An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-11-21 11:01am

Blighted Marches, 32. Angertag, Harvest Month

Henrik Gerber was tired. He was standing in front of his Tank and sipped some coffee, trying to get his breath back after helping to pull maintainance on the beast. As far as his experience told went this was the standard mode when on a campaign, but this one was worse. Before he had been in the 90% boredom, 10%terror-mode and had gotten used to that as far as one could. But usually one was either in some sort of combat or reasonably safe. The Marches were different-the Skaven could pop up at any damn moment and until suppressed were dangerous. That meant to be on alert any waking moment and it got old pretty damn fast.

And while the 1st Landwehr was making good advances along the road that led to Skavenblight eventually it felt like cutting through pudding. The knife went through, the knife went deep-and then the pudding closed as if nothing ever had happened. That his unit was driving down the road and killing all the Skaven that opposed them did not mean that the supply trucks that followed would not be attacked, quite the opposite. Anything of value to the Reiksbund had to be guarded at all times or it would be destroyed in short order-and that meant that there was no real rest as long as one was inside the Marches.
The landscape did not help either. Most of it was hidden by mists that rarely allowed the sun to shine through it was dominated by dark, dripping vegetation and muddy ground. All sounds were strangely muted and all colors slightly off.
Couldn´t the bleeding rats agree to some set-piece battle and be done with it? The Landwehr Major snorted at the notion the enemy might agree to his plans and climbed the turret of his tank again. Rest was over, time to kick Skaven ass.

100 Meters AGL, Blighted March

“Wacht actual from Storch 06, I have visual on the Phantom crew, both seem unharmed. There are at least two units of rats coming their way-we should get them out ASAP.”
“”Storch 06 from Wacht actual-SAR chopper will be in in 20 Minutes”
“That will be too late-what is up?”
“They are just bringing back some WIA”
“I can spot for some arty, that could slow them down.”
“Storch 06 wait one-ok we have something for you, give coordinates and corrections.”
Nathan Alpers watched the 50-meter circles that were beaten into the muddy ground and after a few corrections killing the Skaven that came under them. Problem was that while it killed a lot of the rats they just dispersed-and many of them made double time towards the island holding the two downed pilots. Even the rats knew they would be safer there. He was probably going to get a big part of the Skaven-but not all of them and not in time. Fuck.
He was about to give the next round of corrections when he saw something at the edge of visibility. Edging a little closer he managed to give both the latest corrections and spot the intruder to the battlefield.
Wacht actual from Storch 06, drop 50, left 20 and let them have it. Also, please try to contact..

Blighted Marches, same time and place

And another thing he had never seen, experienced or expected. Kargan Ironbeard was pretty sure he had seen more new things in the last two months than in the last 20 years before them. This time it was an ugly noisy box with big propellers at one end. It had neither weapons nor armor and its only saving grace was that it could carry a shitload of cargo anywhere in this blasted swamp pretty quickly. The Germans called it a hovercraft and he and his guys had taken more than one look at it. From what he heard they ran with comparatively low power and could possibly be made by the dwarfs themselves.
The lack of weapons meant that he and four other Thunderers were asked to ride shotgun on the supply runs to and from their little fortress in the swamp. Given the boredom in that place there was no shortage of volunteers. Currently he was watching the swamp on his side of the hovercraft which had gotten much more interesting in the last two minutes. The Germans were basting a part of the swamp pretty thoroughly. He was therefore surprised when the German driver punched his shoulder to get his attention.

“We have a request from the flyboys to recover some of their pilots. Looks like the Skaven are close. Are you up to it?”
“You are kidding right? Of course we are manling.”
“Here we go then.”
Ironbeard learned something new again-the hovercraft was capable of a lot more speed than he had seen so far. Belching black smoke from the exhausts, diesel engines roaring and vibrating as if trying to get away from their foundations and trailing a plume of spray that was far higher than the speeding craft-what better way was there to go to battle.
The German diver brought the transport between the Skaven and the small island that was the target of their mad dash. Kargan and his compatriots loosened a few shots at the rats they could see but even they were pretty sure to have missed at this speed.
Quickly enough the hovercraft climbed up the “beech” that divided the “water-with-lots-of-mud-in-it” part of the swamp from the “Mud-with-too-much-water” part.

The driver turned the craft around so that the cockpit faced the waters and pulled a MP7 submachine gun from below his console. “Take the wireless and go where the flyboy tells you to, I´ll mind the store.”
“Be back soon man..Gerd”
Kargan walked a bit in front of the rest of the Thunderers-it was more than enough if one dawi walked into an ambush, no point it having all of them do. And if a Tagoraki stepped forward he was pretty sure Griselda would take care of it-Griselda being his new shotgun.
The Island was not very big and the tiny voice of the human above them gave pretty clear directions. He was pushing himself through some wet-leafed bushes when the shots started. That got him and the other Thunderers into higher gear.

Simone Rausch was in a mental state that is reserved for people who are sure to die very soon. At the same time she felt a strange detachment and felt every sensation with a clarity she had not experienced before. She felt the humid air, every smell, the slimy feeling of the grass under her feet and the recoil of her pistol when she pulled the trigger again. This time the bullet actually hit something-the head of an extremely ugly, extremely big rat that promptly disintegrated. She seemed to have all the time in the world to acquire the Skaven next to it and pull the trigger again. Nothing happened but the click of the hammer on an empty cartridge chamber.
She still fumbled for her spare magazine when the rat was hit by something that emptied most of its chest and sprinkled the surrounding vegetation with entails. When she turned into the direction of the shooter she was greeted by a sight that was possible only this bright new world.
Reaching barely to her armpit but being twice as broad as her a number of dawi emerged from the bushes. Clad in a mixture of leather accessories, homespun cloth, Paratroop boots and German load bearing equipment wielding German weapons they were a strange sight by any measure-but welcome no less.

“Lass, let us go, there are more Tagoraki coming.”
“We need to get Peter down first.”
“Peter..oh shit. Well, nobody can say Kargan Ironbeard leaves allies behind. Snorri, Ulf, Holm-cover us. Björn, help me, I need your rope.”
The German pilot watched the Dawi size up her WSO dangling from the tree.
“Manling, can you help us?”
“Yes, how?”
“We will throw you a rope. Put it over that twig above you and make it fast against you belt. If you can cut yourself free we will lower you down.
“Sounds good and thanks.”
Simone watched how the dwarf managed to place the rope slightly past her WSO`s shoulder when the second dwarf turned to her.
“Watch the beach lassie that is more useful than gawking.”
Getting the spare magazine into her pistol she wordlessly took a position to do exactly that. Her rubbery knees told a story of too much excitement in too short a time and she had a hard time to force herself watching the surroundings and not trying to push everybody to get it done.

She saw the Skaven that entered the clearing in from of her at the same time it saw her. Pulling the trigger in haste sent the first two bullets awry and only the third managed to do damage. By then several more Skaven had found the clearing and her new allies had shot them in short order. In the silence that followed she heard even more squeals and nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand touched her arm from behind.
“We are done lass, let`s go.”
Simone found herself in the middle of a file, with two of the dwarves in front of her and Peter and three behind. The pace they made over the island was brisk and she could hear the Skaven all around them at times. Still they managed to get to the beach without another fight where she was greeted by a big, ugly, diesel snorting and most beautiful hovercraft.
She was scrambling with the others to get in when a grey shadow seemed to flow over the rail and made for the brushwork. Gunfire chased it but did not get the fleet-footed Skaven. The leading dwarf jumped on board just to scream in disgust.
The German pilot climbed on board just to find a killed German and smashed controls. She nearly collapsed from the hopelessness.

She heard more shots from her WSO and her would-be saviors and pulled herself from the cockpit to the hovercrafts rail to fire her remaining ammo at the line of Skaven that emerged from the brushwork when the Rats just disappeared is a double line of fire, smoke and unidentifiable parts. The screams of 4 J-79 engines and the ripping cloth sound of 2 Vulcan cannons reminded her that Rhino flight looked after their own.

It was a grand gesture and good flying-but she doubted that the Phantoms could keep enemy off her long enough for the choppers to arrive. She looked skywards to get at least a shot look at her comrades just to be treated to a totally crazy stunt. Nobody and nothing with fixed wings could land on that clearing-it was just barely 3 times the length of her F-4. And yet there was this glorious fool flying a spit-and-glue kite with flaps hanging as low as they could and land at a speed she was pretty sure to be able to match by running.

And the fool managed to land with room to spare. She was running and exhorting the others to follow before the Storch had turned around. The dwarf that led her saviors kicked two grenades into the hovercraft before running behind her. She found a medium sized man working furiously on the quick-release catches of a sensor pack that hung under his plane. When it did not release immediately he kicked it hard and on the third try it dropped into the grass.

“Get in, get in-I think the natives are getting restless.”
“You think you can take off from this?”
“If not you won`t be complaining for long-take the left-hand seat.”
Climbing into the unfamiliar cockpit she was reminded of basic flying training-but even the Grob trainer she had flown then seemed more substantial than this craft. The door she slammed shut seemed to twist like a tent flap and everything else was “lightweight”. The instrument board was sparse and very very anlaog, the view from the windscreen at a strange angle due to the taildragger landing gear. Even under so much pressure her pilots sense told her that something was “strange” about the plane. When she saw the last dawi climb aboard she saw the glowing rune of flying-so that`s what it was. And then the Storch rattled even more, the diesel growled much louder-and nothing moved. Only when the revs were up did the pilot change prop pitch and the plane got rolling. Rolling so damnably slow-it took speed with a eagerness of a sloth.

And incredibly-before the wheels hit the muddy waters-it lifted off. Lifted at a speed when she would taxi her Phantom, lifted at a speed when her F-4 would long ago dropped from the sky-and this crate climbed.
She managed to find a spare headset which she dropped on her ears. “Thanks for the rescue Lt..”
“Lt Alpers at your service mam. You are Captain Rausch I presume.”
“One and the same. Fuck-I thought we`ve had it.”
“Not this time”

Miragliano Airport, O-Club, much later that day

“Who is the King of Heaven?”
“The Seven-Eleven”
Everbody in the two containers that had been attached side by side raised their steins to the smoke-hidden ceiling before drowning the Warsteiner they contained?”
“Sorry to ask, but what was that about?” Nathan Alpers had not been in here before as he was Army, not Air Force. On the other side of a rickety collapsible table at Simone Rausch who had joined the toast.
“When we were still flying Phantoms from Wittmund there were 2 Fighter squadrons to the JG71-the 711 and the 712. Most of us are from the 711 and were the better squadron of course?”
She saw the slightly raised eyebrow of the army pilot.
“Let me tell you of the exercise we had against the US pilots from Scotland over the North Sea. 4 Phantoms against 4 F-15 escorting a “transport”. We shouldn´t have a chance in hell and managed to win 4-1.”
“How did you pull that one of?”
“Oh we.....”

Even later that evening and after a couple of beers more the Captain inquired about the silked band that was knotted from Alpers belt.
“A token of affection from Ermine of Wolfenfels. She gave it to me before I flew to Tilea.”
“Nice, why did she do that.”
“Their customs-she gave her Champion a token for the campaign”
“How did that happen and why are you her Champion?”
“Uff, long story I used to fly out of Middenheim and....”
The sash kept both of them from doing something very human and terminally stupid that night.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-11-21 11:10am

500 meters AGL, Blighted March, 32 Festtag, much too early in the morning

Nathan realized that dropping the old recon Pod had another positive effect besides survival via takeoff. The new one he had received offered better resolution and was less likely to freeze if he changed the view too often too fast. Currently he was watching the old one through the optics of the new one as it was dragged through the Island by a couple of Skaven.
“Storch 06 for Rhino 04-Music is on”
“Rhino 04 for Storch 06 ETA 1 minute”
The new pod did also show its shorter whiteout time when confronted with sudden heat signatures, such as the explosion of two 500-pound Laser-guided Bombs. Five minutes later four similar bombs ripped the burned-out shell of the hovercraft apart, together with about 20 Skaven.

At the same time a daily dose of reports and messages that were sent to Karaz-a-Karak. Contained in the file that was printed out by the German embassy for the Dwarven High King and his government were a request made by one Kargan Ironbeard. He asked that a Grudge be put in the Book of Grudges. For the killing of Gerd Meins, hovercraft pilot and comrade-in-arms to the Dawi, 35 Tagoraki tails were to be collected. His request was honored.
The video of the bombing Nathan presented to his former dawi passengers convinced them that Gerd had a decent pyre worthy of him.

Irrana Mountains, close to Isonzo River, 1. Markttag, Brew Time

Heinz Albers tried to find any position he might sleep in-and found he could not. The bunks inside the bunker were narrow and hard but that was not the problem, neither was the damp and slightly cold air that smelled of the packed earthen walls of the room. The problem was the clamor emitted by the 155 mm Artillery that was at it again. It was nothing new-ever since last week the Skaven were trying again and again to retake the German position now that they had learned what they had done. As it seemed that there were no convenient tunnels nearby they emerged from the marshy lowlands roughly 20 kilometers from where the blaster tried to sleep and that put them in a world of hurt.

The 4 guns that the airships had deposited on the mountainside had a nearly unlimited amount of ammo and used it freely to curbstomp every assault so far. As Albers was here as a blaster and not as a Captain of Landwehr he did not have to put up with watch after watch and was veteran enough to be thankful for the boredom he had instead. He managed to get something that charitably could be called sleep yet found himself grabbing for mask and rifle without any memory what had made him do that. It was the muted sound of a machine gun salve that provided explanation-the more subdued but different sound had alerted him. After a wait that lasted for 20 minutes and felt like 20 days a call via the field telephone declared the alert over.
Drinking a coffee despite the taste and what it did to his middle-aged stomach Albers learned from an artillery major that some Skaven had tried to infiltrate the compound and had made the mistake to show up on the infrared.
“Oh fuck, not again. Couldn`t they think of something new?”
“I prefer them dumb like that.”
“You think they will stay that way?”
“Usually no, but here I do not see they have much choice”
“Hear Hear”

Undercity, Skavenblight, same time

Quiet had returned to the Council of 13, not the relative quiet of gravitas and composition but the quiet of being under great pressure and observation. Showing any weakness now would be fatal, even for a Lord of Decay. Especially for a Lord of Decay as the tendency to find a scapegoat, a reason for their current misery that they could excise and find a way from their current situation was nearly overwhelming.
Everybody was watching everybody else to make the first move, the first mistake despite they all knew this kind of infighting would be utterly insane. And then they were known to the world as Lords of Decay and for good reason.
Still Lord Kritislik knew he had to break the standoff, not only because he had the news everybody needed but also as he was the least to blame. Still, the nature of said news made it hard to step up to the plate. Killing the messenger was not negatively connoted in Skaven society.

“Assembled Lords Lords, hear me as I have news news.”
Still nobody made a move, none at all.
“We have lost the Farsquealer connection to Foul Peak and Miragliano and from the first report it seems again due to flooding. The Germans find these tunnels without fail fail-we do not know how how. Gutter Runners have seen German ships at the point where tunnels go under rivers and they seemed to drill down down. These were the last connections we had to the rest of the Under-Empire. We can contact other Grey Seers with magic but no farsquealer, no reinforcements and no material will reach Skavenblight for a long time through these.”
Everybody seemed to shrink a little bit at the news-Skaven find safety in numbers and their connection to vast parts of their domain had just been cut off as well as a possible bolt-hole for the Skaven elite. Still nobody wanted to contribute as not to be associated with this disaster. Well, Kritislik certainly did not want to be the only one talking about it.
“Lord Morskittar, how soon can your clan restore the tunnels?”
“Hard to say say. Many tunnels are flooded for between the locks. Clan Skryre clever clever and has put lockthingie on both sides of river river when tunnel goes under them. But to repair we need to go in river-very difficult, yes yes. The rivers are flowing fast and the Germans may watch watch. So we have to kill Germans or we build second tunnel tunnel, but need to dig quietly. Takes much time to dig quietly under river, yes yes.”
“The slowness is noted noted. Then we have another problem-one of the rivers into the March is blocked blocked. The water level is falling with every day and if we do not have heavy rains the swamp will become dry. The humans will be able to move much more freely freely-in our own domain. This is unacceptable. Lord Paskit-you wanted to kill the Germans that block the river at the mountains mountains, kill kill.”

“There no tunnels close to the Germans Germans due to Clan Skryre negligence. The closest exit to the enemy is nearly 20 kilometers. As soon as brave warrior Skaven exit the tunnel German shoot them with guns they never see see. Sometimes they also drop many small bombs. My warriors die die without ever seeing enemy enemy. Even clan Skyre cannot shoot back back. And Clan Eshine does not even try try.”
“Silence ignorant fool. We have sent many many assassin-they all disappear. Somehow Germans can see them.”
“Use better assassins.”
“Send more assassin we will. Send better is not possible, already used good ones”
Even under this kind of pressure nobody wanted to anger Lord Sneek any more, he was the Master of all assassins after all.

Kritislik saw no choice but to continue. “We have reaped all the Black Corn we could before the advancing Germans. We also have great stores of it and the mushroom farms. In some parts where we could not gather the Black Corn in time time or where the treacherous humans destroyed tunnel entrance we let Clan Pestilens at it.Lord Nurglitch, by now the Germans should be diseased and too weak to fight but they do do? Why do the humans not die?”
The rasping blubbering speech that emerged under the cloaking swarm of flies and bandages should have been the hallmark of a Skaven about to die-yet the Lord of Clan Pestilens was alive and kicking since hundreds of years.
“Germans kill the flies and bugs in the March somehow. They dare kill the pets of Grandfather Nurgle. They bring their own water and food while they scorn the bounty of the March. They wash themselves more often than painted whores-it will be a much much work before Clan Pestilens can bring them the blessings blessings. But wait till they get into the city city-there they cannot avoid accepting the gifts and Nurgle will bring them such gifts as they have never seen.”
“Let them into the city? Are you insane. This is where we live. This is where we build our machines, where be breed our servants, this is where we worship the Horned Rat. We need to kill them before they reach the city city.”
“And how do you propose we do that Lord Verminkin? I have not seen Clan Moulders creations do any better better than the rest of us us”
“Let them come to us us. Let them come to the city and I will welcome them. They will all die die”

The voice was arguably the voice of Lord Burr, Guardian of the Temple. Yet it seemed to come from the middle of the table, where the empty seat reserved for the Horned Rat was. Lord Burr would recall hearing the words but would always deny speaking them. However that happened, it ended the discussion.

Blighted March close to Skavenblight, 2. Bäckertag, Brew Time

Ulrich Stoiber was adjusting the view of his camera on the monitor in front of him. He would have preferred to have his head outside and use binox but currently the tank was under NBC-lockdown. All hatches were closed, all seals inflated and the ventilation via filter was providing some overpressure in case of a small leak. It was not as bad as it would have been before, the camera and monitor he was provided served far better than the vision slots of olden days.
Earlier some Plague Monks had infiltrated the lines of the 7th Panzer division and dropped some Poison Wind globes among the rows of the tanks and Panzer Grenadiers. They did not kill anybody as mask training had been highly emphasized during the last weeks but now everybody was uncomfortable under masks.

At present the units involved with the operation were on hold as the Skaven in front of them were subject to an artillery barrage mixed with occasional bombing runs and nobody wanted to get into that mess. Neither did the Skaven but they had fewer choices left. From what Stoiber had heard the Skaven had been in full retreat when a flight of Tornado bombers had plugged their tunnel entrances explosively. Now they were in the middle of the Mother of all Traffic jams and got plastered mercilessly. Mist and smoke hit the sordid details and infrared which pierced these veils gave moving blobs of greenish light that ran this way and that before the dropped and cooled.
Switching back to visible light to discern more about an interesting blob he saw something like a free running Hamster wheel on steroids that seemed to mount some sort of beam weapons. It zig-zagged along the battlefield doing faster turns than a rabbit on cocaine.
A couple of tracers chased after it and one finally connected with the mad construct, obliterating it totally. Tracing back the tracers the tank commander found a “Jaguar” tank. Based on the running gear and hull of a Puma IFV it had a 105 and a 30 mm cannon. Stoiber was not so hot on the latter and would have preferred a coax machine gun and more main gun ammo, but as the kill just showed, that autocannon had its places. As calling it Puma 105 had been confusing the name “Jaguar” was chosen when the old missile tanks that carried that name before were stood down and converted for lack of enemies worthy of their expensive armament.

His Wolfpack was not needed at present, their role was the combat of at least partially supernatural enemies in which they had shown great aptitude during the Battle in Sylvania. He was quite content to have others getting their hands dirty. The next day put the Germans within sight of Skavenblight having traversed 250 kilometers worth of March and Skaven within very few days. Their final target was in front of them, yet the mostly abandoned mass of decrepit ruins did not ease Ulrich`s mind. The city on his monitor reminded him of an iceberg with 90% under water and out of sight.
He learned how wrong he was much later.

Blighted Marches, 4. Koenigstag, Brew Time

The nature of the enemy was strange but very powerful and made them undeniably dangerous. That made special measures necessary that normally would never be considered. The Necromancer closed his mundane senses to the world and trusted the defense of his material body to his apprentice and the armed guards.
His mind adjusted to the world hidden from most and marveled in the flow of energies that was unseen all around him. Disdaining the Winds of Magic filtered by the Towers in Ulthuan or the raw energy of Chaos he concentrated his attention on the ripples and eddies left by the life and death of beings. The picture formed by his mind`s eye was not surprising to him, he had done this before. The Blighted Marches had not gotten their name for the Skaven or the eternal mist and decay that suffused them. It were the dead under the surface of the muddy waters that rested so lightly that had caused the moniker.
Waking these dead up was less the creation of a new undead that were to follow his will, it was more a wake-up call for creatures that had not forgotten old hatred and were willing to rise at the slightest provocation. This was a good thing, there was much work to do and it could also be used to teach his apprentice-not that said worthy thought of himself like that-yet.

Pushing them message that it was time to rise to the many dead below was easy-to give them precise instructions and to wake them up in batches of hundreds was hard work. The warpstone that was so prevalent in this area helped him to conclude the task he had set himself for the day.
Pulling himself back into his otherworldly flesh he saw his guards cautiously watching him while trying to hide the fact. In front of them more than a thousand undead shuffled to move ordinary lines as their regiments had been untold years earlier. They waited for his commands.
Taking a deep gulp from the goblet offered to him he addressed his client. “So, Major Gerber-as requested this batch will seek out all warpstone within 500 meters of this beacon wherever you put it-that is also where they will put the warpstone. Herr Koch here will easily be able to modify their orders, I will be around for a couple of more days if you need more of these.
“Thank you Herr von Carstein-I think.”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-11-21 11:14am

Neustadt, Naggaroth, roughly same time

Naggaroth is a chilly place in the Brewtime already but currently Elrik Straker wished for less clothes or something cool. He was sweating all over and his skin felt as if he had a severe sunburn. He did not really realize any of that as the view in front of him was just overwhelming.
A pair of pear shaped containers, much bigger than him were heated to incredible temperatures. A banshee-like wail emitted from a box that supposedly pushed air so strongly that it went through the molten ore in the one container like the bubbles a child might make though a straw into his drink.
The other was just tipped forward and poured many tons of molten glowing steel forward. All of this gave the overwhelming sensation of titanic work and achievement together with a whiff of hell. The hall he was in was far too loud for any conversation and he was led to the much quieter office of the overseer where a beaming Thorsten Breitkop offered explanation.

“What you have just witnessed is called a Bessemer converter. It is used to convert pig iron to high-quality steel-and the converter you just saw in action gives 30 tons of that in one go. The pair of them makes more steel in a week than the rest of Naggaroth in a year.”
“Wonderful, simply wonderful”

He sat down with Claus Tolles in another office an hour later and a glass of good schnapps-a taste he had acquired during the last year- and savored the taste for a minute. He was a powerful Druchii in his role as Malekith`s majordomo but the Fortress of Despair was his chosen domain. Here he was out of his depth and not among his people-none of that soothed his mind.
“You seemed less than enthused when Thorsten presented his new toy, what is up?”
“Ah, a marvelous achievement and it will allow many new enterprises and weapons I am sure.”
“And so it will bring much upheaval among the Lords.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Good steel has nearly the price of silver and a lot of Lords have paid fortunes to acquire stores of it to make the tools of war. Now these stores will be worth far less. But do not worry about it as it is only a drop in the ocean of unrest that your works have unleashed.”
“That bad?”
“Worse. Your Auxilia is the most powerful infantry unit of its size in all of Naggaroth and nobody has yet seen what happens when your Black Company and they work together. As you are loyal to Malekith only that makes a lot of Lords uneasy.

That all Druchii have to spend more efforts to keep our slaves from running as they all dream of working for you is but a nuisance.
Your new inventions have brought great wealth to some. Urglieth Jerres –that is Lord Jerres these days-has amassed a great fortune in a very short time and he is not the only one. But for every newly rich Druchii there is one who has lost a fortune and two who envy the lucky one. And we are Druchii, so you can imagine how we deal with this kind of tension-bloodily.
The joined stock companies are another thing. Don`t get me wrong, overseeing them has made me fabulously rich but now a lot of the Lords get ideas. Did you know that Lord Jerres send saboteurs to burn Lord Irrles river boats so his railroad had more customers?
A lot of these conflicts end up in front of Malekith who has to decide. Up to a point that is a good thing as it gives him more power-but we are fast approaching the point where his patience is exhausted and then Khaine help everybody who is in the vicinity.

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan, 6. Festtag, Brew Time

Cales, Sword Master of Hoeth, watched the sun reflect of the directly of the tastefully shining ceremonial armor of Thyrion. The light shone through slender windows that made up one of the long walls of Dragon Keep`s great hall. Having displaced Korhal from the place of honor for the occasion the Prince`s entourage had taken great care to time the ceremony just right for this to happen. That served to distinguish Thyrion from the lesser nobles better than an otre` amount of jewelry or an artificially elevated place. Nothing else in the room could distract from the Prince, it was sparsely equipped with deceivingly simple-looking furniture that could keep the attention for hours of one let them.

Thyrion himself projected an air of casual charm and seemed slightly amused at the proceedings. Cales was only too used to the Princes ways and concentrated his attention on the visitors who were quite unusual in these halls. For the first time in elven memory humans were entertained in these halls as guests of honor. And these humans were quite unusual, even if Cales could not immediately say why. A quick check revealed that the four were quite mundane, even if all of them carried several wards. That these were bigger than any human he had so far met, but that was not the disquieting part as they were still about the same height than the assembled elves, even if broader around shoulders and limbs.

The swordmaster decided it was the little things that got him. The faces and any other exposed skin was free of the blemishes, smallpox scars or warts that humans so often carried. Their clothing and any other attire had a workmanship that elevated it far above anything that Cales had seen from other human factions. His fine eleven senses could not detect any of the smells that usually emanated from humans like a cloud of flies from dung. If he could detect anything it was a faint smell of some perfume-in a human soldier a totally unheard of thing. So what was getting his attention so much without expressing itself to his conscious mind?
“Prince Thyrion, nobles of Ulthuan, I am Oberleutnant Ernst Hermann of the KSK. My armsmen and me have been sent as military observers to the Dragon Gate by the German government to learn about the conflict between your armed might and the treacherous Druchii.”
Ah-that was it, the teeth. Cales had yet to meet the human older than 6 or so that had all of his teeth in good order-and here they were as white and even as those of an Ulthuan noble. An Asurian smile from a human face was most disconcerting.

A while later he found himself having small talk with Korhal, commander of the Dragon Gate. Of course the Germans were the subject, especially their officer who just finished a conversation with Thyrion. “Have you seen the sword this Hartmann wears? Does he think that we are some savages from the Old World that he thinks he needs to impress? And does he really think that he can use that useless piece of dead steel?”
“I am not sure why he wears it-might be as he is the only officer around and we have never seen officers of this “KSK” before-maybe they all do? Be that as it may I am not totally sure that he cannot use it-the way he moves with it indicates that he at least used to wear it. And if you look at the handle than this sword has seen some use.”

“Actually he indicated that he practices with it regularly and that he-in his own words-at least does not cut off his own foot with it” Both Elves were too well controlled to jump at the voice of Thyrion that cut through their conversation. “I think that this is his way to show humility to which he is of course well entitled to. But we can change that, can`t we? Cales would you be so nice to give fencing lessons to this Ernst Hartmann?”
Cales, who practiced sword fighting for more than 200 years and was renown for his skill even in a group of Asur specialized in it started to bristle at have to teach a mere human before he started to smile.
“I will do my very best my Prince. I cannot promise for the results though.”

"I am sure you will do your best Cales, as always."

Camp Hohenstaufen, 7. Sigmarstag, Brew Time

The monitor in front of Sleeneck displayed a house. He spoke “Tarquelt” into the stalk he had learned to call Microphone and repeated it several times. Next he scratched the Skaven pictogram for house onto the pad in front of him.
When he clicked the button to signify he was done the monitor showed several houses “Targuelts”. It was half an hour later that “his” German told him that he was done for today. This time no latch opened but the human offered a small brown square he had taken from a bag. By the Horned Rat-chocolate. He had just tasted it once before and it was all his aspirations rolled into one. And this piece was bigger than the last one. For about a second Sleeneck felt guilty-he had not given away any secrets, why did the Germans reward him so? Just as he thought them the Skaven words for nonthreatening things?

“You like chocolate don`t you?”
“Yes, yes”
“Well, I offer you a deal then. You can have this now-no strings attached-or you wait for 10 minutes. If you can wait that long I give you two.”
Sleeneck`s first reflex was to rip the chocolate out of the Germans hands and nearly got up from his chair. “You are not joking joking human – I get one more piece if I just wait 5 minutes”
“Yes, you do, promise”
“Then I will..I will wait.”
“Fine, I will be back in five.”
The Germans had so far not tortured Sleeneck-but now they started to do so. The German placed the bar of delicacy directly on the table in front of the Skaven and walked out of the room.
The brown piece looked at him. “Take me, you know you want it it” it seemed to say. His tongue could already taste it, his nose twitched and his snout started to salivate from the sight and delicate smell. It looked so good and it could be his immediately. Just then he would not get the second piece and that was even better, wasn`t it? But who would believe that promise. Maybe the German would not bring a second piece, why would he. Or take away this piece for him being so gullible?

The Skaven`s right hand pulled his left one back that had nearly snatched the delicacy from the table. Sleeneck spend the next 4.2 minutes punching the next wall in frustration and running in circles while having conversations in his mind.
The German brought the second piece exactly on time before slapping Sleeneck on his back and bringing him to the next training session, called “Boss for a day”

Skavenblight, 8 Brunntag, morning

Lord Paskit personally visited some of the defenses that had been prepared along one of the ways leading into Skavenblight from the Blighted March. The Skaven had always relied more on the March and their hidden location than on fixed fortifications for their defenses. There were city walls from the time when Skaveblight was still called Tyros. Even Skaven neglect and malignant nature had not been able to tear these majestic edifices down, yet against the firepower the Germans had demonstrated several times they seemed a pitiful defense.

That had not kept Paskit from manning them with Skaven drawn from the lesser clans yet he did not expect to see any of them again or playing any role but speed bump. Instead the Skaven had converted every house and ruin along the likely avenues of approach into miniature fortresses with barricades doors and windows, reinforced walls and tunnels between each of them. Jezzails, ratling guns and warpcannon all had secure firing positions and Plague Monks stood ready to throw their best globes full of pestilent death.

The Germans would have to dig out every one of them and there were thousands of them. In the close confines they would not be able to play to their strengths and would suffer high losses. Yes, this was a good plan, much better than letting the Germans into the undercity. He had sold this strategy as “slowing the Germans down and bleeding them” but he would kill them up here and show everybody that he was the Lord of the Warrior Clans.
Having a last look at the street he saw the empty cobblestones, the trash to the sides, the ramshackle walls of the aboveground buildings, all cloaked in a dense unmoving mist-just like he liked it. Hurrying with his entourage towards the entrance to the next tunnel underground he heard a strange noise he could not place, a sort of mechanical purring.

About 200 meters above him Nathan Alpers made his way down the same ally and saw it only on the monitor displaying the scans done by a MM-wave radar under the fuselage of his Storch. He would have preferred to eyeball the city himself, but it was safer with the fog and next to no wind was an important requirement for what was to follow.
When he reached the cities center he turned his plane in a tight circle and flew down the same lane as before. Pressing a button on his stick a small canister dropped from his plane, deployed a chute and landed in the alley, joined by another one at the roads end.
“Storch 06 for Grey Lady 01-beacons in place and radiating”
“Grey Lady for Stork 06 acknowledged, commencing bombing run”

Nathan made sure he was away quite a bit when the huge bomber lined up the two beacons he had just placed. He had cleared the mist by climbing a first-row seat to watch the old warhorse open its cavernous bomb bays and an endless stream of black cannisters drop from it. They all dropped smaller bombs in return which ejected parachutes just when they disappeared in the mist.

Unseen by the German pilot the cannisters were ruptured by small explosions and formed halos of ethylene oxide around them for the briefest of moments. When these halos had time to mix up with oxygen from the atmosphere sufficiently another series of small explosions fired them up. What happened next was technically a conflagration rather than an explosion but in practice this did not make much of a difference. A row of fireballs emerged from the mist, eating their way into Skavenblight. Pressure waves that were vastly powerful merged into even more devastating shockwaves and washed over the hiding places of the defenders.
Buildings collapsed, walls fell inwards, and Skaven were burned in the fireballs. All of these were side effects. The real killer, the killer that would leave even the Skaven speechless were the overpressure and the following partial vacuum that tore the lungs of its victims.
Five minutes before a vast army of Skaven had stood ready to kill any interloper into their domain-now scattered survivors staggered through their burial ground. They could see the terrible effects better with any minute a wind came up and pushed the mist away that had so far graciously coated the carnage after several dozen meters. It also allowed them to hear the explosions and the rumble of German war machines from the walls better.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-11-27 09:35am

German Field Camp, near Skavenblight, 8. Brunntag

Since Ulrich Stoiber´s "Wolfpack" was not needed in the prelim fights, his unit had a holiday, so to speak. Back in the main camp the panzer were once again checked and resupplied. Due to it not taking all too long, the Crews had nearly whole day for recreation.
Ulrich was very fond of his Leopard 2A8, even without the clerical sanctioning done by the Wolf priests. Nor could the stopgap design process leading to the A8 diminish this fondness. It was a tank design for this new world they were now inhabitants of and it did that job very well.
But progress did not stop and for the Skaven campaign KMW, Rheinmetall, Porsche, MAN and Daimler-Benz had done their utmost to deliver at least prototypes to the Bundeswehr. The new Jaguar MBT had the broadest distribution so far and Stoiber and his crew had already met one in the field, killing that strange Skaven combat wheel.

Ulrich did not know what to think of that design. He was too much of an old school tanker to consider a tank derived from an infantry vehicle to be "real" Main Battle Tank, but he saw the advantages. Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann´s new product was easy, fast and comparatively cheap to produce. It´s platform build enabled one hell of possible variant designs and the configurable armour packs could be fitted to the situation at hand. It even had some protection his Leopard 2A8 did not have . Like his namesake, the Jaguar could be a deadly, nimble and fast hunter, as another nod at the new reality, all Jaguars had a fold-out seat for a possible on-board sorcerer.
Still, until he could test drive one first, Ulrich would never part with his actual "Eisenschwein".

The polar opposite in design intentions to the Jaguar Ulrich saw sitting in the officer´s club, drinking a refreshing fruit mix. Rolling to the supply stations was a not-any-longer Leopard 3. The ministry had wanted to keep ties to the Wehrmacht at bay and named the new Panzer Leopard 3. But even the civilians after some newspaper reports had begun to refer to Germany´s newest and heaviest MBT as a Tiger. There simply were so many similarities in design philosophy that it was obvious to name it so, the relation was clear.
Company founder Ferdinand Porsche would have been proud of his design department. The new Tiger was what Porsche had hoped for in the old Tigers, but was impossible due to the technological level of that time. Technological advances and a bit of magic had made it possible now.
The new Porsche Panzer was a rolling fortress, impressively armed and armoured, active and passive defence systems installed, having a place for a sorcerer as well, very agile and fast for a Tank of it´s size. But this all-around prowess came at a price, a really big price tag. Compared to the new Jaguar, the new Tiger was hideously expensive, so it was no surprise that up to now only a company of vehicles had been bought by the Bundeswehr. And the crews getting to operate them were the envy of the Panzer Corps.
Ulrich was sure that if the Panzer was really as good as he had heard so far, the Armed Forces would buy quite a number more, no matter the price. But equally sure was that the majority of tankers would drive the Jaguar, the Tigers like their older relatives would be reserved for veteran and elite formations.

Amusingly Porsche at the moment was making even more money with Panzer parts than with the Panzer itself. Having obviously a design department filled with nerds, the Stuttgart company had designed 14 track types, each for specific terrain situations, for their "baby". With the exception of 2 types, all other were universal, so the Moorketten (Swamp tracks) were in massive demand by all units with tracked vehicles.

And a small family-owned company was making good money as well, thanks to their passion for history. They were producing and delivering an upgraded Zimmerit mix anew for some vehicles. Back on Earth, magnetic mines were an outdated old hat, but on Warhammer some idiot might come up with it again.
The newly designed combat vehicles already had some varied defenses installed, but older types got patches of Zimmerit coating, up to a full coating like in the old days. Indeed, Ulrich´s A8 had it´s underbelly covered with the stuff, reducing the danger of magnetic "outch", should someone invent it.
Someday, their own German "Stary hats and robes" would be tasked to develop another, cheaper solution to the actual systems and Zimmerit, but that was something not for the short, but medium future.

Skavenblight, 8. Brunntag later that day

Meister Keppel had one of the best look-outs that could be had in this battle but that did not mean he enjoyed the view. Skavenblight was a depressing place of crumbling buildings with empty windows that stared like eyeholes from a skull, sagging roads and ever-present decay. The fact that a bright sun shone mercilessly on the battlefield did not improve the sight any but exposed brutal detail.
The celestial mage was sitting inside a cupola made of armored glass on top of a low-slung tracked vehicle. Formerly a “Raketenjagdpanzer” (missile armed-tank destroyer) it had been remodeled into a “Beobachtungspanzer” (scout tank) when its TOW missiles no longer had worthy targets. Most of them were now equipped with sophisticated sensors and drones, yet a few had been modified to be used by mages. Armed only with a remote control machine gun they protected him far better than an amulet and a few armsmen. If he had to go to war at all, then going in an armored shell while sitting down was the way to do it.
And he had some new toys to work with-drones. Of course seeing the target of his spells directly was preferable, but the high-definition video provided by the drones together with good data on their position allowed him to do quite a lot remotely. Most of the time he was supporting the allied troops by either banning enemy spells or by detecting traps ahead of the time, something his order was good at.

“Himmel 02 von Hammer 06, we are approaching a series of barricades across the street. Do you have anything for us?”
Keppel was able to see the barricades directly from afar and had a bird`s eye view via the drones. Putting his head back against his seat he let his mind doing the watching instead of his senses.
“There is something nasty at the left flank, I`d say a warpstone-fuelled trap. And there might be gutter runners in the building to the right”
“Hammer 06-thanks loads.”
A small greenish explosion and the squealing from the CS-soaked building proved the celestial mage right.
He was about to congratulate himself when he barely caught a Skaven spell in time. That one would have been nasty-“Eye of the Warp” but he managed to break it in time. The Skaven mage was well hidden and immediately tried something else-this was going to be back-breaking.

Skavenblight, different part, same time

“Find them and kill them” Udo Meins stared at the tunnel entrance before his squad while he waited for the go. It was ominous, dark, emitted a fetid smell and was sure to contain crazed Skaven and deadly traps. He could sense the tension in his soldiers, it was more than the usual pre-combat tension as entering a dark hole triggered many deep-seating fears.
He wanted to go in, urgently. Last weeks the bleeding rats had killed his brother Gerd when he was on a supply run with a hovercraft. Why did he have to play hero goddamn it? He had been through the first pain, through denial and a certain acceptance. It had come with a mantra whenever he thought about the Skaven and his brother.
“Find them. Find them and kill them.”

He was so keyed up that he punched the shoulder of the “Panzerfaust” gunner besides him before the Lt. had finished the go signal. Said gunner triggered his weapon which was curiously muted and ejected a lot of black plastic chips from its backside. The front end was a different matter. The warhead flew straight into the tunnel. Smoke, flames and a deep rumbling spoke of a thermobaric warhead that killed all defenders that were too close.
Blowing his whistle and running forward without checking if anybody followed the German Sergeant ran towards the tunnel.
“Find them, find them and kill them”

Skavenblight, different part, same time

Joakim Vos pushed his way into another building. It had been left standing by the bombing and had to be checked for survivors and tunnels. The passageways were too broken for the “Schwert” drones to make it through, so humans had to do the job. He was well armored against most threats and enjoyed the well-filtered air that he did not have to suck through a filter himself. Yet none of that mattered with his current problem.
“Reik Actual from Beetle 06-no survivors in this building. There is one possible tunnel entrance, we will leave some mines a few meters downrange and close the entrance with a charge. We need a burial detail?”
“Reik Actual for Beetle 06-what for?”
“House is full of dead Skaven slaves Sir, all human.”
“Sigmar wept.”
“Reik actual-these humans were all armed, I suspect they would have attacked us if they were still alive.”
“Beetle 06-you are right-the Skaven have killed their minds long ago, the bodies just had to follow.”

2000 meters AGL, Skavenblight, same time

“Target is at coordinates …., will be illuminated from two minutes.”
“Rhino 14 acknowledges”
Simone Rausch saw a maker appear in her HUD that gave her a steering clue when Peter Fahs, her WSO put in the coordinates into his systems. Pulling her Phantom into a lazy curve she lined it up with her target. There would be no extra approach around this time, she had learned that lesson at high cost.
“Rhino 14 has passed IP, ETA to target 1 minute”
“Rhino 14, target is illuminated.”
20 Seconds later a warbling sound told the German pilot that her bomb`s laser seeker “saw” the spot of ground that radiated coherent light at the right pulse rate. The change in sound and the HUD told her when the plane was in the basket-the place where the bomb needed to be dropped.
The departing 500-pound weapon did not make the plane jump much, the effect groundside was more spectacular. A house that was occupied by Skaven who had not been able to get away vanished in a cloud of smoke, just to reappear as a settling pile of rubble.
“Rhino 14, target eliminated, going back to holding position. 20 Minutes to Bingo fuel.”

Skavenblight, different part, same time

Kargan Ironbeard found that something new every day is something you can get used to as well. Especially if the new things you learn are often about stuff making your life easier. The new thing he learned today was something like that and he highly approved. Together with his Thunderers he checked house after house alongside the road the allies wanted to use to access the inner City and besides some badly placed traps and survivors will all the combat power of a newborn kitten he found corpses.
Burned corpses, corpses with missing limbs, corpses pierced by fly debris but mostly still corpses with no visible injury besides some blood from mouth and nose. Lots of them, great bleeding lots of dead Thagoraki. Ironbeard liked that state of affairs very very much, his approval only muted by two things. The power that had produced this veritable mountain of dead rats did not rest with the Dawi. The second was that this was just a skirmish-the real battle waited underground and there the Germans could not apply this particular trick in such spectacular size.
The real battle was still to come, but even of that Kargan approved-the Book of Grudges still had many pages that needed to be taken care of.

Outside Skavenbight, 10. Baekertag, Brew Time, evening

“Thanks Gottlieb” Henrik Gerber plonked on the chair that Gottlieb Pfeil, one of his Lieutenants had kept it clear for him. The command tent filled up quite rapidly and before long General Wolf climbed the podium erected for him which brought everybody else to attention.
“At ease everybody, sit down. Let me give you the news and our fresh orders. The good news is that as of noon today we have taken Skavenblights upper city. There are only small pockets of resistance left and they won`t last long.
The enemy has suffered heavy losses during this operation, we are still trying to count how many ratmen we killed. Gentlemen-congratulations. Now for the bad news.”
An aide unveiled the first map of the day and despite the disciplined military audience an audible murmur rose. The map looked strange for a very simple fact-it showed the vertical as opposed to the horizontal. On top it had a small line broken by the symbols of houses, walls and streets. Below that there was a huge blob that extended in every direction with all the symmetry and sense of a malignant tumor.

Henrik had used the analog of an iceberg for Skavenblight before with the major part below the waterline. This map, provided it was accurate showed him his error. Icebergs have just 90% of their bulk unseen. The Undercity of Skavenblight was far far bigger in comparison to the city above.
“You all have obviously seen the bad news already without me having to point it out to you. Our job is not half done, it is not even one-tenth done. But we will do it, have no doubt. This map was made with something the Germans call echolocation and reveals all the major caverns and tunnels under us. It cannot show minor tunnels or subdivisions, but even so we can see that this Undercity had huge tunnels, extensive open underground spaces and lots of areas that are more tightly packed than the worst slums of Altdorf.
We cannot know exactly how many creatures live below but we have to estimate the population in many millions.

Yet despite all that bad news this map also shows us how to win the coming underground campaign. If you at the places of this map marked with a stylized pump you will find 13 of them. They are more or less evenly distributed around the blasted city and without them the Skaven would either drown or suffocate. So, if we capture these pump stations and control them we can force the Skaven to give up-or drown them like the rats they are.
Our job is pump station 8, this one. We will go for it starting from coming Angertag, but do not expect this to be quick or easy. As we need to secure our supply lines and remove the warpstone from all areas we want to occupy this can only be done methodically, slowly and surely. Anybody who thought he would be home for Christmas please get rid of this illusion."

800 meters below ground, Skavenblight, same time

“I said toe the line exactly, idiot idiot. But you have 9 more toes if you want to repeat this error, maggot maggot.” Gleepk thought he had been afraid when the Germans had dropped their bombs on him. He had been wrong-now he was afraid. He was together with 50 other drivers and other former workers who were now induced into the army of the glorious clans Mors in a large cavern lighted by flickering flames and green warplight. It illuminated all too clearly the object of his fear-a big, scarred and experienced Clanrat wielding a rusty, freshly blooded halberd that was to train and command them. He currently walked up and down the line of recruits and berated them for their failures, real and imaginary. Everybody tried to toe the line exactly, stand as still as any Skaven could and not draw attention to them in any way. Well, everybody but the unfortunate who might or might now had his feet a millimeter in front of the line. He was also quiet but the blood on the floor and the severed toe would draw attention anyway.

“You are the worst excuse for Skaven I ever had my eyes on on. You too stupid even to follow the easiest orders orders. I said “toe the line line.” Everybody can do that. I have human slaves that can do that and giant rats can do it too. But you are too stupid to do it. You are weak-livered cowards who will vent their panic gland the first second they see a human human. But I will train you to bet better and you will be become better-or you will be missing parts parts.”
Gleepk was very very afraid-but not of the Germanys any more.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-01 12:14pm

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan, 11. Bezahltag, Brew Time

Isa of the House Heras was good at hiding things. She was 418, yet neither Asur nor human could even guess the right century from her erect stance, fine slender figure or even unlined skin. Her financial straits were dire, yet neither her clothing nor her household reflected that as she was making sure to extract the most value from what she had and worked hard to maintain her belongings well.
And now she was aghast at what Korhal had done to her, it was an affront of the highest order and the loss of face in front of her equals that would result from this indignity was driving her mad but she went through with it with grace, and even face and a welcoming smile that never reached her eyes. As her husband had the bad taste to die in battle some time ago and the unusual fertility and the fate of House Heras dictated that she had to give adequate dowry to no less than three daughters her finances were not good. The Dragon Gate garrison had therefore had made a point to move long-term guests into her house to give her a source of income, something she was glad of. Currently she housed several Sword Masters which reinforced the defenders.But all of that did not make her an animal minder, damn Korhal`s eyes. And still she managed to keep her countenance up while she was sullied so.

“Lady Heras, I have been told that your House would extend its hospitality towards me and my men. I could hardly believe my luck and thank you for such a generous offer. I can barely recompense such an offer but would be overjoyed of you would accept a small gift of spices.”
“I welcome you to my humble abode Oberleutnant Hartmann, you and your armsmen are guests of my house as long as you wish. Thank you for the gift, I am sure that they will improve the meager provisions of this house.”
“Lady Heras, please let me introduce my armsmen. This is Staff Sergeant Blascoviks, this is our Sniper Zimmermann and Medic Kühn.”
“You too are welcome in my House.”

She went through the rest of the introductions and the tour of her facilities like a well-made automaton, every word and gesture prescribed by custom and century-old practice. That the Germans were conforming to these customs was so unlike her expectations that she was glad she could hide her unease behind the façade of etiquette and manners until she could come to grips with the unexpected. The Germans were scrupulously clean and well maintained where she had anticipated dirt and smells. They were soft-spoken and quiet where she had expected loud-mouthed boasts and insults. They were clean-faced and –limbed where she had guessed for scars, warts and awkwardness. They were showing Asurian manners that were worthy of a youngster or a child at least where she had anticipated ignorance.
In some way that was making it worse-instead of harboring dirty apes she was now the host to shaved, clean apes that could perform tricks and mocked the true Elves. She hated the Germans already and their leader in particular, but even an Asur who knew her would not have guessed so by listening to her.
Isa was good at hiding things.

