The early morning sunbeams glimmered along the rain-soaked ground of the mansion’s lawn making it shine like diamonds. The sky was beginning to turn bright shades of pink and purple, heralding the new day. The darkness of the previous night was fading into a glorious autumn morning. Golden light began to envelop the den where a reunited family was still comfortably sleeping.
Blitz had shifted during the night to lay with his back to the fire place keeping Eva close to his chest. The little girl hadn’t woken once during the night for the first time since her beloved guardian had gone. The Chancellor and the Madame were covered with blankets in their respective armchairs smiling peacefully in their slumber.
As the sun grew over the horizon, the light from outside began to saturate the room. The contrasting brightness caused Blitz’s eyes to close tighter in reaction. A soft groan escaped the Doberman’s throat as he groggily opened his eyes. He blinked several times to clear his vision as he took in his surroundings.
“Vhere… vhere am I?” Blitz thought as he realized he wasn’t in a normal spot.
He looked down and saw Eva still sound asleep in his arms. He saw the Chancellor and the Madame asleep in their chairs.
“How… vhy am I here…?” Blitz questioned himself in a bit of a panic.
As Eva snuggled back into him, the memory of the previous night began flooding back. He saw the smile on the Chancellor’s face and knew he wasn’t dreaming. The Chancellor had welcomed him back home. He was home!
“Home… I’m home…” Blitz thought with a smile as he hugged Eva tighter.
Blitz’s ear twitched as he heard shifting coming from the Chancellor’s chair. He let out a tired yawn as he stretched to sit up straight. It set off a chain reaction that Blitz found a bit amusing seeing the Madame follow suit and feeling Eva begin to stir and stretch.
“Ach die lieber…” (Oh dear…) The Chancellor said as he yawned.
“Mama…” Eva whimpered as she sat up from her cuddled position against Blitz’s chest, still half-asleep.
“Es ist in Ordnung, Eva,” (It’s alright, Eva.) Heidi said softly as she yawned.
“Guck mal, wer hier ist, Eva…” (Look who’s here, Eva) The Chancellor said as he pointed to the form holding her close.
Eva looked up and opened her eyes wide. Blitz smiled seeing her face light up for joy.
“Wackeln!” (Wiggles!) Eva squealed happily.
The Chancellor and Heidi laughed as the little girl threw her tiny arms around the Doberman’s neck. Blitz felt her happy tears soaking through his shirt. It felt like seeing his own child again as he held her tightly to his chest.
“Eva, seine Ordnung. Ich bin hier… Ich bin hier…” (Eva, its alright. I’m here… I’m here…) Blitz soothed.
“Ich habe dich so vermisst,” (I missed you so much.) Eva sniffled as Blitz dried her eyes with the back of his hand.
“Wir alle haben…” (We all have...) Heidi said as she got to the floor on her knees to hug the Doberman.
“Ich habe euch alle so sehr vermisst, aber ich weiß, es war meine Schuld...“ (I’ve missed you all so much, but I know it was my fault…) Blitz said.
“Nein. Blitz, ich will nicht zu hören, Sie so etwas sagen. Ich habe Ihnen weg, bevor auch dass Sie zu erklären. Ich war der Narr. Ich hoffe ihr könnt mir das verzeihen,“ (No. Blitz, I do not want to hear you saying anything like that. I sent you away before even letting you explain. I was the fool. I hope you can forgive me for that.) The Chancellor said, looking the canine in the eyes.
“Ich habe nie gehasst, Meister. Ich wünschte nur, ich könnte mit Ihnen dann gesprochen haben. Aber ich glaube, ich hatte viel mehr los ist dann,“ (I never hated you, Master. I only wished I could have talked with you then. But I guess I had a lot more going on then) Blitz said.
“Tatsächlich ...” (Indeed…) Heidi agreed.
Blitz raised an eyebrow in curiosity at the Madame’s remark. Before Heidi could cover her words, a loud growl echoed through the living room. Eva looked up at the Doberman hearing the sound apparently come from him.
“Was war das?” (What was that?) The Chancellor asked in concern.
“Das wäre mein Magen...“ (That would be my stomach…) Blitz said with a blush of embarrassment.
“Ich glaube, das Frühstück ist in Ordnung... Komm, Eva. Gehen wir bereiten,“ (I believe breakfast is in order… Come on, Eva. Let’s go get ready.) Heidi said.
“Aber ich möchte mit zu bleiben...“ (But I want to stay with…) Eva pouted.
“Eva, Blitz wird auf Sie warten auf das Frühstück. Gehen Sie nun mit Mama und mich anziehe,“ (Eva, Blitz will be waiting on you at breakfast. Now, go with Mama and get dressed) The Chancellor urged his little girl.
Heidi got up and reached her arms out for her daughter. Eva was hesitant to leave her guardian’s embrace. Blitz playfully tossed the little girl into the air and looked her right in her eyes.
“Eva, ich werde hier sein. Ich verspreche, und…” (Eva, I’ll be here. I promise and…) Blitz said seriously as he whispered the rest of his sentence in her ear.
Eva smiled broadly as she grabbed hold of her mother. With all her might, she pulled her mother down the hall and upstairs.
“Vhat did you tell her?” The Chancellor said as he made his way out of the room with Blitz behind him.
“Vell… I thot I could take her to dhe festival in town aftah breakfast…” Blitz explained.
The Chancellor smiled warmly as he nodded in agreement.
“Blitz…” the Chancellor spoke as they walked.
“Ja, Meister…?” Blitz answered.
“I… I… *sigh* I toht I knew vhat I vould say…” the Chancellor said, his voice cracking.
“About vhat, Meister…?” Blitz questioned.
“Vhen I could talk to you again… I vas so sure I vould know vhat I’d say… but… I don’t…” the Chancellor said as a few tears escaped his eyes and ran down his nose.
