An Alliance Is Formed

An alliance is formed. - Friday, March 28, 2008, 11:37 AM
L'Eglise de Saint Boniface (13 5)

A great window opposite of the entrance depicts the saviour in splendid glory, colorful and magnificent and yet with a certain humbleness to it, the saviour's expression mild and kind as he looks down onto the interior of the church.

The church itself isn't especially large, and has fifteen rows of benches on each side of the room; nowhere near the size of the main church of Arras, the cathedral.

There are obvious signs of repair work for the one who looks, as this church was heavily damaged in The Great War, as was so many other buildings. For the one interest in such history, this church was used as a hospital in the Great War, when the war was just outside. In remembrance of this, there's a plaque at the entrance dedicated to the nurses and doctors that worked here.

It is currently daytime, contents, Chevalier and Claude.

Chevalier is seated on the end of the next to last pew to the left of the Alter. It is early yet and only a few people have arrived, the organist is just starting to warm-up the organ. Mass will not start for a while yet.

Claude slips into the church, shifting a gaze around. He does not seem entirely comfortable in the building but he tries not to look too out of place. After a moment of looking he spots Chevalier and strolls over to take a seat in the same pew.

Chevalier glances sideways at the newcomer giving the man a once over.

Claude glances back at Chevalier, trying to meet his gaze. "You are Charles Chevalier, I presume?"

Chevalier looks at Claude he sees a non-descript Frenchman dressed in non-descript middle-class traveling clothes, topped off with a beret, of course. He wears boots, to better travel in, and smells faintly of cigarettes. He has a mustache and brown hair and blue eyes and looks to be in his thirties - all very unremarkable.

Chevalier's eyes narrow as he asks in a barely audible whisper, "Claude?"
Claude inclines his head in the barest nod to Chevalier, in affirmation. Though he keeps his manner carefully calm there's a spark of excitement in his eyes. "My comrades have spoken with you, then?" he whispers.

Chevalier suddenly perks up and says, perhaps a bit too loudly for being in a church, "Oh my! Goodness gracious, how long has it been?! You are looking well! Come-come, follow me where we can catch up!

Claude reaches out, as if to clasp Chevalier's hands warmly in a friendly gesture. "Too long, Charles, Too long. Though I have heard you have been doing good work here, under the circumstances."

Chevalier rises with a smile, “Come” he slips out of the pew and walks up the side aisle and opens a side door that leads into a narrow hallway. He leads you down the hallway and into a small office. The room has a large cluttered desk in one corner, stuffed chairs overflowing with books, and an untidy cot in one corner. The room has the stale smell of a closed environment mingled with the smell of tobacco. There is a single stained glass window. The only light is supplied by one floor lamp and one desk lamp.

Claude slips out of the pew and follows Chevalier into the room. His small eyes glance about it quickly. Not nervous, exactly, but habitually watchful. Once he's satisfied there aren't any Germans about he fixes his attention on Chevalier, sizing him up.

Chevalier closes the door and motions towards a chair. As he clears the chair he says, "Please, have a seat. I'd offer you a cigarette, but in my haste this morning I left them at home." He sets the debris aside and smiles, "Perhaps a glass of sherry?"

Claude sits, though he shakes his head at the offer of a drink. "I have not had a touch of alcohol since I left London a month ago. I must keep my wits about me. How much have my comrades told you?"

Chevalier moves around the desk and takes up a bottle and a glass, "I certainly hope you will not mind my having some, helps my digestion." He pours himself a glass of sherry without waiting for an answer. As he pours his says, "Mainly that someone named Claude was anxious to meet with me." He turns and looks at you, "An old friend from the university." He takes a sip of the wine as he has a seat.

Claude inclines his head to Chevalier. He does not care if the other man drinks or not. A faint smile twitches at his lips. "A friend, yes, perhaps not an old one but, I hope, we might form a…friendship in the future. I know a little of your work, Monsieur Chevalier. And, I think, you might be useful to the cause of France."

Chevalier purses his lips and says, "Hmmm, I see, quite interesting. What work of mine are you familiar with?" Chevalier shuffles papers on his desk and pats his pockets seemingly in search of something as he waits your answer.

"I have heard word of your…dissatisfaction with the current state of things in France," Claude says. "And, the incident with the British pilot." He grins at Chevalier, clearly crediting him with the recent escapade. "Quite admirable work, France needs men such as you in these dark times, Monsieur. True, free France, that is."

