An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-19 04:40am

Quarry, Great Forrest, two hours later

It would have been good to say that Major Brenneke looked better, but that would have been a lie. While the siege of the quarry had taken away some paperwork it had left him with plenty to worry about-have an overview of the fight, husbanding his resources and trying to give confidence to citizens playing soldiers.
The only thing he did not do was fighting himself and he was sure that things would be very much down the drain when he had to do that. He sat in the dispatchers office which overlooked the small switchyard which took a part of the quarry`s cast and who`s view and comprehensive set of communications made it into a good command post.
He had endured another harangue by Uli Hemnir who asked him for more shells for his guns-that he had been told about 20 times already that he had to make do with the 30 shells per gun still left but still tried and seemed to take the lack as an personal affront. If the dwarf had not dispatched the giants so ably the Major would have told the artillerydwarf to fuck off but so he endured it took it like all the other unending tasks he had to tackle.

He was looking outside into the yard to get his concentration back so he was the first to spot it: The floor of the quarry suddenly broke down in a circle of at least 5 meters in a cloud of dust. He was still taking the sight in when for-clad figures emerged screaming from the hole and started to run in all directions, just to be followed by more of them-they had a breach inside the perimeter.
Hammering his hand on the switch for the klaxons he picked up the microphone to contact the various ready forces he had held back for such a case, even if he had not expected it in this place.
His first priority had to be getting that hole filled-but fortunately he had just the tool for that.

Uli Hemnir could feel that the Universe did not like him-sometimes he was more convinced than usual. The sight of a group of Clanrats and Beastmen advancing on his position did a very good convincing indeed.
“Stonebreakers-get this gun turned right now. Loader load …. LOADER…Uli looked disgusted at the figure running towards the gun with his fly open. Pulling the breech of the gun open he pushed the shell inside with a flourish. Jumping out of the recoil path he pulled the lanyard and the gun went into action. When the unlucky loader had reached the gun they were already down to shooting canister-a round they still had comparatively plenty of.
The round converted the 105 mm gun into a giant shotgun and the approaching enemies into hamburger. A couple of rounds like that stopped the enemy who lacked the will to advance but were not yet retreating. By that time a unit of riflemen had reached the artillerymen and were pouring their fire into the approaching beasts . Currently they could hold the enemy but they should not become more.

Lurgle led his unit of Clanrats to the surface at the heels of another units comprised mostly of Gors. The stupid beastmen seemed to be happy to get to the surface again-did they not know that this was the place where danger was?
When he emerged into the light he had to look around to get his bearings and to adjust his eyes to the bright light. He was to lead his unit to places where the humans stored their marvelous machines-not so much to fight the humans, the stupid Children of Chaos could die doing that-but to secure these machines.
The new humans had mighty machines-how powerful could they be when they were properly reconstructed with warpstone?
His eyes had finally adjusted to the light when he saw something he could not understand. The humans had something like a small fortress on the floor of the quarry-many meters high and broad it featured several fighting posts from which humans shot at everything in sight. It was made from orange metal and seemed impervious to the arrows and few Jezzail shots which connected with it. What Lurgle could not get his mind around was that the fortress was moving-and moving bloody fast. How could that be, especially when he could see nothing that moved the giant wheels that pushed the fortress in his direction.
He was not even aware of the panic scent that he sprayed all over his rats or the fact that they ran back into the hole as fast as they could, just to be killed as cowards. He knew nothing but the sight of the wheels which went bigger and bigger till they blocked the light and then there was nothing to be seen by him ever again.

The driver of the Liebherr 264 Truck was grinning like a madmen while he tried to drive his truck over as many Skaven and beastmen as he could while closing with his target. His truck was nearly empty save for some riflemen, some armor plate jury-welded round his cabin and the firing posts and some rifles plus a machine gun.
So his truck “just” weighted 270 tons and the nearly 4000 horsepower engine could accelerate the truck with a better rate than usual. The wheels of the truck were double the height of the biggest beastman he so far encountered and their robust construction had no problems with rolling over armor, weapons and limbs.
Now this was life-this was fun-at least while it lasted.
To the right of his cabin was normally a walkway which connected his cabin to a flight of stairs which led from the ground to his cockpit 6 meters above ground. Now the walkway was a parapet which housed a machine gun and some riflemen who shot everything in front of his truck enthusiastically.
He stopped in front of the tunnel exit which had so suddenly opened up in the quarry so that the machine gun besides the drivers cabin could shoot directly into the milling mass of nonhumans. Behind him some bulldozer followed-they would stop this nonsense soon.

The figures did not run over the battlefield-they flowed with such effortless elegance that he seemed to fly very close to the ground. Magic, experience and training made the attention of his enemies slip off him like rain never struck on his greased fur. Holding poisoned daggers in their right hands and a ball of glass filled with sickly green contents in the other they moved unnoticed towards their targets.
The small wooden tower in the middle was an obvious target. The two guards at the besides the door saw the Skaven too late-one of them died immediately with a dagger to his chest, the other one punched the buttstock of his rifle into the snout of the nearest assailant. The pick of the dagger in his neck was the last thing he ever felt. Both Skaven went up the stairs inside the tower, one of them bleeding profusely through its ruined fangs.
They went into an empty room with glass to all sides. Still searching for an enemy their legs were pulled out from under them by an impossibly fast series of shots coming from under a desk, a directing they would have not expected danger to come from. Lying on the ground they could only wait for a middle-aged tired looking human get up behind the desk which he had hidden behind walking to them. He dispatched both with a headshot but then had to run like hell when green mists filled the dispatcher’s office.

The small building was at the wall of the quarry and close to the gates. Sliding along the wall without making any sound he finally got into range of the lone human watching the entrance. As the stupid human was far more interested in the battle around the tunnel he never saw the Skaven assassin that pulled his dagger through his throat.
Supremely uninterested in the dying spasms he managed to jimmy the lock to the small building. He was just inside when he saw a flash and a burning of his chest. Throwing his dagger into the humans face he drove forward and ripped his claws into the enemy`s eyes. Feeling his life running out with each pulse of his heart he looked around for a last thing to do.
With shaking hands he polled all the levers he could see and pushed all the buttons without avail-he could see nothing happening. He slipped into a short coconsciousness from which he would never awake when his paw slipped a lever he had already tried a second time.
He never heard the claxon nor saw the gigantic gate slowly open. He managed to burst the glass bowl so that poisonous fumes filled the gate house, denying any attempt to close the gate in time.

Armed forced Command Center, Geltow near Potsdam

General Fritz listened to the mangled recording of a wireless call again, but it made no more sense than before.
“Train Hammer, unless …….quarry immediately ……danger ….destroyed. ….sufficient forces….railhead”
“Can you improve on that?”
“Sorry, but no sir. So close to the storm all wireless communication can be badly disturbed. It seems they are under attack”
“Yes, that is obvious. What is that buzzing noise that mangles commo so much?”
“No Idea Sir”
"Did you have any further calls from the Train?"
"None, Sir"

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-20 09:11am

Quarry, same time

Heinz Albers mouth was dry, the rest of his body felt numb. He had already been alarmed by the furred nightmare which so suddenly emerged in the middle of the Quarry, but this had been far away. The big Liebherr Truck had it in hand well enough-until the klaxons sounded, the Gate moved and his world came to an end.
After having killed so many beastmen it came as a rude surprise that there were still so many of them left. The covered the ground between the forest and the gate with a brown, furry screaming and advancing carpet of hate. All of these abominations wanted to kill him and every human inside the quarry and a cruel fate had taken away their protection.
Like a lot of “citizen soldiers” – aka militia, Landwehr or however you call them are quite good at manning fixed defenses-but take them away and change the tactical situation suddenly and they shatter like glass dropped on a granite floor.

Heinz Albers saw a screaming mass of beastmen coming his way and he was absolutely helpless to formulate an adequate tactic against that. That so many men depended on him just made the fugue which had overcome him all the more horrible.
His men were still shooting the beastmen for all they were worth , but this time the beastmen did not run at the walls to storm them but at the Gates which shielded them from at least some of the Germans wrath. The screamers also had made an appearance so that the quadmounts could not be employed against them but had to shield his men from aerial attack.
He was sure that they would kill another big load of beastmen-and their survivors would attack their rear along the big earthen ramparts that lead to the redoubts. And he had precisely zero idea how to prevent this-and that kept him from doing anything sensible.
On top of all the madness and screaming the Sigmarite priest was making the rounds, brandishing his hammer for all to see and asking for Sigmar`s aid I the coming battle-very helpful for sure.

The Liebherr Truck driver had missed the buzzing of his wireless twice because of the fighting, but when the red light caught his eye he picked up the micro.
“Tiny Toy here-what can I do”
“Tiny Toy, here is the skipper-how is the situation at the hole?”
“Wait one Skipper” He watched with interest when a bulldozer pushed a big box over the rim of the tunnels exit. The explosion which followed a few seconds later threw soil, bodies and less identifiable pieces in a column out of the hole-and when it settled the tunnel ceased to be.
“Situation satisfactory Skipper”
“Very well. Pick me and some people up at the dispatcher`s tower-and be quick about it.”
“Understood Skipper”
Putting the pedal to the metal the driver accelerated the huge truck for all what it was worth-in this situation it seemed as slow as a sloth.
Still it was not difficult to meet Major Brennecke at the base of the tower. He was inside his not-too-big cabin in a flash.

“ Drive to the entrance-we have to get the gate closed before those beasties are in”
“I`ll do my best Major”
“Just do it”
The trucks huge diesel engine transmitted its power to the 4 electro motors in the trucks wheels and emitted a black cloud from the exhaust from the strain. Still the truck barely made 60 kilometers per hour and took an eternity too reach even this much. Bumbling along the quarry`s ground the crew could only hope they would reach the open Gate in time to do something about it.
They were about 700 meters when the first Beastmen went through the open Gates. They were just the precursors of a brown flood that threatened to kill everything they held dear. The driver was not sure what to do-holding course seemed like suicide but he had no order for anything else.
“Fuck this – we will never be able to shoot our way inside the gatehouse. Driver-right turn. Make for the rear rampart to the redoubts”
“Yes Sir. Sir-what will we do there?”
“The best we can-the best we can”

Heinz Albers found that he watched the movements of the Sigmarites Warhammer like a hypnotized rabbit, following its up and down movements and the chanting with incomprehension. He had nearly accepted that he would not be able to stem the tide-who could do better-and die. He was so far gone that he did not eve wonder why the hammers head began to glow-and why the light around him changed.
What he did realize was that an icy calm went through his head and that he started screaming orders like he should have been doing for some time.
He could not prevent the Beastmen gaining the floor of the Quarry and the railroad depot-but he could defend the redoubts for all that it would be worth.
“Lieutenant Teut, take your men to the rampart, form a line and shoot all beasties that want to come up. Take one troop and help the rummskoeppe up here. Wireless-give me Captain Leibnitz, we have to coordinate-any try to get Major Brennecke on the horn-pronto”
He watched the lieutenant take is platoon against the ramp and form a line definitely not out of the Bundeswehr manual-two men deep, shoulder to shoulder with two machine guns at their flanks they maximized firepower but would be slaughtered by any ranged fire.As the beastmen had nothing like that it was a workable tactic. Shooting at a terrible clip they managed to slow the beastmen long enough for the 4 guns to reach the top of the redoubts. The first of them was pushed by a dwarven crew led by an angry Lt. Hemnir. “Thanks for nothing human. If you would have been quicker we might have some more rounds left”
Heinz Albers was busy with pulling his men together and talking to his Major to take nay not of that, but he could hardy not see the mass of beastmen that filled the floor of the quarry and the depot. Sigmar help anybody still cought there.
His breath caught when he remembered the refugees and the wounded in the cave-they were defenseless before the Chaos Children’s wrath-and he could do nothing.The huge Gor was as ugly as any of his kind could be. With 3 Horns of different sizes and styles, limbs that would look in place on a goat if they would not be so huge and covered with muscle and clad in rusty bits of armor over his fur. He was at the point of a group of beastmen who shirked the heat of the main battle and were looking for easier pickings elsewhere.
When they probed the entrance of the cave their sensitive noses told them a tale of sweaty panic, bloody injury and desperation-just what they were looking for.When the Gor rounded the next bend he saw a blonde human stepped in his way. His brain was still processing the information when the humans hammer connected with his ribcage. Armor or no-in less than a heartbeat the ribs from the right side of his chest were about 10 cm distant from those of the left and all the organs between them were reduced to mush.

Luthor Hus had regaled Valten often enough about Sigmars battles, most of them in the company of worthy heroes of noble lineage and renown who fought battles which were about earth-shattering causes.
Currently he was fighting besides a German railroad dispatcher with a paunch and no lower legs who was lying prone at his feet and was banging away with a rifle at his targets. An Imperial carpenter with no right hand was pulling him back when necessary. The shooter left a trail of blood whenever that happened but never stopped shooting.
Another Carpenter that had visited his colleague in his off-duty hours was swinging a fire axe at beastmen 3 times his weight as he had never shown that he could handle a rifle safely.
Two nurses were bringing ammunition forward and tried to pull back the wounded before the beastmen got them. They had no armor, no weapons, white clothes that made them stand out and more bravery than any man Valten had ever met.

The Tunnel into the cavern they defended was so tight for the next 50 meters or so that two or three fighters could fight at the same time-not more.
There were others but the fight was far too hot for Valten ever to notice them. He was fighting with the sons of men of no account who never wanted to be great warriors.
He fought to give refugees that no government he knew gave any thought about one or two hours of additional fear filled life.
He was sure to die fighting the endless wave of beasts that attacked whenever they managed to scale the heaps of the dead in their way-and he did not care.
He could not imagine fighting and dying in better company or for a better cause.

Lager Middenheim, same time

Lieutenant Alpers had seen the landing of the Transall with a mixture of relief and foreboding. He was highly relieved that somebody else would take the mantle of leadership-he had borne it without adequate training and experience for too long already.
He was dreading that whoever took the lead of the Lager would not find it necessary to give Castle Wolfenfels the same support he had tried to give-and then what?
The Transall that rolled from the landing field to the hangar was strange. Both sides sported a black-and-white checkerboard pattern and the front under the cockpit sported painted flames.
There was a cartoonish dragon painted behind the cockpit and the name “Drache 1” painted under it. He saluted the Captain who stepped off the plane. ”Lieutenant Alpers at your service Sir. Welcome to Lager Middenheim, such as it is. How can I be of assistance?”
“Good afternoon Lieutenant Alpers, I am Captain Bartels. Currently I need the fuel for this beasty here and an update about the situation. After that I need you as a spotter-lead the way Lieutenant”
Lieutenant Alpers was more confused than before but did his best to hide it.

Cave in the Great Forest, same time

The entrance into the caves that so much of the fighting and dying were all about did not look like much to Oberst Stein through the binox-just an opening in a hillside with most of it hidden by vines which clung tenaciously to the otherwise sheer cliffs. The rocky ground around the hill prevented any huge trees from rooting too close so an open space allowed the officer to gather information.
Between him and that cliff were about 400 meters and far too many Children of Chaos. For once not hidden from sight until the last moment they seemed unaware of the human combat group that had assembled at the forest edge.
The infantry was already setting up fields of fire and planned the assault but were still waiting for the hate. The hate-this was the name given by the veterans of the First World War given to the endless barrages of artillery which maimed and killed so many of them.
Unlike them the beastmen did not have the wisdom to dig shelters or to seek cover when the noise like a freight train pierced even this tortured sky. They just looked up in wonder when dozens of 50+ kilogram Shells detonated barely above them and beat bloody circles with fragments and overpressure.
They did not do anything until the thousands upon thousands of lethal bomblets of another MLRS salvo had finished it`s sadistic firecracker sound and killed untold numbers.
The few survivors started to run in many directions at once in full panic when the machine guns opened fire and cut them down like wheat.
The Infantry advanced carefully still- For all its fury, the artillery never gets them all. And the ones it does not get are the ones to look out for.

A company went forward in leaps and bounds, always making sure that they went under overwatch by unmoving shooters. They only found death and injury. Dispatching the few mobile wounded the most dangerous thing they encountered were a few unexploded bomblets.
Having settled this matter the humans began setting up a perimeter around the tunnels entrance so the tunnel fighters would only have to worry about the enemy in front of them.
Oberst Stein watched the Tunnels preparing themselves. They were quite a mixed bunch, with members being drawn from German armed forces, the Landwehr and the Magicians Academy. The Kaiserlich-deutsche Landwehr had their fair share of Dwarves who worked for the railroad. These were a natural pick for the Tunnelers and so the German officer saw Dwarves and humans armed with a mixture of shotguns, Assault rifles and even MG21 machine guns getting ready to fight underground. There were even more exotic pieces of hardware unloaded from the mules, among other things a number of drones.

He knew better, but as the perimeter seemed to be setting itself up well he found the time to kibitz over the shoulders of a drone operator. The tracked drone wasn`t much bigger than a children`s bobby car but was comparatively well armored and sported a MP7 for armament.
The small monitor showed the pictures gained by the unmanned vehicle as it went through the mouth of the cave. The first meters were unassuming tunnel in a straight line but then it widened into a natural cave. The drone showed numerous beastmen at the walls of the cave when two huge legs appeared in front of the camera. The camera did not have the angle to show the huge primitive axe which dashed its sensor head in so that the monitor only showed haze.
This was obviously not going to work-the Colonel had no choice to send the living fighters where the remote controlled ones had failed.

The Warp, same time…probably…possibly…who cares

The being had, of course all changed since (?) the last time this story had a glimpse at it and yet it was still the same. It sported totally new colors-and yet humans still lacked the words to describe them. He had new shapes, and still humans could only describe them in terms of wings and beaks and far too many eyes.
It had totally new plans and ideas-and still they were too complicated for any mortal to comprehend them.

Tzeench had indeed moved pebbles to see the shape the avalanche would take. Some pebbles had made nice landslides already; others were now useless objects at rest. It had followed many of the paths the future might take with interest-but now he concentrated only on one.
Before the desperate Shaman tried his quest for more knowledge and power no mage had been so much willing to give everything up-even himself-to get his goals met. His sacrifices unleashed more magical energy than anything else that had been done in this world for a long long time-and yet the energy he expended was the equivalent of a child which controlled a faucet-it just needed to turn the power to open or close the valve, the water brought its own vastly greater energy.

The power of the storm was given by the Changer of Ways-and he certainly did not provide it so that the Beastmen would not be threatened by German planes.
A new Chaos Gate in the Great Forest controlled by him-such interesting possibilities might be gotten from such a thing. All what needed to happen was that the Child needed to open the faucet a little further-but it would not.
The great Tzeench decided it was time to do something it usually abhorred-taking a more direct control. So inch by inch and second by second the Chaos God sent mental feelers into the remains of the hapless shaman.

Castle Wolfenfels, same time

Asul Hellebore, Blessed of Tzeench, Champion of Chaos looked at the remains of his last assault and despaired. This had been his last and best chance. The rare Hellbringer Cannon had been successfully employed in the face of the best the Germans and their imperial lackeys could do and had indeed cut a breech into the fortress walls.

He had released his best assault troops to take advantage of such a breech and by rights it should have brought victory. Bloody victory, victory at great cost and bought with casualties-but victory at last. Instead the assault had brought the casualties; it had brought the blood-but no victory but broken troops and a drop in morale and confidence. He would have to order another assault on the castle-there was no choice with the orders by Archaron himself-but whether they would be followed or would result in his death only was a very open question.
Still, it were better to get things going instead of leaving things to foster……..
Without any warning he found himself on the burning plain again, facing the same darkly armored figure that he so rightfully feared.

“Master Archaron, I….”
“Hush Asul, do not speak in the face of your betters”
The plain was the same, the figure was the same-the voice was not. Soft as velvet and smooth like oil on water it carried a menace that screaming never could.
“I see that despite all your promises you are still unable to fulfill my orders Asul”
“Did I not say do not speak Asul-yes I did”
Asuls avatar in the warp no longer had a mouth to scream-but ears to hear and a mind to fear.
“Asul, it is obvious that in your present state you are no use to me no matter how hard you try. Yet such arduous effort should be rewarded. Accept my gift, so that you can serve me better-or at all…”
If Asul would still have a mouth he would have screamed in protest and whined in frustration and fear. Like all Chaos mages the connection to the warp was a tenuous affair which eroded his sanity in leaps and bounds- if it were not kept in check with ever vigilant willower.
Getting gifts too soon or too big a gift would upset the carefully crafted balance and make him a gibbering fool at best-or an indescribable Chaos Spawn at worst.

Asul felt additional energies and capabilities thrust at him whether he wanted or not. Unable to block them he felt his mental reserves dwindle at uncanny speed-and then they were gone.
Then he did not only gain – but he also lost. He no longer had no mouth-he had far too many. He could move his limbs again-but there were more of them now and some of them he did not have a name for.
His eyes-his many many eyes could see everything now, in all directions at once and in many spectra-but his flayed mind could no longer consciously comprehend what he saw.

But most of all he gained mass-he grew and grew and with the growth came hunger-an insatiable hunger. A small corner of his mind realized that he was no longer in a small corner of the warp but what he once saw as the real world-but he could no longer make anything out of that knowledge.
The only reality he could parse now was the hunger and everything he did had to serve it.

The Cave, a little later

Felix Jäger had heard that the cavern in front of them was full of enemies and made himself ready for them as good as he could. Gripping his sword tighter and making sure that the armor he had was where it was supposed to be he tried to get his mind to the place where he would willingly run towards enemies who wanted to kill him and match skill, strength speed and luck with them for the right to live. It left him enough time to watch two Germans walk in front of the connecting tunnel. Both lifted strange tubes to their shoulders. In front of the tubes were conical objects he could not place at all. Before he could ask both soldiers fired their weapons. The report of them was muffled and quiet compared to some other weapons Felix had witnessed the last days. From the back end the tubes emitted a black cloud of strange flakes which settled quickly on the ground. From the cavern loud explosions could be heard which seemed to last longer than those he was used to.

After another small self-powered cart went forward in the cave and this time the Germans seemed more satisfied by its fate. Following other soldiers into the cavern he was amazed at the amount of dead beastmen-and the fact that most of them seemed physically unhurt but were very dead.
“What the hell happened here”
“Thermobaric warhead”
“Err, sorry” The Sergeant which was now accompanying the mages and other specials did not look genuinely sorry, not that Felix cared too much. “The two weapons we just shot in the cave, they contained a special metal powder. It was sprayed in a special pattern into the air before being ignited-it makes something like a cross between a slow explosion and a fast conflagration. It kills by shockwave mostly-and those where you cannot see any injury have no more lungs to speak of.”
“Nasty-better them than us. But if this is so great-why do you need us?”
“Works best under special circumstances. It will not…”

Whatever the German wanted to say was silenced by the screaming of more Children of Chaos who emerged from several side tunnels. Swirling blue tattoos and ritual scars showed them to be special-especially immune to pain and injury, especially willing to die if they could just kill one enemy….
Like so often the fight was too intense to gain any cohesive picture of it. Felix would later recall two dwarves who carried rifles which seemed to fire without any stop standing side by side and pouring endless rounds into the approaching beastmen. He remembered seeing a German being ripped to pieces by 3 huge Gors who were then consumed by a fireball from one of the imperial mages. He was at Groteks back hacking, stabbing and slashing at half-seen Ungors until a German inserted an assault rifle between them and shooting a full magazine into the beasts. He saw another dwarf hammer his empty shotgun into the snout of another beast while the beast pushed its claw deeper and deeper into the dwarf’s guts. He saw so much, could remember so few-and then it was over.

The tunnelers organized themselves-sending their few wounded back to the surface-spending a second over the far too many dead-and then pressed on.

Quarry, same time

Heinz Albers watched the next wave of beastmen run up the ramp to his redoubt. While the angle of the ramp made running up much easier it was a lot longer than the outer slopes-and the beasts were paying for every meter with blood and lives. The rifle fire of two companies plus the making gun salvoes from a heavy weapons platoon made sure that only a few beasts reached the flagellants who were the final barriers between the beastmen and the redoubts. Carefully placed marksmen shot the surviving beasts mostly before they could kill the flagellants.

Being shot at from the front and a side cost the beastmen ferocious casualties-but getting past the gates had given the Children of Chaos hope again and that hope made them hurl themselves against the defenders last lines with mindless abandon.
On the other ramp the Liebherr Truck was parked backwards and like a small fort made sure that the beasts had an even harder time getting up there.
“Last 10 rounds Captain”
“I am aware of that Lt. Hemnir, like the last 5 times you told me that. You have to make do”
So far the defenders could keep the assault at bay, but cut off from the ammo reserves in the caves it was just a question of time when the defenders would all have to fight hand-to-hand, and that could only have one ending.

The Captain was still looking for something to improve before the next wave when he heard the scream. Louder than practically anything he had heard before it was shrill, dissonant and unlike anything issued by a living being it told of bloody tidings. It took the German a few seconds to identify it-and a few more to believe his own senses.
The grin he started to sport would have frightened off any beastmen close enough to see it.

Castle Wolfenfels, same time

“What the hell is that thing”
Sergeant Blascoviks needed no binoculars to see the thing that had emerged from the Chaos camp. Having more colors than an oil spill on water and shifting shapes it had only one constant feature-it grew in size – rapidly.
When they had first spotted it, it was about the size of a large elephant but now it had to be compared to the largest dinosaurs that had roamed the Old Earth millions of years before. But where the largest of these animals had been peaceful vegetarians the numbers of claws, tentacles and fanged mouths left no doubt about this beast´s diet.
The fleeing cursing members of the Chaos army showed where that …something..was getting the mass for its growth. The few Chaos Warriors that fled in the castles direction were not a real threat; even so they were shot before they ever came close enough to surrender.

“That might be a Chaos Spawn Lieutenant Hermann. But if it were so, it would easily be the biggest Chaos Spawn that I have ever heard of.”
“Aha. And what can it do?”
“They are mindless beasts and will generally attack everything in their range. They mostly attack physically even if some of them disgorge acid vomit or poisons. If it were to come in our direction it would be very dangerous as these spawns are very tough and hard to kill. And one this big will surely be more so. It will also be very powerful-it might be able to tear down the very walls of this castle”
“Thank you Master Hark. Can you do anything about it as I fear it indeed comes our way?”
“I can try my best, but this is likely beyond me”
“How very wonderful.”

It was then that the Storch made his appearance. Pulling up to several hundred meters it started to circle the battlefield.
“Our esteemed flier decided to join the party I see, but did you not say he was unarmed”
“Yes Count Heinrich, I have no…oh looks like he brought a friend. But please do not ask me what this is. It looks like a transport plane-but it does not act like one”

Inside the much-modified Transall Captain Bartels went through the procedures he had developed together with his crew during the last two months:
“Open gun ports” 6 patches of hull moved minutely into the plane and them aside
“Gun ports open”
“Charge guns” Hydraulic rammers pulled back breaches twice, ammunition belts gave rounds the size of soft-drink bottles into the breeches.
“Guns charged and ready”
The Captain followed the pointers given by the spotter in his Storch and pulled his ponderous plane in a curve around its port wing. Using an camera and monitor setup he aimed the side of his plane at the Chaos Camp which milled with enemies.
“Likedeelers-we give them a broadside”

Pushing the trigger in his control yoke the Captain unleashed hell. Meter long flames erupted from the 6 gunports, showing where the 30 mm RMK autocannons were. A Laser measured the distance to the ground with great accuracy and fed the info into a computer. The 30 mm shells which were propelled down the barrels at 750 meters/second were inductively programmed when they passed the muzzle of their gun and started to count the time. When they were some 10 meters from their targets small detonations ripped the shells apart and released 160 steel pellets which beat a circle of more than 3 meters into the ground and killed every living being in that circle.
The broadside that the Captain had released contained a thousand rounds per gun and minute. When he released the trigger a camp full of Chaos Warriors was a mass grave waiting for the diggers.
The only thing still standing, screaming its rage and fury was the Chaos Spawn which clawed into the sky in helpless fury.

“Tough bugger that one. Change ammo”
On 6 guns the double feeds switched the ammo from one drum to another-this time explosive and armor piercing ammo was pushed into the waiting breech mouths.
The Transall this time flew a far tighter curve, with the wing always pointing at the same spot of the ground-the Chaos Spawn who by now moved towards the castle with speed.
Again the flames went out from the gunports and tracers connected the plane with the hulking beast. This time the round did not explode before impact-their fuses waited until they had contact with the tough skin of the Spawn or even penetrated some distance before exploding.
Shockwaves raced through the beast on the heels of swiftly moving fragments which sliced through all it encountered. Muscles and sinews were torn, Organs rendered useless and nerves sundered before they could report the pain to whatever brain still resided inside the body.
Dropping to the ground like a puppet with cut strings its impact alone could have done damage to the castle if it had been closer.

Both on the castles walls and in the two orbiting planes cheers turned into groans when some parts of the beast started to move again, grievous wounds closed themselves and cut connections knit themselves together.
“Ok, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Lieutenant Alpers, please paint this pile of offal-this ends now.”
“With pleasure Sir.” Soon enough Captain Bartels flew a much longer orbit and approached the beast head on. A symbol on his monitor as well as well as a warbling sound in his earphones told him that his final trump had acquired a target.
Under the wing of the plane two hardpoints held 4 small bombs each. Releasing one of them when prompted to do so by his computer Captain Bartels could only hope for the best-he had zero experience with this kind of target.
Dropping from its shackles the tip of the 125 kg bomb always oriented itself to the laser dot it had been shown even before its release. The fins mounted on the laser seeker made the bomb follow the seeker head and steered the weapon into a direct hit on the Chaos spawn.
The fuse did not react at once when it penetrated the tough skin of the magical beast but went off only when it encountered one of the sternums. Nearly 30 kilogram of modern explosives finally did the job right and distributed the beasts remains over a wide circle.

“That should be it Likedeelers – with respect to our spotter we should get back to base.”
“Storch Alfa 3 to Drache 1-target destroyed. If the question is allowed: What is this thing about Likedeelers?”
“Drache 1-thanks for the assist. And for the Likendeelers. This crate handles slowly like a ship and fires broadsides-so we decided to name ourselves for Klaus Störtebeker´s crew”
“See you at Middenheim old pirate”
“Avast ye hearties”

Quarry, same time

Kurt Müller was braking for his life-and the life of many others. Major Gerber ordered him to stop at the end of the railroad line in small switchyard in the middle of the quarry-but not to drive into the quarry too slowly.
So Kurt had estimated the braking distance needed best as he could and had added some reserve. But about 100 meters since the gate into the quarry the train had squarely collided with a mass of packed beastmen. It was like driving the train into a mass like the one which can be found at open air concerts. The trains great mass had flung those directly in its path away in bloody ruin even at its slow seeming speed, but others had gotten under the wheels and were now providing a lubrication that the railroad engineer had not factored in. So now he had to apply full emergency brakes. The high-pitched scream of the brakes mixed itself with the three great locomotives steam pipes into a crescendo this world had never heard.

It stopped most fighting in the quarry cold and friend and foe alike could just stare and watch the armored monster bore its way through the huge warherd packed onto the quarry`s floor. The train reached the bumper at the end of the line with less energy needed to unearth it. Kurt Müller was quite happy with this already.
In his old life Kurt Müller would have been aghast at such a lousy breaking maneuver and would have been horrified by the massacre his train had already wrought. Kurt Müller, the friendly, slightly bald and overweight train enthusiast, the patient instructor of novice railroad engineers was about to personally kill more living beings than Sigmar Heldenhammer in his entire life.

Steam locomotives are notoriously inefficient. Even the improvements the Germans had included for every horsepower developed by the big pistons four horsepower of thermal energy had to be produced. When the train had settled Kurt pulled the safety off a red lever and pushed it downwards with all his force.
All the steam needed to produce nearly 10000 horsepower was now funneled through high pressure lines all under the train and ejected through carefully shaped nozzles mounted low on both sides of the carriages. As the steam was still superheated when it emerged from the nozzles which moved through 90 degree arcs it was virtually invisible-but for its effects.
Those beastmen who were too close to the train were ripped into pieces when the steam jets passed over them. The cuts were strangely bloodless as they were cauterized by the hot gas. They were the lucky ones.
Those beasts who were a few meters off were saturated by the hot steam-and when the steam condensed into water on their skins it dumped all the energy needed to convert the water into steam in the first place right into the flesh it touched.
Steam burns all over the bodies, eyes turned into hard-boiled balls of coagulated proteins, throats burned so badly on the inside that they swelled shut and cut off the air-the steam close defense system knew many ways to kill its targets.
And it did kill-horribly, efficiently and in great numbers. But it did not do the job alone.

All over the long train muzzle flashes told of weapons which threw rounds at the beastmen at point blank range. From 155 mm shells which tore bloody fans through the crowd to the thousands of rounds per minute shot by the air-defense turrets and the heavy machine gun turrets to the assault rifles of the Landwehr who fired through special slots the train meted out death in many forms. All modern weapons have the potential to kill huge numbers but rarely realize them as most shots hit nothing but soil and air. On the quarry`s floor this time was different.

The beastmen were packed in so tightly in the quarry that aiming was a luxury-any projectile was bound to hit something-and usually did. It took Major Gerber about a minute to get everybody to cease fire and another minute passed before the smoke and steam cleared sufficiently to see any results.
It might have been quicker to use a nuke on the beastmen-but not more thorough. The great Warherd, the biggest this world had seen since Sigmars time, was no more.

Caves, same time

The fighting had changed after the first cavern-now it was going down endless tunnels which branched off at odd intervals. The Germans used something called echolocation and the small self-propelled carts, the Dwarves their experience and instinct to pick the right branches.
Sealing off tunnels with explosives made attacks from the rear less likely and cut down on the points which needed to be guarded-but it did not keep the beastmen from attacking from the front again and again.
The firepower brought by the tunnelers proved to be decisive every time-but all too often the victory was paid for in bullets and blood when the Children of Chaos came faster than they could be killed.
The tunnel fighters started to rely a lot of their “Einstossflammenwerfer”-single use flame throwers. They were tubes which could be clipped under the assault rifles like grenade launchers or were hand held and which filled 30 meters or more of a tunnel with chemical powered hell.
The beastmen did storm machine guns and magical axes without any fear-but respected the fire immensely. For Felix the fighting was a mixture of old and new-the old waiting for the attack and the new thunder of the rapid fire rifles. The old uncertainty and seeing only a small part of the battle and the efficient destruction of every living being by impossible weapons.
Still, meter by meter, skirmish by skirmish they closed to the center of whatever made this storm tick-and not a second too soon. While the tunnel fighters expended sweat and bullets the magicians fought a different battle and their white faces bore testimony that they would not be able to fight much longer.

He was looking to the rear of the formation so intensely that he missed the sudden stop of the column. “Watch it.”
“Sorry, what`s up sergeant”
“Looks like there is another cavern ahead-let`s see what`s it this time”
Felix watched the repeat of the routine he had already witnessed before-the deployment of a drone, the shooting of “missiles” into the chamber, the assault which was met mostly by the dead.
He entered the Cavern as one of the last humans and found the Germans and dwarves not busy with establishing a perimeter looking at some beastmen remains. They did not look like being killed by the blast-whatever had killed them had left them withered husks which had been stacked like cordwood at one wall of the cavern.
“Hello Herr Jäger-seen anything like this before?”
“No, I do not think so-whatever happened here drained them of their life force-but why or how, beats me”

Felix was still examining the remains of the beastmen when the Germans got excited at the other end of the cavern. Walking over to them he was asked to come into another short tunnel. It ended in another cave.
Like the other he stood in awe and revulsion at the sight in front of him: at the far wall of the cave the withered husk of a beastman shaman sat on a throne-like seat formed by the roots of an otherwise unseen but gigantic plant. His back seemed pierced by some of these roots while other appendages connected countless other Children of Chaos with the mage.
Some of these were still healthy looking, others were nearly as devastated as the corpses he had just examined. Small black lightnings crackled along the beasts and the roots which connected them all. Felix did not need to be a mage to feel the massive magic worked in this cavern. So this was how the beastmen were able to work such magic-concentrating the psychic powers of so many of their kind into the Shaman.

He could not see any defenders and was about to have a closer look when one of the Landwehr dwarves stopped him. “Halt friend-this is not healthy. Have a look” The dwarf threw a fist sized stone into the cavern which was immediately hit by several lightnings before its remains came to a dead stop in midair.
“What in Sigmar`s name….”
“No idea, but let`s see what happens when we challenge it for real”
The dwarf stepped back a couple of meters and lifted his MG21 to the shoulder. Firing off a couple of short bursts they watched quite a firework-and some glowing metal objects slowly dropping down before they entered the cave proper.
“Oh shit, this is not good”

Felix stepped back to let other look for a solution when he saw Grotek. The slayer had a look on his face that his human companion had never seen before. On a human face Felix would have said it showed somebody finding a long lost love-for the slayer it meant a different thing.
For more than 20 years Grotek had looked for his doom and it had averted him at every turn. He was seeking atonement by death in combat for a crime that Felix had never learned about. He had battled Druchii, Trolls, dragons and demons and had prevailed even in battles that by all rights should have killed him a dozen times over.
Now the dwarf saw something that would finally bring the death and salvation about that he had longed for for far too long.
He knew better than to stop him. He could only watch in awe when his friend stepped into the cavern that contained the doom-for all of them if it were not stopped soon.

The slayer had not gone more than a few meters when he too was met by the lightning. The runes in his axe glowed like lit by the fire that made them and drew the energy into it. Walking slowly forward till the spot at which the bullets lay on the ground the dwarf advanced without much problem. Then he was stopped like everything else which tried to penetrate the invisible barrier.
The runes shone brighter, much brighter, the muscles on the dwarfs arms and legs showed in stark relief with the strain exerted by the dwarven warrior. Lines of white and black ran over the surface of whatever protected the shaman.
Felix waited with bated breath for the outcome of this struggle-and then the barriers gave a sound like breaking glass and a tortured soul rolled into one.

First the axe and then the Slayer passed the barrier into the cave. From the speed, the heavy breathing and the strained muscles everybody could see that Grotek had to fight for every meter like he was wading through tar. With every step the axe shone brighter until its outline could hardly be seen.
To the tunnelers horror they saw the skin of the dwarf redden, then blister. The proud red crest on the slayers head started to smoke and then, like his beard, went up in a flashburn. Still the dwarven warrior fought his way towards the shaman step by bloody step holding the axe in front of him-until his feet caught one of the roots and he fell.

Skin that was covered in blisters broke bloodily open and started to blacken in places and the face of the dwarf was no longer recognizable as such. To Felix and all the other onlookers it was clear that the bloody path of the slayer was at its end.
The piece of bloody blackened meat on the ground could not move – couldn`t it.
The being that looked out through the shamans eyes was the only one to see the truth of the matter and did something it had not done in aeons, it nearly froze with fear.

The Axe that Grotek had claimed for himself was indeed the second axe of Grimnir, the dwarven god of warfare. The first slayer who had fought at the Chaos Gate so ably until the elves had channeled the empyrean`s energy into the winds of magic had put a considerable part of himself into the axe before he threw it away at his death.
During the years in the slayers hands it had formed Grotek in ways that made him more useful to the dwarven god`s purpose-changing his flesh and his thoughts far beyond the abilities of any normal slayer.
When confronted with the possibility of a new Chaos Gate the amalgam of god-forged weapon and god-fragment still there had put Grotek on a path to end this evil before it could come to fruition. And it they would not be denied by a root or simple gravity.

Muscles which should be useless pieces of underdone meat moved sinews that should by rights be without function. Nerves that no longer exchanged ions gave signals to a brain that could not work any longer in a rational universe – and did.
Getting up from the floor the Slayer resumed his march towards the shaman, leaving small pieces of himself on the floor wherever he stepped. Lips that no longer were there opened a mouth for a ferocious warcry and the glowing axe finally bit into the mages head which parted like an overripe melon.

At the other side of reality a Chaos God tried urgently to stop the flow of energy that he had funneled so freely into what mortals called reality-and failed to do so in time. Denied its outlet the stream of energy found no way forward and bounded back to the place it had come from-a lot of energy.
The warp is a place where human experience does not count for much and so any sensation gained from it shows only the small part that can be interpreted by a human frame, making any information gained this way partitial at best and misleading at worst.
The most overwhelming sensation a human observer would gain now was the smell of singed feathers and a sound like the mewling of an injured cat at the sound level of a landslide.

With a final explosion of light the barrier that had held the tunnelers back went away-as did the pressure on everybody`s mind that had been the warpstorm up close.
Silence filled the caverns that had just witnessed such titanic struggle. Even when all was clear nobody wanted to be the first to talk loudly and all stepped lightly. Felix Jäger thought it wrong-Grotek would have wanted cries of victory and happiness at a slayer that had finally found the doom he had chased for half a lifetime-but even he could not shake the feeling of loss.

The Quarry, same time

Joakim Vos undid the straps that had held him during the wild ride that was the end run of “Hammer” to relive the Quarry. He was not sure if he should curse the madman that had managed to run the train so fast over bad rails-or admire the genius.
After having a quick look at his platoon who seemed to have survived the run like him without greater harm he freed his rifle from its cradle. Like other “special forces” the 1st Landwehr had a free pick for their personal weapons as long as caliber was met. He had fallen in love with an old but superbly made G8. This variant of the MG21 was originally made for police forces. Combining a sniper rifles bull barrel with a robust machine guns mechanism and allowing for 50 and 100 round magazines the 8 kg rifle was quite a handful-and offered superior firepower.
Very heavy for a rifle it was well controllable by anybody with a ton of muscle-and the intense training of the last months had seen him acquiring these. Pulling the straps of his armor tighter he stood up and made his way to the exit.

Seeing that his troop leaders were organizing the soldiers he contacted his boss on a dedicated channel.
“Henrik-Joakim here. We are ready to take names and kick ass”
“Good-I have a job for you. The Major in charge of this clusterfuck just reached me. It seems that at the end of the Quarry some beasties still attack their infirmary. We have come as far as we can with “Hammer” – hoof it at 260 degree for 500 meters to the tunnel entrance and rescue the damsels in distress.”
“Can do Boss”
A couple of fast orders brought everybody in front of the assault ramp. Time to go to work, and to try their new warcry-the 1st Landwehr`s first battle needed one.
When the ramp came down and armored figures stormed forward from it wielding heavy projectile weapons their throats shouted the same:
“To the Emperor”

Garek Brightfur had been special. He had charisma, the ability to lead and to inspire his Children of Chaos to do what needed to be done as if it were their own wish.
He had a great intellect, unschooled but brilliant. He had seen the beastmen`s weaknesses and had tried to eradicate or circumvent them and had been successful in that.
With the demise of his Great Warherd and the end of the storm all of that was gone like it never existed. All that remained was an aggressive fighter that wanted revenge for the horrible things that had been done to his people. He wanted the satisfaction of personal combat wanted to see his enemies cry in despair and bloodily perish.
He had taken command of the few survivors that had tried to penetrate into the caverns that lay at the end of this cursed tunnel. He had to order his few beasts to pull out the many dead that choked the tunnel so that they could storm inside.

When the final corpses were removed the hated rifle fire that he and his troops had to endure for so long took up again, but it was desultory and few shots connected with his warriors. Feeling the rage redoubling again at humans who were so willing to kill but so reluctant to die he pushed past the beastmen between him and the human defenders.
He was greeted by a sight that startled him for a second. He had expected some stalwart human soldiers who faithfully guarded the path, warriors worthy to give him a last chance at revenge and a good fight.

Instead he saw a hodgepodge of exhausted human figures who warily looked at him from some meters distance. A shooter at the floor was just fumbling at his rifle, another was bowed over him and tried to help with one arm.
A few other humans brandished axes or hand tools while a white clad woman was pulling a bandaged wounded back into the cave some meters behind the defenders. In the middle of this group a huge human handled a hammer like born with it while still showing numerous small wounds and lesions. Screaming at the fate that had denied him a last grand fight the doombull ran forward.

His few surviving beastmen attacked with him and assaulted the humans besides the blonde, leaving the only worthy for to Garek. The human was surprisingly fast and strong for his kind but bore no armor. A hammer is not a good weapon to parry-but neither was the axe that Garek brandished. Screaming his hate the bull furiously attacked with great blows that were barely met by the mundane seeming hammer. Impossible as it was his axe was not able to penetrate the human parries until a rebound allowed him to punch the pick side of his axe into the humans side who dropped to his knees.

Shouting his triumph he lifted the axe for the overhead strike which would part the human lengthwise. His powerful stroke was met by the axes haft just before it smashed the head-and the axe would not move another millimeter. This was not possible-no human, especially no injured human could show just strength-but here it was.
Garek never saw the hammer head start to glow, never saw Valten gather the strength to stand up against the pressure-his head was removed by a short burst of 7,62 ammo from a Landwehr sergeant.
Joakim Vos stepped forward over the fallen doombull and let his rifle fall into its sling. He pressed his right fist on the bleeding wound in the blonde warriors side while hoping his wireless would work inside the tunnel.
“Boss, send me a couple of medics stat-we have some live ones.”

Close to the cave mouth, an hour later

Felix Jäger had stumbled through the way back to the surface without any conscious thought, his brain felt simply empty. For 20 years he had accompanied the slayer on adventures that should by rights have killed them both. He could barely remember a life before his oath-bound quest and had never had expected to survive it.
The thought of a life without Grotek, without constant danger was a strange one. Like a sore tooth that is probed by a tongue many times no matter how futile the human tried to wrap his mind about it and found he could not.

The Germans had gotten the blackened corpse out of the blasted cavern and had worked mightily on it-sticking tubes in maimed limbs and what used to be Groteks throat. They had pumped fluids and air into him and even tried to compress his mighty breast to get his heart to work.
Felix would never forget the look of the German doctor who rose from besides the stretcher and shook his head. The human adventurer had left then, all that needed to be said had been.

Quarry, three hours later

A lot was being done in the quarry-wounded were being triaged and treated, dead beastmen were bulldozed into big heaps into places where they were not in the way and could later be burned without setting anything on fire which was not meant to, the first repairs were done and more.

Major Brenneke was no longer looking like shit. When it became clear that the Quarry was safe he collapsed in total exhaustion and was in the hands of a less irate but heavily overworked Klaus Reichert who, together with the doctors of the 1st Landwehr, tried to keep as many humans alive as possible.

Many of the Majors responsibilities had landed with Heinz Albers who had promptly kicked off most of them to his fellow Captains-what needed to be done he saw as engineering problems-and they all knew how to solve them. Having taken care of the most immediate problems he found time to look after one of his own. Walking into the cave that still served as the infirmary after the destruction of the original one he sought Luthor Huss, the Sigmarite. He found him sitting in a chair in front of the curtained area that was used for surgery. His face looked like he should be inside the treatment area, distraught and translucently pale.

“Good evening Father Huss. How are you?”
“I am well, thanks to your efforts in part. But Valten is in there, they are cutting him open-his fate is in Sigmars hands now.”
“As far as I can see he is in Doctor Reichert`s hands now Father. And despite his gruff behavior the doctor is quite capable. Your charge should be fine.”
“He has a pierced abdomen-how can you say he will be fine-he has a choice between a fast death and a slow one unless a miracle happens. And I am a priest of Sigmar-what do I know of healing?
“I am no doctor myself, but as Valten was ambulatory when we found him his chances are excellent. Doctor Reichert will close the wounds and then administer antibiotics. So far we have not found something in this world which is immune to a healthy dose of Penicillin.”
“What are you saying-that your doctor can heal the inflammation?”
“If nothing untoward happens there will be no inflammation. I would think Valten will be walking again next time this week.”
“Do not joke in such a serious matter”
“I do not Priest”
The Sigmarite was unable to say much for a while. “This is a new world now-a lot to learn for the Order”

“It is a new world for all of us Father and we all have to learn much. In this matter I have a favor to ask – do you have a little bit of time for me later?”
“Sure I have, especially for the bearer of so much hope. About what if I may ask”
“Father, when the gates were breached I…choked. I was so sure all was lost that was unable to perform my duties.”
“How can you say so, I saw you taking command of your company and defending us all ably”
“Yes Father-but only after you invoked Sigmar. I do not know what I felt, I do not know what happened inside me-but whatever I did had something to do with that. And here I need your help”
“Oh, I see. Well, consider yourself blessed-and you are right we need to talk further.”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-20 09:14am

Breitenfelde, North Germany, same Night

Professor (emeritus) Gerhard Lüth was as happy as he could be at his age. He had gotten the Janitor of his Old People`s Home to carry his Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope to the back end of the Park. He had taken a chair, a ton of covers, some tea and stuffed bread rolls with him to engage in the remaining passion of his life: star-gazing.
Punctually at 11.00 PM the Parks lights were extinguished as were the few light on the one road leading into the 64-inhabitants village. So small that it was not shown on many maps Breitenfelde had not been much before the Weltensprung-and not much had changed after that.
That the next town with all-night street illumination was 20 kilometers away made it an astronomers dream-and the cold cloudless night meant that Gerhard could indulge in his hobby to his hearts contents.

Amateur astronomy was getting a lot of attention these days as there was, quite literally, a new sky to behold. Two moons, new Planets and totally new stars and galaxies meant that everybody with a binox could make a discovery if he were patient. The pensioned astronomer already had two supernovae under his belt as well as a Seyfert-Galaxy analog and he aimed to find more.
Having adjusted his telescope (and his old joints) to his satisfaction he looked again into the nights sky with wonder.

It took the object little time to get his attention-it had a changing albedo. Even in the cold night of Germany`s autumn stars would “blink” a little bit, but this one changed its apparent luminosity every 30 seconds or so.
This made the astronomers sit up and take notice-this was too slow for atmospheric disturbance-and too fast for a Cephid. Focusing on the object took his fingers longer than he liked, then he dialed in the maximum magnification of 122x.
What he saw then took his breath away. Fumbling fingers still found the camera buttons and digital photo after photo was committed to silicon memory.
The same night a phone call to one of his former students at the Cologne-Bonn University and several emails with his pictures started quite a stir.

Middenheim, Two days after Battle of the Quarry

Igolf the writer had always enjoyed the sight of the Middenheim Palace. Inside it was an impressive hall with a high arched ceiling and many windows alternately giving a view over Middenheim Province or showing scenes from the Ulric faith in stained glass artwork.
Boris Todbringer, his staff officers, the priests of Ulric and the courtiers were a showcase of Middenheim fashion and elegance if you cared about such things.
Today he could not indulge in this-he had to write was said in this room, which required him to keep his head focused at his wax board-and there was the other reason.

Currently he was using his own version of shorthand to write down what the German army officer called a “briefing”. He was using pictures magically projected to a white screen to underline his words. The officer`s aide had promised him to give him copies of these pictures and Igolf wondered how many months it would take to make the copies-their detail and coloration would need skilled artisans to paint. That the copies would be with him tomorrow was out of the question-wasn`t it.

Like any other imperial citizen he had heard a lot about the wonders performed by these Germans, but as Middenheim was not yet connected to Altdorf and Germany the contact of ordinary imperials to Germans was limited.
The planes and airships that came and went from the “airport” were quite a spectacle but the German “Lager” was off-limits to most Middenlanders.
Well, time to write up the rest of the briefing.

“This concludes what we know about the enemy’s dispositions and movements. We are just updating this picture though as we have just resumed flight operations, so we will give another briefing in a couple of days. Now about the reinforcements you can expect from Germany. As the railroad is about 6 months from completion the road from Altdorf and the airport are the only available supply routes.
The road is still of old construction and in many parts not very good, few of the bridges can carry vehicles of any weight. The airport is unimproved grass and fuel for the planes has to be flown in as well-this strongly limits what we can bring in here in a short time.
I am afraid that until the projected arrival of the enemy we can just send you light troops, but no real armored vehicles or artillery"

"Our abilities to strike the approaching army by air are also few-Middenheim is so far out that we have to refuel any plane by air twice, and while we have sufficient strike planes we currently lack tankers. Presently the enemy is well dispersed on the march so they can forage better-we can harass them from the air, but we will not be able to stop them totally.
If the enemy were to accelerate his march I am afraid that we will not be able to bring more than very few reinforcements at all.”
Igolf had no way to write down the deadly silence that followed.

He was very glad when he was finally able to leave the hall-he was already feeling the burn again. For a few hours there would be nothing, but then it would start to build up to a torture nobody could stand.
Hurrying down the roads and alleys to his home he went by the Colleague of Physicians-not that they could help him. Finally reaching his small apartment he had to concentrate so very hard just getting the lock of his door open over the pain and he nearly dropped into his small assembly of rooms when he had managed.
Anybody else would have been aghast at their state. The rooms which were sparsely furnished but clean and airy before were now dark and the ground as any other horizontal surface was covered by garbage of all descriptions. Some of it moved by its own violation.
Igolf had no eye for any of it-his salvation was in the back room. The being that greeted him there made his soiled rooms still look tidy and clean. Insects crowded around it so it was hard to make out except for outline.
A voice which managed to sound hoarse and full of unsavory liquids at the same time greeted him. “Little Ingolf, so nice of you to come to me. You do not look well Ingolf, you need help. But so do I Ingolf…..”

Imperial Palace, Altdorf. One week after the Battle

Major Gerber was standing ramrod-straight before the desk of Colonel Grube, the Chief of Staff for all Imperial-German Landwehr units. He had stood at attention for far longer than normal or comfortable and it was obvious that the Colonel who was currently reading from a folder in front of him was upset at the Major.
“Train Hammer, unless otherwise directed I will take the “Hammer” to the Quarry immediately as it is in danger of being destroyed. I will leave sufficient forces to protect the railhead”
“This is what the communication log shows as send before you took “Hammer” to the Quarry to relieve the forces there-did you send it?”
“Yes, Sir, I had it send”
“You know what bothered me about this message?”
“No Sir”
“The buzzing sound that swallowed more than half of the massage and that made it clear that any attempt to “direct you otherwise” would fail due to the interference by the warp storm. That buzzing bothered me a lot. I could not place it but I was very sure I had heard it before. Can you imagine what it was?”
“No Sir”

“Well, yesterday morning it came to me-during shaving. Because this buzzing sounded very much like my Phillips electric shaver-isn´t that remarkable?”
“Yes Sir”
“I do fondly believe that you used a shaver to simulate bad communications so that you could finally do what you have asked us for about 5 times-take this armored monstrosity and relieve the quarry. That was a worthy goal and well executed-but it was not your decision to make. That you took “Hammer” off the railhead did not cause a catastrophe as you left a holding force. But “Hammer” is not your personal plaything. Do you believe that you can take it for a spin when you feel like it Major Gerber?”
“No Sir”
“I cannot prove anything of this, and I am not stupid enough to go after an officer who will have his rank made permanent by the Emperor himself and who will receive the German Medal of Courage at the same time as an introduction into the Honor Company of the Reiksguard. But I will keep watching you, because either you are a failure waiting to happen or a brilliant officer with initiative-and I have not decided which it is yet. Do not fail me Gerber-dismissed.”
“Yes Sir, thank you Sir”

Quarry, same time

The series of small detonations sounded good in Heinz Albers ears. It might be a costly method of removing tree stumps but it was a fast one, and that seemed to be the main factor at present. He was currently helping to clear a large patch of ground close to the Quarry, a job that took most of the Quarries resources at present. Construction of the railway had ceased for now, but that did not mean that the quarry or the depot were idle-far from it.

Besides regular Bundeswehr infantry for security the last trains had brought the Pionierregiment 100 (Engineer Regiment) and several air mobile engineer units. As a lot of living quarters had been damaged or destroyed during the final battle that meant that most people were again sleeping under canvass but given the recent events nobody had problems with more soldiers around.
The small switchyard and depot had suffered only superficial damage and had been repaired within 3 days. Now they were accepting an ever increasing flood of material. Thankfully most was containerized so storage was not too much of a problem.

Other trains had brought countless trucks who should supposedly use the old Road to Middenheim-but that had to wait until the engineer units had improved at least the worst bottlenecks. What the Fend tractors which had been delivered also were for Heinz had no idea for.
The light breeze had removed most of the dust, showing the blaster the results of his handiwork. Time to remove the debris.

300 Kilometers north of Middenheim, same date

Erk put his spearpoint into the soft ground and pushed. The wet loam parted easily enough for the first 50 centimeter but refused to yield after that. A little bit of digging showed some boards protecting earthenware pots. Pulling one out required the help of one of his comrades and after the wax seal was removed it proved to be full of good rye.
It had just taken 3 liters of water forced into the throat of the farmer and a couple of kicks to his stomach until he had divulged where he had hid his seed stock and other foodstuff. Looking over his shoulder he saw that some of the guys were amusing themselves by forcing more liquid into the Farmers mouth. As he was useless now they had switched to slurry from the farms dung heap.

Some moans from the hovel that served as the Farmhouse made Erk happy again that he was walking point for his band-that had given him the rights for the first round with the farmer`s wife-the daughter was for the Boss-too young for him anyway. Both would not be good for much of anything once all the lads had their ways with them-better to have first dibs.
Neither Erk nor the other men were regular members of any Chaos army or band. They had been bandits, misfits or dispossessed farmers when the Chaos army burned their way into the Ostmark. As there was nothing and nobody left after their passage whom they could rob or plunder they attached themselves to the fringes of the Chaos troops. Their “mission” was to keep to the flanks of the armies march and steal as many supplies as possible.

Most of what they found they had to bring to the armies quartermasters but they could keep enough for themselves that they managed to survive. They would not dare to keep too much for themselves as they were genuinely frightened by the “real” Chaos Warriors-they seemed more than human to them.
But even so life was good while it lasted. Making any plans beyond tomorrow was foolish in this world.
A gurgling sound made by a slashed throat in the hovel proved the wisdom of that.

Castle Wolfenfels, next day

Count Heinrich watched another supply drop-the third one today. Everybody around the Castle was used to them by now and they were handled with routine. What had not been routine was the “Clean-up” they had to perform before.
The first drop had been one of the flexible fuel blisters the Germans used. Together with a fuel pump they had used most of the kerosene to douse the remains of the Chaos Spawn and the remains of the enemy`s camp. Fire should cleanse the ground of all Chaos defilement-or so it was hoped.
The count had not climbed the long stairs to the Donjon because he needed to see another drop-he wanted to be alone with his thoughts. He did not know about Wellington, but if he would have heard about “There is nothing more sad than a battle won-except for a battle lost” he would have agreed wholeheartedly.

Yes, his Castle was still standing-but it was much demolished both by attack and the demolitions needed for the defense.
Yes, his armsmen and most of his farmers were still alive, but with many farmhouses burned and a lot of the seed stock gone, the next years would be hungry ones.
Yes, the Germans and the Reiksguard had done much to aid the defense, but now he was told that both would have to leave the castle to take part in the bigger battle that was about to take place near Middenheim.
And all of a sudden he saw something that took his mind off the misery that had followed the elation about victory. A flying machine like he had never seen before approached the castle. He had seen the Helicopters that had brought Lt. Hermann and his team-but these were far bigger.

Later in the evening he was offering a Beer in his office to Lt. Hermann and the newcomer, a Major Herbst. “As stated we want to use your fiefdom as an offloading point for the materials used for the improvement of the Middenheim Road and as a helicopter landing field.”
“So you want to pay rent for the use of the exercise field and the place where the tavern was and need the work of my armsmen?”
“That is the gist of our offer. Lieutenant Hermann told me that you would be willing to offer a reasonable price-something like 5000 Euro a month for the rent and 2,50 Euro per man-hour.”
Biting back his surprise and wishing that he could do more for the KSK officer the Count set back.
“Lt. Hermann is presuming much on my generosity, but I think in the interests of the alliance and in the light of the honorable and brave service of the KSK I can agree if you…..”
A modest amount of haggling later the Engineer major had offered to transport the purchases the Count was going to make within reason and some help by his engineers in making the castle fit for Winter. Things were looking up in Castle Wolfenfels.

Berlin, Office of the Chancellor, next morning

The object whose picture was shown on the projection screen looked like a cylinder with several rectangular panels sticking out at various places. Blurry outlines and visible holes in the panels showed up against the stars brilliantly contrasted with the black of open space.
“We have taken these pictures with the Alfred Jentsch Telescope in Tautenburg, the largest in Germany at present after we received a hint by an amateur astronomer. It shows an object in a geostationary orbit which is obviously not of natural origin. It is approximately 20 meters long with a diameter of 5 meters. The panels extend to roughly 20 additional meters in every direction.”

“Are these solar panels?”
“No Mme. Chancellor, we do believe that these are radiator panels for getting rid of waste heat. Their structure and orientation points to that. Whatever powered this was probably a lot more powerful than solar panels.”
“Any idea what it is?”
“From the number of meteor strikes we can make a very rough estimate of the objects age, it is likely older than 20.000 years. That would make it a satellite placed by the Old Ones. Placed in such an orbit it could be useful for communications, recognizance or as a weapons platform-anything more is speculation.”
“So what do you propose we do about it.”
“In the short run we should reprioritize our astronomic efforts-there are a couple of likely places for similar objects to be for example the Lagrange points. In the medium term we propose a flyby by a satellite of our own to get a better look and an estimate of the state of this object. Anything else, like a manned mission with sample returns should be discussed after such an effort.”

“Do you believe there is anything useful left after such a long time?”
“We do not know for sure. We believe that there will be no functioning systems left, but it could give us a big step forward in material sciences and maybe of the integration of what we call “magic” and “technology”.
“Very well, please write up a recommendation for the next Cabinets meeting.”

320 Kilometers north of Middenheim, 300 meters AGL, same afternoon

The Wyvern was huge for its kind measuring 10 meters from snout to tail and strong by both steel-like muscles and magic. Even it strained under the load it had to carry.
The huge Orc which rode on its back massed close to half a ton when taken together with his arms and armor. Looking around the countryside through eyes that could only be called small when compared to the huge head. Being so much back behind bony ridges they managed to hide the high intelligence, for an Orc that is, well. They did not hide the hate that the Orc felt for anybody and everything. Kicking the Wyvern he rarely used again he got it into an even faster speed.

It took him half an hour at the end of the flight to find his target. For one of the biggest armies that ever invaded the Empire it did not look like much. There were many tents and other accommodations, cooking fires and animal pens-for maybe 5000 beings.
Humans, even the hardy Chaos Warriors could not live of everything, like his Orcs could. They needed food, and lots of it, reasonably clean water and their horses needed wheat or rye as part of the diet. As they could not and would not transport these things in amounts needed by an army exceeded 300000 beings they had to take them from the land they were traversing.
As neither the food was concentrated so much-or when it was it was inside well-fortified cities-the Great Chaos Crusade had to disperse over a wide area and march more or less in the right direction at the same time. They would pull together for battles and sieges-but otherwise they would be distributed over an area bigger than most counties. It would not make for a nice display with miniatures-but it kept everybody fed.

He landed his beast in the middle of a field provided for such doings and went off his steed. Giving the reigns to a couple of sturdy Chaos Warriors he made his way to the welcoming committee.
Archaron himself was there, as were a couple of mages and high ranking Champions. Walking in front of them as if he was alone he stopped a couple of meters away from the group.
“You called me, so I am here humie. What do you want?”
“Well met Grimgork Eisenpelz-it is good that you heeded my call. There are new developments we need to consider-but not here. Please follow me.”
Grimgork followed the Group which had so much variation-the bronze Armor of the Khornates he could respect, the feathered cloak of the Tzeench mages not so, the rusted carapace of another even less. He had to make small steps so not to overtake-or trample-the group which made its way through the deep mud that the movements of an army camp invariably produced.
The biggest tent in the middle of the camp was the unsurprising target of their small procession. The Orc warlord had been here before and as before he noted the Orc skins that made part of the patchwork leather that clad the tent. Loosers-they deserved their place. But whether Archaron deserved to keep his skin intact was another matter-he had not determined that yet.