“I can’t pretend I know vhat you vant to tell me, Meister… but you have no idea how much I’ve missed it here…” Blitz said.
“Neither can I pretend that vhat I did dhat day didn’t crush you… I know dhat apologies only go so far…” the Chancellor said.
“Meister, a madman hurt Madame and Eva and tried to take over. If I had come along, I could have stopped him sooner…” Blitz said calmly.
“Blitz… I shouldn’t have put the blame for dhat all on you. No vun could have known it vould happen dhen…” the Chancellor said.
Blitz just hung his head, wishing he knew what to say. Suddenly he felt a familiar sensation around his neck. He heard a soft click behind his head as the Chancellor held his face in his hands. Blitz’s lifted a hand to felt the silken texture of the special collar that the Chancellor had torn away from his neck. The Doberman looked up into the eyes of his former master as he felt himself being surrounded by the Chancellor’s embrace.
“Please, Blitz… I vant you back home… not just for everyvun… but for me. I vant my greatest confidant home…” The Chancellor finally admitted.
“I thot I vould nevah hear dhose vurds…” Blitz said as he returned the embrace.
“Vill you come home?” The Chancellor asked again.
“I vould vant noting bettah, Meister… but…” Blitz began.
“But vhat…?” The Chancellor questioned.
“I can’t pretend dhat I don’t vant to be a Rovah anymore. I vant to be here like I used to be, but…” Blitz began until the Chancellor closed his mouth with his hand.
“I vasn’t meaning you had to be eidher here or dhere… vhy can’t it be dhe vay it vas?” The Chancellor said with a warm smile.
“You mean…?” Blitz questioned as he felt his ears perk up.
“Knowing vhere you are vhen you ‘disappear’ vould help me know dhat meine Blitz is saving odhers...” The Chancellor explained.
“Could you really look at me dhe same vay?” Blitz asked.
“No… but in a good vay… knowing you undahstand everyting I’m saying makes me feel less silly…” The Chancellor said with a laugh.
“Ha-ha! Dhen I guess dhere’s noting else to discuss…” Blitz affirmed.
“Gut! Now, I believe I smell Plätzchen’s Blachindlas…” The Chancellor said as they made their way to the dining room.
The smelled of buttered pastry and spiced pumpkin made the air almost good enough to eat. Drool was pooling in the back of Blitz’s throat. As the pair entered the dining hall, a sudden roar of cheers and applause rung through their ears.
Alaric had gathered all of the household staff together after spreading the glorious news that their beloved canine companion was back home. The Doberman was rushed with hugs and kisses as he was surrounded by the crowd of people. It felt like the Christmas Day he arrived at the mansion only multiplied by thousands. As the noise died down, everyone took their seats as the feast was unveiled.
Typical of German culture, several platters of thinly sliced meat and expertly shaped cubes of cheese were sprinkled amongst the array of holiday pastries and specialties. Blachindlas, Franzbrötchen, Marzipan piglets, poppy seed bread with delectable boysenberry jam, and several varieties of sausages filled out the rest of the table huddling around warm pitchers of apple cider and hot chocolate.
“Glücklicher Herbst an euch alle! Es ist wirklich der glücklichste ich je gekannt habe. Blitz ist zu Hause ... wo er immer gehörte. Ich biete meine tiefste Entschuldigung an alle von euch für das, was ich vor so langer Zeit taten. Vor allem bitte ich um Vergebung von Ihnen und meiner Familie. Wenn es einen von euch, dass hat etwas zu sagen ...” (Happy Autumn to all of you! It is truly the happiest I’ve ever known. Blitz is home... where he always belonged. I offer my deepest apologies to all of you for what I did so long ago. Most of all I beg forgiveness of you and of my family. If there is one among you that has anything to say...) The Chancellor’s speech began.
“Meister, wenn ich darf ...?” (Master, if I may…?) Blitz spoke up as he stood.
“Ja, Blitz…?” (Yes, Blitz…?) The Chancellor answered.
“Ich werde die erste zugeben, dass ist ausgetrieben war schwer für mich sein. Es war jedoch nicht der Tatsache, dass sie entlassen, der mich Schwierigkeiten gab. Um von los für immer behalten, weil ich bin am Verhungern, hat mein Leben war schwer und ich habe viele Versuche hatte, aber, Herr, ich konnte nicht mehr geehrt als Willkommen zu Ihrem Haus wieder und freuen uns auf die Zukunft sein. Ich es wünschen würde keinen anderen Weg. Lassen Sie uns feiern!” (I will be the first to admit that being cast out was hard for me. However, it was not the fact of being dismissed that gave me difficulty. To keep from going on forever because I'm starving, my life has been hard and I have had many trials, but, Master, I could not be more honored than to be welcome to your home again and looking forward to the future. I would wish it no other way. Let us celebrate!) Blitz spoke with an air of confidence and dignity that he had not felt in a very long time.
“Gut gesagt, Blitz…” (Well said, Blitz…) Heidi’s voice answered from the hall with little Eva in her arms.
“Hurrah! Hurrah!” the entire room chanted in reply.
Everyone took their seats and the meal began with exuberant joy. Blitz was so in tune with the wonderful food and comfort of home that he did not notice Master Shepherd walk into the dining hall. He had listened from the door to what was taking place between the Chancellor and the restored canine. A warm smile stretched over his face as the feeling of peace washed over his exhausted body. He left the others to sleep as long as they needed since they were out so late.
“Entschuldigen Sie, Professorin Shepherd ...?” (Excuse me, Professor Shepherd…?) a voice came from Master’s right as he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Ja…? Oh Alaric…” Master responded as he turned to recognize the face of the butler.
“Bitte besuchen Sie uns. Wir haben mehr als genug ...” (Please join us. We have more than enough...) Alaric said motioning for Master to take part.