Chevalier nods his head, "I see." Still searching he pats his pockets again looking distracted as he speaks, "I hope you do not think me rude, Monsieur." Looking perplexed he seems to give up his search as he continues, "Do you have any credentials?"

"Credentials?" Claude smirks, chuckling softly, nervously. "Your caution is admirable, Monsieur. But what do you want of me? Official papers from Charles de Gaulle? Monsieur, the only papers I have is a bit of money and a false name that will get me as far as Calais. Nothing that would be useful to the Germans if…well. If things went poorly. All I have are the clothes on my back, and my cigarettes." He plucks a pack out of his jacket. Cheap, mass-made things one can obtain easily in Paris. Chevalier might recognize them as the sort left in the turf after the fire at the warehouse.

Chevalier places his elbows on the edge of the desk and laces his fingers together. Leaning forward he places his mouth against his hands, chin resting on the thumbs. He stares at you for a long moment in obvious consideration. He leans back in his chair the fingers of his right hand drumming on the desk, he places his left elbow on the arm of his chair a finger softly strokes his temple. "No, I suppose not. Still, it is not unreasonable to ask for some proof of identity." Spying the cigarettes he asks pointing, "May I have a cigarette Monsieur, nasty habit."

Claude hands the cigarettes over to Chevalier. "I fear I have little to give you, Monsieur, beyond the extension of my own trust. Were I to seek out the wrong man, he could make a friend delivering me to the Germans." He takes a cigarette for his own before relinquishing the pack, lighting it. That thought made him need a smoke. "I am called Claude, for this particular foray. My full name is unimportant, and it is probably best you know little about me. Are you familiar, Monsieur, with the Intelligence and Operations Central Bureau?"

Chevalier takes the pack and extracts a cigarette. He examines the cigarette for a brief second before lighting it. He tosses the pack onto the desk. "Perhaps you are right, perhaps we can be friendly." He studies you as he takes a puff from the cigarette. "As such friends ought to be honest, yes? So to start allow me to set the record straight, for one, I am not the man you seek. Until now I had no knowledge of any escapade involving a British pilot." He looks at the cigarette, "Although, looking at this cigarette and the dried river mud on the instep of your right boot does answer some questions about a little warehouse fire."

Claude smokes, nodding along with Chevalier, though he blinks when the man says he had no part in the British pilot affair. "Truly…" He trails off, thinking. "I had assumed it must be you, Monsieur. I have heard you wish to make a stand against the Germans…" He trails, off, considering. "In any case, we need all the volunteers we can get. I am on my way to Calais. There is a…network of us, working underground against the sea operation the Germans have in the works against England. But we need volunteers in the countryside. People, who can get us information, keep their ears to the ground about what is going on in the towns the Germans hold. I suspect you would be amenable to such work. And, yes, I was responsible for the fire at the warehouse. It did not go as well as I had planned, but it brought you to my attention. I had hoped you would find me but my time in town is short, so I thought it best to seek you out."

Chevalier smiles, "While I may not have had anything to do with this pilot I have not been idle. Call me a foolish idealist but I know in my heart that what is right will always eventually triumph. It was France who introduced Democracy to the world, and it will not be France who lets it die! However, to achieve total victory over this evil I believe we must organize, we must work together, unite as a single unit" Chevalier pauses long enough to wet his lips and to lower voice once more, "We must devise a way in which to move information vital to our victory. To that end I have spent the last month creating such an organization, and in fact have established contacts as far as Calais. As a part of that work I have been working on a simple coding system with which to securely pass information to contacts such as you. I have developed a means in how to deliver the same. Here, let me explain how this will work." He takes out a piece of paper and feeds it into a typewriter and begins to type, after a few seconds he lays a piece of paper on the desk and says, "Please read this back to me."Aoccdrnig to my rscheearch, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Chevalier says as you read, "As you can tell what I have written is quite scrambled, yet readable and in and of it self worthless as code. Now, what if I was to do the same with a language you are not familiar with but the intended reader is? What more if the message is written in an obscure 'dead' language?" He waits for you to finish before going on.