The tent contained refreshments, some of them even suitable for the Orc Warlord. It also had a huge mirror and a cauldron filled with a foaming liquid. The Mirror showed an image of Crom the Conqueror-not things were different.
Crom had bested him in single combat AND his army had bested his old horde-this was why he was taking part in this “crusade”. Why the humies found it necessary to have “reasons” for fighting and why they had to have gods for that was beyond him.
By because of his defeat he was here-he had to prove to himself and the world that he was worthy, that he was the best there was. Archaron gave his the creeps, all the more reason to find out who was best, but not now.
“I have asked you to attain this meeting as there have been new developments that will change our plans. We all have heard about the emergence of a new nation, the Germans, into this world. We have, actually, slowed our conquest to see what were to happen. Then we found that the Germans may be mighty-but only act if attacked. We thought they would simply ignore what we do in the lands or thrice-damned Sigmar, and so we finally attacked. Now we hear that there is an alliance between the Germans and the Empire. Now we see that they fight the Children of blessed Chaos side-by-side. And now we see that they pose a danger.”
Archaron gestured towards the mage that had accompanied them. “Malash, show them what you have learned”

“Oh assembled Champions of the Eight-folded path, I have sought truth with the denizens of the warp. Many sacrifices were…”The mage froze when he saw the look given to him by Crom and Grimgork. Archaron was as unreadable as ever in his armor, but this was probably even more menacing.
“Masters, I have been shown battles for you, see for yourself:”
Dropping a vicious liquid into the cauldron and canted phrases that were probably not meant for a human throat. The steam from the Cauldron increased in volume-and in brightness, glowing by its own. Before long pictures could be seen in the mist.
Grimgork saw a huge army of beastmen emerging from dense forest, he respected these. As hungry for war as his Orcs they were strong, resilient and always willing to mix it up close and personal. And they had whipped up a fair bunch of them too-Grimgork had no word for them but would have estimated the warherd would give a worthy fight to his Hard Horde.

On the other side of the field the humies(?) seemed to have nothing but a lot of magically propelled vehicles. He had heard about the steam tanks sometimes used by the humies-but these looked bigger and more dangerous. Still, so many beastmen should be able to….the picture now showed the vehicles opening fire. Impassive on the outside the warlord went ice-cold inside while he watched the humies massacre the Children of Chaos in about the time needed to talk about it.
He had no problem at all with bloodletting-on the side of his enemies as well as on his own, but he saw no way that he could fight back against this kind of enemy. Practically no Beasts managed to close with the vehicles and none of them seemed to do any damage except to color the armor of them red. Maybe his boar rider could do better with the closing part-but about damage?
The next scene was about the beastmen that guarded the cave to the shaman-and the artillery that savaged them. The infantry assault by the humans was against an enemy who could not fight back better than a weak kitten.

The last shared vision showed a flying something that savaged a Chaos Warrior camp not unlike the one he was in in about a minute.
No one in the tent spoke for a while.
“As you can see the Germans are to be taken seriously. Anything else would lead to disaster. But we are still blessed by the four true powers. The Germans let their machines do the fighting for them. But they have a weakness. Our spies have found it, let me show you.”

Archaron presented his allies and underlings a pile of different papers:
“This is the transcription of the news we have from Middenheim. There our spies report that the Germans can only send help in a big way in a few months, when their “railroad” is finished. The flying machines they use have to carry their fuel for the round trip to Middenheim with them, so they cannot transport much more than a few soldiers and lesser weapons. The report says that the Middenheim nobles quiver in fear because of this and some try to leave the city.”
“Then this is “newspaper” called “Spiegel”, the mirror. We stole one of them from a German in the train to Altdorf and it is new. Let me show you: here. It says there: The Germans armed forces are woefully unprepared to help our allies when to railway is near. We have neglected to acquire lighter wheeled armed vehicles when we knew they would be useful for asymmetric warfare-whatever that might be….Then they go on and say it is a big scandal for the Secretary of Defense, some Thomas de Maiziere, and there are calls for his resignation….
“Then here I have the protocol of the interrogation we made of two Germans were captured in the countryside. They told us that no substantial German armed forces are near, even when we applied the question….”
“So all told it looks like we have to respect the Germans-but we still have a chance-if we move quickly and seize our chance before it is too late. In 6 Months the Germans might have an army like..that one…before Middenheim. Then it becomes very difficult, if not impossible. But if we move quickly we can take Ulric`s temple before substantial German reinforcements arrive.
I have already broken the siege of the Bronze Fastness off-as nice as it would be to have it this would take too much time. We have to move our troops through this corridor-there has been no foraging there yet, and there are two good roads so we should be able to make good time.”

“That is all well and good humie, but don`t you forget something”
“Grimgork-how nice of you to offer an opinion-what do you think.”
“What about these humies flying machines, these …..planes. They can hurt bad-some hordes already found.”
“Ha, good that you ask, see this drawing in that “Spiegel” This shows the range of German planes with arms-see here, this is where the farest ones end, and this is where we are…so see, nothing to worry. And for the “Lager Middenheim, I will see to it soon, no fear….”
The voice in the mirror quipped up "With such a thing as such newspapers, why do we even bother with spies any more"
"Ha, to keep them honest of course....."

“So what I propose is…..”

University of Karlsruhe

Fräulein Meikle was putting the finishing touches on her new project. Experimentation had shown that her and the works of other human technici were indeed part mundane physics and part magic-many of their creations would never work otherwise. Her own horse for example was powered by wound springs-her newly found knowledge had shown her how inadequate this would have been but for the little extra she could add.

If a mundane mechanic tried to bring together such creations they would always fail-when somebody like her contributed to the works in a meaningful way they worked. This was a world of magic AND science-or was it always just the same?

Now she had more knowledge-and such new possibilities. Parts made tolerances she could not have named before joining the university, materials as light as they were strong, power sources that were as compact as powerful and computers that were good enough to beat her at chess comprehensively.

She had used a lot of her new toys for a new and special project. She had tried to build something like it even before the Weltensprung but had been foiled by bad materials and tools. Now things seemed to come together beautifully.
There was financing aplenty for it as times were full of danger-and opportunity. She could have even paid her own way as she got serious royalties for all the “Magic Indicators” produced in such amounts. But it was better to have others on board-they had machines and experiences aplenty to build such things.....

Two of her students lifted up the pauldron in its place, she used a cordless drill to screw it into place. To her and the faculties astonishment there were more than a few Germans who were able to do the “magic thing” with technology. When all was said and done these were the Germans-By now there was a standard test for them and she and some of her colleagues were having the time of her life holding lectures, learning things and trying out new combinations. The opportunities were....limitless.

After seeing the last screw was in place and everything was as it was it was supposed to be she lifted the two lithium-ion accumulators in place-how much more power did these give than her old clockworks-and connected them right. Holding her breath she pushed the power switch.
For a second nothing happened but then with few sound her new creation started its first hesitant moves.
Build like an oversized set of plate armor with a helmet too large it moved first the arms individually and then in concert. A slow step forward was followed by more of them, cut short by a wall. The crisp turn made her proud of the degree of control already achieved.

All of a sudden the figure fell into a stance like presenting a rifle. The voice that issued from the two speaker mounted at the helmets sides boomed a “to the Emperor” and made everybody freeze-this was NOT part of the program.

The laughter from the armor became much quieter when the visor of the helmet swung up by its own violation and revealed the face of a middle aged mechanic. “Sorry folks, always wanted to do that.”

Roland, one of the technicians that had helped her finish the magic indicator on board of “Seeadler” had tested out well for a technicus and was now trying out their suit of armor. “It fit really well except for a binding feeling about my left knee. Apart from that there is practically no movement lag and I definitively do not feel the weight-500 kilogram and it wears like a shirt. Marvelou....Shit.

The suit had frozen on him and it took two hours to free him of the encumbrance. But they were on to something very very good.

Quarry, 10 days after the Battle

Heinz Albers was just watching the worst abuse of good tractors he had ever watched. He had his suspicions when the Fend machines had arrived-but seeing them at work was worse. Whoever had dreamed up this scheme was barking mad and the fools who had approved it were worse. Never ever was this going to work-he just hoped the failure would kill too many people.
Well-this was not his problem; his current job was clearing the other part of the field which still had tree stumps and some industrial-sized boulders which needed moving. He knew he could do that professionally and would let others do the madness.

If he would hurry he could keep his appointment with Father Huss later, the Father was due to leave with Valten for Germany later where better medical care was available. The blaster had been an agnostic as far as he could remember. Knowing that gods were a reality in this world was one thing-being touched by one, however peripherally was a totally different one-and he needed help in getting his head settled about that.
Thumping the hammer pendant about his neck with the flat of his hand he went about the business to make things go “boom” again.

Between Quarry and Castle Wolfenfels, same Date

Captain Manfred Berger applied his Schmidt Hammer to another spot of what his men had termed “Ersatzbeton” (replacement concrete). The value the instrument showed wasn`t too bad, so he went to the next spot to repeat the testing on the foundation on this bank of the stream.
The task of his air mobile engineers had been to erect a new bridge over one of the countless rivers which cut through the Great Forest and the Road to Middenheim. There was a solid stone bridge over the river-with a useable wideness of maybe 1.80 meters and a “rated” load of maybe 5 tons, so something better was obviously needed. As things were urgent helicopters flew the material in from the quarry and time was of an essence so compromises had to be made.

His men had mixed quick setting cement with the local soil and then pumped in water to produce something which could be taken for a concrete foundation if one were squinting very hard and put the fingers in his ears.
His testing revealed that the foundations were probably strong enough to hold the Baily Bridge whose parts were just flown in. The parts were supposedly “light” at 300 kilogram max. and it were supposedly possible to erect the bridge without power equipment.
Berger would have none of it; two light cranes had been flown in already. Once he gave the foundations a clean bill of health they would start assembling the 30 meter span-things should be finished by tomorrow evening.
Then it would be up to the next bridge.

Middenheim, same date

Ingolf the writer was making his way back from work by the way of the markets. As much as he needed to go home and share the news with his companion he needed to eat. As his wife had died before they could have any children he had to go out and he had to buy foodstuffs.
When he walked down the marketplace he found that some of the stall owners he usually frequented were not at their booths today-some of them had stand-ins, it seemed mostly their spouses or children. He finished the first round of shopping with a stall he usually frequented was no exception, the 40-something middle aged proprietor of the stand selling yams was missing, as was his wife.

Their daughter was a slightly chubby blonde of 13 years who tried to keep up business as well as she could. Normally a healthy looking youth she today looked pale, sweaty and way caugthing from time to time.
“No, my parents seem to have some flu, they are both in bed with fever and the caught Sir. I am sure they will be back soon.” The sweaty hand which handed him his change was testimony of a high temperature.
“Look after yourself Child, you could catch it too. Give my kindest regards to your Parents”
“Thank you so much Sir, I will certainly do so.”

While he halfheartedly haggled for the price of some vegetables and some not-so-fresh meat he found that prices were going up-it looked like people were getting the news about a possible Siege already.
The Germans seemed to have anticipated that already-they were using their meager transport abilities to bring in food-this enraged the nobility to no end. They did not care if some peasants died-more weapons would mean that THEY would live.
Making his way back to his apartment he passed the Black Plagues memorial-he smiled when he went in its shadow.
Drawing a deep breath caused his to start coughing also-it was time to get back to his apartment to get this under control again. That he was just doing another job for his real masters never occurred to him.

300 Kilometers North of Middenheim, same Date

Ulrika Wolfsdottir was running for her life-and she was losing. Two weeks ago she had been bored out of her skull-oh how she longed back to that life.
She had been living in a small hamlet where nothing ever happened. The biggest excitement had been the annual visit by a Strigany caravan who showed their arts and offered exotic trinkets and earthly services and the few times a year when she would accompany her family to the market at the castle of their Baron.

During the last year she had blossomed into a fine figure, and so her father and her brothers had become extra “protective” of her-how she had hated them for that and how much she would give to see them again. Her little village had been taken by brigands. To her they were the epitome of evil and masters of warfare-to more experienced observers they were a band of marauders who had acquired an Aspiring Champion as a boss.
She had been spared only as she had been looking after some lost sheep with her brother. She could keep him from trying to join the “fight” only by pointing out she needed his help. Ever since then they had made their way towards where legendary Middenheim was supposed to be-until they had run into the next band of bandits.

Her brother had used his cudgel on the first bandit who had offered them passage against her “services” –his screams were still haunting her. Now she was running down a nearly nonexistent path through the forest in the vain hope to outrun the savages who wanted her in the worst way. Her legs were burning, she could hardly hear anything save her heartbeat and her labored breath and she knew she would collapse soon.
Trying to coax still some more distance out of her body her ankle was suddenly snatched and she dropped on the soft forest floor just to find herself face to face with a stinking, gap-toothed monstrosity.
She was about to scream when a hand seemingly made out of iron clamped on her mouth. “Shhhh small one. If you want to live you have to trust Warden Merkel, yes you have.”

Lake Constance

Urs Zurmalmen was looking at what had to be the biggest skeleton in the world. Made from Carbon-fiber composites a spaceframe structure went nearly all the way through the biggest hall Urs or his wife had even been in.
The “Luftschiffwerft Friedrichshafen” – the air ship yard – had invited for a first tour of their facilities as a PR venture especially for those citizens of Friedrichshafen, many of whom had been less than happy about the huge floating sheds that marred their seafront.
And now he was looking at a skeleton of a zeppelin of 280 meters length and it was overwhelming. How the complete Zeppelin he could see from many models and pictures, but the completed superstructure brought the message of the sheer size home better than anything else.
One of the many Yard employees that were making the rounds was willing to answer questions with an IQ of more than room temp for a change.

“You are right-in many ways this is not an old-style Zeppelin. We use a semi-rigid structure, which means that the complete airship either had to be gas-filled or supported to bear its own weight. We also do not use separate gas cells but sub dividers-they do a similar job with less weight.”
“And why do you have this ballonet? Usually only non-rigid airships have them.”
“Well spotted. In the old days when the airship heated up during daytime they had to vent gas to keep the internal pressure within reason. To compensate they had to drop ballast at night when the temperature decreased. This was often the limiting factor for range. With Helium we really do not want to do that-it is still too costly. So we have an air-filled ballonet which we use to keep pressure even. As we have wrapped it around the gas bag it also insulates the lifting gas and if the skin gets pierced it is just the ballonet which we can replenish with a pump. And last not least we want to go a lot higher than most traditional airships-then we need to equalize pressure a great lot.”
“Why do you want that additional height?”
“First off we can go faster and more economical as at the attitude we are planning-around 5000 meters-air resistance here is around half that of ground level. Second there are less gusts and similar, so you get a better ride. And lastly it is above what the flying critters here do, so it increases safety.”
“A plane can go much higher.”
“And the plane needs an airport at the start and finish of the trip and much more fuel in between. Before the Weltensprung this was not so important-now it is. And besides the normal passenger and cargo carrying there seems to be a market for Airship Cruises.
“And why the envelope is not cigar shaped?”
“Good one. We have changed the shape of the envelope so that it provides more lift at higher speeds. Even the old airships relied in part on that, but here we get a LOT of lift, increasing service ceiling at cruise speed by more than 1000 meters”
“Speaking of fast-how fast is that?”
“Depends on the model-the passenger one will do around 280 Kilometer per hour cruise speed. The freight one will be around 150 kilometer per hour-but that one will fly lower.”

“So you resurrect the Cargolifter?”
“Psst, do not say this name in these rooms. If we could drive a stake through the heart of this misbegotten adventure we would do it. But you are right; we will take part of the concept-exchange water ballast against cargo and the platform that can be lowered to the ground. Some clever guys want to call the cargo hoist and it`s control room the “Transporter room”-Treckies them all.”
“And the Model with the Camouflage over there”
“Oh, we just think the German army might like the capability to drop two Panzerhaubitze 2000 complete with ammo and support within 4000 kilometers within 24 hours of notice.”
“Err-I think so too. Thanks for all the info.”
“Glad to be of help. Can I get you to buy some lots for the new Zeppelin Lottery? We will give the money to the fugitives in the Empire from their current invasion.”
“For that I`ll buy more than a few.”

Lager Middenheim, very late next evening

“Thruuum” Nathan Alpers heard rather than saw the landing of the A 400 M-funny that the two aircraft of this type the German Air Force had cobbled together always landed at night. Probably to hide the vehicles that were unloaded or the material from the prying eyes that were probably on the Middenheim walls or on the Middenland fields. Whether it helped was anybody`s guess but it had to be tried.
He had expected to see a C-17 sooner or later but Major Winter, the new CO, had explained that the aircraft would damage the unimproved field too much. They could repair that damage, but it would take too much time. Also the C-17`s were a very limited resource, husbanded for those times you really really needed them.

Going over to the “Mannschaftsheim” the German equivalent of a NAAFI, for a big pot of extra-strong coffee for another night recon flight he found the usual crowd of Pilots, maintenance and logistics personal and some of the guards. By now there was a mixture of Germans and White Wolf knights-the Middenheim rulers took their lifeline seriously.
The Cantina had the look that was by now expected with new and fast construction: Lots of wood, very mixed furniture and by now some spectacular carvings from some enterprising imperials. Looking for familiar faces Nathan found a pair that he had not expected.
“Look at our enterpisching Lieut Runeschmith…”
“You think he will bring back the plane we lend him all right Walter…?”
“I schink so”
Both Airman Horst and Mechanics Apprentice Steinier were quite thoroughly plastered-and obviously in good spirits together. They had already shown signs of a mended relationship before, but this was much more than the pilot had expected. He was not adverse to this, among other things as a functional team that maintained his beloved Storch increased his life expectancy markedly, but he was curious.
“I am happy to see you two getting along-but this is new. Care to explain this poor flyer what is up?”
“Because Airman Walter Horst has cut a rune of flying this afternoon. It is workable-not so good as mine or that cut by a real runemaster-but he has made a working rune. He is the first human who did so in dwarven knowledge and the first human I have to call clanbrother. And so we drink for him and the new times and for …bonk”

The head of the dwarf hit the table with a resounding bonk. After making sure that no real injury was caused Nathan and a couple of airmen made sure they got into their quarters without problems-and without recognition by higher ranks.
He was on his way back to the hangar when the shouting and the shooting started. “Oh shit, not again”

Ingolf the writer could see the Laager Middenheim well from several palace windows. He could see the burn marks on the hangar and on the strange plane with the black-and white checkered side. He could also see that the plane was listing top one side.
On a part of the runway and in front of some buildings the Germans had placed yellow flags with a design on them he could not place. The only humans he could see in these areas wore what looked like a soft silver armor all over. This was good, the more news he had the more pleased his master was. And that meant that he had less pain-and better pains…

On his way back to his apartment he went by the market again. He was not yet at the Yams stand again when the blonde girl got another coughing fit and her not too well fixed shirt slipped from her shoulder. The red pustules the exposed skin showed got a lot of screaming and panic.

250 kilometers North of Middenheim, next morning

Edward the tanner was still in a state of shock. The day before yesterday armsmen from Middenheim had arrived at his village and a meeting had been announced. The news given by the soldiers had been a confirmation of their worst fears. An army of the dark powers their priest always warned them about was coming and nothing would be able to stop them before they reached his home.
So the villagers were asked to leave their homes and go to far off Grimmighagen. They could only take with them what they could carry for push on handcarts as they would have to make good time if they wanted to evade the attacking hordes.
The next morning the strangest sight in his life appeared-a horseless cart drove into their village and distributed foodstuffs, simple tents and some blankets. They even offered to take some of the old and children with them to Middenheim, an offer taken up by many families.

Edward had been in much better spirits when he led his family to the road-till he saw the soldiers burn down their homes. He felt empty inside-the place where he was born, where his wife had borne him fine Children and where he had expected to die-gone. The granary where the villagers farmers had stored their grain-burned, the few pigs which gave some diversity to the diet-slaughtered. He made sure that his family did not see his tears-and started pulling his cart. This was no longer home, but if and where he would find a new one he did not know. The only thing he knew was that he had a family to look after, he just did not know how to do it. But whatever the future held-it was elsewhere, so he did what he could and picked up the march.

300 Kilometers North of Middenheim, same time

Erk, the marauder was running like hell, and he had good reason to. He had spotted the red-headed gal and she had the gall to shoot at him and his lads with a hunting bow. Ulf would probably get over it, but currently he was hobbling behind the group favoring his good leg and cursing a blue streak.
The girl they were chasing was running well-but he knew how to handle this. As long as he kept her in sight she would lose her wind soon enough and then she would have few fight left in her. That suited Erk just fine-he would love to capture such a fine piece of meat undamaged-this was something else than a fat farmers wife.

The exertions of the run meant that he heard the ruble of the horses late, so when he finally turned his head he nearly froze and fell-where had these Reiksguard bastards come from. No matter why or how they had hidden in the small copse of trees that lay by their way-this was bad. If he or his lads wanted any chance at survival he had to go where the mounted knights could not.
“Run to the forest you Idiots” he screamed at the top of his lungs and without checking if anybody followed his example he ran as fast as he could towards the treeline in front of him that offered salvation. He could just watch the nice backside of the girl they had chased disappear the brushes. No matter survival first.

He did not dare to look backwards, he heard that the riders were gaining ground on him and heard the screams when they caught up with another of his comrades. Trying to coax even more speed out of his body the treeline suddenly showed strange blinking lights and a sound like fireworks. His brain was till still trying to make sense of this when something which felt like a glowing hammer hit his chest and he dropped forward.
He never saw or heard the Germans coming out of the Forest or heard the Warden talk excitedly to their leader. “I told you Lt. Hermann that this would be easier than chasing these bastards all over the countryside. And Dirk would have made sure that nothing could have happened to Ulrika, wouldn`t you, Dirk?”

Elsewhere, 2 days later

The Dwarf started to see-but what did he see and feel? His surroundings where white illuminated by a colorless light coming from everywhere but it showed to clear source. It had no flicker, no color-he had never seen such-or had he?
The air around him had a strange quality-it seemed much more refreshing that ordinary air should be, but it was also bone-dry and smelled of things he could not place. When he lifted his hands in front of his face they showed no marks, no scars, no callus, no tan-they were like the hands of a newborn. There were even no real fingernails. Looking at his chest and stomach gave a similar sight-no tattoos, no scars-nothing.

His face felt naked-his hands-his overly sensitive hands-to his horror showed no Mohawk and no beard. He felt like a newborn babe. What…. He wanted to get up from his white soft resting place-and found he was secured with straps across his ample chest. Before he could get too upset the transparent curtain showed a picture of a huge figure he could not make out clearly showing a beard who parted the curtain.
“Welcome to the Charite` Herr Gurnisson. I am Ralf Winkler, one of the healers that tried to mend you-seems like we did a good job.”
The scream that followed could be heard through most of the Berlin hospital. It took the Slayer a while before he could speak somewhat coherently again.

“I had found a good Doom manling, the best. I have fought well and I should have died a honorable death cleansing me of my shame. Why did you weak ignorant manlings pull me back to…to.”
“Herr Gurnisson-from all I have heard you have died on the battlefield. One of the best doctors I know pronounced you dead. During the transport back Herr Jaeger found it fitting to place your axe on your chest-that was when you got back to life. You have made a remarkable –or more precisely miraculous-recovery since then and we aided that as good as we could by transplanting you skin and regenerating lost nerves-this is what I do these days. So-you have died and there you are again. I am no expert on Slayers Herr Gurnisson-but maybe one of these days you should think about forgiveness.”
In living memory nobody ever had seen Gotrek lost for words-the former medic was the first.
"If it is all the same to you, I will get Herr Jaeger-he is fast asleep after keeping watch all night"

Quarry, same date

Uli Stoiber was sweating like a hog-and that was definitely not from the low-to-middling temperatures-he was pulling maintenance on his “Bock”, the Leo2 tanks he had driven into battle. And except for very few routines maintenance on the 65+ ton vehicle was hard labor. As his tank had driven around 50 kilometers through hard terrain there was more than a little to do before he could declare his tank mission-ready again.
He had not minded too much that his company was left behind at the Quarry to guard it-but the orders he had received now reeked of desperation. Still it was his duty to make his best go at them and that meant as much preventive work as could be done. Additional to the overhaul some “gifted” welder had added brackets for 159 Liter drums to the back of his tank.

Dearly needing a breather the tank commander stepped around his “Iron Pig” and opened a a bottle of Skandi-fruit juice while having a look at the vehicle park that was brought by train to the Quarry and waited for the Road to Middenheim to improve. Ever since the Weltensprung a lot of German words were used for something new or substantially changed, some were also resurrected.
In the old times using the Word “Kampfgruppe” for a Brigade sized unit of troops just cobbled together for a single operation would have raised eyebrows with allies and would have been proof that the bad old Germans were back with the enemies. Now it was just taken for what it was-a combat group.

“Kampfgruppe Loy” was assembling on the Quarry`s floor. Uli could see “Fuchs” personal transports by the dozen, some “Dingo” and “Fennek” vehicles and a lot of the Wolf 4x4 cars.
One corner held the specials-one offs, pre-series productions and prototypes that still needed a little bit of extra pampering. There were a few interesting ones. The biggest firepower was offered by 4 MAN 15-ton GL trucks who`s former flatbed were now occupied by an Artillery Gun Module-in essence a Panzerhaubitze 2000 turret with less armor.
The other heavy hitters were 8 Boxer MRAV which had been fitted with “Puma” turrets and two of them with a 35 mm AA gun. Not yet arrived but rumored about were some boxers with 120 mm Mortars.
For every wheeled combat vehicle there seemed to be 3 trucks of every size and description, from lowly Unimogs to the mighty 8x8 trucks-the logistics to support the Combat Group would be a nightmare without them.

To a life-long tanker like Uli these vehicles lacked all-terrain mobility, armor and sheer direct firepower-but they used far less fuel and were much less likely to break down on the 500+ kilometer drive to Middenheim. This kind of thing just wasn`t done with tanks. Their high fuel consumption and their tendency to break down after a surprisingly short time due to vibrations and overheating was dead against it.
The road to Middenheim could not bear the Elefant flatbed transport and the railroad was not finished. He still was ordered to try, but only after the rest of Kampfgruppe Loy was on its way. He was sure to arrive-probably at the same time the railroad was finished, but orders were orders. And his tank was going to break down even earlier if not properly maintained-so his break had to end.

Altdorf, close to Addidas Factory, same evening

5x3=14 15
Emma, the textile worker was sitting at evening school. Her company and a couple of others had joined forces to create an evening-and-Sunday school for those workers who wanted to learn some reading and writing. There were also some classes about their jobs-how fabric was made, what properties different fabrics had and a lot of other stuff she had to pry into her tired brain.
When the offer of night school was first announced at the factory during lunchtime Emma did not know what to make of it. Why should she go to a school after hours when she was exhausted and longed to spend time with her child when she did not need it for her job-or her private life.

Still, the Germans rarely did anything without some reason, even if it was sometimes hard to see it. Finally she had one of the Germans from accounting-a shy, lanky blonde with prematurely thinning hair and asked him about it.
“Sooner or later we want to have supervisors from the Empire on the workshop floor-and for that we need workers who can read and write. And in the long run it will be far easier to work with employees that can read instructions.”
“You mean if I learn to read and write I could be a supervisor?” The supervisors were the little gods of the workflow, running around with their clipboards and writing down something and telling everybody what to do. They seemed not to work very hard, but they earned good money-they were Germans.
“Well, you would have to learn some other stuff as well, like calculus, but basically-yes.”

Ever since then she was gladly paying another worker a little extra to look after her child and drank bad coffee so she could sit with 30 others in a class and learn. Learning was hard but had his rewards. Not only did it give her hope of a better future-but she saw things that she had never seen before. All the time she had run by the green sign plastered on the doors she passed on the way to the cafeteria. Yesterday was the day when something “clicked” and she could make out “Emergency exit-so not block”-how very strange and marvelous. There was a new world for her to discover. She had a really hard time explaining why she was still wearing that stupid grin during lunch.

Altdorf, College of the Celestial Order, same time

After Master Keppel could not remember the word he looked for at the 3rd time he turned the card in frustration- Fusspunkt, of course.
German was the new language of science and trade and it was getting more and more important to be good at it. So many things could be said only in German as Reiksspiel had no word for it at all. “Nanometer, double-entry bookkeeping, injector pump, Laptop” how could you say this in Reikspiel? And then there was the capability of the German language to put words together into much longer, newer words-very good. He did not approve of the newfangled fashion among traders and younger nobles to drop German words here and there in conversation just to show how modern and up-to-date they were-if there was a good word in Reiksspiel, why not use it? But in Science as in Magic, at least how he pratised it, it was important to be precise and have clear definitions and there the German language shined.

Looking up he again saw the letter he had pinned above his desk-an invitation to Peenemünde Nord in 3 Months hence-a date he would hardly miss. And then he was going to have much improved German, he had sworn it to himself. He wanted a place at the Bonn-Cologne University-there was so much new to learn and that was THE place to be. If he could secure DASA backing it would surely help.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-20 09:17am

Bremen, Hospital Klinikum Bremen Mitte, next morning

The sight of the bank robber was horrifying for anybody not well versed with heavy trauma. During the fight with the MEK a bullet had destroyed his lower yaw and another one had claimed the left eye and a part of the skull. The injuries were so great that the surgeons had to remove a part of the skull and the complete lower jaw, giving the face a decidedly nonhuman look.

He was still unable to speak; his mental capabilities had not been improved by the injuries and he was clearly afraid-but he also the only survivor of the botched bank robbery, so Ibrahim Dürr had to talk to him. The leads he could follow were wearing thin-there was not so much CSI could tell him. Both the witnesses at the highway assault site and CSI agreed that there were 7 perpetrators. Two of them had been found in the Couronne Wilderness and the weapons tied the 4 would-be highwaymen with the crime-but where was the 7th man-and Jasla of course?
So, even if this useless piece of meat in front of him was only a poor source of information he was his best hope for leads at present.

“You understand that one blink with your eye is yes, two blinks is no?”
“We can link you to the Jasla prisoner transport break by DNA and by the weapons you used in the attempted robbery-you have been there right?”
“Not so clever. We know there were 7 people in the assault. The 4 of you were all in the prison break?”
“Do you know what happened to the other 3?”
Blink Blink
“From what we can see they stopped in the Couronne Wilderness. It seems Jasla got loose and killed Manfred and Jaime. But we do not know what happened to the third guy, he is missing. You would help if you could give us the name”
Blink Blink
“Don´t be a fool. You have banded together to free that bi…Witch, you put together a good plan, executed it beautifully and then she cheats on you and kills her saviors. Do you want everybody to believe that you can treat the Autonmomes that way and get away with it?”
Blink Blink
“See-and you are hardly in any shape to do anything about it-leave that to us. Come on-tell us what you know about the escape and the missing guy, then we can do something”
“Ok, I knew you would do the right thing. I´ll give you and alphabet card, you can show the letters for what you want to tell us. So first thing: What do you know about the escape plan”
“And if the others would have come what would you have done then?”
“Is that Claus the missing guy?”
“You have more on that Claus, last name, contact anything”
Blink Blink
“Anything else on that guy-met him before”
Blink Blink
“Can you work together with a Police Artist to make a drawing of him?”
“Thanks for you cooperation”
Ibrahim Dürr left the Hospital deep in thought-this was not good, his leads to Jasla were all coming up empty. He had encountered the Name Claus the first time today, but it would be really difficult to dig after him with only a name and a drawing of his face.

Galley "Sultan Salagud", on the Great Sea

For Hamid most of the last 1 1/2 years had been a nightmare. After a short time being successful preachers for Allah in Araby, his group of Jihadists had been captured. He never saw his friends again. Hamid was sent to the oars, but with a twist. A magical tattoo forced him to make sexual advances to the guards after he spoke his intent. Gangrapes, assaults by guards and other slaves for more than a year had broken something in him, but that was not the worst.
After a lost battle against Germany, where his galley was severly damaged, Hamid was sent to the "Sultan Salagud", the ship of Dark Elf captain Irglier. The elf was delighted to get a German into his hands. A German, who would not be missed by many in Germany!
Irglier used Hamid to learn more about the land which handed him his worst defeat and as a special slave. Irglier practised old and new methods of Torture on Hamid to prepare for his final meeting with his nemesis in Hag Graef. When Hamid tried to die, Irglier played a horrible trump card. He forced Hamid into services which would sent the Jihadist to the Chaos Gods. It had cost the Dark Elf a lot of IOUs to the Grand Vizier in Istrabul for the needed very seldom rituals, but in Irglier´s opinion it had paid out. Hamid´s life was transformed into hell. Dying was now no option anymore for him. Neither life nor death would give him peace.

Papenburg, Meyer Shipyard

Major Martensen saw the Landwehrmen assembling in the same meeting room that one year ago had been the starting point for the “Battle of Papenburg” for him and was more than happy to see so many of the old faces still there-and lots of new ones.
One should have thought that after the corncobbing the 31st had received, especially the first platoon, that it would be hard to to find replacements. Instead he now had the problem that his company was so overstrengh that there was talk of splitting them.
Even after one year the Landwehr was the the flavor of the month-none of his soldiers had to explain why he spend his spare time with “playing soldier” and there were volunteers enough. That the 31st did not forget the civil defense part of their legacy and that their famous Unimog could be seen at many a riding tournament and other big events providing medics did not hurt at all.

“Good evening Major” turning around Major Martensen found that his musings had masked the approach of a officer he was especially glad to see again.
“Good evening Lieutenant Frediksen-Jesus you look good. Maybe I should call Winkler as well, I could do some sprucing up.”
“You do not look so bad-but so you know where our Sani is-I know he wanted to attend and now his mobile is offline and I cannot reach him by mail.”
“His Wife reached me-he sends his regrets, he was flown to Middenheim on short notice. She was rather distraught.”
“Small wonder-the news say there was an outbreak of the red smallpox, that sounded bad.”
“Bad doesn't cover it-the last outbreak killed half of the empires population. I have no idea what our “Sani” could do there.”
“It is possible somebody needs the Sisterhood of Shallya to play ball-and Ralf would be in a very good position to make them. Looks like he still has not learned not to volunteer”
“That sounds fascinating. Tell me after the official part, will ya.”
“Can do”

A few minutes later Major Martensen climbed the lectern and had a look at the assembly. Men-and women by now-who showed the calm self-assurance that only a well drilled unit with a victory or two under its belt could project. It was his task to lead them-and his biggest hope was that he would be worthy of them.

“Ok folks, this opens monthly company meeting of the 31st Landwehr. This time is a special one as it is exactly a year since the time we were called to battle. It is time to remember those who cannot join and celebrate those who fought so bravely and survived.
It is time to remember why we joined this outfit and remind us why we continue.
I more than happy to announce that we are not the only ones that remember our fight: After this meeting we will have the party you are all looking for.
To give us one more reason to celebrate the employer whom most of us work for, the Shipyard, has seen fit to give us a little gift. In the words of Jan Meyer, our CEO, “I hate to train new workers every time you guys have a little battle.”
So because of this and a general soft spot of his heart we will receive 150 sets of Spidersilk armor, the very best Germany can make at the moment. Next time it will take more than a few Spitzohren to make us sweat.”
The roaring laughter was a good way to start the meeting.

Neustadt, 120 west of Naggarond, same day

Mathias Hartig was looking at the latest lead chamber they had been able to erect. It was a primitive process to obtain sulfuric acid, but so far he had been unable to secure Vanadium as a catalyst. Making sulfuric acid allowed him to make nitric acid as well with acceptable effort, and the two of them together would allow the making of explosives and other useful chemicals.

He turned to the slave’s overseer, a Druchii that had been provided by Lord Silverhawk. “Looks like they did it right this time. You can reintroduce full rations again. Also make sure they wear the filter masks, otherwise we have to train new ones too fast.”
“Yes Doctor, will do. You treat them very well.”
“As long as they do the job-why not.”
This left the overseer with something to think about while Manfred hustled along to his meeting.

Neustadt, as the Germans had unispiredly called their settlement, was a wild mixture of styles. Some of the beautifully menacing Dark Elf abodes that had been emptied by the Hung were mixed up with Log Houses and A-frames. Several long wooden shacks showed that the Germans had managed to get a circular power saw going and now had boards in abundance. Manfred passed the sawmill and woodchip treatment facility which made the cellulose that he needed as well as for making paper. The latter was sold to the Spitzohren at a very good price.
He walked quickly as the meeting was soon to start-and Germans need to be punctual no matter where they were-maybe it was even more important here where they had to make it by themselves or fail bloodily.

He managed to arrive in the Druchii building in time and went to the meeting room where everybody was already shuffling through papers or tablet computer file according to capabilities and needs. The room showed an incongruous picture. A high ceilinged room with arched windows showing in beautiful stained glass artwork massacres and tortures contained some dark elven furniture which totally outshone the German camping accessories and makeshift workarounds which adapted the room to the mercenaries needs.
The center of it was a long table with high-backed chairs that housed the meeting of all department heads of the “Schwarze Schaar”.
Claus Tolles opened the meeting and after the usual pleasantries:

“Ok, we all know that major combat operations are out for a while-we settle now down for the long winter they have here and build up. That means that we secure accommodation, income, production capacity and our auxiliaries. So let’s hear it where we are on things. Thorsten, you go first.”
“Alright, where are we. Accommodation-we are getting there. By now everybody should have a house he can survive the winter in-most of us quite nicely. We have by now set up a small production line for Stoves, and once we are finished with our needs I have the feeling that we will do nice business with them. We have mostly build the barracks for the auxiliaries and will finish them faster than the last ones will arrive.
Sanitary and water is as good as we can make it now-we will improve next year. Till then anybody who drinks uncooked water is getting the runs he rightly deserves.

We have set up several production lines for our needs and have already started to offer our wares to the customers here. From what I can see general ironmongery and paper will bring in good income. Also we start getting visitors who want to look at the assembly-line production we have set up. Seems like nobody thought about that before and it is the best way to use slaves in production as they only have to learn small pieces of the job. We should write that up into a manual and license it.
As for our auxiliaries, let me present you what I and Wolfgang cooked up.” Opening a long, slim box he took out a black slender rifle. The buttstock and front end showed wood, the middle was a solid looking metal box.

“So this is the Mark 1a – the first one that works properly, got Wolfgang`s ok and can be produced without too much difficulty. At the front end there is an adapter for a long bayonet, not only because here it is actually useful, but because the rifle would not be accepted by the Elves if it did not have something pointy. It can fire a 7,92 mm round at better than 700 meters/second, has a bolt action and is single shot. It does NOT use the same ammo than our STG44, but something very much like a shotgun shell with a bronze base holding the primer and a treated paper hull for powder and bullet. It uses guncotton as propellant. The bullet was a problem-at this velocity a lead bullet would just ignore the rifling and copper plating is out as it takes too much labor and machinery. So we went the way off France and “Balle D” and use a solid bronze bullet. We can use bullets of similar construction to reload our ammo as well, this is one reason why I picked 7,92 mm as the bullet diameter, less molds to make.
The wooden furniture is in two pieces-butt stock and fore stock-because it is not so easy to get really to wood in this area, so having smaller pieces is preferable.
This construction is not perfect-it will withstand rain but you cannot submerge the ammunition in water for any length of time. It also makes a repeating mechanism more difficult. The reason we still went this way is that we have not secured enough zinc yet to make brass – and what brass I can secure I need to make more ammo for our own weapons. If we choose this weapon I can pretty much guarantee that we can produce enough rifles for the auxiliary in time.”

“Seems like very good work. Wolfgang what do you say.”

“I took it out to the range-handled well it does not jam and it is easy enough to shoot and maintain. It takes dirt moderately well but you have to look after the ammo. If you really soak it the rounds will not load and or extract well. I could hit man-sized targets out to 500 meters repeatedly and would say that you can volley fire at unit sized targets to twice that.
Overall I think Torsten did the best job that could be done with the materials and personal at hand. I say we go forward and produce it.”
“Then thank you two guys-and actually I think you should get a bonus. Anybody who does not think so raises his hand-see that’s it. Wolfgang, while you are at it-how is the situation with your side?”

“Good news is 1st Platoon is coming along nicely. Give them 6 more months and they are competent light infantry with a kickass heavy weapons platoon. I can turn them over to Alex as soon as things get more fixed with the Spitzohren.
The bad news is-the Spitzohren. I have been going through the recruits we get together with Doctor Corzilius and we find we are getting the 4-F`s, the losers and rejects.”

“What, I was promised by….”
“Boss, before you go off on a tangent, let me qualify a little bit. First off the reason for many of the recruits to be considered failures are that they have acquired myopia. They were attached to crossbow units and are now useless to them. We are setting up a factory for glasses anyway, so we can get these guys back into the fight. Second you have to remember how competitive the Spitzohren are. If you are not properly networked in your unit then it will kill you-probably literally. Many of these recruits seem to be strong, fast and not too stupid, but their social intelligence is too low to get usefully linked or they come from the wrong family. This should be no problem as we need to train these guys and gals to a different culture and standard anyway.
There are probably also total klutzes among them, but we can weed out about 20% and still have a full TO&E. And if we can reform these cuties I think they will be more loyal to us than……”
“Think you can swing that?”
“If I can keep Bob Swaggert than yes”
“Do it.”
“Consider it done”

“Very good. Mathias, how about your egghead commandos?”
“Ah, we are getting there. As you may have heard we now produce enough nitric and sulfuric acid to make guncotton, nitroglycerine and nitric mercury for the primers. We currently experiment with gelling the guncotton with nitroglycerine and they press this into smokeless powder-then we can make everything to reload ammo.
We have set up a bastard petroleum cracking plant. Presently it is below primitive level, but gives off something that will work in the kerosene lamps, the older Diesel Generators and the Unimogs. I will admit anything better will need a lot more work.
I have identified a plant which gives off something like caoutchouc. If we can treat that right it would be useful in a million applications.”
“Thanks, keep up the good work. Next there is…..”

An hour later Manfred was heading home, hurrying again as he had his next appointment. Pulling a black sports bag out of a beautiful wooden chest he went out again. His path terminated at another Druchii building, much smaller this time.
He was greeted by a human slave who`s leg was shackled by a chain to the doorframe.
“Ah, Master Hartwig, Lady Jasla awaits you.”
Leaving his overcoat with the slave he was brought to the living room of the mercenaries’ resident witch, Jasla. Like the rest of her house it was furnished by Dark Elves’ furniture. The rest of the Neustadt inhabitants had mostly given theirs to Jasla as they had no use for it. The furniture was very slender , made for the slightly different sizes of the Druchii and their aesthetics were so removed from human custom as to be disturbing. Jasla had clad herself in only few nice looking silken parts, showing that she was here for play not business. Kneeling besides her chair was Petra, her German slave. She wore only her collar and had crossed her hands behind her back, by now Manfred presumed it came natural to her.
Normally the beautiful woman and the surroundings would have been quite distracting but today the chemist had other things on his mind.

“Hello Manfred, so nice of you to come.”
“Good evening Jasla. Given your invitation I could hardly refuse. You told me you have something special for me in exchange for the little toy you liked so much.”
“Oh yes, I have something nice and I do not think you know what it is.”
“Oh by your words I thought it might be a new slave?”
“You are so clever-but she is more special then you think. Come with me and judge if she is worthy of our little exchange.”
Jasla brought Manfred into another room, this one the “amusement suite” of the Druchii house. Of course it was not as refined as the one in Hag Graef, but Manfred had only human equivalents for comparison, so he was still quite impressed.

Currently he had no eyes for anything in the room but of the creature that unwillingly occupied the St. Andrew`s Cross on the far wall of the room.
Her slim figure was even enhanced by her bondage, showing off the small firm breasts and long legs. She was naked but for a gag and a small blindfold, so nothing hid her pointed ears or the longish hands and legs. Her limbs, while slender, showed well defined muscles and hinted at considerable strength. Anxiously she turned her head to pinpoint her sounds which only underlined her helplessness. Even that could not deny the impression of a young predator artfully fettered. She was undeniably a Druchii in all her lethal beauty.

“Wow, how did you swing that?”
“Oh little Yerna is a very bad girl. She defied her dad too many times and made him very very angry at her, and Daddy wanted something from me. So he was more than happy to pay his debts with his wayward daughter who obviously needs a firm hand in her education. Do you think you can do that?”
Manfred throat felt nearly too tight for a coherent answer but still managed a hoarse “I do like to try, I really do.”
“And you think it would be worth your little toy.”
“Yes, yes I think it will be.”
“Then we have a deal. Did you bring it, we can try it out at your new “project” or we can use Petra….”
“Oh let`s take your Pet, she know it already and will be sooo happy to see it again. I want to make my first time with Yerna special”
“Good choice I think. So?”

“Well, here it is. I have only two, and at present they are the only ones in all of Naggaroth. So here you have it, a SEL Field Telephone. I have already soldered crocodile clips to the wires, so you can apply the electricity without problems. It allows you to inflict practically limitless pain without much risk of injury or death, the perfect choice if you really want to bring the message home”

“Splendid. Let`s fix my little slave and then we have a blast.”
“Yes we will. I have also something else to entice you, it is called a magic wand, but not your kind.”
“Do tell”

Wilhelmshaven, Naval Headquarters, same time

Admiral Lerbs was amazed at the mass of reporters that attended the press conference. Defense related topics had become much more popular these days, so it was to be expected, but still…
Well, no sense to delay the inevitable.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for showing up in such amounts. The interest of the press for our refurbishment of Seeadler is overwhelming and I hope that I can give you something worthy of you attention.
As you have already heard, the Seeadler will go into the dock “Elbe 17” again for a major overhaul. While the ship has performed admirably during the Hag Graef Raid we had to note a number of deficiencies. Primary among them were the lack of ventilation to some compartments, the less-than-efficient-use of space and the sub-par firefighting are chief among them.
Such was to be expected from a ship that we hastily converted to undertake a vital mission. We were prepared to rectify these mistakes after the mission. Careful analysis now shows that it will be far more cost effective to do a more extensive rebuild of the ship as for a comparatively low additional expense we get much better capabilities.

As you can see in the two diagrams behind me, we will remove the current telescopic hangar and two layers of Containers and will replace them with a purpose build hangar and landing deck. The two deck houses will be replaced by two Islands, one for Navigation, the other for flight ops. On the other side we have several side lifts for the helicopters.
The self-defense suite will be upgraded to include RAM and Iris-T missiles and it has been decided that there will be weight and space provided for a “Taurus” launcher. All in the ship should be in the hands of “Blohm&Voss for 8 months. This seems short but many of the modifications are already prebuild. When Seeadler will come back from the dock she will be a much more capable ship and can aid Germany`s aims in many way. Now for your questions.”

“No we will not have planes on board-at first. But we believe Seeadler will be around for quite some time and therefore we decided to include a Skiramp.”
“Actually the costs will be well below the costs for another “Sachsen” Frigate and far below the costs for a complete new build-and we need the capabilities. We no longer can ask other to provide.”
"Yes, Captain Werner will retain command of this vessel."
“The roll in the display case behind me is a short letter of thanks for Seeadler and her crew. It was signed by 4723 former slaves.”

Bremen, Club Aladin, same Night

Ulf Grimnison`s hand were shaking. This was ridiculous-he was an accomplished stonebreaker, an apprentice to the famous Daimler-Benz company and he had survived the hospitality of the Spitzohren for several years. Nothing should get him this nervous any more.
But there it was: the unmistakable proof that he was. He was sweating more than he should, his hands were trembling and he really did not know how could go through it.

What got him was the reason for his problem: He could not bear the thought to let his comrades down. But by the same token, that meant he had their support-and they were good comrades. They all had met during the training at Daimler and found they shared an interest. It was remarkable that humans and Dwarves could work so well together, even at this. Now it was time to see if their efforts were worth anything. “Ok Stonies, lets do this-here goes nothing". Putting his ample shoulders back and erecting himself to his not-so-considerable height he led his band through the curtain.
Right on clue, the announcer worked on the crowd in front of the stage with: “And now folks, give a cheer for Bremen`s most hopeful newcomer band in the Category Dwarf Metal. Let`s all greet Grungier`s Slammers”

Alternate History Forum, same time

Post by Glen, Moderator of the Alien Space Bat Forum:

Now that it is nearly two years since The Event which took Germany to another universe and gave us the Wasteland in return we have to concede that some of our long standing members must have been taken with Germany. These include:

- “Beer”
- “Jotun”
- “Andromedos”
- “J. de Vos”
- “Uli Stoiber”
- “Wolf1965”

This list is probably not complete, but these are definitive.
We all hope they are well wherever they are now. They live the dream, may it not become a nightmare for them.

Temple of Shallya, Middenheim, next morning

Ralf Winkler suppressed a yawn when he went up to the lectern and faced the first group of Sisters of Shallya who still looked at him like a two-headed goat. His flight by "NT" Zeppelin had been long and the lack of leg room had made sleep a difficult preposition.

“Thank you Reverent Mother Serena for the introduction: Let us get over the awkwardness of having a man inside these rooms as quickly as we can, as we have a huge task before us which we must complete quickly and without fail. Let me just add that I was at least as surprised as you are that I got the call of Shallya but as you all know once you have heard it, it is very hard to ignore, so here I am.
As we all know we have an outbreak of the Red Smallpox which is highly contagious and has a nasty mortality rate. Scientists of the Robert-Koch Institute have already made some preliminary findings about the cause of this epidemic. This illness is caused by a Virus, a very small life form which needs humans to multiply and harms them doing so. This Virus is transmitted by breathing the same air into which a victim has coughed ort simply staying too close in the same airspace with him. Once the pustules open the liquid from them is also high contagious. This means that from now on you have to use the gloves that we brought from Altdorf, use the sacred disinfect for them and wear the mask at all times when treating patients.

The Virus seems close enough to a smallpox form that is known to German scientists, so we can treat it in several ways. The preferred method is applying a vaccine-this is a very very dead version of the evil Virus which will tell the human body how to fight the live one. It protects healthy persons from getting the disease at all and can cure anybody who has infected himself in the last 3 days and has the first symptoms of the disease. It will be your task to inoculate the population so the disease will not become an epidemic. So far any questions-yes, your question first?”

“How safe is the inoculation. I have heard Germans say inoculations are dangerous?”
“For this Vaccine there will be 2 serious complications-not necessarily deaths- per 500000 inoculations. When you compare that to the 50% mortality rate of the straight illness this is pretty safe. Some Germans are opposed to vaccinations on general reasons or for reasons which have more to do with estoteric reasoning than anything else. They can have such doubts as Germany did not have any pandemic for a long time-mostly because of better hygiene and vaccination. In the end it shows that not all Germans are very clever, me included. Otherwise I would not be here. Question answered?”
“Yes, thank you Sis…Brother Ralf”

“You are welcome. Now your question please”
“How do we get the citizens of Middenheim to accept this “vaccination”? It looks like you put a needle into somebody, it hurts a little and they have to stand in line with possibly sick people.”
“First off we rely on the sterling reputation of the Sisterhood of Shallya-this is one of the reason our governments asked us to perform the job. And if that is not enough, tomorrow there will be a very public ceremony where we will inoculate Count Boris and his immediate family, that should help.”
“Have you already had the inoculation?”
The former medic rolled up the sleeve of his robe to show a small red scar on his ample biceps.
“Question answered?”
“Yes Brother, sorry to ask.”
“Forget it, nothing happened. So if these are all questions, let’s have a look at how we do this, shall we. I will show you how to vaccinate and then you will inoculate each other to get some practice. Here you can see an inoculation pistol. It holds vaccine for 50 patients in this glass vial at its end. It is very important that you swab the skin where you apply the pistol with disinfectant before you touch the skin and that…….

Two hours later Ralf Winkler faced the next group of Sisters. They looked a little older and more experienced than the group who was already filtering out with vaccine and a mission.
“Ok, now that everybody has gotten the news about the virus and the vaccination program you probably ask yourself why you did not get a pistol and are now out shooting innocent citizens. The answer is quite simple-the vaccine will only help patients that have the infection 3 days or less. For all the other patients this will not be a help at all. For these patients we need to administer a cocktail of drugs which kill the Virus outright-and protect the kidneys of the patient from other parts of the drugs.
Unfortunately Cidofovir can only be administered as an infusion and that means that I have to teach you how to administer one. Actually that is more difficult that simply vaccinating and this is why you are here. Here you see a standard pack for an infusion, they come adult and children size.
For a peripheral cannula you need a swab, the disinfectant, two lengths of adhesive tape, the tourniquet and the Catheter with the Cannula and the IV Bag itself. So first you swab…..

It was already in the afternoon when Ralf had a look at the last infusion made by a Sister which so far had no chance to show her work. “Well done Sister Agnes. The only thing you could change is sticking the catheter in a S-bend so if the patient moves suddenly it is less likely he pulls the needle.
“I will do so in future Brother."
"Thank you Sister. Now, we have to discuss one more thing before we can all do our respective jobs. Please call together all Sisters who will do the infusions.”
A little later:
“Sisters, I have one more task to share with you-we need to find the source of this illness. To this end the German military mission has made a lot of copies of this questionnaire. As the patients that you are treating have the oldest infections we need to ask them since when they are suffering and with whom they have talked, whom of these were not feeling well-look at the questionnaire, it has it all spelled out. When finished please give the forms to Herrn Meier of the Robert-Koch-Institute.

Quarry, next morning

Uli Stoiber had done many things with his tank in his life-checking the runway of a would be airport was not one of them, until now. Driving his Leo up and down the runway at breakneck speed and braking hard at off intervals was supposedly somehow proving that this abomination was indeed a workable runway.
As the Reiksbund needed a runway right now some clever soul had remembered that the UK had used a rather peculiar method of making runways in a hurry during the Great Unpleasantness round 2.

They had used tractors to literally plow and seed the ground with cement and watered the result liberally. Roll over lightly once and voila – instant runway. Anybody with anything to do with concrete construction thought that this idea should have been throttled at birth: the exact composition of the soil was unknown, therefore also how much loam was in there. The size and composition of the gravel was mostly unknown-they had put some in during plowing, but what was in the ground originally was everybody`s best guess.
All of this meant that nobody could vouch for the quality of the runway, and that had caused Uli and his crew to drive the runway up and down like mad. That this would cause more maintenance went without saying. The runs gave a result that was astonishing to most onlookers-there was only slight-and easily repairable damage to the surface of the runway.

The tank commander disembarked and went to the knot of people still arguing about the results to enquire if another run was needed when he heard a voice in English which could have sprung from a CNN News anchor.
“My boys have used runways far worse than this. As long as you FOD it often enough we can use it just fine.” Uli looked for the speaker, who was a stocky dishwater blonde man clad in Air force overalls. The overall showed the name as “Raimond Wurz” and while it had the German flag on it, it also sported a ton of US airforce patches. The most important one showed a yellow Panther jumping from a blue cloud and read “81 Fighter Sq.”
“Don`t you worry, our Warthogs can do it from here just fine.”

280 Kilometers North of Middenheim, same time

Zepech the Skinner pushed his horse to go faster-his scouts had signaled that they had found something. The irritants that would have plagued a normal human who had ridden for such a long time, like an ass that had stopped hurting already or the irritating feeling from clothes worn too long were not for him. His armor was as much part of him as his right arm and he had not seen his own skin for several human lifetimes. Neither was he subject to ordinary constraints as hunger or being tired. His lesser companions were not so far removed from their human origins such as him but they would never complain about such concerns more than once. But he had been given a task and that task burned in him as surely as any coal.

His current job was overseeing a couple of Brigand bands who were foraging the countryside and brought their plunder to the left wing of the Crusade. Such bands were worthless scum and Zepech could have cared less about their welfare. But when 3 of these bands simply disappeared during a few days it meant that not enough plunder was delivered-bad. He could make that up by pressing more out of the surviving bands, but that meant that they would either starve or desert soon.
He could believe that one band deserted-he had not executed an example for a while-or that a band of remnant imperial soldiers had killed one-but three?
So whatever was happening he had to get to the bottom of things-soon. So he had gathered his heavy cavalry, his personal powerbase, and a unit of nomad hunters that had proven to be seriously good trackers and went after the last brigands that no longer showed up.

The Landscape changed the farther he went from the army`s main body. The Landscape he knew from his life close to or in the Chaos Desert-crippled and dying vegetation, crumbling buildings and wild nature was very similar to what the Chaos Crusade left in its path. The longer his recognizance-in-force went the more alien the surroundings became. Complete Hovels were orderly grouped around bigger Temples. Roads followed straight lines as far as possible and fields with only one crop and few weed were clearly separated from each other. It was unnatural, against the wishes of the true powers and showed the basic weakness of the imperial fools-they needed this artificial order to survive. He was part of a Crusade that would change all that-the strong would survive, the week would perish.

Prodding his horse to the point where one of his trackers was waving his arm to get his attention. The scene in front of him made him feel just like home-ravens and other birds picked on the carcasses that were strewn over the landscape haphazardly. While the carrion-eaters had their feast for more than a day enough was left to show that he had found at least a large part of his foragers.
Their state made it difficult to judge, but it seemed that most of them were killed with multiple musket shots-strange that. Who would shoot so many times with a weapon you could shoot 3 times a minute. The chief tracker showed him some footprints from boots he had not seen before and those of some shoed horses together with a track they could not identify at all. It seemed like the trail left by cars wheels-if said wheels were about 10 times broader than usual and left imprints like a snakes scale.

He followed his scouts at a distance in order to keep ambushes at arm’s length. When sounds like muted musket shooting started and the scouts dropped he was not too surprised. Having engaged in warfare for far more than a human lifetime the decision came automatically-a few gunmen in the lowly bushes should be charged.
“Form the ranks” brought his warriors into the broad arrowhead formation that he preferred. “Advance” brought them to a fast trot-no need to wear out the animals early. Only when the brushes were less than 200 meters away he screamed a “Charge” and lost himself in the glory of a world which narrowed down to a tunnel, of a life which just hung on an off-chance and the anticipation of glorious slaughter.

In this state it took him more than a second to realize that there was a huge upsurge in the shooting and that the Warriors and horses to his left and right went down like ninepins. His mind was just processing the thought that he had been lured into a trap when his chest and right arm was hit by something like a hammer blows. A normal human would have been dead instantly-he was made of a different stuff and obeyed different rules. His horse, while being quite different from any mundane animal was not, so when the front legs of the steed dropped like cut of and the head tried to submerge in the ground he was thrown forward at speed.

Somersaulting from unspent inertia he finally stopped on his back a few meters from the brushes that hid the shooters. Staring into an uncaring heaven he was unable to move and could just watch the appearance of an ugly nearly toothless face above him. Immediately after this sight appeared a piercing burning pain spread from his right armpit and consumed him utterly.
Warden Merkel wiped the fluids off the sturdy stiletto while taking utmost care not to injure himself while doing so. “I had it blessed by a Sigmar priest before we went, never hurts to be sure with these bastards.”

Sea close to Northern Ulthuan, later at night

Malus Darkblade did not sleep despite the late hour. Actually he could not sleep at all if he did not want to lose control to the demon he shared his body with, and especially at present this would be far too dangerous. Going from his study to the balcony to get a breather he gripped the stone balustrade and took in the Vista-it had not failed to inspire him yet. His Elves’ eyes had no problem to show him fine detail, even in the moonlight scene and the pale white illumination added a sinister feel to the view which suited him well.
From the considerable height of his vantage point the sea around him was filled with ships wherever he looked-sleek Druchii sail ships, the catamaran-like hydra ships and fat-bellied freighters all making their way through the rolling sea. They could have made better speed on their own, but kept pace with the Black Arc he was standing on.
In a fortnight this fleet would reach northern Ulthuan and then there would be a reckoning of old hurts the world would remember for a long time.

270 Kilometers North of Middenheim, same night

Nathan Alpers watched the landscape below roll by on the night vision of his flight helmet. It relayed the output of the recon equipment currently mounted in the back of the cabin. Its infrared and low-light sensors showed a mono-color picture of empty farms, unattended fields and forests. Living beings showed up well by their heat, not that there were so many.
The new helmet was a great feature for night flying but brought neck pains like nothing else due to its weight.
Navigation was done by laser-based INS and digital radio navigation which was done automatically, so the pilot, while staying alert, had the time to mull some things over.

There were a lot of changes in his life recently. He was still flying a great lot as the Storch planes were able to use the meadow close to the “contaminated” runway and were providing a lot of services.
The new pilots that had been flown in before the recent assault regarded him as the “old hand” who`s wisdom should be adhered to and Major Winter regarded him as the go-to guy for all questions regarding “Storch” flying. This was a change he could live with easily. That everybody was regarding him as a stone cold killer for his actions during the first assault was less to his liking.

He had finally gotten around to show the rune of flying and its effects to the Major who had been quite astonished. Nathan had to write a report on it that the Major had endorsed and kicked up the line. So far the heavy use of the STOL planes meant that he was flying the enhenced plane for the time being.
Likewise Ermine and Castle Wolfenfels were mixed messages: One the one hand the Count had been much friendlier towards him during the one visit to the Castle that he could make and the visit was really great. On the other hand all the flying he had to do kept him from visiting the castle again and that could not make him happy at all.

None of his thoughts would keep him from realizing that he had found another major camp of Chaos. He doubted that he was spotted-the engine was far too quiet and the lower surfaces of his plane showed dark colors, so unless he was silhouetted against some starfield he was sure to escape notice. He circled around the camp twice to make sure that everything was well recorded before making sure he was noticed.
Flying directly over the center of the encampment he thumbed a switch that dispensed a number of flared from a rack under his landing gear-together with 20 submunitions that would normally be carried in a MRLS rocket.

Nathan doubted that he would kill lots of Chaos soldiers but especially the time delayed explosions would keep everybody awake during the night. This was a big unit, it was visited every night. This could not do morale ANY good.
Looking around with his helmet he spotted a black shadow of something which moved like a snake with wings-no need to overstay his welcome. Firewalling his engine and putting the nose down to gather more speed he left for safer pastures.

Temple of Shallya, Middenheim, two days later

The ward in Shallyas temple was a long, high room with an arched window showing stained glass artwork at its end. Curtains parted the many beds to both sides of the walkway and Shallys Sisters were hustling up and down to serve those for whom the inoculation had come too late.
The ward was full, like any other in the temple-but it could have been worse-far worse. To keep it from becoming the disaster the outbreak was designed to be Ralf Winkler and the Superior Mother Serena went to one of the worst afflicted.

The girl on the bed was a horrible sight. Small liquid filled pustules covered most of the visible skin and changed her features into something that was usually expected from a scaly reptile. The skin showed huge hematomas which gave the red smallpox its name. The breathing was slow and liquid from all the mucus that could no longer leave the airways. She had a high fever and was certainly no longer aware of her surroundings, which was probably a favor.
The robed figures did not need to hide their pity from the unconscious patient.

“Do you think she has a chance Brother Ralf?”
“In an intensive care unit in Germany-probably. When us 5 would be together-possibly. Here and now-no chance at all I am afraid Mother Superior. And this is a shame for more reason but the obvious-by the analysis of the questionnaire she probably had contact with the original bearer of the plague. And if you are right and this is Nurgles doing, then we need to find the source quickly.”
“I will pray for her soul then.”