120 Meters below, Skavenblight, 11. Bezahltag, Brew Time

“HESH up”
“On the way”
The 120 mm cannon roared and send a round downrange. It flew for less than 400 meters until it hit a low structure of stones and concrete that blocked the way. It sported a warpcannon and several ratling guns which made it worthy of the tanks attention.
When the round connected to the bunkers wall it did not penetrate the walls, but collapsed and for a brief moment left a patty of explosives there before detonating. The resulting shockwaves ripped through the stone and concrete, ripping off huge parts at the far side and shooting them through the room inside.
The dropping barrel and the green smoke that emerged from the slits told the story, but Ulrich Stoiber was not convinced. “Stein actual from Wolf 01-I will advance to the structure, keep close but get ready to jump out of our way”
“Stein actual acknowledges”

Driving the heavy tank forward the German tank commander marveled at the huge tunnel he was in. At least the equivalent of the tunnel under the Elbe it served as one of the ways into Skavenblight and was heavily defended. He had been astonished to find such huge passageways where he had expected to find only a warren fit for termites. Instead his tank drove a cobblestones road of at least 20 meters width sitting in a succession of larger caverns and tunnels. There had been illumination in form of oil lamps and similar, not burned out as the caretakers were no longer there. Besides the lights the Germans brought there was only the sickly green light of warpstone that provided a spotty illumination.
And yet the many smashed carts that lined the roads into Skavenblight had provided the answer for that: Skavenblight was an important center of population and industry and as such had to be supplied with a great lot of materials. These passageways were absolutely essential for the Undercity as high-capacity roads were for any big German city.
Unfortunately the areas to the left and right of the road was as heavily-build up as he had expected and then some. Securing the main passageways was as important as it was easy for the Germans, but the heavy lifting would be done elsewhere.

When his tank reached the bunker he positioned it on the far side of it, watching the infantry that had followed in the cover provided by his Leo. They dropped some grenades through the slits before they entered the position. Ulrich`s monitor showed flashes through the slits where the soldiers employed their assault rifles when entering a new room and then a bigger flash and smoke. The calls for a medic via the wireless reveled that to be the result of a trap.
He spotted the sally from a nearby tunnel mouth at the same time than his gunner which made him fight the remote control weapons station for direction when the turret went for the new targets. Both of them opened fire with their machine guns before the bulk of the Skaven had crossed the passage which made for a nasty massacre. He was alarmed when there were several impacts against the rear of his turret-that was where the main gun ammo was stowed.
“Stein actual for Wolf 01-we just scratch some rats from your back end”
“Thanks Stein”
In the end he had to keep this station for several hours while the infantry was relieved-he had a fully-fledged NBC-system while they only had their masks and suits. Yet they could take a leak without using a bottle.

80 meters below, Skavenblight, same time

Kargan Ironbeard had already learned that all the nice new toys the Germans used had drawbacks, sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger ones. The Protective mask he wore allowed him to fight at all, the Thagoraki were just too good at poison warfare, but it had a number of drawbacks. Having to suck air in with force, the restricted field of view or the smell-all minor drawbacks gladly endured for the advantage they brought. But there was a huge price to pay which he did not enjoy at all: Vaseline.
He still remembered when the German instructor had placed a big pot of it in front of them when it came to practical instruction. “I have been informed that it is not reasonable for you to shave your beards and so I will not suggest it. The only little problem with that is that your masks will not reliably seal around so much facial hair. The only way around that is to grease your beards with Vaseline liberally, that works. So, before we go to the test chamber please apply yourself.”
The trip to the room the Germans called “Gas Chamber” only when they thought nobody would overhear them immediately showed everybody why this was disgusting but necessary. Those Dawi who had not used enough of the stuff felt the CS-Gas in that room badly. He did not have to like the feeling-but he enjoyed the freedom from the Poison Wind it brought. And if you had to endure the bleeding masks and the never sufficiently damned Vaseline they brought a few new possibilities to their combat.

Currently Kargan was standing in a mixed squad of Thunderers and Germans in a room full of decrepid furniture and filth while watching a German apply a pack to the floor.
“Fire in the hole, stand back”
The explosion was muffled as it was directed downwards by a water-filled sack placed on top of the explosives. The mixed squad then went into a frenzy of activity they had exercised what seemed like hundreds of times. A Dawi ripped the sack away while two Germans dropped several grenades through the hole in the floor.
Everybody jumped back for a moment while the explosives ravaged the room below and white smoke crept from the just made whole. Kargan and three others stepped forward and jumped into the room and scanned the corners and openings. The room they were in was thoroughly trashed but had no defenders. Two of them stumbled into the rooms through a door, more than half-blind and close to suffocation due to the CS two of the grenades had distributed. It was doubtful they had sensed the assailants in any way as they ran around without direction weakly stabbing daggers at nothing. Kargan fired his shotgun at one of them, ripping off an arm and exposing most of the upper body organs, the other ran into a 3-round burst from a G3.
Kargan took a second look, saw nothing and his “Clear” was loud enough in spite of the mask and his sudden lack of breath. Four Germans piled up on both sides of the door, threw another grenade and fired a burst into the next room before storming it.

Kargan barely had time to normalize his breathing-for what value of normal existed with the bloody mask-before he had to take his group into the next set of rooms. It was during the fourth change of guard that he became a little too complacent. The Thagoraki were all overwhelmed by the CS and posed no real threat, especially when shell-shocked or injured by frag grenades. The Skaven that jumped from a half-buried doorway therefore came as a surprise when it moved normally-and for a Skaven that meant very very fast. He barely had time to see the primitive googles that protected the eyes or the cloth pad that covered snout and nose. The did see the green globe that was thrown in his general direction, scattering on the floor and adding green fog to the white mist already in the room. For a second nobody moved disbelieving what happened-nothing. Whatever was in that globe did not pass the filters in the masks of either species. The dagger thrown by the Plague monk arrived at Björn`s arm at the same time when Kargan`s shotgun took down the Skaven.
“Man down Man down-Medic”

100 meters below, Skavenblight, one hour later

For now Uwe Meins had exhausted the ghosts that drove him. Like all the other soldiers in his platoon he was totally exhausted from assaulting Skaven defenses again and again. The physical effort that was so much harder wearing chemical protection equipment had played its part, as well as the full-time concentration that had been necessary at all times. Looking for the Skaven, looking for their traps, looking for the tanks that were out to crush them, looking for supplies-the list was endless. And on top of that was the utterly alien environment of off angles, tight spaces and bad lighting that mercilessly revealed the smallest tendency towards claustrophobia.

Now he was leading his soldiers out of the warrens towards the surface for decontamination and some well-earned rest, having surrendered his positions to a fresh unit of Panzer Grenadiers. Marching in single file they were met by a similar formation going down. The sight made everybody stop without any orders, something that normally would have brought the Sergeant to white-hot fury. But normally Bundeswehr soldiers do not meet shuffling skeletons that were led by a somber-clad mage deeper into the warren-to aid them.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-01 12:15pm

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan 13. Angertag Brew Time

Cales, Swordmaster of Hoeth regretted meeting the Germans already. They simply did not know when good was good enough. Erich Hartmann had asked him about a path he might use for exercise runs. Cales approved of such exercises even when he used a regime of calisthenics approved by the gods and perfected over many millennia. That humans were using something much more simple, like running in circles was fitting and to be expected. Looking at the German officer with his heavier chest, arms and legs which should reduce endurance he had offered to show him an appropriate path with a smile.
At first things had gone just fine with the human starting to breathe more heavily by the minute, yet and 15 minutes or so he seemed to have steadied down and easily held the speed set by the Sword Master. Things had gone well till the end of the 8-mile circuit when Cales had worked on a nice sweat and was looking forward to a bath in the sacred pool.

“Nice one, thanks for showing me. Fancy a second round?”
It was during that round that made an enjoyable morning exercise into a chore that the Asur reminded himself not to underestimate these humans, it did not pay. The day before he had indeed started to give fencing lessons to Hartmann. He had not known what to expect, yet humans in general could not match him. What was more, the German officer had protested that he was a mere amateur with the sword and had only started practicing a year before.
Which should have made things very easy-and were not. Hartmann never had a chance to best him but he made him work for it. His sword might not be able to penetrate any armor but it was light enough to be fast and allowed the German to use it effectively at the end of his outstretched arm, something his two-handed sword would not do. It also allowed his student to twist his body out of reach and the basket that protected his hands had taken away another potential target. He could push aside the German blade with his heavier one any time he chose-but that would not win the mock-combat by itself.
Hartmann`s rapier had no place on the battlefield, he freely admitted as much, but on the training grounds the German officer had made the Sword Master sweat before he was able to land mock hits or remove the German`s blade.
But that was all for the better, he actually hoped to improve the Germans sword play and thereby getting closer to him. But till then he was in a 16-mile run and found to his displeasure that he had something to prove

Blighted Marches 13. Angertag Brew Time

Captain Manfred Berger watched the MAN truck lay down another stretch of folding pathway. At least this time he did not have to use them as miserly as the last time. The Bundeswehr had ordered great loads of them after the Battle of Middenheim and the endless work to make the roads there usable. The new ones were simpler and made from galvanized steel instead of costly aluminum. On the other hand he did not have a great Quarry and huge dump trucks at his disposal. There was some of that but not so much as he really needed.
Currently his engineers were improving a stretch of road that the Skaven had built towards Skavenblight. The Rats had done an acceptable job of it, laying great heaps of ballast into the swamp for a dam and then topping it off with cobblestones. Their rickety, iron-wheeled carts could hardly drive on anything else. Unfortunately the drainage of the swamp made parts of the foundations sag and made his people fight an unending battle to keep the roads passable.
The lowering water table also changed the landscape in other ways. It had not been beautiful before-the stagnant waters, the black trees dripping with condensation, the poisonous-looking corn that was left on some fields. But now it was on the verge of dying and got even more disgusting when preparing to rot.

The eternal mist that had shrouded the March was partially lifting even without the help of Celestial Mages as there was less water to evaporate. Normally Berger would appreciate this more if it would not reveal the details of the “Skaven-formed” landscape so much. It also made the soldiers Miragliano had sent stand out more, their brightly-colored uniforms were the only specks of color in this blasted swamp. No skin of Berger`s nose-if they were more visible the Skaven were more likely to attack them instead of his men. And Cosimo had rejected German-style BDU`s if the scuttlebutt could be believed.
The engineer had heard that their commanding officer, one Marcello di Cosimo, continuously applied for his unit to be employed inside Skavenblight where the “real fight” was supposed to be. Berger had tried to explain the importance of good supply lines to the Tilean noble just to learn that said noble did knew about that but cared for his reputation in his home town. Ah well.

The patchy cloud cover also allowed him to spot the Storch plane that patrolled the road endlessly, currently the pilot circled slightly ahead of the engineers towards Skavenblight. Berger knew the signs already and moved back to his unit so he was at hand when his wireless operator told him of approaching Skaven. He was not the only one to notice as the salvos from the Miragliano soldiers and from the machine guns of one of his trucks proved.
In the end he never saw a Skaven in this assault as they had been spotted far too early and retreated when they came under heavy fire. Most of them still died when a pair of Phantoms dropped a couple of cluster bombs on them.
Much better than yesterday-there he even got to shoot himself, but not as good as the day before which had been the first day without any assaults at all. Yet, any day he did not lose a soldier was a good one nut this one was not over yet.

Skavenblight, 20. Koenigstag, Brew Time

“Up and at them” Joakim Vos shouted the command that sent most of his command running for the building in front of him. He stayed behind, like 3 others and shot their “Baseballs” through Windows or the door leading into the warren on the side of a main Passageway. The deep rumbling explosions of the thermobaric warheads were muted by his helmets headset. The flames, smoke and bits of a ratling gun that ejected from the various openings told the tale of a successful strike and prompted him and his half-squad to run for the sides of the door while the others already entered. By now the reports of single shots and the lack of wireless chatter told the Landwehr Sergeant all he needed to know-no unexpected resistance.

Clearing the Skaven housing was pretty much routine by now. Most of the Skaven could hardly fight as they were overwhelmed by a combination of concussion and CS-gas, but there seemed to be more of them with googles and snout pads. He just stormed a room that had been prepared by a hand grenade seconds before when two of these emerged from a doorway to the side. One wielded a dagger, the other a complicated looking pistol from which a round grazed along his pauldron. Two quick bursts from him and his second finished that nonsense and the rest of the building got itself cleared easily.
When Joakim went out he could feel every joint and bone in his tired body. His squad could work through any opposition the Skaven could offer like a stake through an eyeball-but there were very many eyeballs around. He was called whenever heavy, well protected firepower was called for and could not be provided by vehicles, and that was very often in this bleeding warren.

Walking from the front door into the passageway again he spotted a Bundeswehr regular in a tattered uniform missing his weapon that staggered towards his team.
Jens already stepped forward when Joakim stopped him by extending an arm. Something about the man irritated him.
“Halt and be recognized” was projected from two loudspeakers at a volume that would have done a Heavy Metal band proud-but did not faze the figure that approached.
“Halt or we shoot”
Joakim was getting frantic when the figure dissolved himself in an explosion. Not a very big one, but sufficient to shower him and the squad with body parts and to drop him on his ass.
Explosions are strange things, totally destroying one thing and leaving the other unscathed. From where he lay he could see the remarkably intact head of the human still in its helmet. Now he saw what had alarmed him, the still open eyes were emitting a slight green glow.

Camp Hohenstauffen, 13. Angertag Brew Time

Sleenek had wolfed down the last piece of Emmenthaler cheese and found that the monitor had no more pictures for him to name. Instead “his” German moved his chair so he could watch him without the device in the way.
“Thanks for the
“I will not give you any secrets secrets Mathias, even for more Chocolate, I will not”
“And nobody say you will Sleenek. I won`t lie to you and say that we are not interested in them, but I know you are a strong and honorable Skaven and will not do this. But that brings me to another thing and that is your future.”
“What about it it?”
“All wars end sooner or later, right?”
“Yes Yes. So?”
“And when this war is over there will still be Humans and Skaven.”
“And somebody has to lead the Skaven, somebody has to speak for the Skaven. We would prefer somebody strong and honorable, like you. Would back somebody like you in fact.”
“Is that so so?”
“Yes. No need to tell me anything now, think about it and just talk to me when you have questions. Till then-there is a courtyard to sweep I think-and you are the Boss of the Day if I am not mistaken.”
“Need to think, yes yes. Talk later.”

Sleenek found it very hard to sleep that night, he had far too much to think about. What the Germans offered made sense-somebody had to lead the Skaven. And getting up in Skaven society was the goal of any same male, the means to get there purely secondary. He had learned much about cooperation and rules for everybody in the last weeks, the Skaven could use such changes. Need these changes in fact if they wanted to be a power to reckon with.
The last conscious thought before he was asleep was seeing himself in the robes of a member of the council and he had the equivalent of a smile on his face.

He went into the territory of dreams but the place he arrived was not what he was used to. Things were too strange even for a dream-and at the same time they felt so real. He flew-or he would have flown if there was any up or down which there was not. The not-sky had colors for which he had no name which swirled in patterns which made no sense.
He was surrounded by millions upon millions of small-well best call them lights. When he got close to one he was sure that the light was another Skaven but could not say how he got that impression. He knew he was moving somehow but could not get a sense of direction. Yet he got closer to something he could not identify. It was big, bigger than anything Sleenek had ever seen. It looked like an immense mountain range but the shapes were off.
It was when a part of the thing moved that his mind connected the dots. This was a body, these were claws, those were horns and those were teeth. Sharp, serrated claws that belonged to a predator, grey-white furred limbs of immense size and greenly-glowing horns. The bottomless glowing orbs that were bigger than the Camp he was in were eyes. Eyes that for the shortest and most terrible period of time focused on him.
The next morning Sleenek managed to kill Manfred Urban, his “minder” and injure two guards within an inch of their lives before a third took him down.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-01 12:16pm

Skavenbight, 23.Koenigstag, Brew Time

The fingers that put the lantern with its warpstone light inside the trailer creaked alarmingly but did not break off or freeze. The hands owner shuffled off to the sound of clattering bones and made for another round of collecting warpstone items.
None of this were audible-not for the Unimog`s idling engine which towed the trailer or the sounds of the other undead who delivered the take. The overriding sound was the harangue of Otto, Priest of Morr.
“This is an abomination, an affront against all what is holy, a desecration of souls, an insult that is smearing Germany and the Empire it is…”
“Necessary. The undead remove all scraps of Warpstone from the areas that we have so far taken. Actually we have halted out offensive until such time as we have cleaned up the areas so much that we can rest of troops down there without the need for them to be under chemical protection. And the faster we can do that the faster this clusterf… is over. Both of us know that we can hardly remove the warpstone using soldiers-they would become ill in short order. And we certainly do not have enough drones to do the job till Hell freezes over.”
“Major Gerber, do not think me an idiot who is ignorant of all that. Still, that gives you no right to abuse the souls of the dead in such a manner. Do you have no shame, no sense of decency?”

“Otto, we have not created a single undead-what we have done is woke up those who were resting under the March. None of the undead we are using is having a soul-these are simply animated skeletons and their souls has long gone to Morr. We will wake the more animated undead as times and resources allow and will give them to you to lay to rest immediately. But these we need a little longer and then you can do the same.
If we would not have interfered these skeletons would have lain like this for all time or have risen up at an inopportune moment and threatened the living-something they will not do now. So either I can risk the lives of allied soldiers and leave these where they are, or rouse them, use them and give them to you. What is it going to be?”
“You have not heard the last of this-I will protest with your government and petition the Emperor..”
“I wish you all the best with that. My only question is-will you help lay these here to rest when the time is up or will you stay disgusted?”

Camp Köln, close to Tobaro, 25. Markttag, Brew Time

And another new thing, but this time something he could wholeheartedly approve of. The only thing he did not like was the name-how does one pronounce “Picatinny rail” correctly? But apart from that-what an idea. Thunderers always modified their arms to suit their personal preferences and tactical needs. And here the Germans had come up with something that allowed mods on the fly which could be redone in mere minutes. Marvelous.
Currently he discussed options with the armorer he had been referred to, a human of maybe 50 years that sported a decent-sized paunch and obviously knew what he was doing in more ways than one.
“So you`ll help me to mount 3 additional rails to my Bessie?”
“So you`ll help to a cask of Bugmann`s-yes. But for the disposable flame throwers I need a filled out requisition form signed by your commanding officer.”
“I am commanding the 121st Thunderers manling.”
“So, fine, fill out the form-here it is.”
“That is 4 pages.”
“What does that cost?”
“Ah-that. Now, I have a couple of guys who would like a rune on their rifles or bayonets in case they run into something magical, can you help with that?”
“That is worth more than filling in some papers.”
“For the right kind of person I might find a 40 mm grenade launcher that would clip under your Bessie. I`d even fill out the forms…”

Skavenbight, 25. Markttag, Brew Time

Uwe Meins had learned already that firing a machine gun practically vertically down is not that easy and had wedged the Bipod of his MG3 behind a convenient ledge. While he was doing his best to keep the bucking weapon under control he had grazed the big hose that went past him into the warren below. By now it should no longer matter, but even the chemical whiff he received by now set his hair on end.
The bullets he sent down were catching a number of Skaven who tried frantically to scramble upwards on a set of ladders. There were plenty of bodies on the floor to show that this was not a good idea but that did not keep the Rats from trying, no doubt motivated by the same smell that disturbed the Paratrooper Sergeant.

He was about to change belts when a hand dropped on his shoulder. “Out out out” which sent Uwe running down the badly maintained corridor towards the main passageway where he passed the rest of his platoon. He flattened himself against the next sturdy-looking wall just before he was hit by a push followed by a deep rumbling from below. The mouth of the corridor he had just cleared was briefly filled by fire followed by a lot of smoke.
His Platoon together with some engineers had just successfully tested the newest way to clear of the Skaven warrens-fill it with Propane and ignite when the mixture is right. When he reentered the warren later they found it to have worked quite well with having killed nearly all Skaven and as a Bonus many of the traps the Rats liked so much had been triggered by the shockwave.
As long as the Germans were assaulting downwards and the tanks could be brought this should work just fine.

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan, 27. Bezahltag

The room was a testament to elven aesthetics and craftsmanship. The medium sized rooms had proportions that seemed to be just right, the windows gave exactly the light needed at the right time and lend a small gleam of additional colors. The furniture was slender, gracefully curved and looked like it had grown into the shape needed which might even be true. Still everything was artfully understated in sparse pastel colors in a sea of white and off-white so not to distract from the business conducted in this room.
Ernst Hartmann`s BDU, his Laptop, Beamer and assorted equipment clashed badly with these elegant surroundings, something that several of his listeners reflected in barely susceptible way.

“Gentlemen, I have been asked to present the KSK`s findings so far. First off we received the results of the chemical analysis of the soil samples collected from the site of your recent battle. They indicate that the explosive used was dynamite, an explosive often used for demolitions in Germany. It is several times more potent than Black Powder.”
“So you Germans sold this to the Druchii”
“Korhal, we have yet to determine the source of this explosive, but I can assure you that the German government has not sold anything to the Druchii and we have not given export licenses to anybody to do so. Actually there is no direct trade with the Druchii at all. Yet Germany uses several thousand tons of this stuff every year and keeping track of every kilogram is difficult. On top of that Dynamite can be made by everybody with access to standard chemicals and the right chemistry book.”
“So you cannot even control your books?”

The German officer and the Asur looked at each other with incomprehension for five eternal seconds before Hartmann gained an understanding.
“At the very moment there must be hundreds of thousands of chemistry books in Germany and the information is available on Computers connected to the Great Net.”
“Impossible, even you Germans are not that rich”
“Korhal, such a book costs the equivalent of a good meal in a restaurant, not its weight in Silver or Gold”
“What? And even if it were so why do you distribute such knowledge so freely?”
“Because in a technological civilization a basic level of knowledge is necessary for everybody and even for an advanced level there have to be many experts.”
“But this is dangerous?”
“The alternatives are worse.”
“So you say.”
“Yes, I do. But there is more. We have both observed the Dark Elves from the walls and have made numerous overflights with our drone. Here you can see the pictures we made of the overflights. While the Druchii are here in strength we cannot find any evidence of modern arms or other devices.”
Hartmann played the video several times and did not offer any other comment as the Asur were too busy memorizing what they saw. This was possibly the best intel on their enemy they had gotten in a long time. While the German was officially neutral his sympathies were easy to place and a bit of quid-pro-quo never hurt.
“I do believe that the best chance to learn more would be with the Druchii more close to the Bay of Drusilla. Did you have a chance to consider by request?”
“We have contacted Alith Anar, but he presently sees no reason to conduct non-combatants through Naggarythe. Some of the places you would have to cross are holy anyway and humans would not be allowed anyway.”
“In this case we have to continue our mission from here.”
“For whatever worth that has, yes.”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-01 12:17pm

Neustadt, Naggaroth, same day

"Urmel for Jim Knopf..."

"Jim Knopf hears."

For ten minutes, the two men connected by the scrambled wireless talked about the events on two continents and the general situation, then the routine of the regular talks changed.

"Jim, one question: How often or can you meet one of their leaders or a Drachau at all?"

"It can be done. Why?"

"We are transfered to this world forever. There might be a minority who still hopes for a return ticket to Earth, but that is a pipe dream. So we have to make the best of it and this means Germany needs options. Options for special cases. Tell them there is the possibility of trade, more or less official for a start. We will send an envoy, who better will be returned in pristine condition. I am sure their greed will them make interested."

"Urmel, you know you are a Hurensohn? These Elves are sadistic assholes with a capital A."

"Yes, I know, but Germany needs options. Nations might sometimes have friends, but mostly they still have just interests. - By the way, how did you guess my second name? Until then. Urmel out."

Several thousand kilometer away from Naggaroth Ottokar Proktor turned of his wireless, happy that part of his daywork was now rolling on.

German Field Camp- Sorcerers training section, Blighted Marches, 2 Days earlier

"Open your soul to the Winds, Günter, see it with your being..."

Günter Koch let reality mostly fade away and saw the world through his "Windsight". The colourful Winds of Magic blowing over the world, the swirling undercurrents of pure Chaos energy and the energies of life and death alighting creation. Just seeing it could entrance people with the sight for hours, not doing anything, just letting creation fill the senses.

"You can do much by just forming life and death, as you already did when you had to defend yourself from the dirty Skaven attack, but you can so much more if you weave in the Winds."

"Isn´t that called Dhar, Master, I mean Manfred?"

"Yes and no. I know that most imperial Mages, luckily not all, have swallowed the lies of the Elves. Teclis was a canny guy back then. Forming, using 'Dhar' is nothing but an admittedly cruder form of the so-called High Magic of the Elves. But they feed the other races lies that this is bad, dark magic. It is not. It is the only way for humans to work High Magic, but the Elves are jealous and arrogant by nature.
The Elves are extremly longlived and spent many millenia just fine-tuning their art, so an Elf weaving a spell naturally looks graceful. Humanity, even many Vampires or other Gifted simply lack a tens of millenia old lore to draw on and many live just a fraction of the years an Elf does. So it is just normal that their attempts at High Magic look less refined.
The Elves bathed themselves in their supposed superiority when it became known that other races could only handle one wind or less potent mixtures safely. At least until they found out that there is a small, but still comparatively numerous pool of humans and other races who have the talent and/or the longevity to reach, maybe even surpass the talent of most Elves. 'Mammals' wielding the power of the Elves? Unthinkable - So the Elves looked for something to frighten the other races with. And 'Dhar', black magic was born. It did not help the other races that many practitioners of 'Dark magic' did so for decidedly selfish reasons and the Elven propaganda took hold.

Do not misunderstand me, so-called Dark Magic is not easy to wield. In one thing the Elves were right. Even if providence gifted you the talent and body able to channel this great might, in can be dangerous. But it is not only Tzeentch´s curse, the biggest obstacle you face and you will face it often, is the taste of power. Understanding your gift and resisting the lure of a powertrip upon understanding, is the key. Many, maybe most stuble here."

Close to Skavenbight, 27. Bezahltag Brew Time

General Wolf looked suspiciously at the metal boxes in front of him. They were closed and only the yellow triangular symbol on them warned of their contents. There were a lot of these containers and until about 30 minutes ago they had been stored in small groups well separated from each other. Bad things were said to happen when too much of this was stored in one place for too long. He was standing before the biggest mass of warpstone any human had seen in a very long time. The boxes contained the warpstone removed from those parts of Skavenbight that the allies already held. It was time to do something about it.
He turned to the woman to his right. It was easy to look into her eyes despite her ample breasts as she was his size and her clothing did not hide her strong physique. She also put out airs that forbid such liberties immediately.
“High Matriarch, I think all is in readiness. You may start at you convenience.”
“Thank you General. Kindly step back then.”

Wolf walked back behind a low wall and watched the Matriarch and her helpers paint symbols around the cases, light candles and assemble for a choir. He was unable to make out words but it was obvious that the sisters were invoking something powerful and frightening. Something seemed to pull at realities fabric and the clouded sky above him showed movements for which the gusty winds he could feel offered no explanation.
The beam of orange light that came in from above took his breath away as much for the surprise as for its beauty and impressive size. It was gone so fast that he saw it mostly as an afterimage and its passing was announced by a rumbling thunder. When he searched for the containers he found nothing but some blackened ground.
He got his explanations during the lunch he had arranged for the Sisters of Sigmar.

“My order has been very active in Mordheim all these centuries ago when the Great Comet had deposited so much Warpstone there. All sorts of lowlife then tried to gather this damned substance for earthly gains or nefarious purposes while my Sisters wanted to remove it from the world. We had stored much of it in our vaults and found how dangerous it was at great cost.
The chronicles say that our Sisters prayed and fasted long and in the end they were granted a vision which gave us the gift that you just saw. Our heartfelt prayers open a portal to the warp for the briefest of time and everything we have duly consecrated will be taken by the will of Sigmar”
“Very useful and a great sign of your devotion for sure.”
“Thank you General.”
“I guarantee you that the German government would be most grateful if you could repeat this feat in a place called Gorleben High Matriarch.”
“Is that so Oberst Grube?”

(for the non-German readers. Gorleben is the place where Germany stores its high-risk nuclear wastes)

Skavenbight, 29. Angertag, Brew Time

“They are at North 20, Gutter Runners and Clanrats-get going.” Kargan Ironbeard heaved himself from his prone position and went to the front of his mixed platoon of Germans and Dawi. The dwarven sense of orientation belowground beat the humans equivalent by miles and if they needed to be somewhere fast it was better he lead.
Instinct told him to double-time it as there were comrades under fire. Unfortunately his mind insisted that this was not too clever. He could of course be faster-the next corridors were all as safe as they would get in Skavenbight-but then his warriors would arrive on the verge of a heatstroke if they would not pass out from oxygen deprivation first. The German suits and masks were making it possible to take the battle to the Thagoraki at all, but they were not making it easy. His breathing sounded unnaturally loud in his mask, and together with the rubber smell and the heat gave him an eternal feeling of suffocation. His faceplate started to fog in from the sides, despite the chemicals he had smeared on them that made his eyes sting. Sweat ran down inside his suit and made the many irritated patches of skin left by wearing the suit far too long burn. Shuffling forward at hardly better than a fast walk they reached a cavern where a few Bundeswehr regulars traded space for time.
The cavern was lit by chemical flares and muzzle flashes which highlighted black furry creatures that ran towards the Germans who killed as many as they could before retreated another few meters. Kargan was wondering why they had to do so at all when a couple of greenish lightings emerged from the mass of Skaven and hit one of the soldiers who dropped with nasty burns on his legs.

“Thunderers-to the left” made his platoon take their places. By now the Germans in the ad-hoc group reacted to it as well and he certainly did not mind having them.
“Fire” unleashed a torrent of bullets. The masks made aiming difficult but the close confines and the many Skaven resulted in a lot of hits anyway. The green lightning came back, missing mostly but scarring the armor of Snorri. Still the many Rats covered the source but Kargan had an antidote. Lifting his rifle a bit he pulled the second trigger that was before Bessie`s magazine. The recoil was hardly noticeable and the darkness swallowed the projectile that left the tube under the shotguns barrel. What was quite definitively not hidden was the impact on the caverns low ceiling. Burst by an impact fuse the weapon distributed a load of burning red phosphorous, burning at terrible heat. The Skaven under it did not die immediately as and probably regretted that immensely. The cask of Bugmanns had been well spent.
The Rat`s assault immediately devolved into a panicked furball that was shot at by far too many rifles.

Kargan kept a weary watch over their remains and the far entrance into the cave while the humans performed first aid, something they were a lot better in than his Dawi. He had about gotten his breath back and had managed to draw some water through the masks port when the relief came. The medics accompanying them checked the tabs worn on the outside of their suits.
“You are in here too long-get out ASAP.”
“I have no orders for that.”
“You will have in five minutes.”
And wonder of all wonders-so he got them. Which just meant that he had to march for what felt like miles-even slower than before-and felt their exhaustion, the small pains and the utter weariness even worse than before now that the rush of combat was gone. He led his platoon towards the box-like vehicles the Germans called MTW or sometimes M113 and which drove him towards the far-off surface. He started to peel his protective suit off as soon as he was in the protected interior only to find that the suits liner had dissolved again and had colored his skin as black as coal. Oh well.

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan, 32. Brunntag, Brew Time

Ernst Hartmann walked through the mud between the walls of the Asurian fortifications with a mixed bag of emotions. He was not unhappy to leave soon, as this post managed to be dangerous and boring at the same time and being looked as a barbarian barely acceptable in polite society rankled after a while. On the other hand there was a feeling of failure. He was pretty sure that something was wrong about the Druchii assaults but could not put his hand on it. Given that the Asur had forbidden any recon into the territory held by the Dark Elves there was no point in staying longer. Well too bad about it, but another look from the walls could not hurt.
He made the way to the wall together with the ever-present Cales, Sergeant Blascoviks and his sniper Zimmermann. Their medic was already packing his stuff. Normally he would “loose” a lot of his supplies to the locals but as they were pretty sure the German equipment would be dumped as soon as they were off everything went back this time.

The small party stopped at the tower that guarded the way to the last walls. Cales was already inside to obtain approval for their move to the first wall when the world turned on its head. He could never say if the explosions made him stumble or if well-honed reflexes had put him on the ground. He and his small group were protected from the flying debris by the tower in front of them. Yet none of this could explain the screaming. All Asur he could see were writhing on the floor in cramps and their faces were testament to the immense pain they experienced.

The only thing that the German felt was a hot spot on his chest where the Dragon scale he had earned during the Battle of Middenheim rested. The other screams came from the Druchii who scaled the walls that were no longer defended and happily butchered everybody they could find.
That finally got some sense into Hartmann`s head. “Into the tower, quickly. Blas-defend the door. Dirk-get to the top floor and do your thing.”
Pulling Cales writhing body behind him Hartmann closed the sturdy door and placed everything that weighted something against it. By that time he could hear the first shots from above and it did not take very long till the first thumps could be heard at the door. He immediately sent some rounds through it, but if that would help long time he did not know. Best to prepare for a breech.
The sniper on top of the tower did not waste time to regret the absence of his “real” sniper rifle or an observer. His Mauser rifle and its scope were perfectly serviceable for the job at hand and he had such a target-rich environment that an observer was superfluous. That both of this meant that he was unlikely to survive did hardly register as he had a job to do and a lifetime opportunity to do it.

He came from a school that regarded 90% hits on a human sized target at 500 meters with this rifle as “barely acceptable” and he had a host of them in less than 300. He could not and would not count the many Druchii that scaled the wall in front of him and ran past his tower. Instead he acquired a target that came above the parapet, took center of mass and fired, about once every other second. The scope, while nowhere near as good as the one on his M-82 lend a terrible intimacy to the kills. It reduced the apparent distance to the Druchii to a dozen meters or so and revealed the grimacing faces, the wide-open eyes, the well-made gear and the grisly wounds his hits caused.
He could not care less.

Cales was not unconscious, he was just unable to fight or walk or do anything but barely breathe for the cramps and the pains that wracked his body. How the Druchii had gotten that spell through the defenses was beyond him, that he would die for it certainty. He barely saw and felt that the German officer pulled him through up the stairs to the first floor. There he was placed in an uncomfortable side position that allowed him to see.
The Germans both fired at unseen targets in the ground floor again and again. Crossbow bolts flew up but could not penetrate the soldier`s armor. Twice the soldiers passed some boxes like the ones that hung under their rifles upwards where the last member of their party supposedly was. For Cales he was detectable only by the sounds of his shooting that came with metronomic regularity.
He knew things were over when the Germans placed a grenade close to each of them and Hartmann started to use his sword for lack of ammo. As the Sword Master had predicted he was unable to penetrate the Druchii armor but managed to keep them at bay long enough for his Sergeant to shoot them. Finally a well-placed spear bent the sword into uselessness before the owner died – and then nothing happened. Nobody tried to make his way upwards anymore and the Germans seemed to relax a bit. But most importantly of all-the pains and cramps relaxed. He could move again, albeit with all the speed and strength of a four-year-old.
He had reached Hartmann when the sniper came down the stairs. “The Darkies go back over the wall, there is a counterattack from the Gate.”
“No ammo left.”

Several hours later Ernst Hartmann shared a steam bath with Cales, which was a first. “So these rifles are what makes you Germans so dangerous, yes?”
“No, not really”
“How can you say so. We have not counted them exactly yet, but your sniper has killed what-300 Druchii? This is something we will remember for a very long time.”
“Yes, Dirk had a good day today, that is for sure. But first off-even the best rifle does not shoot itself and Dirk is pretty special in that regard. Only a well-trained soldier with such a rifle is dangerous. And they are practically our least weapons?”
“What would be more dangerous than that?”
“The real killer of the army is the artillery-they can kill anything on the ground within 30 kilometers where they stand, if needs be even more. The tanks can withstand practically any assault you can throw at them and we have yet to find anything mobile on land they cannot kill. Even we footsloggers can do better-a machine gun fires the same round than the rifle you admire so much-but 1200 per minute. The grenade launchers can drop up to 400 grenades 2 kilometers away in the same time-that is firepower. I have used this against the Chaos army-believe me that works. But all of that is not what makes us dangerous to our enemies.”
“What is it then?”
“If you ask Mauser in Oberndorf nicely these days they can make 1000 of these rifles in 24 hours-that is what makes us dangerous.”
“Khaine wept.”
“Yes, he will."

Karak Eight Peaks, 2. Bezahltag, Kaldezeit

Dwarves live a very long time by human reckoning and it was obvious that King Belegar had already lived most of the time allotted to the Dawi. Yet his face and voice gave testimony that these were not the only forces in play reducing his once-imposing figure, forming the many crags in his face and whitening the beard. The voice spoke of an jaundiced mind, of a King that had seen too much fighting, too much dying and too many losses of his people and who barely could muster the force to go on. Yet he did, as duty made him.
Currently his white beard was moved by a stiff breeze and his eyes made to squint by the clear light of a sunny fall day on the roof of his fortress. He refused to look impressed by the craft that had brought the visitors or by the goods they unpacked from the platform that had lowered itself from the German “Zeppelin”.

“So Herr Proktor, you guarantee me that there will be no payment asked for, no assistance required and no favors asked.”
“No my King, we will not.”
“Even you Germans are not touched enough just to give such things away.”
“No we are not. The only requirement we have is that you use these weapons fighting the Skaven or the Goblins and do not sell them or gift them to others.”
“Then why dive them to us at all?”
“Because you fight the Skaven, as do we. Anything that hurts the Rats is good-and you will hurt them with this, I am sure.”
“I hear things about your weapons but have to see for myself.”
“And you will. Now let`s see what we have for you. According to this there are 600 Assault rifles, 100 machine guns, well, see for yourself. Please sign here.”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-03 04:33am

Wang Chan, Southlands, Autumn 2522

The third "Arrival Day" was coming closer and the lone Thai town was preparing a feast, with a laughing and a crying eye. Laughing because despite all the chaotic events of the last 3 years they were still living and standing. And crying because they lost their homeworld, not knowing where they came out. Unlike Germany Wang Chan hadn´t had the tools to find out where they were stranded. The little city had few things Warhammer at all and the descriptions of the Southlands in there were not distinct enough to make comparisons. In fact, the Warhammer world was just one of several options the Thais contemplated.
Except for that non-knowledge, life in Wang Chan went on, if differently than before. Using improvisation and experimentation, the people of Wang Chan had built an "industry quarter". Often crude, but servicable workshops helped preserving and even slowly (re-)developing some basic tech frem Earth. The four local tribes which had allied and later fused with Wang Chan, were worth their weight in gold. Their shamans had saved the town several times against magical or chaos attacks. Several citizens of Wang Chan were now apprentices of the shamans to build up own magic-users. The tribes were very knowledgable on the (for the Earthers) mysterical fauna and flora. Food was plentiful and fertile soil easy to find, if one remmebered the teachings of the Natives.
Wang Chan lived a basic, but good life, mostly that is. The fruits of their labour had been hard-earned. Skirmishes with other local and regional tribes were a regular occurance. Luckily firearms were not used in this piece of world, so Wang Chan had a trump. Most frightening was Chaos and it´s assorted lackeys. The town had paid a bloody price the first time Chaos showed it´s head and some further encounters were close calls.

The two biggest concerns of the city council, now the de facto Government of Thailand-"in-exile" were the Dark Elves und the observed ship convoys. Up to now, Wang Chan had been able to evade a meeting with the cruel Elves. The "demon Longears" as most local tribes called them, were one of the few real threats beside Chaosspawn.
By the standards of this world, the Dark Elves were a major faction, their slave hunters feared. "Naggaroth" was able to overrun the small city they all called home with sheer numbers. For a time, the Elves had nearly vanished from the sea around Wang Chan, but now they had returned with greater numbers of ships and more regular, a development nobody in Wang Chan saw positive. Wang Chan could fight off small bands of the Elves, hard-won area knowledge and the small tech advantage would see to that, but a real fleet would be too much for the Thai city, even if the allied tribes helped.
This horror scenario was the reason that the city council had finally reached an agreement to cautiously try to contact the people they believed to be maybe Germans. As far as radio or the wireless went, there was nothing in the air except the local radio station and the weak transmitter had no great range. The wireless was equally empty, with no satellites or transmitter chains here that reach was equally limited.
There was the rumour that the convoys sailing by every 2 months had wireless traffic, but the small town had no even halfway expert on signal tansmission, so nobody knew for sure.
But since the next ship convoy should pass Wang Chan within days, unlike most other convoys they were always on time, with a 9 : 8 majority the city council decided to send a strictly volunteer motor boat to make a first contact roughly 60 sea miles from Wang Chan away.
That it would bring change was clear for the council, just how much, nobody had envisioned.

Dragon Gate, Ulthuan 2. Bezahltag, Kaldezeit

The same meeting room held roughly the same people again, and again the Germans contrasted badly against the tasteful surroundings and elegant Asur. Yet the mood was quite different which was obvious to both parties without a spoken word about it.
Cales watched the proceedings with well-hidden amusement. It seemed that his fellow Elves had finally come to the same conclusion he had arrived at some time ago. The Germans were not strange barbarians-they were strange, tough and dangerous barbarians that had their uses. Currently Korhal was having a look at the Dragon scale usually worn by Hartmann.

“Yes, this is definitively magically active, even if in a very different way that we practice it. Dragons are known to be quite resistant to magic, seems like the scale confers some of that to its wearer. This is also why you were not affected by the Druchii spell-it was designed to go through our defenses, not this crude approximation of magic. Where did you obtain it?”
“I took it of a Wyrm that me and my men killed last year.”
“How did you manage that? Are your rifles that powerful?”
“No they are not. It was a teamwork between us and a troop of Reiksguard knights. We took three Dragons that day, two with a heavy machine gun and one with a rocket. We lost two knights and had some wounded.”
“That would make for an interesting tale for another day. Yet, in the light of your surprising fighting prowess the Shadow Kind has decided to take you to the Bay of Drusilla for a recognizance. He only asks that you share all results.”
“That is most agreeable.”
“You will see if there is truth in that when you enter the Shadow Lands-they inhospitable to everyone but the Shadow Warriors, and even they hate them.”

Skavenbight, 4. Angertag

Gleepk fingers were twitching around the rim of his bowl, he salivated uncontrollably and swayed a little. Nothing unusual for a Skaven in the clutches of the hunger. His species burned energy like no tomorrow which made them fast and strong for their body size. But if they could not eat in time the hunger debilitated them to the point of madness and quick death.
Ever since the surface and its fields of Black Corn were lost to the never-sufficiently-cursed humans everybody was on rations. Which was all fine and dandy if you were not undergoing basic training which burned even more calories-and of course no allowance for that was given. Gleepk fought the impulse to push the Skaven ahead of him in the queue aside with increasing desperation till he went in front of the pot. The helpers dropped a heavy load of gruel into his bowl which even held some chunks which might be meat. Another dropped a slice of mushroom into it and off he went. The cavern they were in was huge, used for training and had numerous branches. He scrambled into one of them to eat the barely edible but vital food.
His spoon had nearly reached his mouth when a rough kick from behind nearly made him spill it. When he turned and started to hiss he found himself snout to snout with three burly Skaven holding clubs.

“Didn`t you forget something maggot maggot”
“NNNo no superior oen one, I did not see you you.”
“Then you see us now now. Give, give, or do you like the pain pain”
“Yes, yes I give. No pain please please.”
One of the bullies spooned off nearly half of the food that Gleepk needed so badly into a pot he carried.
“Not so much please please.”
“Fuck you maggot, we leave you more than you deserve deserve. Never forget us again.”
“Yes, yes.”
Gleepk watched the receding group with a mixture of elation and nervousness. They were part of a group that had been drafted en block, having worked in the loading docks before. Being the biggest subgroup inside the training group and no strangers to violence they had quickly established their position. Which, of course, meant that they ate well while everybody else was too weak to do something about it. In principle the former driver could admire that if he were not so hungry. He dropped the half-empty bowl and tore into the mushroom to stop his stomach from killing him.

Forcing himself to wait for an eternal 15 minutes he carefully made his way for the nook in the wall favored by the bullies. When he came closer his nose already told the story so he was not surprised when he turned the last corner and found the Skaven who had just confronted him cramping on the floor and squealing in great pain.
He stepped back and waved his paw about, which made others step forward, bringing an assortment of clubs with them.
“Remember, no broken bones, bones. If they cannot make muster tomorrow there will be trouble trouble.”
None of these words slowed him or his co-conspirators down. All bullies were mercilessly beaten as they could not possibly fight back. Gleepk was laying into the Skaven that had just browbeaten him. “Stupid idiot idiot. Only brains for loading but no brain to think think. You should have waited for me to eat first bite bite. Now you all eat black mushroom mushroom and will shit yourself. Do not do this again again or it will be worse worse.”

All the while he was beating his club on the insides of the Skavens tights. That hurt like hell and would hurt even more tomorrow during training but would not incapacitate. Some movement in his periphery caught his eye and made him swivel around before he froze in fear. Their instructor and leader stood there and watched the beating commence. Utterly unmoved by the violence he seemed to smirk when Gleepk and the conspirators ceased and presented their throats in supplication. He watched for what seemed an eternity and then simply nodded and went his way.
Unnecessary to say that the beating got even harder than before.

Camp Hemmingen, close to Skavenbight, 6. Sigmarstag, Kaldezeit

Heinrik Gerber found his favorite seat in the Command tent again. By now the “Tilea Corps” had lost the feeling of an ad-hoc group and acquired the cohesion of a team that fought hard together. Which of course made each loss harder for all concerned, that could hardly be helped.
General Wolf had the podium as ever-the delegation of such tasks to staff had not caught up with the Imperial yet-and went through his briefing.
“Gentlemen, I hope you have not become too attached to this Camp as we will break it tomorrow. We received news that enough space was cleared underground that we can set up a camp closer to the front. For this we all have to thank Major Gerber. I know that many of you found his idea crazy and the execution distasteful to say the least. But it allows us to have this fight at all and we did not lose countless soldiers in removing the warpstone. Gentlemen, we are in this fight to win and we will do as we must, not as we like. Am I understood.”
“Yes Sir”

“Fine then. Situation first: We have by now cleared the surface of Skavenblight from all Rats and could cut down on infiltrations to a minimum. We have killed any major group of Skaven up to the 250-meter line and are closing down all major avenues for incursions. We will probably never get all passageways but the Skaven are reduced to platoon-sized attacks, these we can handle.
With this line we have gotten as deep into Skavenblight as we can as long as we were forced to get all soldiers out there after 12 hours or so. Currently the engineers are establishing new quarters at the 200 meter line, free of Warpstone and with filtered air. This will allow us to resume the offensive on next Angertag.
While we would all like to finish this quickly we will have to undertake at least two more offensives like this till we are at our primary targets. Our next target is a series of caves and warrens at the 400 meter-line where we thing the Rats have major breeding pits and manufactories. Destroying or capturing them will seriously hurt the rats.

We know from recon drones that the Skaven are fortifying the passageways downwards and dig new tunnels to outflank us. The Tilean Corps will advance down the 2 major passageways-here and here, reducing the fortifications as we go. As the new fortifications seem formidable we have been attached the Wolfpack, an engineering company and two Gepard tanks from the Bundeswehr.
We will resupply from Camp 200, it will be supplied by the Bundeswehr as well. Oberst Grube will give out the orders for the individual units. Oberst, your turn.”
Ok, so the General had learned a little delegation after all.

Skavenblight, 12. Angertag, Kaldezeit

Ulrich Stoiber was fidgeting in his seat. Tankers do not like to stand still in open sight and that was exactly what he was forced to do. The Passageway he and his Wolfpack were tasked to take was spiraling downwards and a gentle angle that allowed the anemic Skaven carts to negotiate the incline. That meant that he could see roughly 200 meters or so forward, then the tunnel dropped out of sight. He did not like what he saw much. To the left and right of the road there were countless windows in the walls that led to whatever rooms the Skaven had established there. All of them were potential parts for using Jezzails and Ratling guns, drop bombs or attack the allies in other ways. The road itself was blocked by many deeply rooted steel bars and pyramidal blocks of stone and concrete. His tanks could definitively not cross that. Behind these obstacles were several emplacements that used to have even more ratling guns, warpstone flame throwers and Warpcannons. These weapons he respected-while they would not penetrate his frontal armor they could rip off the remote weapons stations, tracks or overload the electronics.