Master looked at the translation read-out on his tablet as he activated the voice playback for his response.
“Danke. Ich würde gerne,” (Thank you. I would love to.) Master said as he was led to the head of table.
Blitz was happily devouring all the wonderful goodies sitting on the Chancellor’s left side and next to Eva. The Doberman kept the little girl occupied because she was so excited that her best friend was back home she couldn’t focus on eating. Master quietly slipped beside Eva as his plate was served.
The meal continued on uninterrupted until the table was cleared; leaving the family at the head of the table. As Blitz stood from his chair picking Eva up, he noticed Master Shepherd’s presence. Unsure of how to react, Blitz froze in place.
“Master…?” Blitz said as his throat closed in fear.
Master pulled the Doberman into a hug. Blitz relaxed a bit as he put Eva on the floor to return the embrace.
“I’m so glad you’re safe, Blitz,” Master said releasing him.
“I’m sorry, Meister… I’m sorry for…” Blitz began.
Master held up his hand making Blitz stop talking before answering, “Blitz, we have a lot to talk about, but I see someone who needs some time with you first.”
Master looked down to see the little girl clinging to the Doberman’s leg looking up at him with bright eyes. Blitz smiled as he picked her back up feeling her arms wrap around his neck again.
“I… I did promise to take her to dhe festival in town aftah breakfast…” Blitz said.
“Go… we can talk with everyone else later…” Master said.
“Danke, Meister…” Blitz said as Eva hugged him tighter.
Meanwhile, the other Rovers were piled up in one room. Hunter and Colleen had the bed; Shag was comfortably curled on the floor with Exile and Muzzle leaning against him snoring lightly. The door to the room was eased open as Master entered the room. Muzzle’s ears perked a bit hearing the hinges on the door squeak a bit. Noticing his master, he got up to greet him.
“Hey Scout…” Master said ruffling the Rottweiler’s ears.
Master noticed the drawn curtains shielding the sleeping canines from the bright sunlight outside the window. Walking past the footboard of the bed, Master gently pulled the curtains back almost blinding him in the process.
“Bolshoi… who is to be turning lightski on?” Exile’s voice groaned behind him.
“Reah… rarara Rara…” Shag mumbled as he tucked his head back inside his fur.
“Uhhhhh… what time is it?” Hunter yawned as he sat up to stretch his back.
“Nearly eleven…” Colleen said looking at the clock hanging on the wall above Shag’s head.
“You all had a very long night, Rovers, but you do need to get up sometime,” Master said.
“What happened when we got back, Master? Did the Chancellor…?” Hunter began asking.
“He welcomed him back home,” Master interjected.
“Tha’ is abso-bloomin’ wonderful… where is ‘e now?” Colleen smiled.
“Da, we are still needing the talking with comrade… last time not so hotski…” Exile said as he stood up.
“Now worries, Rovers. He’ll be back later. There’s a festival in the center of town going on and he wanted to spend some time with his family, especially little Eva,” Master explained.
“She is such a dear,” Colleen said remembering the small child cuddled against the Doberman’s chest when then came back to the mansion.
“Yeah… so what now, Master?” Hunter asked.
“I suggest you all relax for a while. The cook downstairs told me she would fix you anything you wanted when you came down to the kitchen since breakfast was several hours ago,” Master said.
“Where will you be, Master?” Colleen asked.
“The Chancellor has one of the best libraries I’ve ever seen. If you need me, I’ll be there,” Master said as he left the room.
“I don’t know about you, Rovers, but I’m starvin’…” Hunter said as he tied his boots back on.
“Da… foodski is good idea…” Exile agreed.
Once re-dressed, the Rovers found their way to the mansion’s kitchen. The room was abuzz as lunch preparations were well underway. Plätzchen didn’t let that inhibit her from providing a luscious spread for the humanoid canines at a back table in the kitchen. She managed to make a compact version of what had been at the earlier meal along with an extra treat of her extra-special boysenberry-filled doughnuts drizzled in honey and dusted in powdered sugar.
Hunter had his translator handy so nothing would be lost across the language barrier. The Rovers were amazed at the provisions as the jovial chef placed the last platter on the table.
“Vielen Dank,“ (Thank you so much) Hunter spoke into the translator.
“Wo soll man anfangen?“ (Where do you start?) Colleen said as everything looked mouth-watering.
“Es sieht einfach lecker!“ (It all looks absolutely delicious!) Exile said with enthusiasm.
Plätzchen was beaming with pride as she answered, “Du bist herzlich Willkommen. Starten Sie überall Sie möchten. Zögern Sie nicht, um etwas zu bitten. Freunde meiner Blitzen sind meine Freunde.” (You are very welcome. Start anywhere you’d like. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything. Friends of my Blitzen are my friends.)
Before they had a chance to start making their choices, a slurping noise came from behind them. Hunter turned around in his chair to see Muzzle chasing a food bowl around the floor. The Rottweiler lifted his head when he noticed he was being watched only to show the front of his muzzle and nose covered in boysenberry jam.
“Is it that good, Muzzle?” Hunter said with a laugh.
A goofy satisfied smile crept across Muzzle face before he tucked back into the delicious food still in the bowl.
As the meal was served, Hunter noticed Colleen barely touching her food. Colleen was never one to refuse food, especially after the past couple days they’ve been through. Hunter put his fork down as he touched her shoulder.
“Colleen, are you okay?” Hunter asked in concern.
“Da, comrade, you are not doing the eating…?” Exile added.
“Oh… I guess I’m just not ‘ungry, gents…” Colleen said as she slumped back in her chair.
“Not hungry…? Colleen, what’s on your mind, Sweetheart?” Hunter asked knowing his wife too well.