“Actually I want to ask you whether you could have a look-inside-her before you do it and before the info is lost. Herad could do so-can you do that as well?”
“I am loath to disturb her last hours, but if will prevent more suffering. Yes, I will do it, please look after me while I am-away.”
“Will do. When do you start”
“No time like the present-and we need to start quickly by the look of things”
The medic sprayed a liberal dose of disinfectant on the girl`s wrist before Serena laid her hand around the hot limb. The Priestess eyes turned up when her mind was using different senses than given to most humans.
When the Superior Mother Serena “arrived” inside Aida`s mind (Do not forget her name for Shallya`s sake) she found a happy girl which was running through the back alleys and streets of Middenheim, of a Mother who loved and a father who was proud. She saw a shy boy leaving fruit sometimes and girlfriends with whom she laughed and exchanged secrets.

And then things went darker-first her father and then her Mother started to cough and had high fever. Soon they were unable to work her market stall and the girl had to do a work that before always was just fun and never for real.
She also saw the same pasty faced middle-aged man appearing at the stall several times and ask in a sweet voice for the parents. He was also speaking to other on the market-and they all became…and then came the rush of pictures-totally overwhelming. The pictures of a childhood of growing up-so much-so fast that Serena had no chance to do anything but mentally scream.
Outside of the two womens minds Ralf Winkler watched about the still bodies which only twitched lightly and whos breathing had even slowed to….nothing on the girl-FUCK.

Checking the carotid pulse of the Mother Superior the medic threw her bodily on the hard stone surface and hardly made the effort to cushion her fall. The local Sisters which were in the same hall screamed in surprise and horror when he ripped her robe open to revel her bony chest. Pulling her head backwards he closed her mouth with a thumb and breathed several times into the Priestess nose.
Using three finger breadth from the lower end of the sternum for location he placed his hands upon each other while shouting above the din: “Sister Agnes-bring me the orange box from the doctor`s office-the one with “Phillips” on it-now. Somebody else-get the doctor-fast.”
The shouting got the Sisters in motion-and nearly masked the sound like a breaking twig that signaled the breaking off of several ribs from the Sternum of Serena when the medic pushed the first time on the Sternum.
Doing CPR is hard work, hell on the knees and bad for the lower back-and never felt by those who do it as they quite literally have a life in their hands. Despite having started early and doing it in textbook fashion Ralf did not feel any breath coming back into the Shallyas Mother. The crowd around him parted to allow the sister who had brought the defilibrator as ordered.

Ripping the case open the medic switched the machine on and then placed the two metal paddles on both sides of his patient heart. The monitor showed only fast and irregular pulses instead of a steady rhythm which meant that the hearts nerves were firing-but out of sequence. Time for a reset.
When the rising sound of the defilibrator showed that the charge was prepared the medic shouted “Back from the patient” and then pressed the buttons on both paddles. High voltage surged through the chest of his patient converting the spikes on the monitor into a flat line. Ralf set the apparatus for a second pulse when the first weak pulse came back-this time the right ones.
He was still applying assisted breathing to the priestess when the doctor and his assistant ran into the ward.

The Warp, somewhere? Sometime?

The being awoke with a huge pain. It didn't feel this way in aeons. To be honest, it could not remember having felt something before. It could feel his corps was dead to a very great degree. Although it could reform the body soon, it would still cost nost of it's energy. And that was dearly needed elsewhere. It could feel that nearly all of his plans had failed in the meantime and many of his worshippers had doubts, were killed or had even went away. It's cult was at the brink of falling apart. Now it had to save it.

So it lasted some time until it heard the man, or better the dwarf, was still alive, who had done so much damage to it. It wanted revenge.

Berlin, Charité

The dwarf was sitting on his bed and watched TV. He was watching a NDR report about new villages in New Prussia. One of them was about the foundation of the village of Dreiquellen or Nouvelle Trois Fountaines in Bretonain. A certain Jean-Luc Marquis de Saint-Lac was explaining his flight:

"The family of the du Saint-Lacs were fiefs of the valley of Trois Fontaines in the Grey Mountains. The valley is only accessible by a small pass which is closed for over six months a year. Only in the summer months one could pass. We were loyal to the King and the Lady. However, in 2460 IC the younger brother and the younger sisters of the late Marquis Jean-Louis, my father, were taken away by the Dames as they were magicians. That broke my grandmother's heart. My father felt hurt as well, especially when his mother died only three years later. At that time he was just 8 years old, as his father had died the day before his brother was born, then he became the official ruler. Until his 18th birthday a cousin of his father was reigning until my father took over. He did everything to help people with magical children. But much was done in secrecy. He smuggled babies through the near Grey Lady Pass to the Empire. Or he let them settle in his small realm. Everything went well for a long time. The local Dame was in some way not interested to do something about it. In 2519 my father died and I became the new Marquis. Unfortunately also the old Dame died and was to be replaced by Lady Isabelle de Lyonnesse.

It was obvious that she was very rigorous in her belief and soon discovered that there were many magically gifted children and some grown ups there. As most were even taught basic knowledge, she correctly assumed they were taught by the late Dame. She needed time, however to reveal the whole extent and sent a letter to Morgiana le Fay herself, which should be brought to her in the last days in which you could travel the pass. A letter which would never arrive. The messenger was in fact a spy of mine. Indeed I tried to convince Isabelle to continue the policy of the old Dame. But it was not possible to argue with her, instead she realized I was the head behind it. And I was, as two of my children were magicians as well. And my wife Marie was pregnant again. In this dark night the drama began. The argument was soon out of control and Isabelle was going to arrest me, when she felt a storm of Magic. In this moment suddenly I had a dagger in my hand and killed her.

It was easy for me to get rid about the remains, but I was sure that Morgiana was going to investigate the "accident" of Isabelle and then everything would be discovered. I needed to flee with my people no one should remain. But how?

While I was still considering the options a messenger arrived shortly after the pass was passable again. He came with a message of the king to prepare for a war with the Wastelands and Marienburg. That was my chance. Soon the whole valley marched to the battlefield. The field of Tannenberg..."

In this moment Felix went into the room. "Hello, Shorty. What are you doing here?"
Gotrek didn't answer. He hadn't spoken very much in the last weeks. His body was healed. Completely. Even some bad scars had healed. And that was a problem. Gotrek was a slayer. Indeed he was a god slayer, but he didn't know it yet. And a Slayer seeks an honourable death and that was what he had found. Just that now he was not dead anymore, he was very much alive. He had come back. And there was this word from this German: "Forgivness". He had to think about that. Indeed he wasn't really watching TV, he was thinking.

Felix knew his friend way too well. He had tried to talk with him but until now that did not really work out. Not for him nor for a psychiatrist or a priest.

"How are you?" Felix asked. "Fine." Gotrek answered. It was his usual Laconian answer. But this time Gotrek asked a question: "What do you think about forgivness?" "That's a difficult question and requires a difficult answer. There are two types of forgiving. Once the forgiving of others and twice the forgiving of yourself. Both might be problematic. Both might be easy." "Yes." said Gotrek. "You never told me why you had chosen the path of the slayer. But this German has a valid point: You were dead and thus paid the price. The guilt is repaid..." "I am not so sure. And I won't talk about the reason of my path today." Oh, I never asked for that." Felix said, although indeed he had hoped this would happen. "I know." Gotrek added. "I am simply not sure what happened and what to do now." I don't know, Gotrek. This is something you have to know. Sometimes forgiving yourself is the hardest." "Yes." "What about a holiday? The German government gives us three weeks at Malente..." Felix had said this and was indeed surprised when Gotrek told him that he agreed.

Gotrek wanted to solve the problems he had with himself. Another place might be good for that.

Anywhere else, and "The Worlds Greatest Playwrite", would have complained at being bumped and jostled so much, not that this mattered one jot, the muse had him enthraled. It wasn't yet the performers that had him, it was the audience - every colour of hair imaginable, more spikes and piercings than the most lurid paintings of Sigmars enemies, men muscled like dwarven blacksmiths apparently engaged in unarmed combat in some sort of frenzy of violence that would have given the Reiksgaurd pause before entering, and the perfomers, the noise, the cacophony they created gave unpleasant memories of the dread sorcerrer and the Daemons cunjoured forth, but the imagery, never in his wildest dreams, (or nightmares for that matter), had he seen a perfomance where such alchemey had been combined with showmanship, the band members spewing forth fire as if from a dragon, wearing burning angel wings, riding a giant cock, cooking another band member with yet more of the dragon like flame throwers, suits of pure light.

Never in all his days had Detlef Sierck seen such a spectacle. Stunned, his senses assaulted by an entire army, his ears ringing, he knew he would not sleep tonight, the muse ran through him like one of these new german steamless tanks, Panzers or whatever they were called.
An idea that he had been playing with suddenly took on new forms - the play he had been writing about the Victory at Wolfenfels. Could he make it instead as one of these "musical videos" he had been watching recently, none of this vapid rubbish, but something more substansive moreworth of his talents - YES!

His journey back to the hotel and the following two days were a blur, a frenzy of artistic creativity, but then, it was ready, now to present it he could see it now:
Detlef Sierck and Rammstein - this would be truely epic.

Sierck looked at the letter.

Herr Sierck,
Thank you for your submission to Rammstein. Unfortunately we are unable to accept unsolicited submissions directly. We recommend that you send these ideas instead via Rammstein's Management company. They can be found at the following address...
Hannah Noble

Detlef could not belive that he had been rejected so blithely, "these ideas" indeed.
It was clear that this Germany worked differently to the Empire, there just the mention of his name would open any and every door requested.
Undeterred, he resealed the envelope, and readdressed it accordingly. This would still happen, as surely as the cursed ringing in his ears would not stop, this would happen.

Just two days later, the package was waiting for him again. He read the attached note:

Dear D Sierck,
We are honoured that you would wish to work with our clients, however we are not forwarding any such requests to them at this time. We thank you for your interest.

Joachim Bloch.

As he read the letter, a small square of yellow paper fell away from the back. In poorly scrawled handwriting were the words - "Reject, no idea who this is, keep these clowns off of my desk".

"CLOWN"! Detlef shouted, his voice dripping with indignity, "Clown is it, well Minheer Bloch, you will see who the clown really is".
Detlef took pen to paper, now here was something that had GREATLY improved since the arrival of the Germans. Finishing his note, he called for a runner, "here, this is to go to the Ministry of Culture, to Crown Prinz Dietmar and no other, tell them it is from Detlef Sierck himself". Paying his penny for delivery, Sierck returned to his study.
"Clown is it, well, lets see how Minheer Bloch likes being a clown himself"
Returning to the script, Detlef read...
"Act one, view of the Quarry, forrest in the background, Lindemann wearing miners garb and carrying a large hammer walks in to view from Mine exit, cue first bars..."

Since WeltSprung, the Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, (to give him his full title), had so far not had to deal with the surreality his colleagues in Defence or Foreign Affairs had.
Until now.

"I quite agree your highness, it was most unprofessional of them. Yes, I can understand his upset by this response. Yes, and this is the ideal project to aid the cultural exchange between the Empire and Germany" Bernd Neumann listened as Crown Prince Otto Von Dietmar, his Empire counterpart, shouted down the Telephone line. Apprarently this was to be expected, afterall, those in the Empire were so far away, they would not yet realise they need not shout.
"Indeed your highness, I shall ensure the correct doors are opened for Herr Sierck, I found his stage adaptation of Drachenfels most moving. Thank you, good day to you too".

Neumann looked at the fax, so some playwrite wants to direct a video for a rock band and their management have refused to pass on the script for consideration. Normally such things would never have reached even his outer offices, but with sponsors such as this, it was good diplomacy to give it some attention.

"Roberta, can you get me Joachim Bloch at Pilgrim Management on the phone please, it seems it is time to finally cut some red tape instead of create it"?

Shortly a line began to flash on his phone, picking up the reciever he caught the words of his secretary: "Standby for Minister Neumann".

"Herr Bloch, hier ist Herr Neumann, now, I undestand that a few days ago you recieved a script addressed to one of your clients..."

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-20 09:19am

Same time, 250 Kilometers North of Middenheim

The NT Zeppelin used his reversible pitch propellers and the swivel prop in the back a lot to keep place. While the Zeppelin was quite substantial the gusts of the afternoon wind threatened to push it off the chosen place. Ernst Hermann winced every time the engines changed pitch and sound level as the wanted to avoid the enemy's attention and even the comparatively quiet Airship Diesel engines were bound to attract sooner or later.
The bowl shaped valley chosen by the KSK had all the necessary features: Some open space, a small lake which clean water and a certain distance to any reported hostile formations.
This allowed the Zeppelin to resupply the composite force of Reiksguard and KSK. It was one of the newer models-not yet one of the Giants under construction, but the Airship had been lengthened to gain more lift and 500 HP Diesel engines had replaced the 200 HP petrol ones of the first models.
While they were slow even compared to a Helicopter they had enormous range and lift capability. The Airship was currently lowering a platform from its ample envelope containing all the goodies Ernst needed to make things more interesting for the Chaos Army.

Also a firehose with a pump and filter was placed into the water of the lake. While his soldiers would unload the platform water would be pumped into the ballast tanks of the airship so it would not have to dump helium to compensate for the weight loss.
It took about 15 minutes once the platform was down to remove its contents and the same time to pump up the water. A little later the Load Master of the Zeppelin watched while the pump and hose was stowed and had a little time for the KSK lieutenant. “Thanks Lt.-that was well organized and fast. We hate to be overstay in Indian country when the platform is down.”
“I can understand that pretty well-that is why we tried to hurry. But what do you do when you encounter a Wyrm or Dragon while in the air? I don`t think you have weapons but for that machine gun under the Gondola.”

“Simple-we drop the ballast-all of it. Then we go up like a cork on New Year’s Eve, to about 6000 meters-there they do not go. But we have to spot them in time of course.”
“I`ll keep my fingers crossed then.”
“You take care too.”
Both Imperials and KSK put their backs into unpacking their resupply-and there was a lot of it. While most of the Imperials made sure that the party was not unduly disturbed the rest of the Team made two open-topped Off-road cars and their trailers ready and distributed the supplies for transport. In flagrant disregard of all environmental protection laws the packaging material were weighted down and sunk into the Lake.
Coming back from his watch post Hauptmann Hemmler watched the two vehicles they had received with interest. “So this is the “Serval” you talked so much about?”
“Indeed, I used one in Afghanistan and think they will be even more useful here. A .050 HMG on this one, a 40 mm Grenade launcher on the other and two 7,62 mm machine guns each on both. Only problem I have with them is that they have no armor to speak off-they even removed the bottom armor.”
“Why would anybody want to armor the floor of a chariot?”
“Ah, let me tell you another time, this would take too long. I`ll contact Dirk and the Warden.”

60000 ft. AGL, 100 Kilometers off, same time

High above the soldiers, warriors and monstrosities a slender plane with forward-canting wings soared. The “Hammer Hawk” drone was one of the silent stars of the Storm of Chaos Campaign. Before the Weltensprung known as “Eurohawk” it could easily have devolved into failure and scandal because the lack of a collision warning radar meant that it could not have flown legally in EU airspace. Wouldn't it been fun to find out who knew about that and when and who was responsible?
Now EADS had removed a part of the electronic sniffers-there were not so many cell phones to eavesdrop to-and added some less challenging optical surveillance systems. While the “Hammer Hawk” could take very nice pictures of a humongous area from its lofty height it also served as a relay for the comparatively low powered wireless sets carried by some German troopers.
Hawk 002 was currently the link between Dirk Zimmermann and the rest of his team.

In bright daylight and from 4 meters distance you could see the well camouflaged foxhole, if you have sharp eyes and you are told where it was. The Warden and the sniper had combined their considerable training and experience to make it so and it commanded an excellent view of their target. Both men shared the duty of watching their backs and observing their target through binox and NVG. Currently Dirk Zimmermann was on the line to his Lieutenant.
“Nice to hear from you boss. We have the target in sight-no changes since the last report. If you can make it, I am all for doing it.”
“Understood-next contact in 4 hours.”
The KSK sniper disengaged the microphone and looked over to Warden Merkel who munched on the contents of his “EPA” field ration.
“You really like this stuff don`t you?”
“You do not know when you have it good Dirk. Let me tell you of....”
While the sniper listened to his foxhole partner with half an ear he again watched the Chaos Army camp 2 kilometers from him through his scope and tried to see if anything untoward was happening....

Way between Quarry and Middenheim, Next morning

Captain Manfred Berger watched while an 15-ton MAN truck laid one of his precious aluminum folding trackways, They were marvelous things-strong enough to allow 70-ton vehicles to cross muddy or sandy ground and could be emplaced by two soldiers. Unfortunately in all of Germany there were a few Kilometers of this stuff when he could have used a couple of hundred.
The Road from Altdorf to Middenheim was a very mixed message. Originally, probably erected in Sigmars time or so, it used to be a very stout road made with an extremely deep foundation, roughly equivalent to an old roman road. If all of the road were like this he would not have problems at all.

Unfortunately during the many civil wars and other lapses of government of the Empire a lot of the surrounding villagers had appropriated some of these nicely hewn stones, until the roadbed was filled with dirt. In some places the road was still pretty good but in others the road was defined by an absence of trees. Closer to the Quarry lorries had dropped truckload after truckload of gravel, but the farther you went it became more and more difficult and so he had to expand some of his precious folding trackways.
Things were looking up though. The first parties of “Wolf” and “Dingo” trucks were making the trip to Middenheim and the first convoy of MAN gl Trucks was on its way. If and when they arrived one could think about sending the big guns.

Temple of Shallya, same time

Superior Mother Serena looked her own, and as far as Ralf Winkler was concerned classified, age for the first time the medic had known her. The normally resolute woman who had a ruddy skin color looked frail and white as a paper. That she had an IV-bag sending a small trickle of fluids into her, an oxygen tube ran to her nose and the wiring of an ECG emerged under her robe did not help any.
She was breathing flatly and too fast in order not to force her broken ribs out in painful ways and was looking at the source of her misery.

“Thanks brother Ralf, you got me back from the brink of death. There are still things to do for me.”
“Ah-you are welcome Superior Mother. I am happy that you take it like this after my suggestion put you in the path of so much danger. Not to mention the little problem with your ribs.”
“You suggested-but I took the decision and I knew the dangers well-I should have been more careful. And did you not teach me and the others that a successful CPR on “older citizens” is impossible without some broken ribs?”
“There is that. Still, thanks for taking it like that. How are you?”
“Better than I have any right to be-I am alive, anything else is details”
Both healers laughed and both winced after a second, Ralf from empathy and Serena from the pain of her broken ribs.

“I am very sorry to ask so early, but we must. Did you see anything worthwhile?”
“Yes, I did. The poor girl saw a man several times and from his appearance and her memories we should talk to him”
“That is good to hear. I think we get the smallpox under control, but I fear we get the next attempted epidemic if we do not catch this guy in time. I have already contacted the counts court and they will send a portrait artist over for a sketch if you feel like it.”
“That is a good idea, but I have a name to go with the face too. The man we seek is called Ingolf.”
“That is a real boon. I think that you did quite a lot to end this problem.”
“That is our duty.”
“Yes, and some do it better than others. If I am allowed Mother….”
“Get on with it, the younger Sisters are much better company than me……”
Both managed to laugh a little longer before the pain set in.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-22 01:45am

Pilgrim Management offices - Muskauer Strasse, Berlin


Bloch looked across the table, prim and proper as ever sat Hannah, the group's PA, Till and Christian in suits, while the remainder were sat in a mix of jeans and T Shirts.

"Good morning Gentlemen, Hannah. Thank you as ever for coming in" Bloch had a feeling that something wasn't right. Lindemann and Lorenz only dressed in suits if they wanted something, normally it would be one of the other, both spelt trouble, "have you reviewed the agenda"?
While the rest of the group shuffled papers, both Till and Flake remained immobile. Oh Shit. The thought hit Bloch sideways, they did want something, now it was to work out what.

"Aber naturlich Joachim", the keyboardist spoke clearly but quietly, "we also have an item to add, but this can wait for Any Other Business if it is not covered off before hand".

"OK, we shall begin then, we've booked you your normal recording suite for the next album, the record company are quite happy with the title - 'Alt Geschichte - Neue Welt'. How is the running order for the Album coming along"? Bloch still hoped to retain control in this meeting, but he already knew any control would be illusiary, all he could do is wait the storm.

"Looks pretty good, we have a few changes maybe but we're pretty happy with this. We don't think, in their current form there's a lead single yet, but it's looking good", Schneider looked up while replying, almost as soon as he finished, he was back looking at the papers he had brought with him.

"Danke, looking at the tour, Germany will be no problem, but the insurance company are insisting on a protection detail if you are to go into the Empire. The cost of this is looking high at the moment and equates to nearly 1 guard for every member of the band and crew, including enough to cover local stage hands. I can negotiate this downwards, but it will still probably wipe out any income from that leg of the tour at the least. Worst case though you may need to add 2 further dates in Germany"

"That will be fine Joachim, no one has toured the Empire yet, it would be good if we could be the first, 'Cultural Exchanges' and all that". Lindemann leaned back in his chair slightly, it was there in his eyes, a slight grin.
At that point, the rest of the band sat up and looked like they were paying attention, they all seemed to have a small stack of papers in their hands. It was Lorenz that spoke first.
"Joachim, I, that is we, would like to ask you about this script. I think I speak for all of us when I say that to have this delivered by a ministry courier is not good. You of all people should be aware of how we feel about taking orders from uncultured civil servants", Bloch gave an inward sigh of relief, this was good, he could tell them how he'd tried to reject it but was over ruled by Neumann, but that if They were to reject it, then there was nothing more that could be done.
"Of course Herr Lorenz, I did try..."
The hulking singer interjected "Actually Joachim, we wanted to know why you did not pass this on to us directly, after all, you are aware that in the terms of our contract, we make the decision regarding artistic content. This applied to our management contract as well as our recording contract". Till was being reasonable, this was it. "We have reviewed the script proposed, we do not currently have a song to match it, however this is in progress and should be ready to demo shortly, of course the working title is fluid but this is in progress. In fact, we wish to meet this Detlef Sierck at his earliest convenience. Please arrange his travel".
It hung, unspoken in the air, we make the decisions regarding our artistic content, the words, that should they wish to could end this contract.
"I will arrange this. I see we've reached the end of the agenda, is there any further business gentlemen"? Bloch could hardly see past the satisfied grins. These bastards loved twisting his tail like this, but for what it paid, he would endure.

Foxhole, 240 Kilometers North of Middenheim, very early in the morning

The Warden should feel itchy-he had not changed most of his clothes for a week now or so and since he was occupying the foxhole by now for more than two days the creepy crawlies of the countryside had found their way into his clothes. He was so used to this that he did in no way realize any of it. His German partner obviously felt some of it-but now he had gotten into sniper mode and the only sensations he concisely parsed were those that came through his telescopic sight.
As this made his world come down to a 2.5 degree cone he needed somebody to watch his back and keep a broader overview through more normal Binox-and that was where Merkel came in.

He loved the Binox-they gave his eyes a reach they never had, even when he was much younger and showed everything in great clarity. They even managed to light up his field of view a little without using electronics, but the best thing about them was that they were his. He received them as a gift when he volunteered for this crazy enterprise. He was not so sure about the compass that was included into his field of view, but who was looking a gift horse into the mouth.

Currently he was watching the “morning parade”. The army camp below was composed of humans which were still recognizable as such and mostly had barbarians and some cavalry besides the usual hangers-on and assorted rabble. A hastily erected palisade enclosed several different groupings of tents and other accommodations-in some cases none but the bare ground for sleeping. The middle was occupied by a muddy square which rapidly filled up with warriors of different types.
Whoever was leading this bunch had established his rule well as even these disparate elements did indeed stood to at the first light with minimal drama just like they did the last days when the Warden was watching. Dawn was a time used by many armies for surprise assaults as it allowed the attackers to see what they were doing while masking their approach during the night. At the same time the defenders were still tired and with any luck still sleeping. Successful armies therefore stood to at the first morning light just to be prepared to such an eventuality. That it was also a way to demonstrate the underlings how powerful their higher-ups were was of course a bonus. From his talks with Dirk and the practice with the KSK soldiers in the Castle it seemed that this was the same for the strange world the Germans came from.

What the Germans had never done was to assemble in the open in more or less orderly lines-and these guys here were about to find out why.
He heard the “wireless” which was connected to Dirks headset only as disconnected sounds but knew that they would signify something. The effects could be seen seconds later when a string of explosions hit a side of the square and some tents. The snipers “Left 50, down 20, then fire for effect” was perfectly audible, the result of a hundred small grenades pumped into the small enclosed space filled with humans perfectly horrible to watch. This is, if you are not Warden Merkel who had seen far too much of the horrors perpetuated by Chaos followers and who crackled with glee when the 40 mm grenades did their bloody work.

Unable to flee the camp quickly due to the Palisade and unable to take sufficient cover as digging holes for cover had not occurred to the invading army the camp resembled nothing so much like an ant hill destroyed by willful children. Running back and forth without any discernible sense they were subject to the 5 meter circles of lethal fragments and overpressure that were flung at them in such amounts. Still, some of the Chaos followers were made of a sterner stuff and watching for them was one of the Wardens jobs.
“Dirk, leadership looking type at 341 degree low at the horse pen….”
“Got him “ boom-in the small foxhole the M82 rifle sounded as loud as an artillery piece. The targets chest seemed to disintegrate under the hit. “Well done. There is a mage at 343 before the big gaudy tent. “Boom”..
At the end, it could not last. The grenades were coming in so slowly that they could be seen by eye and as they were fired indirectly they were not redirected in time to prevent a unit of heavy cavalry riding out of the gate at high speed.

“Ernst, there is a bunch of tin-cans coming up the glade. They seem to be angry at something.”
The KSK Lieutenants answer was again lost to the warden, but he could see the double line of tracers which went out from the unseen second vehicle. The lead horses of the charge dropped like ninepins hit by the bowling ball converting the aggressive charge into a bloody nightmare. Milling around because their leaders were already dead the surviving cavalrymen made themselves targets for additional salvos until they saw the wisdom of retreating into the woods.
The camp showed lots of Chaos followers leaving through the few gaps or even over the palisade. Some in groups which seemed to have aims, other singly.
“Time to go Warden.”
“Thought you`d never say that.”
Packed with nearly 40 Kilogram of weapons and equipment each the two men started to walk to the rally point 10 kilometers hence. The Warden thought the effort was well worth it.

Hall of the Elector, Middenheim, later next day

Ingolf the writer had learned that the Germans would indeed provide copies of all the “slides” they showed to make a “point”. This made his job a lot easier as so he had just to note the things said not contained in the copies. Still, it was quite a lot but he did not mind that any as any intelligence he could bring back home put the Master in a better mood-and the Masters mood was foul indeed. The illness he had brought to Middenheim was an artfully constructed one and would have caused many deaths and permanent pain and disfiguration for the few survivors. Many of them would have been easy converts to Nurgle.
Now a lot of people were sick-but very few would die and also the permanent problems would be averted for most survivors. Not only had the Germans and Shallya`s Sisters proudly stated as much, but his Master felt it in his bones. But now he had to pay attention.

“To summarize: The evacuation of the inhabitants of Nrothern Middeland is going more or less per plan. Grimmighagen and Brink have received German reinforcements and should be able to repel an attack by a foraging party without undue problems. The rest will go via Middenheim to Sternhagen where we currently erect temporary shelters.
We keep an eye on all major components of the Chaos incursion and have started to attack the outlying elements in western Middenland which are most active in foraging. We have already curtailed their plundering and will increase this when more troops arrive.

The aim of all of this is twofold: To rescue as many civilians from the approaching armies and to give the Chaos Army only an area empty of victuals to transit. Archaron is said to be an experienced General, he will shortly see that his advance is unsustainable and will retreat in order to organize his supplies better.
Until he can come back we will have the railway build and we can move a force like the one which just went after the Beastmen here on short notice-and if Archaron wants to fight them he will be defeated with minimal losses for our side.
This strategy, while it goes against your military traditions will bring the time we need and Victory.”

The briefing was greeted by a lot of silence-this went against all military traditions of Middenland and actually against their religion. The War God Ulrik had his shrine in Middenheim and the Wulf Guards were among the fiercest fighters around. The only thing that kept the Count and his Army from riding off to a final battle with the forces of Evil was that they were outnumbered about 10:1. They had waited for reinforcements from Luthor Huss, but the priest had been delayed at the Battle of the Quarry, so the Count agreed to this Strategy, and from what Ingolf had heard, with rather ill grace.

Even the longest meeting is over sooner or later and Ingolf was hurrying out of the room to organize his notes when his memory was still fresh. He should have paid more attention to where he was going as he collided with a German on his way out. He nearly toppled the man who could just keep himself upright by clinging to the writers shoulder.
The German was a slender middle aged man with receding hair who was unremarkable. Just when Ingolf picked his notes up again he found that the pinkie on the left hand of the German was missing when he handled him two sheets Ingolf had missed.
“I am truly sorry Sir, I did not pay attention and…”
“Forget it man, nothing happened.”
Both men hustled from the meeting room as both had appointments they did not want to miss. Ingolf went straight home as he had important info to hand over. His Master was very pleased with his catch and actually gifted him release from the gout he had put on Ingolf before.

Ottokar Proktor had, at least to a German not affiliated with Chaos, a more pleasant meeting in mind. Not too far from the palace a respectable, if anonymous, manor awaited his visit. No coat-of arms or sign announced its owners but well groomed men-at arms guarded the entrance gate, Knowing the German from previous visits they allowed his entry without fuss.

Inside he was greeted by a very beautiful 12-year old girl in adult formal clothing “Ottokar, so nice to see you again. Madam will see you in a minute. Do you require some refreshments in the mean time? Do you require a bath?”
“Thanks dear, some tea would be fine and the bath sounds just fine.”
“I will arrange Sir, the refreshments will be with you shortly.”

Ottokar had taken a while to get used to a bath assisted by somebody else as it was usual in the Empire, but when your helpers were as beautiful as the two matching blondes the Madam had acquired from Kislev somehow it was worth the effort. Still, it would not do to spoil the appetite. He had tried these girls together with the Madame, but while they were nice they were also common-and he did not dig for common when much more refined entertainment was avalable.

As the Empire was always in the market for goods from Germany the exchange rate between the Euro and the imperial Crown was very favorable, allowing him to indulge to his heart’s content.
He was efficiently washed and groomed and clothed in a silken robe before he was allowed into the rooms of Lady Ester. The rooms were definitively her rooms and expressed her style. Immaculate woodwork, beautiful wall carpets and exquisite paintings made for elegant boudoir that was in no way tacky.
The Lady welcomed him with a courtesy as if he was wearing formal clothes and not just the robe while she wore something which would not be out of place in a ballroom in Altdorf.

“Otto, it is a pleasure to see you back again. Does your work allow you the time?
“Whatever time I can spare Mylady II spend with you…”
It took them about 10 Minutes to get the small talk that gave both the feeling they were doing something classy instead of gross away and some more time nicely spend to unclothe Lady Ester. She was a delightful creature with the skin of a young woman, a figure worthy of poems and enough experience for a harem.
The time they spend together was very well spend indeed and Ottokar was wondering again what he was able to do under such expert tutelage. Both were lying on the bed in a state of sweet exhaustion when Ester gripped the German around his shoulders.

“Ottokar, I am sorry to ask, but I have a responsibility for my Girls. Is it still safe here or should I leave for a safer place?”
“You worry too much dear, all will be fine.”
“Don`t make fun of me Otto-never take me for a…”
“Whoha Mylady, cool it. Yes, there is a big bad Chaos army coming for Middenheim. And yes, there are not yet reinforcements here to stop them. And yes, if this Chaos Army would really hustle they might even be here before we have much more firepower available. But they are stupid enough to push it all the way, they arrive here they will look like starvation victims and their fighting ability will be that below that of your lovely assistants.”
“If you still make fun of me Otto, I swear I will….”
“I do not. We bring all farmers out from the area he is in and either move or burn anything edible. When the Chaos Army tries to march through this they will simply not be able to find enough food.”
“What a strange way to have a war.”
“Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics…”
“What are logistics?”
90 Minutes later a happy and slightly tired German watched the flight of a messenger pigeon from the house he had left an hour ago. Mission accomplished.

Road between Middenheim and Altdorf, 100 Kilometers past the Quarry

Andre Hartmann was driving his Mercedes Truck down the “improved” road to Middenheim. The convoy he was already the second to take the full trip, the ones before had established refueling and maintenance depots along the road. The 100 Kilometers they had done so far had taken nearly 5 hours as the fragile nature of the roads improvements made speeds above 30 kilometers inadvisable. Most bridges could only be passed by single trucks which did not accelerate things in any way.
All in there are few more boring things one can do than driving very slowly in a convoy and conversation with his Co-driver was difficult due to the engine noise. Andre had to force himself to count the time the truck in front of him passed anything remarkable till his truck did and to increase the distance again as needed. This proved to be a very wise move when two huge trees simply dropped on the road in front of the next truck as this allowed him to stop before becoming engaged in a fender bender.

The possible accident was removed from his mind when screaming, axe-wielding warriors emerged from the treeline and assaulted the Germans. There was no way to drive out of the ambush-the front was blocked, the trucks behind him still piling up and the terrain to the left and right simply impassable. His Co-Driver needed no encouragement, opened the roof hatch and manned the machine gun. Hartmann could only watch as sporadic gunfire went out from the trucks-not enough to stop the running madmen. The escorts were on ether ends of the convoy and currently too far away to help.
The Chaos warriors punched their axes into the trucks cabins, just to find that they were armored, into the load on the back and into the tires-none of that was any help but only the warriors close to the trucks had any chance of living as the rest came under fire from several machine guns.

Andre had already readied his MP7 when his Co-Driver started to shout and then gurgle. The driver had to watch his comrade being pulled out of the hatch while a copious amount of blood streaming down his breast told of a slit throat. The driver tried to hold the legs. When his hands sliped in the blood he thought better of it and inserted the MP between the body and the hatch. Shooting off a full magazine brought screams, a thuncking sound of something heavy hitting the roof and a drop of his Co-Drivers corpse on the shotgun seat.
Screaming, crying and shivering he pulled the body away and scrambled upwards to man the machine gun himself. Two bodies with a lot of holes and no life had to be pushed off the roof before a clear field of fire allowed Andre to shoot the assailants of the truck to his front.
Breathing heavily as if he had run a marathon he looked around for new targets-none to be had.

The Warp, somewhere? Sometime?

Now it had found him. The one nearly killing him. The one destroying its plan to build a new chaos gate. The one, who nearly destroyed its whole realm. It wanted revenge.

Coast of the Sea of Claws near Großer Binzsee, three weeks later

Gotrek and Felix had made vacations at Malente. Weather was warm and Felix could even convince Gotrek to relax. Going to sail and for walks near the beaches of the lake nearby seemed to be relaxing. Gotrek was still quiete. On the last day both made a trip to the coast of the Sea of Claws nearby. Gotrek asked Felix to stay behind. He wanted to consider his situation.

It was going to be late and not many people were at the beach, when he saw the ship for the first time. It was a typical dragon ship of the Norse. It drove south and looked like the typical merchant ship of the Norse on the way to a German harbour, perhaps to Rostock or Lübeck. The Norse ships were able to cross the Trave river from her new estuary to the old Hanseatic city. The deepening of the Trave was still going on.

But this boat was handled in a strange way as it changed the course abruptly and beached itself. With horror he saw the Chaos warriors lead by a Chaos Champion with them. And he had no weapon with him. A few Germans were calling for help, but these civilians could not help him and indeed tried to do the most sensible thing: Saving their lives. And the Landwehr would not be here before his life was over.

Although he had still doubts he did not want to die without a fight. So instead of running away he was waiting. Then they came.

When the ship reached the beach, about 20 chaos warriors and the chaos champ hit the beach. They ran towards Gotrek.

The first was carrying a battle axe. But shortly before he reached Gotrek, he collapsed. Gotrek was stunned and looked behind him. Indeed Felix had acquired one of these German pistols, a P1 and had shot three times on the first warrior. Soon after the second and third warrior fell. Felix had to reload.

In the meantime Gotrek wasn't idle either. He had taken the battleaxe and evaded the attack of the next warrior. His counterstrike litterally halved the warrior. The next warrior failed in his attack on Gotrek as well. The dwarf cut of the warrior's right arm and then beheaded him. A third warrior died, as his sword broke trying to block Gotrek's axe. The axe hit the sword with such a force it splintered. His chest was hit and he collapsed.

The chaos warriors had not expected such a resistance and had stopped. Because of that Felix had enough time to fire another eight shots at them killing another two. Also he could reload in time to kill another three warriors running towards him. But now he had run out of ammo.

In this moment Gotrek had attacked the next two warriors and had killed them soon. But then three chaos warriors and the champ were engaging him while the other four attacked Felix.

Felix had grabbed the sword of the dead warrior next to him and killed the next warrior by a hit into the chest. The second was hit into the stomach, but then he had to fight two warriors at the same time.

Gotrek wasn't in a better situation. He had buried the axe into the right side of his next attacker but lost the axe in the fight with the other two. In the last moment he could grab a sword and evade the next attack. But he had to survive two other attacks before the sword tasted chaos blood, when he hit the side of the third attacker destroying his liver among other organs. The attacker was down and although not dead yet he would be soon.

Gotrek avoided the attack of the last chaos warrior and was able to bury the sword into the neck. But this made him vulnerable for a moment. This moment the chaos champion used and hit his left side. A few months ago he would have been very glad. But now Gotrek had doubts. The last thing he saw though was the beheading of the chaos champ by Felix, who had barely managed to kill his two last attackers.

Felix, after being sure there was no other attacker, rushed to his dying friend. He heard the sirenes of the German police and Landwehr units and cried for help. But it was too late.

Temple of Shallya, sometimes

Ralf Winkler had done his best to help with the treatment of the many smallpox victims that were still at the temple for most of the day and was having a small dinner with the Sisters of Ward "B". The relationship with the sisters here was still a little strange as the order really was not used to have men on board. What had helped past anything his amulet and Serena`s intoduction could do for with his accepntance was that the vaccine and the anti-viral treatment worked.

Like with all good medical personal in any world the motto was "He who heals is right"

So taking a common meal and sharing the jokes all healers have served to improve this relationship.

"So you have these "little jokes" too in Germany"
"Yes Sister Agnes. In the old days we used to say that a medic has the choice to become religious, a cynic or mad-multiple choices are possible."
"So, what jokes did you use to relive the pressure?"
"Lets see if this one translates right: The Gatekeeper of Morr hears somebody knocking on the Gate an openes. Before him is a middle aged guy who wants entrance. "Hello, I am Ulf, and I ..." and then he is just gone. The Gatekeeper has never had this, but can do nothing so he resumes whatever he is doing. 5 Minutes later there is the knocking again and again there is the same man. "Hello I am..." and then he is gone again. Another 5 Minutes later it happens again and now the gatekeeper is so confused that he seeks Morrs guidance. After explaining what the problem is Morr thinks about it for a minute.
"A, this is Ulf Meier. He is in a Hamburg ambulance and gets CPR"

It took the sisters a minute to eqate CPR with the procedure he had subjected Serena to, the the laughter started for real.

35 Kilometers from Middenheim, entrance to cave, same night

During its long history many forces and beings had driven tunnels through the Warhammer world. Some were of natural origin, some were made by humans in search of ores, many more were made by Dwarves for mining or transport.
The Skaven had added more of them or had expended on the work of others. And then there were tunnels which were very very even and had grey walls of a stone nobody new and which showed the rusted remains of rails, and the absolutely smooth circular tunnels left by….something.
The short story is that when you know you way around there are very few places on the Warhammer world you cannot get close to without being on the surface much.

Skrulk Screwbender was just more than happy that he could leave the surface again. It was full of humans-and he hated humans. As much as he wanted to kill every one of them his clever caution demanded that he avoided direct confrontation as much as possible. His mission was far too important to risk being discovered.
Unfortunately the apparatus his slaves pushed was really easy to see and so heavy that it was hard to push. He was going through one set of slaves per day on average but still he going slower than he liked. Kicking his packmaster into action the latter used his whip to move the slaves in greater action.

“Push, push you loosers. We do not want to be on the surface when the day breaks, no no. “
The Skaven Chief Engineer watched as the wheels of the great machine rumbled over the uneven ground and went deeper and deeper into the cave while he followed. Before entering the cave itself he gave a last look to the spot where the human Fortress Town was brooding over the landscape. Even his eyes could not see it from this distance but he could picture the Walled City on the mountaintop easily. It had withstood all sieges and battles over many years-time to end it.

230 Kilometers North of Middenheim, two days later

Archaron`s tent was made from the skins of those he has vanquished over the years. It reminded everybody about who was Boss, kept the contents reasonably warm and dry, and the fact that the souls of many of those slain were still bound to the skin prevented most magical evasdropping.
That magically sensitive beings heard the screams and whimpers of those poor souls in the wind of the warp did not trouble the Warlord any-he liked it.
Currently the tents was occupied by some of his closest advisors and Generals-at least those who had been close enough to make it in time. The floor was occupied by Hernier, a disciple of Tzeentch who served as Archarons spymaster.

“Yes Master, the Germans have made their strategy quite clear-they want to delay us and deprive us of our rightful loot. They think they can starve us so that they can defeat us without ever confronting the main body of our army.”
“And what makes you so sure that this is their aim. It seems out of place both for the Germans and the demented followers of Ulrik.”
“Master let us examine the evidence-first off we have the reports from Middenheim, one is from the briefing to the Count himself, but it is also corroborated by several other reliable sources. The Germans were quite clear: They do not want to risk their light forces against our might in a direct confrontation with the crusade when it has assembled the complete host. They want to hit us with hit and run tactics so we have to concentrate. They plan to move all farmers out of our way and burn all stored goods we might use.
They have cited several historic precedents from their world as an example that this tactic works. One of our sources talked about things like “Vienna” and “Russia” even if we do not know what that means.

We also have gotten another German newspaper, this time one called the “TAZ”. Here it says “Evacuation of civilians may have sinister motive” and then it goes on that the seemingly innocent protection of civilians is just a cover for more war Germany should not involve itself in.”
This mashes nicely with the German capabilities we know-they can not send any of their "Panzer" to Middenheim without a working rialroad because they cannot drive such distances without breaking down. So far they have not send such a tank on the trip and even their lighter vehicles have problems.
We do not see many planes land at Middenheim any more-it seems possible that the Germans fear Nurgle`s gifts our attack left there. They only fly with Airships now and these are slow and do not deliver so much. What they deliver seems to be mainly medical stores for the Red Smallpox. We have yet to see a German plane-they indeed seem to lack the range.

So: to sum it up-the enemy`s capabilities we know and current tactics support the stated intentions that we have from several reliable sources. In short: I believe in the report that is in front of you."

“I see that-and I hope for you that it is indeed so. If your report is true we need to bring the armies together much earlier than originally planned and we have to march much faster. If we do this the Germans and their imperial lackeys can no longer pick us off in detail. When we march faster we should be able to get into areas where the farmers have not yet fled-and if we cannot march faster than some bow-legged farmers we do not deserve to come before Middenheim.
We also will organize battues – use some of the useless foragers as beaters and make sure that the rest of the jerks deliver the plunder-or they see the inside of the cauldrons. Then there are the flayers delivered by the Skaven-we will have other methods to get by the walls. They can serve as meet on the hoof.

So-we will go to Middenheim and we will stop for nothing. We will vanquish everybody and anything in our way and then we will storm this “City of Ulrik” and drown its inhabitants in their own blood. We will be in Middenheim in 3 Weeks and no longer in 6-and then we will have a battle this world has never seen. What do you say?”

“Blood for the blood god, Skulls for his throne”-as usual the Khorne`s disciples were the loudest. The cheers from the other beings in the Tent was quieter but equally intense-it would have just been nice if not nearly every one of them would gladly kill him if the opportunity presented itself. It was fortunate that Archaron did not need to sleep any more.

Middenheim, very early in the morning, the next day

“Here is another one Master, an especially nasty one as you like them”
“Yes, it is good, but I need more much more of them. We want this plague to succeed, not to fail like the last one. And for that I need rats, many rats.”
“If this wretched slave is allowed-what do you need the rats for-will you sacrifice them?”
“You are right-you are wretched and have much to learn about Nurgle`s ways. The sacrifices to Nurgle are those who succumb to the illnesses that we spread. But the illness itself is spread in different ways. Some by breathing, like the ones you failed to gift, and this one is given by the fleas that inhibit rats. So I need many rats-and mean ones.”
“Yes master”

The loudspeaker that was in front of the mixed group of Wolf Guard and Germans gave the conversation remarkably clearly.
Ottokar Proktor was the first to speak. “That should settle it-as much as I would have liked to keep this guy reporting what we want, but this is too much.”
“Herr Proktor, I do not understand you. For the last days you have stayed our hands and asked us to leave this heretic free so that we can spread lies, sorry “disinformation” to the enemy-and now you want to take him?”
“Alaric, I am sorry for this change, but now the potential risks very much outweigh the potential gains”
“What happened to change your mind so quickly?”
“The only plague I know that is spread by rats fleas is the Black Death, the bubonic plague”

Everybody in the room was silent but for the sudden indrawn breath by many. The normally stoic Wolf Guards went deadly pale and had good reason to. The Bubonic Plague had killed nearly every second human in the Empire many centuries before and it was not forgotten, especially in Middenheim.
“It is a blessed thing you placed this, this..microphone on this traitor, thank you Herr Proktor. We will handle this forwith.”
“Please stop for a moment, we should talk about this a little longer. If we do this we have to get all known agents very quickly-and discreetly. Let`s do it right, please…”

Ingolf had just stepped into the corridor which led to the office he shared with other stenographers when somebody approached him from behind. He was about to turn when something was sprayed into his eyes which burned terribly and made breathing very hard. He was still struggling with that when a sack was pulled over his head and his hand were roughly bound. He was carried away before anybody had a chance to see what happened.

“Lady” Ester was still in denial about what happened. Her household naturally started later than most Middenheim ones, so the steely eyed Wolf Guards had hauled her out of bed. Her guards had obviously not been able to mount much defense and her servants had likewise succumbed.
All of that was bad enough as she had paid the local Guard enough in money and services to be reasonably safe from such raids-and the Wolf Guard was far above such things. But the real shock came when she was kept in the Dungeon for hours. Not that she was overwhelmed by the screams and other sounds or the sight of the many instruments.

No the “thing” that got her was the sight of Ottokar Proktor, the nice likable, harmless German civil servant which liked to brag so much who was now sitting in front of her. And he did not look harmless or likable any more.
He was accompanied by a burly imperial who`s hood made his role in this too clear. She had refrained from pleading as the trap she had arrogantly walked into had been all too clear. Self-loathing had kept her so from saying anything when he asked her about associates or methods.

“You are sure that your usual methods would not help? They seemed to work rather well with this Ingolf-he now talks freely enough”
“Yes, even if he will not write much in future. But with her this will not work.”
“Why not, you seem very persuasive?”
“She is Slaneshe`s strumpet-she craves all sensations whether it is a fine lay or the whip. I`ve had that before, I could literally put them to death-and they laugh.”
“Fuck, well no harm in trying…..oh wait. Why don`t we..”

And that was when her real nightmare had started. Now she lay somewhere, gagged, blindfolded, ear plugged and swaddled in so much cloth that she did not feel her bindings. She felt nothing beyond a stifling heat, heard nothing, saw nothing-it was driving her mad by the minute. For something to drink besides tasteless water, for a little bit of meat-even for the whip she would gladly tell all her secrets as otherwise her mind would fracture into nothing at all. Indeed that was the only thing that she felt-her mind was going in small pieces…….

200 Kilometers North of Middenheim, afternoon, 2 days later

Ernst Hermann watched the last “beaters” return to the camp through his binoculars. This would be the 3rd attack on a Chaos camp by his mixed group and he wanted to have a little change of pace to keep his enemies on their toes.
The Army camp below his vantage point was a lot bigger than the last two he had raided. The intelligence he got said that the Chaos Army was closing up rank and marched a lot faster than before. His observations confirmed that. He was happy that his group was mounted on truck or horse as otherwise keeping pace would have been very taxing even for his elite soldiers. Enough of the rabble that accompanied the army felled out already. To his astonishment these clapped out followers were not just left where they lay. He had observed several instances where these unfortunates were gathered up and placed on a cart-and at least once after getting a rather nasty punch to the head.
But now it seemed that everybody in the camp was busy with cooking and getting a rest. This time no palisade had been erected-whether this was so because he and similar teams had proven this as useless or whether the army was simply too exhausted after the long march was of no concern to him.

He wanted to have another look at the camp before the planned strike. His binox were showing the camp in great detail. In the middle a collection of greats tents had great variation-from some which were looking half-rotten and on the verge off falling apart to beautifully detailed silken monstrosities which showed symbols which tended to move while he looked at them and which left his head swimming. In other places Chaos Barbarians had erected much cruder tents while some Berserk warriors had even removed the topsoil so they could sleep on the bedrock.
His inspection of the camp ended at the place where some Chaos followers had started to work on the venison the hunt had yielded. They had rigged up crude frames which held the animals at their hind legs so removing the fur and intestine was easier.
His brain refused to work on what his eyes were telling him twice before he had to accept the truth. Some of the frames held those who could not keep up with the march. The KSK lieutenant had to fight his stomach which insisted on removing the last meal and his instincts which told him to eradicate this abomination here and now. Slithering back on his stomach until he was safely out of sight he went back to his Servals with burning ice filling his thoughts.

“Any news from Dirk.”
“No Boss, he says all is fine-whats up you look bad.”
“Nothing that keeps us from doing our job-quite the contrary-these guys need to die.”

When everybody was at their posts he gave the signal to the two soldiers manning the GMG. This was a very nasty device that could throw out 400 40 mm grenades out to two kilometers per minute. As their target was huge and they had Dirk observing the fall there was no need to expose themselves more than necessary.

The first salvo was “just” 20 Grenades-not even 3 seconds of firing. “Left 30, then fire for effect” was heard both by him and the crew, so there was no need for him to relay the corrections. The gunner and his assistant fired the rest of the ammo in the first box and were about to change to the next one when the sniper reported in again. “Boss, there are 2-no 3 Dragons or something coming your way-go go.”
Shit-was this a trap? No matter-he had to get out of here. The small glade which held the two trucks was ringed by trees-he would never spot the enemy in time to shoot-he had to get elsewhere and fast. “Fall back to the Rally point-now now now”

As everybody was in the trucks they could drive off within seconds. For the Lt. It was hard to keep everything under control as he was shaken in his seat by the fast drive along a path that in better times had been used to move felled trees. As the path was rutted and soft except for trucks here was thrown about in his seat all the while he was craning his neck and upper body to spot the threat and the other truck. Through the small slit of sky he could see between the tree crowns he could spot a glimpse of wings or a sinuously strong body at times.
His gunners were fixed better than him and opened fire whenever they could see anything. While the 7,62 mm fire of the MG3 was of questionable value against the half-seen beasts the 50 mm HMG was another thing altogether.
The Browning HMG was venerable and a little too heavy by modern standards but used an ammunition that was newly developed for it. Using modern propellants which would have made John Moses Browning happy they achieved a much higher velocity and thus energy. It was sure to penetrate the dragons thick skin-but if they would hit something vital in time was another question.

And the fight was not so one sided-mostly behind them but on two heart-stopping instances in front of them fireballs appeared which would have consumed his little command if they would have been direct hits.
It came as a surprise when they broke through into the Glade they had used as a resupply point earlier. Now to see if his plans were any good. “Driver-stop at the treeline. S 2 drive into the clearing, evasive pattern”
While his truck drove close to the edge of the Forest the second truck started doing circles and wave patterns in the ferns that covered the open space, throwing soil into the air with the urgency of their flight.

His gunners for the first time had a stable platform and more time to engage. When the first Dragon settled for his attack run the gunner established a lead and then walked the tracers directly into the beast getting hits from the front to the tail end. At first nobody could see an effect-until the wings unceremoniously folded and the Dragon crashed into the trees at the far edge of the glade.

“Stop cheering you idiots-where are the others ones? S2 keep driving, we are not finished yet.” Ernst knew he was not supposed to scream, but raising his voice to the point where wireless was no longer needed was ok, wasn`t it? An surely a second Dragon appeared at the treeline belching fire as it went. The fireball did not miss totally, the fringe of it covered the second Serval for a heartbreaking part of a second. When it emerged it was clear it was out of the fight for now everybody on board was trying to punch out flames that burned on armor or clothes, nobody could fight or drive. The combat vehicle coasted to a stop when the driver was unable to do his job.

The Best which has so nearly succeeded twisted around in the air and tried to make the tightest turn it could to make sure that the Germans would not escape their fate. It had lined up the car again when 3 streams of tracer found it. While some of the lighter bullets seemed to bounce the HMG rounds vanished inside the Dragons magnificent body. No quiet death this time-some of the bullets must have found what made the Dragon breathe fire-and a screaming writhing fireball impacted on the earth between Lt. Hermann`s car and the stricken one on the meadow.
“Driver-forward, close to S2, let`s see what we can do to help.” The car went forward 5 meters and then slid to the side when a piece of loam gave way. As parts of the car`s bottom was on the ground they could not drive forward or backwards.

Nobody needed orders-everybody jumped out to get the Serval going again. The KSK officer had just unlimbered from his vehicle when something in the periphery of his sight made him turn his head. The third beast had arrived. No Dragon this time-a Wyrm. Looking like a Winged snake with 4 clawed legs it could not spit fire – and certainly did not need to. Its well armored body and meter long claws showed how it did its business-and currently Serval 2 was between it and him. It moved towards the stricken KSK vehicle two as if it knew that nobody could harm it-slowly and with undeniably purpose. Ernst Hermann throat went dry and the thoughts in his head were chasing themselves in circles always trying to find a way out-and did not find anything.

And that was the time when a second sight send him into freeze mode again. It was a sight that, like the Wyrm before him, had no place in the world he had left nearly two years before-but made perfect sense here.
The line of Reiksguard Knights which went galloping over the glade seemed awfully small compared to the Wyrm and their lances ridiculous against such might-but on they came. A textbook charge-close together, lances out and galloping at full throttle at the right time-but to what avail?
The KSK officer had often despaired at the knights. While the armsmen took to the modern weapons offered to them like ducks to water they refused what they did not know at first and even now considered their firearms secondary. They had an arrogant view towards “commoners” and sometimes seemed to enthusiastically ignorant-but nobody could fault their heart.

He did not just see see the impact of the knights-he heard and felt it. And while the lances may seem puny, well pointed iron tips that were propelled by 400 kilogram moving at upwards of 30 kilometers were not to be ignored. Horses screamed, lances broke-and everything was drowned by the scream of a Wyrm that was hit in body-and pride.
His tail swung around to scatter the knights-sending some flying and discouraging the rest. Wounded but still fully dangerous it reared itself up to take terrible revenge-and then its chest exploded in a fireball. Everybody`s eyes went back to the car where Sergeant Blascoviks lowered the tube of his MAW launcher. “Fuck off asshole, nobody invited you to the party.”

It took the KSK 30 Minutes to round up everybody, perform first aid, load the two knights which had not made it and right both cars. They had to machine gun two advances to Chaos knights which wanted a piece before they could go. Time to work elsewhere, they had certainly overstayed their welcome here.
It was much later at night, when everybody rallied at a point where they could lager for the night and await pickup when Hauptmann Hemmler pronounced them all “Dragonkillers” and introduced the rite of marking their armor with the acid for a Wyrm`s bloody claw.

Altdorf, same time

Lieber Herr Sierck,
We wish to thank you for your patience, having reviewed your script, the band as a whole have expressed an interest in working with you on this project.
At Rammstein's request, we would like to host you at our offices in Berlin, Germany for preliminary collaberational meetings at your earliest convenience.
We will be happy to make suitable travel arrangements as you require. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
To confirm travel arrangements, my direct dial telephone number is 0049 30 759 2267.

Joachim Bloch
Representitive - Artistic Talent
Pilgrim Management

"The band as a whole"? This was more than Detlef had expected in some ways, he was aware that he was, in Germany at least, relatively unknown, or atleast, relatively unknown for now. Sierck smiled at this.

As Sierck left his apartment in Altdorf for the German Embassy, (the only place he was aware of that had one of the long distance telephones), he heard, or rather noticed for the first time, the news from the cryers and on the posted news sheets: Chaos on the March - Dread forces from the north. Plague in Middenheim.
Plague - Sierck, while never observantly devout, made a mental note to drop by the temple of Shalya and make a votive offering. Shalya may be busy, but it could never hurt.

As he approached the Embassy, Detlef could not fail to be impressed at how these Germans had adapted to the Empire, at the Embassy gates, a combined patrol of Reiksguard and German Soldiers in their far more drab grey uniform jackets, spindly muskets, (or Gewehre as the Germans called them), but looking no less serious.
After showing the Guards the letter, he was permitted inside. Once in the Embassy, it was like being back in Germany, computers and Telephones on every desk. Fine clear glass for drinking from, even the machines that, (rather noisily), made something similar to tea, an aquired taste to be sure, was there. He approached the reception, the recepectionist, while not cold, was business like.

"Der Telefonraum is down that corridor, in the first door on the left. An assistant will help you with the dialling sir".
Once inside the room, he was directed to a booth.
"what number do you wish to dial minheer"? The assistant asked in unaccented Reikspeel.
"This one here on the letter please. I must ask, are you from here in the Empire"?
"Nay Minheer, I am from Germany originally, but because I work in the diplomatic staff, I was sent on a course to learn the language of the Empire. We are lucky, that not only in our cultural roots, but also in our linguistic roots, we are very similar it appears".
"Of course, thank you".
"My pleasure Herr Sierck, and I would like to add on a personal note, I watched your play Drachenfels this last week, it was incredible. Ah, it is ringing now, please speak normally as if the person you speak with is in the same room".
"Thank you, however I have travelled to Berlin previously and have learnt from my errors there, and thank you, I'm glad you have enjoyed it"

"Hier ist Bloch" came the voice, crystal clear, even here in the Empire, German communications were excellent.
"Minheer Bloch, hier ist Detlef Sierck, I have recieved your letter and would be greatful indeed to meet the band, I am free to travel immediately so we could meet sometime next week assuming the roads are good"? Travel across the Empire, even with these new German inventions would take a while, maybe a week wasn't enough, should he have said two?
Joachim goggled - a week? Really? Could he not be here tomorrow with the train or if he... a smile played across the managers face, so you want to play at influence eh? Time to play some of my own I think.
"Herr Sierck, if you are ready to travel, what say we pick you up this afternoon around 3pm, and arrange to meet with the band tomorrow around the same time"?
"So fast"? Detlef's mind was stunned, hundreds of miles in just one day? While these Germans may sound like they are in the same room, surely travelling to them was not as simple as all that? Hiding the sceptacism he felt he replied, "that would be wonderful Herr Bloch, I look forward to it".
"Excellent, I will arrangefor you to be collected from the Embassy at 3pm and I will meet you upon your arrival at Tegel".
"Thank you. Until then".
"until then Herr Sierck".
Detlef replaced the reciever - 3pm, he had time to return home and pack, take lunch and be back here.
Thanking the assistant, he returned home via the Temple of Shalya.

In Berlin, Bloch made a short series of phone calls, made some notes and satisfied, called his assistant.
"Trudi, please make a reservation at the Raddisson Tegel for 1 guest, Detlef Sierck and arrange a car to bring him here for 2.30pm please, no, I will collect him from the airport personally, danke".

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-22 01:48am

Pathology, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), two hours later

"Hi Torge, we have here some "presents" for you." the policeman said to employee of the pathology.

"Fine, how many, Frank?" Torge answered.
"Ouch. I fear I miss the game." Torge said.
"The HSV will lose." Frank said.
"How can you survive here as Werder fan?"
"I am a policeman with a gun."
"Anyway, I will call Dr. Petersen. She will be happy not to go to her rendezvous."
"Is it serious"
"I don't know. But we should talk better something else before she comes. Who do you bring us and what happened?"

"On the Baltic shore, erm, Sea of Claws shore, several chaos warriors and a chaos champ tried to make their revival version of D-Day. Well, a dwarf and a man did beat them back. The dwarf, however, did not survive as well. And as the UKE is better equipped than Lübeck it was decided to take them to Hamburg."

"Oh. I guess Dr. Petersen did ever want since the event to see a chaos champion and other races."
"Indeed, I want." Dr. Petersen said, who just arrived to hear the report. "Dr. Gottesacker, please call the team. Work is waiting."
After some minutes in the pathology.
"So here we have 22 interesting bodys from..." Dr. Petersen said to her team when she was stopped by Susanne, a student.

"I can see only 21. Look!"
"Where is the 22nd body? I did count him. Dr. Gottesacker, did you lose a body?"
"No, ma'am! I also counted 22."
"Then we have to look for the body. As he is dead he can't be far away."
In this moment she saw a small person trying to go out of the room but collapsing.
"There. He is still alive! We must help him. Who had done so miserably? Who needs a few lessons in determinating death?"

Hamburg, UKE, two days later

When Gotrek awoke, he smelled the same things he had only a few weeks back. Felix was sitting next to him. In this moment a man entered the room.

"What has happened?" Gotrek asked.

"We were attacked on the shore. You were deadly wounded. But you made it back again." Felix explained.

"Indeed. You were very lucky. I am Prof. Bulmentritt. I did examine you. And what has happened is still unbelievable. First off, your body has healed in a way no one can explain. All your scars are gone as well as your tatoos. Not only because we transplanted the skin, but also in the not damaged parts as well. Normally you would need about 15 more plastic operations. But you don't. Also, how do you see me?

"Very good! I... my eye!"

"Yes. We are in no way able to make a new eye. We have some steps towards an arificial eye. But an organic one, which is working? No way. I don't know, who made the mistake, but it was only seen here. It is way too remarkable. It has to be magic. If you told me that three years ago, I would have thought you were insane, but today it is the only explanation. With the new magic detector we could see that you are under influence of rune and chaos magic. Both very powerful magic.

However, this is being reduced when your healing continues. It had been reduced significantly and will be hardly measurable if you're healthy."
"What does that mean?"
"To be honest: I don't know! I talked to some magicians and even phoned to Altdorf. It seems you have to go to Altdorf to get more answers."
"Yes, I have to go. I need to go to Kharak Hirn as well. I need some answers on many questions."
"Do you want to talk to someone? I could..."
"Thanks, doc, but I need something else. When will I be able to go?"
"In a week. What is remarkable, if one considers your heart, lung and stomach were de facto destroyed!"

A little later the professor had left the room. Felix said: "You're so calm. Everything is okay?"
"Yes. Finally I know, what I have to do. I have many questions but no answers."

The Warp, somewhere? Sometime?

Again the being regained councieousness. Again it felt it had ceased to be. It could feel the pain. But what had happened it again did not know. Again most plans were corrupted. However, this dwarf was dead at least...

German Army Quarters, Counts Court, Middenheim, same time

“Sorry Boss, but the magic indicator that we got must be broken. No matter what kind of magic I dial in it always indicates strong magic-but does not show a direction. The needle turns with me”
“That thing is new, shouldn't do that, let me are right broken. I have one more, please be more careful.”
Ten minutes later “What do you mean – also broken-that is really not possible. But see the two have a tendency to go a little bit to the left ...and down. Down?”

It did not take the Major very long to rustle up magical help from the court-and they knew only one substance that would show up on all winds of magic-Warpstone. And from the indicators a real shitload of warpstone was moving slowly under their feet-that could not be good. There was only one group of malcontents who used Warpstone in such amounts. The same evening the call for the Tunnel Raider was relayed to Altdorf from Middenheim. There were rats in the cellar and they needed to die in the worst way.

2000 Meters AGL above the Great Forest, near to the Quarry, same night

The airship was slowly flying along a racetrack course that made it fly above the same spot of Great Forest again and again. It looked a lot like the NT Zeppelins that now crossed the sky in ever increasing numbers, just its skin seemed to have a slightly different hue. Its cabin sported less windows that usual and it already had diesel engines.There was an eye painted on each side of the envelopes bow and the Cabin showed writing in old style German script under the front Windows “Holzauge” (Wooden Eye).