As recon had shown these before he had used the smoke dispensers before driving beyond the last curve. The Skaven were forced to fire blindly while his thermal sight allowed him and his fellow tankers to eliminate the bunkers one by one. They were mostly still there, but the HESH rounds they had used had emptied their insides-or so it seemed as they no longer fired. He had advances his tank and No. 2 against the antitank obstacles with a Gepard close behind. Together they provided overwatch to the engineers that started to remove the obstacles. At first there was a lot of fire coming from the Windows from both sides. He had fired into some as had the no two tank while the Gepard took care of the higher elevations their main guns could not reach. By now infantry was in the warrens on both sides of the passageway to clear them and a “Badger” engineering tank started to remove the obstacles. As he was inside the turret he only heard a deep grumbling that he could not place at all. The monitor in front of him showed the case-the warrens on both sides started to slide into the passageway, burying the obstacles, the engineering tank and cutting off the infantry in the warrens that were not demolished. Fuck, he had seen Jezzail fire from one of the Warrens when it started to slide- the Rats were killing their own to isolate the advance infantry.

Uwe Meins was just getting his breath back when the ground started to move under him. There was no time for giving orders, no time for thinking-just running. He pushed all soldiers he could see in the direction he thought safe and ran as fast as he could. The walls and the floor developed cracks and went down, he was barely able to stay ahead of it. The darkness came in from the periphery of his vision and swallowed everything.

Kargan Ironbeard swore like only an experienced Dawi could, describing the failures of the manling plan and the perfidy of the Thagoraki in explicate detail including several educated guesses about their ancestors. None of which kept him to take control of his squad and several Germans that had been separated from their unit. Taking cover had been what-right another new thing for the Thunderers who could not have loaded their old weapons lying down. Yet they had learned and learned fast in a school where the price for succeeding was continued respiration. A pile of rubble looked a good spot and Kargan herded everybody inside.
Some of the Germans got their wireless going enough to get some data through and told the Dawi that both passageways were blocked. They would remain so for a while for tanks but infantry should be able to get through soon. Kargan was willing to sit tight till that happened when the roar filled the cavern. What the fuck.
Pulling the hated NVG to his eyes the green low-resolution picture allowed him to look farther than his Dawi vision in the darkness. It revealed moving shapes, far too many of them. And too big ones, in shapes that should not belong to living things.

“Rat Ogres and Rats to the front-fire”
He ripped the NVG down as several illumination rounds went out in the first salvo and put everything into an extremely harsh white light that flickered madly. It revealed a mass of Skaven that rushed his position from the depth of the passageway as well as coming from various openings in the side. The light was absorbed by a mass of dark fur, dirty wood and rusty arms and reflected by teeth and claws. At the same time the middle of that road was taken by a different threat. Being far too big for the small corridors and tunnels of the Warren a group of Rat Ogres were led to the battle by their tamers. In the back something rode a huge beast which could only be a brood mother. The bright light mercilessly detailed the many faces that tried to push through the skin of this particular abomination.
Against this the small group that had taken cover in the rubble seemed pitiful but they far without teeth. Two machine guns fired long salvos that tore into the mass of Rats at short distance. Short bursts from the Battle Rifles and the single boom from the Dwarven shotguns seemed to do little in comparison but added to the amount of flying metal. The Clanrats went down like ninepins, the Ogres were more difficult. Kargan had fired off his first magazine and changed to one from a different pouch. The recoil of his weapon was ferocious already with normal ammo, yet now even the sturdy Dawi found the kick nasty. Instead of a mass of balls nearly 20 mm projectiles made from sintered metal went downrange, punching through the thick skin of the Ogres with ease and shredding internal organs. Yet the Ogres were used to incredible pain and injury and some would say were simply too stupid to die.

By now the enemy had approached to less than a hundred meters and closed fast. Several grenades arched from the defenders and crashed into the approaching mass. The opened circles full of bloody fur and entails, which were closed by even more Skaven in seconds. Kargan shot the last round from his magazine before pulling the second trigger. The disposable flamethrower ejected the mass of burning phosphorus into the center of the Skaven line, hitting most of the Ogres.
The burning particles could not kill the mindless giants, not so fast, but they took out the last tamer. Enraged by a pain they did not understand and that nearly overwhelmed even these jaded nervous systems they flailed against anything near them. Tearing into the Skaven who of course tried to fend them off they did what Kargan and his compatriots could not do by themselves-stop the Rat`s assault for a few precious moments. Moments in which the machine guns tore into the blocked mass, moments in which more grenades shredded legs and opened belly’s and where more accurate shots eliminated leaders.
The figure on the Brood mother could be seen turning his mount when too many shots came too near and thus opened the way for a headlong retreat by the Skaven. There were no cheers-air was too dear und the masks. Instead everybody checked his pouches for spare magazines and rounds-nearly none could be had.

Uwe Meins came to in a world of hurt. His legs hurts, his head seemed to be assaulted by a hammer and when he moved his head he had to concentrate not to vomit into his mask. The world outside of said mask consisted of shots, stroboscopic light and madness in equal parts. He found himself still inside the warren, but at the warren close to the passageway. When his mind cleared sufficiently he saw two of his men firing a machine gun at something outside their window. At other opening soldiers were pouring fire into unseen enemies while an explosion from further down the corridor he was in probably was about somebody sealing of avenues of approach.
He cringed when a hand hook his shoulder. “Hey Sarge are you with us again? How many fingers are here?”
“One.. What happened?”
“You ran a little fast, pushed us too hard and did not get enough air I recon. When you dropped you head hit the ground less than well and..”

The sound that cut the loquacious medic off was like a roar, but of nothing the two Germans had ever heard. A head that seemed to be as big as a men wormed its way through the window and bit down on the machine gunner. While the loader scrambled away as fast as he could both the medic and Meins had time to fire on the beast that had struck in the opening when he refused to relinquish his grip on the unlucky soldier. A single three-round bursts would not have been enough to kill the beast but several of them managed to find what little brain the brute had and shut him down for good.
The Sergeant, the medic and another soldier labored to get the corpse off the machine gun they needed so urgently when the reinforcements finally arrived. Their sight stopped the three men for a moment. Even in this new world they had not expected this.

From the side of the rubble that blocked the passageway and a corridor in the warren better than a hundred humans emerged. They did wear the ubiquous masks but only their normal uniforms. This was possible when one not exposed too long and actually the norm in the levels above this battle. But these were not the mottles camouflage of Germans or Imperials but the gaudy orange and red striped uniforms of the Miraglinese City Guard. These guys should be guarding the supply lines, not fight here. But here they were, polished boots, ostrich-plumed hats and stiff collars and all. A picture that belonged to a different field-as did their tactics. Forming quickly into two lines, one kneeling and one standing the line were meticulously dressed by Sergeants with their spontons.
They lifted the late-model K98 rifles and fought the only way they knew-in full sight of the enemy, with no cover and firing in well-timed salvos. It was an incredible sight and their fire was actually quite efficient-more than a 100 rifles firing 10 rounds per minute means somebody had to get hurt. Yet it was also madness.
The Skaven had enough Jezzails and mages to make this a costly tactic. One by one the Miraglinese guards fell-and every time the ranks were closed and the firing went on.
Uwe and the Paratroopers had never placed much stock in these soldiers, their lack of training was compounded by every misplaced prejudice about Italian soldiers and they would have never ever expected them to put on such a brave stand. And still-here they were not taking a single step back.

Prince Cosimo was elated-he was actually leading his men into combat, and not guarding some “Main Supply Line”. This was where he wanted to be-taking the fight to the hated Skaven who so very nearly had destroyed his beloved hometown. Two hours ago his men had stood guard over another gaggle of trucks when the call for reinforcements had gone out. He had not exactly asked for confirmation when he just went along and his men found the right set of tunnels when others missed them. So here he was, killing those who had tried to harm his city.
He was amazed how much killing could be done with the new rifles his men had received. Instead of the 3 shots per minute they had managed with their crossbows they now got out 10 easily-and the rounds were far more lethal than the crossbows too.
That the enemy was able to kill some of his man-that was war wasn´t it. Screaming encouragement, waving his sword and having a look whether his men kept formation he was the picture of what an Tilean officer should be-until the lightning struck.
The Skaven had gotten ever nearer to his men and it seemed that somewhere in the mass of Rats was a sorcerer. A bunch of green lightnings emerged from the mass and went into the center of his line. A half dozen soldiers went down screaming and with smoking uniforms-too many to close the gap easily. He could never have been prouder when the rest his men never faltered and never missed a shot, not even when the second set of green bolts killed even more. He looked for the sorcerer when something else caught his eye.

One of the biggest humans he had ever seen stepped from a doorway not 10 meters from the Skaven mass, holding a machine gun as others would hold a rifle. When he opened fire at such a short distance the effects on the Rats were horrible-some of the Skaven were literally ripped apart in the middle while others just dropped without ever getting up. All along the side more and more German leaned out of windows and doors to gain a better angle and ripped into the Skaven flank like ammo was going out of style.
The Skaven held for an eternal moment-and then trampled each other in their haste to escape certain death.
15 minutes later the giant with the machine gun saluted him. “Sergeant Uwe Meins at your service, Sir.”
Presenting his hat with a flourish and actually bowing down like he would for nobility the Price was stil carried by the wave of adrenaline that was slowly fading.
“Prince Caesare Luigi de Cosimo at your service sergeant. I am happy we could be of assistance.”
“Prince, this was easily the most courageous thing I ever saw and I thank you for the rescue. But allow me to say you really should adopt more modern tactics.”
“So far nobody got around to teach us”
“That has just changed my Prince.”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-03 04:34am

Skavenblight, 12. Angertag, Kaldezeit

The Skaven were back and wanted it badly this time, that was for sure. Kargan had been happy that they had been able to repulse the first assault, yet there seemed to be no shortage of clanrats and other assorted Thagoraki. He even had seen a block of Slaves trying their best to get forward while connected to each other by chains.
Unfortunately the same could not be said for his ammo-that was running out very quickly. Presently a third of the guns in his little group had already fallen silent, something the rats had immediately realized. Now they ran up from the deeps of their fortress as well as well as coming from several openings in the Warrens on the other side of the passageway.

Between his and them was no wall, no wire only the shooting from several Battle rifles and short burst from a machine gun-it was a pitiful defense against the tide. And his best defense was gone-he had shot the last of his disposable flamethrowers-those the rats respected. He could not see if they tensed when they were in range for Bessie as he was too busy placing his shots where they counted and estimating range.
When the Skaven were a little closer he shouted for all he was worth: “Now you stupid fraggers, now” and dropped behind the little cover there was.
Assault groups like the one that were led by Kargan had lots of grenades. Every room they cleared got one or two-that meant dragging a lot of them around.
The humans and Dawi that so far had refrained from battle for lack of ammo started throwing Grenades as if their lives depended on it-and it did.
Arching out from Kargan`s litte fortress were fragmentation grenades. Each with a lethal radius of more than 10 meters they landed indiscriminately in front of or inside the oncoming horde. Ripping grievous wounds, eradicating the little formation and leadership that was there and simply overwhelming the Skaven the grenade attack turned Rats assault into headlong flight-but that the allies had shot their last bolt doing so.

Pushing the button on his mask mike he hoped that the wireless would be able to punch through whatever rubble there was between him and the small scouting party he had dispatched to find a way back towards the allies. The warrens to their rear looked like they would offer such a retreat but it was vital to scout it before so they would not end up in some cul-de-sac.
“Snorri, come in, we need to go. Sonorri, can you hear me.” Static and breaks filled his ears together with something understandable.
“...found way, but...wait a minute, then.....”
“I could not understand Snorri, repeat”
“...found armored... 2 minutes....”
“Snorri, we do not have 2 minutes to wait, we will pull back to the entrance and meet up with you.”
Kargan turned back to his group to give the orders. He did not like what he had to do-retreating meant paying for the same ground twice, Dawi like retreat as much as the clap and retreating under fire was notoriously difficult and dangerous. Still, there was no helping it and certainly no sense in delaying the inevitable.
Putting his hand on a Dawi shoulder he managed to get loud enough to be heard despite the mask. “Björn, take your group through the door to the right and them keep going up. We will follow in a minute or so.”
“Yes Kargan”
Ironbeard watched the group of humans and dwarfs go while trying to keep an eye on the Skaven too. Which turned out to be a good thing as the Rats, as was their want, decided that leaving defenders meant that NOW was the time for another assault.

Kargan managed to fire a full magazine into the oncoming rush, grabbed for the next magazine and found none. Cursing a blue streak he grabbed for his revolver which still had ammo. More than one German had told him that his pick might be excessive and he would be served better with a smaller caliber gun. Yet he still had problems to trust anything with less than a half-inch caliber and he could handle the revolver, couldn`t he. The “boom” from the handgun made some heads turn even in the battle, the muzzle flame did bad things to his hearing and the Clanrats head simply detonated when he 0.50 Casul round hit. Too bad-he had aimed for center of mass, this thing jumped even in his Dawi hands. He acquired a second target when he saw Björn and the other scrambling back out of the door they had used just a minute or so ago. Fuck, the way must be blocked, this could not end well.

He was about to ask Björn where the problem was when the newcomers emerged into the passageway. They seemed a little bigger than a normal human and more bulky. The helmets were curiously without a visor port and they moved like if they were not wearing armor at all.
Most rushed to the cover used by Kargan`s group but two simply stood in a window, presented machine guns and started to fire. And did not stop. This was wrong, as in really really wrong. Not that it was a waste of ammo, there were enough Skaven to provide excuse and targets, but Kargans training told him that by now the barrels of the guns should really really have overheated.
Together with the rest of the newcomers who fought a little more conventionally the next Skaven assault stopped like the ones before them, leaving the passageway in front of the Kargan`s little fortress covered in furry corpses. Two of the armored soldiers released heavy packs that contained additional ammo thankfully. For that alone Kargan would praise them for sure.
One of the soldiers turned towards him.

“Sergeant Joakim Vos, looks like we arrived in time.”
“Sergeant Kargan Ironbeard of the Thunderers. Thank you for the assist, I`d be lying if I´d say we did not need it. So you are the Armored Infantry we heard so much about?”
“Guilty as charged. Sorry, we got a little lost in that warren. Your man Snorri picked us up.”
“Ha, you should have some Dawi for this.”
“That is…”
The roar stopped both of them in their tracks. Not only because of its loudness-it was very loud indeed, but for the fact that it was unlike any sound they had ever heard before. And something gave them the feeling that it was issued by several throats and not just one.
Kargan watched the Sergeant in Power Armor use the underbarrel launcher of his rifle to fire an illumination round up the passageway where it revealed a mass of pale, malformed flesh making its way towards them.
When their brains caught up the mass resolved itself into several Hellpit Abominations, tank sized creatures that had been cobbled together with body parts, perversion and magic. Having the size of a tank, the mind of a Rat driven crazy by pain and starvation and too many claws and teeth the Skaven had unleashed one of the few things that could endanger the allies as long as they were cut off the tanks for fire support.

“Fuck fuck fuck…”
“Bring your guys into the warren-fight from there. We will follow.”
“Will do. Björn, Snorri, Jens-back to the Warren., now. Get to the second floor, we fight from there.”
Kargan watched the Humans and Dawi clamber from the rubble and pushing themselves through the doorway while pedaling backwards to keep the fight in his field of view. A minute before the power armored Humans had seemed night-invincible, nor they were a thin cloak against the chill of the grave. Like all Dawi warriors Kargan had heard about these monsters. Cobbled together in the Hellpits by Skaven who`s mind was at least as ugly as their products they had the size, strength and resilience of a Dragon-and here they encountered several underground. Wonderful, a good day to meet the ancestors it seemed.
Joakim Vos was a little too busy to be afraid. The fact that his helmet isolated him very well from the environment and offered a synthetic picture on two screens added to the feeling of “not really being here”which kept him and his platoon from freaking out.
“Jens, Gottlieb-keep shooting the small fry. Rest of us-get the big fraggers”
His helmet showed an aimpoint that coincided with an infrared laser at the side of his rifle. It immediately changed to a circle when he moved for the secondary trigger. Pulling it send a 40 mm Grenade downrange that impacted against the Abomination`s chest and filled it with fire and fast moving metal. The screams changed, the beast dropped on its haunches for a second-and then it resumed its shambling run. And it seemed that his comrades were not doing much better.
Well-then stronger measures were needed. Grabbing to the side of his backpack he extracted a Rocket Grenade and attached it to the bayonet holder close to the muzzle. When he looked up he was aghast how close the Abominations had already come. He targeted the farther beast for fear the that closest one would not allow the charge to arm.
The Grenade went of his rifle like a firecracker at New Year`s Eve-trailing flame and spinning like a top it flew in a straight line to its target. One of the shoulders was firm enough to trigger the projectile. Made to breach walls the warhead squashed itself against the beast and then ignited 2 kilogram of explosives. It ripped the beast apart at the many seams that held the parts of the Abomination together.

By that time Joakim fired 3-round bursts into the next one as fast as he could pull the trigger. It was currently dragging a dwarf out of a window he had been firing out of and would not stop for all the small-arms fire it received. It opened its huge mouth to get at the tasty leg it had just ripped of the Dawi when a small object sailed past the wriggling victim and dropped directly into the waiting orifice.
The explosion was muffled by the amount of flesh about it and dropped the Abomination where it stood. Turning to his left Joakim saw the last rush of the third beast terminated by a seemingly unending machine gun salvo to its head, disintegrating it totally.
The machine gunner stepped around the dead beast and reopened fire in the many Skaven that had used the beast as shields. Some actually made it into the warren that housed the Dawi, strobing lights from the windows showed that they had not overcome the Thunderers yet. The others now found themselves in an enclosed space with machine guns and Battle rifles that went through them-and several grenades that exploded in their midst. Joakim spotted a better-armored Skaven in the back of the milling mass and send a burst in its range. He could not see if he had ever hit it but the Rat was gone afterwards.

From there the Skaven attack lost momentum, especially when the Dawi in the warrens dropped additional grenades into them and from there converted into a costly retreat. Joakim saw some movement to his left and to his horror the abomination besides Gottfried had regained life somehow. His mouth was forming the warning when two tentacles went into the machine gunner, and the angle of Gottfried`s helmet left no question that he had just died.
Joakim opened fire on the monstrosity as did all the other members of his team, but all they could do was kill the Abomination again, neither first aid nor magic would bring the gunner back.
In the end the allies had to keep their station for four more endless hours during which the Skaven tried their luck several more times. The sight of the dead Hellpit Abominations seemed to slow them for whatever reason. When the engineers had finally dug through the rubble sufficiently to get more reinforcements through everybody was very exhausted, depressed by the loss of comrades and happy to be alive. Both them and the reinforcements were pretty sure that the Skaven had stopped assaulting as the passageway was blocked by corpses.

Frankfurt Airport, same time

Helga Meier entered the A 400 via its huge loading ramp. Like nearly everybody else she stopped and watched the second Airbus that was on the apron several hundred meters away and offloaded. Even at this distance it was easy to see the coffins that were taken out of the plane and loaded into trucks, one by one. It was a depressing sight and far too common for this airport since the assault for the Undercity of Skavenbight had started. When the allies had entered the Skaven`s domain they had given up many of their advantages to get the job done, so the losses were to be expected, yet they were still devastating to public morale.
Most regional newspapers were offering free obituaries for the soldiers who died in these battles and on the wrong day some of these papers had to run several pages. The NDR reporter knew that there was no real alternative to this course of action, but like many others she yearned for an easy and fast solution. From tomorrow she would be able to see the situation by herself.

Skavenblight, 14. Sigmarstag Kaldezeit

The figure walked down the corridor slowly and carefully, turned the masked face under the coal-shovel helmet here and there in its search for the traps the Skaven loved so much. It avoided two trip wires and stepped deftly across a flagstone that did not seem to fit right. It luck ended when a spear was thrust from above and passed where Ulna and Radius were under the uniform. The figure stopped, turned with the thrust and stepped out of the way again to the front. He nearly reached the end of this particular tunnel when green-tinted flames issued from a small hole to the side and incinerated the figure, leaving only bones.
Several others now stepped into the corridor, careful to dismantle the traps, shooting inside the murder hole before inserting two frag grenades into it and doing the same for the port of the warpstone flamethrower. The last caused another jet of flame that went over their comrades remains again. One of the crouched soldiers pushed the “to-talk” button on his mask.
“Lieutenant Pfeil, the corridor is clear for the moment, you can send the rest.”
“Ok, Squad one is on the way, good work. You think we can use it again?”
“Henrik is well and truly toast Lt., we need a new one.”
“That is a shame, but this Koch guy seems to have a huge stock. And Corporal-I would not call the undead Henriks if I were you. The Major is known to resent this.”
“Message understood Sir.”
First squad shielded other engineers, these brought the gas hose. The warren under them needed to be cleared out before the trackheads could pass it, and filling it with explosive gasses might do just that. Especially if they did it twice.

Skavenblight, 14. Sigmarstag Kaldezeit

Henrik Gerber had not been too happy when his current assignment made him into somebody wearing the “Blue-Oyster-Bar-Bedienungslitze”, yet presently he would have preferred to be in his tank again, even a light tank. The tank was NBC-protected and he did not need to wear the mask at all times, outside of it he had to. Two hours ago the 1st Landwehr had broken through the last set of Skaven defenses and had reached a huge cave that was broken up by pits, cages and less identifiable structures. Instead of fighting their way through the heavily defended entrances they had used explosives to make their own, catching the Skaven off guard. There had been an ungodly number of Rat Ogres and even two Brood Mothers. The 30 mm Autocannon on their tanks were very very good against such targets.
When the Skaven had retreated his men had advanced into the cavern, reporting no resistance. Yet they had called for him and now he was making his way across the uneven floor of the Cavern. He looked into two of the pits, they were empty save for a lot of bones. He reached one of the cages where his men were waiting. “Have a care Major, this is not pretty.”
One of the worst things which can befall you when wearing a protective mask is the need to puke. Henrik Gerber made a heroic effort to avoid that and failed.
The Bundeswehr listed several soldiers as “Missing-in Action” since the Campaign in Skavenbight had begun. The 1st Landwehr had just found two of them.

Blighted March, 15. Brunntag, Kaldezeit

Nathan Alpers went over the small convoy at low attitude. The Hoovercraft below him were making their way to Miragliano for a supply run and as they did not need the road were using a better know part of the March for it.
By now they were well-protected, having received some armor, especially around the cockpit and two machine gun positions in the front for self-help. Especially after rescuing the Phantom pilots and the Dawi squad the young pilot approved heartily. Still this was considered risky and so he flew top cover for the convoy to spot any trouble before it happened. He knew exactly that there were several Phantoms standing at the ready in Mirgliano who would gladly paste any Skaven who showed himself with a liberal dose of napalm and cluster bombs.

Palazzo di Cosimo, Miragliano, 16. Markttag, Kaldezeit

Uwe Meins was feeling well-fed, appreciated, safe and out of place. Like the rest of his unit he had gotten a three-day-pass after the disaster on the 12th as his men were quite too clapped out to be useful. He would have preferred to spend the days with some fellow warrants in a fleshpot he had discovered in Tobaro, but that was not to be.
To his amazement Price Cosimo had insisted that he should instead accompany him so that he might show his savior a good time. Uwe was not sure who had exactly saved whom and if the Price-actually a minor one, roughly the 11th in succession-wanted indeed to thank him properly or make sure he would follow up on his promise of training. The Sergeants superiors were quite happy with that and had put everybody on a returning supply run by hovercraft a day before.

Now he was in a huge palazzo which only showed its recent neglect when you were looking very very hard and had been dined and wined by a host of people who were extravagantly dressed, had impeccable manners and the morals of a Great White Shark. Wonderful just wonderful.
One of the many things he did not get right away was while the food was very nice it was quite light and not so much, the wine well but watered. The Prince guessed his confusion after a remarkably short while. “Don`t fret dear Uwe, we are about to have some serious fun soon-and we do not want to be too full then, right?”
So now he was sitting in another of the palazzo`s halls, this time lit by candles and oil lamps on a chair that could have doubled as a throne and listened to the Princes explanations of the many friezes and paintings that covered most walls and the ceiling. Before he had been subjected to some music and a very nice dancing troupe, but now there was a break in the performances and the next one was prepared. For whatever reason the helpers were placing candied chestnuts on the floor making lines of them that terminated at various points, including his chairs.

He was about to ask when the next performance was announced by a fanfare. Indeed a troupe entered, actually one he had seen before as it was comprised of the dancers he had admired some time ago. Just that this time they very naked and certainly did not dance. Instead they went on all fours and made their way with the grace of cats along the chestnut lines, picking some of them up with their mouth and bringing them to the spectators before going back to the lines.
One of them was making a beeline towards the German Sergeant. A good time was had by all.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-04 01:19am

16. Markttag, Kaldezeit, Naggarond, Naggaroth

Admiral Malik had always been contemptuous of humans-so short lived, so clumsy and ugly, so free of refinement of any kind and unable to defend themselves. They were truly only fit to be slaves. So when the humans in form of the Germans had sunk one of his fleets and had forced him to relinquish the slaves of another and retreat in defeat he had been hard hit and consequently hated them with all his heart. And to his chagrin now he was forced to work with them and closely. That these Germans were renegades and were helping the Druchii was beside the point-he just hated all of them. As he also hated the vast majority of Druchii he was able to work around this, but the last months had been trying. The German who had practically taken over the Naggarond shipyard had produced quite some results for sure, but did he really have to assume he was Malik`s equal?

“So you say there ships cannot fight Germany`s ships at all Thorsten , son of Breitkopf. Why did we bother to build them then and what have you wrought with all the funds you have been given?”
“Admiral, a single German ship is made from roughly 5000 tons of steel. That is more than the annual production of all of Naggaroth before we came. Not to speak of little things like high-temperature alloys, electronics and many other things we simply do not have. In a hundred years maybe, but not now. So what did we build here-these 4 ships are made to defeat the Elves and whoever else challenges Ulthuan. They are 4000 tons, mostly wood, with 4 cm of steel armor around the citadel and 1500 m² worth of sails. Their high point is something else-first of each of them has a 1500 hp MAK diesel engine that will propel these to 11 knots with no wind needed at all. The “Baerbel” used these engines as auxiliaries so we were able to buy four of them tin Germany without raising suspicion.
The other highlights are the 8 160 mm guns. They may be smoothbore and their range is just two kilometers or so when flat shooting flat trajectories, but whatever they hit will now it has been kissed. They use the same ammo than the mortars we make for the army. You also have one mortar for high-angle fire but will only be able to use them when at anchor for firing at shore targets. Last not least you have some Nordenfelt-type heavy machine guns for small fry. You can fight everybody but the Germans and come out top, more we cannot do at present.”
“Only 8 guns in such a big ship?”
“Oh, we could fit a lot more in the battery decks, but presently there are not so many to go around and from what I hear you need these for transport anyways.”
“Well then-sounds like you did the best you can do.”
“Indeed Admiral, indeed”

16. Markttag, Kaldezeit, Naggarond, Naggaroth

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. Claus Tolles knew very very well that this would kill him in his current environment, and quickly only if he were exceedingly lucky.
He had met Malekith several times now and the meetings had usually given him what he had expected. Yet he felt like he was walking a minefield where he could not slow down, just walk very carefully. He loved every minute of it, even if he would have preferred not to stay in kotau through most of the meeting.
“So you will give Elrik Straker the services of two of your economic specialists for as long as he needs them free of charge. This “share company” and “stock exchange” thing is really going out of hand and has to be reined in. This is taking too much of my time and binds too many resources that we need to fight mine enemies.”
“Yes, highness, we will do so”
“Then this is settled for now. The other thing I have summoned you is the state of your mercenaries. Can you mount an expeditionary force within the next four weeks?”
“We certainly can highness-just how many and where to?”
“It seems our decadent erstwhile brothers in Ulthuan somehow put up a real fight and our army is struck there in a stalemate. You had lots of time and funds to enlarge the Auxilia-are they ready?”
“Yes highness they are. If you want the complete Auxilia and their heavy weapon company of the Black Company we can embark in four weeks provided we have sufficient transport.”
“You will have that then. Do well in Ulthuan and your rewards will be considerable. Fail at your peril”
“I will not Highness.”

Skavenblight, 18. Bezahltag, Kaldezeit
“Driver, right 10 degrees, forward slowly”
Ulrich Stoiber watched the monitor in front of him with baited breath as it showed the roof of the tunnel they were in coming very close to the top of his tank. Normally there would be plenty of room, but currently their “Iron Pig” was climbing the corpses of two Hellpit Abominations that he had dispatched before. He held his breath when the tank lurched a bit to the side when the “ground” under them shifted but then the tank continued. He was scanning the picture in front of him when the rear cameras whited out.
Swiveling his remote weapons station he saw the remains of two Warpstone Flame thrower teams that were under fire from the two machine guns of Wolfpack 02.
“They just came out of the bleeding wall 01, sorry, did not get them earlier.”
“Ok, try to be faster next time 02, I just lost a camera.”
Carefully picking their way past the allied infantry that was in front of the monstrous corpses saw another wave of Skaven making their way towards the Germans.
“Loader-canister, gunner, target is troops to the front.”
“Canister up”
“On the way” Boom.

One second the tunnel in front of him had been filled wall-to-wall with fur, teeth claws and weapons, the next there was the horror of an abattoir. At the distance between Ulrich and the Skaven the canister shot had dispersed sufficiently to hit literally every Skaven in the front at least twice with stomach turning results. To the German`s amazement that did not keep the back ranks from climbing the corpses in front of them to attack further. The ceiling in the tunnel was too low for the 40 mm grenade launcher to have much range, but now it was about right. Two tanks used machine guns and salvos of 40 mm grenades to butcher the rest.
Watching the back Ulrich had to witness helplessly when additional Skaven appeared seemingly from the walls and the ceiling itself and hacked their way into the infantry. None of them went far and the tough armor of the Germans absorbed most assaults, but here and there soldiers went under before their comrades were able to shoot the attackers.

The next wave of attackers did not fare any better than the last one until a bundle of green lightnings from the back ranks all hit Wolf 02, the tank besides his. The runes on its side went white with heat and slivers of steel were cast of the armor-which held. Yet the dropping barrels on the remote weapons station told the story of a tank who`s electronics had shortened out.
Time to end this and quickly. “Loader-HE. Gunner-troops in front of us.”
“HE up.”
“On the way”
The projectile had barely time to arm before its fuse told it to explode in mid-air. The shockwave did not have very far to go before it rebounded from the tunnels walls again and again with horrible results. Actually both his tank and the infantry was subjected to a dribble of blood and less savory fluids that dropped from the caves ceiling.
By that time Wolf 02 had reset most of its electronics the infantry had made their displeasure known. The shockwave had been reduced by the distance and the tanks in the way but had still been quite a lot, there was also the stability of the tunnel which was debatable-but had held. Ulrich was very sorry-NOT. Whatever could take out a Leo tank had to be stopped and soon.

Before they were at the end of the tunnel they had to redo this twice and had weathered not one but two hits from a warpcannon. Ulrich had by now fought the Skaven long enough to know that the Rats did run when things were too tight but here they only found dogged resistance to the last. What the hell could motivate the Skaven to do that?
The allies had discovered this particular tunnel not so long ago close to the ruins that remained to the temple of the Horned Rat, but from the echo scans the tunnel was only navigable by bigger vehicles till about one third into Skavenblight but was connected to no bigger caverns. So what made this tunnel so special?
The answer came when they were another few hundred meters down the passageway. The last machine gun salvo from his coax had decimated a ratling gun team and the misses went further downrange where they drew bright green sparks of something. It took the allies more than an hour to reach the bell.
The Bell.
The Screaming Bell-the original one.

The Warp. Time? Wrong question

Every and any process in the observable Universe revolves about Entropy. From and ordered state things get more disorderly, heat differentials tend to level out and potential energy is converted into work and more heat.
Some call this process decay.
The being in the warp had seen this a long time ago when it was not one of the greats. Had seen it and understood it. Had taken it as its path to greatness. Had found suitable beings that needed guidance and that would give reverence in return. Beings that were so low that no power had claimed them and that would help him to steer the forces of decay in ways that were suitable to his goals and plans.
At first there had been a few but soon there were many of these beings. They were weak and cowardly, inventive and cruel but most of all they were now many. When he needed to start he needed a focus that would guide the beings and so he made one. Put a lot of loving work in there, incredible resources and a part of himself.
When he was finished he had looked at the bell and found it good and he had given it his chosen people. It had served well and around this focus multitudes assembled and did his bidding.

The Skaven had overrun Tyros and hade made it into their image. They had further multiplied and learned and had become more useful to him ever since. By now they had literally undermined so many proud cities and powerful fortifications that were still enjoying the illusion of their safety. Oh how rudely they would be awakened when the time was right.
And by doing all that they had made him great also. All the Warpstone they used, all the prayers they uttered, all the sacrifices they made and the cruelties they perpetrated made him great. From his humble beginnings he had become more, so much more.
But now his work, his beautiful creation, his representation in the material world was taken by the infidels, by the enemy, by those who hardly knew what tort they did him.

The Horned Rat looked at the world and the beings that did such injury to him and his people. He had been enraged when the Allies had attacked his city. Now it was personal. The unthinkable became thinkable, the impossible possible and impenetrable barriers lost their resolve.
The Skaven God had such plans for this world, time to make them known to his people.

Camp 200, Skavenblight, 19. Koenigstag, Kaldezeit

Joakim Vos was sitting on a bench that could have come from any Beer Garden inside a small cavern with a mixture of natural walls and olive tarpaulins. The air smelled of rubber like all air that had passed the HEPA filters and the lamps had the glare of unfiltered LEDs.
Currently he was counting his sins as he had been summoned by General Wolf, and for his life could not imagine what this could be about. In the Bundeswehr no general would bother with a lowly warrant, even if he commanded the only Platoon of Armored Infantry, but the Imperial forces often worked differently. For starters personal relationship ran much deeper than bureaucracy and rules. As a soldier pessimism came naturally for him, this was unlikely to be about something good. If he were not chewed out for something he was pretty sure to be volunteered to some madcap mission that had the potential to kill even more of his Platoon.

“You may come in now.” This aide was another German-a lot of people wanted to make sure that General Wolf ran the straight and narrow. The office behind the curtain was furnished with some collapsible furniture, a government ugly desk and not much more. Only the sword that was placed besides the chair and the fact that no computer was visible indicated that this was not a German army.
“Sergeant Joakim Vos reports as ordered Sir.”
“At ease son and grab a chair. How are you and your men?”
“Tired Sir, otherwise ok. I know we should not complain-we have it easy in the suits and the losses are light, but by now everybody is feeling the strain and we could use some R&R. We also have to make good our two losses and I have not heard anything about that.”
“Fair enough. I cannot promise you any real rest before we reach the goals of this operation, but that should take no more than one or two days from now, then I pull you out of the line for a couple of days. For reinforcements-there I have some news for you, but another thing first. I think they did a bad job when they pulled you from the “Officer school” two weeks before the exams when they sent you and your men here. So a question to you: What do you do in a fair fight with your men?”
“Sir, if I am in a fair fight I did not do my job”
“Very good, that is the right answer to this exam. Congratulations Lieutenant Vos”
“Err-thank you sir” Jesus, the Bundeswehr had a lot to do before this guy became a proper bureaucrat.

“Don`t do that yet-I mean thank you. Because I have some task I have to shove on to you, and I do not envy you about it. Looks like Fräulein Meikle and company made some more suits and some clever guy told them they would get more business of they gave some to well-known figures. And the Emperor thinks that if he cannot keep from joining the fight for real this would be the best way to keep them alive”
Oh dear God-do not give me some stupid young nobles to shepherd.
“Sir, I am not sure that…”
“Ah, have a look at them before you tell me yes or no Lieutenant. They surprised me too I have to admit when they arrived today. You can meet them outside when you leave. Still-try to keep them alive, yes?”
“Sir, yes Sir”
Fuck Fuck Fuck
“You contact Oberst Grube`s staff please, he will handle the paperwork and new orders.”
“Yes Sir”
“Very well then, dismissed”

Trying to keep his dismay to the faces the alliances newest officer saluted, made an about-face and kept his face straight till he was out of the General`s office suite. Some days it really did not pay to get up.
He met his new charges outside in a separate room. They had obviously travelled long and hard and were now changing into the undergarments worn under the Power Armor. He was about to call them to attention when he was rooted in place by what he saw. Tering! Things were getting better by the minute-not.
„Good evening manling, are you Liutenant Vos?“
“Yes, Gotrek, I am. Mr Jaeger, Valten, an honor to meet you.”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-04 01:21am

Airport Mirgliano, 22. Sigmarstag, Kaldezeit

Helga Meier tried to move again and found she could not. Not only because straps secured her to the slab below, but also as she had no more limbs to move. She was in what seemed like perpetual darkness punctuated by sobs and less identifiable sounds of horror. The air smelled of old sweat, fresh panic and eternal fear.
Then a light approached her and her constant fear evolved into full-blown panic. She could not see much as her swollen belly was in the way, but a small group of beings approached her judged by the sounds. Finally her fears coalesced into group of horrors-rats walking upright, carrying rusty, pitted, dirty but sharp instruments. She wanted to scream, but her mouth was stuffed with something. She woke up when a knife went near her belly.

She awoke to clean bed sheets clammy of cold sweat. The alarm clock to her side announced 3:30 AM and the date of her blessed flight home. There things would get better wouldn`t they? They had to, they really really had to and her newest nightmare was at least better than the last ones. Two of her colleagues were still under suicide watch-she was not going down that path and defended her sanity by the skin of her teeth.

Knowing that sleep was not an option any more the reporter sat down at her laptop and went back at editing the film that she and her team had taken in the Skaven Slave pits. She hated to see any minute of it, but this had to go out. She needed to make sure that her superiors would still air them but also got the message across. She had been to hell and among the shards that had remained of her worldview one thing had remained as clear and indestructible as any diamond. The Rats had to be stopped, by all and any means, no matter what it took. And if her TV network was not going to air it there was enough left of the Internet to make sure that everybody saw things as they really were.

250 Meters AGL, Bay of Druislla, Naggaroth, same time

Hartmut Klawiter was still busy, but not as bad as before and had actually gotten used to riding on a bleeding Dragon as an observer. Things had gotten better with the last shipment they had received from Germany. He now had a very well made bad-weather motorcycle overall, a helmet with intercom that connected to his 70 cm wireless set and a helmet for his Dragon Rider that allowed for better communications. So he was still riding a murderous beast that would rather eat him than carry him at the mercy of a Druchii Dragon Rider who from time to time described in loving detail what she would like to do with him if she were allowed against an enemy he did not even know. But at least he was reasonably warm and dry doing it and had gotten over his occasional vertigo by now.

“Flyboy to base-Convoy has reached entrance to bay, nothing else to be seen.”
“Base to flyboy-very well. Be advised that base is fogging in and is unlikely to clear up anytime soon. Sorry, but you have to take the alternate site.”
“Flyboy to base, acknowledged and fuck you very much”
Wonderful-he got to spend another night at the Railhead inside Naggarythe, being the only human among an untold number of psychotic torturers.
“Yerena-Base called and said that they have too much fog for us to land, we have to go to the alternate site.”
“Ah, too bad, I wanted to take that boytoy back from Jusilf, he must have cheated anyway. Well, tomorrow evening then. I have gotten these new paingloves, I really want to try them out. Ah well, just you, me and lots of time….”
“I am still not interested thanks…”
This was going to be a long evening and night.

Naggarythe, Ulthuan, same time

The small cave was damp in the autumn evening but for many reasons nobody would light a fire. Even the white unnaturally bright light produced by the German`s lamps was only possible as there were two sets of blankets between this part and the well-concealed entrance.
Currently both the camouflage clad Germans and the blue-grey clad Shadow Warriors looked at the pictures given by a small “Tablet” held up by Ernst Hermann.
“These are the pictures we took from the last flight of the “Luna” drone using infrared and low-light TV. As you can see there are no signs that the Druchii use modern weapons or mercenaries with German equipment. But there are a couple of developments that you should be aware of. First off here you can see newly constructed Dragon Pens, but we do not see any more Dragons-yet. I would not be too surprised to see more Dragons coming in soon. The same goes for this here: Here you see more latrines being dug and some more space cleared. The Darkies are expecting reinforcements.”
“I hear you Ernst Hermann. This is not the kind of news we want to hear but the kind we need to have. I do not believe that you could sell us this “Luna”?”

Cales was quite happy that Herleas, the Shadow Master was taking the Germans so well. Their orders of “recognizance for German involvement, but no combat we cannot avoid” did not go down so well, but given that he had seen the pile of dead Druchii they had caused at the Dragon Gate he had taken great care to hide his disdain. That the Germans were actually able to move through Naggarythe covertly had been an added Bonus and now they kept their promise to share all intelligence gained.
“I am sorry Herleas, we cannot sell this to you as it was obviously broken during the last trip together with the ground station and the solar charger. We will leave the remains with you as they are too hard to carry back.”
Both humans and Asur moved their faces in something like a smile would it have contained any humor. Ernst Hermann had indeed seen a lot through that drone-quite too much in fact. The drone would probably not last long with the Shadow Warriors, but as long as it lasted it would confer them with an advantage that they dearly needed.

“What about the trip to these “rails” that you undertook with my Asur?”
“A very mixed message there. First off they are simply pieces of seasoned wood on the top of which a strip of iron has been nailed. They are connected by cross-ties made from more wood and everything about them says “hasty emergency construction”. You might see similar tracks with the Dawi who use them in their mines or probably the Skaven, but I am no expert there. Us Germans have not produced such Rails for 150 years or so and the Empire never did. All of that does not prove or disprove that German mercenaries aid the Darkies I am afraid. But there is one thing.”
“The rails measure 1435 mm across-exactly like German rails do. This is a very strange and makes me wonder.”
“Uh, that is not much to go on, right?”
“Unfortunately no. But we will be around for a couple of more days and see what can be found.”
The Wireless set attached to the German`s webbing used that moment to beep.

“Sorry Herleas, one second please.”
“Base, this is Spot-I have something that you should see.”
“Spot, this is base-how urgent.”
“Base, just send a runner, you can see yourself.”
“Herleas, could you please send a runner to the OP?”
“Consider it done.”

Roughly an hour later the same people watched a small video made by their resident marksman Dirk Zimmermann. Together with a Shadow Warrior he occupied a small Observation Post overlooking the Druchii railhead. The Video showed a huge, black Dragon setting down in the middle of a field close to the railhead. That was nothing special in this new world.
The very obviously German-clad human that climbed down from the Dragon`s back was indeed special. The photo of his face would be in Germany in days.

Skavenblight, 21. Festtag, Kaldezeit

Lord Nurglich had a look at the delicacy in front of him. Ever since a few days these pieces of cheese were appearing all along the front where the Skaven and the allies clashed, often left behind by scouting or raiding parties. After the first unfortunate incidents a standing order insisted that all such finds had to be brought to Clan Pestilens for safekeeping. The best of these morsels were reserved for him obviously, and the newest one did certainly not disappoint. The taste would have been nice, but various illnesses had removed his taste buds and some of his smell. The indigents on the other hand were a marvel to behold. There were trace elements of heavy metals, one of which he had never encountered before. If he were to let it settle in his bone marrow it would give him a lovely cancer there for sure. Then there was an anti-coagulant that would cause a normal Skaven to bleed out of every orifice within days of ingestion. There was a bacteria down there that would have him develop pustules and high fever-that sounded lovely. Maybe he would allow it to work for a while. And that arsenic left a nice aftertaste. Who knew that the Germans had such an appreciation of Nurgle`s gifts? He was looking forward to what morsels the next days would bring.

Skavenblight, 22. Markttag

The Plague Monks were mad, quite literally mad. They had not been too stable ever but these days they were totally rabid. It had been an unspoken truth as it would give their clan too much recognition, but together with secrecy their gifts were the best defense Skavenblight had. Any normal army that would have invaded their domain would have been in the clutches of ravaging diseases before long. By their masks, their suits and whatever arcane rituals they seemed largely immune to whatever the Plague Monks had to offer for the fight. That they had to provide their protective gear for any Skaven who fought the Germans did not help in any way, but this was the only way to fight them at all. Otherwise the Poison Wind the Germans used would make any fight impossible, clogging noses, making eyes tear till blindness and breathing difficult.
Everybody in Gleepk`s company kept as much distance to them as they were really mouth-foaming crazy. Wielding poisoned daggers, clutching the near-useless globes to themselves like beloved offspring and psyching themselves up to the point where it was not clear whether they were able to differentiate between friend and foe. Still they managed to protect some of their even more enraged members in their midst.
In the dark of the cave they were in the muted squeals, groans and shuffling made for a frightening background, even when the proximity of so many Skaven was reassuring. And finally the sparks and glow from the far end of the cave signaled that things were getting started. Clutching the shaft of his halberd even tighter Gleepk waited for the go.

When the roar of “go go go” sounded and all the training Gleepk had received made his legs move towards danger as fast as they could. Still, this was not so fast as the opening that had been cut by the Warp Grinder was not so very big. Before he cleared that bottleneck he could already hear explosions, rapid shooting and exited squeals. The air rapidly filled with the white fog of the German Poison Wind and one of his eyes promptly started to burn and water. His breathing went more laborious too-but he found quickly that was just nerves.
When he finally was into the open he found himself in a wide tunnel. He did not see any enemy but the Skaven to his right tumbled into him, bleeding from several wounds, another just dropped. Scambling to the side as fast as he could Gleepk tried to spot the source of the shots but only saw a milling mass of diseased fur-the Plague Monks tried their best. Gleepk could not see which way the battle went, he just heard shouting and more explosions.
Everything seemed to stop for a second when a hissing sound drowned out everything and flame covered one the Skaven closest to the Germans.

Screaming warriors ran forward and back others tried to distance themselves and all the while the horrible shooting went on and on. Gleepk actually saw the smoldering pack fused by the flame to a dying Plague Monk by the hellish fire. He managed to drop behind one of the countless corpses before the world ended.
When he came to he had simply no memory what had happened. He was surrounded by smoldering dead and whimpering wounded. He started crawling away as fast as he could without thinking about where to-just away. He bonked into something he had not seen and found to his horror a human arm grabbing for him. Only a second look revealed the burned skin and the feeble flails of the nearly dead soldier. The tunnel behind him had collapsed from something that Gleepk thought he should remember and several dead or injured Germans were half-buried in the rubble.
Looking around Gleepk found an extremely sharp knife that a Plague Monk would no longer need. When the only survivor of this assault brought back news of a stopped German attack and the heads of five soldiers Gleepk the driver was dead and Gleepk the hero was born.

Skavenbight, the deep level

The huge workshop was lit by green light and occasional white sparks. Some of the walls and many of the workbenches were littered with half-finished projects or outright failures. In other more accessible places finished products were exposed. One of the first Ratling guns and parts of a warpcannon displayed the pride of Irklit Rodsnap, master Warlock Engineer and Inventor. Many of his so-called equals would call him slightly unbalanced, which was of course wrong. He was totally of the scale crazy in most things. His hygiene habits were bad, even for a Skaven. Once he had put a needle between his eye and the bone for an experiment and his warpstone consumption was considered excessive even by other Warlocks. Most damning-he shared information with others-how crazy was that?

Currently he was enraged and exhilarated by a challenge at the same time. He was to copy one of the German's weapons that had been captured by some assassins. He was not to use it as inspiration, not to improve on it-simply copy it, and be quick about it. The pressure for fast work and no failures had been high enough to bypass even the warpstone-fueled self-confidence. It seemed like the battle far above his head was not going well. Nobody would say as much of course, but the lack of loot and slaves was telling. Now the council hoped that the weapon before him would turn the tide. It was said to penetrate more than an inch of iron armor plate with ease, said to shoot more than 6 times a second, said to be easily transportable by a small team and most alarmingly never to explode or fail. Especially the latter made Irklit think he was hearing tall tales. The very best Ratling gun he could build failed roughly once per six salvos. Much more seemed unrealistic, but he would see what he would see.

Currently the beast was mounted on the bench in front of him, aiming down a tunnel that at the end had a couple of iron plates mounted at an angle so that ricochets would not harm the shooter. It was a heavy weapon of more than 30 kilogram and had an adapter for some pintle mount. On top were some runes-he had to make sure to copy them as precisely as possible. Whatever “Heckler&Koch M2 0,50 Caliber” meant. To the right side of the gun a chain with what seemed to be the ammunition. That alone was genius-the chain links were simple metal things with the rounds as pins and surely they would simply disintegrate when the rounds were used. Some experimentation showed him that he could lift a lid on top of the weapon which revealed a lot of the inner workings. At first glance this was not so complicated-a pawl there would withdraw a round from the chain, then put it into the barrel. These curves there would make the belt move with these claws. The handle he pulled backwards travelled more than he had expected and moved the inner parts less than its way-some sort of lever.The firing mechanism and the lock that kept the barrel locked to the bolt carrier did not reveal itself yet, but that it would do once he had dismantled this weapon. Interesting, it was so simple for a device of such power. He was sure to have it copied in the time allowed. But now for a real test. Closing the lid he looked for the weapons trigger and found an arrangement which looked like a butterfly with handles on each side . Well, here went nothing. When he depressed the trigger the weapon roared in the small confines and nearly ripped free of the vises that help it. The iron plates downrange were penetrated instead of bouncing the rounds. By the Horned Rat-this was a powerful device.