Colleen felt a wave of tears suddenly fill her eyes. Now that Blitz was safe, she knew a confrontation was in the very near future. The horror of what she said to the Doberman the last time they saw him were beginning to haunt her all over again. Normally, Colleen was a strong-willed and independent personality. Perhaps some saw her as callused or insensitive, but the truth is the English collie had a very big heart. Hunter knew that better than anyone.
“I can’t believe… what I said to him last time…” Colleen said as tears ran down her face.
The table was silent as the last conversation with the Doberman flashed through their memory banks. The pain in his eyes, the tearful sobs, and the fierce reaction he had… how was he right now? Was he still angry? Would he even want to speak to them?
“Comrade, Blitz was in much painski… maybe he calm down…?” Exile said trying to ease the tension.
“Maybe… but wha’ could I say to ‘im aftah tha’…” Colleen said.
“Sweetheart, look at me…” Hunter said in a calm voice, squeezing her hand.
Colleen’s bright blue eyes were red and swollen from the constant rubbing. She struggled to look up until she felt the back of Hunter’s hand softly lift her head up to meet his love-filled eyes.
“Colleen, we all know Blitz has been through a lot. The best thing we can do right now is show him that we are here for him now,” Hunter said.
“Da... Comrade needs pack like any dog…” Exile agreed.
“And it’s not going to help him if you are so hungry you can’t give him all your attention…” Hunter said.
Colleen looked down at her plate and gave a nod of acknowledgement. She picked her fork up and took a few bites. The food was delicious making her stomach yearn for more. Hopefully, all would be well later.
“Please… please forgive me, Blitz…” Colleen thought as she sipped on her mug.
After the Rovers finished their meal, they thanked the kitchen staff and headed down the hall. Since Blitz would most likely be gone for a while, the Rovers headed out to the backyard. Relaxing was difficult to imagine since there were still so many unanswered questions and uncertain outcomes.
The sun was high in the sky with a gentle cool breeze blowing through the gold and red leafed oak trees lining the fence. An ornate dog house sat off to the side of a particularly large oak tree. Shag dug a Frisbee out of his fur and began throwing it for Muzzle. Exile leaned against a tree and watched the two run back and forth along the soft grass. Hunter removed his signature tennis ball from his back pocket and just rolled it between his fingers. Colleen lay out in the sun to warm up as her stomach settled.
“Comrade had big time easy lifeski here…” Exile commented.
“Yeah… this place is any dog’s paradise…” Hunter agreed.
“Wha’ do you all think we should do when he gets back? I mean… we did go behind ‘is back a bi’ readin’ ‘is journal and all…” Colleen said.
“Hmmmm… maybe we give it back firstski…?” Exile suggested.
“Would ‘e shut down again ya think?” Colleen pointed out.
“Maybe if he understands we know what happened to him and that we are here for him… might keep him from shutting down like last time…” Hunter thought aloud.
“Da…” Exile answered.
“Yes…” Colleen said.
“RARA!” Shag shouted as Muzzle jumped into the air for the Frisbee making a flip before coming to the ground.
“Wow! That was awesome, Muzzle!” Hunter praised.
“Brilliant…!” Colleen agreed.
The Rovers all joined in the Frisbee game as the early afternoon wore on. Although it did take their minds off of the Doberman for a little while, the thought still in the back of their minds was, “What can we do for him to show him we care?”
Meanwhile in downtown Berlin, the autumn festival was in full swing. Vendors of all types spilled out of their shops onto the streets. Live music could be heard playing the distance. The smell of pastries and grilled sausages filled the air of the streets as the Doberman walked towards the center square with Eva riding on his broad shoulders. The Chancellor and Heidi were right beside him as they walked along.
Several people were staring as the Cano-Sapien walked along the streets, but only to greet him with a smile. They were all headed to the center square where the traditional dances were going on. Blitz couldn’t have felt happier. Being out with his family again and at one of the best times of the year made him feel like he was on Cloud 9000. All the sights, sounds, and smells were intoxicating.
The sound of music was getting closer as the live band playing for the traditional dance teams and for public dancing began blaring. Booths with all sorts of games and crafts were buzzing with activity. Blitz was enjoying every moment until he heard voices talking behind him.
“Guck mal! Es ist eine der Road Rovers!” (Hey look! It’s one of the Road Rovers!) A young boy’s voice echoed through the air.
“Wirklich…? Wo…?” (Really…? Where…?) Another voice followed as the Doberman walked on.
“Ich liebe sie!” (I love them!) A little girl squealed.
“Er ist mein Favorit!” (He’s my favorite!) Another added.
Before he realized it, Blitz had a crowd of children and teens following him. He turned around only to be met with camera flashes and screams of delight. Blitz froze, unsure what to do with all this attention. Yes, he was always loved before anyone knew he was a Rover, but never like this.
“Einfach jetzt! Was halten Sie alle wollen?” (Easy now! What do you all want?) Blitz asked as he felt Eva tug his ears playfully.
The crowd quieted down as a familiar face emerged from the crowd. It was Chris.
“Sieht aus wie Sie populärer als Sie dachten, sind, “ (Looks like you’re more popular than you thought) Chris said laughing.
“Ich denke schon. Was soll das alles?” (I guess so. What is all this?) Blitz asked.
“Zu wissen, eine Straße Rover ruft Berlin zu Hause ist erstaunlich! Sie nach ein paar Bilder ...?“ (Knowing a Road Rover calls Berlin home is amazing! You up for some pictures…?) Chris explained.
“Sie wollen Photos ... mit mir? Warum?” (They want pictures… with me? Why?) Blitz questioned still in shock.
“Sie sind unser Held, Orel. So Einfach ist das…” (You are our hero, Orel. Simple as that…) Chris said.
Blitz smiled happily as he felt his heart filling up with a mixture of joy and pride. He nodded in agreement as he took Eva off his shoulders and handed her to her father. For the next hour or so, Blitz gladly posed with several people. Some he made his signature muscle poses, some he extended his claws and teeth, but most were him surrounded by several people in welcoming embraces.