Inside the envelope a radar turned ceaselessly ans several monitors inside the windowless cabin showed the results. It was the first operational patrol of the AEW airship which had been ordered because of the increased sightings of Dragons and the like.The windowless part of the cabin housed a quiet speaking team of radar operators who were preparing for the second half of boredom (also called watch) and opened the thermos bottles of corrosively strong coffee when one of the operators lifted his arm.
Herr Leutnant, see this-I have 5 bogies inbound-sorry 8, err.... lots of bogies inbound. I see many bogies inbound, course 140, speed 190 knots attitude 70 meters or so. I say they go for the Quarry-ETA 25 minutes....”

90 Meters AGL, Great Forest same time

The gigantic tree crowns of the Great Forest were moving like a storm was going through their leaves-but no mundane wind was providing motion. Huge wings pushed down masses of air to keep majestic bodies aloft. Snake like necks lifted malformed heads crowned by bend horns. For an distant observers it seemed like a view from days of the unthinkable past when Dragons had ruled a world that knew nothing of Elves, dwarfs or even humans. Dozens of the awe-inspiring cunning monsters were flying in a huge flock-some sported riders, most did not.
If said observer would have come closer he would have seen the mutations that had transformed the previously majestic fliers into malformed caricatures of themselves. Missing scales allowed a view distressingly deep into alien bodies, asymmetric wings needed lots of compensation. Eyes that should show cold and inhuman intelligence mirrored pain and madness of alarming sanity.

One of the biggest of these flying abominations had a rider-Ehgrimm van Horstmann brooded about the secrets he had been shown. Earlier his patron-mighty Tzeench himself-had gifted him with vision of disturbing clarity and pictures so fine-and yet he had no frame to compare them with. Some weeks ago the warp had been massively roiled up by a storm the like of which Ehgrimm had never seen-and then it was just gone. And with the storm his patron went silent, something nobody and nothing had witnessed-ever.
Since then the demons of the Warp had become more active again and there were signs that his master was also stirring – and then things went quiet again. This was intolerable; unthinkable, an affront against the natural order of things and it was threatening his power base.

Much of the intelligence used by Archaron about the Empire came from his sources-he was the backer of countless Chaos Cults. And now many links were broken, others weak. And weakness was something not allowed in the Great Crusade of the 8—folded path.
One of the last visions he had been granted had been about the Quarry that had seen so much bloodshed already. It had been revealed to him that this place was now used by the Imperium and their new allies as an Army Camp where they marshaled their forces and stored a huge wealth of weapons, fuel and munitions. Fuel that would burn, munitions that would explode and incinerate those who foolishly believed that their mundane technology could best the magic gifted by the mighty Chaos itself.
This could be a target worthy of his wreath-and something to show the other Chaos Champions that he was mighty. He had made terrible sacrifices and promised great riches to powers that lesser mages would never dare to contact. Using old deals and new alliances he had managed to achieve what no other had done in memory of time immortal. To the great alarm of everybody in the Chaos Crusade a huge two-headed Dragon had approached the camp. Both of his huge heads had their own personality-both were so absolutely mad that they were utterly incomprehensible to mortal minds-and both hated each other.

Of all Chaos Great Dragons Galrauch was the greatest, most mighty-and the most unhinged. This was just fitting as he was the sire of them all. The unholy fusion of an elven Dragon and a Lord of Change forged at the time of Malekiths grasp for power he had been the beginning of a line of flying monsters. He had brought what seemed to be an unending stream of his lesser siblings with him. This bounty of power had to be used-and used soon. If they would have been kept at the Chaos army they would have soon caused problems.
The Dragons had already attacked some of the imperial and German teams that had cowardly attacked the Chaos Army on the march. While they had suffered some loses that had put an end to these incursions and had lifted the morale of the Army greatly. Thatz brought the question: Now what?
The attack on Middenheim could only happen together with Archarons army-so it had been written in the stars. The best target was where the foolish humans stockpiled their weapons as long as the humans were unaware of the new threat.

This should be a simple undertaking-Galrauch alone had devastated the Bretonian city of Languerre de Lac-and here he was a part of a flying armada. They would succeed in this-and then the world would see what could be wrought with such might.

Airport 50 Kilometers from Altdorf, same time

Colonel Hoppe`s fingers had not stopped moving for the last 2 Minutes. He was following the words on a checklist he did not need to read and who`s words were so firmly in his mind that he was no longer aware of speaking them.
He was readying the most powerful combat plane in this world -and he was in a hurry to finish. Ever since yesterday his fighter-bomber wing was at heightened alert when a Hammer Hawk Drone had shown disturbing news. Now he was taking a part most of his fighter wing into combat. He was far too occupied by thinking about whether old Oswald Bölcke who had given his name for his wing would agree to what they were doing.
But the old pilot would have been impressed mightily by the screeching of 16 high powered Jet engines, the brilliant shock cones of the afterburners lighting up the night or the rumble of the planes who turned the guts of every close attendant to jelly.

The 8 Eurofighters were taking off from one of the newest air bases of the Reiksbund, established a couple of Kilometers from the Railway to Altdorf. It was fondly believed that its existence was yet unknown to the forces of Chaos as it was officially just a construction site. The few people who knew better had yet to leave the base.
His warbirds had a mission like no German pilot had before-he was sure they would do well. The Circus Boelcke had opened again – and it had such wonders to show to this world.

Quarry, same time

Heinz Albers was sprinting to his position-the same redoubt than he had defended so few days before. As the “Screamers” had been a common occurrence during the siege nobody had any problems identifying the warble of the air raid alarm for what it was. The quadmount was already being readied when he reached his station and the machine gun teams were setting up their mounts for high-angle fire. What was missing was any sort of target-or an explanation for the alarm.
Despite knowing better the sudden outbreak of light drew his sight-the night start of Patriot missiles was a spectacular sight as always-but this time it was a ripple launch of several. Heinz Albers started to swear at his own reflexes that had cost him his night sight for a while and tried to get his Company under cover as much as possible.

Finally his field telephone rang and Major Brennecke gave him what he needed nearly as much as ammunition: info. “We have a raid inbound, consists of more than 40 something-probably Dragons. ETA is 15 to 20 minutes. The Air force will be a little late to the party and I do not think the Patriots are going to get them all, so stay sharp.”
“Will do. Major-I do remember that many Dragons use poison-should we break out some protective masks?” “Good idea-I will send you what we have. Consider to send all personal without them into the caves.”
“Understood, will do.”
Putting down the receiver the Captain touched the hammer pendant hanging from his neck. “Sigmar protects-but mostly those who help themselves” and much louder “Lieutenant Teut-we should receive masks soon. Distribute them to the machine guns team ASAP and bring….

100 meters AGL, Above the Great Forest, same time

Van Horstmann was totally surprised about the explosions that ended the life of 6 Dragons and a mage. He had seen some ripples of light at the horizon and some streaks of fire reaching into the sky far above him a minute ago but could explain neither. He had started to look around with his magical senses but found nothing when a series of bangs ended the life of several beasts.
As any experienced Dragon and Rider his Dragon had taken higher into the sky-it gave him more room to maneuver and put more distance between him and the ground-pounders. His Dragons had already started to fan out so they could attack the quarry from several angles. Even without that it would have been difficult to change anything about the attack-and the mage would have no idea what to change anyway.
The second set of explosions happened somewhat later, Horstmann`s magical senses told him that this time even more Dragons had died-but then he was about to fly above the quarry and finally fight back. He was looking for viable targets in the dark area before him when he was blinded by a brilliant light that stabbed the Dragon flying to the left of him.

Fast moving lights came up from several places below and connected with the beast. It had time to scream-once and then a huge lump of lifeless matter dropped downward. Ehgrimm`s Dragon was already too far past the sources of destruction that he could attack them so he looked for other targets. A row of low wooden houses looked inviting, so he directed the flames of his steed there. There was a satisfying fire starting up immediately. Pulling up from his dive the mage saw something like a steam tank roll forward and rapid-fire a small cannon on its top. The Dragon at the receiving end of the fusillade burst into flames itself. Ehgrimm marked this as his target for the next attack before his Dragon got him over the cliff that marked the end of the quarry.

From the FAZ special edition "Two years on Warhammer" - The Economy = Once more with a feeling

It is not without irony that if the Iron Chancellor could visit Germany, he would feel a bit more at home than say a Frenchman back on Earth.
The car industry, once (and still) the pride of Germany, has limited production on a massive scale. To survive the producers branched out, while the people losing their jobs were taken over by new or resurgent industries.
For example, Daimler and BMW went back to design aircraft motors and build very rugged trucks. Suddenly Germany needed people able to make nails or barrels again en masse, so getting work was not a problem anymore. Friedrich List, one of the fathers of our economic system would be happy to see that after a time of globalisation, Germany goes back to the roots. One of List´s basic ideas was that an industrial nation no matter the circumstances should have inland construction of nearly anything it could produce, so that nation could not be bullied much.

The biggest problem on the road are the energy ressources. The first year was very hard, with strict rationing, the second better. Oil could be bougt at a high price, but basically the needs could be met. This was possible in part due to the reduced consumption of the industry and rationing. For users of oil and gas heatings a special oil/gas ration had to be made by the government, because in the beginning the oil supplies very so limited and logically expensive. Going into the third year on this new world, the strain on energy is consistently lessening.
Coal/Oil conversation refineries have been build in numbers and large oil deposits have been found. With rising tapping of these deposits, Germany´s situation becomes more "normal" each day. Most important source of oil and gas are the wells in Sylvania, those are also the most secure, comparatively. Other sources are in Araby and several prospector ships search in the Sea of Claws.
Electricity was never that much a problem, but today the supply is secure. Renewable energy is a big factor, since after the Weltensprung green activists could not stop the construction of new power lines from already exisiting sites for political gains. Coal power plants, half of the nuclear reactors back online helped with energy generation and Germany has enough of it now.

Among construction materials Aluminium became one of the easiest to aquire, ironically. For one, Germany recycles almost anything, giving back a lot of aluminium. There is even a big producer of recycled aluminium in northern Germany. New aluminium comes mainly from the Dwarfs, Karak Norn especially, since they never had much use for Bauxit, making it one of the cheapest raw materials, since it is a "waste" product for the "little people".
Wood and timber from the Empire has become a niche part of construction again, because the vast forests of the Empire make it a cheap, but quality material.
Bricks are equally easy to make, one not so obvious source is the part of the former Wasteland
which became German after arriving here. Brick-baking there has a long tradition and helps to replenish our old stores.

One of Germany´s biggest problems are computers. Most parts for them were made outside Germany before, so Berlin had to jumpstart Computer building again. AMD has factories in e.g. Dresden, so CPUs are there. To hinder a monopoly from forming, after 1 1/2 years of re-engineering, Siemens-Intel have begun to produce "Core"-CPUs again. Hit hardest by the Weltensprung was the german division of Apple. With no source code and most "secret" stuff only saved at the Apple HQ, Apple has begun the slow downslide into oblivion.
The BASF is busy upgrading freed facilities to produce for instance more harddrives, the chemical giant making a full turn back into computer business, mainly data storage, but other crucial parts as well.
In the area of operating systems, Microsoft is battling it out with Android and Linux. Unlike Apple, the German facilities of Microsoft had a source code for their Windows 7 OS, enabling them to continue on.
A cooperation of Sony, Siemens-Intel and Zeiss finally bore fruits two months back, with the first Tablets and Playstations produced on Warhammer.
But this bootstrapping of Computertech showed that new research into computers will be slow, but at least the processing power of the available devices is high enough to stop a general downslide. Still, the changes are already visible. Germany has gone back to "Tower"-PCs at home, while Tablets with attachable keyboards have become the mobile device of choice for most. Research is focusing on better monitors, more powerful Tablets and finetuning PCs.

Heinz Albers pulled the straps of his mask fast behind his head and put his hand over the filter. When he inhaled the mask was pulled against his face indicating a good seal. Turning around he faced a sight that seemed to combine a film about the Second World War with a fantasy flick. There were a number of searchlights which illuminated monsters which should only exist in nightmares chased by streams of tracer ammo from several sources. Fireballs and black glowing clouds appeared in the switchyard and showed where the Dragons had penetrated the human defenses. Smoldering corpses indicated where they had been unsuccessful.

A Dragon was making a beeline for the quadmount that was the centerpiece of the redoubts defenses. It did not flinch when two streams of 7,62 ammo impacted on it from an oblique angle and to his horror some of the bullets bounced off the iron-hard skin of the monster. The quadmound had taken longer to get its bearing but the effect was very different. One of the 4 tracer streams found the head and converted it into something even uglier than before. The huge body dropped on the outside of the redoubts palisade and for a second Heinz Albers was angry at having to redo the barbed wire belt again. This train of thought was stopped by the screaming and shooting caused by another beast who had approached quietly from the outside and came into view too late to do much. The black cloud belched forward by it engulfed the position completely. The Captain had to remember to breathe smoothly and not to let panic win. Gradually his panic receded at the same pace his vision returned-and then he wished that it had not. Two of his soldiers had not taken the pains to fasten their masks well and were writhing on the ground for that.

Still he had enough warm bodies to man all his machine guns and they continued to fire on all the beasts they could spot. On the floor of the quarry various vehicles had joined the fight. The two air defense Boxers should have been the stars of the show but the dragons were above the quarry for such a short time that the fire control had few time to work on a solution. Still, any Dragon which kept in the airspace for too long got a lethal dose of 35mm ammo.
As the Dragons were able to fly very low and turned close to the Quarry they never left the zone around the Patriot launchers were they could not fire as their targets were too close.

Some of the Boxers with the Puma turrets were also using their 30 mm autocannons with telling effect and some enterprising souls were firing the machine guns atop their Fuchs transports. A lot of that ended when a really huge two-headed Dragon went into the quarry behind a couple of lesser monsters. As the time to engage them all was too short he managed to get into range and smothered several of the defenders in a cloud of poisonous smoke and magical energies. While the poison was mostly stopped by the NBC systems the magical attack shortened the exposed electronics of the radars and some of the fire control equipment.
To their horror some drivers found that the Dragons breath was even strong enough to dissolve their tires to the point where they were nearly useless.

From the redoubt a missile was launched, the shooter had to keep the target in sight until a hit was achieved. The Stinger MANPADSs had been modified to look after the reflections of an infrared laser that was now mounted in the already heavy launcher. The missile managed to hit one of the great Dragons directly and caused a fireball from which various bits and pieces emerged.
In revenge the Great Dragon changed course and breathed death on both the missile shooter and the quadmount that did not manage to shift fire in time. Hein Albers kicked and screamed at his gunners to keep this monster in their sights while trying to reorganize his machine gun teams to cover the rest of the angles. This was bad, really bad.

His position was so exposed that he was not even surprised when several Dragons augured in on him at the same time. The heavy machine gun mount got another one and was about to switch targets, yet the German blaster-cum-officer saw it would be too little too late when two other monsters were engulfed by explosions.
The other veered off, unsure what had happened.

Eurofighter 012, 3000 meters AGL, close to Quarry, same time

Colonel Hoppe was happy-3 of his 4 AMRAAM missiles had found a target and none of them were on the Radar any more. His Wingman had also scored and the rest of his planes were not doing badly as well.
Getting closer to the battle he switched to his short range missiles. The latest mod of IRIS-T had a very sensitive IR seeker that could discern the body heat of a flying “biological”-at least it could when tested on imperial Griffons.
His radar had picked another target against the forest and the missiles seeker head, slaved to the radar immediately steered for it. Both the flashing diamond around the target on his HUD and the steady warbling tone in his earphones showed a missile which asked permission to fly.
Pressing the trigger the pilot shouted “Fox 4” into the wireless and closed his eyes for the fraction of a second that allowed him to keep his night sight.
The missile wobbled a bit after launch but tracked well enough and impacted on the shoulder of the Great Dragon who served as Hoppe`s target. The Dragon`s trajectory immediately converted to that of a brick and his huge body tore a new glade into the Great Forest.

Suppressing a whoop that he would have allowed any of his pilots the Colonel looked for another target-nothing like making ace in a single night. The two-headed monster that filled his view came as a rude surprise, his hands and feet working on the evasion before his mind saw any need. Machine and monster missed each other by few meters. Craning his neck the Colonel used the tactics he had been though to combat helicopters. Throwing his fighter in a curve that combined a minimum-radius turn with a parabolic arc he inverted his plane so that his target remained in his sight always. Coming down from attitude his HUD showed him a point to steer which he did. Pressing the trigger this time released a stream of 27 mm ammo. Within the half-second that he could keep the Dragon in his sight nearly 4 kg of steel and explosives went downrange and enough of it impacted to sever one of Galrauch`s necks, ripping off a head.

The German pulled his plane up into the vertical before turning the fighter around his axis and then completing the other half loop that brought him back into the into the fight, Max Immelmann would have approved.
Where his radar had before shown two targets there was only one now-YES, he was an ace, the first Germany had after a very long time. It was tempting to go after the last remaining Dragon but calls from the quarry made it clear he would be needed elsewhere. Switching the arms selector to his remaining IRIS heatseeker he pointed the nose of his craft in a different direction.

Galrauch was dying, there could be no doubt about it. Even the greatest of all Chaos Dragons could not loose a head and survive. But the injury had brought a blessing with the pain-freedom. Since 5000 years he had unwillingly shared his mind and body with a Lord of Change. Unable to hide any thought or to do anything by himself their personalities had semi-merged into a hateful, spiteful whole. Now he was rid of him and found his body mutated so far from the ideal that he had been to be beyond loathing and remembering deeds that were beyond redemption.
The worst of these was siring the breed of abominations that had shared the clean sky with him this evening. He could not do much in the time remaining to him, but what he could do he would. It was just fitting for a mind so wounded that his last act would be one of hate.

Ehegimm van Horstmann was gripped by utter disbelief. The attack by such a might of Great Dragons had to succeed, especially when applied against such a puny target. When the planned massacre became a real fight he had been gripped too much by the pleasure of the battle to retreat and he just knew he had been winning it a few minutes ago. Win despite the losses, win despite the unexpected resistance the victory would have been so much sweeter for them. And then within the space of maybe 30 seconds everything changed. He could sense no special threat but for the minds of many angry humans and saw nothing except maybe some flashes at the horizon. Just that within the spans of seconds more explosions killed most of his monsters and allies. He had not yet wrapped his mind fully about this but sensed that his only hope at survival was flight as fast and far as possible.

Even that ignoble end seemed too much to achieve when a screaming, fire spitting something dropped out of the sky and tore into the Dragon flying alongside him just to disappear before finishing the job on him. Not knowing what to make of this the mages confusion reached new heights when the wounded Glarauch attacked his ride. Even in its wounded state it was a terrible enemy and his remaining set of jaws had firmly fixed themselves around the neck of his dragon.
Winding themselves around each other like a bunch of snakes the dragons lost their ability to fly and crashed into the primeval woods below them. Their fight would know no victor-not that Ehegrim cared in any way.
He lay on a rock, face up and found that he could move no limb and could not feel his body below his neck. The next morning the first crows closed hi despite his hoarse screams. He only started feeling their work when they started working on his face.

Two days later, Quarry in the late morning

Uli Stoiber saw the last Boxer combat vehicle leave the Quarry to take its place as tail-end Charlie in the last convoy to leave the Quarry for Middenheim. While a lot of work had to be done at the Quarry again the bulk of Combat Group Loy had escaped destruction and was now on the path to Middenheim.
Time for what was probably an exercise in futility. “Driver, start engine. Platoon, follow me.” 6 heavy Leopard tanks and their supporting trucks started their engines and followed their faster brethren on the way to battle. His departure had been delayed long enough so that he could see the arrival of the latest arrivals at the airport he had tested not so long ago.

Of course he was happy that the Reiksbund applied real firepower to the coming fighting, yet these planes had been expressly constructed to kill tanks. Not only did this hit home a little too close, the Tank Commander asked himself what kind of targets could be worthy of their cannons.
The 81 Fighter Squadron had finally moved all their supporting equipment into the newly fangled air field and now flew in 12 A-10 Warthog planes.

Middenheim, same time

The NT mod Zeppelin closed slowly with the docking tower that had been erected in the exercise fields next to the Wolf Guard barracks. Many strong arms moved the airship the last meters until the hook gripped the eye at the tip off the envelope.
Inside Joakim Vos stretched his legs and fetched his bag from the overhead locker. He was still asking himself why he had volunteered himself and his squad for this mission-he should have been to experienced for such stunts.
After the usual hassle everybody was herded into a hall inside the Middenheim palace. The splendor of the hall led him to believe that it usually served as a ballroom, yet the current inhabitants were about as far from a ball as possible.

A lot of dwarves were there, both from the Landwehr who had accompanied him on the flight and from Middenheim`s Wynd district where many Dwarves lived since before Sigmar`s time. Germans were there, both the stone-cold soldiers who by now had seen enough combat to last them a lifetime or two, a couple of stocky engineers and some techno geeks. Wolf Guard warriors represented the Middenheim government and could be recognized by their pelts over plate and mail armor. A more diverse mixture of men-at-arms were hard to imagine and yet they were in the same room.
A middle-aged trim German officer climbed up on a desk as no lectern had yet been erected for him.

“Gentlemen, if I may have your attention” was definitively not a military way to get everybody, yet the respective traditions of the assembly forbid anything more straightforward.
“Gentlemen, I am Oberst Stein. As most of you know I recently led the cave raiders into during the raid on the Beastmen`s Shamans lair. This experience has convinced the governments who pay our lavish salaries to lead the mission into Middenheim`s underground network.
To get everybody to speed here: As of two days ago we have detected a really large mass of Warpstone that is moving very slowly below Middenheim-but while it does not break any speed records it is definitely coming closer. As the only known users of large amounts of Warpstone are the Skaven we have to assume that the Ratmen are planning to do something with it-and we can be very sure that we will not like their plans. Therefore it is necessary that we take a Combat Group into the tunnels and take care of them before they do the same to us.

This Combat Group`s core are the Cave Raiders that already did a similar job once. As we had losses during our last mission we enlisted the help of a squad from the 1st Kaiserlich-deutsche Landwehr to add firepower. We will also need the services of the Dawi militia as they know the tunnels below this city better than anyone and we welcome the fighting power and spirit of the Wolf Guards.
It is a German tradition to name a temporary Combat Group after the officer leading it. As we are not in Germany I suggest we do differently and in order to honor the last mission we will call us “Gruppe Gotrek”-and yes we have the permission of him. Let`s hope we can live up to that name.”

150 Kilometers North of Middenheim, same time

Ernst Hermann again watched the Chaos Army through his Binox-just that this time it was on the move. The floor of the valley below seemed to be completely covered with somebody or something marching ever forward.
The light Cavalry which brought up the front enjoyed still fresh air and a good view, the rabble at the unseen end of the column must march in unspeakable conditions of dust and an air full of the shit of so many animals-not the this army would care in any way. Between these parts were various types of infantry, some keeping formation, some moving like an unskilled mob, but at speed. Various draft animals pulled carts of all descriptions while bigger beats pulled cannons and wagons which might contain the parts for siege engines. But however their condition-march they did-and too fast. By no longer fortifying their camps, by using every hour of light for marching and by ruthlessly weeding out those who could not keep up they had made good progress.

As they were getting too close to the columns of refugees that made their way into hopefully safe harbors it was necessary to slow the army down-and he was part of the troops who got the smelly end of the stick. His KSK team had shed their Reiksguard attachment for the duration and another KSK team had joined their party instead. Additional troops had been provided from the recon battalions of the Paratroopers and everybody was truck mounted.
Ernst had been uneasy about this mission even before he had the Chaos Army in his sights as the diverse parts of the delaying force had not practiced together and lacked cohesion. He suspected who ever had cooked up this plan at very short notice had a tendency to underestimate the armies of Warhammer.

This could be disastrous at the best of times and the army in his sight was not an indicator of the best of times. On top of that his close escape from a fiery death only few days ago left him skeptical of the claim that there were few of these flying monsters left.

As nobody had asked him about his opinions here he was. His responsibility together with another KSK group was a branch of the valley that was used by the Chaos Army as a highway. As the first cavalry was closing with the mines buried last night it was time.

“Brake 6 actual from Brake 2”
“Brake 6 actual hears you” Captain von der Marwitz voice was clear and crisp, he knew the value of projecting calm via the wireless.
“Enemy will reach the mines in about 5 minutes tops-recommend we engage”
“I see it the same-engage on my mark in 30 seconds”
“Folks, get ready to engage……Now Now Now”

The so far calm march of the light cavalry disappeared in a whirlwind of destruction. Horses dropped and riders ripped off their mounts when 14 assault rifles opened fire at 600 meters. The surviving riders milled around for a few blood-filled seconds before they spotted the muzzle flashes of their assailants.
It was a picture anybody with Old Earths medieval history would have found familiar-the old Mongols would have looked similar. Shaggy looking ponies carried lightly armored warriors forward at a speed nobody would have imagined in such small mounts. Sabers and composite bows were presented at their enemy to wreck fast havoc-just that the enemy offered scant targets. The German soldiers had well-camouflaged foxholes and only the rifles gave an indication where they might be.
The charge of the cavalry had just gotten its momentum when several machine guns opened fire. Ripping through the Chaos Warriors like the proverbial scythe through wheat they produced a tangle of dead horses and men that did as much to stop the first charge as the losses.

The survivors of the light cavalry went as fast backwards as it had come forward. It took some time for any Chaos response to mount and Ernst Hermanns binox showed him hints of a mass of heavy cavalry forming up. He reported this upwards and his reports and the picture send by a drone motivated the Paratrooper Captain into using something heavier. Great fountains of dirt and flame showed where a 120 mm mortar was doing its work.
This just seemed to spur the enemy into faster action and a mass of heavy cavalry went into a charge even when it was probably less well formed up than intended by its commanders. This was not a picture a student of Earth`s history could well appreciate. The basics were there-heavy plate armor covered practically all skin on the riders and much of the horses. Banners flew above the units and horns brayed their challenge to the world. Yet the details gave a different impression-many of the Horses were far too big to be normal members of the equine family and many of them did not seem to have normal eyes. The teeth shown by the already heavily breathing horses indicated a diet that was not strictly herbivore and their riders were at least as far off the human norm as their steeds. Glowing lights from eye slits and other crags in the armor showed that many of them were no longer made up by normal matter and their weapons were shaped for pain and misery as much as for military purpose. Not to speak of the fact that some weapons screamed at least as loudly as their wielders.

The cavalry started their attack at the usual trot, working up to a full gallop quickly enough when the shooting intensified. The Germans exposed more of their heavy weapons now that a real target showed up. Heavy machine guns penetrated even armored rides lengthwise and ripped off limbs. Grenades from the GMG`s exploded on the ground, shredded legs and opened belly’s covering the ground with entrails. Despite all the destruction the charge went in, until it hit the first line of mines.
Probably none of the attackers had paid any heed to the small molehill-like dirt heaps that hid the explosives. They did not bring the killing to a totally new level either, but the sight of horses that quite literally were blown up to rain down of the survivors in pieces shattered the morale of the cavalry.
The KSK officer was pulling his lips into something even a charitable observer would not call a grin. His suggestion to add a little “Nitropenta formbar” (C4 for Germans) to each mine had worked well.

Flooding back in disarray they would have paid an even steeper price, but that was not in the German plans, they could leave the battlefield as they choose.
“All units, this is brake actual. Air warning, repeat air warning”
Ernst Hermann hunkered lower into his foxhole before he had consciously parsed the warning. His close encounter with the flying monsters had left the kind of scars you cannot see. He spotted the oncoming Wyrms the same time when two missiles rose from the rear. The Paratroopers who fired them guided them well and both found a target. One of the beasts dropped unceremoniously to the ground, the other managed something like a landing, just to pull itself slowly back towards its lines. All other beasts they could see flew away from them quickly, so intelligence mightn not be so far off.

From then on the Germans could just watch as the enemy started to fan out the main body of its army. Hemmed in by the hills they could not go there as quickly as they liked and the work of Dirk Zimmermann and several other snipers cost the lives of several Champions and of two imprudent mages.
He was about to get nervous when his wireless indicated that they would leave. As the enemy could not close the distance quickly the retreat went without much of a problem. While on route the Lieutenant thought about the next stop as there was a small river in a couple of kilometers. It had a ford-which meant that it was another chokepoint which could be used to slow the enemy down. They were nearly out of mines now, but if they would just dig the same mounds as before and put the few mines they still had in the first row they could fool the other side, couldn`t they? Ernst made a mental note to contact the paratrooper captain about that.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-22 01:50am

Dungeon below the Middenheim Palace, same evening

None of her former customers would have recognized Lady Ester at first glance. Her formerly long luxurious hair had been cropped to the scalp to prevent lice. Her skin had lost color and her face mirrored her desperation. Her eyes showed the disheveled state of her mind clearly-red rimmed her pupil darted everywhere and were hard to focus. She avoided looking at the padded suit she had spent the last days in, but it was still there and threatened her sanity.

Her shivering fingers wrote very minutely on a small strip of silk paper and tried to get each letter right. When she was finished she pushed the strip over to Ottokar Proktor who had watched her in silence for the last 30 minutes.
He looked at the paper and compared it to something on a sheet of paper that was in front of him. Finally she could stand the silence no more. “Are you satisfied now?”
“Oh it is very nicely done, I`ll grant you that and says all the things that it is supposed to say. Now if that writing of yours would match up with the blotter you used it would even be better. Come on, do you really think I would not have spotted that you wrote the name of your mage right this time-after you spelled it wrong for all the copies that we still have? Make you a proposal-do it right this time and you get to spend just the next night in your beloved padding. If you try again to fool me you can stay in there until the cloth rots off.”

It took a while for her incoherent screams and sobbing to slow down to the pace where the German could be sure to get through. “Come on Ester, I want to help you-but you have to help me also. I know your fingers will not obey you now-it will be better after some decent juice. And if you cooperate now I´ll throw a decent meal and a good whipping in when they take you out tomorrow-do we have a deal?”
15 minutes later Esters fingers were very still and smoothly wrote exactly the message she was supposed to send. Not much had changed in Middenheim-no big reinforcements had arrived, the nobles were getting restless as the Chaos army was advancing so fast, the airport was still unusable. She knew that sending these falsehoods would have serious repercussions, but the thought of more time in the padded suit was just unbearable. And the offer was too good to be turned down, not just food she could taste, but a whipping, that she could not refuse no matter the price. Real sensations that showed her that she still existed, to calm her and to keep her sane.

Looking forward to this she did not make much of a fuss when they put her into her bindings again.
The carrier pigeon the Wolf Guards had confiscated when they raider her home reached her contact before she was out of the suit.

Tunnel 120 meters below Middenheim, same time

Thorgim Starkorm pulled mightily on the starter cord of his Dolmar Chainsaw. The engine caught on the second try and its scream filled the tunnel-there was no helping it. Currently the cave raiders were using old mining tunnels that had been abandoned a long time ago. The wooden supports that had stabilized this tunnel had collapsed into a hovel when shifting pressure and some water had pushed them beyond their limits. They had to get rid of them, and soon so they could be on their way again and that meant making noise, even if that was not good tactics.

He had learned to use the heavy 7 horsepower saw when he started working for the railway. It was quite a handful for a human but for a stout Dawi like Thorgrim it was much easier. He marveled how quickly the saw went through even the strongest wood. He had joined the Landwehr at first because of the additional pay, never expecting to be part of any major fighting.
Then he was “volunteered” for the cave raiding in the Great Forest-and he had fought at the side of Gotrek in his final fight. That had been a turning point for him and when he was asked whether he would join a special unit specialized in caves and tunnels he did not have to think about it at all. The unit had just started the training that was to give them cohesion when the next set of orders came in-and now he was using a chainsaw again.

When he was finished cutting he put the saw back into its case and took his shotgun up again to provide overwatch for the group which cleared the cut supports. He just hoped that they would not find a similar obstacle when they were closer to the rats-that would give them away for sure.

Archarons Tent, 145 Kilometers North of Middenheim

The beings that crowded Archaron`s tent were used to violence and danger to an extend that was unthinkable to mere mortals. Having spent several lifetimes experiencing the same and dealing out even more of it they should have been immune to it and normally were.
That was not true when Archaron was concerned. He radiated a power and a willingness to do literally everything that would further the cause of his patrons and its own that even these hardened beings were cowed into at least token submission. That was the case even at normal command meetings when everything was mostly right.

Now Archaron frightened them to their bones. They were experienced, they knew the signs. Archaron was never more dangerous as when he was totally reasonable, polite and understanding. He could praise any of them as easily as making them wish they would die quickly-and the barrier between the two was only molecules thin. Nobody spoke up-being recognized was dangerous.
Archaron did not speak loudly-there was no need as nobody made a sound. He did not inject venom into his voice-the content seared into everybody like acid anyway. He did not swear-nobody he could swear at was in range-or dead.

“I think we can all agree that today`s battle did not go as planned-not at all in fact. We wanted to march 40 kilometers today-and we managed 8. We wanted to crush the resistance before us-and they got away. We wanted to kill these Germans for their impunity-and they killed a hundred times their number and suffered no losses that we are aware off. Can anybody of you tell me why this is so?”
“No, then maybe somebody can explain the disaster that must have befallen our Dragons-or did you see any of them again?”
“Come on, tell me your thoughts”
“Do you think that the warriors have no skill, no courage? No, that is good because I do not think so”
“Do you think that my planning is foolish and we suffered because of it”
Everybody tried to shout the loudest that this was not so.

“So, what is the problem then. Karloff, your riders did not catch the Germans despite my orders. Why, do you need better motivation”
“No Sire, we live to serve.”
“What then.”
“Range Sire. The thrice-damned Germans can kill us when we can hardly see them, let alone fight them. And their rapid fire-not only can they kill at long range, they can do it so fast. These “mines” we can learn to avoid-but how do you fight an enemy that never lets you close?”
“Good question, a very good question. So who thinks he has an answer to that.”

“Sire, if I may.”
“Hermier, my Chief of Spies that could not warn us-what do you have to say?”
The Tzeentch mage plaed visibly-and then did the only thing that could save his life and straightened his spine. “Sire, I warned you of the German weapons. I have told you and everybody in this very tent that the Germans have mighty weapons and kill from afar. Just none of us had an idea what that meant. We thought in terms of improved weapons like imperial cannon-bad if they hit you, but when you close quickly enough they can be killed. Here you can close, but you will not get close enough to kill before they get you.”
“So you think that we should give up?”
“No Sire, I do not. The Germans have range, but you need to be able to see the enemy when you want to kill him-and that we have to talk about.”
“Interesting-speak up”

Road to Middenheim, next Morning

Uli Stoiber fastened the strong wire that lead to the top of the snorkel to the eye at the tank turrets top and then made sure his loader tightened all wires evenly. Their lives would depend on it. Standing back a little to get his breath back he mused about the good and bad luck of this trip so far. His tanks had made actually good time so far and had advanced nearly 200 kilometers from the Quarry. The tanks had suffered nearly no breakdowns so far except for a thrown track on number 3 and a clogged filter on No. 5.

Partly this was thanks to the maintenance he had made everybody do on their tanks, partly due to the tanks being “zeroed” when being remade that was a very low number of breakdowns-it could only become worse. But now they had a different problem-they had to cross a river. The engineer that was responsible for the bridge had categorically denied them the use of the bridge.

The bridge itself was fine and should carry the weight of his tanks easily-but the foundations the bridge was resting on were another matter. Made from local soil several segments had hardened differently and gaps had appeared in them. The longer trucks were not so much of a problem but his comparatively short and heavy tanks might well destroy the bridge. So they had to rig up the tanks for fording. When KMW had rebuild the tanks from their old configuration they had increased the fording depth to 5 meters as bridges were in short supply outside Germany. This meant that all gaps and openings were closed by inflatable seals and a huge pipe was erected over the commander`s hatch to get air inside.

The banks of the river did not look too bad, so this should be doable. As any tank personal he was not happy about this, but it had to be done.
The first tank went through the river without any hitch, as did the 2nd and 3rd. His tank was next, so when the steel hawser was fixed to the tank he gave the command to go on. It was a harrowing moment-nobody could see anything but him as he was sitting on top of the snorkel. As any movement of the tank was amplified by the height of the tube he was thrown around inside. The going on the riverbed was not too bad-it seemed solid enough. His Leo was about to scale the other riverbank when something gave way. The front end of the tank was pushed sideways –and down. The driver applied reverse without orders, but one track would no longer provide grip, turning the tank even more. The tank Commander was about to order a stop when the water went above his head.

Tunnels below Middenheim, 150 Meters below Ground, Noon

Joakim Vos stood in front of a very dark hole now topped by a tripod. One of the engineers that accompanied the cave raiders manned it together with a warrant while one of the Nerds operated a screen.
Colonel Stein was looking at the screen that was held by the Chief Nerd. “The shaft goes 50 meters down vertically-I guess it used to be for ventilation. Looks like more of the same down there-another old mining tunnel. The shaft goes 50 meters down vertically-I guess it used to be for ventilation.”
“Thanks. Ok, Vos, I want you to take your squad, the engineer and some Dawi down there and secure a perimeter before we take down the rest.”
“Yes Sir”
The Sergeant was helped into a rig very much like a Parachute rig and fixed by a carbine hook to the cable that went into the shaft from the Tripod. “Ready when you are Sergeant”
“Thanks for nothing” Taking the step from the rim of the shaft into the blackness below was really hard-but he was expecting his squad to do the same, so there was no choice. Stepping forward he had a nasty moment until the harness took his load and he was lowered slowly into the abyss.

His Helmet mounted lamp revealed nothing but different bands of rock that slid past his face, but even this long decent had its end. When he found his feet on the ground he had a quick look around before he lowered his rifle and undid the harness. There was another tunnel that led deeper into the mountain, but it showed only blackness beyond the few meters lit up by his lamp.
Sending an “all clear” up he waited until his squad was down before having a look deeper into the tunnel that was to be used by the Cave Raiders. He was 3rd in the line of soldiers that went forward in spurts, always listening for a while and then going forward again. The point men held up his hand to stop the little column and signed him forward.
“What is it…uh that smells bad-what is it, rotting meat?”
“Smells like it, but that was not what I wanted to show you. This is.”
The tunnel made a turn that kept Joakim from having spotted the problem before. The way ahead was blocked by sheets of some material heavy with dust hanging from ceiling to floor in many sheets for meters.
“Never saw that before .” He used his combat knife to touch it, just to find that the material was flexible but struck to the blade like crazy. It was also devilishly hard to cut as it stuck so well.

By now the rest of his first fire team had arrived-the rest secured the back part of the column. He wasn`t the only one that tested his knife on the strange stuff, but one of his soldiers got it well and truly struck. Unwilling to give it up the soldier pulled a Zippo lighter from a pocket. “Let`s see if I can burn it off”
“Stop that Meyer before…..” but that was already too late the stuff, whatever it was, burned very very well, nearly like human hair and stank accordingly. A flashburn removed all the wispy stuff more many meters down the tunnel.
“Meyer you stupid koekenbakker, that could have been dangerous…” His helmet light revealed the floor of the way before them, and it seemed to move. The way in front of them was covered with what seemed to be spiders but ranged in size from a soccer ball to a German shepherd.

There was no need to order the shooting, the sight was so revulsive to everybody that the shooting started just by itself. Joakim was not immune to that, he managed to keep his shooting into short bursts, but his 50-round magazine was empty before long. The bullets spread so generously downrange ripped through the pseudo-spiders like through paper, many of them taking out more than one target. The tunnel was lit by the stroboscopic muzzle flashes had the sound of so many assault rifles in the enclosed room was deafening.
It did not take him long to replace the magazine, but there was nothing left to shoot at.

Shaking his head to reduce the ringing in it he wearily made his way forward, crunching the carapaces of the insects below his boots. The tunnel led to a crossing of sorts and the long-dead miners who had made it had also provided for some extra space. This place was as good as any to stop the advance and have the main body close up. The Dawi and the engineers would again argue which way was the right one while he could get his breath back. Some of the walls of the space he was in were covered with the same stuff as they had burned in the tunnel and leathery balls made small heaps in several corners. The smell of rotting meat had gotten even worse than before, so the Landwehr Sergeant ordered a closer inspection of their surroundings.

The persistent tinnitus nearly kept him from hearing the warning in time and he just turned to face what could only be a nightmare. The spider that charged his soldiers in horrible silence was nearly as tall as him-and many times longer. It closed it mandibles on the first thing that was in its reach-Joakim`s rifle. Nightmare or no, pulling the trigger was not even a decision to think about. The 7,62 mm bullets went into the had carapace of the Spider, in some cases even bouncing off from its insides. The propellant gases that normally vented had no way to get out and so blew up the spiders head like a letterbox at New Years Eve, showering everybody with ichor.
Even mortally wounded the spider refused to die easily and threw the rest of its head around, flinging Joakim clear through the cave.

This is where Oberst Stein found him, out of breath, covered in stinking ichor and close to puking.
“Weidmannsheil Sergeant. I suggest you shoot them differently when you want to keep a decent Trophy. Otherwise, well done. Can you continue after a break?”
“Wheeze, yes Sir, Wheeze”
“Good man.”

Small river, 125 Kilometers North of Middenheim

It never failed to amaze Ernst Hermann how many different contigents the Chaos army contained. Slender men and women in beautifully detailed silk clothing or revealing leather and metal outfits, shambling mounds of warts, boils and sagging skin that still kept up aside bronze armored brutes with huge axes. Their rides were similarly different, from fine steeds with red eyes, diseased looking horses that even showed bones to black monsters which seemed to be twice as big as any mortal ride. Their banners were the same only in the fact that looking longer at them induces headaches and nausea.

This huge shifting mass was approaching the fording that the Captain had picked for the next chokepoint. He had put the KSK to the right flank so the KSK officer had put most of his men to cover the ford-and some for the flank for securities sake.
They had dismounted most of the heavy weapons to get better coverage and had left more “molehills” on both sides of the ford, indicating where the mines were. It was just a shame most his exactly nothing-they did not have so many mines any more.

Again, the main body of the Chaos Army was shielded by light cavalry who approached at a broad front with huge gaps. The latter was new, it seemed that the enemy was learning not to bunch up when approaching modern weapons. The riders to the front stopped when the saw the molehills and some discussion started among them. Messengers were send to the rear and unavoidably the rest of the riders bunched together more while looking at the woods at the other side of the river, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever holding force awaited them. The Paratrooper Captain waited until the messengers reached the main body-and then ordered everybody to open fire.

The light cavalry was even more in the open than last time and did what cavalry nearly always does when confronting machine guns-die.
They were not where the majority of the heavy weapons were aimed at. While the cavalry had approached in open order it was a luxury that the Infantry and other troops could ill afford due to the limited space. Into this mass the heavy weapons fired from nearly a kilometers distance. The mortar scraped out circles of death, the grenades from the grenade machine guns picked 5 meter parts out of the army and the machine guns eliminated whole rows of warriors from the ranks.

The answers of the enemy were not long in coming-more cavalry went to the sides to outflank the German position, huge blocks of warriors started to trot forward-and die.
That was when the fog went in. It was an incredible sight-it started as a dense ball of smoke rising from behind then Chaos army and then expanded without getting any thinner at the pace of a running man. It took no time at all to cover the advancing troops.
“All Brake elements, this is Brake actual-you have your sectors and range cards-use them. Fire for the next 2 minutes-and then it is time to go. We will use the alternate rally point.”
Ernst could just watch the fog rolling silently forward while keeping watch over the heavy weapons teams. The fog did not stop at the riverbank, it just rolled forward until it covered the German positions. The temperature dropped suddenly by several degrees and the mist was accompanied by a cloying smell that none of the soldiers could place.

Still, the Germans fired as if not much had happened-their target was not going to move so quickly that even the uncorrected fire would miss by too much. Still- they could not keep this up for too long. A couple of sharp explosions from the riverbank showed that some fool had found their few working mines-that might give them some time.
“Time` s up people-mount up and go.”
Ernst was one of those who went backwards to their trucks, watching all the way for any attackers. It was an exercise in futility-he could not see anything past 10 meters or so. The fog did not just cut the view-it also altered the sounds and made the cries and barks of the Enemy appears even more strange, even more near than before.
Ernst Hermann was everything but a coward, but he was hugely relieved when the small column of trucks cleared the fog and went into bright daylight again. The question was-now what?

The warp-the same time, a very different place.

The being was looking at a river of blood. Not any blood, but only fresh oxygenated would do. His feet were resting on a mound of skulls. Not any skulls, but only those of mighty warriors taken in bloody close combat and consecrated to him could be so close to him.The smell of hot metal, of burning blood and bones filled what passed of r air in the beings realm and this was as it should be.

Khorne sat on his throne and did something what he had not done for a long time as estimated by humans-having doubts. He was not sure about something and for a God with desires so mighty as they were simple this was a very unusual state of affairs.
It was the Germans who gave him such doubts-he did not know what to make of them. He had not been impressed when they entered his realm-so few warriors for so many humans. So unwilling to settle their affairs by the only way that brought decisive results. So often talking about peace, spending so much time and effort to look after members of their society that had no more use-disgusting. So willing to fight at a distance, so unwilling to the enemy in the eye.But he was not a God who listened to the words of humans much, but looked at deeds.

Then came the Battle of Swinemünde, a nice appetizer.
It seemed like a exception as not much happened after that. Even their Germans raid into Hag Graef was a half-hearted affair-they killed enough warriors for sure, but had gone out of their way to reduce the killing of all others-pah.
And then came the Siege of the Quarry. Now that was bloodletting with style. He remembered the bloody slaughter fondly. And then came the sublime moment when the Germans and their allies struck at Tzentch himself-it showed the old schemer right. But the event he would savor for all time was when this..train went into the Quarries floor, directly into the Great Warherd. Killing the Children of Chaos so quickly, so decisively and so creatively, it was indescribable even for Khorne. His great Hunger, the Hunger for Blood and Skulls, the Hunger that was always there and gnawed at him like a beast barely under control, that hunger was almost sated for a moment.

For sure the Germans knew about warfare in ways even he had not considered before.
So, he still did not know what to make of these Germans. Time to clear his mind-he would give them a challenge that would tax them and show him for all times what they were made off.He could already see how the Germans and their allies had prepared the battleground for what they fondly believed was a battle they would control. He would make sure that the trap they prepared for the Great Crusade would be something more than they would be prepared for.
Then he could see what they were made off. A perfect solution-doubts were not for him and they would be erased by bloody combat. No matter who would win-the blood would be his, the skulls would be his-and the certainty.

200 meters below Middenheim, an hour later

As there was sufficient space and the place was defensible Oberst Stein had called for a halt so everybody could get some rest. Joakim was pretty sure that he would not get back on his feet until he absolutely had to found himself ambulatory again when somebody heated up rations over small gas stoves. This might seem a needless luxury, but as the temperatures down here were a constant and humid 12 degree an occasional warm meal was simply necessary. The smell of heated EPA`s got him back on his feet.

On his way to the heavenly smell he saw the Dwarfs using their axes and hammers to smash the leather balls he had seen when he came into the chamber. The elastic containers would not yield easily, but the application of dwarf muscles overcame the resistance. The balls ruptured and spilled their semifluid contents messily. Joakim was still wondering why the Dwarves too the pains when he saw the contents of the sacks in more detail. The fluid had drained enough so he could see small clawed limbs and half-formed mandibles that were inside the leather-like sacks-these were spider eggs. All of a sudden the hot food did not smell so good any more.

Rammstein Air base, next morning

Colonel Mike Kozlowkski went into the Hangar given to the Grey Lady and like practically every morning since two years wondered at the cruelty of fate that had put him, the Grey Lady and his crew in a world where Germany was the only technologically advanced country.
He had never trusted the Germans, not after what they did in the Second World War and had even participated in a forum that wrote alternate history stories about a Germany bombed into submission by more than 300 nukes in one night.

And of all people he had been put into a world where the Germans could run rampant if they so choose. He had been waiting with baited breath for the bad old Germany to emerge when nobody was looking-and then waited some more-and more. And the Germans did nothing of that sort-remarkable. Oh they had two military campaigns already but he really could not fault them. Actually after the Battle for Papenburg he had half-expected to get a mission for Hag Graef and was disappointed when he did not. The German solution was acceptable substitute for sure, even if they made the navy do it.
But so far the Germans had refrained from any conquests for “Lebensraum” even when they so obviously could do it, they had not started to go after minorities and they had not looked for a “Führer” yet.
Even now he was still not sure what were to happen but was willing to give them the benefit of doubt.

One of the good things that the Germans did was letting him keep the Grey Lady. He was sure that the Germans could have learned to use her by themselves but never as well as his well-trained crew. He had started to think that his work for the Germans would be like his many years with SAC-the big wait for the mission to end the world. The Germans had other plans-his plane was far too valuable just to sit around and they could maintain it far better than the 2 B2 bombers they had also acquired. So under his tutelage they had refitted the bomb bays of his plane so he could again carry up to 30 tons of conventional bombs. To make this possible they had removed most of his Electronic Warfare Equipment and strengthened the wings of the Bomber. The test flights had gone very well and now the Lady was prepared for combat.

The B52-H bomber was huge, an 8-engined throwback to older times and certainly older than him. The plane was ugly, much of it many years behind the times and she would not have a chance against anything resembling a modern air defense. It was also death incarnate and it was difficult not to be highly impressed by her.
She was also the Grey Lady, she was about to sing-and her voice would be heard very well.

20 Kilometers west of Middenheim noon

Edward the tanner was exhausted, not just in body, but in spirit. For most of his life he was certain about what to do. He knew every nook and cranny of his village, everything about the people therein and everything worthwhile about his craft. There had been few surprises and he was not fond of them as they mostly were bad.
Then his life was stood on his head-he had to leave his house and see it burned down, had to leave the land he knew knowing very well that behind him an army would roll over it like locusts. He had to march with all the people he knew-and many he never saw before-march for his life. At the end the Germans had loaded him and his family on one of their magical vehicles they called trucks and had driven him many kilometers over roads he had never seen in his life at unimaginable speeds. And all the time he had to learn something new-how to open a tin can, that one cannot put a plastic bag over the head to protect oneself from the rain, where to shit....the list was endless.

Having to learn all the time when he had gotten out of that habit at least 20 years ago was exhausting. Marching was exhausting. Not knowing how the next day would go, the next week would go, his life would go was exhausting.
His children were much better at learning than him and they were turning less and less to him for guidance which he could hardly tolerate.
His body was tired, his mind was tired and his soul was weary. Now there was another new thing. Ever since they reached Middenheim they were told they had to march to a “Refugee Camp”-whatever that was. Going to Middenheim was not recommended and when Edward had heard about the Red Smallpox he not seen any need by himself. Trudging down the road from Middenheim and just concentrating on the next step he lost himself in a kind of fudge and heard the loud voice only at the 3rd try.

Another of the horseless Chariots the Germans used blocked the way of the refugees and a man in checkered Uniform, a cloth covered helm and a rifle on his back used a funnel shaped device to speak much louder than normally possible.
“Sorry, but you have to wait here for a little while, our troops need this crossing soon” he stated for the umpteen time, just that Edward realized it only now. He was even more unhappy than before, it was always hard to resume the march after a while. He did not have to wait too long before he heard the rumble he by nor associated with the German magic of movement.
The column which passed by the refugees seemed to have no end. Truck-like vehicles with boat shaped hulls that seemed to carry rifles or cannon on their backs were mixed with normal trucks like he knew. Many of them carried Soldiers, some of them waved most hung for sheer life as the trucks were fast and the road bad. Some of the refugees cheered when the saw the allies but most were like Edward by now, far too tired and exhausted to care.

Even the longest column has an end and it was as hard as the Tanner had feared to resume marching again. Even so they reached a small valley where around a hamlet a tent city had been erected. It seemed very orderly, the smell of cooking fires and the laughter of children indicated that the long march was finished.

Lager Middenheim, 4 days later, in the afternoon

Nathan Alpers brought his Storch in without any problems and taxied over to the main hangar. When he walked over he saw activity at the sagging AC-160 gunship and walked over there. A couple of airmen were washing off the fake burn marks from the hull and while he was watching hydraulic pressure was added to the compressed landing gear on the right side.
The plane righted itself in a few seconds and started looking like a proper warplane instead of a mechanical casualty. We approached Captain Bartels who supervised all that work.

“Good afternoon Captain. What gives?”
“Ah, young pilot, watch the firepower of this fully functional gunship.”
“Nice to see your crate back up-but isn`t it a bit soon?”
“The enemy is approaching somewhat faster that our eminent leaders estimated, so we have to move up the plans. Also, we get reinforcements today and then it is no longer worth the while to play dead.”
“See you later then.”
“See ya.”

On the way to the debriefing the pilot watched a couple of soldiers with no protection at all colleting the biohazard signs that had graced the main runway for so long now. He had been debriefed and was on his way to the Cantina when another Transall landed on the runway.
Showing the same checkered sides and gunports as “Drache 1” the artwork under the cockpit windows showed a black-and-white cow spitting flames. The Name “Bunte Kuh” (Colored Cow) was stenciled below. Nathan had to think a while before he remembered that “Bunte Kuh” was the name of the ship that brought in the famous pirate Störtebeker. Jesus, next the pilots of these would start sporting cutlasses.

Cave 250 meters below Middenheim, same time

Skrulk Screwbender saw the accident before it happened but was unable to intervene in time. While his voice already started to rise the back wheel of his great machine passed the apex of the stone it had just rumbled over and now dropped into the hole behind that stone. Predictably the wooden wheel broke amid the hysteric shrieking of the Chief Engineer, the profuse attempts to distance themselves from the calamity of everybody else and the grunt of the last remaining slaves.

The packmaster had started to whip the back of the nearest two human slaves in a clear attempt to absolve himself from his lack of oversight. “Stupid human, only good to feed the rat ogres, stupid stupid” His whip went onto his targets with full force. Made from the thick abrasive skin of dead rat ogres and improved with bits of wire wound about it, it removed skin and muscle in copious amounts. One limp slave already showed the white of bones that were now exposed to the badly lit tunnel. The Packmaster would have continued to cut the last slaves to pieces if his arm would not suddenly be caught by a much stronger hand. A Stormrat stood behind him and pressed its clawed hand around his lower arm, another one took the whip from his suddenly nerveless hand and handed it to Skrulk. “Nice whip that one, difficult to master I am told. I think I will need some practice before I can use it right. Hold that pile of excrement against the wall, tight tight.”

He indeed needed time to master the whip-he hit the wall nearly so often as the packmaster and came close to removing an own ear once. When his ire was vented the target of his frustration looked decidedly worse the wear. Skrulk went back to the far more important but less rewarding job-repairing the Wheel of the Great Machine. He was still too far below Middenheim so setting the machine off here would not have the desired effect. A failure was unthinkable, so he went into this task with a gusto.
All of this was watched by a fat spider. Small by the standards of those the Cave Raiders had killed she was still above hand sized and ugly as hell. Her eyes were lifeless even when her head moved to keep things in her field of view. It would have taken very sharp eyes to see the thin glas fiber tail she had left in her path.

500 meters away from that spider drone several beings looked at a small monitor that showed the scene in good definition but no colors.
“What the hell is this thing?” Oberst Stein`s finger pointed at the wagon that was resting in the middle of the cavern. In a cradle going nearly the complete length of the vehicle a crystal was held by several clamps. It glowed from the inside in an ever-changing glow that even on the monitor seemed sickly and evil.
The Officer that took care of the electronic equipment and was naturally called “Chief Nerd” did his best to answer “Cannot say for sure, but me and Meister Jagt agree that this crystal is Warpstone-and the boxes at the ends might contain explosives to crush it so it releases its energy.”
“About how much power are we talking here?”
“No way to tell for sure-but a warp cannon contains a 10 kilogram Crystal that is good for a couple of dozen shots. That thing will weight a ton or two and would give off its energy in one go-I think we are talking about an event you usually describe in Kilotons Sir.”

“And it gets even better. I am pretty sure that it you hit the Warpstone with a rifle it might at least fizzle-but it might also go off full scale. That stuff is totally unpredictable.”
“Scheiße Scheiße Scheiße. Ok, it does not help-we got to do something about it. Alarich, Strongorm, Voss-we need to talk”
The Group went a few meters away from the rest of the Cave raiders to discuss their options.
“Gentlemen, in front of us is a group of Skaven that possess a Warpstone-powered device of greast destructive power. I want to attack this group of Ratmen right away. If we wait for reinforcements the Skaven might reach the point where they set off the weapon-or they might do it here if they find their path is blocked. There is one problem though-we cannot use our rifles or Grenades lest we set this thing off ourselves. I suggest that we keep the shotguns with the experts of the Group and strict orders to shoot away from the device. Like it or not, the rest of the job has to be done the old way-we give them the cold steel.”
“Can do Oberst” Alarich of the Wolf Guard
“We will mince the Rats nice for you Oberst” Thorgrim Strongorm
“What a clusterfuck” Joakim Vos
“I think we can improve our chances in some ways-we start with flashbangs, that should slow them down so we can close. We will also have the element of surprise-any other suggestions?”
The Brown robed Mage that accompanied the group held up a hand to get attention. “Yes Meister Jagt”
“There is not much living matter down here, so my magic is limited, but I think I can…..

15 Minutes later Joakim Vos checked the shotgun over he had just received from Thorgrim. “Thanks Thorgim, I`ll take good care of it for you. Are you sure about this, I did not see you carry anthing but a dagger.”
“Come on, we both know who is the better shot here-you thought me how to use it. And I have something else in mind than the dagger, you`ll see.

Skrulk Screwbender was personally shaping a part of a new wooden rim for the wheel when his mind went into overload. His sensitive ears made for listening to the smallest trace of sound and eyes that could see in the faintest glow were assaulted by the 170 DB bang of several flashlight who also produced almighty flashes. For a few seconds he could not think, could not move a muscle and not issue any commands. In between the green images that filled most of the field of his vision he saw running figures that emerged from the tunnel bend in front of them. The figures formed into two lines before they charged into his Skaven. They might have screamed something, but there was no sound in his head but for an almighty ringing.

His rats were slow to react to the new threat as they were as befuddled as him and to their horror many of them found that the leather of their harnesses started to move by its own violation and restrict their movements. Into this unready line crashed the much smaller group of Dwarves and humans, assaulting his Clanrats with Hammers, swords and small knives at the end of their rifles. When his ears cleared to hear something more that the tinnitus he heard scream, the butchers sound of metal meeting flesh and a screaming like he had never heard in his life.

Thorgrimm Storkarm charged at the enemy as fast as the rest of the line ran despite the fact that his weapon was the heaviest of any combatant in this battle, dangerous not only to the enemy and unwieldy to boot. When he had to give up his shotgun he had been resigned to a fight with an overgrown knife only, a weapon only fit for a snotling, until he remembered the Dolmar Chainsaw in its box. Now he had set the throttle to full power and tried to scream as loudly as his chosen weapon. When he reached the Skaven line his first opponent was a sturdy stormrat that still wrestled with its harness and therefore could just hold up an arm to fend off the attack. The chainsaw bit into flesh with terrible consequences. The saw itself was as strong as several men and the saw chain was topped by tungsten carbide tips the hardness of diamonds. Made to cut easily through the toughest wood it parted mere flesh and bone as if it were balsa all the while spraying its surroundings with a terrible mixture of blood pulped muscles and bones.

It was enough to make the normally steadfast Stormrats vent their panic glands in terror-destroying the morale of all nearby Skaven in a hurry.
Thorgrim was very lucky that this berserk assault was backed by many good men and Dwarfs as he could have parried no attacks and had limited options himself so others had to cover his flanks and back. But nobody who had been in this fight ever doubted that it was hi m who broke the Skaven line or who butchered the Warlock Technician so conclusively.

Somewhere else

It had been, Bloch mused, harder than expected to awe the playwrite, or as he effectively now was, screen writer. He also grudgingly found himself admiring him, to the extent he had broached the idea of representing Sierck in Germany. If this idea with Rammstein came off it would become quite a lucrative situation for all. However hard it had been for him to awe Sierck, Till and the others had done so, and to an extent, he had done likewise to them.

Not that this helped him in any way, shape or form with the department of defence.
"Dear Mr Bloch,
Thank you for your e-mail, unfortunately due to a developing situation we are unable to allow any vistors to the quarry or it's surrounding area. We have furnished the Department of Culture with the details you have requested which should be forwarded on to you shortly.
As you will no doubt understand from the news broadcasts it is utterly impossible to guarentee the safety of any party wishing to visit the area, and any attempt to do so will have to be unsupported by any German forces in the area.
Once this situation is resolved we will be happy to assist you in your endeavours.

Albert Blutroch
Senior Clerk
Permits and Admissions
Ministry of Defence"

Joachim had read and re-read the e-mail. His contacts in the department of culture had been as much use as a chocolate coffee pot. "we have to accept the advice of defence at the moment, no, we don't know exactly what is going on here" - the same pointless bleeting.

"Trudi, can you get me the number of that security company we spoke to about the tour of the Empire please". If the Bundeswehr couldn't help, maybe the private sector could...

Sametime, elsewhere in Berlin.

Remembering to answer in German, Detlef Sierck picked up the phone as it rang.
"Hallo, hier ist Sierck"
"Herr Sierck, Hier ist Christian Lorenz, we spoke a few days back"
"Herr Lorenz, please, call me Detlef, what can I do for you today"?
"Christian, please. I have been reading the news papers and I have been pondering an idea. The idea of making a musical film about the fight at the quarry, could we expand on this? With the news from Middenheim of the plague and the Chaos horde advancing, I do wonder if the three events are linked. If they are, then should we look to link also"?
Detlef was quiet for a moment, "But could such a thing be done as a musical film, would it be too long"?
"Depending on what we cover and in how much depth, we could make a full feature of it, in musical terms, it would be a double album but probably not much longer than our usual show time. We should aim for a running time of no more than 3 hours"

"Only 3 hours? You wouldn't have many intermissions in that time, the full production of Drachenfels was 5 hours".
"You really do not think small do you Detlef"
"Never"! Detlef laughed with Lorenz "Small is no challenge - anyone can do that, Epic is where the challenge lays"
"I believe you are correct. Oh, we have the first demo of the Quarry song, we are thinking Himmelsstein, and it will centre on the view of one of the miners at the quarry"
"I will be please to listen to it, I think the script should suit it well"
"Thank you for your time Detlef, I will ring you agains soon, goodbye"
"You're welcome. Goodbye".

20 Kilometers North of Middenheim, Outskirts of Chaos Camp

The axe was driven with inhuman force and perfectly aimed at the neck of the Champion of Khorne by his opponent. It was not intercepted but barely deflected by the haft of his opponent`s weapon who managed to lift the path of the axes head enough so it grazed the helmet instead of taking a life. Rotating the handle of his axe forward the defender ruthlessly exploited the opening and drove the spike at the bottom of his weapon through the eye slit of his duel partner.
Incredibly his victim went to his knees but remained upright instead of falling, exposing his neck in the finest tradition of the Blood Gods chosen. Sweeping his axe around just so and striking with abandon the winner took the head of his enemy in one strike that parted gorget as well as flesh and bone. Holding the grisly trophy towards an unseen sky a formerly human voice dedicated his victory to his patron God “Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for his throne.”