It took him a while for his helpers to make him a tool that would slot into the screws at the end of the weapon. He did not trust any of these imbeciles to dismantle the beast themselves. The screws moved with little effort but for the last one. He was looking at the screw when it finally made its last turn and was beaten senseless by the parts which were ejected violently from the weapon when the back plate gave.

Skavenblight, Camp 200, 26. Bezahltag, Kaldezeit

The cave that had been assigned to the Armored Infantry platoon had mostly natural walls, a few partitions of olive tarpaulin, a smell of something rotten that never went totally away and a mixture of German and Skaven furniture.
Joakim Vos was typing the report about their latest engagement into his Laptop while he had an eye out for his squad. Most were reading or taking a nap. Felix Jaeger had donned parts of his armor and practiced swapping magazines on his Mauser. Everybody did that at times, the bullpup layout of the rifle and the added clumsiness of the armor conspired to make this something you needed to drill a long time for. Jokim mused that Jaeger was actually doing very well while Gotrek still had an unfortunate tendency to get into the platoons firing lines. But Jesus could he take down the biggies in a rush when necessary and he was the go-to guy for the first to storm a room.
He was about top key in the ammo expenditure when there was some commotion at the entrance and a small group of Dawi and Humans entered the cave. Their leader approached Joakim right away.

“Are you Sergeant Joakim Vos?”
“Lieutenant Vos these days, and you might be?”
“Sergeant Kargan Ironbeard, well met Serg-Lieutenant. Ha-hard to recognize anybody with these bleeding masks, let alone your strange helmets.”
“I heard of it. What can I do for you?”
“Well me and my squad just wanted to say thanks for pulling our asses from that ambush.”
“Ah, that. Kargan, I think you did quite well for yourself there, but you are very welcome anyway.”
“Let no one say that the Thunderers do not repay their debts. Your rifles have the standard bayonet mounts, do they.”
“Yes, they do.”
“Well, then you might want to have this.”
Unwrapping an oil cloth the Dawi exposed nearly twenty blades, all with the dull sheen of well-made steel polished to prevent cracking and the runes that seemed to waver slightly like a sun-heated road.
“This is a rune of fire, and if you stick it into an enemy it will burn him right and proper. No more regenerating for these Skaven beasties that is for sure. And some arseholes can only be beaten with magic weapons, well, here you have them.”
“Wow, just wow. I do not know how we can repay you.”
“Don`t fash yourself. But of you`d have any more of these single-use flamethrowers…”
“I think something can be arranged there.”

Skavenblight, 100 meters up, same time

The two soldiers clutched their UZI submachine guns and both looked into the corners of the room they could see from their respective side of the door. A third threw a grenade through the door which was followed by another one from a fourth. The muted bangs of the grenades mixed with the “gogogo” and made the soldiers vault through the door and spray the room with a short burst each. One turned in time, the other found an enemy just in front of him who punched his chest with a stick hard enough to hurt. The next burst by a soldier who came through the door made him hold up his arms for a while, then blow a whistle.

When the Miraglinese company had assembled Uwe Meins had to speak through Prince Cosimo as only a fraction of the men spoke Reiksspiel and the few words of Tilean the Paratrooper had learned were not suited to sum up the exercise.
“All in not bad people, but for a few problems we should be able to get out in time. First off the obvious-when you enter a room, you check the bleeding corners. The next guy who stabs you won`t do that with a broomstick, capisce?”
“Si Sergeante”
“Ok, next-you need to turn your heads more. When you are full of fight your peripheral vision-uh your ability to look to the sides-goes down. The masks do not help at all. So if you do not turn you heads and look around you will be killed by what you did not see. Do you get me?”
“Si Sergeante.”
The postmortem continued for a while before Meins could sit down with Prince Cosimo for a glass of chilled Vinegar.

“Udo, my friend, I have to thank you again for your training. Now the men can do so much more, even if it is hard.”
“Don`t thank me Cosimo. I have given you and your men an opportunity to get themselves killed. As long as you guarded the supply lines-which is a vital duty, mind you-your men were more or less safe. If command deems you fit for assault duties you can be as good as you want, you will take casualties, massive ones.”
“Yes, I know. But we will die killing a great lot of Rats and that’s what counts.”
“You do not do your duty by dying for Miragliano Prince. You do it by making the Rats die for Skavenblight.”
“Ha-good idea. But Uwe-I understand what you say and my mind says you are right. But my heart says that we have to fight the Skaven, fight them as hard as we can until they give or we are no longer. You have not been in Miragliano when the Skaven came for us, and I just arrived in time for the last assaults when we marched back because the warning your ambassador gave us. I cannot describe to you what we found when we entered the city after the final battle. But whatever happens to me that sight will never leave nor will my hatred for the Rats.”

“I understand Cosimo. But in all that hate never forget that the Company is greater than our wishes and the mission is greater than both.”
“Ah-the mission. Mission-type tactics, I had never thought about such a thing.”
“Small surprise. Your warrants have shown the men their places to a centimeter and your common tactics do not allow anybody to deviate from the plan. But have you seen any free open fields lately where your general can see everybody and issue orders on the fly?”
“Not really.”
“And that is the lesson: Tell the people at the smelly end of the stick what you want them to do, not how. If they cannot hack that get new people.”
“That is a hard lesson to take.”
“Yes, do it anyway-and that I tell you as your friend.”
“To friendship then and absent friends”

Berlin, 28. Angertag, Kaldezeit

The only illumination if the office was a small desk lamp and the glow of the monitor. The lighting did not favor the face of the older woman that sat in front of the computer and highlighted both every crow`s feet and the somewhat heavy jowls. Never a particularly lovely face it was now drained of all emotions and seemed to be set in stone. The video had some sound but she had turned that off, it was not necessary. She had watched the small film three times now and that was enough-more than enough.
Taking up her phone she had contact nearly immediately.
“Thomas, this is Angela. I need to know what is happening in that hellhole they call Skavenblight.”
“That is good to hear. Thomas, if the Council does not want to negotiate or cheat us, we cannot leave this place and the job is not done. If needs be we should think about something drastic.”

“Yes, I have seen the bloody video and yes it influences my decision making-as it should. Just make sure we have a Plan B-and if needs be a Plan C-and whatever happens, this kind of thing needs to stop, forever.”
“Thomas, I knew I could rely on you, please present the options in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow if possible.”
Angela Merkel prided herself on her calm, rational decision making. Given what she had just seen in the video from the Skaven slavepens what she had just set in motion was a rational decision.

Skavenblight, the deep levels, same time

By now Rodsnap was able to eat solid food again and it was not the first time that he had lost a tooth. He was now looking at the ammunition of the weapon before him and if anything it was even simpler than the weapon itself.
Just three parts and they contained everything to shoot the bullet and even provide the force that operated the weapon. Clever, very clever. The brass casing contained a grainy substance that burned very well, very quickly and surprisingly cleanly. That was probably why the warriors stated that the human weapons rarely emitted smoke. Well, he would try to get some other Warlock engineer to analyze this, chemistry was not his strong suit. There was a small cap at the end of the casing, and he already found that it would explode when struck the right way. If they could not copy both he would just substitute with Black Powder or simply with warp ammunition. Maybe if he put a little warpstone inside and some water and had the firing pin mix the two-that could work.

The bullet on top was also strange. It was very much pointed, the other end shaped like a boat-and why the hell had they gone and brass-plated this thing. Well, humans liked pretty baubles, didn`t they? So he would go with simple lead, that would save time.
He looked at the gun again. He had disassembled and assembled it several times now and was very sure he knew how it worked. The assassins had provided him with more ammunition, around 50 rounds. He would fire of some more rounds-he could see if the vises would hold it now-besides it was fun.
Getting behind it he gripped the handles with both paws before pressing on the butterfly trigger briefly and the heavy machine gun fired for about 3 rounds before it exploded, throwing its barrel downrange. The assassins had failed to provide the timing and headspace gauges for the gun and Rodsnap would not have known what to do with it anyway.

Troop transport “Khaine`s Will” Sea close to Naggarond, Naggaroth 32. Markttag

The Winds that blew down the bay were cold and laden with humidity. They cut through most clothing as if it were no really there and chilled everybody to the bone. The high cliffs to each side did not show snow yet but the air tasted of it already.
The human in the greatcoat who stood by the Quarterdecks rails did not see much of it and was glad to leave the little he saw back. Wolfgang Böhler was not sure what this new campaign would bring but anything had to be better than Neustadt at present.
Things had been interesting for a while-not only building up a regiment up from scratch, but also seeing industry and infrastructure grow from humble beginnings into a promise of a good thing. And while he hated the slave-keeping habits of Naggaroth at least the ones kept by the Germans were treated far better. But now things went sour and with a vengeance. He had never been enthused when Jasla was brought into the Black Company, but she had done her part and that was enough for the former sniper.

Yet these days the witch was extending an influence through parts of the Mercenaries that was corrosive to say the least. She was using her charms mostly on the egghead commando`s, the engineers and chemists of the company . All of them had been a little special before, but now they reveled in things that made Böhler`s stomach turn. He was no stranger to violence and was reveling in his specialized kind, but the senseless torture and killing done by these was beyond the pale. And it was bad for business too. The last month for the very first time he had to send out troops to catch escaped slaves, something unheard off ever since the Black Company was in business.
Well, now he was going for a Campaign and thinking about anything but that was different-actually he was looking forward to it. The Druchii and Humans in the 4 ships that made up the little convoy made up the enlarged 1st Auxillia and a German heavy weapons platoon handpicked by Wolfgang. He had even managed to pry Bruchmüller from his cannon and leave him to his …tastes.
For better or worse the Black Company was going to Ulthuan and their name would never been forgotten.

Camp 200, Skavenblight 2. Königstag, Ulrichszeit

Major Ulrich Werner hopped off the Unimor Truck that had driven him down here and searched for the entrance he had been given directions for. There was indeed a side-branch that was used quite a lot and he went there just to find himself looking down the barrel of an assault rifle.
“Name and purpose.”
“Major Ulrich Werner for Oberst Stein, I am announced.”
The Major impatiently waited while a soldier was waiving him down with a warpstone detector and another one was not pointing a gun at him by about 2 cm.
“You will be picked up in a few minutes.”
“I`ll make my own way, I want to look around anyway.”
“Yes, Sir. First door on the left, then through the hall and then to the left.”
“Thanks Corporal.”
Walking down the corridor the Major found another entrance quite different from the official one he had just passed. The sign "Non Gratum Anus Rodentum" resolved themselves into a „Not worth a Rat`s ass” in his classically-schooled brain and would have gotten a smile but for the other door decoration. A row of what had to be Skaven skulls had been arranged in a neat row above the entrance. Bad, bad, that had to go immediately.

Straightening his back he went through and it was like stepping into a different world. That this would be a cave was clear-this was called Camp 200 for a reason. The décor was not so special as well-mostly folding cots and tables with some collapsible lockers thrown in. Lighting was provided by a lot of LED lamps as well as petroleum lights here and there. What was catching his attention were the men-and Dawi that populated the cavern. These were the Cave Raiders, a unit of renown that had won fame with the Battle under Middenheim and the storming of the Shaman`s Cave during the Storm of Chaos. That they had expended like mad was not a real surprise, these soldiers were the “Experten” the heavy hammer command used when they met something hard underground. A mixed unit of Germans, Imperials and Dawi from the start it had absorbed marital traditions from all three.
He had not expected people to stand at attention at his entrance, but besides some looks he got he was hardly noticed. He watched soldiers lying on their bunks reading or snoring away the hours, he saw small groups at various games which took cards or dice. A smaller branch of the cave held a small congregation of Sigmar followers who listened to their priest-and Ulrich could see more than one German in that group. Others were taking care of equipment or practicing…something.
All of them had the haggard faces of beings that did not sleep enough, ate when there was time and and seen and done things they had rather not.

“Can I do something for you Sir?”
Caught by surprise the officer turned on his heel to face a huge Sergeant that saluted him. A dress inspection of this warrant would not go well, but his gear seemed in meticulous order, even if some of the things in his webbing were certainly not Bundeswehr issue.
The Sergeant saluted like he had not done that in a while-probably true, given that it was forbidden in the front lines so not to point out the officers to the enemy. Answering the salute Werner needed a second. “Major Ulrich Werner for Oberst Stein, I am expected.”
“Then you took the wrong way, the Office is down that corridor to the left.”
“Ah, yes I will do that. Sergeant..Meins, I have noticed a number of Skulls above the door-they have to go, immediately. They give a wrong impression.”
“With all due respect Sir, that is not a good idea.”
It was as if the air around Ulrich chanced temperature and consistency all of a very sudden. And while the officer had not spoken loudly he had all the attention he had been missing minutes before and then some. Unfortunately it was the attention usually given to something that is about to get into the pot and has not realized that yet. It might also be the kind of attention given to people who kick the family dog for barking.
The body language of humans and Dawi was close enough that Ulrich realized the scope of his mistake. He had screwed the pooch in a den of killers. Stone cold killers, hopefully disciplined killers but mainly of beings who`s daily business was breaking things and smashing people. And they looked very capable of what they were doing.

He was looking for a way out when an “Attention” at sound level to rival a gunshot brought everybody to immediate attention. Turning he found himself face to face with Oberst Stein.
“Are you Major Werner”
“Yes Sir.”
“Then come with me and leave the men their rest.”
“Yes Sir.”
A couple of minutes later the two officers found themselves in a small office of tarp walls and ugly dented furniture.
“So Major, what brings you here?”
“I am with the PR staff Sir and have orders to arrange for a press visit to your unit. After the reports about the Slave Pens we really need something positive to send and the Cave Raiders are the best bet-or so I thought until five minutes ago.”
“So you did not like what you saw Major.”
“Well, I know that these men are under heavy pressure, but does that really justify what I have seen. I thought we would bring the light to the barbarians, but it seems we become them ourselves. Jesus, they keep Skulls above the door, pry to Sigmar and I am not sure what would have happened if you would not have shown up.”
“The men would have brought you here one way or another. They kill Skaven, not humans. So you did not like what you see and talk about pressure? I tell you what-you do not know pressure till you have been here. These rooms are reasonably safe-we did not have a single assault for the last three days. But whenever you step out of the doors and get closer to the front-such as it is-your life is in danger, every bloody minute of it. The Rats can come out of some niche some tunnel-from everywhere. They love to poison their weapons, they use flamethrowers that leave just ashes if they get you, they are in love with their Jezzails which demand amputation in nearly all cases that do not kill you outright. When they are not there their lovely traps remain and of you have cleared them nearly everything in these rooms wants to kill you with warpstone till they have cleared that out. Cleared that in a manner which still gives a lot of my men the creeps. Of course you can have all that fun in a one-man condom and a mask which will leave you breathless and sweating if you so much as climb some stairs. And all of that is before we have a mission to fulfill-then it gets double ugly.

Major, in the last three months this unit had losses exceeding 30%, of which more than 10% are simply dead. No matter how clever I plan and how well we execute the mission-we always have losses. “You have to go out, you do not have to come back-that is what they say.” For whatever reason there are still enough volunteers, even if I`ll never know why. The survivors, the men you just met and you do not like are the ones who adapted to this environment. They are good at what they do and nobody likes it, least of all themselves. And of that means they use modified bayonets or munitions-let them. If they prefer listening to a priest who tells them that it is good what they do, that they do a blessed job and who can actually take some of the pain and fear away-let them. And if they collect the skull of every kind of Skaven-Let them. But pray we can straighten them out when we put them into “civilized society” again, because anything else would be a tragedy.”
“Sir, I understand. No I do now really understand but I hear what you are saying. Just-what can we do, I have my orders to arrange something.”
“If I take make some of them clear up their act sufficiently for your dog-and-pony-show it gets off to their spare time, the rest they need. So do you have anything to offer?”
“Um, well I am not sure if this would be appreciated. But you do know that “Unheilig”, “Eisbrecher” and “Grungier`s Slammers” are giving a concert for the troops at Miragliano airport? I might get some backstage passes if you think the men would be interested.”
“Oh, now that is certainly a deal.”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-08 02:40pm

Skavenblight, 22. Markttag, Kaldezeit

For the first time ever Günter Koch was glad that "his" special Wind was Necromancy. Unlike Helga Meier with her nightmares, he had only one such sleep. Günter too had seen the horrors of the breeding and Slave pits and barely reached a place to throw up without having to wear a mask. Like so many soldiers fighting here, be it German, Imperial, Dwarf or Tilean the pictures, sounds and smells had burned themselves deep into the brains. After a nearly sleepless night, he only got the rest of exhaustion, Günter Koch had talked with Graf von Carstein about the memories.
There were few colleges or schools of Magic which could heal massive psychic scars. Some "Lesser Magic" and specialist spells or rituals existed and the Necromantic Ways had several too. Since there was no time for a full thing, the war did not stop, Günter with help and guidiance of Manfred von Carstein could at least cast a quick and dirty remedy for himself. He put the emotions coupled with that special memories to rest. Günter could now recall the events in the pits with full clarity, but no emotions to torment him. His normal emotional expressions were unaffected, just that special set of recall. While there were more complete and refined solutions, that had to wait for after the War against the Skaven.

Günter talked with several officers, who were certainly worried with the psychic morale of the soldiers, about the magical solutions. Within hours, requests for more Light, Heaven, Life and Death Order sorcerers and German psychologists for the etappe had been written. Equally Germans in magical training who showed talent for healing should come to the camps above ground for learning purposes.
Günter´s engagement for saving the sanity of his fellow soldiers had a nice side-effect for him. His comrades warmed up to him a bit. Being one of two guys able to command the creepy skeleton formations was not good for your social standing and Günter had been hurt by that. Intellectual he knew why the people around him reacted so, but it did not make it better. "Upstanding Necromancers" were practically unheard of, but Günter was convicted to try at least for himself to regain reputation.

Line 400, Skavenblight, 2. Königstag Ulrichszeit

The air in lower Skavenblight was always the same: humid and at roughly 15 degree. The immense mass of the rock around the warren made sure of that. Despite that Major Ulrich Werner was sweating already and he had not moved much yet. It was a combination of him wearing spidersilk body armor, a protective suit on top, a Mauser assault rifle across his back and diverse bits and pieces in his webbing. That, as he was honest enough to admit to himself was only half the problem: the other half was that he was surrounded by a bunch of stone-cold killers and in an hour or so about to storm the next part of Skavenblight still held by the rats. That said Rats had the last weeks to prepare of this onslaught was part of the deal.

Currently he was looking at a tablet held up by a Paratrooper Sergeant who currently was part of the Cave Raiders. “We got these pics from the Spider Drones. Even the Skaven have a hard time seeing the little buggers. See here- there they have some bunkers, looks like with ratling cannon. I`ll be disappointed at the Rats if they do not have a warpcannon in that one, and here, close to the entrance I would think they have some sally points where they can try to get into our back when we advance.”
“This looks like ramshackle construction, even for the Skaven-they made this new and we let them do it?”
“Can`t be helped. We have advanced so far as we could from Camp 200-any further down and we would have spent too much time getting to the fight or back to be useful. Now that the NSD`s have removed enough Warpstone that we can establish Camp 380 we can resume the offensive. But we will still not play into the Rats hands. Oh-there is a Tank Platoon that will assault the main passageway and we will start to blast the warrens on both sides but that will be a distraction-at least that is the scuttlebutt. Our job is to blast through the walls here and here and then take these tunnels-see there-and take the Skaven from behind. We will use drones and NSD`s to detect the traps the spiders did not show in a hurry and we should catch the Skaven by surprise.”
“Not Sufficiently Dead, formerly known as Henriks or the Undead. But please do not call them Henriks in the video-Major Gerber is actually a swell guy and his idea has saved countless lives.”
“I won`t, no problem.”
“Ok then, you and your cameraman stay with me. Don`t touch anything in the warren unless I tell you too and then things will be all right.”
“Let`s do it then.”

Five minutes later everybody was to don masks and gloves which made everything even harder and seemingly less real at the same time. All but a few lamps were switched off. The German officer just got to see the backs of a lot of Cave Raiders who stood and waited again-until the explosions got everybody awake. A dust cloud at the end of the cave they were was the only visible sign of the breach that had been made. The tablet that was still in the Paratroopers hands displayed the clutch of drones that rumbled forward on tracks and wheels, closely followed by a file of shuffling skeletons.
One of the drones simply disappeared in a suddenly opened hole, one was crushed by a falling rock as were two of the NSD. Spears sought the undead as did bullets leaving green trails. The drones fired upon unseen targets from their machine guns, one launching grenades from a fat tube. The row of backs in front of Werner grew thinner when a lot of them went into the opening. The Sergeant and his charges followed more cautiously and the low-light camera recorded the squads that branched off into rooms and tunnels that went to the left and right. Even these highly-trained soldiers had huge problems moving fast under their protective gear but one could still see the great amount of coordination the veterans had acquired.
Each room received a trio of grenades-one flashbang, one frag, one CS-to subdue the defenders long enough to enter the room and shoot any of them before they could regain their facilities. Twice while Werner accompanied the assault, soldiers were carried out of rooms, one swearing with a bloody gash on his leg, the other horribly still.

The action seemed chaotic and incomprehensible to the Major most of the time. He could see only for a few meters, the caverns and tunnels were mostly the green-on black that his low-light vision showed or sparsely illuminated when some lights were brought in. Both kinds of vision suffered severely when muzzle flashes strobed.
Still-the Germans were making their advance and while they suffered losses they were low compared to the Skaven. They had to close to inflict damage and either they were often too stunned to act quickly or had to advance down corridors that were covered by automatic fire. The officer could only hope that the fight`s recording would amount to anything.

The Sergeant was stopping his small party in a T-Crossing that offered a small space in a niche for a rest. “Let us see where the action is now…” when the wall opposite to their tunnel collapsed and spit out a flood of Skaven. The paratrooper dropped his computer and got his rifle up at roughly the same time Werner had. Both men unloaded their 20-round magazines into the approaching enemy in several short bursts which threw several Skaven back and slowed the rest. Two of them attacked the paratrooper with their halberds while he changed magazine. One was unable to penetrate the solid carapace armor above the soldiers chest and earned himself a bayonet into the throat for his pains. The other weapon was deflected between the Sergeant and the Major who punched the wielder with the buttstock of his rifle. By that time the paratrooper was shooting again and fire from other ended the Skaven ambush.

Werner was pushed in the back and saw to his horror that the Skaven had managed to put his blade between the collar of the armor of his cameraman and the helmet. Blood was ejected from the wound with each heartbeat. He did not think and could never remember dropping his weapon and clutching his gloved hand around the wound, closing his fingers with more and more force till the bleeding stopped.
He did hear the shouting around him, but nothing registered in his brain which was reduced to one task-not to let go. When the Sergeant shot across his back at unseen enemies nearly blowing his eardrums he did not move and he did not relinquish his grip when other soldiers passed him by unrolling thick hoses. Even when the medics finally arrived he could not let go till they had stuck their needles into the wounded soldier, had put a tube in his throat and prepared a clamp.
Then he could not make his fingers open, they were totally cramped. The Sergeant helped him with that and led him out of the combat zone.
“You did well Sir, come back when you have another cameraman and we will show you around.”
They were still in the tunnel leading upwards when a deep rumble shook everything and made dust and pebbles drop from the ceiling.
“Now that will show them-we just flamed the warren below us.”

Skavenblight, the deep levels, same time

“Blam Blam Plink” Irklit Rodsnap screamed wordlessly in frustration. This was the tenth or so time that this had happened.
He had assembled a prototype of the new weapon out of the junk left by the machine guns explosion and his own ideas and things. He had already learned a few valuable lessons. The barrel had contained a useful section that could be sawed off and had then shown how hard and resilient it really was. This was interesting: Steel was either flexible-then it was not very hard. Or it was hard, then it was very brittle, but Steel was not both at the same time. Both sawing it and cutting a new thread into its back end had been a hard chore that had ruined many a good tool. He had given the ruined parts of the barrel to a different Warlock who was good in alloys-maybe he would get a few ideas from it.

The next lesson had been that the chain that so handily delivered the ammunition was harder to copy than he first thought. The sheet metal that made up the links had to be very even and remarkably strong or they would fail again and again. Currently the ammo was supplied by a drum magazine similar to what fed the Ratling Guns. Hardly ideal but better than total.

He had been able to salvage enough of the gun lock that he could replicate it’s working. The cartridges that his helpers had reloaded with Black Powder and new igniters fed well enough. After the first shots he had found that the reloaded ammo was not strong enough to work the mechanism and had started to shorten the springs until the bolt and bolt carrier moved again under their own violation. Yet the gun refused to fire reliably. The best he had achieved so far were 10 shots in a row-and most other salvos were worse-and kept getting worse again.
From what he saw the cartridges with Black Powder had different power and some of them would just not supply enough recoil. Pulling back the charging handle he also saw the fouling left by the propellant-fuck, this was not going to work that way.

Warren 445, Skavenblight, next day

“They make a desert and call it peace” Ulrich Werner followed Uwe Meins through the Warren that had been emptied of the Skaven yesterday. After he had left the battlefield the warrens below him had been filled with propane that had been ignited when the concentration was right, filling the termite-like warren with flame and overpressure. The Cave Raiders had stormed the morgue that had been left and had made sure that no new Skaven could reoccupy. Together with a similar operation in the warren on the other side of the passageway that had allowed the tanks to fight their way down the spiraling tunnel without the danger of being cut off by collapsed buildings.
The officer walked by large groups of Rats that looked like they would just be sleeping but were totally and utterly dead without displaying outward injury. Their lungs had been ruptured by the explosion and any armor they had worn had been completely useless. The Skaven had tried to make compartments in the warren that would not allow the gas to pass but had been thwarted by the allies flanking them and introducing the explosive at points the Skaven had not anticipated.

Nothing showed the losses incurred by the Cave Raiders-not as they had none, but simply because all casualties had been evacuated. The dark, empty rooms and corridors of proportions that were just wrong to a human were just depressing as was the need for protective equipment. Hastening not to lose contact with his guide he arrived at a rally point where the Warren ended into a large plaza that featured a huge tunnel at its far end. The plaza also had a number of mounds made by rubble and hasty construction from which fire was poured in the direction of the Germans. Several soldiers lay motionless in the empty space before them. From two sides the Germans fired back to the mini-fortifications but seemingly without much effect.

The paratrooper and the Major huddled behind a low wall watching the proceedings.
“We got us a problem here Major-see the Skaven over there?”
“They have to go and soon. And the trackheads will not join the party in time, there is a constriction at level 420 they need more time to clear, so we are it.”
“Anti-tank missile?”
“Bunkers took a couple of them so far-the walls are too thick in most places. We only got the bleeding Bunkerfaust at present, piddling 90 mm warhead does not cut it. And the rubble is loose enough that it won`t spall well when hit with HESH. Looks like an opportunity for some hero types.”
“That is going to be nasty”
“Maybe. Way I hear it this will be the best chance for you to film something nice to show at home?”
“Watch and see. Show will start any minute now.”

Werner had to wait for another 15 minutes before things got going. The assault started when massive fire was poured into the bunkers apertures from several German positions. All of a sudden a platoon rose from cover and ran towards the bunkers. There was something wrong about that run-the troopers were too fast for men under protective equipment. The masks were also highly different-Power Armor. So these were the guys he heard so much about. There were several wildly different opinions about them running from them being the greatest thing since sliced bread to Superhero Wannabes. Here they moved much like any infantry assault he had seen so far, but the occasional hits on them did not seem to slow them. They went to the sides of several firing slits, one of them fixing the barrel that protruded from it by a hand while another fired a magazine into the bunker behind, holding his assault rifle one handed.
In another place an armored figure shorter but thicker than the rest loped off weapons by an axe, leaving glowing stumps in his wake. Another soldier systematically pushed charged through the slits that had the assault rifle treatment, causing flame and smoke to emerge from the apertures.

Things were progressing nicely when one of the buildings on the far side of the plaza just collapsed to reveal a group of Rat Ogres and far too many Skaven. The groups contained at least one mage as green lightning emerged to strike at the Armored Infantry. The squat figure with the axe was closest and hit by several-without them having any effect. Instead the axe-wielder ran forward towards the Ogres towering over him, being joined by another one that used a hammer. It seemed totally senseless and a waste till the axe went through a log as if made of cardboard while the hammer-user smashed a kneecap.
The Skaven following the Ogres drew so much rifle fire from the Armored Infantry and the Cave Raiders that only a few made it to the allied positions on the other side of the Plaza-none made it back.
“Hey the Armored Infantry, Gotrek and Valten in action-tell me you got that filmed for the upstanding citizens at home.”
“Oh got it and will use it-thanks greatly. But believe me that is not the only thing we will show.

Bay of Corallis, Ulthuan, 4. Festtag Ulrichszeit

The late autumn left its mark even in Ulthuan. The great forests were partially bare or displayed a riot of colors in the sunshine. Even more color was lent to the scene by many tents that dotted the landscape, banner which flew over them and ships that had beached to unload even more troops. Less colorful and stylish was the mud that existed between the tents and that tenaciously clung to everything, spoiling the looks. It was studiously ignored and ruthlessly removed when out of sight.
Tyrion was looking as clean and dapper as freshly unpacked, displaying annoyingly good spirits for the long hours everybody put in. He sat on top of his charger and watched the unloading of additional troops and supplies that were put ashore from countless Elven ships. There were a great lot of ships, from the nimble Hawkships that guarded the convoy to the comparatively fat-bellied grainships that made up the bulk of the vessels and were the real reason of the sailing at all.

The lands of Naggaraythe had never been rich, had been ravaged by the Elven civil war and the subsequent Druchii incursions and populated by a nomadic people for whom improvement of the countryside was as alien a concept as pacifism. In short it could never supply and army of note for any length of time if it was not supplied by a substantial fleet. Given all the commitments of the Asur it would have been difficult to impossible to assemble such a fleet without neglecting something important elsewhere. The solution to that had come from a most unlikely source. The Asurian ambassador to the Reiksbund, considered a Buffon by some and touched by those who knew him better had chartered a number of German vessels which now plied the trade routes between Tiranoc and Yvresse, Eataine and Charce or wherever Asur needed to ship something except for the war zone. They shipped cloth and grain, wine and wood to whomever had need of it without taking part in the war. And yet they freed the ships that the Phoenix King needed for this campaign and more besides. Even when they passed Druchii ships the pirates knew better then to attack them and in the few instances someone tried the merchant ships were remarkably able to either outrun their would-be captors or sunk them with ruthless efficiency. They did not need Ausurian escorts and freed even more ships for the elven admirals to use. That so very few German ships were able to transport so much was discussed by few but resented by many High Elves.
Disgusting as this might be it allowed Tyrion to amass an army that soon would march between the Bay of Drusilla and the Dragon Gate, cutting of the besiegers supply lines. Let Marcus Darkblade see how much being besieged suited him.

Close to Neustadt, Naggaroth, at night, 5. Sigmarstag Ulrikzeit

It was unclear who had dug the tunnel under the Sword Mountains. The walls were chiseled and showed traces of tools no human had ever wielded. The proportions were slightly off for human aesthetics and the floor showed a smooth wear that somehow suggested that the users had worn it smooth by means of locomotion devoid of feet.
It was cold, damp, dark except for the feeble light of a single lamp that made the shadows flicker in ways that made the eye see movement where none was and revealed shadows deeper than any pit.
Petra Heim would have preferred not to have entered the underground passageway at all and certainly not alone. As in so many things-in all things-her wishes counted for next to nothing and the will of her mistress reigned supreme. The only good thing about this state of affairs was that besides Jasla ire there were very few things left that could frighten the former German student.

Moving as quietly as her hast allowed she tried to take in everything about the walls and floor of the tunnel. Occasionally she stopped and covered her lantern to hear, but besides some running water and her breathing there was nothing. Pulling the sheet with her instructions for the umpteen time and trying to make sense from them she felt something lithely touching her behind.
Supressing a shriek she pivoted on her left leg coming face to face with a hat. The high garment sat atop a shock of curly, greasy hair, a broad coarse face that showed vaguely oriental features in the few pieces not covered by a bushy beard. The strong right hand of the creature pressed a broad blade against her midriff and the only thing that detracted from the threat was the slim dagger that she held against his short neck.
Both woman and Dawi Zarr watched the other wordlessly for an eternal 10 seconds before Petra Heim stepped back.

“I am supposed to say Subway”
“I have to say Ticket then”
The German slave made sure her dagger no longer pointed directly at the Chaos Dwarf`s throat but still was between them.
“My Mistress wants to know if all is arranged.”
“You can assure your Mistress that all is as it should be. How many are you?”
“Good good. Bring them here and we will lead you”
One hour later Jasla, her German Slave and 18 of the Black Company`s engineers and chemists met up with the Dawi Zarr. The Chemists included Manfred Hartig who sported an eye patch above his right eye and his Druchii slave who even at cursory examination showed signs of a broken mind.

Skavenblight, Pump Station 8, 600 meters below, 10 Königstag, Ulrichszeit

Harat Aequifit had been of Clan Skryre once, but that was a long time ago by the way Skaven counted such things-at least 5 years or so. Utterly incapable to keep up with the ruthless competition and intrigue of Skaven society but a thorough engineer with a gift for maintenance he had been nominated by his clan for the holy duty of Pumpmaster. This job usually made sure that you did not see an ripe old age because of the dangers of working so close to warpstone-powered machinery but it was guaranteed to be free of internal warfare and assassination. All he had to do was using the slaves and other resources wisely to maintain Pump Station 8, one of the 13 main pump stations that kept Skavenblight from drowning. All of the Bighted March and all of the waters in the soil around the Skavenblight undercity wanted to flood the unnatural hollow space inside them. Besides waterproofing the Skaven incorporated into their construction where possible the powerful pumps in this room collected the waters from a many a bilge and runoff and pushed it upwards against its own terrible weight and forced it away. If these pumps would not exist Skavenblight would flood in mere weeks. Keeping them working was a holy responsibility and the neutrality of the station and its wardens was kept as sacrosanct as the Skaven were able to.

Of course Aequifit had heard about the great battles fought above him, but like many of the skirmishes and battles that filled life in the Undercity he felt disconnected from that. However won the Battle he still wanted to keep Skavenblight dry, wouldn`t he.
The happy feeling of not being affected had suffered during the last days when the sounds came closer. At first there were only occasional deep rumbles, like a slow explosion of such a thing were possible. Then there were smaller cracks that were transmitted by the rock and then shots and a strange crackling sound. The last new sound had been the screaming-first only the screams of the Skaven pushing themselves into battle-then their excitement about being in Battle-and then the strange human voices. They were like the voices of the human sklaves he used-and at the same time they were somehow different. And then there was the most frightening sound-silence.

The great door that led to the main pump room had been closed when the conflict came near and now it resounded with deep booms till they split in the middle and the door was pushed open. The first creature to emerge from the darkness was not a human or Dawi, but a strange cart that trundled along on small wheels while pointing something like a fat pistol in any direction.
Then came the human and Dawi warriors, hardly recognizable from their strange masks and clothing.
And last came the big human who marched into the middle of the room and boomed loudly in the Reikspiel some of them understood.
“I am Major Gerber of the allied forces. Who is boss here?”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-08 02:42pm

Level 630, Skavenbight, 12.Festtag

Heinz Albers watched the soldiers that walked back the corridor he had worked on the last 30 minutes. They were walking deliberately watching their surroundings and steps. The moved in groups providing overwatch for the movers. All of this was to no avail-there were no enemies at present but it was the reality of Skavenbight that they could appear at any time. This time they did not, only some corpses he could see from his vantage point indicated that there had been defenders of this place at all.
A Sergeant counted all men that came back from the tunnel, did it again and then addressed Heinz. “All men are accounted for Captain, you may proceed”
“Thanks Sergeant. “

Turning back to the small box he had wired up in the last minutes he opened a small flap and put his finger on the button “Fire in the hole” was just a formality, but blasters believe in routines and set procedures. They have been written with the blood of those who did not adhere to them.
Pushing the button brought a series of deceptively small explosions, a sound of groaning and rumbling and a dust cloud emerged from the entrance of the tunnel they had just vacated. When the dust settled a solid mass of rubble had closed the passageway and it would probably need months for the Skaven to clear it. One avenue of attack less for the rats and his schedule for today had to more demolitions.

Council of 13, Skavenbight, 13. Sigmarstag, Ulrichszeit

The Council members seemed to be the epitome of watchful relaxation and attentiveness. None moved, none interrupted the Warlock engineer, nobody played the age-old game to jockey for position. Only the cramped claws that clutched staffs of office, whiskers that moved at high frequencies and eyes that darted here and there betrayed the agitation and desperation that had gripped the Lords of Decay with icy fingers.
The Warlock engineer that currently spoke to them was displaying at least the same distress. He was speaking to the only beings that could legally threaten him and had to be the bearer of bad news, never a good thing in Skavenblight. Yet, this was not the chief reason for his exasperation, even if he had a vial of powerful poison hidden on him in case the council`s displeasure became overwhelming. What he had to report meant that the very basis of Skavenblight was under attack.

“The humans humans have taken Pump Stations 3,5, 8, and 11. The Stations 12 and 2 are under attack attack and will fall soon soon of we find no way to stop the thrice damned Germans Germans. At present the pumps are still working and we think our crews there are still alive alive. But if the humans kill them or even dare to destroy them them then we are doomed doomed. Even with less water coming from the blight blight these days we could not keep us from drowning drowning. If the humans take the stations they currently attack it will be worse. It is an affront, these Germans are uncivilized beasts beasts worse than any slave-they attack the pump rooms.”
Lord Kritislik was the first to find his voice.
“The Horned Rat will punish them for sure sure, valued Pump Master. Can we use emergency systems or build new pumps to replace those currently occupied by the Germanss”
“We already use all systems systems and building new pump rooms would take many years years. We would also have to lay new pipes through the areas held by the humans. We have to retake the holy pumps pumps.”
“Then we will retake the holy pumps that the treacherous humans insult with their presence presence. We will consecrate them with their blood and will feed the fires with their entrails. This I, Lord Paskit swear swear.”

It was an impressive oath by the Lord of the Warrior Clans. It would have been more impressive if any of Lord Paskit`s plans would have worked in the last months. Still, he had just offered his life and that of his troops as collateral to his goal. It would have been more impressive if he would have believed himself that he could make it work.
Eleven Lords of Decay screamed their approval of Lord Paskits announcements and adoration of his oath.
One Lord planned for a series of Skaven assaults like the world had never seen.
Eleven Lords had a different plan and it included Lord Paskit.

Skavenbight, Level 630, 14. Brunntag, Ulrichszeit

„Here they come again“
Henrik Gerber knew that this was not the most correct report he had received so far but could hardly criticize the sentiment or the speaker. The broad passageway before him filled itself up again with fur and claws, rusty arms, lethal intent and hate. The Skaven again tried to storm the Landwehr line that was between them and the Pump station 8 which they so fervently tried to recapture. It was the job of him in his light tank together with another one and a company of the 1st Landwehr to make sure that the rats would fail again.
This time the barbed wire would not hold them-it was smothered by the dead of the last assault and his troops did not have the opportunity so far to replace the Claymore mines that had worked so handily during the last attacks. Well, the old fashioned way should work as well then.
Switching his intercom to the command circuit he pushed the to—talk-talk button. „All Landwehr elements, this is Landwehr actual. Fire at will“

There was no need for acknowledgement as everybody started shooting immediately. From assault rifles that send 3-ound bursts downrange to machine guns used by squads or the ones mounted on his tank and no 2-at the few hundred meters they could hardly miss.
He held the 30 mm autocannon back. Its APERS ammo would have added to the carnage decisively but in the close confines of the passageway it made more sense to keep this firepower back for emergencies. The Rats were not making any headway by their enraged rush, being killed nearly as quickly as they could emerge from the tunnels. It probably would have surprised their Skaven superiors if the result would have been different. Yet they still fulfilled their purpose to mask something more dangerous.
The optics in front of the Landwehr Major showed the first signs when green tracers ran down the tunnel and impacted too close to his heavy weapons teams. He looked for the shields that usually covered the Jezzail marksrats but failed to see any. Instead he spotted a Skaven on his belly who aimed his long weapon on a bipod. A short burst of his coax machine gun ended this, but another place among the Skaven corpses sported the characteristic muzzle flashes of a Ratling gun and the armor if his tank rattled under the impact. That would not do, the Rats might damage the sensors.

Taking turret control he centered the crosshairs on the source of the tracers and punched the trigger of the cannon. The burst shook the vehicle and shredded the weapons team on the other side. A couple of salvos with the coax reduced the rest of the Skaven to a panicked mob that tried to push back against those Stormvermin that wanted to get out of their entrances and join the assault. The resulting pileup only provided more target for Henrik. Things were about to calm down when the pile of dead was thrown apart as an anthill might be destroyed by a willful child. The figures that emerged were too big, had too many limbs and claws that at least looked as if they could damage his tank. Behind the Rat Ogres and at least one Abomination something like the biggest rat in the world bore a rider that seemed to crackle with energy.
These beasts would have been very impressive to any infantry, even German-equipped and trained at close range. The duo of light tanks used weapons that had been built to take down 50+ton tanks clad in thick armor. The “Spike” missiles ripped them apart quite handily before more canon shells finished the work.

Skavenblight, Level 640, same time

Gleepk was as frightened, hungry, angry and out of his depth-situation normal, all fucked up for the recently promoted pack leader. He had been part of an assault on the human lines when the Skaven had found that all major tunnels had been blocked for many meters. The warren they were in allowed many ways to bypass these, but it would only allow a few Clanrats to pass at a time as they had to make their way through countless dwellings, storage rooms and workshops. The warlock engineer was anxious to call the attack off-Gleepk thought that wise-and had split his party into many smaller groups that should look for a way through as best as they could. There was a larger hall at the end of the warren, there they supposedly had to meet. This Gleepk thought madness, but he was not desperate enough to protest. Taking his pack through a roundabout route he felt himself depressed by his surroundings. The small corridors and rooms that should be lit by oil and warpstone lamps lay in darkness that might hide any number of enemies. The rooms that should bustle with innumerable Skaven were as empty of life as a tomb.

When he made his way forward he heard only intermittent and distorted sounds by the other packs or even more worryingly the booms and shots of human weapons. The labyrinthine nature of the warren kept him from making any estimate of the enemy`s distance or numbers. He did not like this business a single bit. Even he could see that it was better to lure the humans into warrens controlled by the Skaven so they could set up traps and ambush the humans when they advanced. This plan here was not worth a spit.
He saw his point Skaven walk through the next door and bump backwards, heard the human babbling from the other room and knew he was dead. Time seemed to slow down around him and he was able to see, hear and smell everything with an intensity he never had experienced before. He wanted to live a minute longer with an intensity that hurt and knew he would not. He saw the small black ball emerge from the doorway that would land exactly at his feet to claim him. It had probably been meant for him to die like this ever since the day when the humans bombed his cart. And then his claw moved as if by itself and caught the deadly missile. He threw it back in fear and disgust and saw it flying back through the opening it had just come from. It had barely reached the other room when it exploded with eardrum-shattering results.

He wanted to live-so much that he took his only chance and his feet drove him forward as fast as they could, in his confusion right through the door that was still obscured by smoke. He dropped over a body lying in his way and rolled forward till something stopped him. He hacked about himself with hysterical strength, managed to push his dagger into the human leg in front of him and then the groin above him. Pushing the wet body on top of him aside he saw the other Clanrats that had followed his mad charge, hacking into the humans they had surprised with all the madness borne by fear.
His pack never reached the meeting point as the warren was even more destroyed than they had though. But the human heads and even more importantly the human weapons Gleepk`s pack brought back made up for everything and then some.

Skavenbight, Level 635, 16. Bäckertag, Ulrichszeit

“Shoulder arms-aim-open fire”
Prince Cosimo was pretty sure that his friend Uwe would be unhappy at this display, yet for his life he could not find how to apply his teachings here besides what he had already done. His company was at the end of a hall fed by several tunnels that in disgorged Ratmen from time to time. Besides having erected barriers as cover for his men and some barbed wire few of the paratrooper`s lessons applied to this situation so he had arranged his men in a neat row behind the barriers and had them blast away at the distant foe. Uwe had not been able to secure them assault rifles but the last version of the K98 had 20-round detachable magazines so the rate of fire laid down by his men was still ferocious. So far he had been able to keep the Skaven from his men and accomplish the mission.

Yes not things were different-the last bunch of Clanrats had hidden a warpstone engineer or two and they had taken down some of his soldiers besides getting some obnoxious smoke started that reduced the sight. The company fired blindly into the smoke at chest height, yet the Price knew this was not going to be overly efficient.
And then the moment came when the Rats emerged from the smoke, far too many and too close to shoot them all before they reached his men. Lifting his epee he shouted as loud as his blasted mask would allow him “Up and at them” and slashed the sword downwards.
All along the line more of his men rose behind the barrier behind which they had crouched unseen. Two dozen Uzi submachine guns opened fire at the same time, converting the Skaven assault into a massacre.
Keeping a hidden dagger was something the Prince had learned shortly after he had learned to walk.

The deep levels, Sakvenbight, same time

“Pang Pang Pang Pang” The iron plates in Rodsnap`s workshop were not penetrated this time but bounced the lead shot into more plates before they dropped harmlessly. Irklit`s experience told him that he had probably somewhat less power than the rifles that had been delivered the last days, but still plenty to kill an unarmored Skaven or human. That had to do it for now. The rate of fire was also less than before but largely depended on how fast he could turn the crank on his improved creation. Whenever he did a pawl pulled a round from a cloth belt that was transported forward by a ratcheting ring. The round dropped before the barrel and was pushed in by the bolt head which then was locked by a cam curve. The firing pin dashed forward to push a small pin into the base of the iron cartridge. It smashed a small vial of warpstone inside the water contained in the round. Converted into high-pressure steam it pushed the projectile down the barrel and then the turn of the wheel extracted the cartridge again. He had roughly one misfire in a dozen rounds, but as these were extracted just like a fired cartridge it did not matter at all.

Now this was a weapon he could present to the Council. Dreams of rewards filled the engineers head when a round fired at much reduced pressure, pushing the round only half-way down the barrel. The next round worked perfectly, just to impact on the back of the first one. The back pressure vented from the freshly opened barrel`s back end to shower Rodsnap with fragments and hot steam. His helpers needed nearly 20 meters of bandage to cover all the small wounds.

Council of 13, Skavenbight, 17. Angertag, Ulrichszeit

Lord Paskit led a huge procession down to the vast cavern that housed the pillar-the 13-sided-pillar made by the Horned Rat so Skavendom would know its wishes and commandments. He was followed by thirteen Grey Seers and an assortment of the best troops, the most gifted engineers and best warlocks of Skavenblight. All of them were surrounded by a double line of council guards resplendent in their white fur.
Gleepk was marching in the back of the “Group of Heroes” as it had been called and watched an old much-bandaged Warlock in front of him clutch a strange-looking rifle.
All of it would have been far more impressive and reassuring if all of them would not have been chained and the Guards have their spears pointed inwardly. When the procession finally reached the chamber among much acclaim the Torturer-Priest were already presenting their tools.

Hexoatl, Lustria, about the same time

The pyramid-shaped temple was built from granite blocks of immense size and rose from the jungle like a small mountain. Together with the lesser buildings around it it was ptotected by a dome of shimmering energy.
Inside younger Slann and Skinks looked at each other with alarm. Lord Mazdamundi had been in a coma since nearly three years and now was moving in small amounts. That in itself would have been good but it was obvious that the greatest of all Slann was agitated.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-08 02:43pm

Mirror Hall, Versailles, France, same evening

It was assumed by the networks that at least a billion people would zap in this evening again. "Glimpses from Beyond", as the report was now called, had developed into a blockbuster on TV.

It had been a big surprise, when Magister VanderSchanz, the Marienburg-based sorcerer was now Earth foremost expert on magic, declared one day that scrying onto their homeworld would be possible more often than thought before.
Neither he nor any other sorcerer in Marienburg could explain why. The Winds of Magic blew as weakly over Earth as before, but for some reason getting some contact to Warhammer in France had definitely become easier. But VanderSchanz had quelled other ideas the Earthers brought up.

