A WW2 spy story. 1943. Kurt Müller and a young colleague parachute into southern Germany to rescue a British-Canadian agent. The Allies have won the battle of the Atlantic, and German forces are retreating on all major fronts. The war in Europe is effectively over, but the Nazis will never accept defeat. An Abwehr deserter and member of the German resistance -- the Black Orchestra -- with a price on his head, Kurt quickly finds himself in a deadly race to prevent the Nazis from developing the first atomic bomb and changing the outcome of the Second World War.
It was time to jump, but Kurt’s legs refused to move. The officer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the open door.
Outside, powerful searchlights lit up the sky and the plane rocked and juddered as anti-aircraft shells exploded all around them.
Waves of panic swept over Kurt. His stomach heaved. He tried to remember what the instructor had said. Spread your arms and legs like a starfish. Tuck and roll, tuck and roll on landing. And there was something else… Count to ten slowly, before you pull the cord.
At that moment there was a blinding flash in the air outside. The plane bucked under the accompanying explosion.
“Don’t think about it,” shouted the officer in his ear. “Just count to twenty and pull the cord. You’ll be fine.”
It was that ‘count to twenty’ that did it. It distracted Kurt just enough to allow him to let go. He fell through the open door, spread his arms and legs, and counted to twenty.
As soon as he pulled the cord he knew he was in trouble. Only half of his parachute filled with air. One of the cords that should have been attached to the canopy was flapping uselessly around his head, and he was dropping like a stone.