Claude reads over the text, nodding a little to himself. "Excellent, Monsieur. Excellent. Organize as you will. The Swede, Comrade Henrik, and the women, Madames Alice and Genevieve, seem amenable to the cause. But use caution and do it quietly. And the less I or anyone outside the town knows of your organization, the better. Madame Alice has a radio. You can communicate outside with it, and I have frequencies and channels she can use to transmit information on the German movements. A code would be useful in getting transmissions out."

Chevalier hmm's, "Yes, I would prefer to not use the radio unless absolutely necessary, only in an emergency or if the information is too important to wait. Instead what I propose is for non-time critical information bound for England, especially important documents, be brought here to me. I will translate the same into French and then from French into Ancient Roman Latin, but the Latin will be scrambled like you see here." He taps the typed sheet. "Once the message arrives in England it is a simple matter of someone familiar with Latin to read it, translate it to French and then to whatever language is needed." He shrugs, "If the 'coded' message was to fall into enemy hands odds are it will mean nothing to them, just a bunch of jumbled up mess. To further ensure the security of the message, the couriers will never be told how the message was coded." He pauses, "There are a few things I need from you. First as I said I have a way to get information as far as Calais, but not across the channel. Secondly this Henrik does not care for me and as a matter of fact several attempts to talk with him have failed. Perhaps you can smooth that out before you leave, as well as with Alice. Thirdly, how do I reach you, if need be?"

"Translate what you get from Arras," Claude says. "If you do not wish to use the radio, set up a system to use the river to deliver information to Calais. I will be there. Send word for 'Camille' and I will find it. Do not concern yourself with getting information across the channel. We have a network established in England. If you need to send word there, you can get it through us. Though it is best if we all do not communicate too directly unless necessary. The more coordinated we become across the country, the easier it is to track. Concentrate on Arras. Others shall take care of the rest. It is the countryside where we are blind. We must have some idea of what goes on in the countryside if our efforts from the coast are to be meaningful. As for the others, I shall speak to them. It matters little if we are friends in these times, so long as we know the Germans are our common enemies."

Chevalier nods, "I am not concerned about being a friend, only looking for cooperation. As far using the river, I have made other arrangements weeks ago that will be hard to undo, but I assure you the information will arrive to Camille all the same." He looks down at the desktop then back at you, "I have just a couple more things to tell you, then I will let you go, mass will be over soon."

Claude nods as to that, clearly not caring how the information gets to him, or particularly wanting to know. He waits, smoking, for the rest of what Chevalier has to say.

Chevalier smiles, "It is a simple request really. As you know certain supplies here in Arras are no longer available." He looks at his hands then he looks back at you, "I would like a poison, something fast, perhaps a pill, or small vial. Is that something you can arrange?"

Claude considers that, "Perhaps. Though it would be best, Monsieur, if you worked with the physicians and apothecaries in town to procure such things when possible. Are there none such in Arras who are sympathetic to free France?"

Chevalier shakes his head, "I only ask for enough for myself, in case of capture. As for the local physicians, the hospital is under the direction of a Nazi doctor who from what I gather rules with an iron fist, so no as of this moment I know of none.”

"I shall see what I can manage before I go, though I do not intend to linger in Arras long," Claude says. As if that thought urged him along, he stands, putting out his cigarette. "Speaking of which, I should not linger here, either. I have preparations to make before I depart. I shall touch base with you again before I go. Keep your head, low, Monsieur. May we speak again some day in a free France."

Chevalier rises from his chair as the organ begins to play for the recessional, "Same to you. If you manage to secure the full cooperation of this Henrik, I feel we here in Arras will be a vital asset to you sir. Viva La France!" and with that he opens the door.

"Viva la France…" Claude replies, his tone more quiet and wistful. He slips out, blending into the crowd departing mass.

Chevalier closes the door and takes a seat behind the desk. He drums his fingers on the desk contemplating his visitor for a few minutes. He then pulls himself away from his thoughts and retrieves an ash pail from under his desk. He picks up the typed paper he had shown to Claude and sets it on fire dropping it into the pail. As the fire burns out he slips on a pair of dirty work gloves and removes the ribbon from the typewriter. He carefully removes the portion of the ribbon that has been used, re-threads the spool and places it back into the typewriter. Using a pair of scissors he clips the ribbon into tiny pieces and tosses them into the pail as well. Once finished he returns the pail back under his desk, removes his gloves and rises to leave.

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