Trying for more than that had proved fatal to one mage, he explained. When the Magister and his acolytes first found out about the better connection, in their happiness they tried to send a basic message back home, but the Magic on Earth would not allow that. Henk Valtens had died during the try, but luckily the medics on site had been able to revive him before it was too late.
So they would monitor the situation, but for now Earth had to be satisfied with what was possible. In this case it meant the Magister and his collegues could connect with the Warhammer World roughly every three months. And they could keep this connection for about 20-30 minutes. There was some variance every time, but it became more regular each time.

So now Earth tuned in every time to see what happened on that other World and Germany in special.

Skavenbight, Level 600, 17. Angertag, Ulrichszeit

The cave around the German tank commander was huge, had mostly natural wall and was lit by a lot of provisionally rigged lamps. Distributed all around the armored vehicles in it a total chaos of running men, small carts bringing consumables and personal making last-minute preparations. Ulrich was currently restocking the remotely controlled weapons station on top of the tank while his crew was changing part of the main gun ammo.
“42-that`s it Sir.”
“Thanks Jochen.” Ulrich Stoiber watched as his loader put the last round into the ammo rack and then got on the Horn.
“Oberst Stein, this is Wolfpack 01, we are ready to roll”
“Ackknowledged Wolfpack 01, report to the meeting room immediately for a briefing”

The “room” was denoted by tarpaulins that otherwise would have formed a couple of tents and was used for everything from taking meals to briefings. When the tank commander arrived it was not nearly filled to capacity but the variety of participants made up for it. The Bundeswehr was providing the bulk, but the bulk of several dwarves and the colorful headgear worn by Imperials and Tileans added an exotic flavor.
Behind the bench Oberst Stein could be seen talking to several civilians, mages by the look of their robes. Ulrich Stoiber was used to the hurry-up and wait routine of any armed forces but the sudden alarm mixed with the sound of heavy fighting that was transmitted through the rock below them indicated that the balloon had gotten up for real.
Finally the normally unflappable Oberst Stein climbed the lectern while everybody got at attention.

“At ease Gentlemen. I have alerted your units and called this meeting as a grave threat is emerging in the deeper levels of Skavenbight. Less than an hour ago nearly all mages at our disposal went into seizures and only the most powerful and experienced ones were able to shield themselves in time. It seems that the rats are trying to summon something extremely powerful to aid them.
The mages that are still functional all agree that whatever it is it has to be stopped right now or we will all regret it. The problem is that whatever the Skaven try to call up-they do it at level 1800 and we may have not very much time to stop it.”
Ulrich saw a Landwehr Major lift his hand.
“Sir if I am allowed-how much time?”
“A few hours at most Major Gerber.”
That caused a second of silence and then a persistent murmur even in a group of normally disciplined leaders. It was the Tilean Prince who broke the buzzing.
“With all due respect-we needed more than a month to get us down to Level 600-how should we do 1200 meters down in a few hours-and why?”
“Count von Carstein, you wanted to say something?”

“Gentlemen, I exist now for many centuries and have experienced beings that humans normally count as myths and legends. I have caught glimpses of the real powers of the warp. I have never ever seen the summoning that is attempted under our feet. The Warp Storm that devastated the Great Forest was more powerful-but this is more…insidious. It harbors a potential for destruction that seems nearly limitless. Whatever we do, however we do it-we have to stop this in time or every being in this world, living or undead will regret it. Oberst?”
Ulrich Stoiber heard the Vampire, but it was not the words that convinced him. It was the look in the age-old eyes of Carstein. Whatever the Necromancer had seen, it frightened him. What could terrify a being that had died several times and had been resurrected?

“What you can just hear are parts of the Pionierregiment 100 and the 7th Panzer Division who just blow a hole through the closest Skaven defenses for you. From drones and echolocation we know that the passageway continues its spiral down from here to a place very close to whatever the Rats are doing there. It is roughly 10 kilometers long and at its end there seems to be a big cavern-we do not know what it is.
Your orders are simple-once the breakthrough has been achieved you go down that passageway and stop for nothing. Break into that cavern and kill anything moving and get back here when you are done. You will have one advantage-the Rats will not expect us to move now and quickly-they will presume that we either continue like we did and attack again in four weeks or that we hold on to the Pump Rooms. Past the defenses that are currently cleared there should be no organized resistance. Go fast and overwhelm the bleeding Skaven, then it can be done. It must be done, no matter how difficult or dangerous, the alternatives do not bear thinking about.
The Assault will be led by the 183th Tank detachment-the Wolf Pack- together with two Badgers from the 100th Pioniers. They will be followed by the Cave Raiders including the Armored Infantry, the Prince`s Own and two mage tanks with whatever mages are able to function. The 1st Landwehr will take the rear. There will be no supply, and you will have probably more intelligence than we have.
Gentlemen, get to your positions-you will advance soon.”
Ulrich Stoiber went from the briefing glassy eyed and mused what he could tell his crew in the remaining time.

Cavern of the Pillar, Skavenbight, same time

Gleepk was so overwhelmed by what he saw that he could not avert his gaze, even when it frightened him witless. The great cavern was lit by countless warplights and their reflections upon many symbols and pictograms etched into the walls. The middle of the cavern was a huge, 13-sided pillar that seemed to radiate cold and darkness like a fire radiated head and light. Green-glowing script repeated itself on any of the 13 faces and denoted the rules of the Horned Rat for Skavenkind. Normally a lowly Clanrat like the former driver would never see this wonder made by the God itself but Gleepk doubted that anything good would come to him from this occasion. He helplessly watched as the priests of the Horned Rat made sacrifices taken from his group. They were suspended head down so they would regain consciousness as long as possible. The acts performed on them would have been even horrible for Gleepk if he did not have to fear he would be subjected to them all too soon himself. Green-glowing probes were pushed into nerve centers, body cavities opened and arteries cauterized to prevent premature deaths, limbs, skin and organs removed…
Above all that a shadow formed at the top of the cave, darker than anything had a right to be. A strange pressure could be felt by all and the sound of immense claws that scratched on the walls of reality.

Level 600, Skavenblight, same time

Ulrich Stoiber had no need to tell his crews that some serious shit was up. When he got back to his platoon the runes on his tanks and the painted wolf eyes on the muzzles glowed red while the flags had elms fire attached to them.
An upraised arm turning got his men together for a quick briefing. “I do not have to tell you that the balloon is up. Down there the bleeding rats are trying to summon something major-we have to keep that from happening. In 15 minutes or so we will go down the passageway and will not stop till we are at Level 1800. We shoot anything that is not human or a Dawi and we kill everything we find down there-then we get back. We have to do this right-no room for failure. Scan me?”
“Yes Sir.”

A few dozen meters away Joakim Vos watched his men climb into two Boxer transports. These were the standard IFV down here as the standard Puma were too high at 3.6 meters. It was a tight fit but he doubted they would stay mounted for long. He got seated across the newest members of his platoon.
“I thought that I was done with this doom business Lieutenant, might have been wrong”
“I hope it won`t be that bad Gotrek.”
“Dunno, this gives off a pretty bad feeling. But you know what they used to say when we took the oath?”
“No, I don`t”
“You have to go out-you don`t have to come back”
“The guys on the other side don`t have to-we are still needed”

Same place, 5 minutes later

Oberst Stein watched the last of the vehicles roar down the tunnel that would lead them to victory or oblivion. Things were out of his hands now-mostly.
“They might as well fail you know”
“Yes General Wolf, I am aware of that. We have sent the best we have.”
“Still, this might be more than humans are able to do.”
“So, do you think we can do more than pray?”
“We will do that, yet did you not hint at another plan?”
“I did, but that decision is far above my pay grade.”
“Unless otherwise directed? I would if I could and consequences be damned. But I am physically unable.”
“I could contact the Emperor, he could help expedite….”
Both men were interrupted by a soldier who brought a fresh print to the Colonel leading the Cave Raiders.
Scanning the short message the Imperial General saw the eyebrows of Oberst Stein rise.
“Will ye wonders never cease. Our esteemed leaders have moved in time. Let`s do this then and hope it is not needed.

Level 1800, Skavenbight, same time

By now Gleepk was far too close to the center of things. The first couple of ranks in front of Gleepk were already subject to the tender mercies of the torturers. For the simple warriors the really inventive tortures that had been inflicted in the Grey Seers-not to speak of Lord Paskit -were out of the question. Simple skinning and well-applied red-hot irons had to do.
Now that he was closer he could not just see the even more ugly details but also air that seemed to simmer like the air above a hot street. There were lines of these areas that led from the sacrifices to the darkness above.

Level 800, Skavenbight, a little later

Tank combat has rules. Advance from cover to cover in short bursts. Have a part of your unit in overwatch. Scout the area of advance. Cover your ass with infantry. Avoid combat in build-up areas if at all possible. Today Ulrich Stoiber was breaking them all. Driving at a nasty speed on a tunnel between two warrens that ever spiraled downwards he had no cover, no overwatch and next to no intelligence. He did not like this but had no choice-and it was quite a rush. It would have been nice if it was not so likely to get him and too many comrades killed. He flew his quadcopter drone as far forward of the tank as possible without losing control. Currently the monitor in front of him displayed a barricade made up from various debris backed up by enough Skaven to satisfy even the Dawi`s Book of grudges.

“Loader-cannister. Gunner-Infantry behind cover. Driver, lower dozer blade and warp speed” It was against all rules, it was rather dangerous, it was the only way to do it and it looked and felt damn good. The canister round converted the 120 mm gun into the world`s largest shotgun and many of the defenders into offal. Machine guns and grenade launchers killed most of the others when the tank collided with the barrier. The Skaven did not have the time to fix the machinery and carts to each other with chains so the breakthrough was as clean as it was spectacular. The following vehicles enlarged the gap, fired badly aimed salvos at their packed enemies and sped onwards.
The German tank commander regained command of his drone and directed it along the tunnel-looked good for the next kilometers. He started to believe that the task force was outrunning the news of the assault and started to hope they might make it.

Level 600, Skavenbight, same time

Heinz Albers watched the two soldiers drill another hole in the ceiling of the passageway with a coring drill. He had already prepared the last two and now waited for the rest to be finished. Nobody had told him why he had to prepare the major tunnels for demolition, just to do it and that this was to be done as fast as possible. He would have put that down as a severe case of paranoia if his Sigmar pendant would not have started to glow in an orange light.

Level 1200, Skavenbight, 30 minutes later

Ulrich Stoiber waited till the crosshairs had settled on the Rat Ogres chest before pushing the button for a second. A score of 40 mm grenades sailed above the half-collapsed ruin of a warren and half of them hit. The detonations ripped the beast apart at the seams left by Clan Moulder during its creation, the rest found enough targets in the teeming mass if Skaven around it. Some openings of the warren were illuminated by strobes-the Cave Raiders trued their best to keep the rats from the Badger tank that used its shovel to move the rubble aside. Couldn`t they move a little faster-every second allowed the Skaven to make better defenses farther down.
Ten eternal minutes again the cavalcade got rolling again and mashed everything in its way.

Level 1800, Skavenbight, a little later

It was Gleepk`s turn now, that was for sure. The ranks before him had died, taking far too long to do so and had given their all for-what? By now the sounds of something scratching were overwhelming and he did not hear any orders to step forward nor would he have obeyed them if he had. They pulled him forward along his chains, many strong paws forced his limbs where they wanted them-and then they stopped.
The sounds of something clawing had changed-now they were tearing. Even in his limited view Gleepk saw something the size and shape of a small ship`s prow move along the ceiling-from above where nothing could be. In its path it parted the darkness and left a gash that offered a view into something for which the former driver had no words but knew it was very important to look elsewhere.
So instead of looking into the Abyss Gleepk looked to the floor till the Abyss looked back at him-and them Gleepk, the driver and Gleepk the hero were no more.

Level 1800, Skavenblight, 10 minutes later

Joakim Vos watched the widening gap of the opening hatch. The space beyond it was filled with flickering light and smoke and spoke of bad tidings. Releasing the straps that held him to his bench he started for the exit. “Armored-on me”
He emerged into a scene right out of some prophets vision of hell-a huge cavern lit by green lights and fire, the ceiling hidden by smoke. Openings of strange geometries and sizes dotted some walls, glowing symbols and grizzly trophies at others. The cavern`s floor was filled by debris from the first minute of fighting, half-finished barricades, the allied combat vehicles and the enemy. There were Skaven of any description-small weapons teams that fired Ratling guns or sported the small pilot flame of Warpstone Flame throwers. Huge muzzle flashes indicated where Jezzalis took potshots and the wreckage of a Warpstone cannon explained the glowing flank armor of a Leopard tank.

“Paladin one from Kaiserliche actual.”
“Paladin one hears”
“Joakim-we are to clear the rats from that barricade over there, the big boys cannot reach there. We can get till those pillars over there and then lay down suppressive fire.”
“Done-wait for my signal then.”
Checking behind him he saw that his Platoon had assembled and waited for the word.
“Platoon-target is the Barricade over there. We will be supported by the light tanks, first stop are the pillars over there. Armored.”
“Up and at them.”
For the next 20 seconds Joakim could have been on his own, sprinting from the cover provided by his APC to his first stop. Tracers from the tanks behind him ripped into the Skaven and forced those they did not hit into cover. Autocannon shells exploded in midair, timed so that they exploded behind the cover, shredding those who thought themselves safe.
None of this mattered at this moment as Joakim was concentrating on running in the right direction, of avoiding obstacles and keeping his head down. Twice he felt the impacts of something, yet the armor prevented injury. When he reached the pillars he dropped into cover and had the luxury for a quick look. All of his Platoons had made it-thank god. So now to wait for the tanks to catch up and repeat..

That was when the far wall of the cavern collapsed. Something inside had impacted so hard on the boundary that human-sized stones were ejected clear through the cavern, killing humans and Skaven alike. When some of the dust settled the first thing the Lieutenant saw was something like a huge tree with immense roots-no it had to be something else what the fuck…
More and more of the wall collapsed, revealing more of the newest threat. At first Joakim simply could not comprehend what he saw-whatever this was was surely too big to be alive and moving wasn`t it? Whether what he saw was alive was open to debate-that it could move was obvious. Huge, covered in the blackest of furs, combining features of rats and goats and being surrounded by a halo of warpfire the Horned Rat looked at those who had hurt its chosen people so.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-08 02:46pm

The Warp

The Warp is no Olympus and still here the Gods reign. No beautiful cup bearer to give Ambrosia to nourish them, no grand architecture to house them as the Gods had moved past such needs. No Zeus to rule them and give direction as they made their own. But rules there were, even for them, ironclad and inviolable as the Multiverse itself was made around them. Never discussed as these beings rarely met, least of all eye to eye, never disputed as it would just highlight the limits of power that ought to be limitless but always obeyed because of the consequences.
There were not so many of these rules but the most important of them was the warp was the realm of the Gods, not what mortal minds called reality. The material plane was their chessboard, the source of their nourishment and power, the place to make some of their moves and enjoy their followers or their pets. If any of them were to move there it might shatter it, change it or open it to the warp-which would destroy its value to the gods in any case. Two of them in the material plane would bring this about for sure, so for many millennia the gods did not walk the Warhammer World but used their vassals and avatars.

Now one of them had violated that rule and threatened to spoil the price, to muddy the clean waters and to cheat the others of their game. This could not be. And yet-what could the others do? The Horned Rat had moved itself totally to the material plane, attacking it in the Warp was impossible, attacking it from the Warp would be close to useless or have dire consequences. And yet, it had to be done-and while the attacks would have limited value there were other venues for the gods to use. Runes made by those who knew the lore, wards laid down in accordance with the rules of some of them or pacts that were made knowingly or unknowingly provided channels through which the powers in the warp could exert their will.

Skavenblight, Cavern of the Pillar

Manfred von Carstein probably had the “best” view of this battle that was to be had from the allied side from the cupola of his mage tank. That he could perceive the disaster best did not mean he liked the situation any or had much control about it. Reaching out to the sources of his magic he found it in a surprising abundance. Knowing that holding back anything was courting disaster even more than now he broke barriers and seals that he had established hundreds of years ago. A small eddy in the warp released its long-held prisoners and dropped scores of undead led by cursed knights against the Skaven. The undead marched towards the Skaven and were destroyed quickly.

At the same time he heard the booming shots from the heavy tanks that were the core of the task force. There were impacts among the Skaven and one on the Horned Rat itself. Rat bodies were flung everywhere but too many seemed to get up again. The hit on the Horned Rat did not even seem to register. The tanks themselves were a sight to behold. The runes cut into their armor had emitted a low glow before-now they were white hot. The flag on each of them fluttered in a wind nobody felt and somehow seemed larger than life.
He felt his student animating freshly killed Skaven while he did his level best to eliminate an enemy spell before it became viable. All across the chamber vicious fighting had broken out and showed no rhyme nor reason.
He still remembered how these newfangled devices worked and pushed the button that would connect him to the German tank commander.
“Major Gerber-von Carstein here. If you have not realized that yet we currently face the Horned Rat, the God of the Skaven. There is nothing we can do here-we have to retreat or we will be lucky to die quickly.”
“Von Carstein-ackowledged. We hold till the infantry has embarked again, then we get back. Cover our asses from magic if you can.”
“I´ll do my best, but that is a God there you know.”

Ulrich Stoiber and his tank platoon had attended a ceremony held by the Priests of Ulric, the War God, after the battle of Middenheim mostly as their superiors had pushed them to score PR points with the locals. They had already realized during the Battle of Sylvania that the ceremony had done more than take some spare time of them, they were far more effective against demons.
Now Ulric had sought a vent for his anger and found the Wolfpack and the bill came due-the War God claimed his own. It was not that the Germans inside the Leopard tanks changed too visibly-if you could ignore the eyes that is-but their minds were helped along by a being as old as time itself.

“Kaiserliche Actual from Wolfpack one-I suggest you get your people out, we`ll cover.”
“Godspeed Wolfpack”
“Wolfpack two-with me, three and four back to the sides of the tunnel entrance. Driver-advance advance to the pillars. Loader-I need a triple when we are there-load grudge. Gunner, Target God in the cavern.”
With a roar that nearly drowned out the other sounds in the cavern two 60+ton tanks accelerated like sports cars till breaking again after roughly a 100 meters.
“Grudge up”
“On the way”
The loaders in both tanks performed a maneuver which was strictly forbidden as it was highly dangerous. The first shells in the barrels were accelerated to a speed nearly double of that in a rifle. Inscribed with grudges by master Runesmiths they contained the hate of a whole race-and the approval of their god. When the shell passed the guns muzzle decorated with a wolf`s head it picked up Ulric`s indignation and sped onwards present both in the material plane and the warp. It had barely shed its sabot when it hit. The sabot would have penetrated the main belt of most battleships and likely killed anything moving on land. The flesh it met was not of this world and obeyed different rules.

In the two tanks that had opened fire the guns had barely completed the recoil and ejected the cartridge bases when the loaders crammed the rounds they had held in their arms into the waiting breeches. The next shots went out like before and whatever else they did-they hurt. The Horned Rat`s roar shook the very rock around the battle and brought nearly all combat to a short pause. Unlucky Skaven, Dawi and humans alike suffered pierced eardrums or went into convulsions. The tanks armor provided enough protection to keep the loaders functional who flipped up another round they had kept on their feet so far and rammed them into the guns they served.

Ulrich`s gunner made it and the round added to the pain. A torrent of Warp Lightning emerged from the God`s horns and went into No. 2`s armor. The runes on the side glowed even brighter for a fraction of a second before exploding into white-hot metal. Only a tiny fraction of the lightning found a way via the drivers vision block. It converted the driver into a human caricature made of charcoal before entering the fighting compartment. Its last tendril found the exposed propellant of the last round and ignited it.
The turret managed to hit the caverns roof before rebounding.

Joakim Vos found himself in a world of hurt. The Cavern in front of him disgorged an unending stream of Skaven, as did some side tunnels that had been quiet so far. Most Skaven were just that-normal Skaven just that these seemed to be unable to feel pain and injury and needed an ungodly amount of firepower to kill. Yet at the same time there were some figures that looked like a Skaven but that were transparent to a point, showing of bones and internal organs in a eldritch green light. These seemed to ignore most rifle fire completely and ripped apart any soldier they could close with using their bare paws. He fired a 3-round burst from his Mauser rifle into one of them and saw it going down immediately. He was too occupied to see the runes of his bayonet glow an angry red or that the Skaven he had hit had wounds that would normally indicate incendiary ammo.

Picking target after target he had to watch helplessly the approaching flood-for any Skaven he killed two took his place. The efforts of his platoon were like keeping an avalanche away with a fire hose-you will make some impact, but never enough.

Gotrek had the time of his life-as many worthy foes as a Dawi could dream of, a weapon that would kill them and an armor that protected him without slowing him down. Best of all he had two comrades who kept his back clear. To his side Valten killed anything that stepped in front of his hammer, behind him Felix alternated between using his rifle and his sword.
Normally the Skaven would not make worthy foes except for their number, their mad machines or their treachery. These were different, very different and definitely worthy. Some were a cross between a ghost and a real Skaven. They were not even scratched by Felix`s rifle but went down well enough when split by his axe. He learned to respect them when the claw of one managed to tear a deep furrow into the tough armor of his vambrace. Yet still they fell and allowed Gotrek to attack the real enemy-a group of Avatars of the Horned Rat that kept a part of the footsloggers from embarking their transports.

Bigger than any human, looking like an amalgam of human, goat, rat and hate in equal amounts. Studded with warpstone and killing with magic they were dangerous enough alone, groups of them were unheard of. Now that the infantry protecting them was gone one of them deigned to notice them and pointed his staff at them. Fuck-this was going to hurt. The three fighters tried to outspeed their doom, yet the bundle of lightning that sprung from the staff was faster. They would have been powerful enough to kill any of them or at least damage their armor to the point of uselessness. Instead the sorcery reached a point in front of Gotrek-and disappeared. There was no time for a retry and the three were among the Avatars before more attempts could be made. Gotrek hammered his axe into the inner tight of the one on front of him, ducking under the blade that was thrust in his direction. His guess that the Avatar was similar enough to other bipeds was correct-a pulsing steam of black fluid gushed from the wound. The monster dropped lower due to the cut muscles and sinews, offering its ugly head for a second strike that took its life.

Turning to his right the former Slayer faced another Avatar on the ground, still alive but with broken legs and shoulder and so out of it. Damn it, Valten was fast with that hammer. Another flash failed immediately in front of him and even the inhuman physiognomy of the other clearly indicated its confusion at some spell that failed. Never one to overthink the situation Gotrek leapt at one of them and opened a belly that had been held a little close to the ground. Avoiding being tripped in some entails by a hairs breath the dwarf managed to slash of a horn and to bury his blade in the Avatar`s brainpan.
Panting from exhaustion the former Slayer saw the mountain of fur, claws and magic in front of him. Why not-he could not live forever and his axe drew him like his old instincts. He started his run when there was a dome of light around him and his compatriots.
He would never know if he had imagined it or really heard “Oh no, not again you little twerp” and when the dome was gone he found him, Valten and Felix behind the German vehicle that had brought them to the battlefield.

Henrik Gerber was detached enough from the fighting outside of his tank that he even found time to wonder how this could be. This should not be him-experienced as he was a confrontation of this size should have panicked him for a while at the very least, more likely put him into a useless state of catatonia. And here he gave orders with an icy calm that transmitted itself through the wireless and that got a hold on the worst of any panic. He might have wondered less if he would have seen the ward that had been inscribed with painstaking detail into the front glacis of his tank. Being bought by the Empire it had gotten the finest of magical protection by Volkmar, the Great Theogonist of Sigmar. Currently the painting of the Empire`s founder was animated and maybe some of his experience was shared. By now most of his infantry were back at their APC or would never move again by their own violation. The armored Infantry-or what was left of them pulled back by squads firing into the Rats. They seemed to concentrate on the ghostly Skaven that were immune to mundane weapons but for some reason were vulnerable to the Armored Infantry.
His tanks were going after the Skaven, the Rat Ogres and the two Avatars that had shown up after the trio around Gotrek had suddenly disappeared. His 30mm cannon was easily the equal of them-as long as he kept out of the sight of the Horned Rat. Tank 03 had disregarded this for just a second and was now a half-melted wreck.

“Kaiserliche actual from Paladin 01-all present or accounted for, lets blow this joint.”
“Wolfpack 01, send one Leo as Vanguard, then the APC pull out then us and then the Tanks. We make a stand at Level 1300-at the big Plaza after the collapsed Warren. ”
He got the acknowledgements and watched one of the Leo disappear into the tunnel leading upwards followed by the Boxers.
“Driver-change to the spot behind the third pillar. Gunner-take down that Doomwheel right now.”
The light tank had just vacated the last position when a huge explosion vaporized the low wall they had used as cover so far. To stand still in combat is to die-some truths had not changed since Sigmar had walked the Warhammer World. The Doomwheel came apart when several cannon rounds detonated at its frame-and then the last of the APC`s were gone, his 2 remaining tanks went and then finally it was his turn.
He would have liked to feel relived but he was pretty sure he had just delayed the inevitable.

Ulrich Stoiber had kept the remained of his tank platoon alive by moving them a lot and by keeping out of the sight of an angry god. The cavern which still held it was far higher than the one that held the allies and so far the opening between the two was not big enough to allow the Horned Rat to target the Leopards. He had taken two additional shots against the legs of the beast to no great effect apart from more roars and increased demolition-time to go.
“Wolfpack 3 -I`ll pass you into the tunnel, you follow.”
Ulrich`s driver was very good and managed to drive the heavy tank backwards at speed, just relying on the picture send to him by two cameras in the back. Ulrich watched the last tank enter the tunnel when something hit its front right quarter and blew the track and cogwheel right off. The tank veered to the right and jammed itself against both tunnel walls, unable to move without a lot of specialized equipment and time.
“Wolfpack 3-get out immediately, we will pick you up.”
“Wolfpack one-no, it is too close.”
The German tank commander had to watch helplessly as the stricken tank fired round after round at incredible speed at something and then exploded in spectacular fashion, blocking the tunnel for a moment.
“Rest in peace Brothers. Driver-back up the tunnel and turn at first opportunity.”
He made sure that his intercom was off before he started into an unbroken litany of “Scheiße, Scheiße…”

Level 600, Skavenblight, sometime later

Oberst Stein and General Wolf were under more pressure than ever before in their lives and if they had the time to step back and reflect what they were facing and what they were doing they would probably have frozen themselves into inactivity. The way things were now they made it maddening minute by maddening minute. They had two things going for them: A very professional staff that could concentrate on one part of the picture at the time which kept them from getting overwhelmed. The other was a plan that had been waiting for disaster to strike. While the nature of the emergency was far different from what they had envisioned it was amendable enough to give a skeleton of a new one.

“Captain Harder, set the charges in the Pump room to 15 minutes and/or temper, herd the Skaven out downwards and block the downwards entrance, the get the hell out of Dodge. Your new position is at level 600, you reinforce the 100th Pioniers at the wire till new orders.”
“Major Gerber-we will send ammo and some reinforcements to Level 1000, hold as long there as you can and then withdraw to level 800, we are erecting some defenses there.”
“Captain Albers-no you cannot have 24 hours-you have 10, tops. And every bleeding minute of that will be paid with lives, so get going.”
“Captain Maier, I am aware that some of your equipment is hard to replace. You will still evac personnel first and this time I will assume I just misheard “just Stumpies”. If I have to assume I heard right I will replace you in a second.”

Between the calls Oberst Stein could hear the sounds of heavy fighting not too far away. It seemed that every Skaven, whether part of their armies or not had taken up something pointy and threw himself straight at the allied lines through Warrens and side tunnels they had failed to detect. That meant that the Rats could only arrive in smaller groups, but they added up. So far they held but everything was strained and any breakthrough would ask for reserves he barely had.

Ground Level, Skavenblight

“Sorry folks-seven is the absolute maximum, that is stretching it already. I will come back and so will others.” Nathan Alpers used a firm piece of Marsch as a runway and flew support personnel out to Miragliano airport. When he got his overloaded plane into the air he saw artillery firing and the bombing passes by Rhino flight. It seemed that they had not found all the tunnels around Skavenblight and now rats of all kinds tried to storm the allied lines.
Columns of trucks escorted by tracks or Puma IFV were making their way from Skavenblight towards Camp Köln and Tobaro and on at least one occasion he found them firing on something. The Germans and their allies retreated from Skavenblight as fast as they could. If anybody anywhere was safe when whatever had been summoned by the rats reached the World above was a question that bothered him a great lot.

Level 1000, Skavenblight

Gleepk the driver had been killed by the Veteran Clanrat that had trained the recruits into warriors by breaking them down and then rebuilding them in his image. Gleepk the hero had been harder to kill, it had taken the Horned Rat to do so.
What could kill Gleepk the killing machine was not clear yet. He had not been given to self-inspection even before and any such tendencies had been burned out of him by his God. This was a good thing given that he now could look right past his fur and skin and watch bones and sinews at work as well as squirming things he could not place.

What Gleepk could appreciate though was the fact that most weapons that had made the humans so formidable were no longer able to harm him and even those who hurt him left nothing lasting. He always seemed to know where the humans were and how to get to them the quickest way. Probably the same way he knew that fresh flesh and blood was the sustenance he now needed. He already had a couple of Humans and a Dwarf to his name and now he wanted to round that off with one of the armored warriors that gave his people such a hard time.

Currently he played a dead game of peekaboo with one of them by running from one pillar to another one while the hits by the human weapons chased him, mostly hitting air and rock. The armored ones were again more dangerous, he had received a grazing shot along his flank that still burned. Well-two more pillars and he would face him directly-and then he would teach them respect of his claws. His new and improved claws that cut through anything that he thrust them into, be it flesh, bone, armor or stone.
The world was great-he waltzed between shots, turned like a dancer around any obstacle, moved faster than ever before and he was not winded in any way-actually he felt great. Turning 180 degree around a pillar and himself at the same time he found himself face-to face with another of the armored humans-just that this one wielded a hammer, not a gun. His right hand extended itself with outstretched claws to pierce right through the breastplate just to be stopped a few centimeters short by the hammers haft. By the Horned Rat, the human was fast, this would be an exhilarating fight for Gleepk the killing machine. He started a lightning-quick series of attacks from left and right which were matched by the hammer`s head or haft. Interestingly the hammer did not splinter or break like anything else he had so far attacked and his paws hurt from one of the parries. The longer reach of the human was matched by his greater speed and he was actually pushing the human back step by step. Soon he would be back to a wall and then Gleepk would be able to open his shell and get at the tasty insides. The human knew that himself it seemed and he managed to turn himself so he could retreat back into the room.

Time to change the attack jumping forward Gleepk managed to get both paws around the hammers haft and pulled himself upwards to punch at the human with his feet. He managed to claw off a soft layer of the breast plate when everything ended.
An axe had opened his head with the ease of an egg and the runes in its head conveyed enough magic to end even Gleepk`s enhanced life immediately.
Which answered the question of what it would take to kill the former driver and hero-a team of Valten and Gotrek. Not bad for somebody who had driven Black Corn around for a living a few months ago.

“Boom” “Target destroyed”
Ulrich Stoiber gave thanks to the Gods he did not believe in as he had found something that could kill the Ghostsrats-a direct hit by a 120 mm Grudge shell did it, barely, it seemed. His coax and the grenade launcher had no problems with the unchanged Skaven but there were so damned many of them. And somewhere below him a horror beyond all imagining was ascending the tunnel step by difficult step as the tunnel that was enough to pass two tanks side by side was a nearly impossible fit for the Doom that was making its way upwards.
“Wolfpack 1, this is 4-we have taken ammo, you can pull back to rearm.”
“Wolfpack 4, thanks, let`s change positions then.”
A little later Ulrich`s crew and some infantry were restocking the depleted magazines of the big tank while Stoiber tried to get some orders.

“Sir, we can hold for another 30 minutes or so, but we are getting flanked already and we have no idea about the progress of the Horned Rat. So far it comes up slowly but there are several stretches of caverns where it might be faster-much faster. I also need some changes for the infantry-some of them have very simple NBC-gear and they should be out for some time now.”
“Understood Wolfpack one. Pull back to level 800 at you own discretion and send the infantry back with the empty ammo trucks. We will send reinforcements to meet up with you.”

“Commander-gunner here. There are new targets coming up”
“Engage at will”
It took a HESH shell to rip apart another Hellpit Abdomination and another one to take care of a Brood Mother which had borne a wizard of sorts. The latter had lost its duel with the coax. Still time was pushing and Ulrich was nervous at the fighting in the Warren to the left and right of him. Things were as quiet for him as they could till he finally got the orders for another retreat.

Level 620, Skavenblight, several hours later

The old Prince Cosimo would have been livid. His unit had fought as well as anybody could and then they had been pulled out of line and sent backwards because of their protective gear. The old Prince would have clamored about his units honor and demanded to be left in place or put backwards. He would have coursed his gear and demanded better.
All of that he would have done before he had seen the Horned Rat. He had not seen the whole beast and not for very long. He was not too sure if his sanity would have still been intact if he would have to endure that. Instead he had learned an important lesson-how important or not he was in the grand scheme of things. The Germans had the very best weapons to wage war and the ways to employ them-and even they retreated in the face of the onslaught they just faced.

While there had been a lot of chaos at Level 600 when he went of the trucks somebody seemed to have a plan which calmed him to no end. Currently he guarded a tunnel at which end a couple of engineers were doing something but he could not even begin to guess what, but he knew enough to know that it was vital.
His unit had scavenged whatever useful gear the allies were abandoning and by now the tunnel in front of them was choked with entangled furniture and some rolls of barbed wire. All of that might come to nothing as the fighting was about 200 meters below him, yet the new Prince was comforted by that fact instead of seeing it as a slight against his honor.

All was well till the spot appeared at the left side of the wall. The spot was first red, then orange-and then a white-hot piece of wall fell into the tunnel some 50 meters in front of the Prince. Several similar spots appeared all along the wall stretching from there.
He did not have to give any orders-by now his warrants were more than just ushers at the theater of war thanks to a German sergeant. They had their squads opening fire before Cosimo could do more than step a little to the side, draw his sword and look like a leader. The first Skaven were not much of a threat, stumbling along the obstacles that the Prince`s Own had put about or tangling themselves with the wire. The rapid shooting of nearly 70 men took care of them easily enough but as they died more and more of them tumbled from the freshly made openings. The Skaven that held the Warpstone Grinders applied them to the wire before they died and so the Rats managed to close better than he liked. Reminding himself that there was more to a leader than to a finely clad mannequin he turned to his command squad.

“MP´s to fire at 20 meters. Allessandro-runner to Oberst Stein and tell him of a flanking attack by the Skaven-we need some reinforcements. Do it now.”
Turning back to the fight he saw that the Rats were indeed too close. Lifting himself to his full height despite the occasional Jezzail shot he screamed for all his worth-third squad-do it now.” He did not even think about the lessons about “Chain-of Command” that he had received and no harm came from it. The Squad that had received Uzi submachine guns rose and fired their magazines at point-blank distance into the approaching enemy. The results were rewarding, provided one liked great heaps of bloody fur and offal. Given what the Rats had tried to do to his beloved Miragliano Cosimo approved very much.
And then more Skaven emerged, more tunnels opened and more fire had to be poured into the incoming flood. Globes filled with pestilences flew through the air, making the Price appreciate his mask even more. The tunnel behind the wire was so fill of Skaven, dead or alive that it became difficult to fire at the real threats and still the rats came. It was unlike anything Cosimo had so far seen and he was pretty sure it had to do with what he had glimpsed down there.

He was so concentrated on the front that the salvo that literally cut some Skaven in half surprised him. Turning to the source he saw several Germans led by a huge sergeant man their machine guns and firing belt after belt of ammo directly into the oncoming flood. This did not stop the Skaven that were in the tunnel already but at least no new ones tried to join the fray.
“Friend Uwe, thanks for showing up. Things were getting dicey for a moment.”
“Yes, and here is not the only place. Tunnel behind us is prepared for demolition-we need to pull back.”
“I hope they know to let us through first.” Prince Cosimo would face any enemy in open battle-well maybe not all after what he had seen-without batting an eye. But the idea to be buried alive underground pulled different strings on his soul.
“I have one of my guys sitting watching them, but we have to skedaddle right quick”
“No argument from me amigo. I`ll send 1st and 3rd Platoon first, we keep here with the Uzi men.”
“Sounds good to me, do it.”

There were no new Skaven when the first groups double-timed back the tunnel and none when Cosimo and the rest went back, watching the tunnel fill again with Rats that received attention by the Germans. Only too few eyes looked the way they were going and so the explosion that tore open the wall besides the retreating allies caught them off guard. Sleek black furred rats jumped from the new openings, wielding green-glowing daggers that pierced any armor. Two other figures looked like the nightmare version of Skaven, glowing green and displaying their innards. One just threw himself at the humans, claws and teeth and hate, refusing to go down even when hit numerous times. The other looked even stranger with dirty-white bandages all around him and a bulky gun at his hip.

Turning a crank at its side the Skaven poured never-ending fire into his men and likewise refused to go down. His mind was blank from the catastrophe that had befallen his men and friends and for eternal seconds he did nothing till the oldest training he received took over. Despite the mask, despite the protective overall that slowed him he placed his feet exactly like his trainers had shown him on the floor of the sale. His sword, blessed by one of the many priests of Miragliano and sporting a jewel in its grip that had so far defied identification went by the guns barrel and pierced the transparent hide of the bandaged Skaven. Turning and withdrawing the blade was second nature as was pushing it directly into the back of the second ghostly Rat. He even presented his blade for a second before looking for more enemies when something ice-cold and exceedingly hot at the same time slid between his ribs from the back. Falling forward he found himself mask-to-mask with Uwe Meins who had succumbed to the Skaven he had just killed.
His last experience in this world was the explosion immediately above him that collapsed the tunnel in itself.

Joakim Vos was beyond exhaustion, beyond mourning for his lost comrades and beyond caring whether he made it past the next engagement. Command had realized soon that his unit was one of the few that could reliably stop the Ghostskaven that had a nasty tendency to appear in places that nobody expected them to. He was running from engagement to engagement without much pause, losing men every now and then. By now the tactics of his squad-platoon would be an overstatement- focused on keeping the Rats off the backs of Gotrek and Valten who managed to kill even the most magically enhenced Skaven. That these two were still functioning was a miracle in itself but sooner or later Vos feared the odds would catch up, even to them. And if not that way-the Horned Rat was supposedly at level 800 by now and would close the gap soon.

Heinz Albers knew far better than to improvise with large amounts of explosives, but the situation called for a few shortcuts at least. As cutting holes into the bedrock of Skavenblight had been a serious bottleneck he had asked some tank drivers to fire HEAT at the pillars and wall in question. In other places jury-rigged scaffolding had held shaped charges at ceilings long enough to explode them cleanly. The result was the same-clean long holes that he could stuff with untold amounts of future boom. The wiring of all of these charges was a major nightmare and he could just hope that his untested nest of colorful cables would do as asked for.
And for all the work and for all the sacrifices asked of others-now came the final test. Turing the handle on his field telephone he had a connection nearly immediately.

“Oberst Stein, the final charges are set-I can shoot at any time.”
“Stay on hold till I give the word.”
The waiting was bad. The blaster felt all the exhaustion that had piled up during the last 12 hours, all the years that weighted down on him and all the lives that had been expended to give him the time to do the job. The idea that he could fail was nearly more than he could bear and he longed and dreaded for the order to fire in similar amounts. Looking at the multicolored spaghetti in front of him he followed all strands when the amulet on his chest warmed up briefly. He had his pistol in his hand long before the half-seen half imagined sleek shadow that flew in his direction. He managed to get a shot off before the dagger punched into his left arm and a second one after that. The second round finally did the job and killed the Skaven assassin. The soldiers who ran to his aid could just help him apply a tourniquet to the arm that seemed to be on fire.

Ten minutes later he repeated the instructions on how to fire the charges to the soldier who still tried to apologize for the 5th time, when the blackness claimed him. He should not have worried, all charges fired on time when the word came a quarter of an hour later. All across Skavenblight tunnels and caverns were lit by explosions for the briefest of times. Bereft of their support rocks fell, foundations shifted and ceilings caved in. For hundreds of meters the only passages the allies had not closed very thoroughly were man-sized, closing all avenues to the quickly ascending Horned Rat.
The scream that was issued more than a hundred meters below was full of otherworldly anger, hate and frustration and had no problems penetrating so much rock in a hurry-something its owner could not claim, God or no.

The CH-47 Helicopter was one of the very few the Weltensprung had left in Germany and had been assigned to the Armored Infantry because of that. It looked like a mutated frog with two set of rotors and was as ancient as dependable. Joakim Vos was the last man to enter it via its loading ramp and when he had just passed the door gun it already had to fire on some Rats that still tried to get a piece of him. He had survived, yet of his original squad only four others could make the same claim. It would take serious soul-searching to find if he had done right. When the helicopter lifted he saw the black smoke of the burning equipment the allies could not evacuate in time. The only thing that still lived and moved was a column of tanks that retreated towards Tobago along the dam. Their tail end was brought up by two battered looking Leopard tanks and a few modified M113.

A hovercraft had taken Kargan Ironbeard to his first battle with the humans and it was just fitting that it would carry him away from combat as well. He had seen a lot of new things but in the end war always remained the same. He was utterly exhausted, felt empty for the loss of comrades and the horror that might enter the world and needed to sleep badly. For some things even the Germans had no solution it seemed-but what a run they`d had. The Dawi was asleep before Skavenblight had disappeared from sight.

Skavenblight, Level 500, 19. Festtag, Ulrichszeit

Rats can claw, burrow and chew their way through nearly anything. Stone, concrete and steels falls to their claws and teeth given sufficient time and reason and this went for their God in spades. Tirelessly it had dug through stone and loam, leaving a tunnel 50 meters across that barely fit its ever-growing bulk and hate. With every rock it vaporized, with every house-sized load of gravel shifted by a paw its hate on humanity grew in leaps and bounds. The Horned Rat had absorbed the knowledge of some humans that it had killed early on and they had such interesting memories. These arrogant humans would suffer for what they had done to it and its children for all time when it finally reached the surface. But for now its digging was led by a lodestone that drew its mind forward in eager anticipation. Something it had made a long time ago when he was still vulnerable in the warp, something that had given him the many followers he needed for its ascension to its current exalted state. The Horned Rat had felt the presence of the Screaming Bell ever since it had entered the material plane and wanted nothing more to secure it before the pesky humans could damage it in any way. Reuniting with it would enhance its already enormous power in this world and allow it to rouse the Skaven all around the world in the same fashion than the ones in Skavenblight.
The world would be its oyster and none of the other oh-so-arrogant gods could change anything about that.

Rammstein, Germany 19. Festtag, Ulrichszeit a little later

Some pilots treat their checklists as memory aids to help their mind perform things they had done hundreds of times already. Others merely looked at them without really reading them anymore or made jokes about them every so often.
The two pilots in this plane treated them with the solemnity usually only found in priests citing the core beliefs of their faith. They treated everything about their mission like this, this had been hammered into them in long training.
When they were finally done nearly everybody at the base had turned up to watch the take-off of the bat-shaped plane. It was hardly surprising, given that their weapons bays contained two weapons with more destructive power than all weapons ever used on Earth in anger combined.

Skavenblight, Level 450, an hour later

The Horned Rat had known that the wall in front of it would drop in such a way as it had known that there would be empty space ahead till the great prize. When the dust settled the God that walked on earth walked forward like a mountain that moved like a cat, inspecting the beautiful Bell with all its senses. It nearly missed the small box that was on the ground in front of the Bell and the line that led under it to a larger case concealed beneath the Bell. It could not understand what it saw for the briefest of moments as even its vast mind needed time to understand the utterly different concept in the hidden case. Only a god could have the time to experience a measure of fear before the inevitable happened.

Inside the case that was scanned by the Horned Rat with otherworldly senses a set of very specialized fuses triggered comparatively small explosions in a minutely timed sequence. Small packets of slow and fast burning explosives formed a lens of immense overpressure that compressed even the heavy metal ball inside like a human might do to a softball and reduced its size markedly. The Plutonium atoms moved ever so much closer to each other and the neutrons that emerged from some of them found more targets. These atoms in turn were ripped apart, releasing even more neutrons in an every-increasing chain reaction. Some of these neutrons were getting outside of the metal ball, and of these some hit a cache of Tritium that was kept at a precise distance. The Tritium in turn released many more neutrons and thereby made sure that a much larger part of the plutonium underwent fission.That was merely the first stage. A portion of the resulting plasma, electromagnetic radiation, and neutrons was caught by the interstage and focused on a lithium deuteride cylinder in a heavy metal jacket. The lithium deuteride was compressed to stellar levels of heat and pressure and started to fuse. A very small and brief star was born and started to expand into a fireball more than twenty times as powerful as the one that devoured Hiroshima.

All of this had taken a very short time and actually none of the light from this event had yet reached its real target. So far the expanding fireball produced by the innards of a butchered B-61 bomb was mostly heat, overpressure and radiation. In its present form it would hurt the Horned Rat very badly, but not fatally so. This changed when the plasma produced by the bomb reached the Screaming Bell. Made from the purest Warpstone crystal imaginable it was condensed magical energy and a study of it would have driven many a particle physicist into despair. It contained the power inside it for the time it took for a proton to travel its thickness-and then it converted itself back into its original state-raw energy. Now the explosion was present both in the material plane and the warp-very much so.

When it reached the Horned Rat it vaporized its material body immediately and burned off layer after layer of whatever soul the God might have. Both shockwaves reached out with terrible speed, one collapsing the tunnels and caverns below it, mushing the surviving Skaven all the way, the other igniting any particle of warpstone it encountered and releasing more and more energy. It finally hit a 13-sided pillar of even more pure warpstone that threw up a shockwave of its own. This rebound hit what remained of the Horned Rat from another side and finally threw its fragmented remains into the warp.

10000 meter AGL, Skavenblight, the same time

The crew of the B-2 bomber had circled Blighted March for 30 minutes now, waiting for their superiors to make up their minds or the target to show itself. They had received their PAL codes some time earlier and were preparing for the strangest of missions-hitting a moving target with a nuclear weapon. Well-close would also count, would it not?
The co-pilot was the first to see it and for a second was too shaken to utter a sound. One second the ruins of the city had done nothing but smoke here and there-in the next a dome had sprung up that carried buildings, roads and wall on top of it till it broke apart in flame and light. A green pillar of light could be seen for minutes that raged from the depths to the sky and a screaming could be heard with more than just the ears. The brightness of the pillar made it difficult to see anything at all, but both pilots would state that they had seen picture of an enormous rat struggling with another one, but could never agree how the other one looked like. One was nearly sure it had wings, the other would swear he saw a hammer and no camera picture ever would show anything but a great lot of light.

Hexoatl, Lustria, about the same time

The Slann and Skinks that attended Lord Mazdamundi were besides themselves with worries. Something had disturbed the sleep of their Lord and Master deeply. None of the most experienced attendants would confess to have seen similar-it was as if something was frightening the most powerful mage the Warhammer World had. The movements of limbs and facial features had increased alarmingly until the unthinkable happened-the great eyes opened, the lungs filled rapidly with air and the great Slann looked into the material world for the first time in a long time.
“Talk to them and help them. They killed the Defiler of offspring. They will bring the oracle”

Undercity under Nuln, six hours later

The tunnels, caverns and passageways under the most industrialized city the Empire had were filled with madness and violence. The tight bond the Skaven had with their God had transmitted the pain and demise of the Horned Rat into the brains of every Skaven with devastating results. Prone to violence anyway most of them had gone into an orgy of bloodletting that tore not only their society apart but damaged the carefully maintained life support the Undercity needed beyond repair.

Undercity under Mousilon, 24 hours later

The orgy of violence had come and had burned itself out already. Many victors were now finding themselves too weak to tend to their own injuries or even find food that their badly depleted physiologies needed. The Black Hunger, the curse of Skavenkind would claim most victors soon. Others had lain in coma ever since whatever calamity had befallen the Skaven. Unattended this was never a good thing as their very tongues would block their airways or vomit would find the way into their lungs, killing them within days. Many of them never awoke, those who did emerged in a devastated Undercity that badly needed repairs which overwhelmed the stricken survivors.

Chaos Waste, same time

Thanquol the Seer was nursing his sore head. Something major had happened, that was for sure, but the otherworldly nature of the Chaos Wastes had altered and muted whatever had befallen him and his entourage to the point where it was hard to make head or tails of it. Whatever it was it seemed to have hurt the Skaven very badly-and somehow he was sure that the never-sufficiently-damned dwarf had his hand in it. He would find out, and then he would plan his revenge like the world had never seen.

