telwoman in schlosseberbach
**Reposted from Imzy ... awaiting images**
The Alaskan Front is one of the longest Eroica stories. Summarising it here is going to be a challenge!
We begin by finding that James has managed to collect all those lost banknotes that flew out of the case Klaus chucked out of the plane at the end of Veni Vedi Vici – except one. James being James, he is determined to collect the last one. So James and Dorian set out for Germany, in order for James to steal the last hundred marks from the Major himself.
This is the reason they are hiding at the Schloss when the Chief arrives to tell Klaus about his next mission: to go to Alaska, and recover cargo that was lost in a plane crash during World War II. The plane had been carrying a printing plate to produce counterfeit US currency, and a valuable art collection belonging to Field Marshal Hermann Göring. As the cargo had been sealed in a water-tight container, the printing plate could still be used to produce counterfeit currency if it fell into the wrong hands, and the art collection was very valuable.
Naturally, Dorian wants to get in ahead of the Major and recover the art collection, and James is overjoyed at the possibility of having a plate that will let him print his own money. Klaus and the Alphabets set out to Alaska. Because being sent to Alaska has always been seen as a big threat, they are miserable.
Dorian and his thieves, meanwhile, are travelling in the same direction. James, in an uncharacteristic fit of extravagance brought on by the prospect of being able to print his own money, has chartered a Concorde and they are travelling in luxury, with champagne laid on. Furthermore, as soon as they land, James sets about buying a cabin and some land on the shores of Tazlina Lake, where the cargo is thought to be submerged. The usually tight-fisted James feels he can spend some money since he is about to be as rich as he wants to be. This cabin plays an important role later on.
Unknown to both, a third group arrives in Alaska at about the same time: Mischa the Bear Cub and a group of fellow Soviet spies, out to thwart Iron Klaus.
The fourth group of players in the story is the FBI, who have been alerted that a notorious art thief has come to Alaska. They are also supposed to cooperate with the NATO party, but Klaus locks horns with the FBI men straight away. Our dear Klaus is very intolerant, critical and suspicious. I guess those are things that help make him a good spy but it doesn’t endear him to people he’s supposed to work with.
At this point of the story, Aoike-san is developing the humour with these four disparate groups acting independently of each other, each trying to get the upper hand and none of them (as yet) really aware of what the others are doing. In fact, Dorian and his thieves are the first to pinpoint Klaus and the Alphabets and to know what they are up to: at Tazlina Lake, the Major and his men are searching the waters for the sunken plane and the cargo it contained. Round one to Dorian.
Dorian is also first to spot, and recognise, Mischa the Bear Cub. Realising that he, too, is interested in the salvage operation, and wanting to keep him from interfering, Dorian and his men plot how to get the Russians out of the way. They do so by spiking the Russians’ food with laxatives, giving them all a severe case of upset innards, and the Russians are taken off to a medical centre for treatment. Readers spot what the Russians do not: the medical centre is staffed by Dorian’s men, and the aim is simply to keep them all out of the way.
[Aside: I love how the Russian spies are tucked up in their hospital beds with their fur hats and dark glasses on. A great example of Aoike-san's visual jokes.]
However, before they all end up in hospital, we do learn from the Russians that one of their compatriots has infiltrated the FBI, passing as an American. This man, going by the name of Ford, gives himself away inadvertently referring to something he overheard in a tapped phonecall and Klaus confronts him and learns about the Russians’ mission.
Klaus goes to a cabin on the shores of the lake, where he expects to find Mischa – but instead he finds that Dorian is occupying the cabin. Klaus is livid that the thief is interfering in his mission once again. If Dorian hadn’t detained the Russians in the fake Medical Centre, Klaus reasons, he would have found Mischa in the cabin and captured him.
The FBI are unaware that their ranks have been infiltrated and that there are other Russian plants around the area. Klaus basks in the small triumph of being the one to alert them, and then he sends them on a wild goose chase to a remote location to capture Eroica.
Klaus and the Alphabets re-commence the salvage operation at Tazlina Lake, covertly watched by Dorian and James, and Mischa (who has escaped from the Medical Centre) and one of his fellow Russians.
The precious cargo is raised, and loaded onto a jeep, with a helicopter as decoy.
A complicated chase scene follows, which ends with Klaus, the jeep, and the cargo being dropped back into a lake and Dorian on the shore watching anxiously for signs of life.
Klaus emerges from the icy waters. Needless to say, he is not very pleased with Dorian for dropping him into the lake and causing the precious cargo to be lost again.
The two of them take shelter in a nearby cabin. Klaus attends to a minor wound on his arm, and tries to dry out in front of the fire, while Dorian tries to get the Major back into a better mood, without much success.
