Prologue: Sunday 16th May 1943, 2.43am, high over the island of Masoy, northern Norway.
“The view is beautiful, no?” sighed Sturmbannfuhrer Eric Krater, as he and his trusty technicians stood in the ‘long viking ship’ shaped basket undercarriage of the immense zeppelin they used for their experiments.
“Ja, beautiful, Sir,” replied Professor Klaus Jahnke, his trusty sidekick, as he peered down through powerful binoculars at the still ocean ten thousand feet below them.
Even though it was still in the wee small hours of the new day, this far north there was barely any darkness as the year fast approached midsummer. They were close to the North Pole and soon it would be daylight for twenty four hours each day.
The Sturmbannfuhrer, an eminent professor of physics from Berlin’s oldest university, the Humboldt, had hastily commissioned today’s early morning test flight as soon as he’d become aware of the location the Royal Navy’s new ‘V’ Class submarine, HMS Viper, which was encroaching on his top secret testing facilities at Havoysund, near the Northern Cape, the very northern pinnacle of mainland Europe before the North Pole.
“There, there!” yelled the normally implacable Jahnke excitedly, pointing with his spare hand, “The boat is there!”
“Where? Oh ja, now I see the periscope!” replied Krater.
“She is surfacing!"
“Order the ‘Death Angels' to descend at once!” shouted Krater.
“Aye Sir!” replied Jahnke, reaching for a radio, “Death Angels, DESCEND!”
Within seconds a dozen commando type soldiers, in effervescent white suites and white capes, leapt out of the basket and dived down like falcons towards their prey, the surfacing boat.
The men dived like bullets from a gun. Although they were wearing no parachutes they showed no fear. They didn’t need to, they were flying like birds and had bird like flight control too. As they neared their prey they effortlessly changed their body positions from dive to flat. Their suits seamed to break their descent in an instant. This allowed them to float down and land on the sub’s deck as silently as if they were feathers.
HMS Viper had surfaced. Straight away the 'Death Angels’ got to work, clipping powerful limpet mines at key points all around her sleek hull.
Nobody on board knew they were even there until the hatch on the tower opened and an oily seaman poked his head out to take his first breath in four days.
“Oy!" He yelled at the men in white, “What in Heaven’s name are you lot doing? Chief! Chief! There some men on the deck!”
Without uttering a single word the angels rose majestically. But their ascent was cut devastatingly short as when they’d reached only fifty feet the mines detonated early.
The explosions were vicious and deadly. Within a second the smooth, majestic hull of the Royal Navy’s pride and joy was blasted into a million pieces and all the 'Death Angels’ were blown to Heaven.
“Drat!” said Jahnke who reeled backwards from the shock of it all, “I knew the time settings were too short on those mines! I knew it! Those poor men."
“Ah,” grinned Krater philosophically, “never mind, maybe we’ll just give them longer settings next time.” He smiled at Jahnke. “Actually,” he said, grabbing his shoulders, “I think we can safely say that today’s test flight of the flying suit was a real success, Jahnke my friend.”
“Success?” snorted Jahnke, “but we have lost twelve of our best men, Herr Sturmbannfuhrer?”
“Pfff! They died for our cause. Viper is no longer a pest…and we now know that the suits work,” smiled Krater coldly, “I would say that was a resounding success, wouldn’t you?”