Undercity under Hunchback Mountain, 25. Bezahltag, Ulrichszeit

Terric Hammeredwell was sitting in front of his drawing board, deeply in thought. Whatever catastrophe ad befallen his Undercity, it had damaged the great pumps needed to keep the water out and fresh air in and repairs were needed. Yet, just a repair as before was out of the question, the warpstone radiation would kill everybody close to them soon and no matter whether Skaven, human or Goblin slave, that would not do.
And they needed better mushroom farms-Clan Moulder was gone for all practical purposes and nobody wanted to bring that kind of perversity back.

The Warp

The being in the Warp hurt-a lot. It had been a part of something far greater before, that was for sure, but the being had only a fragmentary idea what that might have been. It had a vast and powerful body, but much seemed to be missing there as well so at present the being could just rest and try to get some control back about mind and body.
It took a while till it felt something more was wrong. Memories went missing just when they were accessed. Body parts emitted strange signals and then went dead. The being concentrated enough to be able to accessits surroundings and found that it was not alone. Several smaller beings surrounded it, and tentacles of light connected it to these lesser lights. It took the fragmented mind some time to make sense of it-it was being consumed. For a fragment it put up quite a fight, but not enough of it.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-14 03:51am

Wacken, Germany, during the end phase of the Battle of Skavenblight

When still on Earth, Wacken, a village in Schleswig-Holstein, had been the place for the largest Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Open Air in the world. After the Weltensprung, with many dangers still unknown, Wacken Open Air, like most massive festivals had been paused and suspended.

But with Germany on the road to recovery and having a better picture of the specific Warhammer dangers, the organisators of Wacken had worked hard to revive the festival. Especially since Germany needed some uplifting of spirit. The fighting in Skavenblight was already likened to a "vertical Trench warfare" and "14/18 reloaded", so for the mood of all, the first new Wacken had started and far later in the year than the usual first august weekend.
Even the Heavens seemed to smile on the festival. Sunshine, mild temperatures on all days. 50,000 people had come, not as much as on Earth, but in coming years that would surely change, going by the vibes from the people.
Among the most remarkable visitors were a Dwarven contingent, around 500 Imperials and over 2000 Norscans, suspending their travels for a visit.
One of the biggest obstacles for the organisation to overcome was the question what bands to invite. On Earth, most musicians had been from other nations, so on Warhammer another solution had to be found. In the end, an eclectic mix was chosen and it functioned. The crowd went wild and the festival under the slogan Wacken stirbt nie (Wacken never dies) became a full success. There were veteran performers like UDO, Accept or Doro, all facets of Hard and Heavy like Menhir, Falkenbach, Epica (who like compatriot Joakim Vos were stranded with Germany), Majesty, Atrocity, new types like Dwarf rocker Grungier´s Slammers or Norscans Olaf´s Skalder and the most known names like Rammstein and Unheilig.

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, noon, 26. Königstag, Ulrichszeit

General Hans-Werner Fritz was the highest-ranking General in the Bundeswehr and commanding all forces of Reiksbund, the most powerful alliance on the Warhammer World, bar none. He faced a couple of tired civilians led by an elderly woman that was cultivating a public image as “Mutti” and he was standing as ramrod-straight like a recruit explaining himself.
“According to the seismic data and other observational data the explosion exceed 3 Megatons Ma`am Chancellor. The effects are hard to quantify exactly as a part of the energy was expended into magic effects.”
“I do remember pretty well that we have authorized the use of a weapon with a power of 170 Kilotons and you promised that the effects would be limited to subterranean effects with no significant fallout.”
“Yes Ma`am, so you did. But kindly remember that we already warned that the Warpstone could enhance the effects and no realistic estimate could be given by how much. We triggered the event inside the purest warpstone crystal ever seen and probably also incinerated a lot of the Warpstone also buried in Skavenblight.”

“Was there any way to avoid that?”
“We could have tried to kill the Horned Rat with a nuclear weapon aboveground. But we have no idea if that would have worked or not. Given the threat posed by a God affiliated with Chaos and opposed to us we had to take our best shot-and that meant to use a nuclear weapon in close proximity and with the Screaming Bell for enhancement. Thankfully it worked and so far we can tell the aftereffects are manageble”
“Anyway-what are the effects now that this happened?”
“The Fireball of the Bomb itself barely reached the surface, but the Pillar of Light reported by the observers channeled a lot of energy off it seems. We currently have a funnel-shaped fallout pattern that contains both radioactive isotopes as well as small warpstone fragments that extends eastwards of Skavenblight. Fortunately the most heavily affected areas are inside the Blighted Marshes where they will not endanger humans.
We have contacted the Principality of Miragliano about this and we will help to relocate several smaller villages that would become unhealthy. As the March will fall more dry there is plenty of arable land to go around. Because of the feelings in Miragliano towards the Skaven no major diplomatic problems are expected.”

“Do we have a final tally of the loses by now?”
“Yes Ma`am, we have. The Bundeswehr has lost 7230 soldiers with more than double that wounded. Thankfully there seem to be new treatments available for PTSD which will help with overcoming the effects of this campaign. Our allies have suffered similar in comparison to the forces committed to this battle.”
“A steep price.”
“We warned before committing to the fighting underground that this were to happen-we gave up major advantages when we went below grounds. The reasons for this were valid-we needed a negotiated end to the campaign and the appearance of the Horned Rat was unforeseeable. Even if I would not say that out of these rooms, given the environment that we faced and the enemy who showed up we got off lightly.”
“All that ends well is well General. You have the thanks of the German government-and yes, your suggestion of a parade in Berlin has been approved. Our troops have earned that at the very least. So what is your planed follow-up?”
“We will remove our forces from the Blighted Marsches but for some observers and reduce the forces in Tilea in general. Camp Köln will be disbanded and the improved harbor facilities will be transferred to a civilian joint venture with the Principality of Tobaro. The Airport in Miragliano will be retained but the garrison will be reduced. There is a motion to rename it Prince Cosimo airport and I suggest we approve.
What will remain in German hands is the island of Saratosa, despite some public grumblings the City States are most happy to leave it in our hands and we can use a base we do not share with the locals. As for the other theaters of war we have reports of Skaven migrations-in some places aboveground where we collapsed the tunnels. Most seem to head for the World Edge Mountains and as long as they do not cause trouble we should let them go.”

“Do we have any indication what happens in the Skaven undercities now?”
“We have inserted drones and probes into all known cities ever since the Battle for Altdorf. There seems to be a lot of internal fighting and chaos, but it hard to say more at present. We have also encountered some Skaven that seem to have lost a lot of their intelligence. At the very least they are no longer capable to speech. We will watch this closely, but at present the threat level is strongly reduced.”

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin several hours later

Darkness had fallen outside of the office used by Angela Merkel, not that this would register in the windowless one she had to use since Germany emerged into a far more dangerous world. New lines had emerged in her face and old ones had deepened ever since the War against Skaven had erupted. Her face color was hard to tell in the artificial illumination, but that it was not healthy was obvious. Unending hours, hard decisions and the burden of having sent untold citizens to an untimely death had taken their toll. Even now that the worst seemed to be over the aftershock of having faced the worst crisis since three years stole even more energy. And still she managed to keep going. And like it was on most days there was one more call.

“Madam Chancellor, we have a connection to Thorgim Grudgebearer, High King of all Dwarves.”
“Good evening High King, hope this call finds you well”
“Well met Chancellor Merkel. I could not be better as I have fulfilled the oath I gave you so many months before and in such a fashion as none of us could imagine. And you did keep yours as well which all Dawi give you credit for.”
“I am sorry High King-which oath do you mean?”
“That means that we will send an army to Skavenblight. That means we will blast and burn this place till we have their “Council of Thirteen” in our hands and they surrender unconditionally-and if we cannot so that we will leave a crater where Skavenblight was. A crater that will glow in the dark.”
These were your words-and by Grungir`s beard, did you keep them. Well done lass, well done. And you did more than you said-a Lady after my taste you are.”

“I am most happy that the danger seems to be over. The appearance of the Horned Rat was a terrible surprise.”
“Oh yes-but who could imagine that we could kill it-lass you have challenged a God-and won. This had not happened in Dawi memory-and we have long memories. Angela Merkel-the Book of Grudges has lost many many pages, something I never thought possible. All Dawi thank you, Germany and the allies for that.”
“Thorgrim Grudgebearer, you and the valiant soldiers that took part in the fighting have the eternal thanks of the Germans. And we will find ways to express these thanks.”
“You already did that more than we could expect. I personally thank you for allowing me to fulfil the oath I gave. Warsteiner is very nice, but I have been brought up with Bugmann`s and my wives and me also longed for the end of it.”
“I am happy to hear that.”

“One question of I am allowed lass. I hear that you will let the Dawi Warriors keep the weapons you issued to them for the fighting?”
“Yes, you heard right-provided you allow it. And we will supply them with ammunition at reasonable costs. We think this is a fitting way to express our thanks for the sacrifices of your people to our common cause.”
“Lass-you know that we will use them to reclaim the lost Karaks?”
“I hope so.”
“Lass-I do not know what to say. For the longest time I have watched my people barely hold what we have by the skin of our teeth-and what we have now is a fracture of what we once had. Now I see a chance to reclaim what is ours. This is incredible.”
“We like to improve the situation of our friends High King, we have too few of them.”
“Yes, there is that. Angela Merkel-we pronounce you Friend of the Dawi for all times. And I will give any Clan that seeks entry into the Reiksbund my blessings, including my own.”

Naggarond, Naggaroth, roughly same time

Elric Straker had seen Malekith for most days of the last 400 years-he had rarely seen Malekith in such a foul mood. A couple of days ago something had churned the streams and eddies of the warp to such an extent that even somebody like the majordomo who had only the slightest inkling of the arcane for a true elf had felt it. Ever since then the Witch King had been absent, distracted, aggressive and generally abrasive even more than usual.
“Elric Straker, the richest majordomo in history. So nice of you to show up in these modest rooms and attend to your Lord. What brings you to me I wonder?”
“Highness, you have asked me to inquire with the Germans if they have any knowledge about a major magical incidence. They have answered that there were “news” via “Long-wave Radio” about a huge battle in Skavenblight and that the German army has defeated a “Major magical threat” with a weapon of great power. Claus, Son of Tolles told me to mention the “Manhattan Project” to you, but I have no idea what that means.”

Elric Straker managed to get out of the room alive-the same could not be said about two courtiers and a concubine, such was Malekith`s wrath.
It took the Majordomo a day during which he alternatively shivered in delayed fear and praised the gods for his narrow escape to come to the point where he mused whether the Witch King might be….afraid?

Lothern, Ulthuan, 29. at night, Sigmarstag, Ulrikszeit

The palace of the Phoenix King is an aesthetically pleasing edifice that used a lot of the creativity of its builders to make it impressive instead of overwhelming, tasteful instead of tacky and that would still get the message across that the rulers of the world lived here. It had many halls and rooms that could hold quite an assembly, chambers for real work and spaces that allowed the rituals of government to be carried out.
And while the meeting in question encompassed some of the highest movers and shakers of True Elvendom it was held in a unremarkable room and according to the complex itinerary of the palace did not happen at all. The room was lit by candles and magical lamps as windows might allow eavesdroppers an avenue for their trade. Resplendent in clothing and appearance a group arranged themselves around a table according to rules and rituals older than human written language while seeming relaxed and intimate by an uninitiated observer.
The servants had left refreshments to the participants and had vacated the rooms. The need for secrecy was such that even the Phoenix King, Teclis and the Everqueen poured their own wine while nobody attended them. At the appointed time a door to a hidden passageway opened itself an released a hooded figure that went to his knees with the grace usually given to a cat.

“You may rise Aurelius of the House of Ethelorne.”
The Asurian ambassador to the Reiksbund shoved the hood that had so far covered his face back while getting up.
“Your Highness, my Queen, an honor to meet you again. Teclis it is good to see you again.”
“Likewise Aurelius”
No observer would ever detect that all three rulers had held the elven noble in contempt for quite some time and promoted him to their equivalent if Siberia which happened to be the then-newly founded Reiksbund. That said organization had proven to be the most powerful military alliance on planet had thankfully not resulted in disaster. Actually Aurelius had adapted to a surprising degree and forged a good working relationship with the Germans and their allies, something as urgently needed in these dangerous times as it was distasteful for the High Elves.
So in the minds of what went for the Asurian rulers the ambassador had evolved from buffoon to useful and possibly dangerous lunatic as his reports had indicated how impressed he was by the newly arrived Germans.
“You arrived remarkably quickly Ambassador, how was your voyage?”
“I was very lucky and able to book some places on the Friday flight from Berlin to Lothern.”
“That way the Germans know that you travelled here-was that really necessary?”
“My absence from Altdorf would be equally hard to hide for months-and it was pretty obvious that I would be called back for information. And I do believe I was discrete enough that nobody in Lothern recognized me. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is more important that my travel to Asur and its purpose remains a secret to our people than to the Germans, isn’t it?”
The pause that ensued would have been imperceptible for any human to detect, but the shift in perception of their ambassador by the assembled Asur was considerable.

It was Teclis who overcame his embarrassment first.
“Practically every Asur has felt that something major has happened in the Warp and enough mages have felt that the Horned Rat no longer is. If it were to become general knowledge that the Germans have something to do with it then we would face many questions at the very least. Even now many of the Elves which are aware of the Germans at all think them dangerous upstarts. If they suspect the Germans have in their meddling killed a God, even such a despicable one, there will be questions that we “do something” about them-and I am no longer sure we can. Actually I have a hard time understanding what happened and we hope that you can shed a light.”
“I have called in every favor I own and pestered anybody who might know something. Also we scanned the German news services which are remarkably open. While there is a lot of variation the reports and our contacts all agree on a couple of things. First off: The Germans did indeed banish the Horned Rat, maybe even killed it.”

The collective indrawn breath stopped Aurelius.
“So they really killed a God-how did these hairless apes….”
“They do not know what they meddle with…”
“Interesting, very interesting.”
Teclis was remarkably composed for an High Elf who was confronted with something that he would have had declared absolutely impossible just a few days ago. Such things come hard for a being that lives in a basically static society for centuries.
“What happened pray tell.”
“From what I hear the Germans placed a nuclear weapon-a weapon of terrible power-under an artifacts made from warpstone. This artifact may have been the Screaming Bell but I have been unable to confirm this. From what I heard the warpstone enhanced the already great powers of the bomb. When the Germans detected the proximity of the Horned Rat they sprung the trap-for some reason my German contacts spoke of “initiated”. By now Skavenblight is a glowing crater and no residue of the Skaven God could be detected.”
“What powers did the Germans invoke for such an effect? What fell forces will present the bill and pull us down together with the impetuous humans?”
“As far as I know-none. The Germans talk about a zone of “radioactivity” that will make parts of the Blighted Marsch unusable for humans for a long time to come, yet I have a hard time to see any change in that state from before. Apart from that the Germans have, as far as I can ascertain, not used any magic except to blow up a lot of Warpstone. Instead they used their superior knowledge of the physical world to cause such an effect.”

The Phoenix King was heard for the first time.
“I have never heard of such a thing, It is hard to believe the Germans command such power without drawing on the Winds of Magic.”
Teclis` face indicated how far lost in thought he was when he replied.
“Some of the lore of the Old Ones can be read in such a way that they commanded similar and even greater powers. They were said to blend what we call magic and what the Germans call technology into an incredible whole-but even that did not keep them from ruin. And now the Germans seem to follow that path, is that right Aurelius?”
“I have already sent reports that the Germans have made the first machines that use simple magics to provide power, like the engines that drive their new tanks. The parts that use the warp are unremarkable, the mechanical ones are not. Yet this might be just a beginning for them.”
“Oh Isha, how can we keep them from wreaking havoc?”
“My Everqueen-the only way I see is through cooperation, by teaching them and by warning them of the pitfalls. Trying to force them will only lead to disaster.”
“So you say Ambassador and I am sure you do so from a pure heart. Yet Asur is not powerless and some secrets are too terrible to be shared but with a few.”

“My Queen-I won`t protest my ignorance in these matters. Yet it is hard to imagine any weapon that can threaten the Germans into submission without endangering Asur with the most terrible of retribution, like the one just inflicted on Skavenblight.”
“The Germans will not have a supply of Screaming Bells surely”
“Even without them they command probably dozens of weapons that are able to wipe out even the mightiest fortress and greatest city. But they do not need to take recourse in them, their army is powerful enough on its own.”
“And how do you get that impression”
“Let me show you a “video”-a visual recording of the Battle of Middenheim on this device, then it will become clearer Sire.”
A short time later the rulers of Asur watched with stony faces the great Chaos Crusade go down in flames on the 10” display of the I-Pad held by Aurelius Etherlorne, ambassador and former buffoon.
“This “Video” must remain a secret Ambassador.”
“This “Video” is freely available in Germany and the Empire for anybody who has access an “Internet connection” my liege. It is used to promote the Reiksbund. I will not refer this video to anybody else but there are more than a few Asur that have been to the Empire and Germany and there is no telling who has seen it. I have reported the contents to Osirion but it seems that he deemed this unreliable or not important enough for your eyes.”

The Phoenix King was far too cultured to swear, yet the frozen features and the break in conversation made a bigger impression on his audience than the most inventive swearing by an experienced Drill Sergeant.
“Again you claim that this is the truth and that totally mundane means were used to achieve this?”
“To the best of my knowledge-yes. I have been invited to several demonstrations and field problems where the Germans showed their weapons. Neither me nor the mages I employ could detect any shred of magic except for very few items. Actually the dwarves make more use of magic than them. I have also been to the Battlefield in Middenheim and could detect no traces of magic that could have resulted in such carnage.”
“Incredible, simply incredible.”
“Yes my liege and still it is. We should make sure that nothing comes of “doing something about the Germans” for quite some time or we might not like the results.”

“I see. Thank you for your works and advise Aurelius, this has been most valuable. Yet I have to ask you for another difficult task.”
“Whatever is required Sire.”
“It seems that some German renegades aid our misguided cousins in their invasion, and given what we have just seen this could lead to unfortunate results. Please inquire of these are working with the approval of the German government, and if this were not so what they want to do about this.”
“Yes, Sire, with all due dispatch.”
“Aurelius, we need to establish a more direct channel of communication to me. Any suggestions on which mage you would like to use?”
“Has your Highness ever considered a mobile telephone? The German embassy is close enough that you might have good reception and I doubt that the Germans speak High Sperenthiel so we should be safe from eavesdropping. The new Siemens smartphones are pretty nice.”
“And this allows you to call me?”
“Or vice versa Sire, as long as we are in range of a transmitter. It costs just electricity and money”
“New times indeed Ambassador.”

Berlin, BKA building, afternoon, 33. Bezahltag Ulrichszeit

The office was as nondescript as possible. The furniture had the steel and fake wood surfaces that were fashionable in the 80`s and that had followed the BND when it moved to Berlin as many furniture suppliers were no longer able to supply. There was no window, no personal mementos and nothing else to show any trace of the office`s user.
The Laptop on the table was top-notch though, the safe behind the chipboard door a hard-to break model and some drawers contained really interesting things. Ottokar Proktor liked things that way and spent quite a lot of time here like a spider in its net trading and shaping information. Currently he worked his way through a lengthy report about one of the many projects that Section 31 had initiated and shaped.

He had shaken his head in disgust when he read the project name-Projekt Bureauklammer (Paperclip), how very funny and of course it did not give away the purpose at all. Idiots, he would ask for a renaming very urgently. But besides that gaffe the idea behind it had merit. The now-empty Camp Hohenstaufen now held an assortment of Warpstone Engineers of Clan Skryre that were quite willingly teaching the Germans about the ins and outs of handling warpstone. What uses could be had from that if managed properly. That proposal there for example-a warpstone mantle for a B61 bomb…

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, 11:00, 6. Baekertag, Vorhexen

It was time for another briefing, one the many that Germany`s government needed to make decisions. If anybody had hoped this kind of thing would slow down with the end of the War they were disappointed. The only, and most welcome change, was that the briefings no longer contained daily loss figures and described dangers that could very well threaten every living being on this world. It did not mean that the briefings were less important as they might contain the info tht might prevent a repeat of the carnage wrought during the last months.
The next man to climb to the lectern was big even by German standards with more than 1,90 meters and his suit did not hide a powerful built. The shortcut grey hair and the erect bearing hinted at a military past, the accent made sure that nobody looked for that past with the Bundeswehr. He was greeted by the German Chancellor whose eyes he matched with blue-grey eyes that looked through wire-framed glasses.

“Professor Trevayne, nice to meet you in person finally. Your analyses have been widely read during the last months and I know nobody who called the shots better than you did. Your help in deciphering the mess left by the Skaven is highly appreciated.”
“Ma`am Chancellor, it is an honor to be here and I am glad to be of help. My Staff and me have dug through the info that came off the Skaven refugees that turned themselves in or that were apprehended as well as the intel provided by drones and recon teams. There is much still in flux and many details will remain unknown for some time, but several trends emerge.
The disappearance of the Horned Rat has influenced the Skaven in many ways, most of them destructive. It seems that in all Skaven Undercities that we could gather intel on a major proportion of the Skaven died. The most likely cause seems to be massive infighting and something with seizure-like symptoms.
A lot of these Undercities will no longer be viable as the remaining population will be too small and probably not skilled enough to maintain the complex life support the Warrens need, especially the drainage systems. The survivors tend to migrate through the tunnels that used to connect the Skaven strongholds and come up to the surface and only come up where the tunnels were blocked. As long as they migrate outside of the Reiksbund we should not interfere.
Inside the Empire and Tilea a lot of these refugees are killed on sight and regretful as this is I do not see how we can stop that in time.

An interesting situation has developed with the Skaven prisoners. During the last months Skaven, even those that were initially cooperative usually turned extremely aggressive after a while-“turning kamikaze” was used by a lot of guards to describe the behavior. Immediately after the initiation of the nuclear device many of the remaining Skaven had seizures or attacked each other. A sizable proportion of the survivors exhibited a strongly reduced intelligence compared to their capabilities before, many of them left without speech.
The others have, on average, become much more cooperative and exhibit reduced aggression to each other. It stands to reason that the banishment of the Horned Rat has been the cause of this.
For the future there is a decent chance that the Skaven will rebuild their Undercities with a far greater emphasis on the common good of the community. It is unlikely that they turn into good democrats any time soon, but even an authoritarian government akin to the PRC or Singapore would be a vast improvement, both for the Skaven and us.
It might be possible to come to an agreement where the Skaven stay below a certain level and we above it, but the Dawi and Imperials will combat the Skaven where they find them for the foreseeable future. Whether this influences the relationship Germany has towards them as the Skaven have to see Germany as an ally to these forces remains to be seen.
It goes without saying that we propose a careful monitoring of the situation, but there is a chance to turn the Skaven from an intrinsic threat to a possible trade partner in future.”
“Thanks for this enlightening presentation Professor Trevayne.”

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-28 03:32pm

50 Kilometer from Druchii Railhead, Ulthuan, 6. Baekertag, Vorhexen

Areta Bane was eating dust and hated it. Her heavy weapons platoon by necessity was in the middle of the Black Company`s marching column. The road upon which the mercenaries moved was a well-travelled one and the winter draught had left the road a long strip of dried sand that was churned up by the passing army. It was just one more problem heaped upon the Platoon leader`s list of headaches.
She had been more than just happy when she had been promoted and given her own platoon, especially a heavy weapons one. She had seen first-hand what crew-served weapons could do when she campaigned with the Black Company last year. While these made up less than 10% of the Auxilia they had more than half the kills to their name. While the weapons in her platoon were considerably less sophisticated they were nearly as deadly-and part of her headache. These weapons, while powerful, also need maintenance and spare parts galore and wanted to be treated nicely. They needed ammo in copious amounts that had to be brought about somehow. Their use was more difficult than just pointing a rifle downrange and leting fly too and that meant well-trained crews that did not try to kill each other.

The latter was another part of the problems-she had received a fair share of newcomers who had to be brought into the ways of the Germans. That had been more difficult than originally expected as they newcomers were not the losers of Druchii society but ambitious high-fliers that wanted to be part of the most powerful infantry unit the true elves employed and learn its secrets. Set in their so-far successful ways they had been far harder to mold into the Auxilia`s shape than their original candidates. By now Areta`s skill with a bullwhip had much improved and the relentless drills had achieved remarkable success but there was still friction she could do without.
Then there were the horses-if one would deign to call the animals with such a lofty name. To pull the weapons` caissons and the ammo carts the Germans had bought Hung ponies. They were a hardy lot that could exist on the dry shrubbery of the Steppe which would kill the Druchii stallions in days and keep going after the mighty warhorses had collapsed long ago. At the same time they were willful, stubborn, aggressive and ugly.

Her surroundings did not add to Areta`s mood in any way. The woods had been cut back to some 50 meters or more besides the road they were using and the winter had removed a lot of their foliage, making it harder for the shadow Warriors to hide in ambush. Yet the cold of the beginning Naggarythe winter, the barren trees and the absence of brushwork made for a depressing sight. For Druchii it was light up by the crosses that adorned the road, displaying the Shadow Warriors in various states of decay. That these were still visible meant that the High Elves had not been in this stretch of the road for some time, otherwise they would have been gone.
Whatever her problems and headaches-the Auxilia could care less-she would have to make sure that her Platoon would arrive at the Dragon Gate in two weeks’ time. The Army led by Malus Darkblade had fought to a standstill and somebody needed to help them out. The somebodies in question were the Auxilia.
Several flickering shadows and the far-off sound of flapping made Areta look to the sky-she had never seen so many Dragons in one place. The Auxilia would have to help-but they would not be alone.

Winkler family apartment, Berlin, roughly same time

It was one of the evenings the Winklers had set aside for a quiet evening in front of the TV. They had prepared their bread rolls and a tea each in advance as they planned to combine dinner with their entertainment. They had elected to try a new show that aimed to replace an old favorite of theirs that had been taken away by the Weltensprung.
Now Wigald Boning could not replace Adam and Jamie, but he had his own style and had for a while hosted something similar. With no foreign TV productions to be had the relaunch had a better chance and there were so many new opportunities to be had.

“Today we check whether a Griffon can indeed fly faster than an observation plane, if Morrslieb is indeed all Warpstone and if a mage pushing something around by his force violates Newton`s 3rd law. But first let us try the myth that a Griffon is indeed faster than a “Storch”. Freshly back from the Battlefield Lieutenant Alpers will fly his plane against Freiherr von Herbst who rides the Griffon “Aufrecht”….
While the bread roles disappeared the Winklers watched the races between the mythical (for Germans) beast race the Storch nearly to a draw, saw the results of the latest satellite scans that had checked the moon for magic and found that the equal and opposite force was applied to the warp. All that was done in a humorous fashion but the experiments were rigorous and designed to give clear results.

Ralf knew from the Cult of Shallya that the series became very popular in the Empire and was often shown before the main movie at cinemas. A generation of Imperials were introduced into the scientific method-he heartily approved.
The name “Mythenbezwinger” (Mythbusters) would have brought copyright problems before, that was a non-issue now. And while Ralf would miss Adam, Jamie and crew the German equivalent had such interesting myths to check…

Naggarythe, Ulthuan, 8. Koenigstag, Vorhexen

Morvael of the House Aethel, 3rd best Knight of Caledor currently led the largest single army Ulthuan had assembled in one place for a very long time. He did this only until Tyrion was back from whatever urgent business had made him go back to Lotheren in such a hurry, but it was grand nevertheless. According to his thoughts the core of the army were the Dragon Princes, the elite cavalry made up from nobles of Caledor. Despite their name they were horse cavalry out of necessity. Malekith had been able to put a spell on the Dragons in Ulthuan that put them to millennia-long sleep long ago. Thus the Princes of Caledor mounted the finest horses in Elvendom, yet managed to keep their superiority on the battlefield-called insufferable arrogance even by other Asur.
That the infantry would be ten times as useful when the army had to relive the siege of the Dragon Gate as cavalry was useless in trench fighting, was several times as numerous and that the Elven bows one of the strongest weapons possessed by Asur-details, just details. Whoever had seen an assault by the Nobles of Caledor had seen war in all its spectacular glory and none could tell of an attack that failed-the latter usually because of a lack of survivors.

Yet currently nobody was planning something as uncivilized as trench warfare. Instead the Ulthuan army was aiming to cut the supply line between the Bay of Drusilla and Malus Darkblade. The latter would hit the Druchii hard as the barren lands of Nagarythe did not have anything left that the traitors could forage. That should force the Druchii general to break of the siege and seek a battle on the open field that Marvael so much preferred.
Currently he moved the army towards the shore not so much to close with the beachhead but to reach an area with still-intact grassland and springs. Fodder for his horses was the thing that took the most space in the carts that carried supplies from the sea and anything that reduced this would be good. His mages had found a small force of Druchii in the location he wanted to occupy, but there seemed to be only a few thousand of them, maybe 4000 or so. Given that he outnumbered them by at least one in 20 that was nothing to be too concerned about. If he were to kill them before Tyrion was back it would add nicely to his reputation.
His helmet effectively hid his scowl when he saw the shape of another Dragon-Malekith could never be punished enough to what he had done to true Elvenkind when he took away their beloved Dragons and stole enough eggs to breed his own.

Hartmut Klawitter was doubly glad about his new flying gear. Now only did the heavily insulated overall make the winter temperatures in Ulthuan at roughly 150 kph survivable at all, but they also insulated his behind from the hard leather saddle that he rode on. And said behind needed more padding than usual as he had lost a bet he had stupidly accepted when it was proposed by Yerena, his Druchii Dragon Rider. He now had some interesting memories of a long night and a lot of welts in nether places.
He saw the unending carpet of woods, tundra and grassland that made up Nagarythe when he looked down, the endless road that wound its way towards the Dragon Gate-and the bleeding big army that made its way towards the Bay of Drusilla.
He had been send to find it as the Druchii mages had visions of something like this and Wolfgang Böhler had his force dig in astride that road. Hartmut doubted that he had counted on an army of this size.

Berlin, Bundeskanzleramt, same time

This briefing was held by a staffer of the BND and its contents were greeted by the listeners with groans. The Federal security Council comprised the German Chancellor and 8 ministers and they did not like what they heard.
Not because of a new existential threat to Germany or one of the allies, but because of the potential embarrassment it would bring.
“From the reports of the BND, and at least partially confirmed by aerial recon, a group of about 130 Germans have taken to Naggaroth and are working there both as mercenaries as well as establishing the beginnings of modern industry. This is going on for at least 15 months, maybe longer.
From what we know so far they have aided the Dark Elves against several Chaos incursions and have provided a limited number of Druchii with firearms roughly equivalent to those issued in the 1870`s on Earth. This picture was taken by a Kondor a week ago and shows an industrial settlement that seems to employ Bessemer converters, a technology definitively unknown to the Dark Elves before we arrived.
As of lately they seem to have intervened in the Druchii invasion into Ulthuan.”
The briefing went on for a while after that, a short break by the briefer was used by Angela Merkel to take up the reigns.

“A question if I may?”
“Yes Ma’am Chancellor”
“How could this group remain undetected for so long?”
“They left Germany shortly before the Storm of Chaos which bound our capabilities to a large extend. Many members of this group seem to have employed cover stories and legends that made a lengthy absence unremarkable so most of them are not reported missing. And because there are no official or other relations to Naggaroth they had an easy time hiding there. This is a big world with very slow communications”
“Still, we have to look for such groups more closely. We do not need to build up our enemies and it would be unacceptable to have statelets run as a dictatorship by Germans-that will not do.”
“Yes Ma’am”
“Now is the question on what to do about this? Thomas, what options are there?”

“We know of this affair as the Asurian ambassador approached us about a possible German involvement some time ago. We had to take the time to verify this and we can confirm that Germans cooperate with the Dark Elves in Ulthuan. If we ignore this they could enable the Druchii to achieve major victories, something not in the interest of Germany.
Yet it will be very hard to intervene in Ulthuan and even worse in Naggaroth as most of our forces are bound in Skavenblight. Also I do not think that the citizens are ready for yet another war.”
“I am pretty sure I am not ready for another war Thomas. Yet we cannot let that stand-it would send a bad signal to the Asur and would also encourage copycats in Germany. So what can we do?”
“Currently the Seeadler Group is working up in the Sea of Claws-that gives us some options. I suggest that…..

Nagarythe, Ulthuan, 10. Vorhexen, early morning

The landscape of Ulthuan was rolling under Tyrion`s feet, the forests and fields preparing for the onslaught of winter. The Landscape had become more and more “natural” and less shaped by Asurian hands the more he neared Nagarythe. The Griffon under him moved sinuously with great strength and grace, far more than one would expect of a beast made up from such disparate parts. The sun had been up for an hour illuminated scattered clouds in a breathtaking way.
None of this made any impact into the Prince`s mind. He was far too occupied with what he had seen and learned the last days. He had heard before that the Germans commanded mighty weapons, he had known that they had successfully raided Hag Graef and defeated a major invasion of Chaos.
He had also known that some Germans were helping the Druchii in some way. All of that had not really registered until the day before yesterday. Damn Osirion, how could that idiot in his arrogance not have advanced all the info he had been given. Granted-his job description contained filtering the chaff of sea story from the wheat of real information, but here he had thrown away to much truth.
Maybe he had not liked the implication that another race were more powerful than Asur but whatever the reason his omissions might cost Asure badly. The video he had seen had made a lot of what he heard before click together in new and unfortunate ways and had given him anew appreciation of the situation he did not much like.

There was no telling how many Germans aided the Dark Elves, what weapons they had and what they had given the Druchii, but whatever it was it was potentially devastating. He had been out of contact with Moravel for a week now and feared that the Caledon noble might run into something he could not handle-together with the flower of Asurs armed forces.
For about the 10th time since he had started today`s flight Tyrion had to stop himself from pushing the Griffon he was riding to greater speeds, the magnificent animal was going as fast as possible anyway and still for the Elven Prince he seemed to stand still.

Nagarythe, Ulthuan, 10. Vorhexen, same time

Wolfgang Böhler watched the grassland gently dropped downwards from his position through his binoculars. Beyond the wetly gleaming vegetation a vast army arranged itself into orderly rows. Cavalry was forming blocks, spearelfs were marching forward shielding large units of bowelfs. He had to watch the enemy shake itself out as they were forming out of range for most of his weapons and he needed to reserve his long range hitters for priority targets. Which was why he was here-and his new mage.

Hellebane was a riddle clad in a mystery, having shown up only days after Jasla had gone AWOL and offered her services. That she was capable was without a doubt, what made her seek employment with the Black Company was a matter of much discussion. She had indicated that reporting her whereabouts to the Witch King was possible without problems, but apart from that it would be best not to publicize her employment too broadly. The current consensus in the Company was that she had fallen victim of her Convents internal policies. Sending her to Ulthuan with Wolfgang seemed to be the best bet to keep her around and nobody wanted to be without the services of a mage when going into combat.
Where Jasla had been a cold beauty Hellebane looked like she was older than dirt with skin that barely covered the bones, more wrinkles than one could count and wispy grey hair. She also managed to outmarch even the seasoned troopers of the Auxilia.

“Do you think we had enough misery last night or do you need more rain in these temperatures?”
“No Specialist Hellebane, that was fine. Any more and the trenches would flood and that will not do. But I did not call you to talk about the weather, I need to know where the Elven mages are.”
“So you expect me to battle the decadent wenches that call themselves elves all by my lonesome?”
“No, I expect you to stop anything the Asur get through. We are going to make sure that not to many of them will try.”
“That I have got to see.”
“If you do not point them out soon you will not do that indeed”
“Yes Yes. You might want to try the far side of that hill over there and in that hollow.”
“Thanks, that is what I needed to hear. Karsten, call Major Richter and tell him to fire upon Hill 422 and the ground in front of Hill 451. Then call Mr. Klawitter and tell him that now would be an excellent time and yesterday would be better. Manfred, call the unit commanders and tell them to be ready-I am pretty sure we have visitors soon and would hate to disappoint.”

Behind the series of hills occupied by the Black Company small wheels were turned on bipods, small bubbles in sights were observed and when the laying was done 16-kilogram projectiles pushed into waiting barrels. Two 120 mm mortars fired at each target, yet the gunners could not see what they had wrought. Instead their commanders watched observers on the ridge-line who moved flags about. More turns on the wheels, more propellant disks added to the tail, more projectiles dropped, more flag waving-and then the order “Fire for effect”
Now the back-breaking part began for real.

Into the waiting mouths long projectiles with a tubular tail and find for stabilization were dropped. When they hit the bottom of the tubes a pin struck the small cap at the end and ignited it, followed by the propellant that was stored as disks around the projectiles tail. Propelled onwards at a leisurely 250 meters/second they reached out the 3 kilometers to the other side. As their acceleration was comparatively mild Torsten Breitkopp had gotten away with making them from a very brittle cast steel. At the end of their trip 3 kilogram of explosives in them reacted to the instant fuses and converted the projectiles into so many razors that traveled at the speed of sound. Each ripped through the Elven mages and their helpers like a scythe through grass-and each mortar threw 12 such shells per minute. The fire mission did not take long-just a little less than two minutes, but it did devastate the elven mages that had thought themselves secure when out of sight.
Wolfgang Böhler just saw the smoke emit from the places he had indicated. He did not have to ask Hellebane for any effects, the dry laughter he heard behind his back were confirmation enough and managed to raise even his hackles.
Still-there was no time go get sensitive about these things-the Cavalry attack went in without much preparation as he had hoped.

Moravel commanded what was in his mind the finest cavalry in the Warhammer World. The Elven horses were the apex of the equine kingdom and had about the same relationship with the horses used by the lesser races as a human might have to an ape. Far more intelligent, capable of deep empathy with their riders and moving with a grace that would make a human dancer weep with envy they were the finest mounts a warrior might wish for. They would traverse even the worst terrain with ease and exceptional speed while keeping their riders so stable that they could ride with no reigns and fight without having to concern themselves with such trivialities as keeping in the saddle or steering their mounts.

Their riders were likewise special beyond the recognition of lesser races. Thought to ride when they were barely able to walk often centuries ago, having mastered the lance, the sword and the flail to perfection they were the death of mere infantry and more than the equal of nearly anything else that moved on the battlefield. Their equipment was as good as wonderfully gifted artisans that had practiced their trade for many a human lifetime could make.
The Dragon Princes chosen weapon was the lance. Made from unbreakable starwood they had 15 feet hafts tipped by starmetal heads that were of razor sharpness and still pierce nearly any armor when propelled by many kilogram of Elf and horse at more than 30 kilometers and hour. Mere infantry had no chance against a well-executed charge by the Dragon princes and Moravel was about to prove this one more time.

He was up in righteous fury at the underhand attack at the mages and would have liked the Bowelfs to make some preparation at the Druchii, but this was no longer possible in his mind. Another look showed him that his Princes were where he wanted them. They were a heartwarming sight-white and blue tabbarts, gleaming armor and tasteful banners aloft. Holding his lance up for all to see he projected his command voice as best as he could under the circumstances.
“Princes of Caledor, you are all Asur. I am you leader. Attack!”
Horns were blow, oaths shouted and the Cavalry started its advance up the slope at the enemy who were so close and so few-they would learn the wrath of the true Elves.
His charge had just started when he learned just how sodden and slippery the ground in front of him was which slowed down even his vaunted elven horses. At the same time he started wondering what the blinking light were that started all along the Druchii lines.

Lurhel Blackwater was silently cursing his fate. This was nothing unusual-he had to do it silently anyway as Druchii would see such a habit as a weakness which was not a survival trait. And he did it more than usual for a Dark Elf as he had been beset by a string of misfortunes that could only be the work of a jealous god. He always had a taste for the ladies and asking for permission was for the lesser races. Unfortunately he had chosen the wrong wrench more than once and their relatives had made joining the Auxilia seem like a clever move. He had tried to continue his ways there only to receive a memorable beating from his chosen target and being nearly thrown to the wolves. It was just that Wolfgang Böhler had looked for volunteers for a special project that had saved him. At first this had just entailed pulling an ammo cart wherever the army went and working like a slave of a low race. Ruthless drill had taken most of the desire from him and ruthless applications of the whip had made sure that he fulfilled those that were left on slavegirls. When he showed that he could make the three other unfortunates that had a similar situation work as a team he had been granted reprieve and they had received training for a new weapon that came out of the Neustadt Small Arms Factory.

And just when things were looking up he had to be assigned to Platoon Leader “Hardass” Areta Henbane and send to Ulthuan. Now this was a place where he could win glory while having fun at slaughtering decadent Elves. Yet his dreams of such fights had taken different forms that digging large and deep holes and wait inside them for frigid hour after frigid hour while winter rains lashed the dark landscape in front of him.

And when the whether finally cleared up and the combat was about to commence the biggest baddest Asurian army ever was just across the field and no tales of decadence could make him assume that the Auxilia could win on this day or envision his personal survival. Some days he really wondered which Gods he had pissed off and feared he might find out in a few hours.
The shrill whistle that got him out of his reverie was followed by the equally shrill voice of Areta
“Get ready you louts, prepare to fire.”
“Yes Platoon Leader.”

When Iliasses, his loader went to his station he made sure that his wallet was well covered. The Druchii had shown an uncanny talent as a pickpocket and his back was mute testimony of the work it had taken to wean him of that habit. Still he had his uses as had Brugles and Kerleas. Both were not so very clever and had failed to win any sponsor that could make good on their strengths until the Auxilia had swept them up. They had nearly flunked the marksman training and just their willingness and the ability to pull a heavy ammo cart nearly anywhere at any time had secured them their place in the Heavy Weapons Platoon. That they were able to work with the Hung ponies when most others were unable to do so and had learned their job as no 3&4 for his weapon had cemented their place.

And now they would learn if all that toil and sweat amounted to something or if they would die before the hour was over. Taking his position on the small saddle on the tail of his weapon he loosened the clamps that secured it and made sure that the blocks were set for his area of fire pushing a lever forward Illiasses pushed a plate in the recess made for it and he pushed the lever forward again. Rising his voice a little he reported.
“Gun no two ready to fire”
“Targets are cavalry in the open at 800 meters-wait-wait-FIRE”
Lurhel had made sure that the sights were to the correct bracket before aiming through them. The ring at his end made a ghostly rim around the speeding horses in his sight. When the command came he turned a crank to the left side of his gun as rapidly as possible and a “Braaat” sound could be heard from the 47 barrels grouped in the tube before him that were discharged in the time he needed to turn the crank. Ripping back on the lever Illiasses oh-so-fast fingers ripped the discharged plate that held the rounds out and replaced it in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Lurhel had learned not to watch it but to keep his targets in sight. Neither the reloading at the gun nor the passing of more ammo from the cart had any bearing on his task-shooting the enemy. This was a team, by chance and hard work and everybody would have to play their part.

Again the crank turned and again the targets in his sight dropped, again then plate went in.
“Range now 600 meters-adjust your sights”
Fuck-fuck-fuck, how could he have forgotten. Seems that “Hardass” Bane had her place in the scheme of things after all.
Pulling the sights to their next dedent he continued to fire as fast as new ammo was put into his gun. And yet for every Elf he killed a new one filled his sights-and the rapidly shrinking distance made them look bigger and bigger.

Wolfgang Böhler had the itch again. He could see the Elven commander clearly. It would take just seconds to take his Mauser from its protective sheath and get that worthy from the saddle, easy as cake. It would damage Asurian morale for sure and then he could take some more of-no he could not. The Auxilia was his weapon these days, not the sniper rifle he loved so much.
He owed it to them to lead them as well as he could and not indulge in his personal penchants. And the little fact that he might wind up dead if he screwed up provided additional motivation.
He could see that his inspiration had worked, the rains he had ordered on the terrain before him slowed the Elves down markedly. Still the Asurian cavalry was far too fast for his liking. By now the Mitrailleuses he had brought with him to Ulthuan were all firing at a frightening clip and the German machine guns were taking care of the places where their work was not enough. More than 2000 rifles were fired downrange as well and wrought a terrible carnage on their attackers-but he really was not sure if this would be enough.

All depended on the small line held up by the row of posts in front of the Auxilia`s position which he could barely see in his Binox. If it were to hold things would liely work out. If did not bear thinking about. And then the cavalry, while far fewer than just a few minutes ago reached that insignificant line-and was stopped as if they had run into a wall.
The first rolls of barbed wire that hed been prodced in Naggaroth had just shown again how the death of cavalry looked like-barbed wire and the machine gun. When the first hand grenades started to explode among the horses they did not add much lethality into an already deadly mix but they finally convined the nobles to retreat.
By the time the cavalry was out of range less than half of those who had started the attack were still on top of their horses and moving fo their own violation.
The first round had gone to the Auxilia-but it was just the first of what was probably many.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-28 03:33pm

200 meters AGL, Nagarythe, Ulthuan, 10. Vorhexen, shortly before noon

Even when it seems otherwise, even the longest fight ends sometime. Prince Tyrion had sought the end of this flight dearly as he feared his army could run into something it could not handle. And yet, now that he had reached its destination he was or a moment unsure if that was a good thing. His view of the field in front of him was clear and full of details and yet he was aghast at what he saw. He currently circled over the hills occupied by the High Elven army and while it was far from the enemy there were two areas dotted with beaten circles of raw earth and bloody bits of clothing. Around these many healers could be seen at work, yet several places also held the rows of those they had to give up. These were long rows.
The field between the armies must have been grassland before, but the galloping of many horses had converted them into a mud field only sparsely broken up by green spots. Far too many white figures laid on it, some still moving but most of them horribly still. Many horses could be seen staying close to their former riders trying to get them to move again while others ran all along the field crazed by injury and pain. Through this chaos cavalry was streaming back to their own lines and from the detritus of death Tyrion concluded that this was at least the second attempt at storming the frail-seeing Druchii position.
To the sides a block of elven archers could be seen, yet a great lot of their number was stretched on the ground while other were pulled to safety by their peers.
He tried to get a view of the Dark Elves and their allies but a couple of projectiles whipped uncomfortably close to him when he approached so he decided it was more important to get control of the mess below him than gathering additional intelligence.
When he landed he had to push his way through the units to find Morveal trying to organize another attack.
Making himself known and ordering a private exchange of information Tyrion could hope for the closest thing to the truth when the Caledor noble did not have to fear additional loss of face.

“Prince Morveal, what has pertained here? It seems that your attack against our misguided cousins did not go as planned.”
“My Prince, the treacherous curs refuse honorable combat and have taken refuge in deceit and fighting from a great distance. First they attacked us with some horrible magic before the battle was declared and then they shoot us with weapons like I have never encountered. They sound like muskets but have a much longer range and fire so very fast.
They also have made a strange barrier of some cutting wire that stops even our elven steeds. Now that we know how they fight we can take them with the next assault.”
“So what will you change for your next assault?”
“I will incite the fury of the sons of Asur so that they will take the Druchii and their allies by storm. Our spirit will overcome their treachery and in their cowardice they will flee before us.”
“I applaud your courage Morveal and I am sure that you are able to do as you say. Yet I fear we will lose too many Asur that way. We should take a short break and see how we can reduce these losses. If the Druchii can kill at such long range we should think about attacking at night.”
“Sire, the ghosts of the valiant deaths cry for revenge. We have to ride down these…animals as soon as possible no matter the cost to lay them to rest.”
“Morveal, no Ghost will rest easier if we squander precious elven lives. I understand that you have led two charges and want to finish the task at hand, but we need to step back and think before we incur irreplaceable losses.”
“Sire, how can I live with myself when…”
“Morveal, do you think you are the first Asur to lead failed assaults, especially against an enemy with capabilities we did not know about at first? I would have made an assault too Morveal, probably with the same tactics and the same result. Now pull yourself together, we have an enemy to kill.”
“Yes Sire-and thank you?”
“What do you thank me for Morveal-you did the bleeding so far? I could not arrive in time.”
When Tyrion made his way up the hill to have a look at the possible approaches he silently wished that his tasks would not include pampering the mentally infirm.

It was some hours after the last assault that Lurhel finally learned why he had to cut trees, loop off branches and pull them all over creation hundreds of meters from the Auxilia`s position. He watched the elven Spear-carriers and archers stumble over what the Germans had called an “Abatis”. Their normally well-ordered blocks which marched in good order had broken up into an ugly pile-up and units were mixed with each other still out of bowshot range.
As he was on the right flank of the Auxilia`s position he did the watching through the sights of his machine gun and fired at them as quickly as Iliasses could change the ammo plates in his gun. And despite some burns his loader had suffered to his oh-so-quick fingers that was very fast indeed.
The crew of machine gun no. 2 had been brought up with the stories of great Druchii heroes that slaughtered their enemies, took terrible revenge upon those who opposed them and took whatever they wanted. Being borderline failures themselves the four could only dream of such exploits and yet on this day they slew more enemies than all of their heroes in personal combat combined.