In the meantime, Klaus’s Alphabets have struck up a collaboration with Dorian’s thieves, and James is causing trouble for the land agent back in town and for the FBI agents who arrest him on account of his suspicious behaviour, skulking around Tetlin Lake with a large amount of cash in his pockets.
Back at the cabin, as night falls, Klaus and Dorian find themselves under attack from a pack of wolves. They try to ward the wolves off with fire, but the only weapon to hand is Klaus’s hand-gun. Klaus manages to kill six of the wolves, but this depletes his small supply of ammunition.
Then, they hear other shots and the sound of people approaching, and the wolves flee – but their relief evaporates when they see who has arrived. It is Mischa the Bear Cub and his fellow Russians. Using threats and violence, Mischa and his men try to find out the whereabouts of the printing plate and the art collection, but neither Klaus nor Dorian will cooperate.
Dorian pretends not to care that the Russians are beating Klaus up; in fact, he tells them, he finds it to his taste to watch.
The beating comes to an end when another Russian arrives, announcing that the cargo has been found in the shallow waters at the edge of the lake. Mischa gets ready to leave, proposing to take Klaus with him.
Galvanised into action by the prospect of losing both the art collection AND the Major, Dorian grabs Klaus’s gun – which he believes to be empty – and threatens Mischa with it.
He puts up a convincing show, and while Mischa is trying to decide whether he is bluffing or not his men spot a US Air Force helicopter approaching, and the Russians make a hasty retreat. Klaus recovers, and demands to know why Dorian didn’t fire the gun instead of just talking about it, revealing that there was one shot left. Dorian is shocked to the core by this news.
The helicopter lands, revealing a mixed team comprising both Alphabets and thieves. They pick up Klaus and Dorian, and let them know that another mixed team of Alphabets and thieves is following Mischa and his men, who are heading west in a jeep.
KGB agents, NATO agents and thieves all arrive on the shore of the Bering Sea, where a Soviet submarine surfaces, ready to pick up Mischa and his men. Unfortunately, the Russians spot Klaus and Dorian, and they are taken on board too as prisoners.
On shore, the Americans organise a search for the submarine, and hand James over to Agent A. It seems he’s too troublesome to keep in custody and they are glad to be rid of him. When he hears that Dorian has been taken prisoner on a Soviet submarine, he finds a rubber raft and a megaphone, and sets out by himself to try to find the submarine himself. This backfires when the submarine spots him and he is taken on board as well.
Klaus is certain that if they were able to obtain a gun, they’d be able to escape their captors, so Dorian executes a daring and unexpected gambit. He asks Mischa to let him see the Göring Collection. At first Mischa is reluctant, but the Major’s protests that the collection is part of the cultural heritage of Germany convince him to let Dorian see it in order to annoy the Major.
He shows the paintings to Dorian, stating firmly that they now belong to the Soviet Union. Dorian slashes a painting to pieces with a shard of broken china. The Russian agents spring into action to restrain him, and in the melee that follows, both Klaus and Dorian manage to steal a gun. They are locked away again in their cabin, but they now have the means to defend themselves.
The submarine approaches Soviet territory, and Mischa and his three prisoners are transported by helicopter to a military base there. The printing plate and art collection have also been brought ashore and are loaded onto a jeep.
Klaus then signals it’s time to make a move, and a sequence of fast and furious action follows. Klaus knocks Mischa down, and they take the base commander hostage. Klaus seizes some more weaponry from the ammunition store on the base, then blows up the ammunition store and a number of planes. Dorian and James take the art collection and make off with it in a helicopter. Klaus steals a MiG fighter plane and takes off for Alaskan soil.
Needless to say, the Russians give chase, with a whole squadron of helicopters pursuing the escapees, but the US Airforce responds by sending planes to intercept the Russians, who call the pursuit off to avoid an international incident.
Back in Alaska, Dorian and James reunite with Bonham and Jones, who have produced a boat from somewhere. The art collection and printing plate are loaded on board, and Dorian and all his men set sail. As soon as he finds out what has happened, Klaus commandeers a naval training ship and gives chase. Dorian is delighted by this turn of events, rejoicing in the opportunity to celebrate his pirate ancestry in a battle at sea.
Klaus tries to ram Dorian’s boat, and in the collision that results, both vessels are severely damaged and both crews abandon ship. James, of course, makes for extra difficulties because he doesn’t want Klaus to get hold of the printing plate. Klaus destroys the printing plate with a single shot from his trusty handgun, just as a massive storm hits, washing all three of them into the sea.
Everyone is able to climb into the life rafts – Klaus, Dorian and James in one, and everybody else jammed into the others, no doubt pleased not to be near the three of them. The art collection has been saved, too.
And so, they float across the Pacific, to come ashore on a tropical island where the American FBI officers are on vacation with their families.