Two men travel to the 1940s in order to help Nazi Germany win the war and change history.
| April 23, 1941
In the middle of a sparse forest, two men suddenly appeared. They fell from a rippling vortex, landing softly in the dirt. Both were dressed in two piece suits, and carrying a large bag of luggage. One was tall and had blond hair, while the other was shorter with brown hair. Rising to their feet, they looked back at the vortex, which slowly dissipated to nothing. And there they were. Alone. Trapped in an era that was alien to them. With nothing but their own belongings to link them to their pasts.
The machine they had used to make their journey was now forever beyond their reach. They had no way to get back, not that they truly wanted to. Lukas and Theodor were dangerous outcasts in their society, men who rejected the very notion of egalitarianism and globalism. Their minds raced as they stood in the empty forest.
'Well, we made it. Do you have any regrets?' The taller one, Lukas, asked his companion.
'What, you mean besides being stuck in the 1940s?' He answered, sardonically.
'Come on, its not like we're in the stone age. The technology might suck, but at least theres no liberal morons to deal with.'
'And no Muslims, either. Thats always a plus.' They both shared a laugh at this.
'Well, lets get going. I don't want to sit around and think about what we're about to do. I'm already scared shitless about having to meet with him.' A cold shiver passed through both men at this comment. Moving stiffly, they picked up their luggage bags and moved deeper into the forrest. Searching around, they came upon a large oak tree which stood out from all the others.
'I think this will do.' Lukas said. They both dropped their packs, pulled out a pair of entrenching tools, and began digging a shallow pit. After several minutes, they threw their belongings into the hole and buried them under a mound of dirt.
'I'll leave a marker behind, just in case.' Theodor picked up a stick and jammed it into the ground, leaving it vertical.
The men then walked back to their original destination, heading to a clearing. They observed a set of train tracks, bordered on both sides by trees. Knowing where it would lead, Lukas and Theodor stepped onto them and began moving through the forrest. The noise of their footsteps was amplified by the gravel beneath the metal tracks.
They had taken a terrible risk by coming here, and if things went badly, there was no way for them to turn back. What they were doing was not only reckless, but... Perverse, somehow. Striding along with the curve of the metal track, their destination finally appeared around the bend. Far ahead of them was a tunnel built into a hillside, with an armored train parked inside. The travelers could see men moving inside that train.
Knowing who was onboard, they quickened their pace, closing the distance to the tunnel. A pair of nearby guards took notice, and moved to stand in front of the train. In their civilian clothes, Lukas and Theodor stood out like a sore thumb. One of the guards raised his hand, calling for the travelers to halt.
'Are you lost?' The younger one challenged.
'No, we're exactly where we need to be. We've come to deliver a message.'
'Who is it for?' The man asked.
'It is for general Franz Halder. Would he happen to be onboard that train?' The question was met with a frown.
'He might. But what business do you have being here?'
'Its a matter of national security. We need to speak with him personally.' At this point, the other traveler cut in hurriedly.
'Tell him its about operation barbarossa.' Both guards looked at each other. They never heard of any such a thing.
The younger man told them to wait, then walked into the tunnel, stepping up to the train. Through an open window, he spoke with a leutnant and pointed toward the two strangers. The officer leaned out the window to look at them. Scowling, he pulled his head back in, and walked deeper into the next train compartment.
Outside of the tunnel, the two men began to second guess themselves. 'Lukas, do you think he'll get the message?'
'Of course he will. And he'll want to talk to us for the full story.'
After a minutes wait, two officers emerged from the next train compartment. The leutnant was back, and this time, he had someone else with him. An older, severe looking man with cropped hair. They stepped out of the train, and walked towards the travelers. Both guards snapped to attention.
Fixing them with a glare, Franz Halder asked 'Who are you, and how do you know about operation barbarossa?'