The Asurian army that opposed them had yet to experience combat with modern weapons and tactics. They might have heard about the new style of combat that took place in the Old World but had probably dismissed that as a foolishness of the lesser races. Chance the way they did combat when the old one had served them so well in several millennia-hardly so.
So, in the face of overwhelming fire the High Elves eschewed cover and tried to maintain orderly formations and tight spacing-something that had brought them victory time and time again. Here and now it converted them into so many targets for a people that hated them with a vengeance and who had brought a lot of ammo for a long siege.

And yet not all Asur fought that way. Herleas had put enough twigs and foliage into a net that covered most of his body that he would resemble a walking bush if he were to walk upright-which he was far too clever to do. The Shadow Elves had used the woods to the sides of the battlefield to pass the Druchii force. Having witnessed the slaughter of the cavalry they nevertheless decided that just cutting the hated invaders off was not enough, they had to be attacked. During the last three hours the well-camouflaged Shadow Warriors crept ever closer to the Auxilia without ever being spotted. By now Herleas should have been completely miserable-the cold from the wet ground had seeped through his clothing and negated whatever insulation they had offered. Several creepy-crawlies had found the opening in his garment and were now busily looking for body fluids to consume. Since he had left the treeline he always ran the risk of being spotted or shot upon. Even worse-it would be sufficient that one of his comrades made an error and was spotted and he would likely die with the same chance of fighting back as a pig led to slaughter.
All of this he felt-and all of it was overshadowed by his burning hatred of the Druchii. That the Dark Elves had destroyed the part of Ulthuan his people lived in during the Civil War was bad. That they raided his homeland again and again, destroying all attempts to make a civilized living here was worse. That they tried to stay here and to take even bigger parts of sacred Ulthuan was intolerable. He would have gladly crawled over broken glass for miles just for the chance to kill one more of the hated traitors – this here was nothing.

The last half hour had been spent traversing a small depression dotted with shrubbery which had provided some cover, but now he was as close to the enemy as he dared to go like this. He was pretty sure the Druchii and their strange human allies were distracted as the Prince`s army was staging another assault and the racket from the other side of the field at risen to the level of a real riot.
Looking at his comrades to the left and right he lifted his hands minutely and indicated one minute to go, knowing that the signal would be silently relayed. The next signal was for 30 seconds and while his heart hammered at such a speed that he was marveling that the Druchii could not hear it for a miracle he had not been spotted yet. There was no next signal-instead he simply jumped up, dropping the biggest parts of his camouflage while doing it.

Running silently to the battle he did not need to look whether his fellow Warriors were following, their hate was such that it was noteworthy that they had held back for so long.
The enemy was seen from only a very few hundred meters and the distance to them shrunk as quickly as his legs would move him. He saw the first guards raising an alarm, saw his few archers drop as many of them as possible. He saw the first Druchii turn to him and even from this distance he could make out the mouths opened in astonishment and the ripples of surprise that went through the enemies ranks. One unit started to turn in his direction and started to shoot, but this was not the extremely rapid shooting that had killed so many of his fellows. He could see a human who was much bigger than the other carry something which looked bigger than an ordinary rifle. He dropped to the ground and the sound of a giant sail ripped apart filled his ears. To his right a group of Shadow warriors dropped like puppets with cut strings, but it was not enough to stop them, nothing could do that. And he heard that the firing from all of the Druchii was slacking when they registered they had enemies in their rear.
And then came the glorious moment when he closed with the enemy. He extended his sword as far as it would go, he wanted to convert the momentum of his run into a first kill when he was met by a Druchii that wielded a rifle. It had a knife at the end of it and made for a surprisingly good melee weapon. He found himself drawn into a prolonged combat and could just hope that enough of his comrades would penetrate into the enemy`s midst to make a difference.

Lurhel knew something was wrong when he heard the shooting so close to him that had the wrong sound. He wanted so much to check what was up-but that was not his task. And his task was killing the Asur in front of him-somebody else would keep his back clear. For a Druchii this was hard to take but all of his training had made one thing clear: You are part of a team. Do your job so the others can do theirs. This was not easy to swallow, but one thing helped, one thing he would certainly not admit to his comrades and even only rarely to himself: He was more afraid of Hardass Henbane, drillmaster Haggerd and most of all of Böhler than the enemy. And so he operated the lever, turned the crank and killed and killed even when the sounds of fighting in his rear became louder and louder. He did not turn when he heard the sound of a German assault rifle and not when he heard the pistol of his Platoon Leader. He did not even turn when he heard Kerleas grunt and blunt objects met flesh-and then the sounds grew quieter again and he still kept from turning and kept on killing.

Wolfgang Böhler had broken his promise to himself and had taken up his rifle-and that was a good thing as otherwise he would be feeding the crows. The assault from the rear had been a nasty surprise and he was more than happy that his reserves had spotted them barely in time to make a stand. Still this was not good. Now that he had enough room to take another look it was obvious that the Druchii in front of him had taken advantage of the slackening fire and advanced. They had paid badly for that but if they got the feeling that the Auxilia was weakened enough they might advance despite the losses. And when an army of this size came to grips with his Auxilia it would be over but for the shouting. A fleeting bit of shadow alerted him to the newest danger. When he looked up he saw a veritable cloud made up from Elven arrows that moved rapidly in his direction. Scheiße-the elven archers had taken the chance to close the distance and could now fire on his command. He dived for his trench and could only hope that they would offer enough protection for his beleaguered unit. When he had found his position he pulled out two hand grenades and placed them on the rim before taking out his pistol. He might need it soon.

Hartmut Klawitter thought he had seen all the Druchii Black Dragons were about. He had flown on the back of one dozens of times by now and had overcome most of his fears about the magnificent beasts and their sadistic riders to the point where he actually enjoyed a lot of the missions. But now he had a new and rather inspiring experience. Instead of flying solo recon missions for the Elven Navy or the Auxilia he was now surrounded by 11 other dragons and their riders that kept close formation. At this distance he could appreciate the frightening beauty of the beasts first hand. Flying at several hundred meters he had a grand view of the Nagarythe landscape and the battlefield below him. Like small figures in a game units ranged here and there, flashes could be seen from the Auxilia`s line and clouds of arrows went back. Fuck-the Elves had come too close for comfort, that was for sure.
He pointed the archers out to Yerena who held up her hand in an “acknowledged” sign and her arm signals made 4 Dragons take course towards the Elves that were pelting the mercenaries with arrows. The beasts lined up and went into a shallow dive while Hartmut viewed his targets through a rough box that contained a few wires. When the moment came he hacked at the cord in front of him and the Dragon surged upwards when the huge load was taken from it. The Dragons around him followed his clue and did likewise.

Black Dragons killed with their poison breath, their teeth and claws and they did that very well. Unfortunately that brought them into the range of forces that could kill them. A single elven arrow had nearly zero change to hurt one of them, exposing oneself to many of them were tempting fate. And when one landed to use claw and teeth there were such things as Bolt Throwers and lances-all things that could end a millennia-long life in mere seconds. The success Torsten Breitkopp had with the Druchii ships and the use of Dragons for recognizance had led a couple of Dragon Riders approach the German engineer if he might have something for them. And yes, he had.

The nets that were opened by the Dragon Riders and one German observer contained two different weapons from Neustadt`s workshops. One was a large load of sharp metal darts. Sporting a needle-sharp hardened tip and fins that forces the little arrows to spin the projectiles had nearly the energy of a crossbow bolt when they were dropped from some hundred meters. The dispersal pattern was arranged so that any human-sized target under them would be hit at least one.
Other nets released a lot of small balls that dropped parachutes once they were released. Drifting to the ground at a speed that would have injured any human the 2-kilogram balls erupted in a long string of detonations once they hit.

Already under the fire of mortars and machine guns alike the sudden and unexpected onslaught caught the Asur off guard. Looking for their latest tormentors the Elves that had so suddenly lost comrades they had often known for centuries saw monsters that put the fear into the heart of all but the stoutest warrior. Who had started it was of no consequence-that the Elven Warriors who had just minutes ago threatened to storm the Auxilia`s position streamed back in what would be a headlong flight in any other race. With the Asur it looked more graceful though.

Same night

The Tent was empty save for a cot, a collapsible desk and chair and only sparsely lit. The lonely man in front of the desk was obviously bone-tired and just had a last look at his paperwork when a blinking light on his pad caught his attention. Opening a menu from the command line he found that he had received a new message, one from “Urmel” His powerful pad had to work a while on the encryption, even when the message was short.
“Cover is likely blown, suggest you get out while the getting is good”

The man seemed to shrink with the message for a while and put his head in the hands as if even this was too heavy to hold aloft without the help of the desk. It was much later when the man straightened and started to type urgently on the computer, obviously having come to a decision. For all of his determination the man shivered from time to time. What he was about to do was dangerous like hell, and if it did not work out a lot of people including him were going to die.

Before the Dragon Gate, Nagarythe, Ulthuan, noon 12 Vorhexen

Given that the siege of the Dragon Gate was now several months in the making Malus Darkblade could have lived far better than in a tent, no matter how sumptuous it might be. He refused such suggestions out of hand-he wanted to be able to pull up the pegs and move the very moment the Gate finally fell as they had to. It was what he was sent to do and given the source of these orders failure was simply not an option. Still, the cold of winter was setting in and the cloth walls were a thin ward against the gusts that went through it at times. He still marveled how the oh-so haughty cousins could seek refuge behind such primitive defenses?

Currently Darkblade was in front of one of a device that was clashing with his surroundings.Where his tent and the furniture in it were slender and graceful with sharp edges and the occasional thorn the device was angular, boxy and lacked all aesthetic attributes. It was a metal box from which various rubber cables went, one into a small box that the Drachau of Hag Graef held in front of his mouth.

“So you say the Asur have retreated from their positions, Wolfgang, Son of Böhler. Do you know where they are now?”
The disembodied voice from the box had to rise above strange scratching and beeping sounds but was still understandable.
“They have retreated to a hillside 10 miles in your direction highness. They have taken up defensive positions and are fortifying the approaches and their actual positions. From this hill they can still interdict any traffic that uses the road to the Dragon Gate”
“Can you go after them and kill them there? After all you are supposed to be good at sieges.”
“Highness, the Asur may number more than 70.000 warriors and some seriously powerful mages, I have a little over 3500 under my command. I can hold myself in defense-trying to take the offensive will achieve nothing but kill my command.”
“So your great victory has achieved nothing?”
“Besides survival of my unit? The High Elves have bled considerably Highness and are on the defensive now. If we were to combine forces against them we could annihilate them for sure.”
“Well if you need my help to do the task you have been given, who am I to say no. I will leave a holding force at the Gaste and will meet you in a couple of days.”
“Yes Highness.”
“Malus Darkblade out”

Before the hills of Conciliation, Ulthuan, evening 12 Vorhexen

This was the second time Areta Bane had been ordered into the tent of Wolfgang Böhler. The first time had been when he had fought a duel in her stead after her rape. She had received a dressing-down for not coming forward with that and withholding information that could have a bearing on the safety of the Auxilia. That the sniper had fought for her, asked for nothing but better reporting and asking nothing in return had left Areta bewildered and in the debt of the German like few other things could have.

She was still wondering why such an accomplished leader would use such a simple and undecorated tent. Neither had the Auxilia`s CO any company besides an orderly that was out of sight for now.
Being asked into the tent again when she could think of no reason for him to do so at all was more than a little frightening. Still there was a protocol to follow that made it possible to work even through such uncertainty.

“Platoon Leader Areta Bane reports as ordered Sir.”
“At ease Platoon Leader, have a seat. How are you and your platoon?”
“Well Sir. We had only one loss in the recent battle and two wounded that will be able for light duty again in a few days.”
“That is good to hear.”
“Sir, I would like to recommend Lurhel Blackheart and his crew for recognition. During the Battle they have been most steadfast and kept firing when many others were getting the shakes.”
“That is good to hear and I will see to it. It also does you good to report this-shows you all came a long way. But Platoon Leader I called you to discuss something different.”
“Yes Sir?”
“Areta Bane-you have been in this tent before. And then you said whatever I would ask from you would be mine if if it were in your power. Is this still good?”
“Yes Sir”
“Glad to hear it Platoon Leader. I want you to gather about a hundred soldiers that you can trust implicitly. I have a special mission for you.”
“Let me explain.....”

Tower of Cold, Naggarond, Naggaroth noon, 14 Vorhexen

Outside the tower the sun was shining from a cloudless sky. It shone on a landscape that was like the city in its midst-sparse, pitiless to those that could not fend for themselves beautiful and deadly. The city-fortress itself was hemmed in by impressive walls topped by long and slender towers. Inside the walls more such towers were on beautify proportions, obsidian color and sharpness and decorated with flayed skin and body parts.

The highest tower in the midst of the city was the only one that had a larger plaza in front of it as space was at a premium. Said had seen it all-markets, parades, festivals brutal torture and elegant duels-and quite often much of it at the same time. Currently it sported something that had never been there in all the centuries since its construction which was utterly at odds with its surroundings. Painted in a light grey a CH-53 helicopter was parked in the middle of it, guarded by some marines that tried to hide their nervousness and often looked for their backup in form of 3 heavy machine guns that covered at least 3 sides of the Plaza.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-29 10:04am

Liebenau, Lower Saxony, during Vorhexen month

"A bit more forward...more...more...that´s it!"

"Clamps attached... and tightened!"

"Forward locked... Aft locked!"

"Off with it to lift 1!"

"Warning signal is on...trolley underway!"

History has a penchant for repeating itself and Liebenau was now a place were one could witness it directly. Once, during World War 2, Liebenau was the place with Germany´s largest gun powder production and one of the biggest ammunition storages. As a result, there were extensive security and safety measures built and done.
After the war, Liebenau´s gun powder factories were dismantled, but the storage bunkers were kept in use. For decades, the town had the largest ammunition storage in Germany, even nuclear ordinace was stored there.
After the Wende, the military use of the location was steadily lowered down, even if parts of the installations remained military restricted. Civillian use of the opened parts were discussed and planned.
Then came the Weltensprung. The men and women working in Liebenau still find it humorous, how fast even strongly pacifistic people shut up when their cosy life is threatened. Telling tall tales about pacifism suddenly went out of fashion, when literal demons could come after you.

Three years after arriving on Warhammer, the Liebenau complex was once again Germany´s largest ammunition storage and among the 4 locations with nuclear weapons, the natural main point of Germany´s nuclear might. The extensive caverns now sported additional defences, magical seals and the whole complex was expanded continuosly, the security measures updated with new knowledge, which the building companies incorporated.
Among the depots there was a chemical weapons store, so if needed the harmless sounding order "Buntschießen"(colourful shooting = euphemism for a heavy gas attack) could be given again. With humanity´s merciless enemies on Warhammer reaching to the "Beyond", certain restrictions had to be rescinded.

Naggarond, Naggaroth, noon, 14 Vorhexen

Jens Heim led his flight of four Typhoons directly up the bay and was pretty sure that the sound effects below were quite impressive due to the high cliffs that dominated the inlet to both sides and that were not much higher than his plane, focusing the sound inward to those on the numerous ships that went through it and undoubtedly watched with open mouths. When he reached the open basin that made up Naggarond`s harbor he pushed the joystick forward till the twin engines produces huge plumes that traversed the harbor at an appreciable part of the speed of sound. Pulling sharply at the harbor`s midpoint his flight climbed at full military power in then full sight of nearly any denizen of the city that was outside.
Formerly of the DLR Jens Heim was now a Captain commanding the 12 Eurofighters that flew of “Seeadler”. Currently he was also giving out a life insurance to his fellow Germans in Naggaroth.

Tower of Cold, Naggarond, Naggaroth noon, 14 Vorhexen

The sound of the passing jets revertebrated through the room was situated in the lower third of the tower as to have enough space for the throne room. It had a high ceiling, long slender windows that admitted the pale sunlight and seemed to be made from a single piece of the blackest obsidian possible.The only pieces of color were a band of paintings that depicted the treason committed by the Asur on their rightful leader Malekith and tastefully arranged pieces of flayed skin and heads. A number of courtiers were to the walls of the room trying very hard not to be noticed, while soldiers on both sides of the aisle had all the motion of statues and the threat of a basilisk. The center of the back wall was taken by a throne made from more obsidian and shaped like bones and blades. It was occupied by a being in armor which made hard to tell where the metal ended and the being began. In the middle of all this stood an older frail-looking man in German cold-weather gear and six armored figures that towered anybody else in the room.

Joakim Vos could not claim that he was tired-he had enough chance to sleep during the last days, he was just clapped out. The campaign in Skavenblight had been hell itself and by all rights he should be taking a long holiday with Sophie on some beach working on his tan. Unfortunately there was only one Armored Infantry Platoon, and besides Felix, Gotrek and Valten there were exactly six members of it available for any kind of duty.
On top of that he was back in the clown suit. One of the over-the-top creations by Fräulen Meikle before common sense reigned her team in it weighted 750 kilogram, provided partial protection against 12,7 mm ammo and was armed to the gills. That it would not fit into any APC or any other tight place and usually did nothing better than a vehicle or the more practical lighter suits-details, just details in the minds of the technici who had probably overdosed on Superhero or Mecha comics when at an impressionable age. It did impress the locals better than the “working” suit though and that was why he was wearing it now.
Yet instead of feeling embarrassed of wearing somebody`s youthful wank made metal he was thankful for every extra millimeter of armor and every additional 7.62 mm round in the magazine in his backpack. He was currently in an environment which he was pretty sure not to leave alive if things went sour and the extra protection helped.

The Tower of Cold had the effect to intimidate and frighten, actually that was the purpose of it. Its inhabitants would like nothing more than to torture him and his charge and were fully capable of doing so. The warriors guarding Malekith looked as capable as ruthless and he could only hope that the wards of his suit would be proof against the sorcery of the Witch King. And the being in front of him-calling him Druchii was probably a misnomer of sorts-was radiating such a hatred that it easily went through both their armor and the species barrier and seared his soul. Still he thought that the Dark Elves might have something different in mind when they agreed to “six armed guards as escorts”

“I wonder Herr Schäfer, I really wonder what makes you think that you might survive this audience. Far more august beings than “Ambassadors-at large” have not made that and they had better invitations that you have.”
The diplomat was the polar opposite of the Druchii leader frail, composed and calm, unafraid and unarmed. How he could stand the full blast of Malekith on the raw Joakim could not say-but he did.
“Your Highness, I am not sure that I will survive this. My escort would make sure that you would not have an opportunity to torture me and will probably drop this tower on your head before they succumb to your soldiers. What I do know for sure is that Naggarond will cease to be a fortress and a city within a week if we do not leave unharmed. Among others the planes you just heared would see to that.”
The whole room full of threat and violence seemed to hold their breath, waiting for the inevitable to happen. And waited-and waited some more. The witchlight that came from Malekith`s sword grew more intense and changed color and the Druchii leant forward as if to jump from his seat. He went back to a more relaxed pose so very slowly and a room full of people started to believe in continued survival.
“You threaten me in my own throne room ambassador?”
“Stating facts your Highness, no more.”
“I think you amuse me German, you may say your piece then.”
“Very well your Highness. In an effort to promote stability and peace Germany hereby declares the sea north and west of Ulthuan up to 100 miles a total exclusion zone-no shipping of any belligerent is allowed into this zone and will be escorted from it. Should said ships refuse the use of lethal force is authorized.
Furthermore we declare a no-fly zone over all of Nagarythe-no party is allowed to use fliers of any description. Both measures will come into effect on next Angertag, 25. Vorhexen.”

The voice from the helmet was no louder than before, it had just lost any inflection and seemed colder than before if such a thing were possible.
“Are you declaring war on the Druchii, Ambassador?”
“No Highness we do not. The current war inside Ulthuan is threatening our interests, therefore we will apply these measures against all parties to this war and offer our services as mediators to a peaceful end of..”
“There is no need for any mediation Ambassador, least of all from you. See if you can fulfill your little edicts with life, this is a big sea, a vast sky and our ships are not defenseless. Is there any more you want to utter in this court?”
“One more thing your highness. We have learned that some Germans currently live in Naggaroth who are wanted in Germany for various crimes. We would value your services in apprehending and extraditing these to Germany. This folder contains the names and pictures of those criminals.”
“Do you believe me to be your bailiff Herr Schäfer? Do you think I run around with a lantern in my hand and run after your petty pickpockets? You have said you piece-go now while you are able to…”
In the end both parties were very happy to get out of the meeting alive.

It was a couple of hours later that Elric Straker found himself at the feet of his master again.
“Straker-we need to get the Germans under better control and hide them from their erstwhile countrymen. Tell them to secure their manufactories or give them to caretakers if they can keep them running and bring them here. Find me similar-looking slaves and I`ll get my Mother to complete their likeness before we kill them and give the corpses to the Germans. Then we can use the Germans without risking another raid.”
“Your will be done Highness. Whom shall I send?”
“Silvar Bloodcrest. He has worked with them successfully in the past.”
“Yes Sire.”

Hills of Contrition, Ulthuan, 18. Festtag, Vorhexen

Tyrion, Prince and Defender of Ulthuan, Champion of the Everqueen watched the Hills that stretched under him. They struck from the flat Nagarythe countryside as the only salient feature for many miles. A few weeks ago they would have been a lovely sight with their many trees having all sorts of colors from yellow via orange to a deep red, splendid in a late autumn sunshine. Now the trees were barren, their trunks and branches black from the winter rains that drenched them and the Asur that clung to these hills, making everybody miserable.
Tyrion was normally resplendent in white garments and shiny Dragon Armor, sticking out as an example of excellence among a people renown for splendor currently hunkered down under a charcoal grey cape, trying not to show too much skin. Showing oneself reduced the life span markedly when the new Druchii were about. Despite the shivers from the cold the elven Prince was happy about the low-hanging clouds as they meant that there would not be Dragon attacks today. The crashes of explosions below and the occasional crackling of rifle fire indicated that this did not mean that the only danger to his elves were the inclement weather, quite to the contrary. Yet this was a danger that could, for the moment, be contained even if any time the enemy “shelled” him his army paid in blood without many options to reply in kind. The Shadow Warriors attacked the besiegers, especially at night, but like the occasional shelling the Asur had to take was mostly a bloody nuisance yet not decisive.

Tyrion was doubly happy now that he had pushed the “new model” defenses in front of the Dragon Gate through. He had used this experience to direct making even more primitive defenses for these mountains. As long as his archers and spear-carriers kept inside their trenches the Druchii could not shoot them from afar and even their new mortars were not too effective. If Druchii were to close they would come under fire by his Elves and he knew they would not like that experience. While he could not go to the offensive he could at least stay reasonably safe as long as he did not move. Yet quite soon he would have to have resupply-and that could be a bit difficult of he stayed put. Crawling his way backwards until he could be reasonably sure that he was out of sight he went back to what constituted his command post these days. The collection of beautiful tents that would normally offer shelter were not erected now, instead their tarpaulins used to cover a number of hastily dug holes and then covered with branches and dirt. The air inside was cold, damp and smelled of wet earth.
Going through the Asur that tried their best to appear collected and went about their jobs as best as they could Tyrion approached Lady Amelia who lead the mages that accompanied the Prince`s army. She was about to get up from her pail made up from more tarps when Tyrion waved her to remain where she was.

“No need for formalities Milady, duty takes precedence. Have you reached Teclis?”
“Yes Milord, I have. He stands by if you are ready.”
“I am.”
“Then let us begin.”
Speaking words of power the mage dropped back on her pail when nearly all of her muscles relaxed. When she was still she rested there, seemingly not even breathing, until a series of cramps animated her again. When she opened her eyes they were rolled backwards, showing only white with the red lines of blood vessels and her vocal cords strained to produce a voice not of their own.
“Brother of mine, are you there?”
“Yes Teclis, I am. How are you?”
“Better than you I`d wager. What is your situation at the moment.”
“We are besieged on the Hills of Contrition. At present we are safe enough as the Druchii and their allies would have to close with us to really hurt us and ever since they have their new allies they seem to have lost their appetite for losses on their side. But if this goes on for a long time we are in trouble as it will be very hard to resupply us-and I think our misguided cousins know this.”
“That and they want to have an army left to storm the Dragon Gate and beyond.”
“And they think they just have to wait us out. Currently we are set up well-when we retreated we managed to pick up the latest supply wagon train. But if this goes longer than a week or two we are in trouble. Is there any news from your side?”

“We cannot send any large reinforcements in time as you are undoubtedly aware. But it seems that Aurelius has come through with the Germans-after a fashion.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“The Germans will not send troops to fight the Druchii on the ground and will also not attack them from the air. Yet they have declared a blockade for any armed vessel that approaches the Nagarythe coast and will shoot down any flier from coming Angertag.”
“That will be useful-in the long run. If Malus Darkblade cannot be resupplied he will Unfortunately in the long run we are dead. What makes the Germans behave like this?”
“Officially they do as we are not directly allied to them-if we were to join their Reiksbund it would be a different matter. As if we would join an alliance dominated by humans. Sub Rosa we are told that the Germans do not want to have another war when they just finished one and are still licking their wounds. I personally wonder if some of them are not quite happy to let us fight it out and see both us and the Druchii weakened.”
“Did we ask them about the Germans that help the Druchii?”
“Yes-the Germans have stated that they try to apprehend them but do not take responsibility for their actions as they are not working for the German government and violate German laws.”
“They take easy way then.”
“Aurelius must have stated something similar and got the answer that the Germans would take responsibility when we take it for anything our misguided cousins do.”
“Touché. Well, it looks like we have to take care of our own.”
“Yes, as always.”
“I`ll try to work something out then. I call you in two days from now.”
“Take care Brother.”

It was two hours later that an elven warrior stumbled into the tent.
“Herleas Kutur reporting as ordered Highness.”
There were several bandages around the warrior, including one around the forehead. His right leg limped and the way he held his left arm indicated that something was wrong with it.
“Herleas, it is good to see you alive. What happened?”
“Honestly Sire, I do not know. I remember attacking the thrice-damned Druchii-and then nothing. My warriors pulled me from the field when they retreated.”
“You gave us a chance to overran them and we blew it.”
“From what I hear nobody could see the Dragons attack like that.”
“Thanks. Now you told me that you have a proposal for me?”
“Yes Highness. To me it looks that we are cut off supplies. And my thinking is-we have all the supplies we need-food and weapons. It is just in the wrong hands at present and I think my warriors are best suited to get at it.”
“Now that is an idea, but I do not see how you can do that, it would be a terrible risk and I`d hate to lose my scouts.”
“ Actually we inherited a toy from the Germans that might help.”
“Do tell-what?”
“They call it “Luna” and it is a flying machine that can see in the dark.”
“Would you be so kind and show me?”
“Immediately Sire.”

Strasse des 17. Juni; Berlin, same time

Kargan Ironbeard was part of a new thing again, even if he was not aware of that. What he just took part in was much bigger than similar events that he knew, it was under the open skies, but a lot of it was just like what he had done a few times in the past before the Germans came.
He would have been quite surprised that no such thing had been done here for the last 60 years or so when the street seemed to be tailor made for it-and he was right about that. And yet German history and Berlin`s special status in a divided Germany had prevented to keep this road from having any kind of military parade for a very long time as had the German attitude towards their military.

It had taken the death of a god to get one-and even then it was not what Kargan was used to. Oh-everything was there-the Kings of man and Dawi who wanted to get a share of the glory won by the troops for themselves and who saluted the units that drove or marched by them. There were the crowds cheering the troops-even if some did not cheer but boo to show they knew nothing. And Kargan had spent by far enough time around the German war machines not to be astonished by their bulk and the rumble they emitted when they drove down the street. He thought they should have presented one of the hovercrafts but was told their less-than precise steering would not make that possible.

The new thing-both for Kargan and Berlin was that both the Germans and their allies paraded down the road in a formation that left gaps for every man, dawi and vehicle lost in Skavenblight, showing to everybody that a great victory had been won-and a great price had been paid for it. Midpoint through the parade the units marched past a pillar made from printed cloth and metal pipes. It showed a column that would be erected in its place. Unlike the pillars of victory erected by German rulers of the past it was simple, round and black.
It had no great adornments and just showed the names of more than 7000 Germans, nearly a thousand Tileans and Imperials and several hundred Dawi. The name were those that should have taken part in the parade but could not as they had paid the price for their victory and the possibility of peace.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-29 10:05am

Nagarythe, Ulthuan, Brunntag, 20th Vorhexen

Bruglier Henbane woke up in what was nearly total darkness even for him. Despite the cold, despite limbs that seemed as heavy as lead and joints that refused to move smoothly he did not swear. He had slept to this time ever since the invasion in Ulthuan began and it was far too normal for him. Besides swearing would take energy and that was something he was in short supply of.

He put on the few parts of his armor he shed at night, put his sword inside the scabbard at his belt and went on a quiet inspection. He did not expect to find anything as his morning tour was so well known by his Druchii and slaves now that nobody was surprised.

Isha, his right hand had everybody stand to at sunrise and as in the last months nothing happened. The Druchii patrols, their dogs and the Dragon riders had decimated the Shadow Warriors to the point where they rarely attacked bigger caravans like his anymore. He was quite close to the Dragon Gate now and expected to meet guides that would lead him around the new battles tomorrow so increased vigilance was still important. The laager shook itself into marching formation after a hurried breakfast and the weary trek towards Malus Darkblade’sarmy resumed. The way they were taking was not paved and the only improvement had been to put the tree trunks and bigger branches across the muddy path to form a primitive curdory road. By now a lot of the wood had rotten or sunken, so the slaves that accompanied the caravan had to push the wagons past the worst spots when the oxen were not able to do so alone.
Bruglier saw that the carefully cut back brushes were also making a comeback at the sides of the road, he would have to speak to Malus` liaison about this. He had mentioned this before and was told that the brushwork would not grow so fast in winter that “Hooooooot”

The caravan leader was still wondering what the sound meant when many of these bushes rolled away and revealed a host of Shadow Warriors that took the time to form in line before rushing his caravan. Fuck-how could so many of these evade the Druchii patrols?
“Form the laager-form the laager”
He did not have to think about shouting the order, and his warriors did not need to hear it. All too often this drill had happened and the wagons were starting to shape into the defensive circle that had worked so well. Bruglier was about to join his spear-carriers when he heard the shout of alarm. Turning his head he saw a veritable cloud of arrows settling on his men, another one on its heels. Even the screams of the wounded and the bellows of the oxen could not keep him from wondering what made the elven archers wear the subdued clothing of their Shadow Warrior brethren and since when did they hide themselves in ambush. This was so unlike his arrogant cousins.

His armor deflected two missiles that would otherwise have killed him, but many of his warriors were not so lucky. Even worse in some ways was that many oxen had been hit and either dropped or ran amok in the pain they could not understand, making forming the laager impossible.
“Spears on me-gather around your commander” brought the Druchii spear-carriers into line with Bruglier in their middle. Even that was not without cost as the archers continued to fire as the crossbow shooters employed by Bruglier did not have the range. They needed to advance-and that they could only do behind the spear-carriers.
That the units formed at all was testament to the discipline their commander had instilled in them. Yet by the time they had made that they had lost a fair part of their number already and had not closed with the Asur at all. Bruglir was not too worried-his spearelfs would charge as a block and would blow through the Shadow Warriors who were skirmishers and the archers like a stake through an eyeball. He still sometimes wondered if skirmishing really suited the Shadow Elves fighting style better or if their hate of anything that smelled of the true Elves just kept getting the better of them.

The adrenaline rush of the charge made the world constrict itself into a narrow tunnel from Bruglier`s helmet to the Shadow Warriors in front of him. The high-pitches war cries of his Druchii filled his ears and the urge to maim and kill blotted out all other thought.
He did not even wonder why the Shadow Warriors did not charge on their own as they usually did until his charge was brought short. The ground under his feet just gave-not much just half a meter or so-and his foot was inexplicably tangled in something that that would hold him faster the more he pulled. His boots and training stopped him in time but many of his warriors suffered from torn ligaments and knees from the sudden stop. The Asur had made a small trench and filled them with sticks to slow him down-when did they stoop to such low tricks? The Druchii behind them never stopped in time so a nasty pile-up developed into which the Shadow Warriors finally charged. Now all formation was gone, the first rank was injured and hardly able to fight-this was not a battle but a slaughter. Bruglier fended off the first attack and managed to get his foot from the trench but ended up with a limp. He struck around him ferociously and for all his pains got a scimitar straight through the back plate od his armor.

Sergeant Blaskovics would never learn of it, but he would be quite proud of Herleas who had made much of the punji stakes which the KSK soldier had introduced the Shadow Warriors to. Bruglier was not killed immediately, he would live to see the Asur carrying off his supplies and burning the rest before succumbing to blood loss.

Bay of Drusilla, Ulthuan, pre-dawn Bäckertag 22. Vorhexen

The sound was unlike anything the Druchii in the bay had ever heard. It was a low-frequency thrumming with some harsh undertones. It came from an airborne source and moved quickly over the bay and the beachhead beyond.
Even in the dark it was obvious that the source of the sound had dropped many white small white sheets which were discovered to be a very white very even paper printed in Druchii script. They were gathered by slaves at the orders of their masters and quickly brought to the Black Arks that guarded the entrance to the Bay of Drusilla.
No two Black Arkswill ever be exactly the same. They were the fortresses that belonged to Malekith`s followers when he lost the civil war in Ulthuan. In a desperate gamble Malekith had loosened the bonds of magic that kept this part of Ulthuan from drowning, keeping just the fortifications afloat by the same magic. Able to navigate under their own sorcerous power their size ranged from somewhat bigger than a Dragon Ship to mountains afloat. The bigger ones were big enough to house other Druchii ships inside caverns and were studded with enough bolt throwers and other ranged weaponry to fend off any attack. Even when these floating rocks were boarded their immense size meant that the attackers often lost themselves in the labyrinthine interiors, eventually becoming slaves themselves.

If the Arks would have been more and faster the seas of the Warhammer World would have belonged to the Druchii and wherever they went the Dark Elves rules the waves-till the Germans came along.
The sheets that brought the captains of the “Eternal Torment” and the “Praise of Agony”, the two Black Arks that guarded the entrance into the Bay. Both were important Dread Lords who were very much used to getting their way and for that reason alone they would have been enraged at what they read. By now the two were meeting with others and the mood towards humans in general and Germans in particular was as ugly as it got.
Hartmut Klawitter again cursed his fate in being one of the few Germans in the Bay and the only one who had learned the Druchii language fluently. Currently he was the focus of a meeting of a lot of Druchii who were so enraged that he was not sure they would remember that he was supposedly working for them.
“What is that supposed to mean: Total Exclusion Zone for warships…leave anchorage until Angertag…lethal force..? And how did the Germans drop these sheets at all?”
“Mighty Lord, the sheets were dropped from a helicopter, a flying machine that can take-off and land vertically. They can be placed on German warships and one of them has to be nearby as the range of these machines is not very great, just a couple of hundred kilometers. As to the contents of this sheet: They have simply declared a blockade of the North-East coast of Ulthuan for all warships. They state that we are free to remove our troops with unarmed ships, but all warships have to leave in three days at the most.”
“And you think they can make good on that boast?”
“That very much depends on what they send here. If there is just a Frigate or two they can make our lives very difficult indeed, but they will not be able to intercept everything. These ships could sink anything but a Black Ark. But if they have send a bigger fleet, especially with the helicopter carrier then it will be nearly impossible to breach the blockade”
“And out Arks are safe?”
“From what I have seen your Arks have meters-thick walls from granite and similar. Mere warships cannot scratch them and even the helicopters that the “Seeadler” carries cannot do more than damage the defensive works. And boarding the Arks will be difficult even for German soldiers as they would have to fight at short ranges inside pathways that only you know. Even a torpedo from a submarine should not do much damage. There is one plane that has the range to come out here, but if they have bombs which can breach so much rock I doubt. But I have been away from Germany for nearly two years-maybe they changed something.”
“So you think we are safe for the moment if we stay here?”
“As far as I can tell, yes. The Germans will have one weapon that could breach an Ark, but they are very unlikely to use that, especially if they are not fully comitted.You could talk to your mages-in case the Germans attack with planes they could hide us in a thunderstorm, that will make attacking us much harder.”
“We will look into that. The arrogance of you Germans is astounding.”
“I beg your pardon Dread Lord, I am no longer a German.”

“Be that as it may-how about this “No flyers will be allowed between….”
“Let me see…ah there it is. Ok this is a so-called “no-flight zone” where nobody but the Germans is allowed to fly. The question is if they can make it stick. If the Germans have bases in Nagarythe then they could base helicopters or even planes there, but I have not heard about such a thing, you do not do that overnight and I do not believe the Asur would agree to such a base. If they want to use the helicopter carrier they have a range problem. In short-we should avoid flying from here, but if we restrict ourselves to close to the Dragon Gate it should be safe enough. But as I say-if the Germans bring their fighter planes along all bets are off.”

“And you can do nothing to defend us against your former countrymen-or don`t you want to?”
“We cannot help here. The helicopters are too well armored against our rifles and the ships can kill from such distances that you could not see them.”
“What-you are jesting”
“I am not. The guns they put into the Frigates when we arrived in this world can fire more than 30 kilometers, some of the missiles can do better than a hundred. We have nothing which can do this and never promised that we could.”
“But the Arks are safe you say.”
“As far as I can tell yes. Put the Dragons close to the Gate and pull the ships into the Arks and we should be fine.”
“Then we will do this and upon your head be it.”

Close to Neustadt, Naggaroth, afternoon, 25. Angertag Vorhexen

Silvar Bloodcrest had indeed worked together with the Germans successfully. He had been the first Dread Lord who had used the German mercenaries and even he had to admit that his victory was mostly due to them.
He had worked with them but he hated them nevertheless as he hated theirguts. Mercenaries occupied the lowest possible rung in the Druchii armed forces-just that this particular batch had the favor of Malekith and had to be treated nicely. They went so far and assumed that they had equal worth with a true Elf!
And besides that he had seen what the German weapons could do and ever since then he desired these weapons so much that he could taste them. Now Malekith had obviously removed his protection-why would he reign in the Germans otherwise-and had given Silvar the opportunity to gather some. Yes, Elric Straker had stressed that the Germans were to be back unharmed-but he had never said something that they were allowed to keep their arms. He would have to make sure that the majority were rendered to the Witch King-but he doubted that there was any inventory in Druchii hands that could show him wrong.

Currently he was leading a column of his own warriors down the road that lead to Neustadt and could not arrive too soon. The awful winter of Naggaroth was driving a strong wind, sometimes mixed with snow seemingly right through his clothes. He would never show any outward discomfort but had to get his troops under cover soon, otherwise they would risk frostbite. Another of the short snow showers reduced visibility markedly and when it returned Silvar found himself face to face with a small mounted troop of Germans who seemed as surprised as him.

“Who goes there?” Went out from both sides pretty simultaneously and in when recognition arrived the two leaders rode forward to speak.
“Lord Silvar Bloodcrest, well met. I am..”
“Miroslav, Son of Weit, I know. What are you doing here?”
“Looking for a lot of escaped slaves and some of our members that may have lost the way. We have not seen them since yesterday-did you meet anybody?"
“No, we have not, that happens a lot lately I have heard.”
“Will get better when we get this bunch for sure. And you are out in this weather because…?”
“I will state this to your leader, not his hirelings.”
“To do so you have to meet him. Last time I checked we can choose who comes and who goes not you. So again, what is your business.”
Silvar Bloodcrest was unable to answer for full five seconds or so as he had to gnash his teeth in an effort to control himself.
“We are here, human, as the Witch King has decreed that you all move to Naggarond. You are to secure your workshops, give up your arms and surrender yourself to the mercy of the Witch King.”
Well, he had not spoken to Malekith directly but Elric Straker, and the part of surrender had not been said at all, but that was what the Witch King surely wanted wasn`t it?

“You can discuss this all with Claus Tolles, but rest assured that you will get my weapons from my dead hand and not otherwise.”
“That can be arranged, but I´ll discuss it with Claus, son of Tolles."
The Dread Lord had always resented the way the German had pointed his rifle close to him, but when the Germans horse whined and move some it was practically shoved in his face. He could not stand that at all.

Druchii are far faster than humans, are they not? Silvar`s left hand sneaked forward like a striking snake and gripped the weapon that the German had not yet pointed his way. He grabbed the tube and pulled as hard as he could when the bang and the feeling of a hot iron on his lower arm surprised him.
All around him the bangs of the German weapons drowned out all other sounds while he fought for control with the burly German.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-29 10:06am

Close to Hills of Contrition, Nagarythe, Ulthuan, same time

Hartmut Klawitter was up in the air again. By now he was happy for any flight hours that he could put in. While his fear of flying a dragon had not disappeared altogether it was far from the near-panic of the first missions. What added to the appeal besides the joy of being up in the air in the raw was that he was away from the Druchii that either wanted to hurt him or urgently needed him to explain something they could not understand. That they wanted to hurt him even more when they did not like the explanation went without saying. It was like being surrounded by barely controlled dogs. They were supposed not to bite, but they were salivating from their mouths thinking of the opportunity. Funny wise he was less afraid of Yerena these days. Yes, she would hurt him, but only to an extent he could stand-barely. That counted for something, didn`t it?

Besides a couple of other Dragons the air was empty of any fliers. The Asur had only a few Griffons and they fared badly against Dragons and their poison breath. Their number had been further reduced yesterday when two of them tried to bring some mages closer to the Auxilia and found themselves outranged by the two heavy machine guns the mercenaries had brought to Ulthuan.
Currently he was up to observe both the movements of the Druchii and German allies as well as the Asurian response. The latter was hard to judge as the High Elves learned more and more to hide among the trees and to use camouflage where they could not. Yet the infrared function of his NVG allowed a glimpse here and there as the ground was bloody cold indeed.
On the other side the army sent led by Malus Darkblade had finally arrived and had encamped itself across the Hills occupied by their cousins. They had not fortified their camp much besides some trenches in an obvious “come here if you dare” gesture, yet the High Elves knew better by now to cross the Auxilia`s fields of fire. It looked like the Druchii would be ready to assault the Hills by tomorrow as planned.

He swiveled his head about when something caught in the corner of his eye. He was about to get his binox up to inspect the small airborne spec when it became larger quite rapidly. It resolved itself into a delta-winged plane that passed at incredible speed with a tearing sound that arrived at the German`s ears only when the plane had nearly passed.
Patting his Druchii pilot on the shoulder he used the intercom between their two helmets.
“Get down to the camp-immediately.”
“What was that-and why?”
“That was a German fighter plane-and if you want to live land now.”
“We have no orders to...”
“You can discuss this if you live-otherwise this will be difficult.”

Both Druchii and human watched the plane approach another dragon while Yerena guided her beast into a slow downwards spiral, hedging her bets. This time the plane passed the dragon even more closely and it rider turned his animal into a tight curve, facing the approaching Typhoon head-on. When the German came back the Dragon belched a cloud of noxious smoke that missed the fighter by many meters. The plane pulled up nearly vertically, topped over at the apex of it’s ascend and dropped back far faster than any stone could fall. A short burst of tracer connected fighter and dragon for a second, then the plane veered off and bits and pieces of rider and beast dropped from the sky.
Yerena pushed her dragon into the steepest descend she dared and Klawitter was too afraid to even think about throwing up.

Neustadt, Naggaroth, Morning, 26. Festtag Vorhexen

The Black Company had known very well that they had made their camp in the middle of wolves and that a defense was a high priority. Among the first public works that the mercenaries had gotten underway when they took “Neustadt” for their own purposes were s series of bunkers and other fortifications. Very hard to demolish with the weapons given to the Druchii or the Hung they resembled the bunkers behind the lines used during WW1. Erected mostly underground, stabilized by wood and with few entrances that were guarded by low-slung blockhouses armed with machine guns they would be easy to defend and hell to take. Despite being primitive they held enough supplies to withstand a siege of weeks with ease and months with hardship.
The Black Company had run monthly exercises where everybody was supposed to be in his place inside within a few minutes at the sound of a Klaxon. When first the sounds of an engagement could be heard and then the high-pitched scream of the alarm most Germans had made it in record time.

„Braaaap“ This time Claus Tolles did not even flinch. The first time his compound had been shot at he had thrown himself down to avoid being hit. By now he was getting used to some very bad shooting from the other side, and the observation post he was in would stand any assault by hand-held weaponry anyway. It was likely that the Druchii had taken the weapons of one of his troopers during the skirmish yesterday and had either figured out how to use them by themselves or had forced one of the missing Germans to show them.
He was left again with his musings how things could get so sour so fast. Until two months ago he had made it. The Black Company was solidly entrenched in Naggaroth with good connections to the Witch King and lots of contacts to other Druchii nobles who started to see the Germans as the path to advancement. Most of his associates were quite happy as they could follow their “special needs” to their hearts content. Many found the work of establishing industry in Naggaroth an interesting challenge and some found campaigning to their liking. Remarkably few had ever expressed a wish to go home and none had ever acted upon it in ways that would have made Claus to act on it. He could see a path for himself to the relative immortality granted by the “Ritual of Blood” and had such plans for the future.

He had not taken the changes seriously at first. Some of the engineers and chemists had started to take their “fun” quite seriously and started to exhibit eccentric behavior. At first Claus had put that down to them needing increased doses of whatever tickled their fancies and their changed circumstances. When this started to influence the bottom line as the slaves started to fear the Germans and to run he investigated more closely. When he learned that Jasla had opened her house to nearly all these cases he was about to confront the witch when she simply disappeared, taking quite a few of those she had so obviously influenced with her.
The investigation he had led into the Germans left behind and the controls he had implemented had not improved morale any but had stabilized things considerably. He was actually happy when Malekith had asked for the Auxilia to join the invasion of Ulthuan as it took many of those unhappy with the increased control away.
Things were looking up again when a few days ago the second group of slaves and Germans disappeared. He had the beginning of an idea why they had gone but not exactly where and had sent out patrols to bring them back. Which was precisely when the fecal matter hit the fan for real. Miroslav Breit had come back from a skirmish with Druchii troops that had assaulted them when they had refused to give up their weapons. What the bleeding f….had gone wrong there. He did not think that Malekith had been so angry at him about the share companies that he would be arrested.

“Knock Knock”
“Sir, we have the answer from Lord Silverhawk. He has no idea why these troops have attacked us either. He suggests that Silvar Bloodcrest has a deep hatred of us, so this might either be an internal matter or something that got out of hand. He promised to contact Malekith and thinks this will be over soon.”
“Thanks, let`s sit tight then.”
Lord Silverhawk was the only Dread Lord the Black Company trusted and had dwellings close enough so that the mercenaries had given him a wireless set. As much as Claus wanted to contact Malekith or Elric Straker directly, Naggarond was too far away for the sets that the Black Company had been able to acquire which slowed communications to a crawl at times. Tolles hoped that Lord Silverhawk would be able to use a mage for communication, that would accelerate things.
He could just hope that the Germans that had not been able to make the bunker in time would be alive when the siege was lifted, most of them were the few gifted engineers left to him. Given so many of them had absconded he needed ever one of them to deliver on his promises to the Witch King. At the moment he had done what he could do-now he had to sit tight. Fortunately he had the means to do exactly that.

Bridge of Seeadler, 200 kilometers from the Bay of Drusilla, Ulthuan, same time

Captain Werner felt the spray-leaden wind push in his face. He used his binox to have a look at the small fleet that his carrier was the center of. Farther out the Frigates “Köln” and “Sachsen” were providing protection against Sea Critters and ships that got too close. Further behind several replenishment ships followed while one of them just underwent an evolution that neither Earth nor the Warhammer World had seen in a very long time.
An airship approached the tender “Berlin” from behind; the docking point of its nose had already acquired the hook connected to a steel cable that winched the Zeppelin in to the mast newly installed on the ship. It would receive a new crew, new fuel and victuals and would discharge the garbage that had accumulated during the last 24 hours. The German navy certainly did not have the budget to develop a carrier-capable AWACS plane and had to make do with the radars mounted on its helicopters and a navalized version of the NT-Zeppelins. So far the three airships that accompanied the small fleet had stood the onslaught of the winter-time seas well and were at least as important to the upkeep of the exclusion and no-flight zone as the vaunted Typhoons.
Their radar allowed them to spot ships and dragons from a considerable distance and provided steers for his ships and aircraft.

While the remit of the total exclusion zone was much wider, (insert comma) currently the fleet mostly bothered with the approaches into the Bay of Drusilla. That they had sewn tight, allowing only a few unarmed freighters to move in and out of the bay. So far nobody had challenged the fleet and Werner was not worried if they were. Yet in an hour his ship would provide additional motivation to the Druchii to try.
Time to end his break and to get his lazy ass back into CIC where he could look at a computer monitor for hours-if he was lucky.

