, Bubble Trouble Champion, Curveball Champion, Moon Patrol Champion, Zelda Champion, Minigolf Champion El Barto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Just post the link if it's going to be in a different thread.
    good lord| if you're telling the truth you're setting new records for scumminess as a townie -Renata on IM, 16/09/2011
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    I see I've been sigged yet again -Askthepizzaguy, 02/08/2012
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  14. #74
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Of course, the future project will be in a separate thread.
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    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    For those of you who are on Wattpad, I've done a slight update to it - you can read the first 20 chapters on Wattpad, soon the whole story will be available there as well for easy reading.


    Swords Made of Letters on Wattpad -> https://www.wattpad.com/story/210140...ade-of-letters

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Swords Made of Letters is now at an end. The last chapter, the second epilogue. Thank you all so much for reading!


    Epilogue II - Reminiscing

    28th of November 1949
    8:15 PM
    Cafe Lafayette
    Paris
    France



    --------

    A squeaking sound reverberated through the small room in the back of the cafe, the sound of a badly oiled door moving to break the silence. Klaus dropped the tea cup from his lips, darting his eyes to the door. A tall man, dressed in a typical overcoat and tophat to hide his face drew close to his table. The only table in the tiny room, in fact. Klaus smiled. The man took off his tophat and placed it on the table, sitting down on the small wooden chair without as much as opening a button on his overcoat. Klaus smiled again at the sight of his friend, Alexandre Reythier. It had been more than 10 years since he last saw him, lost in the mirage and destruction of the war and the blistering invasion of France. A lot of time, Klaus thought, but Reythier looked way worse for wear.

    "Time hasn't been kind to you, Alexandre."

    Reythier smiled, the evident wrinkles on his weathered face sharpening in the dim light of the room. He unbuttoned his overcoat, revealing a wrinkled shirt and a dinner jacket that looked in top shape about twenty or so years ago.

    "Not too ideal, yes. But I'm still part of the system, that's why I look older now."

    "Every day makes you twice as old, you know that."

    "And yet I couldn't get out of it. I never wanted to."

    Klaus smiled. "You've got some explaining to do for me."

    "That's why we're here?"

    "I got out in time. You stayed until the end of the war. And you're in still in it after all this time."

    "What's the time?" asked Reythier.

    Klaus hesitated for a moment, unsure. He glanced at his silver watch from underneath the cuff of his shirt. "8:20 PM."

    "So it's night. It's a night of November 1949. It's been almost 5 years, can you believe that?"

    Reythier unveiled a crumpled newspaper from his overcoat, a newspaper dated from 1943 written by the French resistance. The ink was faded enough for Klaus to not distinguish everything that was written on the ront page but it was enough to make out a little article about Reythier and his counter-espionage efforts from Algeria. Klaus had lost touch with his friend after the invasion of France,

    "What happened to you, Klaus? I heard some stories but are they true?"

    Klaus looked up from his tea cup. "It depends what you heard. But in simple terms, during the invasion I was attached as counter-espionage to one of the frontline units. We got surprised during the initial stage of the invasion and my unit was rather quickly captured. I've been sent out to the Vichy Regime and because I refused to collaborate, I was stuck in a prison near Vichy were all I did was manual work."

    "And factory work for the Reich?"

    Klaus nodded. "That too. Uneventful, I was safe, but a tragic experience for me. I lost track of my family and I only managed to reconnect with my wife and children who had to flee from Rennes to the countryside. They weren't allowed to see me but they knew at least that I was away in Vichy France."

    "At least you're here."

    "That's my only blessing." Klaus paused. "Is it true? You fought the entire war?"

    "When the invasion broke out they sent me out to French Algeria. I was one of the intelligence officers who had direct liaison with the generals, and the army in general, so I witnessed the entire war from close to the frontlines. Including the disasters.

    "Mers El-Kebir?" asked Klaus, referring to the horrendous loss of ships suffered by the French Navy.

    Reythier nodded. "I was in port back then, we knew things would go wrong. Just not that bad."

    "What happened afterwards?"

    "I fought on the African front for a while and then went to the United Kingdom to plan the invasion of Normandy, together with the rest of the teams at Bletchley Park. Remember we worked before the war with a certain Horace."

    Klaus nodded. "What happened to him?"

    "POW. Missing in action afterwards. They found him in the Dutch Indies in a rather rough shape but he returned home. Retired soon after, I saw him three years ago."

    "Normandy then?"

    "Normandy, all the way to the Rhine. After the Americans invaded past the Rhine I retreated back to Paris and took care of any units that might have been active for the Reich. Elbe and his ilk were assigned to the war effort, I have no idea what happened to them. They disappeared from our files."

    Klaus sighed. "We won, Alexandre."

    "Have we? Look at us, we're beyond tired. We're shells of ourselves."

    "Indeed we are, indeed we are."

    "Do you feel accomplished?"

    Reythier laughed. "Accomplished is a word you use, Klaus?"

    "For this situation, I would hope so."

    "We are never accomplished, Klaus."

    Reythier buttoned his overcoat back as it was, standing up to salute his friend in a rather sudden motion.

    "Klaus, it was an honour to know you. May history judge us kindly." He took his tophat and left the small tea room, leaving Klaus alone to his thoughts. The sudden exit made sense. Reythier was now one of the most important counter-espionage officers in the country, not being allowed in public as a requirement and necessity. Klaus sighed.

    The memory of history was all that was to be left of them.

    -------


    Thank you everyone.
    Last edited by edyzmedieval; 10-17-2020 at 19:13.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

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