'Thank you for coming to see us, General. We are just ordinary civilians who have come to warn you. The question of how we came to know is difficult to answer.' Lukas said. 'But what we know is of crucial importance to the war. We've learned that the plan to defeat the USSR is in danger. This morning, a spy ring has warned them about the upcoming invasion.'
Halder blanched at these words, surprised. 'A spy ring?'
'Thats right. They seem to have access to classified intelligence, things that only the general staff would know.'
'Is that a fact? What kindof information has been disclosed?'
Lukas shifted his stance, before answering. 'We're not entirely sure of the messages contents. However, I know that they were sent directly to Moscow, and that it concerns operation barbarossa.'
Halder inhaled, shaking his head in dismay. 'Thats a very alarming story. But you still haven't told me how you came to know about such a development. I don't even know who you are.'
There it was, Lukas thought. They wouldn't be able to brush this particular question off. Revealing the truth at this stage was risky, but they had no other choice. 'It may sound incredible, but we already know what will happen. We have seen these events play out before us in the future. That is why we've come to alert you.'
At this, Halder frowned. 'What do you mean, from the future? That doesn't make any sense.' The leutnant merely laughed at their claim. 'I don't suppose you two have a crystal ball?'
'No, its more complicated than that. We've come from a world where this war has already been fought. As a result, we know about things that haven't happened yet. Things that could threaten the safety of Germany and the war effort.'
At this, the military men simply stared at them. Blank incomprehension showed in their expressions. It was clear that neither of them had ever spent any time thinking about time travel. It just wasn't in their reference frame. Lukas could almost see the wheels turning in Halders brain. He was struggling to understand what they had just said.
'But how can that be? The future is just an expression, a concept. Its not an actual place you can come from.'
Lukas and Theodor glanced at each other, impressed. The man was open minded, you had to give him that. In this era, the natural reaction would be to dismiss such claims.
'You're right, of course. The future is merely a phrase we use to describes the passage of time. But just because the future hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't happen. Time rolls forward inexorably, regardless of what we do.' Theodor explained.
Lukas picked up for him. 'In the world we've come from, science has advanced at an incredible rate. We have machines that allow us to travel through space, and through time. I know that may sound hard to believe, but we have the facts to prove it.' He reached into a backpack and pulled out a sheet of paper. It was a color photograph, showing a large metallic sphere in the middle of a laboratory.
'This is the machine we used to travel here. It is called the Chicago device.' Halder took the sheet and studied it, looking confused. Color pictures were rare in the 1940s, but the material itself wasn't made of photographic paper: It was just regular paper. Halder paused, trying to think of a response. Lukas and Theodor waited.
'I honestly don't know what to make of you or your story. Theres no way for me to verify anything you've said. Nothing in my background has prepared me for such a strange encounter.'
The leutnant spoke up angrily. 'Surely you don't believe them, general? These men are obviously charlatans.'
Before Halder could respond, Lukas interrupted. 'I'm willing to offer as much evidence as you want. On the back face of that paper are a list of predictions I made. We read everything we could about this war and brought the information back with us.'
Turning the sheet of paper around, Halder studied the message. It was dated April 23, 1941. Todays date, Halder thought. The bullet points caught his attention.
'We mentioned the spy activity, but that isn't all that will happen today. In the Aegean sea, the luftwaffe will sink a pair of Greek dreadnoughts. In the North Sea, the cruiser prinz eugen will soon hit a naval mine and be forced to return to port. But more important than any of that is that today, the British are reading encrypted radio traffic from Germany. They have broken the enigma system.'
The general looked up sharply. 'That simply can't be true. All of our intelligence is encoded with the enigma cipher. That coding system is unbreakable.'
Lukas decided not to pursue the matter, and instead tried a different approach. 'If I may ask you, general, what do you intend to do with the information we've provided?'
'I must talk with my superiors, and find out whether or not you're lying. We'll need to keep the pair of you under custody until we get this sorted out.'
At this, Theodor asked bluntly. 'You said 'my superiors.' Would that happen to include the fuhrer?'