The moves of this duel had been so quick that normal human eyes could have hardly followed them yet Archaron had not been strictly human for quite a while now. He nodded approvingly at the victor and then looked to the next fighting pit where a similar scene was played out. The Champions of Khorne were competing for the honor of ascension, of becoming an avatar of their God. That the rests of their former minds would likely be subsumed by the demon they would be host to was no matter for them at all. A couple of more rounds would reduce their number to the point where Khorne would show his favor to his chosen ones.

The astonished shouts and less savory sounds behind him made Archaron turn to the scene of his last duel again. The Champion who had just so proudly presented the token of his victory was in the grip of Shakes. Blood was running from the eye slits of his helmet and his screams were wetly muted by more of it. Terrible force rent his armor apart and revealed an ever growing physique.
So soon-how would Khorne pick the targets of his favor, there were surely still far too many Champions left? The screams from other parts of the Great Armies camp indicated that something unusual was taking shape. At the same time the less mundane senses he had acquired over the centuries revealed that rifts opened into what humans called reality and hordes of beings emerged to this world.
The all-pervading fog that hid his army and the battlefield made him work to discover what had really taken place. He found that despite all the centuries he had spent he still had a sense of awe and wonder. Whatever had made Khorne sit up and take notice had done so in a big way.

Legions of bloodletters formed up in great blocks, hiding the muddy ground with huge red bodies, Horns and canine faces. Wielding weapons that few mortals could lift let alone fight they screamed their hunger and hate to the world. This immense army was not what inspired awe in Archaron.
Juggernauts of Khorne showed steel and brass were lesser steeds had flesh and bone. Higher than even than the huge Chaos General they were ridden by Chaos Champions of great might, many of them no longer mere humans. Neither they nor the Flesh Hounds that were running around threating everybody and everything could make the Warlord pause in wonder.

Even his sharp senses had difficulty to see past the immense chest of the Bloodthirsty in front of him and make out its bull-like features. He could not see very far but the forest of legs showed the presence of many of these most mighty of all Greater Demons. Called by many names the Demons were many times greater than any man, some exceeding 12 meters. Equipped with wings strong enough to lift even their titanic mass and of such ferocious sight that they instilled horror in even the stoutest defenders. Armed with axes that could rend a ship apart and a whip capable to ripping the living flesh from a platoon of armored humans they were said to be the equivalent of an ordinary human army-each of them.
The presence of so many of them, of more at the same time that any legend or forgotten Grimoaire hinted at made Archaron stand fixed in awe and wonder. It was indeed the end times-this was when the forces of Chaos extinguished the eternal flame, when the Fimbulwinter took the land and when the human gods would no longer have a claim in this world.

Walls of Middenheim, some hours later

The soldiers that passed by Count Boris were marching in good step. Even on the parapet of the Middenheim walls they managed to keep formation and saluted smartly when they passed his observation post. Still, the grey-green uniforms donated by the Germans were as alien to him as the slender repeating “Karabiner” that the armsmen had been issued. They had shown all the qualities you could ask for in common soldiers and the range and firepower of their weapons was out of question. Yet the idea of huge amounts of commoners as an important part of the army did not sit well with the Count nor the strange ideas and tactics the new allies brought.

After the last soldier of the unit passed he turned again to watch the amorphous fog that hid so much of the valley in front of Middenheim from his view. The Germans said that they could penetrate the fog with something called radar and in part by something else they called “infrared” but still the enemy remained unseen. Fog and distance conspired to alter the sounds from that army but the dissonant horns and shouts could not overwhelm the bestial screams of unseen horrors.
The binocular he had been given could show him the dispositions of the Germans, at least partly. They were occupying the ridges on both sides of the valley that led to Middenheim from the North. Most of them were on the distant side of the heights, hidden from the Enemy by Woods and hills. Those who were facing the enemy hid themselves in dugouts and by using twigs and grasses. He would never state so openly but he disdained these soldiers who would not face their enemies openly. It had been explained to him that in their old world any soldier and any machine of war that could be seen could be killed and would be in short order-but so what? As long as you killed more of them as they killed that was fine-wasn`t it?

He found his reverie interrupted by the steps of another human that should not have been here-how could he pass his guards. Turning with a hand on his Warhammer he faced the nondescript figure of that German functionary, Ottokar Proktor. He had known even before the events around the Chaos spy ring that this German was far more that a faceless pusher of paper and the following events had proven his suspicions. He had similar men in employ-void of all notions about fair play with the enemy, honesty or empathy they were dangerous tools to be used when circumstances demanded and disowned when detected. But even compared to these the German was frightening-his façade showed a jovial disorganized bureaucrat to the world while his eyes missed nothing. No courageous warrior him to face the enemy, but the knife in the night, the poison in the wine, the rumor that destroyed the reputation and the subtly altered report that made the ruler act. And he seemed to be without most of the funny notions these Germans had about applying the question to ones enemies or simply killing when necessary without discussing things to no end.

“Good afternoon Herr Proktor. Do you want to see what your machinations have wrought?”
“My machinations? Please dear Count, I am just a small cog in..”
“Spare me. You have used me and mine like one of your machines and now the results come due. Are you now happy with this? An army second to none is before my city. None of your soldiers are between Middenheim and this army that will lay bloody siege to us all-why did you want this.”
“In my world a ruler once had the wish that all of his enemies had one throat so he could cut it in one go. What our campaign of disinformation has wrought is exactly that-it has given our enemy one throat. There they are-all in one place, hemmed in by the walls of your great city and the Bundeswehr on both flanks. They are precisely where we want them to be.”
“One of these days somebody has to teach you and yours about the danger of overcomplicated plans. What if the enemy does not act as you think?”
“As we stated in the briefing about that we have had the main body of the enemy under aerial observation for practically all time. If he would have delayed or went another way we could have adapted.”
“From your mouth to Ulrik`s Ear. So what are you doing up here?”
“The Arty boys want to do something about the fog, this would give me the first personal sight of the enemy.”
“Hope you like it”

As in on cue the hammering of the German guns drowned out the sounds of the Chaos army. Bright lights above the Chaos Army indicated where the artillery shells used for ranging were ignited so that they would not warn the enemy. The tracks they made on the guns phased array-radar was sufficient to show the needed corrections and the fall could not have been observed anyway.
The pause for corrections was nearly imperceptible and the guns each fired a minute-long fire mission that dropped more than 2 tons of steel into the target area. Actinic lights lit up the fog showing that they had at least hit something.
As the fog ran out of reasons to exist in a sane universe it went even quicker than it had come, lifting its veil over the battlefield all at once, going from totally obscuring via translucence to not even there in a minute. Both ruler and spy watched the spectacle silently, first as there was nothing to comment and then as the sight was not what they expected.
“Oh my….”

OP/LP on the left flank of Middenheim Valley

Corporal Jan-Eric Huber was no so sure what he was doing here. Like some other elsewhere he and his fellow soldier were manning a foxhole a couple of hundred meters from the ridgeline occupied by the German forces. Their job was to watch everything the enemy did and report back via the wireless. What made the mission so far senseless in the best tradition of many armies was that the fog prevented seeing the enemy or anything else in front of them. Even sound was an unreliable medium. Much of what they heard changed direction and intensity with such frequency that it was clear that everything they heard was highly distorted. It was best not to heed to the sounds too closely-madness lay there. On the other hand their ears were the only thing that might provide some warning.
Somewhere far behind them ground radar was probably getting some data but they could only die heroically, giving some warning to the troops behind them.

The Corporal had his own method to deal with the threatening madness. While he listened as well as he could his fingers moved rosary pearl by pearl while he silently went through then words of the prayers he had learned in a world now gone. The routine soothed the mind immensely. He heard the artillery to his right and wondered what they might fire at. Not long after that the fog lifted with supernatural speed and finally revealed the source of the sounds that had pressed at his mind.
He never felt that he soiled his pants, never realized that he called out to a God that might be there or not nor heard the semi-sane babbling of his comrade on the wireless. His mind was filled solely by the sight of the Devil and his minions. A Grand Demon in the valley below his listening post made indeed a good stand-in for the Satan that had filled his fantasy when the priest had spoken about him when Huber was at an impressionable age. Red-furred, huge, horned and of Bestial visage it had a presence that was far too mighty just to be called “evil”. This being just was and his needs were supreme over the wishes of pure mortals-who were they to try to apply their childish rules on it.
His fellow soldier had to pull him out of the foxhole and force him to run to the German lines. Slowed down by the Corporal who had clearly lost his wits they were both caught by a pack of Flesh Hounds and ripped apart about 200 meters before they reached their own lines.
Luckily for the Germans they were not the only scouts and there were other methods to gain information. All along the ridgeline troops ran forward to man prepared positions and Combat vehicles started their engines before moving out.

The scene that greeted them seemed to come out of a Bosch painting. Red-clad horrors covered the plain before them, screaming their hate and hunger to the world. Charging the first enemy they saw was their nature, so without deliberation or command Khorne`s best stormed the hills that were defended by the Germans.
They were met by a firepower that would have stopped a human assault of similar size in its tracks. Dozens of machine guns poured streams of tracers into demonic flesh. Less numerous but individually aimed rounds from hundreds of assault rifles went through whatever armor there was with ease and blew craters in the back sides of their targets. Grenades exploded between the attackers, mangling legs beyond any hope of repair and dropping the victims on the ground.
Yet, this was not a human army. Being of a different flesh the Bloodletters shrugged off hits that would kill any human. Units that had lost most of their members assaulted as if they were attacked by puffballs. The grisly sight of opened belly and smashed limbs only drove the survivors onwards without any regard for their safety willing to take bloody revenge to the injuries done to their peers. They were taking serious losses, even these brutes could sense that but they also saw that there were only a few hundred meters between them and the humans that dared to attack them from such a range. Now they were bled but it would be nothing compared to the slaughter they would wreck when they reached their enemy.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-24 09:07am

Walls of Middenheim, same time

Count Boris still had the luxury to watch the battle without the need to take command. The much-enhanced Chaos army had been a rude shock when it was revealed but the newly arrived Khornates had immediately assaulted the ridgelines to both sides of the valley to the total exclusion of anything else. The main body of the Chaos army was impressive, human warriors of all shapes and stages of mutation shared the battlefield with demon-infested war machines ready to attack the walls of his fortress. Banner which should not be observed too closely flew over armored figures that had probably not be see outside of their carapaces for centuries. Multicolored lights shown sickly over mages who had exchanged their mastery of all winds of magic for their sanity, never regretting the exchange. A huge mob of Orcs covered the right side of the field with uncountable bodies all ready to wage battle for the fun of it. These forces advanced but more cautiously, paced by the slowest members of the army.

The Count of Middenland watched the Khornates assault on the Germans on the left flank with interest. He knew from personal experience that these troops could install fear and panic in their victims even before they attacked. He was still not sure about the German troops who preferred to hide and generally to attack from afar. Any mention of the honesty of a cold steel attack just made them look at him askance.

To his relief the Germans stood and fought. Whether this had something to do with the fact that they started attacking when the enemy was really far away and they simply kept at it or if they simply had the guts he could not decide but that they fought was enough. And the fearful slaughter that the Germans inflicted on the attackers was inspiring to the Count who started to see the Germans with different eyes.
Khornes troops were charging up the hillside with vigor until they reached the silver line of the stuff the Germans called barbed wire. It had seemed to be so flimsy when he had inspected the line but somehow it held and caused the enemy to bunch up in front of it. Even from this distance he could see trashing Bloodletters and Flesh Hounds trapped in the wire ripping themselves grievous injuries when they tried to free themselves. Pushed by the back ranks they were trampled under the hooves of their comrades into bloody paste all the while the Germans poured fire into the mess like never before. Hundreds of small and big explosions devastated the horde, strings of tracers tore down ranks upon ranks of the demons front.
It looked like the Chaos offensive would be halted there and then when a group of Grand Demons joined the assault. A group of Demons – nobody had heard of such a thing before and it would have been a fearful sight if they would not have been targeted by the German heavy weapons. Fountains of blood showed that even these creatures were not immune to the attacks by the Counts strange allies. It was a sight to behold-until 3 of the Demons flapped wings that could have sheltered a small village and took flight. Landing in the middle of the vehicles they laid about with their huge axes.

Walls of Middenheim, same time

Ottokar Proktor was livid with anger, a lot of it directed at himself. How could he and how the others who hatched this plan could forget that this was another world. The fact that an army did contain so-and-so many beings 48 hours ago did not mean that it could not swell to a much larger size until now-and the newcomers might be the most dangerous members of said army too.
He just had to hope that the plan had enough “give” and that it still worked. It should, but the sight of so many supernatural beings at the same time shook him more than he was willing to let on.

While he tried to get his bearings back he watched a trip of Great demons attack several “Fuchs” personal carriers from close range. One of the Bloodthirsters had smashed his axe so deeply into the front of one of the transports that he had to push at it with his right leg to get it out again. He had already bisected the gunner with his whip, even when the machine gun did not seem to do him appreciable harm. Having finally freed the axe from the armor it had pierced the Demon kicked the vehicle several times till it rolled over to its side. Dashing in the bottom of the combat car the demon released his whip to push in his hand and to extricate the remains of its crew.

Another Fuchs was burning while laying on its side while the third armored transport drove in circles trying to keep its distance from its two pursuers’, firing its machine gun for all it was worth. Having sated its first hunger the 3rd Bloodthirster took off for a short flight that stopped the mad curving of the last German vehicle short and pierced the windows in the front with a well-aimed axe stroke.
Rearing up and screaming its triumph into an uncaring sky the Demon silhouetted himself too well. Two missiles fired from a far-off Boxer hit him at both sides of his spine and their plasma jets emerged in the front of him, burning everything in the Demon`s chest. Autocannon fire blew great globs of otherworldly flesh of the other two. Finding the challenge irresistible the two Bloodthirsters took to the air again and tried to close with the more interesting enemies.

At the same time the assault on the German positions had reduced the fire that was poured into the lesser Bloddletters and their Flesh Hounds that were bunched up in front of the S-Wire. Somebody on the German side was on the ball as Ottokar watched with satisfaction the huge explosions that walked over the horde of Khornates. The artillery again showed why they were here.
The spy saw that several Bloodthirsters started to move in that direction-he could just hope that there were forces to intercept them.

250 Kilometers from Altdorf, 10000 Meters AGL B52 “Grey Lady” same time

When Colonel Kozlowski looked out through the left cockpit window he could see a starkly beautiful and deadly plane holding station slightly above and behind his bomber. This was as it should be-the close escort he had been promised had shown up on time. 4 Eurofighters were now accompanying the aging warplane on its way to battle. Well, if the Germans did things by the book it was on fitting if he did the same.

“Crew, this is the Captain. We are nearing Indian country, so give me a station check and stay sharp.
“Captain, Co-pilot here. All 8 are burning, all systems nominal”
“Captain, Nav here: By INS and triangulation were are track and on time.”
“Captain, Radar Nav. I concur with Nav about position and all systems are nominal, but I have yet to pick up our beacons. Our side works, the ground-pounders have not yet started to transmit.”
“Captain, guns here. All systems are green and the EO picks up the escorts just fine. The gun is tracking as well, but I do not think the fighter jocks are happy.”
“Guns, Captain here-stop playing around. These guys are supposed to keep our asses from the frying pan.”

The Grey Lady had gotten her tail gun back. While there would have been enough 20 mm M61 guns around from old Phantoms the actuators and radar had been eliminated as well. As a substitute a MLG 27 27 mm autocannon had been made to fit. While it did not bring its own radar it had Electro-Optics and laser ranging for fire control and it had plenty of firepower as well. The gun was serviced by the former Electronic Warfare officer as most of his equipment had been removed from the plane. There was nothing it could be used on in this blighted world. His place had been taken by the only newcomer to the crew. The young imperial just loved flying and did his best to fit in. Still, to the air force officers raised on a muscular kind of Christianity his job seemed …wrong at the very least. But without him there was a danger to the Grey Lady and the mission so they accepted him.

“Captain, MWO here. All wards are in place and all indicators work. There is a strong concentration of magic at 192 degree, probably the Imperial Academy at Altdorf. There are several other magic users but all low key. Nothing aimed at us at present.”
The Grey Lady was the only bomber which ever had such a specialist on board, yet they still had made a new acronym for him. Felix Berggarten was the first MWO, the Magic Warfare Officer in history, whether there would be other ones depended on the outcome of this mission in more ways than just one
“Ok folks, stay sharp and stay tight, we have an invitation to a barbeque.”

Eurofighter 012, close to Middenheim, 5000 meters AGL, same time

Colonel Hoppe led the 12 Fighters from the 31st Fighter Wing “Boelke” that were tasked to clear the skies above the Middenheim Battlefield. The intense furball over the Quarry had made the planners at the Reiksbund sit up and take notice that there was more of an air threat than the Luftwaffe staff had acknowledged before. Therefore Andreas Hoppe had more than enough fighters to fulfill his mission.
Switching the radar of his plane to the air search mode he first believed that the normally reliable electronics had a malfunction: numerous targets cluttered the MFD at low attitude but definitively flying. Bringing his 12 planes did not seem like such overkill than a minute ago.
Radar and his electrooptics revealed a hodgepodge of enemy fliers-Wyrms and some surviving Dragons flew towards Middenheim. Screamers attacked the Germans on both sides of the valley and something which looked like the old pictures of Satan flew over the battlefield. Time to clean house.
Pulling his 3 flights into a rough line the Colonel used datalink to make sure that his fighters would not overtarget. The cries of “Fox 3” indicated the launch of 24 AMRAAM missiles who found their targets without fail. Build to kill supersonic targets made from titanium they were able to shred the living fliers they encountered with ease. While the Greater Dragons or Bloodthirsters could survive the shrapnel and overpressure working on them the missiles destroyed the membranes of their wings, leaving their victims to drop screaming to the ground.

The Bloodthirsters learned that lesson quickly and decided to hoof it-literally. The rest of the flyers tried to fight-or escape as well as they could. Against the Typhoon, one of the best fighters every build, their best was not very good. Breaking up into their elements the German planes went on a hunt for everybody and anything that was above ground. Hoppe had already expended another AIM-120 threw his Fighter in a turn that made his G-Suit inflate around his legs to prevent a blackout. The Screamer appeared in his sight as if by magic and the cannon ripped it apart quite handily-but the bits of otherworldly flesh that got sucked into his left turbine killed any hopes for an extended fight. Nursing his right engine to gain additional ground the German Colonel had to relinquish command an limp of the Battlefield.

Small forest on the Hillside to the right side of the Middenheim Valley, same time

Warden Merkel could move through any kind of forest unseen and unheard if he so choose. Unheard was not a problem as there was enough of a din coming from the battlefield to hide the passage of a company of the Reiksguard in full armor. Unseen was a different proposition altogether. The Orcs had not been where they were supposed to be when the fog was lifted off the battlefield and so the “beacon” the KSK was to emplace had to be moved as well.
To Lieutenant Hermann`s dismay the place where it would have to be emplaced was already very close to the Orcs flanks and they could be sure to have some troops inside the forest already. Shooting their way in was not a sure proposition-the close ranges inside the forest would negate most of the German advantages.

So Dirk had approached the Warden whether he would be willing to infiltrate with him and the “beacon” that gave of no light and he had agreed. So now the two humans were slithering along on their stomachs, trying to avoid all sound and even more important sight. They heard the harsh sounds of Orcish language all around them but the brushwork and their camouflage managed to hide them from the Greenskins. When they reached a meadow around a rocky outcropping they had enough sight of the battlefield to suit their purposes. The Warden heard the sniper whisper into his wireless before turning to him.
“Ok Merkel, we set up here and wait for the word. When I give the signal then turn this knob like this and push it down. When the light is green all is well, otherwise get me. I have to look at the enemy`s advance.”
“Can do”
“Good, get to it.”

Warden Merkel was illiterate and his knowledge about the world outside of the Forests around Castle Wolfenfels was severely limited. He never expected to fight in a big battle and was not trained to do so. His “betters” at the Castle would have found the idea of him taking part in “honorable combat” distasteful to say the least.
But for all of that when he turned and pressed the knob some time later on command he played a key role in the most devastating attack on the Warhammer World for a long time.

Left Flank of the Battlefield, close to the walls of Middenheim, same time

Ob's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht,
Der Tag glühend heiß, oder eiskalt die Nacht,
Verstaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, Ja, unser Sinn.
Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin.
Mit donnernden Motoren, Zum schnell wie der Blitz,
Der Feinde entgegen, im Panzer geschützt
Voraus den Kameraden, In kämpfe die ganz allein, ja ganz allein.
So stoßen wir tief in die feindlichen Reih'n!
Wenn vor uns ein feindlicher Panzer erscheint,
Wird Vollgas gegeben und ran an den Feind.
Was gilt denn unser Leben für uns'res Reiches Heer? Ja, Reiches Heer.
Für Deutschland zu sterben ist unsre höchste Ehr'.
Mit Sperren und Tanks hält der Gegner uns auf,
Wir lachen darüber und fahren nicht drauf.
Und schüttelt er gar grämlich und wütend seine Hand, Ja seine Hand.
Wir suchen uns Wege, die keiner sonst fand
Und läßt uns im Stich einst das treulose Glück,
Und kehren wir nicht mehr zur Heimat zurück,
Trifft uns die Todeskugel, ruft uns das Schicksal ab, Ja, Schicksal ab.
Dann wird unser Panzer ein ehernes Grab!

(If it storms or snows, or the sun smiles on us,
The day burning hot, or the icy cold of night.
Dusty are our faces, but happy is our sense, yes, our sense.
They roll our tanks forward into the storm's wind.
With thundering engines, to fast as lightning,
Towards the enemy, sheltered in the tank,
Ahead of our comrades, In the fight all alone, yes all alone.
Thus we push deep into the enemies ranks!
When before us a hostile tank appears,
Full throttle is given and we close with the enemy.
What does our life matter but for the Reich's army? Yes, Reich's army.
To die for Germany is our highest honor
With obstacles and tanks the foe blocks our path,
We laugh about it and don't drive upon them.
And even if his hand shakes morosely and furiously, yes, his hand.
We search for ways, that no one else found.
And if we are abandoned by treacherous luck,
And if we don't return back home again,
If death's bullet finds us, and fate calls us away, yes, us away.
Then our tank shall become an honorable iron grave!)

The loudspeakers on both sides of the Leopards turrets were doing their best to project the “Panzerlied” to the battlefield but had a hard time to make themselves heard above the huge Diesel engines that had their own song.
Straining their tracks with more than 1800 horsepower the diesels roared like nothing else on this world. The tanks were propelled forward like motorboats, leaving rooster tails of dirt and grass behind them while they sought to get to the ridgeline in front of them in time.
Uli Stoiber still had no problem hearing the traditional tankers song-he had sung it himself often enough and so even the bits of pieces of sound that reached his ears were assembled into a whole inside his head.

The line about the tank becoming an iron grave were resounding doubly after his close brush with death at the river crossing. Only the quick reaction of the tank crew already at the far riverbank had saved his bacon when they immediately revered their tank and pulled Uli`s ride from the stream.
The bilge pump had helped to get rid of some hundred liters of water and to everybody’s amazement the tank was not the worse for the untimely bath. This was a great machine and the exhilaration of the fast ride made Uli Stoiber remember again what was so great about driving to the battlefield.

“Driver halt”
His mall tank detachment of 5 tanks all stopped at the ridgeline, long training making sure only to expose the turrets of their fighting vehicles. They had arrived in time, the Bloodthristers that had threatened the artillery had not yet arrived, but were still a kilometer away, closing fast. He hit the button that stopped the music-all well and good on the ride but now communication was more important.
“Gunner, engage targets of opportunity” allowed the tank commander to scan the battlefield. Several demons ran towards them, wielding axes and whips that looked like they could damage even his tank.
The turret turned under him minutely before he heard his crew.
“HE up”
“Engage target”
Booom. As the ground was wet enough there was no big dust cloud to hide the results of their shooting. The HE projectile had hit the target squarely of its chest, blasting off a big portion of it together with the right arm. The face of the Bloodletter showed astonishment that anything could hurt it when a second hit removed the head. Others were luckier, some shots seemed to bounce of the limbs even when that should have been impossible or missed when it was very unlikely. Yet, the 5 tanks under Ulrich`s command were easily able to shoot 6 times a minute and the demons were only able to ignore such shots every so often. Uli was about to order the retreat to the next position when the last Demon dissolved like a fading picture.

Middle of Middenheim Valley, roughly same time

Archaron was alternating at watching the battle by what a long stay in the Chaos Desert had left of his eyes with using the senses more tuned to the empyrean to get an idea how the Battle was going. And so far he was happy. The additional forces he had been granted to unexpectedly were not winning the battle singlehandedly but they were keeping the Germans attention just fine. His army outnumbered the defenders many times and the mages at his disposal would be able to overpower what little protection there was on the sides of the defenders easily enough.
Finally the goal that he had pursued for several human lifetimes was within his reach and he would not fail. And if he were the single surviving member of the Chaos army of the coming battle-he would extinguish the flame of Ulrik.
He was about to switch sights again when one of his aides bowed screamed to get his attention.
“Sir, there is a message from the 47th scouts. There are many enemy flies incoming”
“It’s a trap”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-24 09:08am

A-10 Warthog, 500 meter AGL, same time

Raimond Wurz was having a blast. He had not become a pilot of one of the most impressive CAS planes to sit on his ass. His posting to Germany had not promised any action and when the Weltensprung took him and his planes to the new world he had not been convinced that the Germans would have the cojones to do much with him.
To his joy he found that he was wrong-the Germans had found additional pilots to replace those that were not taken with Germany and had done their level best to keep his squadron supplied. And now in front of him was what only could be described as a “target rich environment”.

Huge war machines dotted the battlefield, some of them far bigger than any tank he had ever seen and still moved. Blocks of infantry followed long skirmish lines, cavalry was ranging in all directions. Nice as this was these were not his chosen prey. While originally tasked to go after any siege engines several terse calls by his FAC`s made look for different targets. The Germans were having problems with some overgrown demons and it was his job to paste them. Lining his plane up with the left hillside of the valley one of the beasts filled his HUD. The sight made him draw breath in astonishment-these demons were looking like bad customers all right. From a distance and in a well-armored warbird this was ok, but how the ground-pounders stood up to them he could not say. Luckily he had just the right medicine to deal with it.
The GAU-8 Gatling cannon was a beast by its own, nearly 6 meters long and weighting 1800 kilogram it had been built to shred Main Battle tanks. To this end it fired up to 70 30 mm shells a second at high velocity. The gun was accurate enough that Wurz could use it very close to the German soldiers.

Pressing the trigger for half second bursts the pilot managed to hit the first Bloodthirster in his HUD with a dozen shells. Most of them were depleted U-238 and when the heavy metal shells hit the bronze armor of the Demon they promptly became so hot that the Uranium started to burn.
Fragments of Uranium burning at 2000 degrees were cutting through the chest of the demon, wrecking such havoc and causing such pain that the beast relinquished its hold of reality immediately vanishing from this world.
Turning his A10 into a wide curve Wurz tilted his place so he could see the survivors of his strafing run. Instead of running for cover they simply stood and made gestures that would indicate a challenge in a human. Stupid fraggers, they did not seem to have any ranged weapons. The Warthog pilot was willing to accommodate them if they wanted to play hero.

Storch 3, 250 meters AGL, Middenheim Battlefield, same time

Nathan Alpers kept his docile Storch on course without thinking about it. He needed his wits to look for the Orcs that had been reported on the left flank of the battlefield. Indeed he had found a mob who formed itself into something resembling a line in preparation to assault the hills on the right side of the field. While it was probable that the troops there could stop the attack by themselves there was no reason for them to do so.

“All Pirate elements, this is Lookout 1. Enemy forces at coordinates…….. in a line. Will drop purple smoke at both ends.” Pushing the button that released the first marker he reversed course and overflew the Greenskins a second time. Even at his low attitude they could not do much beyond making rude gestures. There was a flash of green lightning that missed his Storch by a mile but that was it. Marking the other end of the line was nearly automatic.
“All pirates, this is lookout. Markers set.”
“Lookout 1 this is Pirate 1. We`ll give them 12 barrels of Hell.”

Nathan got his plane around in time to see the two AC-160 Gunships approach the hillside and bank their former transport planes slightly. He could not see the muzzle flames that erupted from their flanks as he was on the wrong side of them, but even from here the results were clear. The 12 guns on both planes had a combined rate of fire of 200 rounds per second. Most of these rounds released a deadly spray of shrapnel shortly before hitting the ground.
The long line of Orcs together with the brushwork and soil around them were transformed as by the magic brush of a mad painter. Where half a second ago green leaves and a green vigorously aggressive horde competed for attention now was the green blood mixed with the mud revealed by the destroyed plants. It was a sudden horrible and necessary massacre-and it would pale against what would happen soon.

40 Kilometers North of Middenheim, 300 Meters AGL A400 M Transport

Paul Müller watched the growing strip of daylight that was revealed by the opening ramp of his plane. This was the second time he would jump into battle and he could only hope that it would go better than the last time. This time there would not be any Landwehr Grandpas to pull his ass out of the fire.
The green light and the “Gogogo” sent him out of the plane. Contrary to training he just ran out of the plane, it worked best for him. The immense jerk from the parachute harness came before he had time to worry. On the way down he saw that the pilot had indeed found his mark this time and that the ground was fit to land on. He managed a by-the book landing and gathered his platoon without too much ado.
He directed his soldiers to dig at the place his Lieutenant had chosen and started making up the range charts. No enemy was in sight and that was as it should be. Before long a couple of CH 53 helos arrived and unloaded their Wiesel tanks which made Müller feel much better.

B-52 Bomber 4000 meters above ground, Holding station above the Great Forest

Mike Kozlowski started to get annoyed-he had been flying a racetrack-shaped course for the last 15 minutes without getting the word. What was happening? The radio reports they could get from the battlefield were mixed and gave no clear indication. The good news was that the fog was gone-the bad news was that some of the German ground troops were in close contact with the enemy.
He was debating with himself whether he should raise control and ask for a go-ahead for a visual bombing when radio came alive on its own.
“Grey Lady, this is Control. You are good to go, repeat you are good to Go”
“Bombs, this is the Captain. You have anything for me.”
“I have just got both beacons Skipper. Come to course 73 for 59 Miles and descend to 1500 feet for the IP, then course will be 81 degree”
“Got it, here we go folks”

Pushing his 8 throttles a bit forward the Pilot brought the huge Bomber around and pushed its nose downwards. A long time ago one of the possible modes of attack for this bomber was low level to evade radar. Today the reasons were different but the effect was the same – taking the plane low to the earth was one of the most exhilarating things Kozlowski could think about. Taking the bomber to 500 meters above ground the quickly moving terrain gave him a feeling for the speed he was moving and made him work to keep attitude and course.
“Skipper, Bombs here. IP coming up in 10…9……. Come to new course”
From the Initial Point or IP the bomber would not deviate from course until it had released its bombs. The plane was mostly in the hands of the Radar Navigator now who steered the bomber to battle.

As the Chaos Army had hid behind a fog and as visibility could not be guaranteed the plan of attack for the Grey Lady rested on two radio beacons placed on both sides of the battlefield. They had been placed so that the biggest possible part of the enemy was between the two when the bomber would arrive. Having lined the B-52 up with the two beacons the Radar Navigator had an easy job. Dialing in an offset of 500 meters from both beacons he armed the weapons in the cavernous bomb bay.
The payload for this and similar trips had been discussed at length. Cluster Bombs had been ruled out for the dud rate and cost, FAE`s were too dependent on the weather. Iron bombs had been favored then, but a discussion with imperials about what worked best against magical enemies had shifted the decision on another track. To the Colonels best knowledge no B52 had ever used it but there was no good reason for it not to work. The tests runs had been impressive to say the least.
“Bombs here-opening bomb bay-bomb bay open. Stand by for release”

The huge bomber cleared the ridge line to the left of the battlefield by a scant 200 meters and then even descended a bit. It was bigger than anything flying ever seen by Imperials or Chaos worshippers, screaming with all the force of 8 turbofan engines and coming in at a speed that could not be measured by the onlookers. To the beings in its path it did not look like any Angel of Death their mythologies might have produced, but there it was coming for them.
The bomber was barely free of the ridgeline when he started to drop a continuous line of 250-kg canisters. They lacked any stabilizing fins and therefore tumbled as soon as they hit the airstream-which was the Grey Lady had come down so low to conduct her business. When the canisters hit the ground they ruptured from impact alone and each of the 130 spread a viscous gel in an oval of 25x75 meters. It struck to anything it touched.

Composed of a nasty mixture of gasoline, benzol, polysterene and some other substances it was known in the world left behind by the Grey Lady as Napalm B. Within the few seconds that it took the Bomber to cross the valley the biggest part of Archaron`s army was coated by it. A wall of fire rose up from the bombers path that consumed everything it touched. Burning at 1200 degree the flames killed everything directly under the bombers path to ashes within seconds. Flesh ignited itself, body fat burned with sooty smoke, bones crumbled to ashes. Many of the Siege engines either started to burn enthusiastically or started to melt from the furnace heat. Most of them were empowered by denizens of the warp who now felt the pain of their engines destruction and cursed any moment they were still struck in this reality until their release to their natural realm. Those in the direct path of the napalm were the lucky ones dying quickly and without much pain. Those at the borders of the destruction were those for whom the full horror was reserved. Finding limbs aflame the being realized that there was no way to get rid of the sticky substance, no way to quench the flames and no choice but to endure unbearable pain. Most of them would die soon enough from shock and poisoned proteins but every second they still lived was one too many.
A few mages under the bombardment managed to erect shields of protection or had items of power who provided similar. They found that the napalm would burn for nearly 10 minutes and the combination of intense heat and the total lack of oxygen killed nearly all of them.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-28 08:24am

Middenheim Battlefield same time

Any other General in history would have been devastated by the horror which had just been inflicted the Chaos Army. Archaron had no way to estimate the amount of losses as the fires sown by this flier were still burning but it was clear that the great majority of his army had just been killed.
A human would have been wrecked by empathy with the killed and maimed, crippled by self-doubt and stunned by the sudden reversal of fortune. Archaron`s mind had not been human for a long time now and for him the only question was how to use what was left to him to his ends. Watching another group of fast moving planes cross the battlefield who dropped an endless stream of small bombs across one of the units spared by the great fire he knew what to do.

“Close with the walls at all speed, that is the only way-assault the walls point-blank. They cannot hit us when we are too close to their allies. Forward to victory.”
Whether it was common sense, barking madness or magic no one could say-but it worked. What was left of the communications chains the Chaos Warlord had established managed to bring the order to the rests of the army quickly. And against all odds, against anything making sense the rest of the army went to the Charge. The walls of Middenheim were just 2 Kilometers away, how hard could it be.

Walls of Middenheim, same time

Count Boris of Middenheim was not sure if he should be elated or horrified. He managed to be both at the same time, something which set his mind askew. His face reflected the flames that soared over the field in front of him, consuming the forces of Chaos utterly. Even at this great distance he was able to feel the heat in his face. In a few seconds it had transformed a horrible army into an even equally horrible pyre. It did not just burn the Counts enemies, it also burned the Counts notions how war was waged. He had the haft of his mighty hammer in his hands for assurance. It was a weapon of great reknown and was only equaled by the rune sword that was his right to wield. And yet it seemed so impotent contrasted to the massacre he just watched.
He had spent most of his life learning how to rule and how to wage war-and he could clearly see that the old lessons were for naught now. He watched the charge of the remaining Chaos horde impassively. An hour ago an army of even its reduced size would have seemed a capable threat against his city-and now?

“So this is what you mean by cutting the throats of your enemies in one go, Herr Proktor”
“We are not through totally yet but we are getting there.”
Silently the Count watched his riflemen and the German heavy weapons teams ready themselves. He watched the outgoing fire that seemed so useless against such a distant enemy and saw the masses of enemies that dropped like ninepins wherever the bullets fell. Fountains of dirt like instant poplar rose wherever the German mortars dropped their deadly loads-and still the enemy advanced.
They reached the first line of barbed wire which had been strung before the cities walls. They seemed so frail and useless from here but the binoculars revealed the Marauders who could not free themselves, the horses brought low and the knight who hacked impotently at the wire.
The bunch-up resulting from this brought an even better target for the defenders who exploited it for all it was worth. The Chaos army just managed to get over the wire by dropping its dead and wounded on the lines and then climb over them-but still this delay cost them dearly.
No Enemy had yet even reached the foot of Middenheim`s mighty walls.

“So, this is how you wage war Herr Proktor. Dealing death from afar, playing spy games with the enemy so he does not know where he is and where to strike, never exposing yourself to danger, never telling the truth? Do you even know what truth is, do you have any notion of honor?”
Count Boris was used to the Cold Winters that ruled Middenland and encountered many a winter storm. None of them was as cold as the voice that answered him or the eyes that refused to break contact despite his rank and fury.

“You doubt my honor Highness. Do that as you must, but I have a different one from you. My honor is to defeat the enemy, no matter what it takes. My honor is to protect as many civilians as possible, no matter what it takes. And my honor is indeed to achieve this by taking the least possible casualties to our soldiers-that is my honor. I do not crave glorious personal combat so that somebody can laud my courage; I do not need to tell the enemy where and when I deign to meet him so he can kill my soldiers most efficiently just to save me the trouble of shaping the battle. And if this is not honor enough for you, you might examine your concept of it………highness.”
“Oh, so there is a heart in you after all. We will speak of this further, you and I”
“If you so wish highness”
Count Boris continued to watch the massacre of Chaos below. He could see the new face warfare on his world and he did not like it any.

Storch 03, 200 meters AGL, Middenheim battlefield,same time

Nathan Alpers had switched sides-of the battlefield of course. The Orc threat on the right flank had been drowned mostly in its own blood and the rest could be handled by the troops on the ridgeline. The left flank of the field was another matter entirely. Here the Bloodthirsters had closed with the Germans too much to be effected by the Napalm bombardment. The A-10 planes had started to make great inroads on them but usually could only get one per strafing run. As the Demons were into very close contact with the ground forced even they had to be careful. But there were more ways to skin the rabbit. His big brothers were expending their last munitions on the Bloodletters and their hounds that had been slowed by the next line of barbed wire so this needed a different solution. He currently had a group of 5 Demons in his sight who seemed to be only angered by the German rifle fire and even autocannons were not so effective as one could wish.

“Barbara 1, this is Lookout 1. I need a fire mission of 5 guided munitions in 1 minute, Interval 10.”
“Lookout 1, Barbara 1 acknowledged.” After a short pause which allowed Nathan to reverse course and fly alongside the battle even more slowly “”Lookout 1 from Barbara 1-out”
“Turning on the light then”
Normally this would have taken another crewmember, but that would have reduced endurance. Nathan left the plane to its autopilot and used the “Coolie hat” on his joystick to turn a laser on his first target. Counting mentally to impact he was not surprised when the upper chest of a Bloodthirster disappeared with an explosion from the inside. Barbara was the codename for the artillery detachment of Combat Group Loy. They had just fired 5 155 mm laser guided shells that he would have to introduce to their targets. He could not allow himself to be distracted as he had less than 10 seconds to point the Laser at the next target-the shell was already in the air. He managed in time but sub-optimal aim and shell diversion meant that this shell “just” ripped a leg off. He had a hard time to switch between targets in time but in the end it did not matter. The last Demon just popped from existence before “his” shell could land.

Shaking from mental exhaustion the pilot took the helm again from the autopilot and wondered what else this battle would bring.
Flying back to the middle of the Valley he spotted several Tornado Bombers bombing a part of the Army on the far side of the fire. The long boat-like container under the fuselage ejected submunitions to the left and right of the planes leaving a carpet of death and injury behind them.
An explosion pulled his head to another bearing; it looked like the A-10 were going after the few surviving siege engines with Maverick rockets. Time to sew this up.

Leopard 2 MBT, left flank of the Battlefield, a little later

“Commander, this is loader. We have 5 HE, 5 frag and 4 KE munitions left” Ulrich Stoiber had expected this, it did not mean that he was happy with it. The ever-increasing caliber of Tanks main guns meant that there were fewer shells. Where a Leo 1 had 68 105mm Shells he had 40 120 mm. And this battle was so intense that he used up ammo like there was no tomorrow.

The last Bloodthirster had come too close for comfort. He took the risk of a short flight that made him immune to the tanks guns who could not elevate enough. Before the Luftwaffe could do anything he had been among Stoiber`s Platoon and had charged the tank next to him. The whip had removed the remote weapons station and would have killed the commander is he would not have dropped into his turret in time. The huge axe of the demon had crashed into the Leopards armor again and again chopping of bits of Steel, Titanium and ceramics. The crew shot the Bloodthirster with their Coax but if there were any effect nobody could see them. The Demon was actually too close to the tank to use the main gun.
Ulrich had maneuvered his tank behind the Bloodthirster and had elevated the gun so far that it cleared the other tank in case of a miss. Because they were so close he could not shoot the center of mass, but shell hit closely under the tail of the Demon. It would have ripped the beast apart if it would not have released its hold in this world immediately. His crew would talk about the “120 mm Enema” for years to come.

But now he had made sure the shaken crew of the attacked tank was ok and had reported their status to the Colonel in charge. That had given them new orders-form a line perpendicular to the Middenheim walls and attack the Chaos Army in the flank. Just that he had very few munitions to do this. No matter-orders were orders and his tank was not unarmed just because his main gun was down to 1/3 ammo.
Having aligned his tanks with the edge of the barbed wire in a line Ulrich checked the situation one more time-everybody there, nothing that could challenge his tank in sight-so:

“Platoon, this is Ulrich-on my mark-charge this rabble to the other side of the wall. Don`t stop for anybody-and turn the music back on”
And so, to the sound of the Panzerlied, 5 tanks charged the remnants of the Chaos army in line abreast. Machine guns tore through them massed enemy, grenades from 5 automatic grenade launchers send shrapnel into the enemy`s legs and occasionally the main guns send their challenge to the world. All of this made the Chaos army stop what they were doing. What broke their morale were the tracks of the tanks-they did indeed not stop for anything.
The Chaos warriors had already been stressed past the point where any human army would have functioned. Only superhuman hate and endurance and the fear of punishment as only the Chaos Champions could deal had kept them in line. Being shot from two sides, with iron monsters bearing on them that ground to paste all that was in their way was too much. The unit cohesion, such as it were finally broke and the warriors ran into whatever direction promised salvation. Few stood, some simply paralyzed into it, others as they wanted to stem the tide. The latter usually died when they became too hard to get around, but a few stood.

One of them never showed any despair. Until the last minute he tried to get his warriors to storm the walls, until the last second hacked his mighty sword either at the thrice-damned barbed wire or at fleeting soldiers. It made Archaron stand out-and that is not a good place to be.
“Loader, load KE”
“Gunner, target is rider at 11 o clock”
“Commander, are you sure, KE?”
“Do it”
“Yessir-on the way…”

Inside the cannon chemicals mixed in violent reaction, producing pressures usually found in the deep layers of gas giants. A cylinder was accelerated down the smooth tube with an acceleration that would kill anything inside the shell. Leaving the muzzle at 1600 meters per second the outer light alloy shell was stripped off by air resistance, leaving a slender dart made from Tungsten Carbide. It connected with the breast plate of Archarons armor. It would have penetrated more than 300 mm of homogenous armor-it did not penetrate the primitive looking plate, such was the favor of the Dark Gods. But it did hand over its kinetic energy to the warlord who was ripped right out of the saddle by the shot and dropped more than 50 meters from it. Whether the armor contained anything living before was the matter of debate-no movement could be seen after Archaron landed. It was certain that there was nothing left when the tracks of Ulrichs tanks ground the Warlord flat-whether turning the tank on the armor a couple of times was overkill or simply making sure was never decided for sure.

40 Kilometers north of Middenheim, a few hours later

“Here they come again” Paul Müller had been tired and exhausted already but adrenaline made take his firing position in no time. Another small group from the defeated army tried to get back into the hinterland. His paratroopers occupied this position exactly to prevent that. The night that had covered the battlefield with darkness had not improved the chances of the Orcs any-they stood out like sore thumbs on thermal and were well visible on night vision.
The paratroppers had tried to get the first groups to surrender-to no avail. Hoping to find an enemy they could reach at last they had all charged the German positions-with the usual results. One group had been big and determined enough to require the services of the claymore mines in front of Paul`s position but none had reached their lines.

Then newcomers were different-Paul could not remember to see so big Orc ever. They clustered around one example who seemed to be bigger than a Grizzly. He took his rifle to the shoulder-by now everything was routine enough that he could shoot without missing much-and when the command came shot “his” Orc. Whether it was his hit that took him down or one of the others did not matter, going down did. Firing at another and another took all of his attention until only one was standing. Staggering on his legs like a drunk under the rifle impact he did not die until one of the Wiesel tankettes applied its autocannon.
Paul would never know, but this were the shots that ended the Storm of Chaos.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-28 08:26am

This was a dark age, a bloody age, an age of daemons and of sorcery. It is an age of battle and
death, and was of the world’s ending. Amidst all of the fire, flame and fury it is a time, too, of mighty
heroes, of bold deeds and great courage.
At the heart of the Old World sprawls the Empire, the largest and most powerful of the human
realms. Known for its engineers, sorcerers, traders and soldiers, it is a land of great mountains,
mighty rivers, dark forests and vast cities. And from his throne in Altdorf reigns the Emperor
Karl-Franz, sacred descendant of the founder of these lands, Sigmar, and wielder of his magical
But these were far from civilized times. Across the length and breadth of the Old World, from the
knightly palaces of Bretonnia to ice-bound Kislev in the far north, came rumblings of war. In the
towering Worlds Edge Mountains, the orc tribes gathered for another assault. Bandits and
renegades harry the wild southern lands of the Border Princes. There are rumours of rat-things,
the skaven, emerging from the sewers and swamps across the land. And from the northern
wildernesses there is the ever-present threat of Chaos, of daemons and beastmen corrupted by the
foul powers of the Dark Gods. As the time of battle drew ever nearer, the Empire needed allies
like never before.
And then the most unlikely new Player entered the world and changed the balance in unforeseen ways.
Perceived by all parties known as an accident modern Germany
had been transported into this world.
At first reluctant to join the dance the Germans found that they had no chance but to be part of the new world.

Allied to the Empire and friends to the Dwarfs the Germans helped to end a Chaos Crusade and start to bring modern technology into this world.
Hunger is lessened, old pestilences lose their impact and terrible ancient enemies cower in terror when they imagine themselves in battle with the new allies.
A new age dawns-an age of great learning, of startling discoveries, of the making of wonders, of mercy, hope and justice.

But not all is well is the world-the Germans have roused the attention of old and terrible beings that view the
newcomers with distrust and formulate intricate plans to deal with them. Older races watch the German doings with hate, spite,
a little fear and condescension-a mixture which is sure to bring trouble.
In the Empire many of those who rule see the basis of their power crumble and plot to keep things as they are.
Some Germans are not happy with their place in the world and want to trade their knowledge for power,
thereby threatening the careful balance of the world even more.

Freshly defeated foes look at their wounds in wonder and plan bloody revenge.

The first battles may be over and the newcomers have proven their mettle, but this is not the end of the strife, it is just the beginning.
Even with Germany's superior technology, victory is not yet assured.
Men and women of courage and with nerves of steel are needed, in some cases more than ever.

River Reik, 10 days after the Battle of Middenheim

Aurelius Ethelorn, Noble of the House of Eras looked at his ship with the sure knowledge that there was none better. It was just fitting that this ship and the small fleet of its sisters were transporting him and his entourage on this mission.
His House had always been one of the most noble of Ulthuan going back to the time of the civil wars itself. Nobody would ever talk about it, such would be gauche but the silent understanding of his family had always been that the Phoenix crown would have rested at least as well on their brows as on the ones that received it.
Even when fate had decried that his house would be denied this lofty position he would always sacrifice to serve the interests of Elvenkind.
His eyes followed the smooth wave described by the deck he was standing on. Not only was it pleasant to the eye but it served to reduce the stresses caused by the wave this craft pierced so elegantly, such was the wisdom of the elves shipbuilders. The planks of the deck were fitted so well that it was hard to see where the seams lay; such was the craftsmanship of its builders. The sails would be filled by winds commanded by magic; such was the magnificent lore of true elvenkind. It was a good day to be....”HOOOOOOT”

The ship that had issued the mechanical shout was ugly in the extreme. Its free-board was scarcely a meter and its segmented body had very broad, inelegant proportions. What could be seen of its cargo was the red shoddy look of iron ore and the almost comically small deckhouse emitted a small amount of black sooty smoke. The few deckhands that could be seen wore different clothing and that they were well-fed was a polite way to describe their figures. It was an ugly, plodding ship going upriver to feed one of Germany`s forges with material, a ship of no elegance, no history and no arms. It was also overtaking his small fleet and signaled its intentions by the deep “Hoot” emitted somewhere from the deckhouse.
It was an affront to the noble’s sensitivities that such an ugly craft would be faster than the elven build ships or that this ship would dare to challenge the right-of-way of his betters but there were few things he could do about that-for now.

The intervention by the German ship brought his mind to a different track-one that reached several weeks into the past.
With the near-perfect memory given his kind he was back in the elegant room in which the Phoenix King did his real business. Besides Tyrion`s ever-handsome self there was Admiral Aislinn and several other prices who led parts of the Elven host as well as Osterion who handled the relations to those reals considered friendly or at least harmless. The most important attendant besides the Phoenix King was Teclis. The polar opposite of Tyrion in appearance he was the most powerful mage the high elves had.
It had been after the age-honored rituals of greetings and the pleasantries which Tyrion used like a tool that the hammer dropped when Tyrion spoke up.

“Nearly a moon ago the German ambassador informed us of a huge fleet of Druchii that may have a course for Ulthuan. We did at first not pay much attention to this information but send a number of Gryphons to check it out. At first they were unable to verify the German claims as there was a storm where the asserted Fleet was to be. It took a massive intervention of Teclis to lift that veil and it indeed revealed a huge Fleet of our misguided cousins.”
Admiral Aislinn took up the presentation from there

“After we knew what was coming-and from the Gryphon-riders report is is the largest Druchii-fleet seen in a long time-we had to assemble a suitable fleet of the Seaguard. Unfortunately by the time sufficient forces were marshaled the Druchii had made their target clear. They have taken harbor in the Bay of Drusilla. There is not much of anything there but that means that the landing was mostly unopposed. By now the entrance of the bay is protected by 2 Black Arcs and field fortifications on both sides-attacking these would be hideously expensive. Their supplies and reinforcements are another matter.”

“The warning was still not without value. We increased the forces protecting the royal family and could indeed bag two assassins who were about to slay the Phoenix King and the Everqueen.” Teclis had taken over when the Admiral had said his piece. This is a most worrying development. All portents had shown a new crusade of Chaos already for last year. Then the Germans came and the prophesies were not worth the Vellum they were written on.
Now it is obvious that the fell powers just delayed their assault and we have to find ways to curb their designs. We should be able to counter this invasion, in the end it is one of many. But we have to see to the developments in the Old World also. While many of you see few worth in the fate of the Empire and the other humans our aims will not be furthered if these realms fall to Chaos. This would doubly be true of the newcomers, the Germans. We cannot spare many troops or mages but it is obvious where the humans lack most-wisdom and leadership. We can provide them that at the very least, but we need a wise and worldly noble to undertake this mission.”

Aurelius should have cleared this throat at another moment, really.

Altdorf, upper Market, 2 Weeks after the Battle of Middenheim

Sabine West was walking along the row of booths of the Altdorf market. It was quite a spectacle to the petite German physical therapist had done some shopping here during the last days. She had learned the ancient art of haggling and was highly looking forward towards the results promised to her by the tailor whom she had delivered some cloth to.
She was happy that she did not stand out too much-her current outfit had been influenced by some imperial fashion anyway and she had followed the advice against wearing trousers. It still gave the locals the willies.
Now she was on the way towards the small Kurfuerst alley, a small street that had by tradition hosted lots of foreign restaurants. To the Kislevite eateries, the Estelian open-air restaurants and the Tilean pasterias the Germans had added a Beer Garden, a Paulaner, a Wienerward and of course a McDonalds. The latter was chock full with Imperials who all wanted to check this newest fad and the stains on many an expensive traders robe showed that not everybody had mastered the art of eating a McRib yet. The street by itself was full of foreigners, with Germans making up a good proportion.
She was heading for the Paulaner, she wanted to meet her fiancé there who after some time in the field wanted some food he could relate to. Trying to find ways through the crowd around her she did not look backwards and therefore was surprised at the hand that clamped around her shoulder like a vise.

Wilhelm van Hals was in a fool mood. The reknown Inquisitor fulfilled his duties faithfully in Stirland during the last days and had been successful in rooting out heresies, corruption and fellowship of Chaos. It was only to be expected that a man left to his own devices would have to confiscate the means to follow his calling.
His reputation for the zeal by which he followed any suspect and the intensity he applied to the investigation of any wrongdoings had roused the attention of the mighty of the Order of Sigmar-some of them enamored with his methods. Unfortunately the corruption that had taken the Empire had even influenced the holy Order of Sigmar and some of its decadent members were criticizing his methods as “too harsh” and his confiscations as “self-serving”.
So the higher ranks of the Order had called him to Altdorf while they debated his fate. He was taking it with ill grace. In order to work of some of his zeal-others might call it frustrations-he had taken his entourage and had started to patrol the streets of Altdorf in the search of the witch, the cultist, the heretic to bring them to justice.

One of his greatest assets was Johann. The child of a mage he had burned many years ago had proven remarkably adept to sniff out people with a connection to the Empyrean. Wilhelm was still sure that it was a mistake to give permits to mages who pretended to work for the good of the Empire, but at least he could check anybody Johann pointed out for a permit and woe betide anybody who did not have such a permit.
And now Johann pointed out a petite redhead that by his words “reeked of the fell powers”. Hans Moser one of his henchmen approached her and gripped her shoulder so she could not get away while Wilhelm watched.

“Where is your permit witch?”
“What permit are you talking about?”
“Your permit for witchcraft strumpet?”
“Are you mad? I am no witch.”
“That is what they all say-we take you with us”
The witch was moving under Hans grip and was obviously trying to get away. Hans put a leg behind her and shoved so that the witch dropped to the cobblestones. She got something out of her clothes and pressed it against the henchman.
The scream that came from the burly man was loud enough to stop any conversation on the market and the adjourning district. It was so shrill, so full of pain and astonishment that nobody would have related it to the big man if he did not see it.

Luckily the rest of his men were on the ball and fixed the woman with a capture collar. This was a proven piece of equipment with a long handle that terminated in a collar with spikes on the inside which had a funnel-shaped front. Easy to get in and hard to escape it stopped the most determined wrongdoer.
Time to assert himself. Shouting with a voice that would have put most professional market tenders to shame he worked the crowd which started getting excited. “Here you can see what happens when you let down your guard-the witch can walk into you midst and ruin the honest. To the pyre with the witch and crrrk”

The ratcheting noise was not very loud but very close to his ear and stopped him in his tracks. Turning his head the source of the sound turned out to be a nearly two meters high man wearing a incongruously colored shirt which even screamed its affliction to Chaos into the world. What else could the words “Aces very high” and the picture of a man without skin mean-and who was “Iron Maiden”?
What was not much of a riddle was the gun which the man had just cocked and pointed into his face and his “Stop what you are doing asshole and unhand my fiancée” had enough command in it that it nearly made him do just that. But who but a fiend would support such an obvious strumpet of Chaos.
Well maybe the somewhat smaller foreigner who wore at least parts of a Landwehr Uniform. The brown-haired soldier also hand a handgun but so far pointed his above the heads of everybody. He was accompanied by a Dwarf with a long knife in hand who looked ready to support the newcomer.

“Better do what he says boyo. This is no witch but the fiancée of Major Gerber. Threatening her could be a very stupid move” His Reikspiel was noticeably better than those of the foreigners whom he suspected of being Germans.
“Can you not see that she is a witch of the worst order-did you not see what she did to my man? If you protect such a corrupt creature you might become suspicious yourself.”
That had worked every time when he used it-nobody wanted to be part of a witch hunt. It did decidedly not work on the Germans. Before he could think about whether he could take them with his men several more joined them from the crowd.

“Can we help in any way?” One of the Germans was holding a handgun which looked bigger than the small strange looking guns shown so far and his uniform was even less known than that of the Landwehr. The next was a slender blonde with receding hair. Holding a businesslike compact weapon at his men he kept a sensible distance and looked like he knew what he was doing. Another had a black somehow Bretonian looking hat and was obviously competent with his weapon. The last man was an even stranger sight. Older, with broad shoulders he wore a robe that would not look out of place with the Order of Shallya-an order only for women.
The robed man bent down to Hans who was still lying on the cobblestones making mewling noises checking on him and also went to the women his man still held to the ground. Ignoring his enforcer he checked on her also, obviously trusting the others to watch his back.
When he stood up he went face to face with Wilhelm.

“Mrs. West is indeed a healer. The Order of Shallya is working on her permit, it will be issued soon. I suggest you unhand her immediately”
“What are you clown-a castrati in the service of Shallya, a clown wearing clothes he is not entitled to or..”
“I suggest that you take this up with Reverend Mother Herad at the Temple. If you want any treatment from the order in future I would want to be a little respectful if I were you. And now unhand that woman or I step aside and watch your brains color the wall behind you Burner of Women. It is all the same to me.”
“You saw what this…women did to my armsman-it must be sorcery of the highest order.”
“Sorry to disappoint you zealot, but Mrs. West sensibly packed a Taser, a totally mundane device that gives off strong electric shocks to its target. From where she was she could only apply it to this idiots groin. I do not think that permanent damage will occur, but he will have a hard time getting it up any time soon. That should teach him to be more polite in future. And now it is time for a decision-release Mrs. West and check with the order that all is well-or die like the ignorant asshole that you are.”

It took some more talking but the result was never in doubt. A short visit to the temple later showed that the Order of Shallya indeed did accept Sabine West as a magic healer, even when neither the German woman had any idea that she might have talents before. Everybody agreed that this called for a Beer or two at the Paulaner.
Rather later than planned but happy that all was well the Germans started their introductions:

“I am Joakim Vos and with the 1st Landwehr. I work with the ground pounders in the overgrown commuter train that this guy over there commands.”
“That is the train Hammer to you. I am Major Henrik Gerber and indeed command the train and the first Landwehr-so far. Thanks again for the help to my fiancée-this is Sabine West.”
“Train Hammer-I heard things about that one. I am Nathan Alpers and usually I fly a Storch out of Lager Middenheim.”
“I think I saw you flying a couple of times. I am Ralf Winkler, medic with the 32st Landwehr from papenburg but currently working for the Order of Shallya. Long story-ask later when we had the Beer. May I introduce my wife, Christine to everybody.”
“Ulrich Stoiber, I am from the 183 Panzer Battalion and just got back from Middenheim. We are all in for the Ceremony on Baekertag I gather?”
“Oh not me I am afraid.” The blonde man who so far had mostly kept quiet sat next to a stunning brunette that had accompanied the German when he entered the restaurant. “I am Markus Koch and I am trying to teach some brewery over here. Countess Vallya here tries to continue this in Nuln-and she is negotiating unfairly.” The joke got a lot of laughter from the assembled Germans and an elbow in his ribs from the brunette who took in in stride.

It was a lot of beers, sausages and pork knuckles later that the slightly tipsy Germans walked from the restaurant into the cool evening air.
They were greeted by the lantern wielding night-watchman who made his rounds. Above them an airship was light up by the two moons and a steam engine issued its lonely cry.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-30 02:17am

Altdorf, 16 days after Battle of Middenheim

Aurelius had been to Middenheim before and had not expected big changes. This time he watched in the banks of the Reik in wonder. The few buildings he had seen close to Germany had a utilitarian look to them, usually ugly blocks of bricks, mortar and steel.
It was a strange land and such strangeness was to be expected. But now, ever since the last kilometers the banks of the Reik were dotted by similar buildings, just mostly made of wood. A veritable fleet of boats and ships were coming and going from these in no particular order and shipped goods and people around. The buildings often had inscriptions in the simple blocky script of the Germans. He could easily read it but what sense made “Addidas” “Kuehne” “Puma” or “Eterna” to him.

From what he could see this was an area with many manufactories working with each other and the German influence was undeniable. The newcomers were upsetting a balance so carefully crafted like a child that plays with bricks and had no sense of them-incredible. The stink of these factories alone was proof enough that this was not a good development.

His arrival at the Altdorf city harbor reminded him why he despised the humans so much. They simply stank. Their city had no decent sanitation and the night soil fouled the air as did the mass of unwashed bodies and the crude food the humans preferred. The buildings were blocky heaps of stone lacking the intricate artistry of elvenkind and the haphazard roadmap showed the lack of planning and foresight.
The Empire did even more to slight him-instead of being greeted by the Emperor himself he was met by Reiksmarshall Hellborg. He was given full honors, he could hardly fault that.
After the opening pleasantries where the two nobles defaulted the details of accommodations to their underlings the Reiksmarshall had news for the Elf.

“You just come in time for the parade, a good thing certainly.”
“You have me at an advantage there Marshall-what parade.”
“Ah, I am sorry, I thought the news had reached you. We have a victory parade to celebrate our Victory at Middenheim. Many of the troops that fought there have returned from the city by road and train in the last days. In order to honor them and give the population the good news there will be a parade. As we knew you were coming I took a chance and reserved some in the government stand close to Emperor Karl-Franz bridge for you which is not far. I hope you will accept the invitation.”
Aurelius was not too keen on giving legitimacy to whatever military games the humans had cooked up, but if he wanted to assume leadership it would probably not do to slight the troops and he could get an impression of them, but still.
“You said these soldiers are back from Middenheim within two weeks-how is that possible?”
“Yes it seems slow these days but the railroad to Middenheim is not yet finished. About half of the trip was conducted on roads and the Germans did not have enough trucks to transport everybody in one go. Still seems like magic in a way.”
What? Either there was something new underfoot that he could not yet identify or the Reiksmarshall was a braggart of the highest order-well he would see which it was soon.
“I accept, thanks for your efforts. I take it I will meet the Emperor during the parade.”
“I will be sure to arrange it.”

A couple of hours later he found himself standing on one of the stands erected besides the parade above the plebs of the lower imperial nobles. The first units to pass were what he had expected – Cavalry from the Wolf Guard and various infantry. It was like the poor-man’s version of a similar parade in Ulthuan-how could the humans expect to achieve mastery of warfare or artistry when he had 20, maybe 30 years to learn and ply his trade? The only interesting bits were some footmen that carried a very slender sort of musket and a small Troop of Reiksguard Knights who had strange looking pistols. They were accompanied by two horseless chariots the Germans called trucks who also bore some small cannon. Why the crowd cheered them especially he could not understand.

He was about to ask about this when everything was drowned out by an avalanche of sound. He had never heard such before and it reverberated through everything as it was accompanied by vibrations which shook the stand he was on. Even the renewed cheering of the plebs was mostly swallowed when a row of vehicles drove into view. The first vehicles that he could seemed not to be the source of the clamor but were impressive enough. Boat-shaped hulls sat on huge rubber tires and the steel of their armor plating was smoother than any that Aurelius had ever seen. The German machines seemed to have a common hull and different armaments-some wore what seemed like slender cannon together with canisters which hid more weapons. Others had bigger cannons and strange wands and something like dishes atop of them and even more showed stubby-looking barrels of higher caliber.