Once the crowd had moved along, the Doberman entered the arena where the dances were taking place; his and Eva’s favorite event of the whole festival. The band was gearing back up for another round of dances as Blitz and Eva got a seat right in the front row.
The glorious sound of accordions and bass guitars began to ramp up as the sound of feet began stomping to the beat. The excitement was so thick you could reach out and grab it. The music, the costumes, the expert timing of every dancer, and the theatrical spectacle of the entire event seemed to make time stand still. After watching three dance teams’ rendition of the beloved Zwiefacher, an intermission was called to prepare for the next session.
“Mama, kann ich etwas Apfelwein?” (Mama, can I get some apple cider?) Eva asked her mother.
“Natürlich, Schatz ... hier gehen,” (Of course, sweetie… here you go) Heidi said giving her some money.
“Lass uns gehen, Eva,” (Let’s go, Eva) Blitz said as he hoisted the girl back onto his shoulders.
Since it was an outdoor arena, the cold was beginning to nip at their noses. Blitz followed the smell of cinnamon and apple until a stall selling Eva’s desired beverage came into view. The golden brew was bubbling away in a copper cauldron over a slow fire next to a stand selling pastries. The woman selling the cider noticed the pair and quickly drew two large mugs full and sealed the top with heat-resistant lids.
“Entschuldigung Fräulein ...?” (Excuse us, Miss…) Blitz began.
“Hier gehen Sie ... auf Kosten des Hauses!” (Here you go…on the house!) The woman said joyfully, even handing Eva a fresh pastry from the stall her partner was running next door.
“Oh ... Vielen Dank ..., wie viel ...?” (Oh… Thank you… how much…?) Blitz said as he reached for his wallet.
“Kostenlos ...!” (No charge…!) The woman said with a warm smile.
“Aber…?” (But…?) Blitz tried to argue.
“Ich sagte, keine Gebühr ... Bitte genießen!” (I said no charge… please enjoy!) The woman assured.
“Danke sehr. Was sagen Sie dazu, Eva?” (Thank you very much. What do you say, Eva?) Blitz nudged.
“Vielen Dank Fräulein. Es ist köstlich!” (Thank you very much, Miss. It’s delicious!) Eva said as she munched on her pastry.
“Bitte! Spaß haben!” (You’re welcome! Have fun!) The woman bid them goodbye as they made their way back to the arena.
The pair quickly made their way back and arrived just in time to watch the beginning of the second session. The next couple hours passed with jubilant excitement as the family moved on from the dance arena to the games before making a trip back through the food stalls for a quick snack before heading home.
The entire ride home, Eva sat snuggled up to Blitz’s side. It was nearly three in the afternoon, well past her usual two o’clock naptime. The little girl slept soundly as the vehicle began to pull into the mansion’s driveway.
“Sie hatte so viel Spaß,” (She had so much fun.) The Chancellor said as they began to exit the vehicle to head inside.
“Ja, so habe ich,” (Ja, so did I.) Blitz replied cradling Eva against him.
“Blitz, Hätten Sie etwas dagegen setzen Eva sich für sie Nickerchen vor dem Abendessen?” (Blitz, would you mind putting Eva down for her nap before supper?) Heidi asked.
“Natürlich ... immer noch das gleiche Zimmer?” (Of course… still the same room?) Blitz said.
“Ja ... die Treppe zwei Türen auf der linken Seite ...” (Ja… up the stairs two doors down on the left…) The Chancellor replied.
Blitz nodded before making his way upstairs, being careful not to wake the little girl. The padded carpet on the stairs made the bottom of his paws tingle. The amazing feeling of being in a home he could call his had not been lost to him. He found the familiar bedroom door as eased it open into Eva’s room.
It hadn’t changed at all since the last time he saw it. The bright pink walls decorated with pictures she had drawn along with princess tiaras and portraits surrounded her four-post bed covered in lavender sheets and quilts with a sheer pink drape covering the head. Stuffed animals filled every corner as well as several toy boxes. The Doberman gently tucked the precious child into her bed making sure not to wake her. As he stood to walk away, he remembered something. He turned to her lavender-colored closet door and cracked it open before scanning over to see a stuffed animal that resembled a Doberman. He placed the toy in the gap of the door and looked back to the sleeping child.
He smiled before whispering aloud, “Keine mehr Monster, meine kleine Eva ... “ (No more monsters, my little Eva…)
He gently closed the door as he turned to the large window overlooking the backyard. He could see his old doghouse standing by the oak tree as it always had. There was one thing different about this scene though…
He noticed the rest of the Rovers sitting on the ground or leaning against the trees seeming to be discussing something. It had to be concerning him. He glanced towards the stairs fighting with himself whether to venture down them or not. He began to recall the last conversation he had with his teammates:
"Blitz, I'm not gonna pretend I understand because I don't. I'm tired of this tension between us…" Hunter said placing a paw on Blitz's shoulder.
"Da, comrade… we needski our family being back together…" Exile added, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"We only want to help you, Blitz. Nothing else… please…" Master pled, beckoning Blitz to sit down on the bed.
"You… you cannot know… vhat it has been… to carry dhis around…" Blitz stammered as he began to relax.
"Blitz, did something happen there?" Master asked as Blitz began to go back in his past.
"It still hurts remembering…" Blitz started as more tears ran down his muzzle.
"Will you just grow up? Poor little Blister 'ad to grow up in a junkyard. Big bloody deal! Wha' did Mum toss ya off…?" Colleen taunted, stunning everyone.
"YOU CANNOT UNDAHSTAND DHE HELL I CARRY VITH ME! YOU TINK YOU'RE SO SMART, LASSIE? YOU KNOW NOTING ABOUT VHAT HAPPENED TO ME! SO JUST GET OUT! DHAT GOES FOR ALL OF YOU… OUT!" Blitz screamed as he slammed the door open pointing for everyone to leave.