Neustadt, Naggaroth, one hour later, 26. Festtag Vorhexen

Jens Heim watched the seeming Chaos outside of his cockpit as he had nothing else to do but fret. All checks to his plane had been made, everything was in shipshape and he really wanted to go, and at the same time he had good reasons not to. Jens Heim was about to fly his Typhoon into combat with the heaviest load yet flown from the carrier in anger and he had no catapult.
What he did have was a 10-knot headwind that combined with the 24 knots the carrier made into it. He had a ski ramp and two humungous engines. And he had the rune of flying-now he was about to see if that was enough.
When the sign came he pushed the throttle till the stop, spooling the two turbofans up till maximum and then igniting the afterburners. The plane wailed like a lot soul for ten eternal seconds before the carrier-mounted brakes released his landing gear. The plane accelerated down the deck at a speed that made it hard to remember it at all and then the almighty kick in his back signaled the ski ramp that propelled him upwards.

For a heart wrenching second the plane started to drop again before it clawed itself upwards. By that time the pilot retracted the landing gear and made a right turn the speed and attitude allowed. If he had to drop into the drink it would be better not to be run over by his own ship.
Bringing his Typhoon into a wide circle he watched 4 more planes make the take-off before forming up. The trip to the Bay of Drusilla was a short one, now it was time to make sure it was not wasted. Pulling his plane to several thousand meters he watched the picture in the monitor before him. It displayed the picture provided by a high-res camera mounted in a pod that clung to his right wing. The weather was with the Germans and allowed a clear picture of the bay below. Resembling a Norwegian Fjord it had high cliffs that rose to impressive heights at the entrance. Currently they had two smaller mountains from before them-the Arks that secured the bay for the Druchii. There were no other ships to be seen-they could very well hide inside the Arks. Time to change that.

Overflying his intended target he pulled his plane into a curve that would resemble a (insert a, so it reads resemble a landing) landing pattern when complete. At the same he had to lead his squadron and mark his target.
He very much wished that he would fly something with two seats, but that was not on the menu today.
“All Eagle elements-make sure that you mark your targets once we reach IP. If you cannot make it on this approach-call out, we can do this again if we know in time.”
Four “Roger” came in in and after the last 90-degree turn it was time to follow his own orders. Using a “coolie hat” on his joystick he placed a cross squarely on the small depression he had memorized. Pressing the trigger made the computer keep the target under the cross and also dropped the weapon that had so far occupied the center hardpoint under his plane. The computer also made sure that all bombs were dropped at the same time.

It was a strange-looking weapon and as so often being designed for the last war. Even before the Skavenblight Campaign it had become obvious that a lot of potential targets were so far underground that the weapons used by the air force could not get at them. So a new weapon was developed with all haste when the Skaven attacks made it clear it was needed. Of course it had been ready only when the allies had penetrated into Skavenblight so far that it was no longer useful. Now it could prove itself-or not.
The bombs dropped from 5 planes simultaneously were very slender cylinders with fins at both ends. The tip of the weapon searched for and found a spot of laser light that had the right frequency and oriented itself towards it. The bomb’s body was extremely dense as most of it was from high-grade steel. Actually it was made from the same steels and was formed on the same machines that usually made barrels for Germany`s gun-howitzers. The great weight and the small cross section made for a frightening speed, yet when the bombs had reached the vertical and small radars told them that the attitude was right they fired up rockets that accelerated them past the speed of sound, actually by quite a bit.

When they hit the rock under them they sliced through the bedrock with ease, their bodies flexing but not breaking, yet slowed by each meter passed. They had barely come to a stop when clocks that would not miss a second in a thousand years ignited them at the same time. Shockwaves ran through the rock, met each other in the middle, cancelled each other out in a few places and greatly magnified their power in others. The center of their target was converted from solid rock to loose rubble in the blink of an eye.
For a long moment nothing happened and then the cliff face started to move with glacial speed. A mass of rock more than a hundred meters across had been sprung loose from its foundations and when the mass dropped into the sea the wave rocked even the Black Ark closest to it. Jens Heim overflew the scene, joined the rebel screams by his flight who had performed a difficult mission well and like the other pilots thumbed open the speed brakes of his fighter for a second. Stuffed under them dozens of waterproof sheets had the printed advise of the German navy for the Druchii. A message had been sent and received, even without the leaflets. By the next morning the Bay of Drusilla was empty of all Warships.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-29 10:08am

Neuville, Bretonnia, during Vorhexen month

Neuville was a town in northern Bretonnia and "capital" of the fief of Baron Claude Lafleur. The Baron, a mid-forty brown-haired noble, broad-shouldered with a now fashionable close cut beard, looked out from the highest tower of his castle onto the Sea of Claws.
From Neuville the German coast could only be seen with a looking glass and good weather, but Lafleur wished they could sense his hate directly there. He hated the new neighbour with all his heart. Since that nation suddenly popped up over 3 years ago, the fate of Bretonnia had taken a turn for the worse.
His fief, due to the relative closeness to the Reik and the German coast, had become a major waypoint of fleeing serfs. The Lafleur coastal guard ships had their hands full hunting down boats, dingies and floats. All trying to reach the mouth of the Reik and the German riverside or other points along the German sea coast. Lafleur had already expanded his patrols twice, which was rather costly. The only bright spot was that by royal order border region nobles catching fleeing serfs could keep most of them themselves, sending back only 20%. This had made his fief more wealthy even counting the costs for more ships and men.
Still, even here the Germans interfered. His closeness to Germany and his rising number of fresh and eager-to-try-fleeing-again serfs had made it necessary to copy some practises of Germany. Not doing so would some day topple it all. Lafleur had to keep his "core" serfs pacified, so he had lightened the burdens and even build up some small "manufactures", proto-factories.

This had helped him keeping his land quiet, but if catching serfs were all, he would had few reasons to hate and more to be happy. It was just the tip of the iceberg. Like most nations of the Old World, Bretonnia had to weather more and stronger attacks by the Norscan raiders and Druchii sadists. With Germany and the Empire off-limits for any savvy Norscan captain, other lands had to bear the brunt of their raids.
Neuville had been attacked by them 6 times in the last two years alone. While Lafleur had been successful in repelling them, he knew that other coast regions, towns and thorps were not so lucky.
What grated on the Baron even stronger, was the loss of commerce. As the Baron this did touch him only peripherically, but when his merchants came complaining in regular intervalls, it became his problem.
The Empire was the biggest customer of Bretonnia´s wine, clearly the best in the Old World. Karl-Franz´ realm had own vineyards, mostly in the southern provinces, but few of comparable quality to Bretonnian and not enough to satisfy their needs.
Germany, once the northernmost real wine region on Earth, might not even on Warhammer have the climatic situation to grow wine easier than on Earth, but the Germans had centuries of knowledge on wine production more than Bretonnia. The German wine regions could produce high quality wine for a lower price than Bretonnia could. So the Empire had begun to meet it´s wine imports by buying in Germany. Not only that, but German and Empire vintners started to cooperate and exchange tips and plants for selective cultivation.

Bretonnia slowly began to slide down the totem pole of importance to Altdorf. A lot more had to done, if it could be done in the stagnate society of Bretonnia, to regain importance from the Empire and in the Old World in general. There were some strides done that helped, but until that became a trend, if it would become one, hating the people the Bretons saw as responsible for their loss had become a "national sport". Having a scapegoat was always easier than to look in the mirror.

Black Ark “Eternal Torment”, 50 kilometers from the Bay of Drusilla, morning, 27. Sigmarstag

The ruined eyeball would certainly never provide sight to the human again, but the optic nerve was another path to inflict agony. The Captain pushed a slightly glowing needle in and listened to the hoarse screams. They were only possible as sorcery kept the human alive and conscious, otherwise he would have fainted long ago. Even this level of magic could not keep what sanity the slave had possessed last night but he retained the faculties to suffer and scream, that was enough.
The sole reason for this torture was the similarity this human had to Hartmut, son of Klawitter, the German who had so brazenly lied about the invulnerability of the Arks to his countrymen. It was just coincidence that the Germans had decided to demonstrate their power instead of exercising it.

He would never display it openly, but cold fear had grasped the Captain when the cliff had started to move and drop into the sea. The surprise and violence of the attack had frozen the Druchii on the Arks who had witnessed it stiff, but none were more effected than the Dread Lords that ruled over them like tiny gods.
Smaller Arks might have been sunken in the past and some bigger ones successfully boarded. But never ever in the long memory of the Druchii had one of the great Arks been sunk. And now Erlik had seen forces at work that could have sunken his ship, his home, his source of power and the weapon to smite Naggaroth`s enemies. And the arrogant, never-sufficiently-damned Germans obviously thought so little of him and so much of their own powers that they had just demonstrated that they could kill him instead of actually doing so. Doing so with a ease a elven swordsman might demonstrate the sharpness of his sword and his prowess by taking off the head of a worthless slave.
It was disgusting.
It was bad for his position in Druchii society.
It was an insult.
It meant that he had to explain himself to the Witch King.
It was very very frightening and Erlik had not been frightened for a great length of time. He hated the feeling with a vengeance and decided that he had abused the slave`s eyes enough. Time to get to the genitals, he had a lot of frustrations to work off.

Before the Hills of Contrition, same time

It was one of the beautiful winter days that even this blasted part of Ulthuan could deliver. Nary a cloud in the sky, a sun that promised great warmth and even dispelled the chill when one was directly in its rays. The hills not far from the Camp had enough pines in them not to look totally barren and a wild but beautiful countryside surrounded the army.
The field taken by the army had been despoiled of course. Many feet, wheels, claws and hoofs had destroyed what little vegetation had clung to the ground and mixed the earth below with the winter rains that happened often enough into black, clinging mud spiced by the manure of animals and less savory indigents. The many tents that stood in orderly rows displayed the same sign as their inhabitants: great artistry, slender build often of the finest materials but worn by the constant campaigning in the last year. As the Dragon Gate had never been breached and the Druchii had to lay a lengthy siege both the warriors and the equipment showed signs of tear and wear. The black of the tents had faded into an uneven charcoal grey, the well-cut clothes had frayed collars and sleeves. Armor had dents and scratches that marred ornaments that would have been granted a place in many art galleries.
Even the very spirit of the army seemed exhausted. Their fortunes had known great ups and downs during the last year. The successful crossing of the ocean, the unopposed landing and the rapid advance deep into Ulthuan had fired up the Dark Elves. The bloody stalemate of the Dragon Gate had sapped them of their furor. Now a great victory had been won and they were on the brink of another that would crush an enemy that had eluded them too many times already and yet they had seen the Black Dragons humbled. The meeting that was just shaping up was fraught with many hopes for the better and the weary expectation it might only bring more of the same.

Malus Darkblade watched the small group of humans and Druchii that walked down the camps main way with disgust. They represented so many wrongs that it was hard to decide where to start. They were the embodiment of his failure. If he had managed to breach the Dragon Gate as he had intended he would not have to ask for reinforcements, the newcomers were the symbol of failure. They were humans of great power who considered themselves the equal of true Elves, who had the ear of Malekith and who were introducing strange new ways into Naggarond which were successful while he was not around to shape it.
Worst of all-the humans were not just any humans but Germans. Germans who might fight for him, but who were still from the same people who had burned his city, killed his warriors, sunk his fleet and stole his slaves. Not to pull his Warpsword and simply kill the lot of them was taking all the self-control that he possessed.
Up close they did not seem so powerful. This Wolfgang, Son of Böhler was clearly old, at least half a head smaller than him and while he held himself erect he did not display the hulking build that some of the soldiers he had seen during the German raid displayed. He was wearing hardy-looking grey-green clothing that would probably be hard to see in the field, an armored vest of some kind and a slender rifle slung on his back. He had brought a couple of aides along, a mixture of true elves and humans. Having Druchii working for a human was an affront of its own and that they had replaced a part of their garb by human clothing rubbed it in.
The small group stopped the few meters that convention demanded from him, all of them bowing from their waists and performing a strange salute. The salute he could not place, but the bow would have been fitting a true elven commander that lead a part of his army. The sheer gall of the Germans was astounding. Yet Malus Darkblade came from a society where you went to an audience to be tortured for an imagined failing by ones superior and were expected to say “thank you” at the end of it. He had endured worse and he would probably do so again later.

“Wolfgang Böhler reports as ordered General Darkblade”
“Well met Wolfgang, Son of Böhler, it is good to finally meet you in person. Come inside, then we can discuss how to beat those cowards in the hills yonder.”
“Yes Highness.”
The inside of the tent was nice, yet its greatest feature for Darkblade was that he no longer had to treat the German as an equal in front of large parts of the army.
“I am happy that you could hold Tyrion in place for me until I arrived. Now we can beat him properly and not just fend off his attacks. Tell me Wolfgang, what can you do that Tyrion fears so much and that will help winning the battle?”
“My Auxilia is currently down to 3720 effectives due to the recent battle. We have received supplies to replace the munitions that we expended in the recent battle and the troops are well rested. Our capabilities…well we have an artillery train of one gun and 12 mortars. These can destroy anything above ground up to a range of 3 kilometers.
We have several heavy weapons platoons. They have two heavy machine guns, 6 general purpose machine guns and 8 mechanical ones. These are our main weapons against infantry and cavalry and can be used up to one kilometer, they need line-of-sight. Within these limitations they can stop nearly any assault.
To top it off we have 1500 riflemen, they provide the other half of the firepower.”

“Ah yes, very well. Very impressive I am sure, unfortunately not enough to fend your erstwhile countrymen off. So how do you think you could aid my army?”
“We can take out mages or command posts with the artillery, so elven leadership will be damaged and your mages can work without bother. In the current situation we propose to make up a line of fire close to the hills and take the Asurian positions under fire to keep the heads of the High Elves down. Then you can assault them from the flanks without getting under fire from the elven archers.”
“And reduce your risk to almost nothing in turn?”
“This is the best we can do. If we assault the Hills directly we give up many of the advantages that we currently have. I am sure we would do well, but then we are just a small drop in the ocean. The tactics I suggest will play to the strengths of each unit.”
“What else can you do?”
“I can lend you a couple of wireless operators. They can contact you or each other instantly in battle so you can coordinate better.”
“Do you think we are unable to operate your wireless sets? I am using one of yours myself German.”
“Of course I do not insinuate such a thing Highness. Yet these wireless sets are very valuable and I have orders to keep them under my control at all times.”
“So you do not trust me?”
“I have my orders highness.”
“I take this as a “yes” then, so noted. Yet, your plan has merit I think. So where do you plan to post your troops?”

It was quite a while later when a plan had been agreed and Böhler`s staff hashed out the details with Malus` leaders when Malus went for the German sniper again.
“Since you are such a master of the wireless, have you received any news from the Bay of Drusilla since yesterday?”
“No Sire. The few Germans who were there are on the way to this position or are already here. There is a wireless set at the Bay, but it seems to be broken or nobody uses it.”
“Marvelous, just marvelous. Suppose the Germans indeed blockade the Bay-what do you believe we should do?”
“Send unarmed ships Highness, the blockade is for warships only.”
“So our decadent cousins can sink them with impunity?”
“The Total Exclusion Zone is for all warships, not just ours.”
“So our ships should rely on the protection of the Germans? Are you mad?”
“I see no other way highness. We certainly cannot fight them, especially when they have somehow gotten some fighters here.”
“So you Germans take away our weapons and those of the Asur because we are like little children, is it that?”
“I am no longer German highness and I cannot vouch for the motivations of my former country.”
“So you say….”
Malus Darkblade never offered food or drink to the Wolfgang Böhler till he left for his camp again, something the sniper was truly grateful for. He had the next day to prepare as the day after tomorrow would be a hot one, despite the winter weather.

Castle Wolfenfels, Middenland, afternoon

The locomotive that pulled the late train into the small railway station was a smallish 2C, one of the most common steam engines in the Empire these days. They pulled smaller freight trains with the same ease than the carriages of the regional passenger lines that stopped even at such small railway stations as Castle Wolfenfels.
The couple that climbed from the 1st. Class carriage had a mix to it that was an analog for the new times in both the Empire and Germany. The man wore the uniform of an Army Pilot, the woman the traditional traveling garb of an Imperial noblewoman of low-to-middling standing. Both went arm in arm to the small group of people who welcomed them.
“Wolfgang, a pleasure to too you again.”
“Likewise Sir Nathan, Mylady you look lovely. Please follow me, the carriage awaits. On the way to the carriage Nathan could not help to be impressed by all the new buildings that had sprung up close to the railroad station and the station itself.
The building were all made from wooden boards and had a “Old West” feeling all over them, provided one ignored such details as the “Wendenknüppel”, wooden horse heads that adorned the roof ridges of most houses or the corrugated PVC sheets that adorned many a roof. Everything smelled of freshly cut wood and closer inspection would reveal some gaps left by shrinking wood here and there. Still, it was a vast contrast to the hovels that had existed here just 18 months ago.

“You certainly have been eager beavers while I was away. What is all that?”
“Oh the new sawmill produces wooden boards so quickly as the loggers can bring the trees-and nails as so plentiful and cheap these days that it seems like child`s play. My, we erected the outer walls and the roof of that warehouse over there in a day I swear. Well, we have station building itself, we have the Store house of the Raiffeisen association and the new stores. If you were to look at Fallow Field one of these days you would see the new houses for the farmers, very nice even if they look goofy-all roof and no walls.”
“Sounds great, I´ll do. Good to see that things are picking up.”
The carriage they used was as much a mix of the new and the old as the rest. Rubber tires, steel springs and friction dampers held up a wooden body that was finely carved and painted. The ride to the Castle was a short one and they were indeed given some time to fresh up and change before the dinner commenced. Nathan saw the new-style cutlery and dinnerware, the tablecloth that now covered the table and the glasses that replaced the jugs that would have served before. His eyebrows must have risen to a noticeable level as the Baron`s smile increased even more.
“You remember that stupid “movie” they made here last summer-they simply left all of that when they went home for a pittance.”
“Ah, that is nice.”
Full but not too full Nathan retreated to the Baron`s study a while later and while the stove-heated room was nice enough and the Baron in a jovial mood there was an underlying tension between the two men as something needed to be discussed. But not right away. First there was an Obstler to consume and small talk to be made before the meat of the matter was reached. It took the two men a good ten minutes to settle themselves in their chairs and demolish the first rounds of shots before things drew to a close.

“You seem to do quite well Baron Heinrich, it is a sight to see”
“So it is Sir Nathan, I would never have thought it a year before. The castle half-demolished, the farms burned, the fields fallow- I was pretty sure that we would go hungry. And then your army turns up, the engineers help to make the castle viable again and pay a lot of money to the farmers who help them.
Then the crazy Babelsberg guys turn up and pay even more money for letting them make a movie-and now we have the Raiffeisen Union that allows us to take up farming for real. The footmen`s company are by now all Raiffeisen members and all have their small farm-or not so small. And you should see our own one-Wolfgang is heading it and does such a job of it. But enough of me young man-how about you, what are your prospects these days?”
“As of last Sigmar`s day I am back in astronaut training, thank god. Even if I were to wash out-and at this stage this is unlikely-I still would be an officer with the army with a decent wage and a pension-so I am set.”
“I hear you Sir Nathan Alpers, I hear you very well. I have heard from Wolfgang that your family now has holdings along the Reik from Wolfgang and about your exploits against the Skaven from Ermine. But I did not need to hear that. All I needed to know about you in the two ruts you left in my Castle.”
“Uh, sorry Sir but I do not get you?”
“Ha-when the siege started you flew here to drop us munition, you will not have forgotten that, right.”
“No Sir.”
“I remember it became easier when we started using that cable to snag your canisters but the first flight you made some daredevil maneuver that meant we got what we needed and you nearly crashed. When you went down the wheels of your Storch dug some ruts into the embankment-that told me nearly everything I needed to know about you.
When you came back the next day and had rigged up a system that was nearly safe to use I knew the rest. You are quite a capable and courageous man Nathan Alpers.”

So this was the moment to say it-easy. Just that the words would not come. What if the grey bear in front of him would say no, What of he asked him to give up his position to take over governing the castle what…
An so Nathan Alpers, the man who had shot Chaos assassins from three meters, who flew against an enemy without arms and who landed a fixed-wing plane in places where some people would not park their cars choked. He simply could not say what he wanted to say and it became worse with every second.
Heinrich of Wolfenfels, warrior and father looked at the spectacle for a full minute before he opened his mouth again. “Come on Nathan-you want her or not?”
“Yes Sir, I want her very much”
The German pilot passed the final test with flying colors-he survived the fierce bear hug he was subjected to. When the Baron filled the shot glasses again Nathan thought he saw something like a tear in the old man`s eye, but that surely was an illusion.

Before the Hills of Contrition, Ulthuan, at night

The small glade was hemmed in by evergreen trees that even now kept their foliage in the onset of Winter, shielding the light from the small fire that burned in the middle of it. The solitary figure that sat on a tree stomp before it was as far from a lone wanderer as possible and he was not lost in thought even if he affected that air. Instead he took great pains not to look into the fire that he kept alive so not to destroy his night vision. Nor was the figure as lonely or as solitary as a first glance indicated as in the forest surrounding the glade a deadly game of hide-and-seek between Shadow Warriors and Druchii assassins played itself out in near-total silence.
When faint rustling and the movement of leaves announced the arrival of a visitor the figure did not try to feign surprise or a warm welcome to his hearth. Instead he got to his feet in a movement that seemed languid until one realized how very fast he had gotten into an alert stance. On the opposite sides if then fire stood two beings that seemed like photo and negative. Both were tall, slender and radiated a commanding presence. Both wore the finest of arms and armor artisans could make that had many centuries to practice and who weaved handcraft and magic into a seamless whole. Both were gifted leaders of their people, highly capable and utterly deadly.

“Normally I would say well met Malus Darkblade, but with you I will make an exception.”
“Any meeting with you that leaves you alive and free is a wretched one Tyrion”
“And yet you have called for such a meeting and I wonder why.”
“Because we are both about to do something stupid that we should both avoid.”
“And that would be?”
“We do the job of the Germans for them.”
“Which task do you have in mind?”
“Kill each other off.”
“You want to tell me in earnest that you do not want to kill me?”
“Kill you? If I had my druthers you would live in pain for a thousand years. Yet this is not the time and not the place.”
“So you have finally heard that the Black Arks were chased away from the Bay of Drusilla like children that annoy their parents and want to avoid a spanking.”
“Ever since noontime and yet that is all the Germans did-and I am still here.”
“Well, they make your Dragons crawl on the ground like so many Wyrms. Yet as long as my army is here you cannot assault the Dragon Gate and fight your way deeper in Ulthuan. And with your supplies no longer coming you will not stay here for long.”
“And if I attack you tomorrow I will push you from that hill and kill any of your warriors stupid enough to make a stand.”
“Ah, you think your Germans can help you so much. It must hurt depending so much on them.”
“Look at who is talking. But yes, they can give me the means to pull your carcass from that primitive fortress of yours. You should be ashamed of yourself, even an Orc could do better.”
“They do the job. Let us assume that you can do as you plan-even you will not for a second believe that you could do this without incurring heavy losses. And when you are done you are still in front of the Dragon Gate with no fresh supplies and the winter coming in.”
“Yes, but you would not be there to see that and so would a great lots of haughty Asur. That alone might make me do that.”
“So that is what you mean by doing the Germans` job for them.”

“Yes, indeed. Khaine, even you have to see that the Germans want to govern the seas and all land that tickles their fancy. Shall we make that easier for them?”
“Be that as it may, what are you proposing?”
“I withdraw my army from Ulthuan, you do not attack, we both go home and explain to our rulers why we could not do what we promised.”
“Oh I promised to defend Ulthuan from your likes. Your head on a pike would just make a nice bonus I could do without that for a while.”
“So-do we have an agreement?”
“Nearly so, there is a matter of a small retribution.”
“If you think the Witch King or I will pay tribute….”
“No no, not that. This new unit-that Auxilia, that cannot go. They need to die.”
“Why for Khaine`s sake, they have just arrived.”
“They have just arrived and there is no family of noble lineage in all of Caledor that is not missing at least one member now. Letting them go would be politically ..awkward.
“And that is all? Do you think I have to do the job for you or are you indeed capable of some fighting of your own?”
“No, the Dragon Prices can cut the pound of flesh by themselves. Just a place in the rear guard that is surprisingly unsupported would do the trick I am sure.”
“So you think I will throw my own allies, of which the greatest part is Druchii, to the wolves to save my skin, do you?”
“Yes, of course.”
“And you are right. We have a deal. And I suggest a night attack actually, the Germans always tell me they can only kill what they see.”
“Do they indeed.”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-12-29 10:08am

Tower of Cold, Naggarond, 28.Brunntag

Elric Straker had served Malekith for more than 400 years and had brought him the good news as well as the bad. Even if he sometimes did not understand why Malekith rejoiced on news he had deemed bad and exuded an even more intense hatred when he brought the good he had always survived them. Survived them with a fright and a nick at times, but survived.
Today was one of the few times when he was not sure he would do so. The Witch King had not become louder or swore, yet the quiet whisper that emerged from his helmet and the witchfire that emerged from his sword frightened the courtiers in the room more than any amount of shouting could have.

“So did the message from Lord Silverhawk say something why Lord Bloodcrest assaults Neustadt and our mercenaries-the mercenaries which I have placed under my personal protection?”
“The message just stated that Lord Bloodcrest demanded the Germans to surrender their weapons and when they did not they were attacked by Lord Bloodcrest`s forces.”
“So what is the situation now?”
“The Germans have retreated into their fastness and are under siege but report that they can do this for several weeks if needed. They also state that at present the Neustadt factories cannot produce anything Highness.”
“Did you tell Bloodcrest that he should disarm the Germans?”
“No Sire, only that he should bring them to the Tower with all speed. Lord Bloodcrest made this demand on his own initiative.”
“Then he can explain his reasoning to me in great detail. Send messengers to Lord Bloodcrest to lift the siege immediately. He is to report to me at the earliest convenience. Send another messenger to Lord Silverhawk, he is to contact Claus Tolles, explain to him that we have to hide his men from his own countrymen and escort him here-with their own weapons of course.”
“Yes Highness”
In front of the two Druchii a certain shuffle played itself out as every petitioner tried not to be the next one to be in line to plead his case with the Witch King. This could only end badly.

Close to the Hill of Contrition, Ulthuan, roughly same time

Wolfgang Böhler felt ill at ease presently, which was hardly surprising. First off he had to do something he knew he did not do well and did not like at all-riding a horse- in full view for all of the Auxilia. The mercenaries were performing one of the more difficult maneuvers, marching in a square, in difficult terrain.
Secondly he had a severe case of “Battlus Interuptus” as he had geared himself up to the battle with the Asur in the hills and only this morning he had been told that it was not to be. The Druchii navy had totally abandoned the Bay of Drusilla at the moment and it seemed that this had given Malus Darkblade cause to withdraw. The Druchii general had not given any deep insight into his strategy and just assigned the Auxilia the rearguard duty. As the Asur had been quick to deploy their surviving cavalry the Auxilia had been forced to assume the formation best used to the defense against them-the square. With rifles on the outside the leadership, the supply wagons and the heavy weapons were protected inside. Yet this big square was the devil to keep during the march and Böhler was happy for every hour of drill the Auxilia had undergone.
Well, about five more hours of this, then his ass would be numb-hopefully-and would only wake up when the camp was already erected.

On the other side of the field a scrawny figure watched the Auxilia march at the tail of an Army that had killed countless Asur. He would simply be a very slender, but not verybeautifulhuman if not for his eyes and ears. In a society of refined elegance and beauty he had been as close to an outcast as his high birth and undoubted abilities allowed. It had left him bitter and a cynic, yet duty compelled him to aid his brother as well as he could.
Teclis was probably the most powerful mage the light side of the Warhammer World knew and he was assessing a unit nearly devoid of magic as his target. It should be easy, but long experience hadtaughtTeclis that few things were as easy as they should be on a battlefield. Slumping in the saddle he closed his eyes to look at the enemy with other senses. There were indeed few mages there, a Witch and maybe some helpers. The Witch read strange, a bit like seeing something a little vague through heat waves-she was probably shielding her identity. That would not matter too much, even when most Asurian mages were still out he was more than capable of taking care of them.
Opening his eyes again he saw that he should act soon-the Dragon Princes were getting ready for the charge. Morvael had been sure he needed no such help as he was no longer attacking a fixed position but given the recent battles Tyrion and Teclis had decided that saving lives was more important than saving ego. It was bad enough that Tyrion had to allow for a daylight attack, yet the Dragon Prices might have attacked on their own if he had insisted on it. Cavalry does not attack at night and the Caledor nobles wanted to avenge their dead by piling up more of them.

Well a test then-changing into his warpsight again Teclis choose a spell that would deny the Winds of Magic from the Druchii witch. He could see the currents of the warp move as he wished-and then the carefully arranged pattern of forces unraveled like a line of knitting on which the loose end was pulled . Ok, not such an easy opponent then.
The next attempt was more direct-an arrow of pure energy that would take out the Witch and some of the mercenary commanders. He doubted that there were ten mages in this world who could cast this spell at such a distance and it took a lot out of him. It formed well enough and went for a third of the distance before it simply left the physical plane and went directly into the warp where it had come from. Now that was unexpected, yet he was pretty sure it had been countered with a Scroll of Warding. She could only have a few of those and he was pretty sure he now had the measure of her. Time to show that hag who really understood magic.
He started to “stack” up spells in his mind, recalling the words of power from a perfect memory. Behind three spells that should tax her he packed one that would take her out of play-and one that would keep the mercenaries from fighting properly. And none too soon it seemed-the Witch was no longer moving and the shadows put into the warp by the Druchii and their German allies no longer shifted position much-they were probably shaking themselves out into fighting formation.

“Push you morons-you want to be caught dawdling about when the bloody horse buggerers come or you want to shoot them?” Lurhel Blackheart had to do his own cussing these days as Hardass Areta was away on some kind of hush-hush mission. Funny-two weeks or so ago he would have gladly killed her if he could have gotten away with it, now he would be reassured when she would have been here.. Could not be helped though. His crew managed to be the first at its post in the middle of the triple line of marksdruchii who faced the enemy directly, the crew of the second machine gun was a couple of meters to his right, and to his secret delight behind.
The corners of the square were the most important and received the German machine guns. Weapons of nearly mythical power they were able to shoot at least 3 times as fast as even his crack team managed from a gun which weighted less than a tenth of his. He had always been envious of the Germans manning them, yet now he was nearly relieved that so much responsibility was resting on other shoulders.
Some of the Auxilia`s sappers tried to improve the line in front of them, but Lurhel doubted that they could do much in such a short time. In front of the Auxilia it was obvious that the decadent cousins were getting it up.

Horns pealed, fragments of speech and acclamations could be heard over the distance, while the Auxilia waited. Lurhel was by now good at not turning the head, but the lightshow behind was even too much to ignore for him. He swiveled his head back in a second, but the picture of many wraiths and other less identifiable things that assaulted the Auxilia`s Witch was one he would not forget soon. They did not seem to actually harm her but would distract anybody from what she was doing. This could not be well. He was looking in the right direction again-towards the enemy, when he felt something crawl up his leg. He looked down to find that the vines and grass on the ground had formed limbs that moved around his legs, rooting them to the spot and crawling upwards on his body to do even more harm. The curses and shouts from all sides showed him that he was not alone in his plight.
On the other side of the field the charge took off. At the moment the horses were just cantering-even the elven horses would tire if they tried the full distance at a gallop. But even so the distance grew shorter with terrible swiftness, making it possible to see the long lances, the sword and maces in great detail without the ability to do anything about it.
And to the flanks of the accelerating cavalry archers made their way forward. If these came in range things would get very ugly very fast.

Wolfgang Böhler had seen his Auxilia in dire straits before, but this was worse than anything he had faced before. Still he had to do his best, this was what he owed the troops that he had raised and trained.
“Richter, get the reserves to cut the machine gunners free. Post a line 10 meters behind the first one. And somebody find me that bloody mage that does this to us. Manfred, contact Malus Darkblade and ask him for reinforcements
The former sniper could see what was to happen in his mind`s eye. Saw the much reduced fire that would not stop the charging Dragon Princes, saw the archers that would launch volley after volley on his troops in open ground-he sawthe downfall of his troops.
He saw his wireless operator who shrugged with his shoulders in getting no reply and he saw his Witch Hellebane who stabbed her hands at the wraiths around her and shrieked something his mind refused to parse. And then he saw even more.
When commanding officers come under great pressure they sometimes lapse into roles they had long ago and concentrate on very small parts of the battle instead of the great whole. Wolfgang Böhler stopped commanding, stood up in the saddle and took up his Mauser rifle. He aimed for five eternal seconds before pulling the trigger.

One second Lurhel had fought the vines that slowed him, the very next they dropped and left him, which meant that he promptly dropped on his ass. He sprung up like stung and went to his gun again and came up just in time.
“Target Cavalry 400 meters-fire”
It was just the moment when the cavalry went from the canter to the gallop, when the archers had just a few more meters to go and everything was packed into a few hundred meters that could be used between the two forests on the sides. Into this packed mass several hundred rifles and six machine guns fire. At this range it was possible to miss-and then usually to hit somebody else. The well-trained Druchii managed to fire their rifles 12 times a minute in an emergency-and this certainly qualified. The machine guns were cementing their bad reputation in Ulthuan when they sent salvo after salvo into the charging Asur, killing dozens in seconds.
For Blackheart and his crew only their field of fire counted, barely 30 meters broad when they could fire again. By now the charging horses and their riders could be so clearly seen, their voices heard and their willingness to kill all of them mercilessly felt. And yet they did what had been drilled into them countless times. Lurhel swiveled the machine gun when he turned the crank, distributing death without discrimination. Iliasses replaced the magazine plates with a speed that exceeded anything he had displayed before. The rounds that sped downrange hurt the enemy terribly. The armor worn by the Dragon Princes was not proof against the fast bronze projectiles and deformed from the initial impact the bullets ripped hideous wounds. The Asurian horses took the hits even worse and their screams of pain would normally warm a Druchii heart.

And all of that seemed to make no difference at all. Horses and men fell, riders slumped in their saddles screams of pain mixed with battle cries-and the Dragon Princes still charged. With every meter they came closer the fire became more effective-and still they charged. Their hate for anything Druchii, their need to avenge their fallen and the need to prove their place as a decisive force combined to make the cavalry immune to the losses they incurred. Blackheart saw from the corners of his eyes that the riflemen in the first line to his left and right stopped shooting and put their rifles butts against the ground and their boots, the tips of their bayonets upwards and outwards. Any normal cavalry would be stopped by that, their horses would not run into a hedge of sharpness. Yet the long lances worn by the Asur considerably outranged the bayonets-this was going to end badly.
The cavalry was so close that he could see everything-the wide open eyes, the delicate scrollwork on their armor, the pointed tips of the spears-and then the world went mad. The small boxes the sappers had left in front of the Auxilia`s lines exploded with a nasty firecracker sound and the first lines of Dragon Prices went down as if somebody had cut their strings at once. The resulting pileup was the target for several hundred enthusiastic shooters including his machine gun and the survivors parted in front and rode by the sides of the square, getting shot all the time.
He felt the hand of his platoon leader on his shoulder “Target the archers-now.”
Shifting aim to the blocks of infantry that tried to close the range he saw the instant-poplar shapes of mortar impacts that started appearing among the Asur. Lurhel started to believe that he would live another day.

Teclis still pressed the bandage against what was left of his left ear and could only helplessly watch the cavalry pass the mercenaries formation, bleeding bodies all the time. Watch them retreat into the woods to the sides of the battlefield so not to be killed by the so few and so deadly Druchii and watched those who came too close to Malus Darkblades forces not being engaged. At least the Druchii General was holding up his part of the bargain.
He had the time to marvel at his close brush with death before he realized that he would be even uglier than before and even more jokes would be cracked at his expense.

Close to Neustadt, Naggaroth, pre-dawn, Markttag 29. Vorhexen

Silvar Bloodcrest would have liked to see his target, yet the whirling snow cut off all vision. He was on the reverse slope of one of the hills that ringed Neustadt which lay dark and cold below him. He knew from the last days that even without the snow it would be hard to see the German fastness which seemed to be mostly underground. Only the few blockhouses would be visible and the strands of barbed wire, but even to his fine true Elven eyes they would be visible best for the dead which were entangled in them.

The swirling snow reminded him of the beginnings of the disaster that had befallen him. He could still not move his right armwell, despite the healing magic and the bandages. His shying horse had saved him when the shot burned itself into his limb and in the confusion of the first seconds he had been carried a few meters from the fighting. Some bullets had cracked uncomfortably close to his head, yet when he had regained control of his horse the Germans had already retreated and the groups had not met again. His troops had tried to force their way into the Germans settlement only to be greeted by the devastating fire from several machine guns. After two failed assaults things had settled into an uneasy siege, yet both sides knew this could not last.
Silvar Bloodcrest was well aware that Malekith did not tolerate failure and his attempt to disarm the Germans on his own recognizance would count against him too. There was one way to save at least something from this fracas and even that was not sure to work, neither with the Germans nor Malekith. But not trying would mean that he would best fall on his own sword as a quick death was preferable to any other outcome he could imagine in case of more disaster.

He went back to the big tent that had been erected at the foot of the hill. The sounds and smells that emanated from the tent grated even on his hardened senses, yet his only hope for survival dwelled within. Inside a number of barely clad hags tended a huge cauldron that contained the remains of some of his best followers. They had been tortured to death in ways that even Silvar found hard to stomach but that supposedly pleased Khaine. Sirhar was the head of the Witch Coven of the Pierced Heart and Silvar had promised her far more than he could really afford for what she was about to attempt.
What she did should normally be a quite straightforward spell that the Druchii used regularly against their enemies. Yet at this range and against a target that could not be seen it needed far greater resources than otherwise. Even so it would not work against a target with even the most basic of magical defenses, but the Germans lacked this at present. The Witch was normally the ideal of Dark Elven beauty, slender, deadly and able to inflame the lust in any male she chose to. Yet at present she was so covered with blood and other substances that she resembled a skinned sacrifice ratherthan a powerful mage.
She was mouthing words of power while putting both of her arms into the boiling mass of blood and meat, screaming in joy of the pain. It did not take her long to come to a complete stop and freeze into a stance that combined great pain with a predators smile.
Silvar did not need to ask, he knew that Sirhar had been successful and ran to his troops as fast as the slippery ground would allow him.

About an hour later he dared to hope that all the expenditure and risk had been worth it. Nobody had shot him when he neared the German blockhouses, nobody had provided real resistance when his warriors broke down the entrances. He made his way down the corridors and saw the Germans and their slaves contorted in various positions of cramps, moaning with pain. Sirhar`sspell was working as she had claimed, the pain overwhelmed the bodies of the affected and now Silvar could lead the subdued Germans to Malekith as ordered. This would still end well.
He was feeling lightheaded with relief when he entered another room, this one a bit bigger than the rest he had seen. It contained a big table and many mismatched chairs but only one inhabitant.

The bald, slim leader of the Germans was barely holding himself upright on his seat. Silvar was impressed, only the most strong willed could perform even the simplest acts when under the influence of the spell. Why this Claus, Son of Tolles used his willpower to hold up a hand above a box Silvar had no time to puzzle out in his last seconds.
The voice he heard was under great strain and barely above a whisper.
“You are welcome to..nothing, asshole” . The hand dropped and then there was nothing any more.
The Black Company had always known that they had made their camp among the wolves. They knew very well that it would be a really bad idea to be captured by their employers and had ensured that it would not happen easily.
When Claus Tolles` hand touched the switch a current ran to several charges that were distributed under the German bunkers. Upwards of 5 tons of the best explosives that Manfred Hartig could cook up detonated, blasting the mercenaries to bits together with their would-be captors.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2016-01-18 08:02am

Nagarythe, Ulthuan, at night, 30. Brunntag

Herleas Kultur slithered forward on the cold muddy ground. He ignored the wet cold that seeped through his clothes and the mud that had found its way through several openings of his garment. It was easy given the fact that he had to control every sound he made if he wanted to continue breathing. Pausing his crawl at random times in order to listen better he heard very little -and that was more alarming than at least some voices. The cold, wet and still air conducted sound very well yet still he could hear far too few of the sounds that an army camp even at night produced. Even from here, hundreds of meters away, he could see the few fires, the tents that were lit by them and a couple of lone figures lit by them. But there were too few whispered conversations , too few curses of soldiers who stumbled in the mud on the way to the privy and not enough clamor from the workshops where the artisans would make good on the wear and tear of the last days.
Herleas was pretty sure that the enemy was so quiet as he lay in wait for exactly what he and his fellow Asur were about to do-he would just have to be better at sneaking than they at guarding. Given that Herleas had survived for more than two hundred years in a school where the reward for good sneaking skills was continued respirations he had few doubts about who was better at what. Judging the distance to be about right he pulled another stake from his belt and pushed it into the soft round. Tied to the stake was a dirty-white bandage that would allow his “civilized” brethren to find their way in the dark if they managed to follow the lines of stakes he and his fellow Shadow Warriors were planting in rows like breadcrumbs. The last stake was 200 meters from the enemy lines and this was where the game became interesting.

He now would have to sneak up close to the enemy camp, ignite a strip of cloth and throw the earthenware jug full of oil far enough into Druchii lines that the elven archers would have something to aim for. A few full salvos of good Asurian arrows, the sudden appearance of his Shadow Warriors in their midst and finally the assault of all Spear Carriers and dismounted Dragon Princes that Tyrion could muster-that should do the trick if nothing else would. A good plan-if nothing went wrong. In Herleas' experience something always went wrong and then all the experience, training and hate of the warriors would show the mettle of the combatants.
Herleas took the next hour to crawl a little more than a hundred meters forward. More than once he cringed when he could hear some clumsy fool behind him make more noise than a brass band, at least to the heightened senses of a Shadow Warrior. It was funny that these days a lot of Asur looked tothe Shadow Warrior way of conducting war when usually everybody else saw them as poor relations. But usually you did not get your head shot off when you appeared nearly a kilometer from your enemies, so not being seen had acquired increased value.

He was still mentally sniggering when the ground in front of him gave way and pulled him forwards and downwards in a mini-avalanche. He did not swear loudly, but turned on his back with commendable speed and waited for the blow that would kill him-and waited some more. Nothing. He found himself in one of the trenches that the mercenaries liked to dig wherever they made camp to protect themselves from the archers and it was empty. He crawled around in it for a while before nearly bumping into one of his fellow Shadow Warriors. He had not encountered anybody either and a suspicion emerged in Herleas` mind. He was far too clever to act on it immediately and so he and his fellow warriors did their level best to sneak into the enemy`s camp. As he had thought more than an hour ago it was empty. The few tents held no sleeping Druchii, the few fires had been carefully built to burn slow and long and the figures around them were just a few spare clothes, pieces of armor and a helmet held up by handy pieces of wood
The mercenaries were gone.

Camp “Heide”, close to Lüneburg, same time

Sleenek could not sleep again, the same as many nights previously. There were few ways he could give his body a decent workout and he missed the sound of many Skaven around him. The Germans had promised to put him back into a camp where the Skaven could meet freely within its confines, provided that he could keep his cool for a few more months around them and his fellow Prisoners of War.
He had few memories of the terrible weeks after something had happened. Whatever had hit him, it had robbed him of most of his mental faculties. His minders told him that he had been without speech-and probably without much intelligence for at least a month and from the way they had spoken to him he had been barely above the level of a Giant Rat-and a bloodthirsty Giant Rat that had killed several Germans at that. Then, on the same day the Germans claimed to have banished the Horned Rat he had fallen into a coma they said, only to awake a week later and making a slow recovery ever since.

He now faced numerous hardships. He could meet his fellow Skaven only for a few hours each day and then under heavy guard, but the rest of his days he spent alone. The boredom was bad enough, but even worse was the emptiness that he felt inside. From his conversation with his fellow prisoners he knew that they felt the same, the feeling that that something had been taken from them thatthey had never known it was a part of them before. Whatever had been taken from them, it had left a hole in their minds that was always there and that could not be ignored. Like a tongue might probe countless times for the tooth that was no longer there so their minds went back to the feeling that no longer was and missed what they had never felt before they lost it. Like most Skaven he had talked to, Sleenek suspected that “it” was the presence of the Horned Rat that was no more. Sleenek was pretty sure that if he were engaged inthe day to day struggle that Skaven life consisted of normally he would be less affected, but currently that was not to be.
But one of the German minders had tried something new with his charges and to nearly everybody`s surprise it worked and had started to fill the gap. Knowing that sleep would not come if he did not do something Sleenek turned on his mattress till he faced the wall on his knees and folded his paws into each other.

Closing his eyes against the ever-present light he started to recite the words he had been taught.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Nagarythe, Ulthuan, Markttag 31. Vorhexen, Morning

The sky was full of grey clouds that chased one another at great speed and the light did no favors to the sparse vegetation that barely emerged through the snow that had finally hit this part of Ulthuan. Malus Darkblade had no eye for it, he was far more interested in the orderly rows and blocks of true Elven Warriors who had stood ready since dawn to await an uncertain fate.
Patting his Cold One, Spite, on its muscular neck to calm it down he was far more interested in the army that was on the other side of the depression that until a few hours ago had contained his German-tainted mercenaries. They were gone and had left only the skeleton of a camp that had been sufficient to fool him and probably the Asur during the hours of darkness. On the other hand the Asur must have marched in the night to be here so soon-did they know something about the traitors that he did not?

And yet the Auxilia was not to be seen in the ranks of the enemy-thank Khaine for small favors, as then things would have been dicey indeed. The way things stood now the Asurian army was smaller than his own by a bit, yet not small enough to make any battle a foregone conclusion. Malus might have thought the High Elves effeminate and soft before, but the months in the trenches in front of the Dragon Gate had taught him otherwise. Any victory would be hard-fought and costly and the victor would probably be left with the ghost of his army. Malus knew that he was no slouch when it came to commanding armies, yet Tyrion was probably playing in a different level. And yet exactly as Tyrion was a good general he did not attack, he had seen the same things than Malus had seen.
He positioned his troops to charge-while the Druchii kept formations to receive it-and yet nothing happened.

And nothing would happen for the next two hours. The armies watched each other to make the first move and did not. Malus was contemplating attacking to break the sheer boredom of it when the great Ulthuan army started to leave formation. Instead of charging forward into the fields of fire Malus had prepared, they started to counter march and then to use a path that led into the wilderness. Malus was sorely tempted to attack them when they were out of formation, but the distance was too great and the Asur would have reformed. They could chase that blasted Auxilia instead, if they kept to form they would cut that army down to size before they went under. And they had given Malus Darkblade one last service-their treason gave him one more excuse that Malekith might accept-or not.

More than 20 kilometers away Wolfgang Böhler hoped that his behind would reach the desired level of numbness soon, cared far more for a sure grip on his binox that he used to look at the way they had taken during most hours of the night and the morning. So far he could see nothing and started to believe that the Auxilia might make it. He had another look at the trio that marched close to his place in the column and could not fully suppress a smile. A Black Dragon looks downright stupid when it moves long distances on foot and here Hartmut Klawitter had somehow managed to talk his Dragon Rider to join them in their march from the fighting.
Adry chuckle close to him reminded the sniper of his other responsibilities. Turning to the seemingly frail mage he pulled the closest thing to a salute he had performed in quite some time.
“Good job Specialist Hellebane. I have heard about such things before, but always only for small units, not a regiment.”
“Ah, old age and treachery will beat youth and beauty every time General Böhler-as you should well know.”

Beach, Saratosa, roughly same time

The couple walking down the beach was a handsome one. A man who sported the slim muscles left by long aerobic exercises, brown hair that tried to outgrow a buzzcut and even features walked arm-in-arm with a beautiful redheaded woman who`s rugged outdoor clothes could not hide a nice figure. They did not speak for a long time, being at peace and taking in a breathtaking nature. The long sandy beach that stretched in front of them gave way to a hinterland that was hilly, arid and full of small bushes and trees. In the background a set of mountains topped all of that off.
The pair put a towel and some snacks at a likely spot and sat down for a small picnic, which they consumed in amicable silence.

“You know that this is nearly the perfect finish for this leave Joakim?”
“And why is that love-I could stay here nearly forever.”
“Ah, come on. Three weeks is quite nice for a camping trip, but sooner or later I would like to visit a good restaurant or watch TV-not to speak of being connected to the net more than once a week. Don`t get me wrong, this was a perfect trip and I enjoyed it immensely, but everything has its time.”
“You are right Sophie. And I have to get back into the saddle-any longer and I go stale.”
“Didn`t feel like it last night. But I know what you mean.”
“Well, for me it is more training and rebuilding the unit. So what will you do?”
“Actually when we are back I will write a piece about this island. I mean we got here because you called in some favors-but wouldn`t this place be great for tourists? Great Landscape, really nice beaches and we do not tread on the feet of any locals. And ever since the Princes decided that it would be best if Saratosa remains German no problem with local laws and law enforcement. Once they build up some infrastructure here it would be perfect.”
“Hm, you might have something there.”

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