Then the source of the monstrous sounds entered the scene. He had heard that the Germans had something like improved steam tanks, but this description did not do any honors to the monsters that drove by him. Their size alone made then impressive-they neatly reached to the height of his stand were at least 4 times as long as he was and probably 2 times as broad. They had many wheels inside a track arrangement and a blocky turret sat atop a low-slung body. The longest cannon the noble had ever seen on something moving jutted out of the turret and several smaller barrels hinted at more destructive power.
What was more-these war machines did not show anything of the ramshackle patched construction that was shown by steam tanks or the riveted plates of dwarven engineering. They were seamless in parts and it was obvious that they were build “just so”.
They extruded an aura of invulnerability and deadly menace that even the Elf found hard to ignore.

There was a break in the stream of vehicles and Aurelius was already asking himself whether the parade was over when the next sound wave that he could not identify assaulted his sensitive ears.
A deep droning barely preceded the appearance of 3 fliers. He had heard before that the humans called them planes but these seemed bigger than any he had seen before. They had something like two windmills on each of their straight wings which somehow pulled the big machines forward.
A sound like a tearing, no unlike anything he had witnessed before heralded the approach of a dozen smaller planes who were much smaller, faster and sported triangular wings. When the passed over the bridge they pulled sharply upwards until they seemed to rest on their tails and unbelievably accelerated until they were out of sight.

The last flier to make the parade was different again. Even bigger than the first fliers it had a long graceful fuselage and slender wings canted backwards like arrow fletching. 8 pods of something hung in pairs of two under the wings and made a sound even louder than the others before it. Flying incredibly low the huge thing made a circle over all of Altdorf in a display of agility out of all proportion of its size. While it looked different from the other planes that had been paraded by him it showed the same black crosses that marked the other German vehicles, flying or not.
This display of military power reinforced the worst fears in the Nobles mind-the humans were playing with toys far above their ability to handle.

Near Passau, Bavaria, same day

Jean of Dubois was cutting asparagus from a prepared field. It meant that he had work bend forward to nearly ground level, had to grub in the dirt and all of that under a sun that made him sweat as a hog.
He felt like a King. He felt like a King as nobody would beat him if some idiot felt like he was working too slowly, he felt like a King as he got 3 meals a day of which at least 2 had real meat in them and he felt like a King as he earned 3 Euros an hour.
He was working on one of the many farms that dotted the hilly Bavarian countryside as a seasonal harvest help. He had been told that before Germany was put in this world this was a job mostly done by Polish and Rumanian workers who were no longer available.

Even the lowly serfs of Bretonia had heard about the new Country that had been transplanted to this world and as always there were wild rumor about them. Some rumors stated that there were incredible houses and roads, that there were gigantic cities which you could not walk through in a single day. Others said that the Germans had magical chariots and even mechanical birds which allowed them to fly.
Other stories, especially the ones told by Robert de Dubois, Marquis of Dubois told of lawlessness, of the pictures of naked women lewdly shown in the public and of crazed serfs who walked through the streets and shouted their anger at their rightful government.

The most crazy and unbelievable of all stories told of a country where there were no serfs and no slaves-how could that be, everybody had them. He had not paid too much attention to these rumors as he had been too busy wooing his Marie, his beautiful, graceful funny and exiting Marie, the Queen of his heart.

The Marquis had given them permission to marry without too much of a fuss and everybody in their village had helped them to erect their new hovel-it even had a brick-build fireplace and he had been the happiest man in the world-until it all went wrong.
His beloved Marie had become sick of child-bed fever and nothing he could do helped. The Marquis had refused to pay for a healer even when the child could very well have been his, so both Maire and their child died an untimely death. The world went gray after that-the sun no longer warmed him, food tasted like ashes and music did no longer lift his spirits. In his depression he could no longer work as fast as he used to and so he had been beaten much more often.

One of the beatings was so severe that it finally cut through the daze that clouded his mind and showed him that things could not go on like this. He had heard that there were many other nobles who treated their serfs better, but even if he were to escape to one of their fiefdoms they would be required to send him back.
In the end he decided he had nothing to lose and try the wildest rumors. He had used the celebrations of the Day of the Lady to make his escape. In this craze nobody missed him for days and when they finally did he had so much of an advance and crossed so many streams that even the Marquis famed hounds could no longer track him.

He had lived like an animal for weeks, eating wild fruits and whatever he could gather when no one was looking. More by accident then by design he had stumbled across the German border. A bored guard had one look at him and asked whether he came as a seasonal harvest helper in accented Bretonian and that seemed about right. Even in his disheveled state he was eagerly grabbed up by a farmer who was anxious to get helpers for the harvest. He had been so incredulous when his new workmates explained the way of life around here. He did not have to work if he did not want to-he would not get paid but he would not be punished. Nobody would beat him, if anybody did it was a punishable offence. He only had to work 8 hours per day, anything more he would have to agree to and he would be paid 4 Euros, not 3 for any hour he worked like that. And Sunday was off, period. He got his own bed with clean covers in a room with only 3 others and like in a fairy tale hot water ran from faucets when you opened them.

The food was another marvel to behold. They even could eat what they harvested-just two days ago the farmer`s wife had cooked asparagus with a Sauce Hollandaise, Potatoes and smoked ham for all of them-what a delicacy-he would never had a chance to eat so in well Bretonia. He had regained his strength and a large part of his well-being by being treated and fed like a human being as contrasted to a beast of burden.
“Jean…Jean, I am talking to you.”
“Sorry Ernst, I did not hear you right away. What`s up”
“The farmer asked for you, please go there now, I`ll take care of your row till you are back.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Not that I know of, you work fine. No, I hear there is somebody who wants to talk to you.”

Wondering who that might be the Breton wiped his hands on his newly-acquired Jeans and walked to the Farm, all the way wondering who might be waiting for him. He knew that he needed a permit if he wanted to stay in Germany past the harvest, was it somebody from Government?
Walking into the Farm he first saw the broad back of Marcel Bauer the farmer who hired him and he was already too close when he saw whom the farmer was talking to. The sight and the sound of Robert de Dubois send ice down his veins and constricted his throat to the point where he could hardly move or talk.

“Ah Jean, there you are-here is a Robert de Dubois who wants to speak with you. Are you two related?” Before Jean could utter anything the slightly nasal voice of the Bretonian noble cut in. “Certainly not good man. I am Robert de Dubois, my family has ruled the fiefdom of Dubois and the countryside for 8 generations. He is Jean of Dubois-his kind does not have family names. Mostly they do not know who their father is anyway. But the of Dubois already says why I am here-he is a runaway serf and belongs to the fiefdom-he belongs to me. He absconded from my fiefdom without the allowance I certainly would not give and now I am here to take him back.”
“So Jean here is a criminal who ran away?”
“By running away he became a criminal, so I bring him back for his richly deserved punishment and se he can continue to give the services he is due to me.”
“Is that true Jean? Do you want to go back with the Knight?”
“Nnno, no I do not want to go back with..with this animal”
“I suspected so. Sorry Sir Robert, but I have to ask you to leave my farm-immediately.”
“I expected better of you, but you are a commoner. I have to insist.”
“Insist all you like- I am taking my serf with me”
“Forget it, I will…”

Shhhht-the sword drawn by the Bretonian noble was a typical cavalry sword-long, straight, heavy and very well made. The Knight displayed considerable strength as he handled the weapon like most humans would handle a rapier.
“Don`t stand in my way, I do not want to sully my blade with you blood. I would have to consider anybody on this farm my enemy if you do not yield.”
“You are not getting away with this, you..” The sword pommel which hit the farmers temple made a sickly crunching sound and Bauer dropped like a sack of potatos.”
“Now come with me you cur”
Robert followed his former liege like a puppy-with his hands tied behind his back and an noose around his neck leading to the knights hand he had few chances otherwise.
The knight rambled on in an unending monotone about the time and costs he had to bear to find Jean and to travel to Germany and how he would get the costs out of Jeans back and…

Robert probably did not know what the sound of the sirens meant and Jean was about the last person on earth who would tell him. He was still surprised when three cars stopped around them and several policemen jumped out and took station, blocking their way. Some of the policemen had pistols, others showed something that Jean could not recognize. Their leader stepped forward and issued his demands.
“Stop right there and lift your hands above the head-right now”
“Are you challenging me? If you cannot prove to be of noble blood I cannot accept a challenge for honorable combat and I..”
“Hands up stupid, do it now”
The knight had his sword halfway out of the scabbard when 2 pepper spray jets converged on his face. The Knight was plucky enough to draw his weapon despite the fact that he could not see anything, could hardly breathe and the terrible burning in his face. For all that he got a notable beating by the police.

Despite Jeans protests that he was well he was driven into a hospital, poked and prodded and kept for the knight. Before he was allowed to sleep a policeman came by and kept asking countless questions. Jean took a while until he had enough courage to ask.
“Sir, what will happen to me now. Will you send me back to Dubois”
“Hardly, stop worrying about that. We need you as a witness for what happened anyway so you will get a permit for the next 6 months or so anyway, and then there is a new harvest, relax.
“Thank you Sir. And, if I may ask, how is my farmer?”
“Ah, thought you might ask that. The doctors operated him already and he is still out, but there should be nothing permanent. Mrs. Bauer asked me to tell you she is happy that we got you out and will pick you up tomorrow-she said something about the asparagus not cutting itself.”

Robert was sinking back into his cushions and relaxed as had worried that the farmer`s injuries would be held against him.
“A last question if I may-what will become of Sir Robert?”
“Oh he is of course innocent until he is properly convicted, but in all likelihood he will be in for kidnapping, malicious injury and some other stuff. I`d say he spends 10 years in prison before they ever breathe the word “Pardon”
Jean was too much under the influence of the drugs the Germans had given him not to sleep deeply. But during work the next days he marveled at his luck-and had pity on those serfs not so lucky. A courageous man would try to help more of them escape, but courageous men were nobles, weren`t they. Or maybe not…..

Excerpt from the Advertisement of the Lidl discounter for Baekertag 21, 2521

Jackobs Kroenung Coffee, new Araby Mixture, 500 Gram-just 19,95 Euro
Chicory Coffee, added Caffeine, 500 Gram, reduced again to 10,99 Euro
Bad Schwartau Skadi Fruit Jam 3,99
Milk Schokolade, 100 Gramm Lidl Brand, 3,49 Euro
Set of Playmobil Figures, new wood edition, Imperial Knights 15,99 Euro

Kiel Channel, Hochdonn ferry terminal, same evening

Martin Brand was in the bridge of the Channel ferry he had worked on for the last 10 years. For all of that time he had ferried cars, trucks and passengers between the two cannel banks many times a day free of charge.
Now he was unscrewing the steering wheel of the ferry-it was no longer needed. As there was no more Denmark the detour a ship had to take when it wanted to reach Kiel from the Sea of claws was so small that nobody could justify the costs of the Kiel channel any more.
Besides the free-of charge ferries that he and his colleagues worked on in 12 places the channel had to be dragged, the locks maintained and costly high bridges kept up. It had been worth it before, but now the passage through the channel had slowed down to a trickle. In many places low-slung bridges spanned the channel already, in others they were backfilling the channel to build roads on them.
It was a shame really, he had liked the job. But there were many opportunities for men who knew their way about shipping these days, he would not be out of a job, he would just be home less of the time. The way things were between him and his wife, maybe that was a good thing.

Kharak Hirn, same time

Gotrek and Felix had taken the train to Altdorf but had got no news. The Storm of Chaos was consuming most resources. Thus they had to wait. Although both were rather keen to join the next German unit to go into battle, Gotrek had to know something else. Something more important. So they went to Kharak Hirn directly. Here Gotrek had left Felix to find answers on his questions. He was away for over four days, until he reappeared. Gotrek had been totally calm. Felix asked him, what happened.

"I am fine. I have got much answers. At first, as I was dead, the slayer oath had been fulfilled. The guilt is repaid."
"That's fantastic!"
"Yes. I have accepted this fact now. I have learned to forgive myself as well. Or at least made the first step. However, I have another job to do: To find an answer, what has happened."
"I come with you!"
"You don't need to do so. As I am no slayer any more you are also free."
"You are no slayer anymore. But you're still my friend."
"Thank you, Felix."
"Will you still fight without protection?"
"No. I will buy me an armour."
Only little later they were going back to Altdorf.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-07-30 02:18am

Altdorf, Imperial Palace, the next day

Heike Müller felt out of place and was highly afraid of making mistakes. That she was doing something that she had dreamt of for so long did not make it any better. For most of her adult life she had read the German “yellow press” and had been fascinated by the lives of Europe’s nobles and their affairs.
Now she was inside the real thing-a real palace populated by real governing nobles and real servants who held their rituals as they were a necessity, not playacting. That alone gave her the shivers. Not that she looked out of place-the courts tailor had done fast sterling work and she though the formal dress suited her figure fine.

The problem was that she was afraid of was committing some gaffe by not adhering to the millions of rules that permeated this place, the written and the unwritten ones. The small leaflet from the German embassy about them seemed woefully thin and she was sure to affront somebody for every meter she walked through the marvelous halls.
The Altdorf Palace oozed history from every corner. It had not burned or was seriously fought for since more than a Millennium and inside as outside it was a clash of styles and building methods which denoted the various additions, repairs and patches accumulated over time.

Still it oozed the grandness Germans usually associated with old Churches but had the hustle of a center of government and society. Currently she was in a ballroom that was adjunct to the inner court that would be used for the upcoming ceremony. Everybody could hustle to and fro and talk with each other-but she had nobody to talk to. That was the second reason why she was uneasy about all of this. She was not here because of herself but because of her husband, Kurt Müller. The nice, unassuming, slightly overweight and bald railroad engineer that without ever talking to her whether she agreed or not went off to a heroic quest. Did he never think about how she felt about this, what she were to do if he died or became crippled in his fight?

In her rare moments of self-inspection she would admit that half of that problem was that she did not recognize the man she had been married to for half a lifetime in what he had done the last 4 weeks. It was like waking up and finding a stranger in her bed.
She was so deep in her self-pity that she did not see the approach by a particularly large man and his small entourage and only turned when he blocked a part of the light coming from the open doors leading to the courtyard.
Turning around she found herself face-to-face with Karl-Franz, Emperor and the host of the event. Managing an acceptable courtesy had more to with suddenly lacking strength in her legs than remembering her leaflet about courtly manners.

I, I am sorry your Highness, I did not see you coming and..”
“It is we who have to apologize Baroness Müller. Please rise. I hope you enjoy yourself at this little gathering. We have to apologize for taking your husband from you at an age when he should be keeping you company and not slaying my enemies as he so ably did. He was literally the only railroad engineer available who could do what needed to be done. Any day of delay or the handling of “Hammer by an inept stand-in would have had grievous consequences. We do not like to do such things but it needed to be done and we could just hope it would end well. And your husband did far better than anybody could expect, you may be proud of him. Don`t be too amazed by the things that Marshall Hellborg will say about him, it is customary first to list why he should not be added to the list and then say why he should be.”
“Thank you your Majesty”
“You are welcome. By your leave Baroness, duty calls.”

He was not gone when about a dozen courtiers were very keen to talk to her-why had the Emperor shown any interest in this woman. For Heike one puzzle had been solved-how her husband could agree to join this madcap adventure. The emperor emitted a ton of Charisma and she was smitten by it in a different way than her husband but could tell the effects. Of course a new puzzle had opened in its place-what the hell had Kurt done that had the Emperor praise him so much.
She had a good place later at the ceremony. There was a stand for the speakers; there was a detachment of the Reiksguard Knights in full armor and a lot of spectators.
The first to enter the Podium was Angela Merkel who wore something that had a little military bearing when you looked at it the right way.

“We have come together now to honor those who have fought so bravely in the Series of Battles which are called the “Storm of Chaos” by now. Many have fought in these battles and fought bravely, but some have exceeded the call of duty in such a way that we want to honor them publicly.
Germany did not have a medal to honor such soldiers well until now and all proposals to resurrect old medals like the “Iron Cross” would have too many of the wrong connotations. So the German Parliament has decided to grant a new Medal, the “Ehrenmedallie des Bundestages”, the Medal of Honor of Parliament. The soldiers we honor today will also be included into the Honor Company of the Reiksguard to denote the service they did to both our nations. I therefore leave it to Reiksmashal Hellborg to explain why we gave these medals. Marshall-your turn.”
The huge grizzled Veteran who climbed the stand was obviously a connoisseur of battles, and a Medal and an invitation into the Reiksguard he doled out meant a lot to those who knew him.

“Honored Guests, as many of you are not from the Empire let me first explain what the Reiksguard Honor Company is about. All able bodied men are expected to fight for their liege and against our enemies and those who fight with exceptionable valor will be honored. To be chosen for this particular accolade one has to fight for the whole Nation, not just for a part. And while all of us fought in Middenheim we fought for both of our great nations and more. So, whom do we honor today:
“Sir Nathan Alpers, step forward please. Don´t look so surprised somebody should have told you that the title comes with elevation into the Honor Guard didn`t they. Well, no matter. When I talked to the committee that decides the entrance into the Honor Guard they asked me: What important battle did he fight in, which enemies did he slay in glorious combat? My answer was simple: Without you, young pilot, there would not have been a Lager Middenheim. Without you, there would not have been a lucky end to the siege of Castle Wolfenfels and whether we could have send reinforcements into Middenheim through the army that besieged it is questionable. And the courage of anybody who flies an unarmed plane to the enemy again and again and again is beyond questioning. Welcome in our ranks Sir Nathan.

Sir Henrik Gerber, what can I say? When I was asked about you I had to concede that you did not personally fought anybody, that your body did not come any closer to the enemy than 500 meters or so. But you were there when we needed an able man to command the 1st Landwehr and you did it with style. You brought the troops where they were needed, you relieved the siege of the quarry at the proverbial last minute and you and your troops killed the largest warherd that this world has seen in a long time. You have shown initiative and the courage to act on your assessment of the situation. And finally I asked if the committee really wants to turn down the man who commands a weapon that can demolish Altdorf in a matter of hours. Welcome Sir Henrik.

Sir Joakim Vos you have come from a country that did not come with you when Germany was drawn into this world and yet you fight for both of our Nations and you fight well. You personally defeated Garek, the Doombull which gave us all such problems and saved a man important to many of us. Welcome Sir Joakim.

Sir Ulrich Stoiber, for you there was no discussion at all. I do not know how many humans, elves, demons and dawi tried to kill Archaron for good and rid us all of his terror and I doubt anybody ever will. But we know for sure that you did it and did it with style. The Temple of Ulrik has bestowed you tank company another honor-please accept their flag and the name that come with it-the Wolfpack. Welcome Sir Ulrich.

Sir Valten, you have reminded us for what we all fight for. We do not fight for the successful accomplishment of our missions, we do not fight for honor to our units and ourselves and we do not fight for our lives. We fight for the farmer to till his field and feed us all, for our mothers to sleep soundly in her bed and for the children to carry us into the future. You have fought for these and you fought with more courage and skill than most of us have. Welcome Sir Valten”

Sir Kurt Müller, the committee was the most amazed when your name turned up. He is no soldier they said; he has not fought in personal combat they said and did not want to fight at all they said-so why should we include you into the hallowed ranks of the Honor Company. I pointed out to them that you personally killed more beastmen then the complete Reiksguard in the last 10 years or so and that if you do not belong, none of us do. Welcome Sir Kurt.”

This was when Heike Müller fainted and missed the rest of the citations and accolades. There were a lot of them: Ernst Hermann, Sergeant Blascoviks and Hauptmann Hemmler for their fight along with the title of Dragonslayers, for Raimund Wurz for killing more Bloodthirsters than anybody else in history and for Mike Kozlowski for killing a Chaos Army-and so many others. The celebrations went on for hours but became livelier when the evening went on.
It was already late at night when Valten found that he could not sleep. Too much excitement, too many people in a small space, too unfamiliar the surrounding-some would say the battlefield by another name.

If he could not sleep he could at least enjoy his stay in another way. Getting up carefully-his scar still smarted-he walked out to one of the Gallerias that faced the inner courtyard. The stars were not as visible as when he was out in the field, but gave him a sense of wonder still. He did not see the servant that watched him but he was aware of the approach of the single man that joined him on the Gallery even before he came near.
He went onto his knee without hesitation.

“Your highness”
“Get up Sir Valten, please. Can´t sleep?”
“Yes Sir. Too much to eat, too much to think about..”
“I think I know what you mean. Done it myself. Can you do me a small favor?”
“Whatever you ask Sire”
“Then hold this for me a for a minute”
“Sir?” Valten was not even aware of it that he reached out and took the Hammer that was thrust in his direction, but he gripped immediately and firmly. Nobody could say for sure how but the young warrior seemed bigger and older when he took a cautious swing
“This feels….right”
“So this is it Valten, I should have seen it sooner. Well, better now than too late. Can you give it back to me for now Valten, thank you that’s a lad. Oh Sigmar, what am I going to do with you?”
“I live to serve Sir. For everything else we need to talk to Father Hus”
“Valten, if you are indeed the man I think you are you should be able to decide a few of things on your own. Otherwise you will become what many of my advisers think: A religious figurehead used by the Clergy of Sigmar to their ends at best, the focal point of a civil war at worst. To be very frank-I have advisors which tell me I should have you assassinated.”
“Sir, I don`t want to hurt the Empire in any way, but I need the advice of those who know more than I do.”
“I can understand that and I rely on advice by learned people a lot. But the decisions I need to take by myself and for that I need to KNOW some stuff myself, including how to learn more. And with the Germans about we all have to learn a lot and be quick about it.”
“Sire, I was brought up as a Village Smith, what can I say.”

“Not much at present, but we can change that. The Germans offer a University-don`t look at me like that, it’s a school for adults-specially for imperial soldiers and rulers who are groomed for higher things. Called school of the Reik or some such thing. We send a couple of teachers too, mostly for imperial laws, customs and magic. It will be an exciting place for sure, also good for getting to know people who will be important in 10 years or so. I can grant you a royal stipend for you to go there in style and learn to make your own decisions. Your decisions, not the ones I want you to make or your priest or anybody else. Do well at that place and come back in 3 years and we have a real talk. Such a talk could well include the word “adoption”. So what do you say Valten.”
“Sire, this is what I want more than anything else.”
“Then we have a deal.”

Berlin, roughly the same time

Sierck read the news papers again and a again, marvelling at the gun camera footage from these flying Warthogs, but with the footage of the combat, came the footage of the aftermath. While the captions clearly stated that the most distressing scenes had been removed, the sheer scope of the destruction shocked a part of him. Even seeing that almost all the dead were abhuman chaos scum, seeing dead horses, the dead Empire and German soldiers, combat vehicles cleaved in half, a chill ran through him. "This is war" he thought, "Even with their technical wizardry, war boils down to this".
Detlef brewed a fresh pot of tea, reached for his laptop, (Danke Herr Bloch he thought quietly), and began writing.

Elsewhere in Berlin - Same time.

"I'm not so keen Christian, when it was just the one battle, in that scale there was something, something almost heroic about it that suited us as a group. This", Oliver pointed at the Television screen, "This is is not what we do, this is, Wagnarian".
Flake looked up, "I think, actually, this is just the thing for us, and Wagnarian may be perfect. I have been speaking with Detlef for a while now about the video, throwing some ideas back and forth as you do. He only really thinks in an epic scale, this, as you say Oli, is Wagnarian, epic. Let us see what Detlef comes to us with, I'm sure he will, if he comes glorifying it as some hacks will, we walk, if not..."
"If not"? Christian looked over, "if not and he comes back with something as bleak and dystopic as this, what do we do, write as bleakly as this"?
"Yes, as only we can. Bloch will have kittens, but we are who we are, we cannot be anything but that" Reidel looked at Lorenz while speaking, "You think our playwrite will see things similarly"?
"I believe he will" Flake replied confidently.

Late that evening.

The assistant Bloch had hired for Detlef replaced the cold, untouched mug of tea with a fresh hot mug of tea and removed the half eaten sandwich. four and a half hours ago, Sierck had begun writing, he showed no signs of stopping. Every now and then, a muted curse would be heard and a portion of text was deleted and re-written.
"Alex" Detlef called for his assistant, "do you know how to search this internet well", a nod affirmed this, "I want to see what war looked like for Germany before you came here, the good and the bad, all of it"
"No problem, I warn you now, there are things we have done in the past that are not who we are now, not who we were before we moved to this world, but if you want the bad, you will see it" Alex replied.
A little later, Detlef had viewed the footage and the pictures. It was clear that they had suffered much, on a scale that the empire had never seen, they were capable of the highest of moral highs, and the deepest depths of evil. After much deep conversation with Alex, learning much of Germany's history before their appearence, he wondered, what had been unleashed on this world, but this did not sit with what he had seen of it's people, they were, well, normal underneath it all.
Above all, he decided, if Germans knew what suffering war brings and it had made them who they are now, then so should the Empire. While allowing that hell that the Germans had suffered to be placed on the Empire was unthinkable, it would need someone to show them the message.
After Alex finished for the evening, Detlef settled back at the laptop.

The next morning, After making coffee, Alex found himself deleting 324 pages of iklkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk where Sierk had fallen asleep on the keyboard.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-03 01:58pm

Reiksbund Headquarters, Altdorf, 2 days later

Aurelius was feeling uneasy. He had so far lived a long life and was pretty sure to have seen it all and that just slight variations were to come now. Now he was adrift in a situation where at least partially he had no experience. And that started with the rooms he was in.
They had been refurbished by the Germans or so he was told. They were as alien to him as the back side of the Moon Mannslieb. The light came from unwavering sources that he could mostly not see, some doors opened automatically and there was a slight wind where there were no windows or doors.
He even had to ask his aide how to use the bloody toilet. At least there the aide was useful to something. Why he had been saddled with this Aide was beyond him. On the surface Aeolus had more interaction with the Germans than nearly any other Elf and seemed to be highly popular with them. On the other hand he had the bad taste to survive the heroic death of his Master Ilthies, so he was politely ignored in Ulthuan and somebody found it fitting to saddle him with the young Elf.

The meeting room used for the meeting he was to attend was as strange as the rest of the headquarters: The floor rose slightly like in a theater and the tables were arranged in semicircles that gave precedence for nobody. As an added riddle where you usually expected a flag or statue had price of place behind the speakers emporium a very white very smooth cloth had the pride of place.
Besides a gaggle of Germans and Imperials several lesser powers had seen fit to send their ambassadors to a meeting to which the “Reiksbund” had invited. Marshall Hellborg had hinted that this was the place where the armies coordinated, so Aurelius had chosen to attend. He would have highly preferred to have initiated a meeting of his own but as one was already in place it seemed better to use this one for the aims of Ulthuan. Also undoing the hash the humans were bound to make of an unsupervised agreement about the unending fight against Chaos.
The meeting opened by Hans-Werner Fritz said to be a General of something of the German army.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Reiksbund is barely more than 3 Months old and it already has proven itself in a most convincing manner. Imperials and Germans have fought together for a common goal and defeated an enemy whom none of us would have been able to stop separately. The victories that have been hard-fought are great and they will help us usher in a period of peace and prosperity. Yet, we all know that this battle is not over: There are still Chaos forces in Sylvania and there are still large warbands of Greenskins in the World Edge Mountains. And we all know that sooner or later the Chaos desert will birth another Warlord who bands the factions together and launches another campaign against us. Alone we will suffer defeat, together we will hand them their heads. From the beginning the Reiksbund has been open to other nations. Now that this news and some news about the recent fighting has made the rounds it becomes necessary that we show what the Reiksbund is about and what it did recently to clear up the rumors and give you more facts for a discussion whether to join.
To this end we have prepared a short movie which I ask you to watch, here goes”

The riddle about the white area on the wall was solved when the moving pictures appeared on them. They still puzzled him-the pictures were moving and of great clarity and even with his fine elven senses he could not feel the magic behind them.
The pictures were accompanied by a deep sonorous voice whose speaker remained hidden and addressed the audience in the Reiksspiel as this was the language spoken by all.
“The Reiksbund is a defensive and treaty open to all nations not affiliated with Chaos. It offers common security, improvement of transport and communications and exchange of knowledge.” The words were accompanied by a series of still pictures and moving sequences showing Imperials using slender repeating rifles, of steam-powered trains running on steel tracks and of motor-powered freight barges traversing the endless Reik. Other pictures showed the phone booths in Altdorf and pictures from a classroom where an imperial mage trained a class of hopefuls.

“The Reiksbund may be young but it has passed its first test with flying colors. During the last months the Alliance has been attacked in several places by Chaos armies and warherds of Beastmen. These attackers have been defeated decisively.” This narrative was accompanied by pictures of a siege of a single small castle by a huge Chaos Army and by the poor remains in the same army, of a huge armored train which bore itself into a humungous mass of beastmen.”
“Among the threats to the Empire was a magical storm of unprecedented size which may have well developed into a much worse danger if we would have left it alone. Only by attacking this full force and with heavy losses were we able to put an end to this. This time the pictures were even more disquieting-a huge horde of beast-men was massacred by a group of tanks like the ones he had seen in the parade, other Children of Chaos were shown only in their dead state killed by something which looked like thousands of small explosions. A group of humans and dwarfs fought their way through caves, protected by several imperial mages who were obviously taxed heavily.

“The final test for the alliance has passed just a fortnight ago when forces of the Empire and from Germany working hand-in-hand used disinformation to draw a large Chaos Force into a Battlefield of the Reiksbund. There they wore nearly annihilated by a combination of stand-fast defense, artillery and aerial bombardment.” The presentation had, so far, already caused a lot of whispered discussions and muted comments. The sight revealed now stopped all of that immediately. Shot from the walls of a fortress that the script below showed to be Middenheim, it showed a Chaos Host as none living had ever seen and as no history had reported. A multitude of Chaos warriors of all stripes, of monsters above all description under a sky full of flying beasts covered the valley floor as far as the camera could see. Warmachines without number swayed to and fro showing their demonic possession and multicolored lights indicated where magicians plied their trade. All of this paled by comparison to the scores of Bloodthirsters who towered above this army like adults might dominate crawling Children. Lesser creatures of Khorne still added to the immense threat to any mortal being that was assembled on this battlefield. Aurelius had taken part in many battles and experienced the capabilities of Ulthuan as few others. He knew bone-deep that the armed might of Ulthuan would not have been able to stop this host, let alone defeat it soundly.

And then the ongoing presentation showed what the narrator had meant by “annihilated”: Flying beasts were roughly cast from their chosen domain by flying machines like the ones he had seen two days before. Explosions caused by unseen sources ripped through the ranks of the army and the Bloodletters were killed one by one by the combat cars and by flying machines who seemed to possess a rapid-firing cannon.
Next came the bigger flying machine, the one that had been paraded above Altdorf last yesterday and where it went the fire sprung up. An unearthly magical fire-for whatever else could it be-that spanned the battlefield and burned all in its path.
Where before a powerful army threatened all before it now flames consumed all in their way. There were more moving pictures, showing the final defeat of the demons, the massacre of the Chaos armies pitiful remnants and the death of their warlord. But earthshaking news that these were they could not eclipse the picture of an army`s destruction in flames. What kind of power did these Germans command-and how could these hairless apes believe that they control such powers in any way?
When the pictures ended the lights became brighter again in the room and the German General again climbed to the podium.

“What you could see here is what we achieved by good-will, teamwork and the willingness to combine the strengths of all allies-and we have already achieved marvelous things. The Great Forest will know peace for the first time in millennia. Middenland will be rebuild with minimal pain as most of the civilians were evacuated before the Chaos Forces closed with them. Due to the enemies forced march the destruction and defilement of the Country was kept to a minimum. Even now railroads connect important cities and regions and river-bound trade is doubling every quarter. The living conditions of many imperial citizens are improving and Germany`s raw material supply is stabilizing. This is what we can do if just a few nations join forces. Now we invite you to speak to your governments about the opportunities that await all of us.
Thanks for your time Ladies and Gentlemen.”

The elven noble sat dumbstruck at his seat and stared at the screen which showed only white again and watched his thoughts that chased through his head like rabbits which had just spotted a fox. How was it possible that the fates had given these humans such a power? What had they done to deserve such-did they not see that this kind of might would be the downfall of everything in their hands? No they could not see-they were barely above the Greenskins in introspection and rational thoughts. Until now Elvenkind could ignore the humans up to a point-they were far away and their doings rarely touched the matters of true elvenkind. But now? The next mad emperor might decide to take his petty grievances out on Ulthuan-and what could they do about it.
The thought of a human ruler like Lutvik or Dieter IV in command of this Bomber or the Tanks he had seen in action gave him the shivers. Sunk deep in his thoughts he barely registered the short speeches by the various human ambassadors and the two dawi who had attended the meeting. He was still aware that his turn would be up next but for his life could not bring up enough wits to do the diplomatic thing and give some lying platitudes. In fact he was so shaken that he did something not done by diplomats or Elves: speak his mind.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me congratulate you to your great victory over the fell powers which seems to be hard fought and complete. It is even more surprising as it was one won mostly by humans without much assistance from the older races. The notion of a common defensive treaty is a noble one and it is good to see that you finally see fit to fulfill the prophesies given by the grand Eleven mages.
The Asur have fought Chaos when the humans were still clothed in furs and living in caves and likely we will fight them when you are there back again. Your short lives keep your attention in the eternal now and satisfying the needs of the moment is uppermost in your immature minds. The forces that you used in this war will have great consequences by far exceeding the immediate effects on the enemy-you have not given these effects any thoughts and did as you thought you needed to do without restraint. We have the long view provided by the immense lore accumulated over the eons, the wisdom that comes with minds sharpened by centuries and use, the discipline granted by the insight into the necessities and the restraint that comes from knowing the great prophesies.

Left to your own devices you will be swallowed whole by your own creations and might even strengthen the Great Enemy in the long run. I see that it is time that Asur in its generosity grants its greatest gift to you and provides you with the wise leadership that you so sorely need. Under our guidance we can show you how to keep yourself safe without endangering us all. Your new-found powers make it necessary for you to accept such tutelage. Before your doings did not have the power to undo all your betters have wrought but now.....

Even the most self-assured elf will sooner or later realize that everybody of the beings around him watches him with a mixture of hatred and loathing but they were used to such from the feeble minded. What cut through the haze clouding Aurelius minds like a knife was the expression on the faces of several Germans and even some Imperials-not hate, fear, incredulity or aversion but pure unadulterated pity. The pity reserved for a small child reciting a poem wrong with vigor, for rambling old man recounting their shaky memories and for fools. And they were right-he was a fool for speaking the truth that was clear and undeniable for those with the wisdom to see what was real-but he was not surrounded by such beings.
It was the German General who first broke the silence that sat over the assembly like blanket.

“Thank you Sir Aurelius for speaking you mind so clearly and straightforwardly, I am sure we all gained appreciation of your position. Providing leadership for the Reiksbund by the Asur is surely seen by you as a generous and bold proposal. And yet your proposal needs some detailing to and it is possible that by your late arrival you may lack some information.
There is your assertion that we have no idea about the ways and means that we use to defeat the enemy and provide aid to our allies. Contrary to your first impression we know these powers very well. We have designed them from the ground up, we know how and why they work in excruciating detail and have witnessed their effects many times, if not in this world then in the one we were before.

If you get around reading the provisions of the Reiksbund treaty-the organization that you so graciously offered to lead-then you will find that to gain membership you have to have a declaration of the government of your respective nation. From the best of my knowledge for the Asur this can only be done by the Phoenix King-which you are not.
For those nations who are members of the Reiksbund the leadership of a given mission is established by the area in which a given operation takes place and the size and capabilities of the forces provided by a member of the alliance. Currently the High Elves are not a member of the Alliance, we are not on Ulthuan and from where I stand the contribution you could currently offer is your esteemed leadership, a unit of Silver Helmets and 2 Mages.
The leadership position that the Reiksbund treaty can offer you is that of an observer by an associated nation, a place where you can grant us your wisdom best. I am sure that we can work out the details after this meeting.”

It was during this speech that Aurelius had an insight into the truth-the truth that he was exactly at the place and the position where his fellow elven nobles wanted him-and it was a humbling thought that showed him the depth of his self-deception for the first time in very long time. Bereft of all power and pride he could but give the only fitting answer.
“That would be an honor Sir.”

Howaltswerke, Kiel, next morning

Daniel Rakewitz looked at the scaffolding which partially hid a mass of pressure hulls, tubes structural supports, actuator lines and so much more.
“Doesn´t look like much, doesn't it?” quipped the representative of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems who had joined the Commander on the Gallery nearly on top of the closed building dock.
“Actually it looks like quite too much-much more complicated than the subs I am used to”
“That is why they send you and your team early. When you and the other crewmembers have taken part in building this you will know it like the back of your hand by the time she will go to the trials. We can also work with your input on small changes.”
“Yes, I know and actually think that is a very good idea. What I do not understand is why this sub must be so complicated. More displacement I could understand, but 3 pressure hulls, double hull, twin screws-what gives?”
“Don`t be the next one to accuse us of German engineering please-why one part when 25 moving ones will do. But I assure you that we did not complicate things needlessly. When the Navy approached us in the months after the Weltensprung about much bigger submarines, especially ones where a basic submarine design might be modified for several different missions we went through several proposals.

The size of this world and the fact the navy now needs to go where it is needed and cannot ask somebody else to do it means we need much bigger submarines then before. Actually a displacement of nearly 5000 tons came up pretty early. Most of the proposals we checked out were more conventional than this one: Single hulled with a torpedo shape. But there were several factors which killed these.
While the requirement to transfer dived through the Kadet Trench is gone but the navy still thinks that the draft should not exceed 17 meters by too much as a lot of the work for subs these days will be in littoral waters.
The next reason was financial: This design uses most of the molds, tools and support systems that we have already for the U212 class. Using many of these systems also eases your training and we gain redundancy as most important systems are there twice or more.
To cover all the requirements the sub you see here is basically build from two side-by-side pressure hulls from the U212 class but lengthened and covered by a second non pressurized hull. We have added a smaller 3rd pressure hull for CIC and as basis for the sail.
The sail is more to the back than what you are used to from U32, so we can keep the back ends of the sub mostly as you know it. Each pressure hull has one Diesel, 2 Sterling AIP generators good for 400 KW of power, one set of Batteries and one electric drive with slew-back screw. You can cruise at 9 knots on the AIP`s and have enough power for the Hotel load, snorkel at 12 and when you engage the batteries you can go up to 22 knots. We have used the space by the secondary hull has been used to give you a system of high-pressure pipes and water jets at various points of the sub so you can turn on a dime.

There are 4 stainless steel cores with runes as heat sources for the Sterlings between the pressure hulls inside the secondary hull, all are cross connected. The Steel cores can be dropped individually or en masse in case they give problems or as emergency ballast.”
“What, no caterpillar drive?”
“Only if you promise to paint the submarine red and we have the launching ceremony in October.”
Both men sniggered a bit before continuing.
“Between the drive end and the front we have the mission module. For your sub it is accommodation for a 24-men Special Forces detachment and some of their gear. Inside the top of the secondary hull are several pressure-proof containers which house more of it, including two RIB-Boats and a diver’s vehicle.
In the sister class we will build 24 tubes for modified Taurus cruise missiles.
The front end contains 8 torpedo tubes, all swimout models. Expect one of them to contain a module for 8 Iris missiles and one or two be used for remote sensor platforms.
The hull is big enough that we could tuck a sonar dome under the torpedo tubes and there is a side array. There is a provision for a towed array but you will not be fitted with it on the first time. There is a high-definition active ultrasound sonar of high definition which can reach all around your submarine. The bow mounted sonar has been upgraded with an active pulse capability which you can sharpen down to 2 degree and the power for the pulses comes from a series of ultracaps. Suffice it to say that whatever beasty is in the beam will stop bothering you. Just make sure there is no crew member inside the beam, he would be toast.

You`ll get the usual radar and infrared sensors, but the Sail has two new masts. One is completely from one of the hardest woods we ever had the misfortune to work with and contains a magic indicator. The other one has a 30 mm RMK recoil-less cannon you can erect and use while submerged.
Don`t look at me like that-I know that back home this would be a specialty item at best and an invitation for an attack at worst-but here there are different rules and you might want to support you landed teams.”

“Very impressive-thanks. But as I said also impressively complicated, so I best start to learn my way around.”
“Follow me then”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-03 02:00pm

The Palace, Altdorf, same time

Breakfast had always been a special time for Emperor Karl-Franz, as he usually had this time for himself and his family. He also liked a healthy breakfast as all too often the next decent meal was dinner. Not to forget that he usually shared dinner with 80 people on average which tended to take some joy out of things.
But since the last year or so Breakfast became even better, and that was due to the Germans –again. First off the doctor at the German embassy had taken care of his worst dental problems, so that eating sweets was no longer something paid for with bad pains.
Then came the fridge-by now he could have butter even in summer when before stifling heat sometimes had spoiled it before he could eat it. Also some of his preferred spreads kept much better when reliably cooled. Not to mention that he had discovered some new ones. He still had a lifetime supply of Nutella for agreeing to a couple of pictures of him eating it on a bread roll-strange.
The bread was also better-a lot. The bread always had some ground stone in it that did not improve taste and did abrade his teeth. The mills were now all buying filters that took out the stone and improved the bread markedly.

Just that today the breakfast was not just food and solitary time-it was business. Here the solitude was needed so that both parties would not have to protect their “Face” in front of their allies and advisors and frank words could be exchanged more easily.
On the opposite side of the breakfast table sat Angela Merkel who was just gingerly eating a bread roll with Skadi Fruit jam, still something of a novelty in Germany.
“Another Coffee dear?”
“Yes certainly, that would close things up nicely, thanks:”
While the Emperor refilled her cup-even servants could be a problem-he sensed that now was the time for the meat of the meeting. The Germans had pulled the Empires ass out of the fire big time, there was no way in Hell the Empire could have stopped the demon-reinforced Chaos Host before Middenheim. Now it was probably time to pay up and he really doubted that a cup of coffee would suffice.

“Karl-Franz, we need to talk.”
“Yes Angela?”
“There is a problem we need you to take care of or it will influence our relationship with the Empire the wrong way-the very wrong way.”
“Name it and I will see to it”
“Serfs and Slaves, Karl-Franz. We need the Empire to get rid of that and quickly. There are already rumors in some newspapers and blogs why we support Slaveholders.”
That hit the Emperor like a punch out of nowhere-he certainly had not seen that coming.
“Uff, Angela I do not know where the problems are. The Empire has traditionally nearly no Slaves to speak of and they have never been a big factor. And our nobles treat their serfs 10 x better than any Breton I know of-this is not the same thing.”
“I know that, you know that but the press does not or it does not care. And quite frankly, the fact that there are Slaves within the Empire, no matter how few there are sticks in my craw. The same thing about the serfs-yes your nobles do not have a “right of the first night” and they have to leave the Serfs enough to eat no matter what their cut is, but still it is not clever.
And you should not forget-it makes no sense any more. The new methods of farming, especially with the new machines make much more sense when they are used by free farmers, not by serfs. The farmers work the hardest they can as it is their own livelihood if they do not get things done, a slave or serf only works when somebody is looking.
Germany released its serfs among other things as a money saving measure-and it worked.”

“Granted, I can see what you mean. But what about criminals?”
“Labor in jail or a similar institution will not be regarded as a problem in Germany-as long as this is not abused. But slavery and serfdom must go if we want to keep the high level of cooperation between our nations-or even increase it.”
“Ok, I understand. I think it will not be easy. The nobles will not be happy about no longer being able to command their serfs as they like and the serfs need to be able to handle things themselves.”
“That is a given. If you can take care of the poor nobles pampered feelings we could agree to a aid program that teaches the farmers, establishes a Raiffeisen Credit Union where needed and loan some money to the nobles so they can pay the former serfs a wage. That way nobody loses too badly. For the slaves there needs to be a retraining program.”

“If you put it like that, I think I can make it happen. But be prepared for a lot of grumbling. The serfs freedom is to be comparatively easy, these days everybody wants German equipment and if this allows for access it will be fine with most. The Slaves are another matter, in most cases they are the “pets” of some pervert, that will cause quite an uproar”
“Believe me, I can take it. But there might be something else as well.”
“What else can ruin my relations to the nobles”
“Universal Schooling”
“What is that for Sigmar`s sake?”
“Oh dear. Well, that means all children from say the age of 5 to the age of 15 have to attend school and….

DLR Aircraft Test center, Oberpfaffenhofen, 4 days later

The DLR engineer watched both the plane and the scale on which it stood incredulously. “I don`t fucking believe it. This crate should have an empty mass of 1200 Kilogram and the bleeding scale just shows 892. I checked the scale 3 times-she shows all other weights correctly, just not this one. And now I have pumped 100 liters of Diesel into her and the scale just adds 56 kilo-I do not get it at all.”
He was watched by a German pilot, an airman and a dwarf.
“Told you so manling, I put the rune of flying on it-that makes the plane and all it needs to fly lighter. It is a good rune even if I say so myself. I do not know many who can do better.”
“Uh, magic then. Not what I am really familiar with, but it seems that I have to do so now. Who would have thought it? Well, how did she fly?”
“Strange. The plane is lighter-I flew it so overloaded that it should never have left the ground. But the mass is still there and that makes for a very different flight envelope. But one can get used to it quite well, you just have to know about it.” Nathan Alpers had flown his “Storch” to Oberpfaffenhofen with several stops on the way. Some were not technically necessary like the one in Altdorf or at the Castle Wolfenfels but nobody complained.
“Does it wear off”
“Not that I noticed during flying. But Björn can tell you more about it”
“Most of our flying machines don`t last very long, so there is no way to tell directly. But we have a very similar rune for weapons and these last as long as the weapon.”

“I would not believe it if I did not see it myself. And if we were still on earth even then I would not believe it, but here…. Well, we had an ear on the ground even before you came and now that we see that there is no Humbug I can make some phone calls if you want me to, I think you are detached to us here for the next weeks, so I can arrange some meetings with interested parties.
I would like to load a few instruments into the plane and have you fly it with me in the co-pilots seat tomorrow-can we do that?”
“No problem at all”
“And now I have to find a way to measure the inertia of this Storch-how very wonderfull”
“Sir , if a may?”
“Yes airman”
“There is a hitching point at the tail wheel which is rated the planes load. You could tow the Storch from it and measure the force you need for acceleration-that should give you some data.”
“Clever idea airman-maybe I can enlist your help there.”

Kempinski Hotel, Munic, one Week later

The meeting room in the Kempinski was understatedly elegant and very well made, like everything here. This was a place where you did not have to ask for the price of anything, as if you`d have to you could not afford it anyway.
The quality of the service could be seen in that the staff had prepared a seat for a dwarf without anybody asking them to. The beings taking advantage of this offer were a mixed bunch. On the one side of the table sat four middle-aged human men, well groomed and in tailored suits.
On the other side sat a dwarf in a very robust clothing style, a Bundeswehr pilot and an airman in dress Uniform tried to look as if they were used to such surroundings.

“Well Gentlemen, we have seen the preliminary presentation from the DLR about your rune of flying and the findings look very impressive. I do not want to get ahead of the DLR`s usually comprehensive testing, but from what we already know the potential for this new technique are staggering. So we can say that DASA is interested in what you have to offer.
We could increase the payload and range of existing airframes considerably and new designs could take advantage right from the start and reap even more benefits. All of this needs more research of course but the basics seem clear enough. So we have a couple of offers to make:

Nathan Alpers, you are a serving member of the Army Air Force, so there is not much we can do for you-presently. But if you ever look for a career after the Armed Forces I am very sure we can arrange something. We always need good pilots for example.

Hermann Rolf, for you we have the same thing to say. Yet we all know that your tour is up next year and then you have a job offer with us. You can then choose to enter our Study-while-work dual training program and end up as an engineer or start right away making runes-your choice.

Björn Steinier: This is where it gets interesting right away. We offer you a position as an engineer. It rates an annual salary of 120.000 Euro with the usual benefits plus 0.5% of the price of any plane we sell with your rune when you make them and 0.1% if somebody else does.
We offer you training in aerodynamics, structural engineering and anything else you need to know to design you own plane, together with the materials and the workshop time needed to make it. We will clear the way with the German bureaucracy so it gets certified. We will teach you how to fly and will help in getting a pilot`s license. Finkenwerder has an active community of Airbus employees that build their own Ultralight planes.
I think in about two years you can sit in an aircraft of your own devising and fly it. So, what do you say?”

Dwarfs always haggle, no matter what the offer. It is in their nature. Today was another day as a slack-jawed dwarf barely managed to clear his throat for a “That is acceptable Sir.”

Exercise Ground close to Neustadt, Naggaroth

Areta Bane stood at parade rest and watched the mock Bayonet combat between their drill Sergeant Bo Swaggart and a loudmouth from 2nd platoon. That she was able to see the combat so clearly was a miracle for which the price was still due. She had trained most of her lifetime to fight with a repeating crossbow and had been pretty good with it. Then, over the course of several years her eyesight waned. Up close she could still see fine, but everything at a distance was just a blur to her. Her old unit had realized this of course during training and since there was no remedy she was about to be kicked out of the host when her Captain had told her that she had to volunteer for an experimental unit. As she knew that without being part of an army unit she would not have survived the daily struggle of the Druchii society for long she did.

To her total disgust she found that she had volunteered for an auxillia trained, equipped and led by humans in the support of mercenaries. She had not known before that Druchii could be ranked that low as for Dark Elves mercenaries were already the scum of the earth and now she was supposed to support scum?
To her total amazement and delight she found that the humans checked her out and when her eye problem came up no matter how hard she tried to hide it they simply tested a number on “lenses” on her and then issued her with “glasses”. Now this must be an invention blessed by the gods-she had been useless and a candidate for some grisly sacrifice one minute and useful warrior again the next.
She learned that nearly all the members of the auxillia she met had similar problems. Some had bad eyes like her, others had problems with family connections (or the lack thereof) and the social skills of some were bad. None of this mattered to the Germans. They gave glasses to those who could hardly see, did not care about anybody`s families and had their own program to do something about the social disabilities.
Every Druchii in her unit knew that this was a “Last Chance” outfit-if they could not make it here they would be thrown into the gutter with no support-the rest of their lives likely would be very short and would still seem to be too long for them.

So even if they knew something much better than the German instructors they did not throw it into their faces, but obeyed and tried to do as instructed-mostly.
While they obviously had to learn how to shoot the new “rifles”-not that they had received them yet-was a given. That the Germans knew more about how to employ the firearms on a tactical level was grudgingly accepted. But teach the Druchii about the ways of Cold Steel-stupid wasn`t it? They had trained with spears and swords longer than these Germans were alive, they were true elves with the speed and reflexes granted to her race-what was there to learn about that?
Thankfully there had been one idiot who had been loud enough that the Drill sergeant had picked him for a lesson. The way the Germans trained Bayonet drill seemed wimpy-both had leather protectors on face, upper body and legs and the steel blade had been replaced by whalebone. But of course the instructors did not want to get injured didn`t they?

Areta had relaxed into the “at ease” position that had been drummed into her the first days and now watched the mock-fight of recruit and instructor.
Both had wooden dummies instead of real rifles which were weighted down with iron and stood in front of each other. Urser Melthis, the recruit from Hag Graef attacked with a thrust to the instructors chest at blinding speed just to have his thrust averted by the huge sergeant. The second attack was just a feint to the stomach that was turned into the real target, the legs at the last second just to be parried by the front of the instructors “rifle” once again. The attacks by Urser were fast, accurate-and went nowhere. The Sergeant had a different position that him-half turned instead of full-front which gave him additional reach and offered less of a target at the price of lesser force and killed swings which could be so devastating with the broad-bladed spears of Naggaroth.

Fending off the attacks by the recruit again and again while rapping him on the knuckles till they bled enraged the dark elf so much that he attacked with less finesse and more strength. For anybody else it was obvious what happened-the recruit was goaded-but the suddenness with which the instructor reversed the roles was still a shock. Scraping the rifle out of Ursers hands he followed with a nasty jab to the chest that threw the recruit on the ground. Reversing the rifle Swaggert jabbed the chest with his bayonet with every word. “ now… This is no spear (jab) this is a rifle with bayonet (jab). You cannot fight it like a spear (jab) you fight it like a rifle with bayonet (jab). You will be too close in the ranks to fight this like a spear (jab) , it handles different from a spear (jab) and it kills differently from your spears (jab) . So (jab) you (jab) fools (jab) listen (jab) and learn(jab).
By now the answer was automatic. “Sir, yes, sir”
“I cannot hear you”
“Better. Fall in and get some chow. Roll call is 18:00. And now get your brides Ladies and Gentlemen”'

By now there was nearly no groaning. Each 10-Druchii squad had their own heavy log they had to carry everywhere at all times and when not expressly told otherwise they were expected to have one hand on the log at ALL times. Punishments for non-compliance were handed out evenly, harshly and quickly and by now everybody had gotten with the program, no matter how hard it was for the individual. There was nearly nothing they could do, including eating and personal hygiene that did not require teamwork by at least two squad members. This was so much against the solitary nature of the Dark Elves that nearly 10% of the recruits were washed out by that so far, but the rest was getting used to it bit by bit.
When Areta`s squad was making its way across the ground she looked at her Dunna who walked before her. “Dunna you bleeder, get that belt tight and sit the cap right. I want at least some meat in my gruel tonight”. Her sqadmate would have bitten her head off just a week ago, but by now simply asked for help. Punishments and rewards were handed out by squad and woes betide any squad that did not arrange itself somehow.
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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-03 02:01pm

London, Great Britain, one week later

The room that had used to be a workshop was now dimly lit my many candles, the windows hung by cheap black and red velvet and the ground covered by numerous drawings of symbols and circles drawn by chalk. The air was thick with the small of candles, burning incense and semi-washed humanity.
Several humans all clad in face-and figure hiding robes watched a ritual performed by 3 men in more elaborate robes on one wrapped in a body`s shroud, wrappings that bound hand and foot and covered mouth and eyes.
The officer approached, now that the coffin had been carried into the darkened temple. He stopped with a napkin dipped in the consecrated water the nostrils of the candidate.

Then he started a chant: "Hail thou God Temu, grant unto me the sweet breath that dwelleth in thy nostrils!" and removed the cover from the nostrils of the Candidate, and breathed from his nostrils upon them.
"Homage to thee, O thou Lord of Brightness, at the head of the great House, prince of the night of thick darkness, I am come forth as a pure Khu. My two hands are behind me and my lot is as that of my forefathers! O grant thou me thy mouth, that I may speak therewith, and guide thou to me mine heart in the hour of cloud and darkness!"
Fancy robe removed the mouth wrapping, and kissed the candidate upon the mouth.

"Homage to thee, O Ra, who in thy setting art Tum-Heru-Khut, of thou divine one, O Thou who hast formulated Thy Father and made fertile thy mother! Thou primeval orb, whence all things arise! When thou appearest in the back of thy Bark men shout for joy at thee, thou maker of the gods! Thou didst stretch out the heaven wherein thy two eyes might travel, thou didst make the Earth to be a vast chamber for thy Khus, so that every man might know his fellow. The Sektet boat is glad, and the Matet Boat rejoiceth, and they greet thee with exaltation as thou journeyest along. The God Nu is content and thy mariners are satisfied. The Uraeus hath overthrown thine enemies as thou hast carried off the legs of Apep!"

Unbinding the legs of the Candidate he continued:
"Thou art beautiful O Ra, each day; and thy mother Nuit embraceth thee; thou settest in beauty and thy heart is glad when thou in the horizon of Manu the mountain of the West; and the Holy ones thereof rejoice. The hearts of the Lords of the Tuat are glad when thou sendest forth thy light in Amentet; Their two eyes are directed towards thee!"
The “officer” remove the eye-bandage, made a flash of light, and gazed deeply into the eyes of the candidate, as saying
"They press forward to see thee; their hearts rejoice when they see thee at the end!"Thou hearkeneth unto the cries of them that are in the funeral Chest; thou dost away with their helplessness and drivest away the evils that are about them."

Releasing the bonds that held the hands he grabbed them and pressed the hands of the candidate.
"I am thy father that lifteth thee up!"
Raising the upper body of the candidate he chanted:"Thou givest breath to their nostrils, and they take hold of the bows of thy Bark in the horizon of Manu. Thou art beautiful every day, O Ra! May thy mother Nuit embrace ------ victorious!"
The officer loosened the shroud, and embraced the Candidate.
Leaving him he walked around the temple 11 times, chanting .

When he finally approached the coffin with the sitting candidate again he finally addressed the Candidate again "Repeat after me: I who am nothing deny all that I was; I who am nothing affirm all that I shall be. I swear that as Nuit is about me, as Hadit is within me, so am I Ra-Hoor-Khuit! And blessing and worship to the Beast, the prophet of the Lovely Star!"

The figure in the coffin had repeated the words faithfully and then opened his mouth in a silent scream. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again they glowed red.
“You losers are so fucked”
The screaming that followed was quite impressive but the former workshop had been selected for its remote location.

Sylvania, one Week later

Ulrich Stoiber watched the valley in front of him through his Binox. The Valley was between two Karst hillsides and was rather beautiful-or had been. Now it had been devastated by two armies who had battled it out in this valley for most of the Campaign season and had killed practically every living being besides themselves, had destroyed every man-made structure and defiled every bit of the landscape they possibly could.
Ulrich 183th Tank Battalion had been moved to Sylvania together with other German units as a Chaos Army led by Crom the Conqueror had not heard the news that the Storm of Chaos should be over and the danger had passed. Instead of retreating back to the Chaos wastes he was still fighting through Slyvania.
Manfred from Carstein had officially asked for aid under the Reiksbund treaty as was his right as a Empire Count and as the Marauders came close to the new Oil Fields his requests were actually heeded.
Deploying the Bundeswehr was much less of a problem to Sylvania than to Middenheim as Sylvania had received railroads early to transport the oil to Germany. Sylvania itself was more of a problem once they had left the railhead. Any road or other infrastructure seemed to be run down, the humans badly fed, clothed and dirty. Parasites and epidemics were s serious problem, but none of that compared to the armed forces that Ulrich and the other Germans were now supporting.

Ulrich thought he had seen everything so far and not much could rattle him but these “allies” were unlike anything he had dreamed to fight with before. He could imagine fighting with Knights, footmen, mages or Dragon riders. And rescuing a princess or two was no longer a boyhood dream but a low-probability possibility.
Yet fighting with undead, animated skeletons and Vampires had not been within the range of Ulrich`s expectations but here he was. It filled him with unease and he would have strongly preferred to be somewhere else but the Khornates were threatening about 40% of Germany`s oil supply. That made the tankers superiors much less squeamish about whom they fought with.
Disgusting as the undead might be, but they offered tactical possibilities that were usually not available. Presently they offered two shambling lines of decaying defense clear across the valley. They were not very deep lines-they could not be-but none could pass them without a fight.

Behind the line of Skeletons and other beings that seemed more at home in a haunted house there was a different army. Barbarians with scant clothing and a surfeit of muscles presented melee weapons and shields. Red-skinned hounds the size of horses were slavering at their mouths, and rides the size of a minivan carried plate-armored Champions that wielded weapons of great reknown. Other, more conventional cavalry of all stripes arranged themselves into blocks. The army was considerably bigger than the undead arranged before them and was psyching itself up for the assault. Swords banged rhythmically on shields, undulating cries carried over the battlefield and chants were making ears bleed literally if one listened too closely.
A more normal human army would have been overwhelmed by this display before any combat would have taken place and Ulrich was not too sure what a line of Bundeswehr regular infantry would have done of this display would have been close to their lines.

But the army of undead could not care less, and the Germans were more distant and mostly vehicle-mounted. Also he was propped by up to 1.6 meters of armor, magic wards, potent weapons and a history of kicking ass bigtime on demand. The chants reminded him of the ceremony performed by the Priests of Ulrik before they left Middenheim for his tank platoon. Despite the barbaric splendor of the fur-clad priest performing a ritual that should have been ridiculous had been deeply moving.
He had been told that the Priesthood of Ulric was very serious about if and the rite that his platoon had been subjected to happened about every 100 years on average. It should have been no surprise that in a world so steeped in war the War God would be ancient and powerful.
The chants and speeches of the priest had struck a chord in the tankers hearts-no matter whether you were driving a 70-ton Monster tank or marched to battle, no matter whether you fired an assault rifle or wielded a hammer some things remained the same. The fear to be overcome, the discipline to follow the plan and the orders, the comradeship that held the unit together and which gave far more motivation for the fight than the flag-these things remained.

He had been deeply in thought after the rites and everybody was quite proud of their flag, the small representations of it on the tanks sides, the snarling Wolf head painted on the muzzles of their guns and the name bestowed on them-Wolfpack. Fanged wolf heads that went around the muzzles should have been tacky and managed to look impressive. A flag that should have been more at home in a tabletop game for juveniles instilled pride and confidence-as well as protection. And some of that pride had stayed the quiet confidence that no target was too big and the nearly feral bond of the tankers crews remained.
But now it was time for another battle.

Crom the Conqueror had a fierce reputation as a barbarian warrior who preferred to slay his enemies in personal combat, but he was also no dummy as a General. Presented with a long, thin line of defenders he formed his army in a deep block of far more depth than the line in front of him. Light cavalry went out a couple of times, riding close to the skeleton lines and loosing volleys of arrows from their powerful composite bows. While this may now have been pleasant to Khorne it would reveal weak points in the line where to place the “Schwerpunkt” the point of the main attack. Crom was an ardent follower of the Blood God but even he saw the necessity to balance his demands against the requirements for victory.
When the horsemen volleyed the arrows at the undead the answer was a weak one-some arrows were lobbed back and at the center of the line Skeletons in the frayed livery of the Sylvania Militia answered with crossbow fire. As the undead were indifferent marksmen the results were not encouraging. A human army under similar circumstances would have severe morale problems by now-being under fire without the possibility of fighting back is bad enough as it is, but the undead could care less and continued to close ranks whenever some of them fell. Amazingly no fighters from the last two lines stepped forward and so the gaps between the skeletons in the left flank became so big as to threaten formation.

That seemed to be enough of an opening for the Chaos Warlord as Ulrich`s Binox reveled the cantering lines of heavy cavalry that committed to the attack closely followed by endless blocks of diverse infantry who showed their nearly inhuman stamina by double-timing towards the enemy under whatever armor they wore. The Cavalry accelerated into a gallop roughly 200 meters from the undead lines. Ulrik had participated in some battles on this world already and read about many more so he could guess at the Enemy`s plans-the Cavalry was to breach the lines and after reforming attack the defenders in the rear while the infantry slammed into the front ranks. That would work better against humans than against the undead but still would be devastating enough.
The Skeletons in the first line lowered the butts of their spears to the ground and fixed them with their feet, the second rank pushed their weapons through the gaps of the first and faced the approaching Juggernaut with no perceptible feeling.
They were a thin line of bones tipped with steel faced with an assault they could not stop and did not waiver a centimeter. In humans this would have indicated fanatical courage, in them it was simply a lack of fear or feeling.
The long lances of the heavy cavalry outranged the spears of the undead and even the most steadfast warriors could hardly stop the momentum of nearly half a ton of rider and steed. Making a sound like an accident in a wooden furniture factory the cavalry broke into the defenders ranks with ease. A breakthrough and the subsequent attack of the defenders rears were inevitable-until the attackers found that not all was as it seemed.

There was a gap between the undead lines that was not the result of sloppy formation-it hid a full line of S-Wire which viciously waited for victims strung all over the valley. Anchored very well it slowed or tripped all but the mightiest rides and caused a pile-up of epic proportions. Slowed down and unable to ride past their stalled brethren some Champions searched for the undead leaders to slay them in glorious melee combat. Ripping through the skeletons that shielded the bigger and better equipped undead they took the losses that seemed so necessary and pushed on regardless. To their delight even these works of necromancy went down like ninepins. The first ones were considered unremarkable in the fury of battle but when this continued the Chaos Warriors took notice. They were about to realize that something was definitively off when the infantry arrived and added their pressure into the attack. This was enough to force the defenders lines in several placed and the infantry started to attack the vulnerable flanks of the thin lines. A human army would have retreated, either orderly or as a rout but the skeletons were destroyed where they stood.