A few tears ran down Blitz’s face. Colleen’s words still stung. Even though so much had happened since that last confrontation, he still found himself dreading the company of the others. However, unlike his former self, Blitz knew he needed closure. He took several deep breaths as he slowly headed downstairs.
“I know it isn’t going to be easy…” Blitz thought.
“But…” Orel’s voice echoed in his ears.
The voice of his true nature brought a sense of peace.
“But dhey need to know…” Blitz finished his sentence.
“Exactly…” Orel said.
Every step he took down the stairs calmed his nerves. He walked down the hall heading for the backyard before a voice stopped him.
“Blitz…?” Master’s voice rang in his ears.
Blitz turned around and noticed Master sitting in the Chancellor’s library. The Doberman entered the room and sat across from him.
“So, how was the festival?” Master asked.
“Vunderful…” Blitz replied with a smile.
Blitz’s gaze panned over to a stack of books on the table in front of Master.
“I take it your aftahnoon vas just as enjoyable…” Blitz laughed.
“What can I say? Libraries are my addiction,” Master said.
“Ha-ha… *sigh*…” Blitz laughed before heaving a sigh of nervousness.
“You’re nervous about seeing the others…?” Master asked.
“I am and I’m not at dhe same time,” Blitz replied as he leaned back in his chair.
“I know, Blitz, but they’ve been so concerned about you,” Master said.
“Vhy…? Aftah dhat last conversation… vhy vould dhey vant to deal vith me?” Blitz questioned.
“Maybe it would be better to ask them that…?” Master suggested.
“*sigh* I’ll be in dhe front den… vhen dhey’re ready…” Blitz said as he stood to leave.
“I’ll tell them. Blitz…” Master said walking behind him and placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Ja, Meister…?” Blitz answered turning to face him.
“Welcome home…” Master said with a smile.
Blitz felt the sides of his mouth turn up. Without warning, Blitz drew Master into a tight hug. Master patted his back as Blitz released him. The Doberman disappeared down the hall as Master opened the Comm-app on his tablet.
Outside, the rest of the Rovers were taking a break from their Frisbee game. The sun was beginning to grow closer to the horizon as the afternoon hours began waning. They were sitting silently… waiting for some word on their comrade…had Blitz refused to talk to them? Was he still furious?
“Do ya think ‘e changed ‘is mind…?” Colleen said breaking the silence.
“Easy, Colleen… that festival he went to probably wore him out… he might just be resting…” Hunter suggested.
“Da… time will comeski…” Exile encouraged.
*beep-beep* *beep-beep* *beep-beep*
Hunter’s ears perked up as the noise from his collar caught his attention. He pressed his Comm-tag to answer to be greeted by Master Shepherd’s voice.
“Rovers, come inside… he’s ready…” Master said.
“On our way... let’s go, Rovers…” Hunter answered as he helped Colleen to her feet.
Everyone heaved a sigh of nervous excitement as they re-entered the mansion. Colleen felt her heart beating so hard in her chest that it made her entire chest ache. Hunter held Blitz’s tattered journal in one hand as he clasped both of them behind his back, ready to be rid of the horror held inside of it. Exile went through every situation that could possibly happen in his head and how he would react so he would be mentally prepared. Shag made a mental check of the inventory of Kleenex he had inside his fur because he knew it would be needed. Muzzle, having already seen the Doberman once, walked along calmly beside Hunter.
Upon reaching the front foyer just outside the den they had been in before, Master Shepherd joined them as they entered the room. At first, Blitz was nowhere to be seen.
“No… please… no…” Colleen thought as panic flowed through her chest.
“Where is he?” Hunter wondered.
“Comrade…?” Exile called out.
A soft rustling was heard from the far side of the room where the darkness of the growing evening had concealed the Doberman’s position next to the fireplace. He stepped out into the lit area in front of the glowing flames as he approached the group. There was definitely something different about the Doberman. His body was relaxed; even his ears seemed less rigid, drooping down at the tips. His head fur was ruffled into a more casual spiked style than his usual slicked-back mane.
Before one word was uttered, Shag ran up and clamped his large arms around Blitz and picked him up in a crushing hug. Usually, Blitz would squirm and try to wriggle free, but the feeling that one of his teammates was happy to see him put his discomfort on the back burner in his mind until his lungs began to cry out for fresh oxygen.
“Shag…Blitzy needs… air…” Blitz wheezed out.
Shag instantly released him from the suffocating embrace making him drop to the floor. The others approached him as Hunter reached his hand out to him to help him to his feet. Instead of releasing him, Hunter pulled Blitz to his shoulder to hug him.
“Blitz, I’m glad you’re okay…” Hunter said.
Blitz was silent. Once Hunter released him, he stepped back from the group, hanging his head as he turned to face the fire. He felt his internal organs quiver in fear and uncertainty.
“Vhy do you care now?” Blitz asked in an unreadable tone.
“Blitz, like I said before, I am tired of the tension that has been between us for the past few years,” Hunter said placing a paw on his shoulder.
Blitz stood stiff as a statue. While he wasn’t trying to be hard-headed like before, he was still unsure. He tightly crossed his arms across his chest more so trying to keep his body from shaking than showing anger.
Hunter brought the journal up to grasp with both hands before glancing over his shoulder to get assurance from the others. The others gave a nod of agreement as Hunter took a deep breath in and out.
“Blitz, we have something that belongs to you…” Hunter said.
Blitz’s ears swiveled around as he faced the retriever in response. He panned down to see the item held in Hunter’s paws and felt his heart stop in is chest. He wasn’t prepared to see the one thing that held all his secrets within the hands of the ones he hid it from for so long. He searched every face in the room for any hope that they had only found it, not read it.