The leutnant bristled at their impertinence. 'Thats none of your business.'
'We know hes onboard the train. Can't we take our story to him?'
'Civilians briefing the fuhrer? I don't think so. You aren't going anywhere until we corroborate your story.' Halder turned to the two guards.
-'Take these men into the station, and keep them under supervision. I'll send someone along to question them later.' With that, the general turned and walked back into the train. His aide glared at them before following suit.
The guards nudged Lukas and Theodor, marching them down a walkway. It led to a small train station that was empty aside from a handful of soldiers eating lunch, and they were forced to sit on a wooden bench in the corner. The guards leaned on the wall, watching them. Lukas gave his friend a significant look. They might be here for some time.
After waiting for forty five minutes, the two men started getting anxious. What if their 'warning' wasn't taken seriously? What if they were put into confinement without getting the chance to confront him? The entire plan they had spent months devising might be stillborn. They were half expecting some gestapo men to come around the corner and haul them to prison. But after the hour mark passed, they finally got company. Franz Halder and the leutnant were back, both men looking pale and grim.
'You two, come with us. You have an audience waiting onboard the train.' The general addressed them, waving his hand.
Lukas and Theodor got up from the bench, and were escorted outside the building and back to the train tracks. With gravel crunching beneath their feet, they walked into the tunnel and stepped aboard the armored train. The interior was sparsely decorated and austere. Halder led the way through the compartments, while the leutnant walked behind them, occasionally stepping on Lukas' heels.
He suppressed a flash of irritation. They were strangers to this place, and lucky to even be where they were. And in any case, he and his friend had bigger problems ahead. They would have to sell their unbelievable story to a very skeptical Adolf Hitler, and convince him to make a difficult decision. To change the entire course of the war. It was a somewhat frightening and surreal experience to be undergoing.
Finally reaching their destination, Halder came to a stop, and cast a glance back at the two civilians. He didn't seem particularly eager to enter into this last compartment. 'Before we enter, you will hear me out. I want you to tell the furher exactly what you told me. No embellishments, and no lies. Is that understood?'
After Lukas and Theodor nodded their assent, Halder opened the door and led them in, closing it behind himself. The men shuffled into the compartment, nervous. There was only one other individual present. He was in his fiftys, with a mustache and a gray uniform: Adolf Hitler.
Not looking too pleased with the unpleasant news that had been dropped into his lap, at a time when he was already busy with the campaign in Greece and Yugoslavia. He sat in an leather chair, gazing at the new arrivals. 'So, you're the ones who decided to ruin my days schedule?' The furher mused.
Not sure how to respond, Lukas chose to remain silent. 'Halder told me about the encounter he had. How he came upon a pair of civilians who knew about my plans for the USSR. How they claimed to be from the future, and to know about things that haven't happened.' Hitler leaned in his chair before continuing.
'Ordinarily, I would have dismissed this as nothing more than a hoax. But then, Halder showed me a sheet with a list of predictions on it. Of certain events that would take place today. The Greek government fleeing to Crete. The leader of Iraq requesting military aid. And a few other items.' Hitler looked over at Halder, nodding.
Fiddling with his hat, Halder paused before speaking. 'We've made some inquirys and found out that your list has accurately foretold todays events. Every single item, aside from this spy ring you mentioned. But then, its not exactly a quick process to find out who is loyal to the cause.'
He took a breath before continuing. 'The fuhrer and I have gone over this from every angle, and we are not fully convinced by your story. We think its possible that you two are British spys, and that this is some elaborate scheme arranged by them. What do you say in your defense?'
Lukas was outraged. 'What do you mean, a scam? Everything that happened today was spontaneous! We only got here a couple of hours ago, anyway.'
'So you say. The problem is, we have no way to corroborate that.' Halder stated, not yielding any ground. Hitler seemed to be just as resolute. You stubborn bastards, Lukas thought.