Whoever gave the orders to then undead had the unengaged defenders wheel inward and attack the Chaos Army`s flanks, causing additional confusion. The Chaos Champions were still trying to take stock and reorganize the melee when Attackers and defenders alike were locked up in a huge, dense clusterfuck that did not move either way.

Ulrich Stoiber watched all of this with professional interest, favoring neither side as he found both repugnant. Yet he started to worry about timing as this seemed like the right moment to interfere. He was debating with himself whether he should call his superiors about it when the Battalion net came alive with the calls of “Braun 1-out”
Sylvania had received very good railroads soon as the country held numerous easily accessible oil fields. In some cases the drills had barely bitten into the ground when fountains of dirty fluid indicated that another well had been found. By now a virtual herd of hammer pumps dotted the landscape and kilometer longs trains brought their bounty to oil-starved Germany.
This railroad network had easily handled the transport if the “A-Team” as the armored combat group that had handled the beastmen so decisively a little while ago. Some units had changed from their last battle, but this was the flower of the German “Panzertruppe” and they were about to do something about the remnants of the Chaos Crusade for good.

The melee combat that covered such a substantial part of the valleys floor was an artilleryman`s dream-lots of unmoving infantry in the open at a predetermined place. One of the most important rules of German armored tactics was “Klotzen-nicht kleckern”-don`t do things by halves. And what was about to happen was a showpiece of this motto.
No less than 12 MLRS launchers adjusted their elevation and bearing minutely according to the latest wind data and disgorged 12 missiles each. Leaving white contrails like lightning going in the wrong direction death was moving downrange at speed. Rotating for added stabilization the missiles seemed to disintegrate at attitude when the dispensed their payloads and a deadly hail of more than 90000 Bomblets descended on the heavily fought-for battlefield obliterating friend and foe alike.
A ripple of small explosions washed over the valley`s floor with too many simultaneous explosions to be differentiated by ear, giving a sound like the surf to end the world. Wherever they fell the bomblets caused incredible destruction. Flesh was rent from bones by fragments and overpressure, organs pierced, belly and breasts opened to the air and blood spilled in amounts usually counted in cubic meters. Two armies were under the iron flail wielded by the German artillery and both were devastated-mostly.

No ordinary infantry was spared, the huge blocks of heavy cavalry would ride no more and the undead found a final rest. Yet not all of the Chaos army was bound by the rules that mere mortals considered ironclad. What seemed like flesh and armor which should have succumbed to the effects of all the explosives was literally a different matter in very few cases. Flesh that would not yield bunched and blood that did not flow burned with hate. Powerful mages collapsed the fields of magical energy that had protected them from the trap the Germans had sprung. The cries of the survivors reverberated over the battlefield and the truly dangerous denizens of Chaos clamored for bloody revenge.
Neither did the skeletons escape the destruction-practically without exception they were rendered into unrecognizable splinters granting a final end to the undead.

The tanker who had watched it all dropped back into the hatch which closed above him. “Ok, the arty has weeded the chaff out-let`s take care of the worthies that are left. Platoon-get ready for an assault. Our targets are the survivors on the east side, we move out by even numbers.
The Wolf howling that went over the Platoon net was not good communication practice but fit the mood of the tankers perfectly-the Wolfpack was on the hunt.
While the tanks advanced to contact Ulrich could see glances of other engagements through his monitors-a pair of Gepard tanks ripped into a couple of Bloodthirsters who had taken flight to close with them. The Air-Defense vehicles were built to take care of supersonic planes and had no problems at all tracing the comparatively slow demons. When their elderly computers had solutions twin 35 mm guns spat out long lines of tracers and cartridges falling in a stream from both sides of the tanks bore testimony of 550 rounds per minute per barrel which tore into the Demons.
The rounds themselves would not immediately kill the huge and tough targets but they took out eyes, ripped up wing membranes and brought incredible pain. Hurt and confused the normally mighty demons Bloodthirsters were reduced to pitiful targets.

A pair of huge armored figures on Juggernauts were sprinting forward to close for melee combat and were hit by 120 mm rounds fired by other platoons-but now their targets got into range.

Resembling nothing so much like the picture of a devil made flesh the Bloodthirsters towered over the battlefield screaming their range. As Ulriks tank platoon had learned to their chagrin their axes could damage a MBT and the axe`s wielders could keep pace with their vehicles. Having had several sessions discussing tactics the key to defeating them was distance and movement-do not let the fraggers close with you and keep them under fire as quickly and as accurately as possible. Keep changing course like in the old times when duels between tanks were anticipated so the demons could not plot an intercept course and fire on the move. Keep close to some anti-air units as the assholes could fly short distances. Fire and movement tactics were still valid but movement was more important as the stopped tanks were vulnerable. For the demon 500 meters was beyond his range but for the tank a hit even when shot on the move was easy.
Time to see whether their thoughts were worthy.

The Bloodthirster that dropped in front of Ulriks tank had barely avoided the Gepard`s fire and seemed to appear from nowhere. Still several hundred meters out the German tankers had enough time to acquire the target and to shoot an APDFS projectile at the threat.
When the Tungsten-Carbide dart was accelerated down the gun tube it was an object of great kinetic energy that was about as likely to hurt the demons warp-borne flesh as not. When it passed the wolf`s head rendering close to the muzzle it picked up some of the war gods indignation and hate at the followers of Chaos. Now the inanimate matter that was hurled at several times the speed of sound was represented in the warp as well and when it hit the sternum of the hulking Bloodthirster it smashed the bone into tiny pieces and fragments of hot metal cascaded through the unearthly chest.
The Demon faded out of reality before it stained the ground below it. Another Bloodthirster was hit at least two times simultaneously and did not even scream before it went into its realm. A group of Champions mounted on Juggernauts assaulted the tank platoon, even if it was unclear what damage they wanted to cause. Ulrich stopped his tanks for better shooting at the agile targets when one of the Gepard tanks providing overwatch let loose. Build to engage much faster targets they had no problems at all going after the half-mechanical steeds and the all-maniac riders.

Bursting hydraulic lines pumping blood and ripping through organs intertwined with hot brass the Anti-Air tank stopped most of the assault within a minute. The rest of the targets were not doing anything that Ulrichs old instructors in their simulators had not also done. They tried to close the distance with a zig-zag course that was designed to throw the aim of the gunners off for long enough. As they could not shoot back the Germans could stop for improved targeting and that showed immediately.
The gunner in Ulrich`s tank calmly laid his crosshairs over his assigned target. When the improved laser range finder gave reasonable results the speed by which he had to turn the turret gave the fire control computer an idea of where to put the gun tube so that shell and Juggernaut would arrive at the same time and place. Putting the crosshair where the targeting indicated the gunner loosened a shot which rocked even the heavy tank. Before the recoil stopped rocking the tank the Juggernaut had disintegrated into its parts-and Ulrich had assigned his gunner the next target.

On the hills surrounding the valley some Fleshhounds were tearing into a dismounted heavy weapons squad that had not gotten away in time. When they consumed the sparse remains the 30 mm autocannons of the Puma IFV that had been kept from firing by the proximity of the German soldiers exacted revenge on Khorne`s hounds.
Ulrich was scanning the battlefield for other threats when the only remaining one was a solitary figure on the biggest Juggernaut they had so far spotted. Practically standing on the back of his steed he presented two huge axes and screamed a challenge that could be heard even over the tanks rumbling engines. He was shot at by so many main guns, autocannons and machine guns that it was impossible to say who got him, but there was no dispute at all in that he went down-and to pieces.
The worst danger remaining on this battlefield were the unexploded bomblets from the MLRS salvo.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-08 11:34am

Starbucks, County Hall, London, same date

“Here is your Latte grande, Sir.”
“Thanks dear.” The man handled over a five and three single pound notes. The waitress was too interested in the guest to be miffed at the low tip. Somewhere in his 30`s with a rail thin figure he was bald as an egg and sported a goatee as well as a Van-Dyke beard. The most remarkable thing about him where the eyes. She could not put it, but the eyes were different and startling. With Iris so blue that they seemed to glow and pupils that seemed too deep like they were tunnels into deep space-a space full of tiny stars.
Realizing that she had stared far too long at the customer she jerked back just to find that the man had looked right back and had a slight smile on his lips-but the smile did not reach his eyes and the smile would look at place at a cat that was looking at a mouse between her paws.
“Thanks hon, that would be all”
Going backwards slowly as one might from a great danger or the object of unattainable desire the waitress made her way backwards until, she turned around and went off slightly too fast.

“Come on then, drink that coffee Markus. I savor the sensation” Ml`kan, lesser Servant of Tzeench sounded like a slightly petulant child.
“Nobody told you that delayed pleasure is best? Besides that the coffee is too hot to drink, we have to wait a minute before we can drink.”
“You can spend that time than by explaining the “bloody inflation” to me, why is that making you so angry.”
“If you can see my thoughts so well, why do you not take the answer from my mind as well?”
“How many more times now do I have to explain to you that I can read only the top layer of your thoughts, your consciousness, anything else is closed to me till you smoke that blessed weed again.”
“As if I would, the last time was quite enough, thank you”
“Without me you would have never made it out of that room alive.”
“Without you there would not have been any need for your strength and aggression. Read my lips: This was not a human sacrifice; it was the attempt by some useful idiots to invoke magic now that we know that magic can work in this word. I never believed that any of them could so much as boil an egg with magic but some would have been useful to network with. Jesus, two of them worked for Goldman Sachs-do you have any idea what an associate there earns?

“You brought it on yourself-dabbling with magic is full of opportunity and danger. But in this world the winds of magic are so weak that they might not even be there. Otherwise I would never be bound to such a weak vessel that…”
“Still I am more than happy that you are not at the helm at present old boy. Do not think that more bloodbaths would be conductive to our wellbeing at present. You still want to participate in that coffee?”
“AAAh-yes. But now explain.”

“Ok, here goes. You remember that I had paid 8 quid for that little coffee? This is what inflation means-you pay more money for the same thing than last year. Well before the bleeding Euros got really mad that would have cost about half that. But then Germany went away and just left us this blasted swampland with a city full of medical traders and weirdoes. In the panic that went after that Greece-that is a state southeast from here-went bankrupt and didn`t that send lovely waves through the entire financial world? Before a couple of other states went under the ECB-the central bank-did what we all told them to do before the Event anyway. They bought up all the state bonds of the Eurozone that anybody was willing to sell at nominal value. That injected a LOT of cash into the system-the banks could lend money again at very low rates. The states that had excessive debt were bailed out in a rather painless way-at first. The USA can do that pretty easily-most US Dollars circulate outside the US anyway and with that many around they can print some more without the value dropping too much.But the Eurozone is a different matter. It also meant that there was more money for the same amount of available merchandize-actually less as one of the bigger suppliers was just gone. On top of that the confidence in the Eurozone dropped a lot when their biggest economy went away-plus they got into problems with missing infrastructure.
All of that meant that the value of the Euro against Pound and Dollar dropped like a stone. So anything the Euros buy from outside their zone-be it oil, Hollywood films or airplanes costs way more”

“So-you do not pay with the Euro don`t you?”
“No, we don`t. But if we would have let this slide we could not have sold anything to the bloody Euros-so we had to make sure the pound did not rise through the roof-so we got the same disease, nill-they, will they. And the Japanese were not looking at Peugeots and Fiats costing half of what a Toyota or Mazda cost in the US or in South America. So now everybody has it more or less.”
At first that seemed to work fine-lots of money spend meant that the economy was looking up and the states were able to invest more. But when the price for Petrol, Bread and whatnot climbed people realized that their pension or their dole or their low level income did not rise at the same rate. People with property were well off-that remained, but the rest…”

“Sounds not so clever.”
“I do not think there were painless ways, but this one was probably one of the more stupid ones. Nice one…”
“Nice one what?”
“The Jaguar that just went by. They are all the rage now, everybody wants to have one. Before the Plutocrat barges were all Daimler, BMW and Audi. Now that they are gone Jaguar is all the rage and brands like Lexus finally get going over here. Mind you, there are still new Audis to be had, but they are all build in China with no German supervision now-it`s not the same thing anymore.
“Ah. Why do you cave such a car?”
“It is faster, It looks and handles better…”
“It looks like the top speed here is about 20 mph-are they faster.”
“No this is the city dummy. But you are right-even a souped-up Vauxhall is fast-these cars are a symbol of wealth and power and convey status to others, just like clothing or the right apartment.”
“Ah-status, that I understand.”
“Thought so.”
“So how about…”
“Your invoice Sir.”
“I don`t…sorry dear, thank you. I do appreciate that.”
“I hoped you would sir”
“What was that about?”
“I did not ask for an invoice so I was surprised. But the mobile no on the invoice`s back means you are about to sample sensations you did not dream about…”

Castle Drakenhof, Sylvania, 3 days later

Ulrich Stoiber really really felt out of place. He had been told that he had to attend the Victory Celebration given by Manfred von Carstein as it would be a snub to refuse. He would have been ill at ease at such a gathering anyway but the place this one used was even worse. The Drakenhof Castle was the architectural equivalent of a wrinkled old crone applying make-up by the ton. Huge halls with natural stone walls sprouting mold here and there and topped by domed ceilings colored black by the soot of ages were heated by infrared radiators and lit by halogen lighting in crystal lusters.
Huge windows gifted a breathtaking sight while the curtains were moved by drafts through ill-fitting stones. Music was piped in through a top-notch sound-system but the boards of the floor gave their own song when stepped on at the wrong places. Especially incongruous was the 6-Wheel AMG-tuned G-Wagon that had picked him from the railway station. Mediveal-looking vampires were not supposed to drive 600+hp off-road vehicles. Ulrich could easily see where the money the Count received from the Oil wells he had helped to defend. All in the effect was disturbing-as were the guests attending the festival.

There was a gaggle of Germans and Imperials who had been selected from the troops that had been send to Sylvania to combat Crom the Conqueror`s army. Besides them there were Sylvanian nobles and court functionaries and hangers-on of all stripes. That was not disturbing-but the fact that you could never be sure which of them was alive in a conventional sense was.
Ulrich could have sworn that the frail, grey-skinned usher that announced the new guest was an undead-until said worthy cracked a knuckle by accident and bled. The young-looking svelte redhead that was so vibrantly full of life and highly interested in the tank officer seemed far less attractive when she bared fangs that would not have looked out of place in an Ozelot. It lent a lisp to her voice that would have been funny-if not for the fact that she could have ripped the tanker apart with her bare hands.
He was trying to find a way to get away from the Vampire when rescue came from an unexpected quarter.

“Good evening Sir Ulrich, might you have a bit of time for me?” The deep and cultured voice flowed like oil on top of water, utterly elegant, beautiful and conveying so many meanings like the oil spill had colors-and having the same corruptive effects on its surroundings that an oil spill.
Turning his head the German saw a handsome well groomed man in his 40`s in rich Brokat clothing. Everything about him was just so and his body language showed both the perfect host and a slight amusement at the pair before him.
“Ulrika, I fear I have to borrow this dashing officer from you for a moment. Could you powder your nose for a moment, that`s a dear.”
Both men watched the receding backside of the young-seeming women while trying to conceal their interest. The Count was better at it, no doubt he had sufficient practice.
“Good evening Count von Carstein, I did not see you coming.”
“I have to apologize young man; I have not greeted you properly yet at Castle Drakenstein. Consider yourself home.”
“Thank you Count, also on the assist.”
“Ah, you have to forgive Ulrika, she is still young and needs to discipline her appetites a little bit. But it is hard to fault her, it is a long time since Drakenhof has seen a warrior of your caliber and there are more than a few here who would enjoy getting a bit of you.”
“Thanks-I think.”

“Don`t worry, you are under my protection here as guests, nobody will dare to lift a finger unless invited. Which makes Ulrika all the more dangerous. But the soldier who took down what-5 Bloodthirsters-should not need any protection from me anyway.”
“This is an unfamiliar battlefield if it were one and I have neither my crew nor my tank with me at present.”
“Yes, together you are a remarkable weapon-maybe even more remarkable than you know yourself. I have watched the battle and was highly impressed. Was it really necessary to use my troops as a bait?”
“With all due respect Count: If you believe that I am sorry that we put these poor fraggers to the ground for good you are mistaken.”
“Ah that attitude again. Look Oberleutnant Stoiber, I have read your Bible and understand your misconceptions about the undead. Suffice it to say that we do not bind the souls of the dead to their skeletons, there are other powers in play.”
“From your mouth to Gods ear Count. Still, the answer is yes, we needed your undead as bait and a stopping line-that way we could take out most of the Chaos horde in one go and not hunt them through your forests for all eternity.”
“Do not think me ungrateful-the losses we suffered were far less than what we would have taken without your aid. But next time please do not burn all the dead so thoroughly-you never know when they might come handy…”
The count engaged the tanker for some while in small talk before elegantly excusing himself. Unwilling to face Ulrika on his own the tanker sought company and promptly found himself in a small group with some Landwehr soldiers and incongruously some Red Cross officials.

“I see that you had your own dose of the Count Ulrich.”
“Yes, quite charming for a bloodthirsty vampire who thinks we are cattle, isn`t he Henrik?”
“He can be very persuasive when he wants to. And yet he is quite uneasy these days I get it.
“Why, did you park your train too close to his castle?”
“Not in particular, no. But from what I hear he is rather unhappy about the humans acquiring new weapons that can threaten his kind so well. He requested that we keep the Grey Lady away from Sylvania, otherwise we might have used her instead of the MRLS strike.”
“We were more flexible that way-the MLRS launchers can keep station much better, the B-52 can not.”
“There is that, but the count also probably thought about 30 tons of Napalm raining down on his beautiful castle, just by mistake.”
“Nice picture you put in my mind there.”

“Now come on Gentlemen, it could be much worse that von Carstein-and things are looking up.”
“How could that be? And sorry, but I did not catch your name at first.”
“Ups sorry. I am Manfred Huber from the German Red Cross. We have lots of projects these days in Sylvania and so your comments struck a nerve. And you might be?”
“Ah, I am Ulrich Stoiber, I am with the 183 tank Battalion and this is Major Henrik Gerber who commands the train “Hammer” which made sure we all arrived in one piece and keeps the railroads open.”
“Well met Gentlemen. But really now, this blasted country is improving. We have lots of projects offering good drinking water and basic sanitation to the local villages. And while a lot of the oil money goes into the Carstein household there is enough left that Sylvania has more tractors per capita than any other province of the Empire.
The DEULA has their own school in Eschen and trains the farmer`s children in modern farming methods. We have regional hospitals in..”

“All of that just means that the humans here are now well-fed cattle instead of just cattle.”
“Ah that-that was the problem which brought us here in the first place and that is mostly solved. Even in Germany we are the foremost service for Blood Donations. We have experimented for a while to find anticoagulants that do not affect the taste too much and now collect the blood from Sylvania`s citizens for the Count and his followers.
Actually they do not need so much blood as one would think and since we can pay the donators we actually have a surfeit of blood which we send back into the rest of the Empire and Germany. As the minimum time between two donations is 2 months nobody is harmed. Before everybody was afraid that a Vampire would drink him empty or infect him-that is no longer the case. Everybody is happy. And I do actually believe that on Old Earth we cooperated with much worse assholes than the Count to get at the Oil we needed.”

“Still sounds wrong, feeding Vampires-and you probably stand to make a pretty penny in the process.”
“Guilty as charged Major Gerber-but the situation for everybody is certainly better than before for everyone-so if we do not overdue-what is the harm in doing good?”
“And with the better food supply you do not think that there will be more fanged mouths to feed in future?”
“Actually the Vampires are none too keen to sire more of their own as they tend to be competitors sooner or later-I do not see a big rise in population anytime soon.”
“And if they still so it there is still the B52 solution.”
“There is that Oberleutnant. But I think they opened the buffet-shall we?”

Neustadt, Naggaroth, same time

“Bang” Areta`s rifle was hammered into her shoulder and would enhance the bruise that already started to form there. Looking at the target she found that the hit was within the “7” circle-not bad but not really good, she had seen her instructors do much better. Swearing slightly she turned and pulled the bold handle of her rifle to eject the base plate of her last shot and pushed a new round into chamber before she closed the bolt again.
She was still marveling that you could do so lying down-so totally different from shooting a crossbow-and that you could shoot so fast-she had managed to reload 6 times in a minute during the dry runs. But the best was the totally flat trajectory at which the bullet flew-it dropped only a few inches even to 500 meters, which was more than 3 times her old repeating crossbow would reach. And the effects that the Germans sniper had demonstrated on a pig were not to be sneezed at either. But presently she was unable to make this work properly and that meant she led her squad down and that would not do. Well, let`s try again then and..

“You are jerking the trigger recruit that spoils your aim. Didn`t Segeant Swagger teach you any better?”
Areta was at her feet and at attention before she realized she had to do it. Wolfgang Böhler had stepped behind her without her hearing him. As any Druchii she had her doubts about a human commander of any Druchii unit but so far the Germans had shown they knew what they were doing. And anybody who had been close to Wolfgang to see his eyes knew better anyway. These eyes knew neither friend nor foe, just targets and the brain behind them decided who would die or not easily. Any true elf could respect that, no matter the race.

“This recruit requests permission to speak Sir”
“Permission granted recruit and stand at ease”
“Sir, this recruit has been told to pull the trigger as I would squeeze a tit Sir.”
“Err, Sir, this is what I am doing.”
“Recruit, are you trying to pull my leg?”
“Sir, no Sir” The slight panic which crept into Areta`s voice must have convinced the former sniper that she was telling the truth.
“Recruit, I think we have very different ideas about squeezing tits-let me show you how to pull a trigger correctly, shall we? Give me your rifle recruit”
“Sir, rifle is loaded and safe” The Druchii made very sure she handled the rifle over with the muzzle to the sky and she understood already why the sniper still checked the rifle as if she had made no comment.
After giving it a quick inspection he put it to his shoulder in a motion that made the rifle look like an extension of his limbs. Pulling the trigger in a smooth not too fast motion he fired of a round at the distant target and followed with 4 more rounds. Areta looked at the target and thought there were 2 misses as there were only two holes. It took her Elven eyes some time to see that there was one hole slightly off-center and a slightly ragged one dead center which had swallowed all 3 bullets.
Handling the rifle back to her he pointed to her position in the firing line.

“Let`s try again recruit. Now pull the trigger more slowly and gently. The shot should come as a surprise.”
Taking up the rifle as she had been shown the breathed out half-way and then stopped breathing while taking the sight. Pulling the trigger like she had seen the kick to her shoulder indeed came before she thought it would and the hole her bullet made was rather close to the ragged one left by Böhler-and so did the next 3 shots.
“Very good recruit and you have maintained the rifle well. Your squad gets a credit.”
“Sir thank you Sir.”
Much later Areta was loaded heavily with the buckets she had been given at the cantina which she carried to her squad`s tent. “Here goes folks, get it while it is still hot.”
That she would be trusted by her squad to get their food and to make sure everybody got the same serving spoke volumes about the changes that the Druchii had undergone the last weeks. She was very pleased to see that somebody had straightened her cot during her haul and she was comparatively sure that everything was still there.
“I heard you got us another credit today Areta?”
“Yes, but it was a close thing and it had to do with tit-on the firing line.”
The laughter that filled the tent soon after showed that the mood in the unit was on the up.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-08 11:35am

Eurofighter 005-x. Runway close to Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, some days later

Jens Heim pushed the throttles of his plane past the indent for afterburner, causing great shock cones to develop behind the plane, a shitload of noise and vibration-and no movement at all. Only after making sure that the turbines had reached optimum RPM did he thumb the new button on his joystick.
It released the braking chocks that had so far nailed his plane in place. Unsurprisingly the Eurofighter accelerated like a scolded cat down the runway. It was already very quick when it hit the ramp that had been erected at the end of the new runway and that converted some of the momentum the plane had already achieved into upwards movement.
Pulling the nose of his plane up in the angle calculated by the EADS engineers he could detect no drop back to the ground so he retracted the landing gear. Despite being loaded down with several missiles and bombs, all painted in the white color of practice weapons and the full conformal fuel tanks the plane climbed steadily while accelerating to greater speeds.

The pilot had to work more on the joystick to keep an even course than usual. While the fly-by-light system that kept the inherently unstable, hence highly maneuverable, plane flyable by making many minute adjustments to the control surfaces some of these inputs were slow or off, necessitating inputs from the Test Pilot. The program that ran the plane had to be readjusted as it now weighted much less but still had the same mass. Mostly that had worked, but as always some glitches remained. Fortunately EADS had put an expert for such planes on board into the back seat.
He brought the plane into straight and level flight at 10.000 meters AGL when it behaved markedly better, even if its angle of incidence was different from what he was used to for this combination of attitude, speed and load. Luckily the computers which flew his plane and sometimes asked him for input had taken their new software well and the plane actually behaved like the simulations indicated. By now his workload reduced to the point where he could address his guy-in back for some small talk.

“Now that was not too bad Lieutenant Alpers, don`t you think?”
“That was bleeding awesome, that`s what it was. Who needs a catapult when he has such a plane-it accelerated like being shot from cannon.”
“The new Engines help greatly, the new variant of the EJ200 has 20% more thrust, that was built into the engine right from the start and it shows. But without your rune we could not have taken off with much of a warload. We obviously need to revise the fly-by-light software some more, but she behaves quite well already. We are high enough and have clearance-you want to try your hand?”
“Are you sure?”
“Go for it Champion”
A little while later the Jet was accelerating upwards again until the jet engines were nearly starved for air and the wings ran out of slipstream to lift the wings and where the plane flew mostly ballistic. The blue sky started to darken and showed stars in daytime.
Still the recovery to lower attitudes was controlled and the newly acquired conformal fuel tanks had enough fuel to get the plane safely on a course back to the runway. When the test pilot had taken the helm again they found time for some more conversation.

“That was quite good Nathan. It is quite different from you spit-and-glue kite and you managed fine.”
“Ha, don`t diss my second love, the Storch can do some things this crate can only dream about. But you are right, this is absolutely brilliant. The view at the Apex was breathtaking.”
“Yes, I never tire of that. If you want more than that you have to go to space.”
“Now that is a thought.”
“Well, really thank you for bringing this rune to our attention, the possibilities are great. In this case it may lead the Navy to buy a squadron of modified Typhoons.”
“I hear catapults are difficult to build.”
“Rather so, and retrofitting them to an Ersatz-Carrier like the Seeadler would be impossible for structural reasons. All the better that we can offer a solution-no catapult needed, just the ramp and the braking chocks.”
“A German carrier with fixed wing planes-I believe it when I see it.”
“I think you will, sooner or later”

Ulthuan, same date

The way through the forest was nearly nonexistent. Mostly it was defined by an absence of trees or boulders and here and there brushwork had been placed on the ground to make the passage through muddy patches easier, yet still any meter forward was paid for by sweat for everybody and labor and pain for the draft animals and the slaves who never could propel their vehicles forward fast enough. The Druchii vehicles were well build and comparatively light for their strength, but the need for wheels which would not break on the rutted paths, a sturdy bottom which could take a substantial load and a framework for the canvas cover that protected the load still meant that muscles were strained to the breaking point and the muscle`s owners were wheezing like old men.

No matter how much misery pushing the wagons through the forest caused it was a dire necessity. The Dark Elves has made their landing at a coast next to a virtually uninhabited area of Ulthuan. The upside was that the landing was virtually unopposed, the downside being that living of the land was impossible. The Druchii had lots of hunting parties and the slaves were exhorted to gather wild mushrooms and vegetables, but this did not even come close to feed a vast army like the true elves expedition corps. So feeding the ever advancing army meant sending supplies from the beachhead in these wagons no matter what the cost in sweat and misery. Of course the High Elves were not taking it lying down. The Shadow Warriors, experienced in the war of ambushes and subterfuge were doing their level best to stop the supplies rolling, as was the Elven fleet which attacked the Drucii sea supply convoys. So larger convoys of wagons with a larger armed guard had to be adopted, no matter the inefficiencies.
On top of that a grey colored sky offered rainy gusts and low temperatures to make everybody completely unhappy.

Bruglir Henbane did not have to push the carts or whip the slaves-but that did not mean he had an easy job. Having won the command of a troop of spearmen last year when his commander got himself killed in a duel he had his work cut out watching over his troops and the forest all around them. He did not like this particular stretch of forest at all-the brushwork was dense and the trees close to their almost-road so there would not be much warning. Whether his Spearmen could keep any Formation in this limited space was a matter best not explored.
Trudging through the mud mostly in the middle of the Convoy he kept both the van as well as the rear guard under observation, something that proved exceedingly difficult on the narrow and winding way. He became aware that the convoy stopped again and shouted for Isla, his second-in-command and part time lover. “I`ll be up front, establish a perimeter.”

Without waiting for any confirmation he jogged up front where he found the reason for this stoppage. Instead of fallen logs or an abbatis made from felled trees with interlocking branches this times it was the scouts-or to be more precise, the former scouts.
Bruglir had heard that some of them were missing which was hardly surprising given their job and here they had resurfaced, crucified along the trees that lined the road. He appreciatively noticed that whoever did it had taken the pains to bend the legs back and nail the feet under the back sides of the victims, that way they would have lasted much longer. Whoever had done this had a serious hate and had been to school. It would not damage morale too much-any Druchii past puberty had seen much worse-but it meant that somebody was around with serious field skills and … The gargling sound coming from one of his spearmen tore him from his train of thought, an arrow sticking from his throat making sure he would never say anything more elaborate. The screaming that rose up all over the convoy indicated that this was a larger ambush.

“Form on me now, repel these assholes” brought the spearmen around from their surprise and long-trained reflexes brought everybody in the rough line that was necessitated by the long and heavy spears favored by the true elves. Made for slashing as well as for thrusting they needed more space between the warriors but allowed for more tactical opportunities.
“Second rank, uneven number turn around” brought quick results when assailants tried to capitalize on the distraction by the front assaults. The attackers had no particular formation but poured out through gaps in the brushwork. The normally white clothing of the oh-so-noble high elves was sensibly replaced by greys and blues which made them less noticeable inside the woods.
This marked them as Shadow Warriors, the inhabitants of Nagarythe, the descendants of Elves that had stood loyally to Caledor when Malekith grasped for the Phoenix Crown. Their hate for all Druchii was legendary as the Civil war had destroyed their country-literally. Where old Nagarythe once stood now the waves held sway.

As Bruglirs group had already achieved formation the attackers had a hard time getting at the Dark elves. Their swords an daggers could hardly reach past the heavy spears which did not keep them from trying with reckless abandon. Burglier was attacked by a Asur wielding two short swords. Agile enough to hook one sword at the serrated blade of his spear he pushed that up and lunged at the Druchii with the other one. Bending his upper body backwards and out of the way the Dark Elf managed to evade the sword and kicked the knee of his attacker. Left screaming on the ground he was an easy target for a butt stroke that crushed his adam`s apple and left him suffocating.
When the first rush was over the Druchii troop commander led his group back to the wagons where even more Shadow Warriors pressed in on the Spearmen. Seeing that they would be overwhelmed by the attackers due to numbers soon the Druchii brought a horn to his lips.
The deep dissonant tone brought everybody`s attention to him, but not for long.

Three of the beleaguered wagons showed surprising movement when tarpaulins were thrown back and crossbowmen leveled their weapons at the attackers. While their weapons lacked power for long range combat their targets were only scant meters away and the poisoned bolts meant that even a scratch would be deadly sooner or later when untreated.
The crossbow salvos ripped through the attackers, killing several leaders and reducing their number below the point where they posed a real danger to the convoy. Bruglier took the time to dress his ranks and then plunged his group like a hammer on the Shadow Warriors who still attacked the rest of the Druchii. Caught by surprise and then between hammer and anvil the High Elves should have yielded but did not. Bruglier had to watch helplessly when a small group managed to jump inside one of the Crossbow-bearing wagons and massacring his marksmen at close range till there were enough spearmen around to put an end to it. Others, already on the ground from the poisoned bold used their knives to hamstring the Druchii draft animals till spear points went through their backs. Fighting till none of them were still capable they gave Brugliers troop a good run for their money.

Feeling empty and slightly weak on his legs from adrenaline withdrawal the Troop Leader had to organize the renewed defense, sorting through who still could fight and not and decide the course. He was in the middle of checking with the wagon drivers about their ability to go onwith less animals when he was approached by Isla. “So, how bad is it?”
“Could have been worse. We have 11 killed and 8 wounded that are unable to walk. Two more will not make it to Malus camp-I suggest we dispatch them.” Bruglier winced, that was nearly a fourth of his fighting power.
“Go ahead on these two, no need to ask me. Put the rest in the wagons which housed the crossbow men. How about the asur?”
“We have 4 which we got unconscious who might live.”
“Hard to decide which one will be useful-take them all. “
The convoy needed another day to get to the Armies main camp. Bruglier was unhappy when he was chewed out for arriving late and low on cargo. This paled to his rage when he was back to the beachhead and discovered that his warriors would get less than half the crossbow bold shot in the fight back.

Ulthan Embassy at the Reiksbund, Altdorf, 2 days later

Aoelus had to take some decision which none of the few Asur at the embassy wanted to make. They had not heard of Aurelius for two days now and that was definitively too long. Earlier attempts to contact the Elven price had either resulted in shouted curses or silence.
The mood of the Elven noble had gone from utter shock via outrage at anybody and anything to brooding depression. Reclusive even in the weeks following the meeting of the Reiksbund the Elves in the embassy feared what might be behind the closed door. Aoelus decided that he was dead in terms even society anyway and that as the highest ranking aide it was his responsibility to look after the despondent ambassador one way or the other. After knocking on the door and rattling around without result he produced the passe-partout key that that been provided by the Germans for the Asur embassy.
When he entered he found the room darkened and all windows closed, the air warm and stifling. Thankfully there the smells of death were absent-so dried blood, no void intestine so he grabbed for the light switch.

“Leave it off Aeolus, what do you need the lights for? Do you want to amuse yourself with the sight of Elvenkinds most stupid ambassador?”
“No, Sir, that was not my attention. But as we had not heard from you in a while I thought it necessary to have a look.”
“Hoping to find my carcass so you could get back to Ulthuan?”
“No Sir, I have come back with the dead body of my master once and I do not wish to repeat the experience.”
“Ah, so you think the dishonored should speak to each other?”
“Frankly speaking, I do not know where your or mine dishonor is founded in. I could not defend my master from a magical assault by one of the Druchii`s most powerful mages any more than I could lift a mountain. And none of us could anticipate the changes that the Germans wrought in the Old World in such a small time.”
“Except Thyrion who let me run into the lowered lance.”
“He must have thought you important enough to make sure you could not be a hindrance to him. And he had information about this situation unavailable to all but very few elves.”
“So now I am here and in the most unimportant situation that could be imagined. Thanks for your effort to cheer me up but it does not change anything.”
“This is not just a try to improve your mood-I also want to improve our position.”
“And how should that be possible?”
“Well, your problems came from not knowing much about the Germans, right?”
“Your capability to state the obvious seems unimpaired”
“Thanks. Well, if the lack of information was the problem you could rectify this and learn about them. And here you can learn more than any other Asur. Given how powerful the Germans are such knowledge will be useful and may improve your station.”
“And how do you suggest I learn about them? Hire a German tutor and ask him nicely about their secrets?”
“No, I have a different method in mind. The Germans have some sympathy towards me as I was with Ilthis last year. They allowed me to purchase a thinking machine they call “Eye-Pad” and which allows you access to a wealth of knowledge. Here let me show you an oracle the Germans call Wikipedia…

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-10 01:08pm

Mirror Hall, Versailles, France, Earth 14 days after Battle of Middenheim

The famous hall of the premier French palace was filled to capacity by officials and TV teams from dozens of nations, except 1/6th where a group of 11 men and women was busy. Arcane signs were painted on the floor, herbs burned, a mini pyre for a sacrifice sat in the middle of a engraved ring, packed with glass lenses, carved wooden hawks and owls. Finally the 11 sorcerer from Marienburg sat down and began their chant exactly seven minutes after seven in the morning. At first, nothing seemed to happen, then the mirrors in the hall began to glow blue, then orange. for over twenty minutes, the mirrors kept their orange hue, then Magister VanderSchanz ignited the pyre. Once again, the mirrors glowed blue, then they began to lighten until a bright white light shone out of every mirrored surface in the hall. Suddenly, among the noise of a new chant, the mirrors flashed in a blinding cascade.
When sight returned to the visitors, they were shocked to see one mirror wall showing pictures like a TV. It was then, that Magister VanderSchanz spoke up in a slightly strained voice.

"The connection to our homeworld is difficult to hold with the weak flow of magic on this world. We will show you some live scenes, but we cannot predict how long we can keep it going. It might be 3 minutes or an hour, we cannot say. so if you want to record something, use your contraptions now."

The first scene convinced the Earth human delegations already that it had to be Germany they saw. The massive form of Cologne Cathedral was unmistakable. What was different was the view of the Central Station of Cologne. The streamlined, white form of an ICE High Speed Train slowly coming to a stop was normal, the puffy clouds spewing, decorated Steam Train leaving Cologne was not. The roads were filled, but there were noteably less cars than usual. Equally jarring were the visible Flak and Fla-Rak (AA) installations in the city. Not all that many, but the implications were clear.
The view changed and the geographical buffs among the people in the hall could recognise Wilhelmshaven harbour. While Cologne looked halfway normal, at least what had been visible, this new view showed the differences openly. The civilian harbour was not only filled with yachts, boats of hobby sailors and museum ships, no, a lot of sailing ships, barques, Galleons, hulks with colourful sails filled the anchorage. In one berth of the obviously rededicated "Bauhafen"(building harbour) a Galleon like out a pirate movie was either build or repaired, in the "Handelshafen" and the "Großer Hafen" ships both modern and old, were being loaded with goods or their loads brought to land.
The bird´s view over the naval station let some spectators gasp involuntary. A large aircraft carrier named Seeadler lay at anchor and a mix of destroyers, frigates, U-Boats and other ships flew some strange, archaic looking flags alongside the German national colours. In guest berths, two obvious War Galleons, flying Skull and Cross and Twin-tailed comet flags, were bopping leisurely in tact with the waves. Leaving Wilhelmshaven for the Jade Roads was a group of Dragon Ships, like out of a viking movie!

The view changed again, this time an Air Force base could be seen, where a B 52 bomber with Iron Cross markings was rolled into a hangar.
Once more the picture flashed and the entrance of a cinema was there. The names of the movies were mostly unknown. "Papenburg", "Raid on Hag Graef", "Hellenthal´s last day", had a lot of people going in. Equally large, maybe larger was the throng of people going for "Battle at Axe Bite Pass". Other popular movies were "The Alpine Hospital", "Goodbye Earth", which semed to be a dark comedy about being ripped away from home forever. And Earth was not forgotten with showings of a Louis de Funes movie and "The Big Sleep", a Bogart classic.

Another scene showed a group of Germans having a picknick at a river bank, an enormous river. A river of a size not known in Europe. Among the fruits in the baskets were several which left the biologists in the Mirror hall head scratching.

The following scene showed a road being build to a village which for all intents and purposes looked like a French village from bygone times.
Another flash brought a look across a Japanese looking city from the time of the Shogunate. But there were differences. There was a railway station, lots of German looking tourists, lots of construction going on and last, but not least, there were containers full of Mangas loaded onto Trucks!
Then a newspaper stand came into view, with headlines like "Merkel in Altdorf - Meeting with the Emperor", "Southland region with lots of cocoa trees found by expedition", "Railway reaches Meissen in Wissenland".
The spectators in Versailles hoped for more images from another world before contact would be lost, since no one could say when a new contact would be possible.

Above Earth, same day as the battle in Sylvania

After the unsatisfactory last few weeks on the Warhammer World, Tzeentch was delighted to visit his new playground again. And what a happy situation that was! The first true spark of a Chaos follower burned all the more brightly on this unspoiled planet.
Not that it was an instant door to domination, the Changer of Ways never worked and never wanted to work this distastfully direct, but the first step on a delicate road had been taken. No, even if would strife after his brother Khorne, it would not be possible. This world still lacked in the magic department, so he would help less obviously. One person who could need his help was the leader of local Bretonnia. His problems were easy to solve for a Chaos God. Bretonnia lay beside the shifted Wasteland, a good place to consolidate his power in the beginning.

A perfect start would be to give Bretonnia´s leader a needed victory. Well, he knew quite a nice one. After that, he would visit a city across the Big Ocean. The leader there was an untrustworthy Silvertongue, a backstabber after his own heart. On that visit, Tzeentch hoped to learn why he looked like a guy from the Southlands, in a region where the Dark Elves normally should be.
Oh, and the local Southlands were nothing short of a playground. This Mugabe guy alone spread Chaos like a soon-to-be champion... The Changer of Ways already loved this place.

Winkler Family apartment, Charite`, Berlin a couple of days later

Ralf Winkler wife was out shopping and having coffee with a friend so Ralf had a Saturday afternoon for himself. Looking guiltily at the anatomy book which he wanted to read up on his current lessons he decided that his head was simply full and needed a rest.
Looking for some entertainment that would not tax his mind any more he finally switched on the TV and zapped through the channels. The first one he got was of the DTM race in Hockenheim and the channel presented the pre-race show.
The DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft or German Touring Car Masters) had replaced the Formula 1 races as the primary interest of the motorsport fans as most formula 1 teams had not changed worlds with Germany and developing such cars was very expensive. As the much cheaper DTM cars bore at least visual resemblance to German everyday cars they had added appeal to many fans.

The commentator was going full tilt when Ralf switched into the channel. “The decision between Audi and BMW will rest on the question who has handled the conversion to LNG fuel best. Since last year LNG is allowed in the DTM and the rules restrict the amount of gasoline the cars can use in any given race. So everybody wants to convert to LNG despite the weight penalty, but as BMW found last season this is not so easy. Let`s see whether they got it right this year.
But now watch the presentation by the Jagdgeschwader 72-Bölckes Circus is just back from the Empire and now want to give us quite a show.”
The Announcer might have said something more, but the 4 Eurofighters that went over the middle ground of the racetrack at barely 50 meters drowned every sound with their own. Dumping fuel through their emergency systems and then igniting them with their afterburners they pulled a carpet of flame behind them before breaking sharply upwards and delivering a short but utterly impressive aeronautics display for the audience.
And the audience was lapping it up if judged by the spectators jumping up and down and waving their flags. The medic was old enough to remember the Rammstein accident and shuddered but understood why the audience was lapping it up-it was a grand display of technological mastery and top-notch flying rolled into one.What made things interesting was that the audience reacted so well to a display by the armed forces-that was new. The way the new attitude worked by now seemed healthy and within reason, he just hoped it would remain so.

No matter he switched channels and found himself watching a heroic epic about a Bretonian Knight on a Quest in a channel mostly reserved for youths. When the scantily clothed Lady of the Lake appeared he had a look at the plunging neckline of her costume and switched to the next one.

This one showed a trailer for a new installment of a long running crime TV Series with a new wrinkle, called “Tatort: Altdorf” (Crime scene Altdorf, The new episodes were about a police commissar plus his team who were sent to Altdorf to show the imperials that criminal cases could be solved without torture and direct eye witness. They worked together with some imperial officials. Given that there were such teams in the Empire the medic made a mental note to watch this episode.

The next channel was some talent show which featured a mixed human and dwarf metal band called Grungier`s Slammers who actually did good solid metal music. He always liked Blind Guardian and their music style seemed not so far off that, even when dwarven voices had a different timbre than human ones-but very suited to the task he thought. He thought he might have met seen one of the dwarves before when they launched into a new song called “Der Sanitöter” (The killer medic) about a medic who wielded an assault rifle killing demonettes and pulling dwarves out of hellholes. The medic still had bouts of manic giggling when his wife came back home.

Bundeskanzleramt Berlin, next Monday

The video on the screen was not of the highest resolution and seemed to jump slightly. That was not because of the camera or the monitor-the camera had been a high-quality model and the Monitor was a high-end plasma screen. The video had been taken at long distance at sea and that showed.The main feature of the video was a huge balloon, suspended under it was a pallet with tarps which hid its contents. In the left upper corner of the screen a countdown was displayed. When the counter hid “0” the picture whitened out for a moment.
When the camera panned back one could see a huge fireball where the balloon had been. The fireball had incongruously some green color in it and while the onlookers watched the familiar shape of a mushroom cloud began to form. The sea was dished in by the pressure wave and then a frothy ring-shaped wave was expending at great speed before subsiding.

When the video stopped Thomas de Maiziere went to the lectern at the apex of the conference table. “What we have just seen was the controlled explosion of the warp bomb that we have captured in the tunnels under Middenheim. We tested this device over the Sea of Claws with enough distance to anything so while mages will have felt the detonation nobody can say for sure what happened and there was no danger.
The event was measured to have a power of 9.3 Kilotons, but the effects were not directly comparable to a thermonuclear weapon as the explosion showed very little radiation but increased thermal output. Given that nearly all magic indicators in the fleet got damaged we can count on other, less conventional effects as well.”

“So, do the Skaven have Weapons of Mass Destruction?”
“Yes Angela, in a way. Yet, the threat may be lower than what we saw during the Cold War. The magical radiation of these bombs is easily detected and the Warpstone Crystal is so fragile that transporting it at anything but the greatest care and lowest speed is impossible. Also the weapon was initiated by new detonators that we built as the original ones would have likely fired out of sync which would have reduced the power of this device by at least an order of magnitude, but still it is potentially devastating. The good news is that not only is this weapon unreliable and hard to employ, but warpstone crystals of this size and purity are incredibly rare, so their number will always be low.”
“So what do you propose to mitigate the threat?”
Well, first off we….

Neustadt, Nagaroth, same Date

Wolfgang Böhler enjoyed his breakfast quite a lot. By now a bakery was making decent bread fresh each day, some local ham was quite ok and one of their numbers realized that he was a so-so merc but a gifted butcher. Making butter had been not so difficult after all, so the thing Wolfgang did miss most was Coffee but there was a brew from some roots which was bitter and strong enough to etch paint. If that did not wake you up you were probably lacking a pulse.
“Another cup master?”
“Yes dear.”

Wolfgang had given up on making Ludenka call him Wolfgang or any other thing. From what he was able to put together from the few things she knew about herself she was a second-generation slave with parents hailing from Kislev. She had been part of the slaves that had been granted to the Germans in exchange for the Hung prisoners. The blonde woman was a great beauty by Wolfgang`s standards and had been eternally grateful when the sniper managed to buy her son from his former Master.
Originally Wolfgang had accepted her as a housekeeper but that had not lasted more than a week. He had been without a woman for years now and Ludenka was so grateful and probably hoped to bind a relaxed Master to her more closely. Which did not mean that the results had not been pleasurable and Wolfgang would have been hard pressed to categorize their relationship. This train of thought reminded him that he had forgotten something.

“Ludenka, sorry, I forgot something I meant to give to you.”
“Yes Master?”
The slight hesitancy in Ludenka`s voice pulled on the sniper`s heart-he had never done her any harm but she still suspected that her good luck might run out.
“Calm down, I think you will like it.”
Unwrapping a package he pulled something out that had cost him a favor with Thorsten Breitkop, the Master Mechanic and engineer of the Germans. Ludenka wore-as all Druchii slaves-a collar that signified her status. One of his first acts when he took her into his house had been an attempt to remove it. It had been the one and only time when Ludenka had offered anything like resistance to him. Between the screams and sobbing he finally understood that this would not free her of something but given everybody license to do something to her. As long as she wore the collar she was under whatever protection Druchii society offered to a slave that belonged to somebody.

Given that the sniper had gone another route. The oiled paper he put away revealed a beautiful milled piece of stainless steel, made to size and polished to a nearly chrome sheen. Breitkopf had made parts of the new slave collar itself and had lasered the Names Ludenka and Böhler into them as well as the crosshairs which were something like Böhler`s coat-of arms.
“Oh my god, it is so beautiful-is it really for me, really”
“Yes of course it is dear.”
Ludenka was at her knees in a flash and what could he do but to put the new collar around her neck. They were in each other’s arms for what seemed like an eternity before the sniper broke the embrace. “Sorry Ludenka, but I have to go.”
“Don`t say sorry Master and do not forget your hat again.”
“Will do.”
When the sniper made his way towards the Auxilia he saw Ludenka stepping outside of their house and proudly displaying her new collar. It felt wrong, so very wrong.

Outside of a factory building, Neustadt, Naggaroth, 2 hours later

Urglies Jeres walked into the wooden building and shook his head because of the feeling he had steeped into a different reality. Even from outside the building he had heard-and felt-extremely heavy blows of metal against metal of a kind he had never heard.
“I hope you show me secrets worth my money Herr Breitkop.”
“What I can show you is how we make 10.000 Crossbow Bolts in 2 weeks with 100 slaves as opposed to 4 months. You will get a full description in writing with pictures. If you want to buy tools or the services of trained supervisors-that goes extra.”
“Yes, I know-so now go on.”
“Well follow me then.”

Thorsten Breitkop led his guest past the door into the factory building and to the side.
“Why are you bringing me here then?”
“Because this is where it starts. Look here, you see this oven. From one side we put in coal, other iron ingots go in from the other side. Here we heat the ingots till they are ready for the forge.”
“And what is that thing to the side.”
“This is an air blower-it works like a reverse windmill and pushes air into the forge-that way it burns hotter and more even. You would use a bellows for a similar job but this is more efficient.”
“And what is that slave doing with that stick?”
“At the top of that stick is a magnet. When the ingots have the right temperature they are no longer attracted-then he uses the shovel to pull them from the hearth and puts them into the slide into the building.”
“Why don`t you put the forge inside?”
“Too hot and the exhaust gases are a problem. Let`s get inside and we see what we made with them.”

Inside the building the source of the blows was revealed-but the sight just replaced one mystery with another. Huge blocky machines were arranged in a line at the far wall of the factory. On top of each box a wheel was connected to a driving belt and rotated. With the rotations a massive box of iron was pulled upwards and then clanged down with great force on the lower part of the boxes. Slaves just clothed by loincloths because of the heat put something glowing under the descending boxes and after the hammering threw them into a receptacle besides the next bin where the process was replaced.
“As you can see we put the heated ingots under a series of drop forges. Each drop forge has a two-part mold that hammers the ingot into a shape ever closer to a crossbow bolt. The ingots keep hot as they absorb the energy from the forging. When you look into this bin, this is where we have the raw bolts.”
The sharp spikes of iron that the Dark Elf could see where indeed looking like crossbow bolts but were still very crude. Every 5 seconds or so a new bolt was added to the pile already inside the bin.

“How do these “drop forges” work?”
“Inside this big box we have an Iron box on rails filled by granite. It is pulled up by a gear and ratchet system powered by a steam engine outside. In the lower part of the forge and the dropping part are two halves of a mold we mill from high-grade steel. With each drop they forge the iron into shape.”
The next workshop contained a series of vertically mounted wheels of some stone material which turned rapidly and more slaves-better clad in leather this time-which pushed the crude bolt against the wheels again and again. The sparks which flew from this lit up the workshop whenever a new bold was applied and a high-pitched grinding noise filled the room. Going from one grinding wheel to the next the Druchii found that the Slaves pressed the bolts against the wheels and some guides which allowed them only the right movements. More and more the bolts lost their mold lines and became the sharp tools of war they were.

The next step made Urglies step backwards and grasp for his amulet against magical attacks. A slave was putting about 20 Bolts between two rails hanging tips downwards where then hung between two more rails-and with no fore to be seen the bolt tips started glowing cherry-red from heat.
When they did that the slave put the bolt tips into a vat filled with oil where they hissed and gave off an unpleasant smoke.
“Here we heat the Bolts inductively-that means with rapidly changing magnetic fields-and then cool them in oil-that hardens them to 48 HRC or so-err very hard. The next workshop is where we attach the fins and…”
“Herr Breitkop, my head hurts already. This is so far from anything I know that you could tell me all day about this and I would still not be one step closer to make my own bolts like you do. What you do here is very impressive, no doubt and probably the way of the future. Still it looks like I wasted my money here-did you think it would be like that?”
“Frankly speaking-no. This workshop is, by German standard very simple and we thought it very suitable to sell to an interested party. In the long run we have too few Germans here to make such things and want to produce machines and tooling to Druchii like you who then make bolts and hammers and whatnot.”
“Uff-so this is simple-thanks a lot-not. From what I can see I need to much machines and tools and knowledge-I would be here every other day for advice.”
There might be another way-we could do more of we had more slaves, money and raw materials. If you provide them we could grant you shares for these and give you a part of the profit from that.”
“How would you do this?”
“Let me introduce you to a thing called stock company…”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-11 02:19pm

DLR Launch Site Peenemünde Nord, one week later

Meister Keppel circulated through the crowd at the Pre-launch party and found it hard to find somebody for conversation. The celestial movements of this world`s two moons made a night launch mandatory and so the DLR and the companies involved had organized a buffet so nobody would go hungry and giving them the opportunity for more advertising.
The mage of the celestial order had not found many imperials he would have liked talking to and found few things in common with the Germans attending the meeting. He studied a series of small “models”-toy-like depictions of planes and rockets. We still tried to make sense of the signs pinned below them when Andreas Schütz, DLR`s Press Relation Officer approached him.

“There you are Meister Kepel, I was looking for you.”
“Good evening Herr Schütz and thanks for the invitation again. I am looking forward to see the launch.”
“As do we all. I hope the trip was fine?”
“Yes, thank you. It was my first Zeppelin ride and it was incredible, this must be like the Gods see the world.”
“That`s nice to hear. I see you are interested in the models?”
“Yes, I ask myself what do they depict? I did not know such things exist.”
“Actually they do not. These are models of EADS current projects that they offer to the German government in the hope to get them interested and provide funding. Some are also for civilian users.”
“So can you tell me what is what?”
“Ok, the first line of Models are based on our new transport, the A400M. A few of them are already in service with the Air Force and there are more on order. They can put more than 30 tons of payload on an unimproved runway several thousand kilometers away. That is very useful.
The next one is a derivative for the Lufthansa, our national carrier. There are only very flew runways available outside of Germany, so when we want to fly to other countries the plane for that should be able to land on a well-maintained grass field. This model had better sound proofing, seats and other amenities but is otherwise very easy to make. Lufthansa is really interested, especially as there is a new development that would raise payload and/or range quite a bit. It would allow them to make useful round trips with just the fuel they load in Germany.”

“And what is THAT-it looks somebody grafted a ship to the bottom of your plane.”
“Yes, that is the basic premise here, it is called a flying boat. Most people on this world do live close to the coast or to major rivers. A plane with good payload and range that can start and land on water, or ideally both on water and runways is very useful. This is a more ambitious project that would combine the Wing, the engines and the avionics of the A400 with the fuselage of an amphibious plane. A little far-fetched but there is interest.”
“Ah, and what is this row then?”
“Ok, the first is another A400M-mod, this one would be used to drop bombs. The second one is for the same purpose but more ambitious. It would combine the Wings and engines of an A340 in a shoulder mounted position with a fuselage based on the tooling for the A320. It could carry a load of 30 tons of Bombs everywhere in the Old World from Germany. The Battle of Middenheim has increased interest by the Air Force a lot.”
The mage looked at the models for more than a minute without moving-some would suspect even without breathing.

“I see this one fly, and that one. This one is faint and the others will remain projects-I think. What about these rocket models-These I have seen when I visited your head office-but what about this one?” He never realized the look he received by the spin doctor-or his quick notes.
“Ah, that is our latest project. Getting a huge payload into orbit became a big priority during the last months-sorry I cannot tell you why. But to make it quick and not too expensive we develop a new Rocket together with EADS. The core you see is the same one as for all other Greif Rockets, but instead of solid boosters we use 4 liquid-fuelled boosters based on the same tanks and engines that the 1st stage of a normal Greif-that brings much more energy into play. The Boosters tanks also cross-fed the core, so the 1st stage will burn much longer. The second stage is longer for more fuel and got itself another engine. If we calculate right it should be able to push 20 tons into a low orbit around this world, maybe more if some things we just check work out.
On top of that we have put a capsule based on an automatic transfer vehicle that we developed before, but this one would be able to return and could be man-rated.”
“Man-rated means you want to put a man…up there?”
“Yes, that is the gist of it”
“Oh my…..”
“Look, I´d like to talk to you longer, but the launch will be in an hour and we have to make for the bleachers”

An hour later the mage was sitting on crowded, sparsely lit seats and watched the floodlit rocket that was standing nearly 3 Kilometers away. He was amazed that the Germans would not allow him to get closer but most of the time they seemed to know what they were doing. He started to get bored when the “Countdown” was sounded through the loudspeakers around the spectators.
When the count reached 5 a huge light silently went on under the rocket and became brighter. Water was pumped across the launch pad in copious amounts and steam and smoke rose from the engines and the ground.

When the count reached “O” he could see the immense rocket lifting off, increasing slowly at first. It had not cleared the support tower when the sound finally reached him. Sound was not enough to describe the sensation he was subjected to. It was a deep rumbling that he heard despite his ear protectors, that vibrated his chest and liquidified his bowels.

The sound spoke of an immense power, of a power on a scale that he had never witnessed before and drowned out nearly everything. The only thing that went through this haze was the sight of the slender tower that was the rocket ascending to the dark heavens on a pillar of flame. The fire that sprouted from the rocket illuminated the previously dark landscape in all directions and the rocket became increasingly faster and harder to spot. Kepel was seeing none of this, instead he went down on his knees and followed the flight of the rocket with eyes that showed only white before collapsing. Which did not mean he saw nothing-what he was seeing was a vision even grander than the launch right in front of him.

Press release next morning

The “Greif 1” launch was a complete success as far. The rocket injected two payloads into a polar orbit of an Aphelion of 750 kilometers. One is a science platform that measures the exact physical parameters of the Low-Warhammer-Orbit including microgravity, radiation and others. It also contains a laser reflector that allows to follow its orbit precisely as the orbital mechanics follow different rules in this world.
The second payload is a recognizance platform that will take pictures in the visual and infrared spectrum. The polar orbit was chosen for this mission as in this way the world will rotate under the satellite and it will eventually pass over every bit of this world. We will have a complete and accurate map of this world to a resolution of 30 cm within 14 days…..

DLR office next, Peenemünde Nord, same time

“Good morning Meister Keppel, I hope you are well again?”
“Good morning Herr Wörner, Hello Herr Schütz”
“I hope you are better this morning. I`ve heard that you experienced problems during the launch?”
“I have to clear up that misconception, easy enough to make as it was. I had no seizure or a loss of blood pressure as your medical personal speculated.”
“So what was it then?”
“Like most of my esteemed colleagues of the Celestial order I make predictions based on falling stars among other things. Yesterday night I found I can also see glimpses of a future in the exhaust of rising ones. I have indeed been granted a vision of unusual scope and clarity, but I need help to discover its meanings as I have seen pictures of momentous events-but as they nearly all center on the impact of your ventures I need you help interpreting them.”
“May I ask what these visions showed?”
“Certainly. Most seemed to revolve about a rocket very much like the model Herr Schütz showed me-it showed it taking off-and grand things seemed to come from it. As I say, I have to have help from your side probably.”

“Yes, I understand and we will be more than willing to help. That brings me to the second reason for our meeting today. You asked if we were willing to provide you a stipend for a study at the Bonn-Cologne University in Astronomy. In the light of recent events we will not do so.”
Ice ran through the veins of the Mage and his stomach sunk. “If I may inquire-why?”
“Your original suggestion of a possible failure in the second stage of the Greif send the DASA engineers on a 4-week search which culminated in a fuel valve which would fail under certain vibrations. And the planes that you saw flying yesterday-we already have an order by the Lufthansa but did not want to publish it yet till the ink is dry.
So EADS will-if you agree-fund a chair for you at the Bonn-Cologne University. This position will entail roughly 10 hours of teaching a week but will leave you more than enough time for your own studies. And it carries a nice salary.”
“I would be less than honest to say I foresaw that…thank you Mr. Wörner”

Bundestag (German Parliament), Berlin, same date

Excerpts from the Debate on the prolongation of the Bundeswehr deployment to the Empire.

Petra Pau, Die Linke (Socialist Party, direct translation: The Left)
“I despair when I think of what we have done and of what we have become in such a short time. Germany of all nations should be the guiding light towards enlightenment, peace and freedom. And in two short years we have sought a major war, a naval raid on a civilian target and innumerable skirmishes with indigene forces.
German forces have shelled a city full of slaves and civilians. German workers have been forced to serve an ill equipped militia and slaughtered Beastmen in such numbers that it might well be considered genocide. We can be sure that when future generations judge our action they will find them as despicable as the decimation of indigene nations in North America is rightly seen by us.
And on top of all that we burn an army alive that had no arms more threatening than primitive cannon and whom nobody ever bothered to contact about a non-violent resolution of this conflict.

We do all of that on behalf of a non-democratically legitimated regime that allows the keeping of slaves and serfs, that burn alleged witches and that allows the exploitation of unskilled workers by German profit-grabbing companies.
I ask this parliament-what will we do next? Using nuclear weapons that we should have destroyed long ago on a city because their rulers do not respect us? Erecting camps for housing beastmen and delousing them?
Die Linke will not….

Excerpt from the answer given by Frank Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Secretary, SPD (Social democrats and part of the ruling Coalition)

Nobody in the German government or the German armed forces advocates easily for the use of force. We do not enjoy killing and there is no drive to genocide peoples from their homes. To indicate such is an insult to those who defend Germany and our allies.
Everybody in this room will remember the fate of Mrs. Roth and Mr. Özdemir when they tried to greet beings that we now know to be Nurgle adherents. Nothing we have learned about this world so far indicates that more attempts would have any different outcome.
And we had to learn too that the nature of this enemy is very different from what we knew before. Reconstruction teams are now taking stock of the areas of the Empire that were in the way of the Beastmen incursion to the Quarry or the Chaos army that invaded Middenland.

We have yet to find a single surviving civilian who did not hide successfully or reached one of the safe harbors in time. Any other civilians were either coerced to work with the Chaos Forces or were killed, often both. ALL of them with no exceptions.
Even Tamerlane`s hordes, Stalin`s army and even the Waffen-SS have better records than that.
The Chaos Hordes have no government as we know it, no embassy and the only rulers we might contact either will kill any emissary outright or ask for our complete subjugation under the forces for Chaos.
These forces were on a Crusade that they believed would cause this world to fall into the clutches of a Fimbulwinter-and given how different this world is who am I to say that they were wrong about that.
Mrs. Pau, what do you expect from such an enemy-that they retreat nicely if we ask them and maybe offer some development aid?

Mrs. Pau, you have failed to note that the Beastmen were attacking the Quarry and the civilians wherein. You have failed to note that they killed every human outside of the quarry they could catch without any provocation. You have indicated that the Germans and Imperials who served in the Landwehr were conscripted when all of them were volunteers and did nothing but to defend their lives and the lives of those who could not defend themselves.
All of these omissions do not do your position any shred of good.

As for contacting the Beastmen for negotiations: So far there have been 6 attempts to contact various Beastmen tribes. In 4 cases the negotiation teams had to retreat when they became under attack without any provocation. In one case the Beastmen actually invited such a team just to attack them when they felt them to be vulnerable. In all cases losses were incurred both by the Bundeswehr and the negotiators. There were two cases of contact attempts by private groups who were not attended by armed forces so “not to offer provocation”.
Both attempts failed, one team is lost while the other team was found by the KSK. From the remains it is clear that they were eaten-at least partially alive. This information has been shared with you and your party before, so decrying the lack of diplomacy with them seems malicious or indicates a very short memory.
As a part of this government I find it very hard to send young men and women into combat so we all can live in peace and not being able to share the danger as I am too old and have different tasks. But heading a negotiating team that tries again to contact the Children of Chaos in a meaningful way is something a member of parliament is perfectly suitable for.
As you have stated the need for more diplomacy with the Beastmen so strongly I take it that you volunteer, Frau Pau?”