“No… please no… Dhey didn’t… did dhey…?” Blitz rambled in his brain.
To Blitz’s horror, the expression he found were ones filled with pity rather than ignorance. Blitz felt his jaw tighten as his teeth grit against one another. He snatched the tattered book out of Hunter’s hand with a vicious growl.
“You… you read it, didn’t you?! IS DHIS HOW YOU ALL GET OFF? DOING ANYTING YOU CAN TO TORTURE ME…? DID IT SATISFY YOU?! HUH…?” Blitz shouted before turning his back on them again.
Exile walked up behind him and wrapped him massive arm around the Doberman’s shoulder as he had done the last time they talked. Blitz stiffened at the contact, but didn’t flinch away. His breathing was heavy as he fought to control his tears. He fought to let them drip down his face instead of clogging his throat.
“Comrade, we not do the reading to hurtski you… it was mistake…” Exile said gripping the Doberman tight.
“Mistake…? HA! More like betrayal…!” Blitz retorted.
“Blitz, it was my idea to read it when I found it on your bed after you left. If you want to blame anyone, blame me,” Master said.
Blitz looked at Master in shock. Master wiped his face with his hanky as a moment of silence set in.
“If dhey know vhat happened… vhy aren’t dhey saying anyting…?” Blitz thought.
Hunter looked at the ground in shame before walking around in front of Blitz so he would see him. Blitz noticed feet out of the corner of his eye as he raised his head up to look at the retriever. Hunter’s eyes were quivering as he looked at the pain pouring out of Blitz’s face.
“Blitz, we were wrong to treat you the way we did. We do care about you. If nothing else, I know I should have been there for you. I’m not just the team leader; I’m supposed to be the one anyone can come to with anything. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. Can you forgive me for that?” Hunter said breaking the awkward silence.
“Da, comrade, even if bad things never to be happening to youski, you needed friend to accept you, not call you ‘Weird Boy’,” Exile added.
Blitz body began to relax as he listened close to his teammates. Shag dug around in his fur and dug out a yellow foam finger with the words ‘You’re #1’ imprinted in the palm and placed it on his paw. Muzzle barked his agreement. Blitz managed a small smile at this easing the tension a little.
Colleen had remained unusually silent during the entire conversation. She wanted to tell Blitz how sorry she was, but felt the knot of sobbing rise in her throat preventing her from even uttering a whimper. She fought to keep herself calm while rehearsing what she wanted to say in her head.
“Come on, Colleen, get it togethah and say somethin’…” Colleen argued with her mind.
Hunter looked over at her and noticed her eyes screwed shut as if she was trying to hold back something. Then, he she her lip tremble and a lone tear stain her cheek…
“Colleen…?” Hunter prodded.
Colleen let out a strangled gasp. Her eyes shot open as she looked towards the group crowded around the Doberman. She managed to swallow the swelling in her throat as she drew closer. Blitz had a blank expression on his face. The anger had faded, but it just made her more uneasy. Colleen couldn’t speak.
“’ow can I possibly just say I’m sorry… tha’ is not near enough…” Colleen whimpered silently.
Blitz raised an eyebrow in confusion to the Collie’s silence. Suddenly, he caught a strange odor in the air. He recognized it immediately as what most people don’t realize has a smell: anxiety.
“She’s afraid…?” Blitz wondered in amazement in his mind.
“Blitz, I… I don’t know wha’ to s-say right n-now…” Colleen managed to squeak out.
“Easy, Sweetheart… one thing at a time…” Hunter coaxed.
“*sniff* I’m sorry just doesn’t cut it… wha’ I said was cruel…You ‘ave ev’ry reason in the world to hate me,” Colleen began as more tears fell.
Seeing the Collie truly apologetic made Blitz’s face soften. He knew she wasn’t being forced to tell him she was wrong. Blitz relaxed his arms that had been crossed over his chest as she continued.
“Even if I di’n’t know wha ‘appened to you… I ‘ad no right to say tha’. I know I was a stray, but nothin’ like wha’ you dealt with. Is there any way you could forgive me for bein’ so cold?” Colleen said as Shag handed her a handful of tissues.
Relief… that was the only feeling Blitz had running through his body. The secrets he had held pent up for so many years no longer burdened him with their weight. He felt the support from the rest of his teammates helping him bear them in his mind. His chest felt lighter like he could breathe. He offered a smile towards Colleen as he extended his hand offering it for her to shake.
Colleen stood in shock at the gesture. Her eyes widened as she looked up to see Blitz’s calm expression. Without warning, Colleen embraced him around his neck. Blitz froze and held his arms back at the unexpected show of affection. He panned over to Hunter with a nervous look only to be reassured by a smile. He relaxed and returned the Collie’s hug until she finally pulled away.
“RARARA! Rara…” Shag said, scooping everybody into a group hug.
“Apologies all accepted… *sigh* in a vay, it a little easier dhat you all know vhat happened to me…” Blitz finally spoke.
The next few moments were spent with Blitz explaining his journey to reconcile with his past and even to right a terrible wrong in the process with the arrest of the junkyard owners the previous night. More and more with every story, everyone began to see the true personality Blitz had: a loyal, kind, determined, and humble spirit.
“Take abou’ a whirlwind trip, Blitz…” Colleen said.
“Da, youski being much tougher than looks…” Exile said.
“I have to say what’s interesting is that you play an instrument…” Master said.
“Yeah, maybe you could play for us sometime…?” Hunter suggested.
“Danke, all of you, but my story isn’t ovah…” Blitz said with a happy smile.
“Huh…? What do you mean, Blitz?” Master asked.
“I tink it vould make more sense for me to show you…” Blitz suggested.
“Show us what…?” Hunter asked.
