Glad you're enjoying the tale Bob, it's good to know that I'm hitting the mark that I'm aiming for. (One of the great things about the internet, writing fiction has become performance art and is no longer having the life strangled out of it by greedy publishers.)
Anyway, back to Kolb...
Kolb watched the small patch of light that shone through the wire covered window make its' way across the floor and up the wall where, as the sun set, it eventually evaporated altogether. There was a sentry sat outside the door of the shed assigned to guard Kolb and Kolb knew that his best bed would be to work on the wire in the dark and while there was enough noise in the French army camp, which is where he presumed he was, to mask the noise that his efforts were sure to make. The camp obliged Kolb with plenty of opportunity to do this just this, it was fairly abuzz with activity. Tenders clattering and jolting up and down heavily rutted roads, columns of troops on the march, officers shouting and the typical hum of army life going on all around. The wood in the frame was also damp from the almost incessant rain of the previous week which had made it soft and workable. Kolb set to work when he thought it was near midnight and it took him no time at all to work the wire free from one half of the window. He'd work a nail loose, replace the hammer and blanket and creep to the door to listen for movement. Kolb knew that he had to take this one step at a time, if he was caught at the window he would certainly be moved, or worse, so his excessive caution was founded in his calculation that spending as little continuous time at the window as possible gave him the best chance of completing his task and making his bid for freedom.
Patiently Kolb continued his labours until the entirety of the barbed wire blocking the window fell free, then he rolled up the blanket, slipped the hammer in his pocket and climbed through the window. The night was especially dark, the French were careful not to show any light of a night time in case it drew the attention of a German bomber crew and this blackout meant that Kolb found it relatively easy to slip out of the camp and into a nearby wood where he rested for a few minutes to take stock of his possessions and situation. He had no food or water, his clothing was immediately recognisable as that of a flier but it concealed his uniform. He had his watch, the hammerhead and the blanket. Judging bu the position of the moon Kolb estimated that he had 5 hours to get as far as possible from the camp until someone noticed that he was missing so he took a bearing off of Polaris and started to walk north. He sensibly gave roads a wide berth but made a mistake in passing near some houses in search of water or food. His approach alerted a dog which began to bark, this barking started other dogs barking and Kolb instinctively turned and dashed towards the nearest stand of trees. He heard a voice call out in French followed by two blasts from a shotgun, the pitter-patter of shot falling through the leaves above him seemed to mock him for being such a fool.
It became clear to Kolb, as he walked and as he remembered the activity in the camp and the general disinterest displayed in him by the French that something was brewing here, the French seemed to be preparing for a push. If this was the case then they were sure to hunt him with vigour and determination, the realisation startled Kolb and he doubled his pace, trotting where he could safely see open ground in order to travel as far as possible. As Kolb blundered through the dark French countryside the sky began to lighten, the glow of dawn illuminated the eastern horizon and also illuminated Kolb's complete ineptitude in astro navigation, he had not been following Polaris at all, he'd been chasing Venus! Kolb's efforts had carried him in a wide arc around the camp and he was now further from the lines than he was when he started! The realisation sunk it's clammy claws into Kolb's gut and he felt the exertion of his efforts overtake him, he made his way to yet another stand of French trees and sank to the grass in exhaustion and frustration. Kolb knew it was hopeless, he couldn't hide with all the activity in the area and he had no uniform, no papers, no French, no food and no water. He might as well try to fly home on sheer willpower as persist in this folly. As Kolb sat beneath the Birches in which he had taken cover the glow of dawn grew brighter, a light mist began to form in the fields and a vague, dun coloured shape took for in the distant corner of the field.
Kolb wouldn't need sheer willpower to fly home at all, not if he had an Eindecker.
Coincidence, providence, call it what you will had led Kolb back to his machine and, upon careful examination there didn't even appear to be anyone guarding it! The urgency of preparations for the offensive meant that all men must be employed in that regard and Kolb's machine was not of sufficient priority to the French army as to warrant even a single picket. Kolb also remembered that the Fokker's auxiliary fuel tank might still contain enough fuel to get him across the lines, the feed mechanism had been damaged by the flak shell but it was entirely possible that to may still contain fuel. All Kolb would need to do was to remove some tubing from the main tank and splice the fuel lines to bypass the damaged valve. This work was simple enough and Kolb quickly had it done. It was time to start the machine.
This was a problem that Kolb had overlooked in his rush to fix the fuel line. He somehow needed to start the machine but usually this would be done with him seated in the cockpit. This would be a difficult task, in order to get the Oberursel running Kolb would have to prime the engine and swing the prop himself but, since the Oberursel only had a rudimentary throttle, the machine would begin to roll forward on the start setting if he was not in the cockpit to pull back the throttle and blip the engine after it had burned off the prime from the startup, in all likelihood the machine would run Kolb over and escape if he couldn't get to the controls fast enough. Kolb ran through scenarios in his mind, sitting on the cowling would be too dangerous, the machine would roll forward and might toss him off like a frisky colt on a cold morning. What Kolb needed was a long piece of string.
No! he had no string.
Perhaps wire would do the job? A bracing wire!
Using the hammerhead once again Kolb worked a bracing wire free from the rigging, it would be risky flying the machine in this condition but Kolb had no choice. He secured one end to the throttle and then wound it around through the wicker seat and trailed the slack back forward over the leading edge of the wing, using the control cables as a guide so that when he pulled the wire from the front of the aircraft the tension would return the throttle to idle. Grinning like a lunatic and humming to himself Kolb primed the engine, pulling the prop through several degrees until each cylinder was primed with fuel, then the rushed to the cockpit and switched on the magnetos. As he jumped down the crack of a rifle shot rang out and a bullet whined overhead, Kolb jumped, flabbergasted and looked up to see that a group of Blue clad figures, probably his erstwhile captors, were running across the field, rifles aimed in his direction, shouting and gesticulating to him to cease and desist. Kolb, despite himself and his predicament began to laugh. He leaped from the cockpit and rushed to the front of the fokker where he swung the heavy propellor with all his might and a prayer to the gods of the air. The engine crackled, spluttered and roared into life on the first swing and Kolb yanked hard on his throttle wire to avoid being run over. The Poilius were no longer running, they were still a good distance from Kolb and had decided that while he might be able to outrun them in his Fokker, he could not outrun their bullets which they sent fizzing and whining at Kolb, their shots were wild, spanging and cracking off of his machine, Kolb scrambled aboard the Fokker, discarded the wire from around the throttle and roared into the air. He was alive, he was going home and he could not stop laughing, in hysterics now he turned the machine about and flew it directly at the Poilous, watching them scatter and dive to the ground as the wheels skimmed mere inches over their heads. A line of trees loomed up ahead, Kolb hauled back on the stick and the obedient machine soared out of danger, leaving them swaying in it's wake. The amazed Poilius were too stunned to shoot anymore, they watched as the machine wobbled and jerked off into the distance. Kolb turned in his seat and waved goodbye to them, shouting into the slipstream as he did.
"Hals und Beinbruch you poor French bastards!"
Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/21/1705:56 AM.
Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.
Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein. "The best techniques are passed on by the survivors." - Gaiden Shinji