Wulfe, two more fine episodes. Love the intersection of Fullard's story and Toby's, and a wonderful telling of how the famous insignia came to be.

Raine, the plot thickens between James and Alex. Can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Fullofit, I've a hunch Toby is going to ingratiate himself right into one of those Nieups and take it for a turn.

MFair, a close call for Drogo, glad he got that old Eindecker down in one piece. His new mount will be a godsend.

Harry, hope to be seeing more from Lazlo soon. Good luck with the launch.

Carrick, great pics, and good work on the part of those spies.


19 September 1916
Fienvillers, France

It was the third day of dud weather and all morning flights had been cancelled again because of it. The rain and winds had brought a much-needed reprieve for the men of 70 Squadron, giving the pilots and G/Os who had survived the opening day of the latest push some time to recover, as well as providing an opportunity for the repair crews to get the remaining Strutters airworthy again. Three replacement aircraft were scheduled to arrive in the afternoon, and several new pilots and gunners had shown up last evening just before dinner. All welcome additions, and while it hardly brought the unit back to full strength it was at least sending it in the right direction.

Captain Swanson had found a dry, quiet corner in one of the Bessonneaus and was sitting on an upturned packing box of questionable integrity, elbows on knees, studying a small booklet as he muttered quietly to himself.

"vee vite bis tsoom nexten dorfa. vee vite bis tsoom nexten dorfa." He moved his finger to the next line on the page as he swayed ever so slightly to and fro on his wobbly perch. "gayen veer nahh norden oder zooden. gayen veer nahh norden oder zooden."

"You're not going Hunnish on us, are you Captain?"

The question and sudden appearance of the fellow asking it startled Swany so that he sat up instantly, causing his weight to shift just enough and in just the wrong way that the creaky crate beneath him collapsed, dropping the surprised airman flat on his arse.

"Oh hell! Sorry old man, thought you heard me coming", Lieutenant Vancour apologized as he offered the Captain a hand up while trying not to burst out laughing.

Swany chuckled as he stood and brushed off his backside. "Not to worry Bunny, I wasn't paying attention - all lost in this German phrase book. And no, I'm not changing sides, just learning their lingo in case I ever find myself stranded somewhere I shouldn't be. Know thine enemy - right?"

"Not a bad idea", Bunny replied. "I was never much good at foreign langauges myself, just don't have the knack for them."

2nd Lt. Awdry "Bunny" Vancour had come over from Northolt with B Flight early on in July along with his G/O, Lieutenant Alan "Contact" Bott. They were both fine fellows and a dependable wing team, which was why Captain Swanson had requested they be moved to his flight some time back. And given that they were one of the few crews to survive the butchery of the 15th they were apparently lucky as well.

"Well I grew up speaking two languages so that probably gives me an advantage", Swanson noted, slipping the booklet into his tunic pocket and strolling towards the front of the hangar as Bunny tagged along. "I surprised myself though with how fast I learned French."

This talent of Swany's had been remarked upon several days earlier by Captain Maurice Baring when he had taken Swanson along on his rounds of the other squadrons in the area. As the two men sat together in the back of the staff car, traveling from camp to camp, they'd had a good amount of time to talk, and as the conversation meandered - from the topic of the current offensive; to how the R.F.C. was faring in it; to the performance of the King's latest aeroplanes against those of the Kaiser's; to life in general - it came to land at one point on the topic of languages. Captain Baring was a master of them, being fluent in not only English but Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Danish as well. When Maurice heard that Swany had learned to speak French the discussion was immediately taken up in that tongue, with Baring soon noting that Swanson sounded like he was a native of the region. And when it was further learned that the young ace had been raised speaking Norwegian Maurice asked that Swany teach him several of the more useful phrases right then and there. Captain Swanson was amazed at how fast the fellow picked it up. Baring suggested that since Swany had conquered French so completely he should next try German. "With your ear for dialects you should have no trouble mastering it in short order", the General's aide remarked, then promptly gave Swany a primer in the basic pronunciation rules of German as the two men jounced along in the staff car through the French countryside.

Swanson and Vancour had reached the open end of the Bessonneau and were standing there watching the rain drizzle from the canvas flaps above them. The weather did not appear to be improving at all.

"So what do ya think Bunny, make a run for da mess and get some hot tea?" Swany posed.

"Good a plan as any Captain, you lead", Vancour replied.

"Rank has it's privilege, eh?"

The two men dashed off through the rain.