“Please, come vith me… I’ll explain on dhe vay…” Blitz said as he began walking towards the front door.
The rest of the group looked at one another and just shrugged their shoulders in uncertainty to what the Doberman was referring to. After bundling back up to prepare for the cold night air, Blitz led the way towards old downtown. Little did everyone know that they were in for a big surprise…
Otto was curled around his precious mate and newborn son ready to settle in for the evening. He felt so proud of the beautiful pup his beloved had bore him. Elise had Zelin tucked in between her front legs covering him with her head. She looked like an angel as she slept. He was the luckiest dog in the entire world. He nuzzled Elise’s neck as he gently lay his head on top of hers. His eyes were slowly closing until a telling sound came from the front door.
*knock* *knock* *knock*
“Muss Fräulein Justine aus dem Tierheim sein…” (Must be Miss Justine from the shelter…) Chris’s voice came from the armchair next to the fireplace.
Otto kept one eye open as Chris went to the door only to hear a surprise in his voice at who was actually at the door. The sound of several pairs of feet entering the house echoed in his ears as he lifted his head up.
“Sie sind im Wohnzimmer…” (They are in the living room) Chris said to the unknown visitors.
“Vielen Dank, Chris,” (Thank you, Chris) Blitz’s voice answered.
The Doberman entered the room to see his best friend and sister curled on a large pillow with little Zelin sound asleep next to his mother’s chest. Blitz’s eyes panned over to notice Trage on his back snoring loudly in front of the fire. Blitz had to laugh at the sight.
“Spitz…?” Otto said surprised to see the Doberman back so soon.
“Otto, ich hoffe, Sie einen weiteren Besuch nichts ausmacht. Ich wollte, dass du meine Freunde zu treffen…” (Otto, I hope you don’t mind another visit. I wanted you to meet my friends…) Blitz said as he sat down next to the pair within reaching distance of Trage.
“Natürlich! Elise, wach auf. Wir haben Besuch,” (Of course! Elise wake up. We have visitors) Otto replied eagerly.
Otto nudged Elise’s head causing her eyes to flutter open. Seeing her brother and noticing the rest of the Rovers made her smile broadly. Blitz looked over at Trage’s snoring form and had a mischievous idea. Back when they were young, Blitz remembered Trage having one main weakness whenever they would play-fight: his feet were extremely sensitive. He hated having his feet touched or played with which always gave him the advantage. Blitz extended one claw right to where it would barely touch his brother’s paw pad and lightly brushed against it. Trage came out of a dead sleep rolling over onto his stomach and scrambling away from the starling touch. He looked around and saw his brother with that all too familiar devilish smile. He playfully groused as he approached him and leaned into Blitz shoulder before lying back down beside him.
The rest of the Rovers and Master watched this scene with amazement. They had never seen Blitz be so friendly with other canines, but the familiarity he seemed to hold with these dogs confused them. After getting settled again, Blitz turned to his teammates and snickered at the stunned look on their faces.
“You all vill probably vant to sit down…” Blitz suggested.
Without question, everyone found an empty pillow or piece of carpet that was scattered around the room and waited with baited breath for what Blitz was about to tell them.
“We’re dying of suspense, dude. What did you want to show us?” Hunter asked as his curiosity began to burn.
“Ha-ha! I vanted you to meet Otto, meine best friend. He kept me sane in dhe junkyard. He just became a Vater a day or so ago. Is he in here, Otto?” Blitz said.
“Ja…” (Yes) Otto replied to the Doberman as he looked back to his mate.
A soft whimpered was heard as the female Doberman nudged a small form over her foreleg so he could be seen. A wave of gasps and coos over the adorable pups were heard in response.
“’e’s gorgeous…” Colleen squeed.
“Congrats!” Hunter said.
“Da, you must be being proudski,” Exile said.
“This is all wonderful, Blitz… but why are we really here?” Master asked sensing the Doberman holding something back.
Blitz smiled as he looked at his brother and sister with a smile.
“You all remember dhat I wrote about meine family being killed by a street pack…” Blitz said.
“Yes…” the all replied in unison.
“Vhat I nevah knew until a couple days ago vas dhat meine Mutter managed to find help. Chris took dhem all in and tried to save dhem. Meine Mutter, brodher, and sister did die despite dhat…” Blitz began.
“Wait… I thought you had two brothers and two sisters…?” Hunter pointed out.
“I did… and still do…” Blitz started looking at the two other Dobermans.
“You meanski…” Exile began to realize.
“Dhat is meine baby sister, Elise… and dhis is Trage… dhey survived…and dhe little one is meine nephew, Zelin…” Blitz said introducing them.
All of a sudden an excited clamour of conversation erupted as the joy over seeing Blitz reunited with members of his family he thought had died so long ago. It took a little while for everyone to calm down, but it couldn’t be helped.
“Oh Comrade, this is being such good newski!” Exile said bear-hugging the Doberman again.
“Indeed this is so wonderful!” Colleen added.
“Danke… It vas definitely a shock to find dhem, but also to have a place I can visit dhe rest of meine family. Chris buried dhem in a special place just outside dhe back door and gave dhem a beautiful headstone,” Blitz explained as he ruffled Trage’s ears.
“We are so happy for you, Blitz,” Master said.
“I believe some pictures are called for… Shag…?” Hunter said looking at the Sheepdog.
“RARA!” Shag said as he pulled a tripod camera from his fur.
“Family first…” Colleen quipped with a smile.
Blitz arranged himself in between Elise and Trage with Otto behind Elise and Little Zelin propped up on his mother’s leg. Shag centered the camera before counting down to the flash. The picture’s occupants kept still as the flash captured the happy moment.
“I am finally whole again…” Blitz said in his mind.
“It is great to be back…” Orel’s voice whispered.
“Time to live for today…” Blitz’s and Orel’s voice mixed until they became unified.
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