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[personal profile] telwoman posting in [community profile] schlosseberbach
**Reposted from Imzy ... and awaiting images**


It’s nearly Christmas. Klaus doesn’t care: weekends and holidays don’t do much for him. But the Alphabets are worried, because it looks as if they may have to work through Christmas again. And, sure enough, the Chief has a mission for Klaus and his men.

Meanwhile in England, Dorian is dealing with James who wants to spend a thrifty Christmas at home. Rescue is at hand: the mail brings Dorian a registered express letter containing two first class train tickets from Amsterdam to Paris, leaving in two days’ time. There’s no explanation, just the tickets. Dorian’s men are suspicious that it may be a trap, but Dorian would rather take a risk than spend a miserable Christmas at home. A second envelope is then delivered, containing enough money to cover the expense of getting to Amsterdam, quelling James’s protests.

Dorian, accompanied by James, boards the train in Amsterdam. (Why he takes James with him, I can’t fathom; surely it would be better to take someone else who can focus on something other than nagging him about money – but Dorian must have his reasons.)

It’s not long before Dorian is advised by an attendant that there is a table reserved for him in the dining car. It is here that the identity of their ‘benefactor’ is revealed, when the Major joins him to announce that NATO wants Eroica’s cooperation in a mission.

The Major shows him a blueprint, which Dorian – being a well-informed thief – recognises as the vault of the Vatican Palace. An engineer at the US Department of Defence stole some secret information concerning military satellites, and in an attempt to stop the project, passed the papers on to the Vatican. NATO wants Dorian to break in to the vault and get the documents back.

Dorian, planning to get the most out of the deal, insists that in addition to the generous payment he’s been offered, he must be allowed an extra 10 minutes in the vault, but refuses to say why. He also insists that NATO pays for his men to accompany him to Rome on the train.
Booking such a large number of seats on the train draws the attention of Soviet agent Mischa the Bear Cub, whom we meet for the first time.

As the train travels on its way, we see a number of messages being passed between Mischa and his fellow Soviet spies Polar Bear and Red Fox. When the train reaches Paris, Mischa gets on board for the next leg of the journey.

On the train, the Russians try to capture Klaus and he thwarts their attempts. Dorian steals the blueprint and jumps off the train (leaving James and the rest of his men on board). He plans to re-join the train, and on his way back – travelling by helicopter – he sees a minibus full of Russian agents, armed with rifles, waiting to open fire on Klaus as the train passes on a slow curve. Dorian foils their attempt, then climbs back onto the moving train in a daredevil manoeuvre involving a long rope ladder suspended from the helicopter. Once back on board, he returns the blueprint to Klaus, telling him he’s made a copy of it for his men to study.

The train journey continues, and the Russians continue in their efforts to eliminate Klaus and also Eroica, who has now come onto their radar as an ally of Iron Klaus and an enemy of the KGB. A violent confrontation ensues, which Dorian joins – making a spectacular entrance with an automatic weapon. We have already learned, in the previous story Insha’allah, that Dorian is hopeless with firearms, but his lack of control over his weapon acts in their favour, leading the Soviet agents to surrender.

Mischa is still confident of ultimate victory, revealing that there is a bomb attached to a bridge, timed to go off as the train goes under the bridge. Dorian’s wild shooting has damaged the train’s controls, so it can’t be stopped. Klaus and Dorian climb onto the roof of the speeding train, so that Klaus can shoot out the timer. Klaus, as we know, is a master marksman, but he has some distractions to deal with as Dorian holds him from behind to steady him, and Klaus worries about being touched below the belt. The timer is destroyed, the train passes through unharmed, and seconds later the bomb goes off, destroying both the bridge and the train’s power lines, allowing the train to coast to a halt.

Memorable scenes

Agent Z’s first appearance in FEWL was in the previous story, Insha’allah. His role as the innocent rookie is expanded on in Hallelujah Express. Dorian sees him for the first time and rather likes what he sees; he also learns that flirting with Z is an excellent way to taunt Klaus. Z seems oblivious, but Klaus gives him some advice anyway, telling him to ‘watch his trousers’ (sometimes translated as 'don't get caught with your pants down') when Dorian is around.

We learned in Insha’allah that Dorian is no good with firearms, but in Hallelujah Express we see that although he’s inept, he’s not scared of them. He makes a spectacular entrance with an automatic rifle during the confrontation between NATO and KGB personnel on the train. He also initiates Klaus’s feat of marksmanship in shooting out the timer. When he hands Klaus the rifle, saying they don’t have much time, it’s as if the two are thinking the same thing – like a pair of comrades in arms who have been working together for a long time.

Dorian comes across as a man of action in this story. He jumps from a moving train, then later jumps back on again. He takes an active part in confrontations. After Mischa the Bear Cub slaps Klaus and taunts him, Dorian retaliates by backhanding Mischa across the jaw.

Style of writing, artwork

Hallelujah Express is another fast-paced story, with the action changing page by page. The artwork is very effective in conveying fast and furious action, danger, and tension.

Fan Fiction recs

Gloria in Excelsis by Kadorienne. A retelling of Hallelujah Express, in which Klaus only finds out that Dorian is a thief after they are already lovers.

Like Rust by Waftimah. References the scene on the roof of the train as it sets up an examination of Klaus’s contradictory reactions to Dorian.

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