1000 Meters AGL, near Oberpfaffenhofen, next Day

The Zeppelin NT was circling above the Bavarian Landscape at 75 kph, trying to keep an even attitude. A rather nervous crewmember looked backwards to the experimental rig that had been added after the control car. A spaceframe from lightweight girders was attached to the bottom spar that ran the length of the envelope. The crane-like arm ended in a large solid-looking hook and was currently lowered several meters below the control car. He was able to see it and the approaching plane through the windows in the back of the car and tried to talk the pilot in.
To his relief the Pilot of the Storch which approached the airship from below and behind had little difficulties with the slight turbulence that was produced by the Zeppelins passage and managed to approach the crane without ever coming near to the envelope.

“Ok Storch 3, a little to the left-sorry, the other left, a little more-ok. Height looks good, accelerate a little bit-here we go.
A loop mounted above the planes cabin had engaged the cranes hook and the pilot feathered the prop so that there was no more thrust even while the prop turned. Still, the hook held, the plane stayed attached in the slipstream and so the engine was brought to a halt.
The crewmember pushed a newly installed button and the crane was pulled upwards, taking the plane with it. When it was in the upmost position the plane`s cockpit was few meters below the Zeppelin`s windows and the pilot could be seen waving while somebody else was busy taking notes.
“That went pretty well I think.”
“Yes, looked great from here Lieutenant Alpers. Ok, let`s take you around for a spin and then we try things the other way around.”
Some 30 minutes later the crane was extended downwards again, the prop could be seen speeding up to and then a “Ready when you are” came via the headphone.
The plane was dropped from the hook, making the Zeppelin jump upwards, but only very little. The Storch`s pilot never seemed to lose control while he regained speed and pulled away from the airship in a curve.

As there was a steady wind over the runway Nathan decided to show off a little and adjusted the lift aids to maximum. The wind speed was high enough to allow the descent in place without any danger of stall. From the outside it looked like he was making a vertical landing in a fixed-wing plane.
He was greeted by a small gaggle of engineers and mechanics-including one in Bundeswehr uniform, when he taxied back to the hangar. When the congratulations were over he had time for some small talk with Dr. Reims, the engineer assigned to his Storch and its rune of flying.
“That went very well, even if I say so myself. Actually I could have done it in a stock Storch with no problems.”
“I think so, yes. But the last tests of such a thing were done nearly 100 years ago, so better to make sure. When the new Zeps take flight from Friedrichshafen it would be very useful to be able to take planes on board-and now we can tell them that it works. A few more tests and then we can sew this up.”

“Nice to be of service and it was a very interesting piece of flying, just not as challenging as I first thought.”
“Speaking about challenges-a little bird tells there will be a new program soon that calls for volunteers. Maybe you want to get in soon, that might improve your chances.”
“What kind of program?”
“Still very hush-hush and all, but if it succeeds your next craft would exceed the service ceiling of your Thypoon flight by quite a lot.”
“Uh-you have to be kidding.”
“No, scouts honor. Are you interested?”
“Whom do I have to kill?”

Neustadt, Naggaroth, same date

Throsten Breitkopf was pulling a small wheel out of the old sewing machine and had a look at it. “This is the one where the under thread is stored-please note before scanning.”
“Will do.”
The German Master Mechanic was looking at his latest project. He had acquired a very old foot-operated sewing machine before he had left Germany. Now that the more pressing needs were served it was time for another thing that would make lots of money for them.
He was taking the sewing machine apart bit by bit, evaluated the function of each part, noted it in an ever-expanding plan and then gave the parts to an assistant for scanning. After a 3-D scan was made the mechanic converted them into files for his CNC-milling machine that would make equivalent parts from steel.

His first prototype would probably suck and he would have to improve on it. The he would have to decide what parts really needed to be milled and which ones could be made differently. Then he would have to tinker more with a production model as everybody wanted a sewing machine after he had demonstrated his old one. Then he would set up a production line. After that he would try to beef the machine up to the point that it could handle leather. He enjoyed this kind of challenge immensely.
Very few people tried to tell him how to do something, when he asked for materials or manpower he got the cream of the crop-and he could tinker to his heart`s content. How could life be better?

Claus Tolles pressed the spurs into the flanks of his horse. As it was a quite docile gelding it just accelerated to a little more speed instead of testing its rider again. All Germans of the Schwarze Schaar had taken up riding as the little fuel available right now meant that driving their trucks was reserved for combat or emergencies.
Many of the mercs were unhappy when they discovered that riding was indeed a taxing enterprise that could leave you sore even after moderate distances. It still beat walking by quite a lot and the local roads made taking a cart not so comfortable as one might expect.
Looking around Claus saw various platoons of the Druchii auxilia engaged in different drills, from Bayonet fencing to marching in formation. Currently he was looking for Wolfgang Böhler who had promised to be on the field at 2 PM. It was funny how life changed when some of the technology the Germans took for granted was taken away. Without the mobile phones that were useless without an extensive network and too detectable one had to plan the daily chores well in advance and leave notice where you would be so you could be reached. The German punctuality made a revival as this was the only way things stayed coordinated.
The mercenary leader was amused when he saw 4 Dark Elves pull an obviously weighted cart across the exercise ground. Sweating and cursing with ragged breath they gave the impression to be at the end of their power but continued to pull the cart at double-time speed. Was this training or punishment detail?

Finally he found the part of the ground that the sniper had indicated. He dismounted the horse and gave the reins to one of Wolfgang`s adjutants while he watched the exercise in front of him. It seemed to consist of a squad of Druchii aiming their rifles downrange. In some distance several squads made mock-assaults on the line held by this squad. The bespectacled Druchii commanding the riflemen directed them in a high but firm voice.
“Target infantry in the open, 200 meters 11 o clock” and the squad pointed the rifles in that direction, adjusted their sights and then shouted “Feuer”
“Target infantry in light cover, right, 150 meters” brought the rifle barrels into a new direction and the action repeated itself.” Interestingly enough the targets she assigned never seemed to be the big group that ran towards the firing line.

Wolfgang had already seen him and spotted a good time to end the training.
“Well done acting squad leader Areta, target selection was completely right and the distances at least close enough that your shooters would hit. Next time consult your range card more. Take your squad back for R&R.”
“Sir, yes Sir. And Sir, thank you Sir.”
Both Germans watched the backs of the marching recruits while they went to a tree stump that provided convenient seating.
“What was that about?”
“That was preparing them for their main task-supporting us. If that would have been for real there would have been a machine gun team from us supported by a Auxilia squad or two. It would have been the machine guns job to take care of the main assault. The rifle squads should protect them from flanking and killing the smaller groups. The squad leader just showed that she can indeed pick the right targets for her squad and that she can direct the fire.”
“Ah. Is she good?”
“Best of the bunch so far, but some others are not so far behind.”
“And what are the 4 idiots pulling the cart all across the field-ammo haulers?”
“For the moment yes. I was about to flunk them for various reasons but they seem about right for a special project of Thorsten. If they keep at it I will assign them to it.”

“Well, it is your thing. How about overall training?”
“We are getting there, couple of weeks more and we are at the point where they are really useful”
“Can they be good in two weeks?”
“If need be yes, but why.”
“Looks like some Chaos warlord from is pushing in from the wasteland and the Spitzohren have to send somebody to stop them. As a lot of their Army is in Ulthuan that among other things means us.
“Yes, we could be ready by them. How does it go forward?”
“Lord Silvercrest is mustering an army in the Valley of Bones in 3 weeks. We should be able to make that if you are ready in two weeks’ time.”
“We will be ready”

The study of the Silverhawk castle was a far cry from the teak, brass and leather studies that would have been their English counterparts in another world. Yet, some things were similar, like the dark tone of room, the many books and the astonishingly comfortable seats and the roaring fire in the fireplace. The elegantly slender furniture or the dark iron fittings would be a a difference, but the pint of a room where you could “let you hair down”

On a chaise lounge an older Dark Elf was lying on his back and an elderly German eas bend over him and examined something on his mid-section.
Doctor Corzelius was looking at the well-healed scar on his patient`s stomach before he stepped back and let the Druchii pull his garments back down.
“Looks like it heals perfectly and no inflammation at all-could not be much better Mylord”
“I cannot tell you how happy I am to get rid of these bleeding bags, I tell you.”
“You should be lucky that we had them, at all Lord Silverhawk. Ileostomy was very low on my list of priorities when I arranged for my supplies. If one of the morons who bought my stuff would not have made a mistake we would have none and healing you would nearly be impossible.”
“I still think it is a miracle. When I felt that damned spike go in I was so sure I would be in for my last days-and then you came. It was still not so much fun to shit in a bag on my stomach, but it was certainly better than dying. I should not tell you this, but I am deeply in your debt.”
“Don`t worry about it”

“Doctor, one of these days you really have to tell me why you are with this bunch. As far as I can tell you are not having fun in ways you Germans find distasteful, or my informants need killing. You are as far as I can tell competent as hell and from what I know you do not enjoy living rough. What gives?”
“Let`s just say here I can work as a doctor and that is what I am.”
“Let us leave it at then-for now.” Sitting up the Druchii went for a small table and poured both of them a snifter of something that could be called a Brandy.
“We have something more important to talk about. You know that Druchii can live very long active lives?”
“Yes, as do your cousins in Ulthuan, part of you DNA-ah your heritage I think”
“You are partially right-but we can live even longer than they do if we do not fail and are killed. The reason for this are the rituals of blood that we perform on the more successful members of our society-they extend our lives beyond what would otherwise be possible.”
“That is certainly good for you Mylord, but I fail to see how this pertains to me.”
“Sometimes humans can be quite useful to us, or amusing and we do not want to lose them after such a short time. The Rituals of blood work on humans too Doctor. Not as well as for us, but a century or two is not to be sneezed at, isn`t it?”
“I think I need another Brandy Mylord-a large one please”

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-15 07:49am

The Warp, sometimes

The being in the warp was a glowing golden cloud or a beautiful middle-aged women or a gigantic dove or ..many other things. That all depended on how you looked at it and what you expected of her. She was surrounded by millions and millions of lesser light who all gave her power somehow and received compassion, love and knowledge, but there was no quid-pro-quo, just a giving and taking that was regulated by the free will of all involved.
The being looked at the world from the warp and always despaired and enjoyed in equal measure. She was dismayed by painful suffering and deaths, by hunger and disease, by violence, treason and by what passed as cold hard justice in this world.
She enjoyed the ceaseless work of those who tried to mitigate the suffering, in friendly words given to strangers and the love shared between humans.

She had watched the newcomers to this world with interest and apprehension, and more and more with respect and approval. That a nation would spend one full third of its gross income of healing the sick, providing for the old and lame and propping up those out of work was a welcome novelty to her.
Even more money was spend on prevention-the Germans invested heavily to give everybody clean water, clean food and air-what a marvel.
She could see that the Germans were not perfect in that, that there was greed, corruption and waste but at least they tried damn hard and mostly succeeded. They even had a holiday of peace and compassion-that she could appreciate. Like the rest there were warts and all, but still.
She is Shallya, the Goddess of Compassion and Healing and she started to like the Germans and their ways.
The last time she had missed the feast, but this time she would be ready-and she had such gifts to give.

The Warp, another place ? same time ?

The being inside a bubble was slowly going by pieces since about an eternity. He was not attacked in any way-he would have appreciated that. He did not have to perform some difficult task-he would have been happy to do anything. There were no horrible sight to see and no terrifying sounds to hear-oh how he longed to hear see or feel anything.
He saw, felt or heard nothing and that was killing him bit by tiny bit. A human mind would have disintegrated into madness long ago, but he had clung to it with a frightening tenacity. The problem was that he clung to what he had, but without any stimulus he kept forgetting.
Forgetting about his mission, forgetting about his kin, forgetting about his name….
The being was slipping and there would not much be left if nothing happened soon.

Charite`, Berlin 22.12.2013

Ralf Winkler was looking at a petri dish in frustration. It showed a cross of black against a slightly pink background. It was the best proof he currently had for a new approach to healing that he and the four other amulet holders worked out.
All of them were spending their time now learning as much about the human body as they could and healing patients with lost nerve functions. As nerve cells normally do not regenerate, or if so only under special circumstances and often very incomplete their work was by now much in demand.
As this provided a lot of money that the Order of Shallya could very well use the 5 spend a lot of time in Germany by now and the Charite` provided a couple of small apartments for them and in case of the Winklers the family.

The work and the learning were very rewarding but also exhausting. The Sisters had to start learning about the human body pretty much at zero and relied a lot on the former medic who in turn learned how much he did not know. Before getting additional lessons in anatomy for him the retina was the place where light was converted into nerve signals and that was it. Now the retina had 10 layers with different tasks all to be studied.
The process of converting sugar into power had been quite straightforward; now Ralf got cold sweat just thinking about the citrus acid cycle. But with each new lesson learned and understood had come new and better ways to heal as understanding meant that the 5 could manipulate the correct cells or processes. When the healing had started at the Charite` most of the work consisted in things like assisting the nerve connections for severed limbs or skin that had been replanted. From these beginnings they had graduated to much more difficult work. The current culmination of which had left a photo on his desk. The former finance minister of Germany had shaken the hands of the 5-standing up. Given that he had been bound to a wheelchair for many years that was quite an accomplishment and so they had their work cut out.
What made this doubly rewarding was that the money for this was send to the Empire and financed such things as the “Brush your teeth with Shallya” campaign or the installment of water pumps with a decent filter in villages.

The medic was still looking into the petri dish 5 minutes later but did not really see it. After a couple of more minutes of doing nothing he got up quickly and grabbed for his coat.
“Honey, do you need the car for anything at the moment, I need to go out urgently.”
“No problem dear, where do you need to go so fast?”
“Don`t know it yet”
“Sorry, I really don`t know yet.”
The medic got the family car from the park. Ever since they found the money to convert it to LNG their fuel problems had lessened markedly as natural gas was by now no longer a rationed commodity. Driving off to an unknown target he was still trying to come to grips with the urge that had just taken him.

Norsca, same date

The heavy CH 53 helicopter had to apply full power at takeoff, beating the loose snow on the ground into a Mini-Blizzard that cut off all sight for a few moments. When the view became better again it did not improve the mood of Paul Müller. The Paratrooper Sergeant was tasked with securing the LZ in northern Norsca during the Evac of the Sami and while he scanned the horizon he could see that the black line on the horizon was getting higher and closer.
He looked around for the leader of the Nomads and then jogged to him as fast as his heavy protective clothing and armor allowed.

“Abrran, looks like the last heli went out well and will reach the ship before the storm closes in, but this was definitively the last one before the storm blows itself out.”
“I am already happy that this one went out, these were the last Ren. We men can wait until the storm dies surely.”
“Still I would have preferred to fly the humans out first.”
“I get you Mr. Müller, but this is our way and these were the last living Ren on this world except for some in your Zoos-they would not be valid in some generations anymore.”
“I know. Ok, we should get to that cave of yours before the storm is in.”
“Yes. Look sergeant I am sorry about that, but at least we can show you the hospitality of the Sami. There are worse ways to spend Christmas.”
“Thanks, I am looking forward to that.”
The Paratrooper brought up the rear of the group that moved towards the cliff that loomed in front of them. At the cliffs base a dark spot indicated the entrance to a series if caves that tunneled the rocky plateau that rose of the snow-bound plain. Neither the German soldiers nor the nomads had explored the system fully and none intended to. They were just interested in taking cover from the approaching blizzard that threatened to bury them all under snow.

Glienecker Brücke (Glienecker Bridge), evening

The Bridge spanned a part of the Havel that was called the “Tiefer See” the deep Lake. From the pedestrians walkway on the side of the bridge the waters looked black, cold and foreboding. The women standing at the rail had chosen this spot because of these very features, she did not want her decision to be an easy one.
Christmas is for most people a time of rest, of joy and where rifts in relationships are at least temporarily bridged. That Christmas were a time for joy is hardwired into most humans born into western civilization and most feel it up to a point.
But if for whatever reason Christmas is not a time for such joy it hits doubly hard, turning regret into despair and sorrow into depression.

Christmas is also the high season for suicides.

The woman looked into the cold waters that flowed under the bridge and saw a nasty death of hypothermia and drowning. It would not be an easy death and she shuddered at the thought. She was moderately afraid of heights and the dark below gave her the shivers. She had already turned and started on her way back when she saw the Christmas illumination that adorned the bridge. It triggered the memory of the children`s faces again and she started the way back to the edge again.
She was not slowing down when it came to climbing the rails and was about to gain leverage for the jump when a hand clamped about her right shoulder.
She was so surprised that she gave an involuntary shriek.
She was pulled backwards from the edge and the owner of that hand did not stop till she was as far away from the handrail as the pedestrian walk allowed and he had positioned himself between her and the water.
The woman looked at an 40-something man with few hairs, a beard and broad shoulders who looked her in the face.

“Don`t-whatever it is, this is not the solution.”
“What-what do you think you know?”
“You were about to jump-and it is not worth it.”
“You have no idea...”
“No, I do not have. Make me understand.”
“As if...who are you anyway.”
“Ralf Winkler, at your service. And you might be?”
“That is a joke right....oh it is really you”
“I think I should have missed that photo shoot-or I should have killed that Dwarf, I do not need this. No matter-what matters here is you and what you were about to do.”
“And what do you suggest to do now?”
“I see this working out in two ways: One is that I call the police. You will likely spend this night in some locked room under observation and have a talk with a doctor next morning.
The other is that we sit down at a better place than this and you tell me what makes you kill yourself. After that we go our own ways. So what is it going to be?”

The ride in the car back to the Charite was practically in silence where both Germans were holding to their own thoughts. An hour later saw them at a not-very much used room at the Charite` that had been a Chapel in a time long gone. It had been assigned to Ralf and the 4 other holders of Shallya`s amulet and was used by them as a shrine to their goddess. A small statue of Shallya occupied the back niece of the room.

“So this is where you do your “magic” Herr Winkler.”
“No, we work in the operation rooms that the Charite` provides under the supervision of the senior physician. This is the place where we restore ourselves.”
“So you are a believer in this-whatever”
“I am not a believer in very much and I do not have to have faith. About 3 hours ago I did not even know that you exist and would not have found my way to the Glienecker bridge without a lot of work with a map-I was led there it seems.”
“Indeed, uh. And now I really would like to know who you are and why you choose the long jump.”
“I am Marion Heinitz, and I work as resident doctor at the Sonnenhof”
The medic lost both a part of his composure and color while he felt primeval ice running down his spine. So far he had not been sure what the problem was but hoped like most suicide attempts it was not overwhelming. he knew all too much.

If at the end of his life somebody wants to die in peace and without much pain and not be prodded, poked and tested till the last breath he can do so in a hospice. These houses do not look like a hospital and nobody tries to cure what cannot be cured, instead there is excellent palliative care-meaning the doctors take the pain away. Hospices are good places to die.
Some are more specialized. Like other of its kind the Sonnenhof offered the services of a hospice to the young.
It is a place where children go to die.

“I can see the name tells you something Herr Winkler.”
“Yes, indeed it does. I have to salute you Frau Heinitz-I could not work at this place for a day, let alone longer.”
“Ha-if that stupid movie has you to rights you have been at bloody battles and had to fight for you and your patients. And you tell me you could not...”
“Mylady, Papenburg and Hag Graef were places where I could just lose my life. Your place is worse-it kills all hope. That I could not stand”
“Neither can I.”
“However long you have worked there it is long enough then. If you are in a ships rigging you have to give one hand to the ship and one for yourself. You seem to forget that part.”
“I cannot.”
“You cannot go on-you are literally killing yourself. Job is done with honor, look for another.”
“I cannot-stop looking at me like that. This task is important, I can do it-I could do it-but it became so important to me that it took everything else. No friends-no husband-no family that wants to see me, no hobby, just job: that is me. An hour that I do not do my job is a wasted hour, the children need me. I am really good at working with them-I can make the pain go away, always and not kill them before their time-much.
This is what I am, this is what I do. Take it away and there is nothing left. And now I cannot stop-and I cannot stand it. What am I to do?”

“Oh sweet Mother...what can I say-what can anybody. I can only share my experiences, if that helps....When I was still a medic I kept a ledger-red circles meant the patient lived-black crosses mean he died. Most of us had one. You need a different one obviously.
Yet, we lost patients often enough. Of course none of us wanted to admit that this hurts-we were all strong macho men, and stupid to boot. And still we went through the cases afterward to make sure we did not fuck up
Were we as fast as we could?.
Did we diagnose correctly?
Were all procedures followed?
Did we check often enough to see what changed?
If the answers were the right ones we could look at ourselves and say we did it right, it was not meant to be. A couple glasses of Glenfiddich also helped but even we knew that too many were a bad idea.
I am pretty sure you could answer all the questions right-what I do not know if it makes things better.
“Yes, I do diagnose right and I follow the bloody procedures-and it makes so few difference.”
“I am very sure it makes a big difference-or you would not be here. So what is it?”

“That close to Christmas most guests-I mean the children are home, but some are still at the Sonnenhof as they could die any minute and the parents cannot give sufficient care. And this bloody year we have 5 children all with Leukemia-they are like little angels-they just get quieter every day and then they die. I cannot stand the thought of them dying-and I cannot treat them.”
“That is bad but I would like to show you something, I`ll be back in a few minutes, please stay for that long. And I think you need that.” Leaving the sobbing doctor a pack of paper towels the medic went outside. When he was back Marion sat where he had placed her but watched the statue of Shallya. Ralf was tempted to leave her as he knew the rest that the goddess could bring, but there were things to do...

“Hi Marion, I am back, sorry to disturb you. And no fear-you can come back whenever you like and bring whom you think needs this place. But before I want you to look at this.”
The medic handed a petri dish to the doctor, which showed a cross of black dots across the pink surface of the agar.
“What is the meaning of that Herr Winkler?”
And he told her. And told some more-and then he picked his mobile.
“Mother Herad-yes it is me, Brother Ralf. Can you come to the Chapel please and bring the others?-Thanks.”
“Hi dear-it`s me. I know no good way to say it, so right away: I think I just wrecked our plans for Christmas. Could you come up for a moment please?”

Norsca, same time

Jasud Irrland was striding through the howling storm as if it did not exist. While he could see nothing but darkness with bits and pieces of white in it, it did not mean he was blind to the world, he was just using other senses.
The souls of lesser beings were just blips on his radar, their emotions coloring his sight and tickling his tastes.
He was clad in armor of the finest mesh, of the most intricate set of carapace armor that could be forged and decorated by grand designs. His sword had been cut from a crystal that had been made to serve as a blade by sheerest sorcery. He did not brave the blizzard alone but marched ahead of his band.
A mixed band it was but he had taken quite a while and effort to form it. On the expendable outskirts were Marauders of Norsca. Notably strong and resilient even in an environment that asked for such attributes to survive they had found that their needs and tastes exceeded even the elastic bounds of their society and had gravitated into his circle. Witches that needed protection and tutelage made magic do for them what nature could not do to protect them from the cold that cut to their bones.

Former Knights from the old world who in their quest for perfection had gone down the wrong path-or the right one depending on whom you ask formed the hard core of his band. He had searched for visions that would guide his future path for improvements. After an eternity of fasting, meditating and partaking in rituals that would seem like boundless orgies of lust and pain he had been shown a place. A place of power, of a gate into countless possibilities, a gate that might bring him so very close to his ultimate Lord.
It had taken a considerable part of his considerable wealth and the lives of many followers but now he was finally close to the source of his perfection. He could already feel the latent power of this place, the siren call of promise and the cold lure of challenge.
And from what he could sense Slaanesh had already seen fit to provide for the necessary sacrifices
Inside the Caves Paul Müller made his rounds to check on his Platoon. Making sure that everybody knew his tasks and that everybody was supplied was second nature to him by now. The central cave that the Sami and their saviors were using had easily the size and proportions of a Cathedral. They had used the largest cave mostly for their Ren when the storms became too harsh even for the hardy animals. Now it was occupied by a mix of the not-yet-evaced Nomads, German Paratroopers and Marines plus a couple of boatloads of their own Norsca Marauders who looked like the mean version of Conan the Barbarian.
Stepping forward he walked up to Jens Johannsen who was resting at a wall with a Laptop on his knees. His face showed the rapidly changing colors of a video game.

“Still playing “Dawn of War?”
“Hi Sarge. Yes, this old crate will not play anything more recent and a poor warrant like me cannot afford a new Siemens Laptop for just 3990,- Euro.”
“You could sell your collection.”
“Ha, I should have never talked about it. But even 4500 points worth of Space Wolves will not buy a new computer these days. Besides which-do you have any idea how long it took me to paint them?”
“No, probably too long if I’d try. You have 20 more minutes to play, then take your Squad to the caves entrance and relive Meier.”
“Will do Sarge”

Going forward through the cave he was approached by another Paratrooper who waved him over. “Sarge, have a look at this.”
“What the fuck…”
“Exactly my thoughts.” Both men were looking at a veritable labyrinth of very precise, very shallow grooves in the floor that terminated in a small hole in the middle.”
“The Lapps did not mention something like this before.”
“Don`t call them Lapps, ok? They do not like it. Apart from that I think the bleeding Ren thawed that out-they slept here last night.”
“Ok, I`ll ask around if somebody noticed it. But the La..Sami were here for quite a while and nothing happened so I think it is safe for two more nights. But clear all equipment from this..thing and have nobody step on it.”

Going on into a smaller cave at the side of the main one he was confronted by two burly Marauders bearing shields and swords.
“I want to see the Captain.”
“Wait Soldier”
“Let the man through you louts, can`t you see it is our dear Feldwebel?”

Inside the smaller cave he was greeted by a woman about his height. Her furs covered most of her body but Paul Müller knew they hid a rapier-slender figure with muscles like steel cables. She had half the mass of most her warriors and was at least twice as deadly. Her raven-haired beauty was diminished by several scars, ritual and otherwise and hygiene habits that was large on spreading a lot of fat on skin for protection and bad on removing it when it reached the “ripe” stadium.

“Well met Silv. As you predicted the storm closed in after the last helicopter lifted. We will have to wait until the storm blows itself out.”
“No skin of my nose Feldwebel-easiest earned 500 Euros in my life”
“Good you see it that way. I have posted sentries on the main entrance and on the two tunnels into the mountain but we are spread a little bit thin. Would you care to reinforce?”
“Nothing but the best for my favorite Feldwebel-I will send some groups.”
"My men have found some runnels in the ground in the center of the cave, you know anything about it?"
"No, we usually do not use these caves. I`ll have a look later."

“Thanks. Are you set up well for food?”
“Yes, we are still fine. But I hear you still have some chocolate?”
“Ha, thought you would mention it. As the weather guys predicted the storm some nice guy packed us a Christmas pack. Yes, we will share it a bit.”
“Ah Christmas-the feast of giving gifts, eating too sweet food, drink mulled wine and exchange gifts.”
“More or less-how did you know.”
“My fleet visited the Christmas Market in Lübeck last year.”
“Ok, now I understand how you got your ideas about Christmas. What did you do there?”
“They sell our shrimshaws”
“Ah, get it.”
“Thanks for the offer to join. By the way the new sleeping sacks you brought are really good – I thought I sleep in summer. And you have space for two, so if it comes to sharing you are invited.”
“Err-I`d be honored.” The hand that slammed into his shoulder felt like cut from iron hard wood.

“You are all right soldier boy. See you later.”

On his way back to the main cave Paul mused on the mix of good and bad luck that had hit the Sami after their transport to the Warhammer World. The Sami had been taken at the same time than Germany and transported to a comparatively empty section of Norsca.
Their nomadic ways had allowed them and their animals to survive while coming to grips with their new world. Their satellite phones did not work of course but one of their older Radios was able to pick up long-wave transmissions from Germany which gave them at least an idea about their situation. It was hardly surprising
The first Norscans to stumble upon them were of the Skraeling Clan which was very fortunate as they had already learned the lesson not to fight the strange newcomers without excellent reason. Actually their Hetdrottning Ylva Ormsdottir had contacted the Germans as fast as she could.
Unfortunately “as quickly as they could” meant that messengers had to travel to the Hetdrottning`s fortress, then somebody had to be send to Germany-and they had to provide proof of what they told. All in that took significant time.
Even when their message had been heard the Germans had to send a fleet to pick them up.
They had dispatched 3 Frigates, a Replenishment ship, the troop transport “Papenburg” of Hag Graef fame and a livestock transport ship-the latter to transport the Ren with the Sami were unwilling to leave.
Until the Germans could get to the Nomads the Skraelings had provided security for the Sami-at a price of course.

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Re: An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-19 04:38am

Haus Sonnenhof, Berlin

The Hospice was very nice inside and probably quite beautiful if you were a child. The walls were kept in warm yellows and lots of wooden furniture gave an impression of Ikea. Toys were scattered through the house as were pictures for any by the Children who were residents here. None of this in any way resembled the normal atmosphere of a hospital, quite deliberatively so.
The small group that moved through the rooms were moving slowly and quietly as one would do in a church while the doctor leading them was moving as if in a daze.
They entered a small conference room that was more businesslike and that contained several adults that looked at the group with a mixture of hope, disbelief and dread. By prior agreement Raf Winkler moved to the head of the table and opened the talks.

“Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks for seeing us so late in the evening at such short notice.”
A middle aged woman with deep lines in her face was quick to jump in. “As if we could decline if what you offer is true”
“We do not know yet if we can offer help to your Children, but we can certainly try.”
Another distraught parent raised his hand. “Many of us have spent heaps of money on mages, none could do anything, in some cases it made things worse. What makes you different?”
“While there are some mages that have the power to influence even these conditions they are very few and usually very deep in their studies. Others are connected to Chaos and their cure is worse than the illness. We have already proven that we are able to heal, we just have never tried the procedure that we propose on humans. It has worked in vitro and on animals, but as many a cancer researcher rightly will tell you that is not a guarantee that it will work in humans. Our knowledge of the human body is superior to any other mage you might ask. We want to heal by using a path that has been proposed my medical science for some time now, but so far nobody found a way to initiate it by purely mundane means.
We do not ask for money, and what we have in mind will neither hurt you children, nor is there a grave danger for your children-we just cannot promise you healing, we can just try. The question is: Do you trust us enough to give your children that chance? If there are no more questions, I suggest we leave you for a moment and then you tell us you decisions.”

They got their decision 15 minutes later, it was no real surprise. It took much longer to print the necessary forms and have them signed. The 5 looked at each other and while they never voiced the question the felt the heavy responsibility that had just descended upon them.
The still prepared for what they felt necessary, but only very few words were exchanged.

Close to the entrance into the cave, Norsca, a little later

Gromulk was looking at the snow that was pushed by him nearly vertically. His doubted that he could see anything past 2 meters or so and hearing anything above the howling wind was simply impossible. While he prided himself that he could endure the cold better than the German who was on the other side of the caves entrance he had stopped feeling anything in his toes a while ago and could keep his fingers from doing the same by flexing them continually.
Looking around again he thought he saw something moving but nothing definitive-more like some snowflakes not falling where they should than anything identifiable when suddenly a line of red crossed the Germans neck and his head fell forward. He was still trying to make sense of that picture and his cold hand was moving towards the sword pommel when the ice cold tip of something entered his jaw from below. Whatever it was, it nailed his tongue against his palate and went into his brain before he could issue a warning.

Jens Johannsen was back inside the tunnel a few meters behind the caves entrance when a number of lightly armored figures sprinted through the opening without any warning. He was still wrapping his mind about this and pulled up his assault rifle when several of his Marauders jumped into the way of the attackers.
The first two went down as quickly as they got into the way of the assault as they had neither time nor space to parry the strikes aimed at them, but the second pair was more successful. Using their shields and swords mostly to keep themselves from being killed and retreated to avoid being overwhelmed. Even backpedaling and mostly parrying they bought the time needed for the paratrooper to get his rifle to the shoulder and open fire. Shooting between the two Norscans he fired single shots in best Paratrooper tradition-ammo is always more precious if you haul all of it yourself-he was hitting with every shot and the bullets penetrated deep enough to wound other targets behind the first hits. The G-62 rifle allowed for very rapid shooting as the muzzle did not rise too much and the report which was stunningly loud in the tunnel alarmed the other Germans and their charges that something was up.

Walking backwards to keep the same distance to his swordsmen he managed to change the first magazine without ever losing the sight of his targets. Fur-clad barbarians threw themselves forward with over the dead bodies of their comrades and they as fast as he could pull the trigger. One of them was too strong, too macho and too drugged on his own endorphins to realize that the bullet that had penetrated his huge chest would kill him. He half-jumped half fell past a Norscan sword and put his own axe into the inside of the defenders leg. The pulsating spurt of blood told everybody that death was imminent and the Swordsmen threw himself into his enemies in turn.
The second barbarian was soon outflanked even with the culling that Johannsen applied to the attackers and fell to a sword that penetrated into his left side. There was nothing between the German and the attackers-but for his rifle. Now that the defenders were out of the way the paratrooper pulled the second trigger on his rifle. The muted thump of the Grenade launcher was hardly noticeable-the explosion in the attackers midst could hardly be ignored. The paratrooper used the respite he had been given and ran down the tunnel as fast as he could and entered the great cave in which the Germans and Norsca were preparing to defend themselves.

Turning around to direct more shots at the attackers he did not see the mosaic on the ground and walked right through it. Targeting the attackers that emerged from the tunnel he never saw the thrown axe that went at his forehead just under his Helmet-he just dropped to the ground. The axe had opened his skull but not killed him right away. He was just unconscious while he bled out through his head wound while around him the battle commenced.
The blood which came from his head wounds so freely went into the runnels were it filled channel by channel, always flowing forward and coloring the symbol red. When it finally reached the middle a little bit went into the tiny hole cut into the ground there.

It was met by sensors so fine and so sophisticated that German scientists who dug them out ignored them for a long time. A computer that would max a couple of Turing tests were it designed to have the capability to communicate with words took in the available data-and decided that it was time to act.
The machine it started was like an iceberg, only 10% were visible. The part the Germans dug out years later was the size of an office tower-that were the 10%, the other 90% were in the warp. It started to pull in a bubble it had stabilized in the warp for a VERY long time.
Getting the bubble and its inhabitant from the realm of the might-have-been to a more solid environment made it bleed energy into what humans called reality.

Haus Sonnenhof, Berlin

The child lay on its Bed and had a beautiful stuffed bear in its arm-which did not keep it from looking frightened at the old crone that bend over it. It had a skin white and as translucent as bone china. It was very slender and the lack of hair indicated the aggressive chemo therapy that had ultimately failed. “Mama said you will not hurt me.”
“And we will not. You will just dream for a while and there will be good dreams-that I can promise.”
“When they put me to sleep I was always sick when I woke up.”
“Not this time. If..when you wake up you might be weak but you will be fine.”
The wrinkled hand that rested on her brow had looked to her a little bit like a spider but it was warm and tender. She did not even hear the “Hush now, Child” as she was fast asleep.
“Shall we, brethren?”
The 4 figures that entered the room made a circle around the bed and put their hands on the beds rails. It steadied them when their eyes misted over and their minds went elsewhere. If they would have observers they could have seen the outline of something that hovered above the child but could only be described like the shimmer of heat waves.
The minds of the 5 had been fused into a “Gestalt” a singular mind whose capabilities exceeded the capabilities of each of them by far. Using their amulets like small straws put into a drink they took energy out of the warp to do what needed to be done.

This universe obeys laws doesn`t it? Drop a stone and it will fall, put voltage into a wire and it will heat to the point where it gives off light, put a hot stone into cold water and it will cool-always. Very reliable, very soothing these rules. If you like this state of affairs-do not look too closely or the illusion will spoil. The billions upon billions of molecules that make up a stone will be moves by gravity-yes. But what a single atom will do is far less certain and in no way will it always do the same thing. The single atoms or their components behave as they wont and they certainly do not like observation. Try to pin them down and they will perform impressive feats to keep you from doing so. Even more interesting is that observing them changes their behavior.

What the Gestalt did was looking at the mass of particles in a certain way which made them take the paths that were more unlikely, but not impossible. Where added energy was required to go these paths it was provided by the warp through the five.
And so the Gestalt had a look at the small body below it and searched for the source of the trouble and compared its findings against the new found store of knowledge. Things were indeed more or less as expected-time to change them.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-19 04:39am

Cave, Norsca

The flash of light that emerged from the mosaic in floor preceded a heat wave that seared those who were too close. It was accompanied by lightning that struck the walls and the ceiling of the cave at seemingly random points. The smell of Ozone wafted through the cave.
Those of the humans who had been too close to the mosaic were badly burned. This concerned the attackers more that the defenders as those already had tried to avoid the array and at least the Germans had been looking for a little distance from the attackers.
The area described by the blood-filled runnels vanished under a dome of eldritch lights and multicolored lightning. Defenders and attackers alike looked at it in awe; the fight was forgotten for a moment.

Inside the dome the center of the mosaic was empty one second-and had a huge armored figure laying on its back the next. Bewildered it looked around as for the first time in such a long time it had sensations-gravity was fixing him to the floor, cold air rushed in his lungs and his eyes were assaulted by rapidly changing bright light effects.
Turing his head to the side he saw the figure of a freshly slain human besides him. Overwhelmed by sensation and lacking the memories to work on them correctly his hardwired instincts took over. As if on its own violation his right hand –his heavily armored right hand reached for the skull of the fallen warrior and scooped up the greyish-pink matter that emerged from the wound.
Gorging the warm bloody mass down he reached for more and after breaking open the brainpan with one hand removed the rest of brain. Wolfing down the matter did not just bring sustenance to him- the RNA and certain long-chain polymers were met by a specialized organ that analyzed them, making some of the memories of its former owner available to the being.
Simply moving the limbs and looking around fired up neurons that had not been used for eons and standing up, at first a slow process speeded up considerably. Hands that he nearly forgotten to have grabbed weapons crafted by the being itself-devices that he could not name at present.
When he was up the dome of lightning disappeared and he found himself in a huge cave that was lined with humans on both sides. On the one side a diverse group of humans prepared their meagre defenses: Mail-armored barbarians nocked arrows and readied swords and shields. Others were cladded much more like the warriors he remembered from somewhere, carrying strange-looking autoguns and were clad in a mixture of carapace armor and softer stuff.
On the other side there were many more warriors-more fur-clad barbarians were mixed up with finely-armored knights of obvious skill. All of them seemed like fine fighters and aggressive to boot. What was not so easy to discern was that the Chaos affliction of the attackers. But instincts so deeply honed that even forgetting one’s own name could not bury placed them right is that camp.
The being had never been accused of overthinking things, quite to the contrary. Now that there were still so few thoughts it was doubly true. Based on its instincts the being roared a challenge to the world-to any world and went into attack.

Paul Müller had gone from sleepy to alarmed to desperate to incredulous in the space of less than 5 minutes. The sudden assault of a large band of Chaos warriors in the middle of a Blizzard had come as a nasty surprise and but for the desperate defense of his warrant and the Norsca it would have been a massacre. Even with the warning the situation was not good. He could not estimate the enemy`s numbers but from the fact that the stream of attackers through the caves entrance was unabated hinted at a considerable warband.
The simple truth was that he had not enough ammunition and the skraeling mercenaries not enough bodies to stem this tide. If the Chaos Warriors would not break soon from the loses that his men dished out that he would not live to see Christmas.
While he still tried to position his men better “it” had happened. A fireworks of sorts had taken the center of the cave and had annihilated a part of the attackers and few of the Norscans who had interposed themselves between the paratroopers and the attackers.
When the dome of light had vanished it had revealed the most astonishing sight.

A huge figure stood in the middle of the circle. At least as big as a grizzly bear its head was crowned by a shock of white hair that was partially braided and a long white beard that hung on an enormous chest. Grey eyes as cold as the storm outside rapidly moved in an attempt to take the situation in. The craggy face was marred by two long fangs that emerged from the upper jaw. The colossal body was clad in a grey and black armor that covered everything but for the head. The back was hidden by a pelt that looked like it came from a wolf-provide that wolves got to horses size. In the warriors hands were a long boxy looking rifle that was close to the size of a heavy machine gun and something that looked like a cross between a sword and a chainsaw.

Before the Sergeant could wrap his mind around the sight the figure tilted his head back and issued a cry that was part man, part wolf and all challenge and then pounced. Storming forward with seemingly no thought for cover he lifted his rifle one handed and fired a long burst into the Chaos band. The targets ruptured in ways that hinted at explosive ammo of considerable strength. Even the scores of warriors taken by the salvo paled against the impact of the giant into the enemy`s ranks. The blade wielded by the newcomer screamed nearly as loud as its victims and the fast rotating teeth chewed though armor, flesh and blood with equal ease. Splattered by blood and gore the giant ripped through the Chaos warrior like a chainsaw through balsa. Still other Chaos warriors tried to get into the back of the new ally and to pounce there.
Time to stop gawking and to start acting like a soldier again.

“What do you need folks-a written invitation to the party? Meier-form a base of fire from the right, the rest-follow me. Running forward into the melee was not in any tactical manual that Paul had so far read, but if they wanted to support their new ally it seemed the only possibility.
Stopping few meters from the free-for all in front of him he lifted his rifle up and acquired targets as fast as he could made them through his reflex sight. The red dot that seemed to hover in front of his eyes settled on helmeted skulls, armored chests and flailing limbs and wherever it settled hot lead followed. The first magazine went through with terrible speed and the second was not much better. Yet, together with some others he managed to keep the enemy from flanking the armored warrior. The next magazine lasted longer as the enemy became few on the ground. By now the giant that decimated the Chaos warriors so adroitly pushed into the tunnel leading to the outside. Easily enough for 6 men side by side the tunnel was just wide enough for the warrior to swing his huge sword. Many of the missiles that were hurled at him were strangely deflected before they ever hit him and the few that connected with his armor did no discernible damage.

Emerging from the tunnel into the free space the Paratrooper realized a break in storm that allowed the armored giant to carry forward his assault on the chaos band. The visibility beyond 10 meters or so was nil and so it became difficult to fight as a cohesive unit. Emptying his next magazine Paul found himself behind the giant as a Chaos Knight performed an impressive somersault which brought him on top of the giants shoulders and lifted his axe for a strike. Paul`s 3 round burst removed him before anything could come from it, but the bolt that stopped at the back position of its travel told the story of an empty magazine.

His hand was on its way to leave the rifle for a reload when the snow parted to reveal a new Warrior. Bigger by the paratrooper by a head and covered by heaps of iron hard muscles he had a grin on his face when he lifted his huge axe to stove in the German`s head. Pushing forward from his right knee as if starting a sprint from a block Paul thrust the rifle below the warriors guard. His bayonet pierced the stomach at the Solar Plexus, ending breathing and life immediately. What made the soldier drop and turn he could never say, but he relinquished his rifle in time to avoid the sword stroke by a thumbs breath. Kicking with both legs he threw his attacker backwards for the few seconds he needed to draw his pistol and shoot the attacker 3 times in the center of mass. The rest of the pistols magazine illuminated the nightmare that the fight had become long enough to show where his bullets had fallen. Having achieved more space the paratrooper retrieved his rifle by putting his right foot on the chest of the fallen Champion and pulling the bayonet out.

When the rifle was reloaded he looked around to see that the enemy had either been killed or fled into the white hell that surrounded the fight. Only on one side could he hear the sounds of fighting and even there it seemed that there was only a small fight.
Walking over he found Silv in a duel with an armored figure who wielded what seemed to be a sword made of glass. When this sword made contact with one of silv`s swords and loped off a few centimeters of steel he could see the danger posed by the extraordinary weapon. Shouldering his rifle he waited for an opening between the two combatants. He had to stifle an involuntary yelp when a huge armored glove laid itself on his shoulder. Craning around he saw the giant who watched the fight with interest and who wished no intervention.
Paul could not fathom such idiocy which in his mind had no place on a battlefield, but he knew already that Silv`s people saw things differently-and so obviously did their visitor. Still in the face off such an obviously superior sword and the better armor sported by Silv`s enemy it seemed hardly fair. Silv had to parry the sword strikes aimed at her by the flats of her blades as anything else threatened to destroy them. The thrusts by the Chaos Champion she had to avoid by a combination of parrying and quick evasions, something she did with nearly supernatural speed. Still it seemed she had no room for a single misstep and if her stamina should falter she would be killed surely.
The Chaos warrior pushed forward for all he was worth hoping to exhaust her soon and to take at least one more life, if possible with impeccable style and could see the first result of that tactic.

Silvs breath became ever deeper and faster and despite the intense cold sweat flex from her head when she moved quickly. This could not go on for long-and did not. Evading the next thrust she threw herself flat with her legs towards her enemy. Scissoring them around his ankles brought the warrior to the ground with her where he was greeted by an upraised sword.

Covered with blood Silv climbed unsteadily to her feet and was about to raise her arms in triumph when she was confronted by the Giant who stood before her. Bending downwards like a bear who sniff his newest catch his nostril flared when he sniffed at whatever he could smell of the Norscan warrior in the middle of a storm.
It was rather obvious that whatever he smelled was not to his liking when he lifted his huge sword and thumbed the activator. Given the giants relentless assault on the Chaos Warband Paul had to assume that like all Norscans Silv been touched by the warp in some way and this touched the giants sensitivities. Still, a bond forged in combat is not easily thrown off and Silv was a part of his command, however contemporary.

Paul Müller moved between the Norscan hetwoman and the giant in an effort to cool things off and found that he confronted an armored human wielding a sword probably his weight with a bayonet that could maybe scratch the paint on the armor. A look into the giants eyes showed that he could no longer step out of this. No matter how much his legs wanted to give or that he wanted to avoid the contact with these piercing eyes he had to stand his ground as the consequences could exceed his and Silv`s lives.
For an eternal second the oh-so normal human and the huge augmented giant confronted each other, then the giant threw back his head and started to laugh heartily. His hand nearly dislocated the paratroopers shoulder when he cuffed him and nobody could understand his speech but he seemed amused-and satisfied with his company.

Paul thought it was time to establish at least some contact and crossed his right arm in front of his chest. Enunciating carefully he declared himself: “Paul Müller”
He saw the confusion in the giants face who seemed to have problems in reciprocating. The giant made the same gesture – and could not speak. Confusion, aggression and despair went through the face like clouds in a storm. Then the eyes found the symbol of a wolf`s head on his vambrance and his own memories dug up by combat fused with the information taken from Jens Johansens brain.
Pushing the arm outwards again and punching it at his own breast with the solid sound of a safes door closing he looked Paul Müller in the eye when he declared “Leman Russ”

Haus Sonnenhof, Berlin roughly same time

The Gestalt formed of the 5 healers had a “look” at the first child. He senses they gained when the worked together like this showed them what had been clear before. Cells that should have produced red blood cells did not do their job, instead more and more white ones were made. While they were great for combatting infections they did not transport oxygen or carbon dioxide-therefore the children were about to die a long comparatively painless death.
The Gestalt saw all of that and had gained the knowledge that allowed him to interpret his findings against the regular bodily functions-and not only to see, but to do.

Some of the countless lessons the medic had crammed into his head had been about apoptosis, the process by which damaged cells learn that they are no longer functional and commit “suicide”. This was an important process that took place in about 50 billion cells in a human body-a day. If this process was disturbed cancer often results.
And so the former medic had asked for cultures of skin cells with and without cancerous growths for testing-and after a little experimentation was able to differentiate both. It had taken some more of his rare spare time to ask the cells without apoptosis to die now-nicely and without taking the healthy cells with them. After some nasty failures he had mastered even that and the petri dish had been the first proof of that they had made inroads to the process. The next step had been a couple of knock-out mice who were gene-manipulated into getting cancer. The first two had died before their time, but by now they were pretty good in killing the growths while leaving the host alive.
All of that had been looked at by the medical staff and the doctors who were responsible for them with mild interest. By now most cancers could be treated by more conventional means and for now the route was “keep up the good work in nerve regeneration. This thing needs much more research and it will get in the way of what you already do.”
Having shelved that project for the time being it had been resurrected by a desperate doctor and healers who did their best.

After making certain that the child in front of them suffered from leukemia indeed the 5 went after those cells who had forgotten that there is a limit to multiplication. In the end it was a matter of giving these cells the information: you are beyond the pale, be nice cells and suicide. Identifying these cells was not difficult, finding the molecular switches that were no longer functioning and switching them on to make it so child`s play-copying it roughly a hundred million times was not.
Still the Gestalt composed by the minds of five was more than the components, so much more. Starting like a small glowing ember the change ran through the child`s body like a fire. The advantage of using this path of going after cancer was that the cells would not just suicide but dispose of themselves in natural ways. Stimulating the surviving marrow cells to multiply within reason and produce as much red blood cells as possible capped their work-on this patient.

The apparent success of the first treatment had bolstered the confidence of the healers and their treatment of the next was less hesitant and more straightforward. It was during the next patient that the Gestalt slowed-the treatment was taxing to the minds and bodies of the healers. While the Gestalt had no body of its own it felt the great strain placed on its component bodies. The awareness that this would be the last patient they could treat tonight gained hold of the Gestalt-and even that would be a chore. Still every one of the healers did their best and refused to give up in the struggle.

They had all experienced it before-the strain of never ending shifts when an epidemic struck, the fire in the lower back from an hours-long CPR on a patient they refused to give up, the holding of concentration necessary to work a spell for far longer than one thought they could.They had been there and they woukd not give up.

Bit by bit they held on and the treatment worked again-and then it became easier. The amulets gave more energy for far less coaxing and their minds held the necessary pose with seeming ease. The sky was suddenly the limit and it was clear that the patients they had set themselves to heal would be just a beginning.

Christine Winkler watched the 5 at work with a mixture of awe, gratitude and trepidation. What these did was taking her husband away than she liked and it had opened a universe to him to which she had no admittance. Ralf did his level best to cushion the impact of that but she saw his under the twin strains of doing something few others could and keeping her-and hi-happy.
He did his best and together with what she did it worked. But she always feared that whatever her husband there did could be dangerous. When he had told her what they were about to do she had made less a fuss than he had feared and when she insisted to accompany them nobody had raised objections. She had been watching the healing together with doctor Heinitz, who checked on the patients who had been finished by the Shallya healers. Unable to ascertain that the cancer had indeed been banished on the quick she could at least make sure they were no worse off than before.
Nobody but Christine watched over the healers themselves. That they were under great strain was obvious-if they were really badly off was a different matter. She had been warned not to touch any of them so not to disturb the concentration but something bothered her. Bringing the back of her hand close to her husband`s brow she was aghast at the radiated heat.

“Doktor, do you have an infrared thermometer handy?”
“Yes, left lowest cupboard, why?”
Taking the pistol-like instrument out and shining it into her husbands before answering she read off the display. “Because Ralf is at nearly 42 degree-and it seems to rise”
“What-how can that be.”
“He told me that he saw an elven mage die like that-overheating as he handled more power than he safely could-we have to break this off-now.”
Gripping shoulder and upper arm of her husband she pulled his hand from the grip of other Heard. The shimmer that had hovered through the room disappeared at once and the eyes of all 5 focused again-in some cases showed something else then white.
“What-why did you break us up we were about to..” Ralf Winkler was far heavier than his wife could hold up, but she could cushion the fall to the ground so he did not injure himself further.

“Seems like Brother Ralf still has problems not to put more power into healing than he should” The voice of Mother Herad rasped like she had not drunken anything for days.
“Look who does the talking” the answer of Serena sounded like dried leaves turned by skeletal hands. “We need to cool down-and not just Ralf. And we need Glucose-quickly.”
Doctor Heinitz and some of her staff relearned the joys of moving very very quickly to save a patient-when you have a decent chance.

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An ISOT in Grimdark/Warhammer Fantasy

Postby Mechman » 2015-08-19 04:43am

Inside Cave, Norsca, close to local noon on Christmas Eve

The German-made sleeping sack had all the bells and whistles, a Gore-Tex liner kept the inside dry, hollowfibre stuffing made sure that insulation was good and kept that way even if it got wet despite the Gore-tex. It could also be coupled with a similar one into a really big one.
The raven-haired head that plopped out of the bag into the open of the cave had the hairdo of a mop and the grin of a cat which has just come out of a goldfish glass. “Now that was pretty amazing soldier boy, you really have to show me what you did there.”
“Later Sliv, later. Yes, go ahead, call me wimpy and decadent if you like.”
“You are…no, I`ll take that back.”
Paul Müller extracted himself from the sleeping bag, showing the confidence that having survived a long and nasty fight and having laid a beautiful woman will bring. He was aware that this was not so very clever for many reasons, but the unspent adrenaline had needed a relief. So when he and Silv found that after making sure all the wounded were taken care of had found a quiet corner for their sleeping sacks and a round of two what could best be described as sex between predators.

Getting back to the main cave-and making sure that they arrived 30 seconds distant from each other they found that the preparations for the day were well enough along. The Sami had come back from their part of the caves and they decorated at least a part of the main cave together with some paratroopers. Is was not much, but at least candles were not in short supply and the some enterprising souls were using their gas cookers to convert the diverse supplies of the Sami and Norsca plus the German EPA into something you wanted to remember having eaten.
Their “Guest of Honor” vacillated between looking at the preparations for the evening with amusement and writing down …things into the ice at his feet with a knife before erasing them again. It was no surprise that he got lots of breathing space around him.
The lunch and dinner of this evening went into each other and the beer that had been flown from the German ships mixed with Meade provided by the Norscans. There was singing-but most was not for general consumption, it was a good thing no children were around.
Everybody looked in awe when the Space Wolf emptied a German 5 liter keg of beer in one go-and flinched when his belch broke records for sound. Nobody could speak to the Giant, even when some of his words were tantalizingly close to the Scandinavian languages spoken by the Sami.

Things were very well along when their guest stood up and went over to the German Sergeant and the Norscan hetwomen. Looking long at both he pull a large dagger from his belt and presented it handle first to the paratrooper who accepted with thanks. Next came one of the fibulas that held the Wolf`s cape together, that went to the Norscan. Cuffing both on their shoulders the Giant went back to his musings.
The singing went, of course, back and forth as nobody knew the songs of the other groups but some idiot had to start it anyway:

1. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab' im lockigen Haar,
|: Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh! :|
2. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
|: Jesus in deiner Geburt! :|
3. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Die der Welt Heil gebracht,
Aus des Himmels goldenen Höhn,
Uns der Gnaden Fülle läßt sehn,
|: Jesum in Menschengestalt! :|
4. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Wo sich heut alle Macht
Väterlicher Liebe ergoß,
Und als Bruder huldvoll umschloß
|: Jesus die Völker der Welt! :|
5. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Lange schon uns bedacht,
Als der Herr vom Grimme befreit
In der Väter urgrauer Zeit
|: Aller Welt Schonung verhieß! :|
6. Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Alleluja,
Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
|: "Jesus der Retter ist da!" :|

1. Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

2. Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly Hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
3. Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, loves pure light
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!
Jesus, Lord, at Thy Birth!
4. Silent Night, Holy Night
Here at last, healing light
From the heavenly kingdom sent,
Abundant grace for our intent.
Jesus, salvation for all.
Jesus, salvation for all.
5. Silent Night! Holy Night"
Sleeps the world in peace tonight.
God sends his Son to earth below
A Child from whom all blessings flow
Jesus, embraces mankind.
Jesus, embraces mankind.
6. Silent Night, Holy Night
Mindful of mankind's plight
The Lord in Heav'n on high decreed
From earthly woes we would be freed
Jesus, God's promise for peace.
Jesus, God's promise for peace.

Haus Sonnenhof, Berlin, same time

Ralf Winkler was afraid-he was not sure if he could do what he had promised to. He was still feeling quite faint from the exertions of the previous day, which might be a charitable excuse for why his hands were still shaking and his belly gave signals as if it wanted to void. It would have been a lie, he had a rather nasty bout of the stage fright.
But in the end it was one more duty the medic had taken up, so there was no avoiding it. Adjusting his beard, the sack on his back and the damned cap a last time his gloved hand pushed the door open into a beautifully decorated room full of parents and their children.
“Ho Ho Ho”
It went much better than the medic had feared.

Sitting close to the tree the Medic and his wife held hands and were about as happy as they could be-even when Ralf was exhausted as he could be.
“Happy Christmas Herr Winkler, Happy Christmas Frau Winkler.” The child had approached them from the side and so they both saw it only when it appeared before them.
“Happy Christmas Mirco…Mirco was right?”
“Oh yes, that’s right Herr Winkler. Nice to have you here.”
“Thanks, nice to be here too.”
When the child had gone again Christine saw the tear in her husband`s eye. “He is one of those…?”
“Yes, one of those where we could not do a thing. And what he has is not curable-yet. At least he has this Christmas, but from what I hear it will be the last.”
“Yes-and now we look both happy because pity is the last things the kids and their parents need.”

Norsca, next morning

“Boss, you should come here.” Paul Müller shook his head in a doomed effort to shake the cobwebs. He found Leman Russ bend over a small plinth that had risen out of the caves floor to the side of the mosaic. Fingers that seemed too big for such delicate manipulation went over a small screen and changed something here and there.
“Since when is he doing this”
“Since about 5 minutes-when I first sent for you.”
“Seems like our Guest has more memories back and wants to phone home.”
“I do not think that is a good idea-if he is really the Leman Russ of Warhammer fame then calling his pals is about the last thing we need.”
“If he is really the Leman Russ we both think about then we have to way to stop him. We simply have to see what happens I am afraid.”
It was then that the Giant stopped doing whatever he was doing and went to the middle of the mosaic. Giving and arm-to-chest salute to those who watched him he took out a knife an slit his lower arm. Blood started to seep out in a trickle and fill the runnels. Before the blood went for more than a few centimeters the flow stopped and the blood coagulated at superhuman speed.

The space Wolf frowned, went closer to the hole in the center and repeated the process-nothing. Judging from the look in his face the Primarch became quite agitated.
“Sani…..” The Paratrooper Sergeant called his Medic over.
“It seems out Guest has a problem bleeding out as much as he would like-can you help?”
“No problem boss, a cannula and 50 cm of tube and he will bleed to your hearts content.”
“Get it.”
It took not too long, they just had to show Leman the equipment and the clouds that had darkened the Primarch`s face went away. Taking off his vambrance he showed a lower arm that would have looked good at an upper leg in a body builder. The veins were so big and visible that the medic did not have to apply a tourniquet-simply putting it in was not a problem.
Everybody but the Primarch stepped far back while Russ applied his blood along the runnels till it hit the middle-and then the fireworks started.
When the special effects were over no Patriarch could be seen and everybody breathed easier.
“How are we going to explain this….well that is for later. Sani, you still have the steel core of the cannula?”
“Yes Sergeant”
“Please store it very well and cool it, that should be no problem in this icy hell. I think some people will be very interested.”

Charite`, Berlin, next Morning

The medic was sitting in the former Chapel and looked at the Statue of Shallya without seeing much, there was too much on his mind. As such things went, he had a mental conversation with himself to clear up the confusion and doubt in his mind.
“Did we get there fast enough? Yes obviously.”
“Did we diagnose right? Yes, could not be better”
“Did we follow procedure? What fucking procedure-but we did what we could. More would have killed us.”
“What can we do better in future-good question. Maybe lay a glucose infusion? Fine but what for the heat? That would have been a killer. Having heat problem, what can we-wait isn’t that Battletech center still in Berlin, they might have something for a test.”
“And what else-learn more of course. Oh Mother, how much I would like to have eidetic memory to learn these volumes better, it would make things so much easier.”
“What-who is…” Before the medic could get his thoughts in gear there was a knocking on the door.

“Come in”
Mother Serena went into the quiet Chapel. “There are a few people who want to partake in the peace of the goddess. They said you told them it would be ok.”
“Hu, whom did I…” And then he saw besides the smile of Serena`s face Doctor Heinitz and a few people of her staff-and quite a few people he had not seen before.
“Good morning Herr Winkler. You told me I could come back and bring people who can use the peace of this place.”
“Err, yes, you are welcome, please take a seat.”
The look Serena gave him showed that she was amused by this turn of affairs. “It is customary that we say a few words to people that first come to us Brother Ralf.”
“Yes, you are right. I will look to Mother Herad and..”
“Mother Herad is soundly asleep Brother-let`s keep it that way. I do believe you are much better suited to do this.”
“Thanks a lot Serena-not”
Making his way to the small table in front of the Statue he found he could think of nothing to say besides platitudes-simply wonderful. When he reached the table he found a sheet of notes-in his own hand writing which he definitively had never written. Shivering he had a look and found something indeed that he could say.

“Welcome at our place of rest, we hope it will give you the peace of mind that you so rightly deserve. Mother Serena reminded me that I should give you a little Introduction in what we are about here. In not so many works-we do not do faith here and we do not ask you to believe in anything. There is no membership in the Church of Shallya and the right belief will not bring you to heaven-and the reverse will not damn you to a hot place.
We simply know there is a noncorporeal being in the warp, one of many. It is accessible under the right circumstances and it has discrete measurable effects. There are things this being likes us to do, and other she would really have us not do.
We do not do prayers-our work with the beings who needs us is what makes the deity happy, not ritual words or the way we clothe, the sexual partners we take or our birth.

And for those of us who do her work she gives gifts: help with healing, better insight and sometimes even the sheer physical strength that it takes to do our jobs. But the greatest gift is peace of mind. All good healers, indeed all sentient beings I want to know have empathy, the ability to feel what our opponent feels. It is a great gift and it makes us different from those whose work we try to cut short. And at the same time for a healer empathy is the greatest curse. Too much of it and we cannot do our job, too few and we lose our humanity. And so we follow religious dogma, or we become cynics or take in substances which we should better not just to cling to the rests of our empathy and still to do what must be done.
The Goddess allows us both-keep empathy with our patients and keep our peace of mind. And isn`t that a gift to be grateful for?”
It was an interesting morning that saw a lot of lively discussion-and a lot of people that simply stared at a simple statue and smiled. A very good way to spend a Christmas morning.

The Warp-what is time?

Shallya looked at what she had wrought-and was satisfied, very much so. It seemed that she had given at least one gift that was at least as much for her as for those whom she had given them to. Very good. There was one last gift she had given to these Germans, but that had to wait for a little while to show effects-roughly nine months to be precise.

The Fang, Fenris, date unknown

The feast was the one of the more important for the Space Wolves. Once a year they celebrated and mourned the departure of their Primarch. So many millennia before he had gone on a quest, taking most of his closed allies with him, promising to return.
Loren Grimmar, Chapter Master, the Great Wolf, the Wolf that stalks the Stars, looked at the assembled brothers and toasted them with a tankard of Meade that who`s contents would have killed ten ordinary humans easily.
The feast was held in a hall that resembled a Viking Long House-done at the size of an aircraft hangar. Raucous laughter, the telling of tall tales and the calls of challenges filled the air and the smell of mountains of good food made the mouth water.
The Space Wolves were proud and strong and the morale was good-and yet the Chapter Master had heard the tale that their Primarch would return so often-and had been disappointed so often-that this was going through the motions. It was just another occasion to have a feast, nothing more.

He was out of his throne and had readied his axe before his mind had really realized why he did all of this. His brethren did likewise, their festive mood gone in seconds.
A part of the back part of the Great Hall was suddenly bathed in lightning and a dome of light came forward. The Wolf Priests were still trying to make sense of that when the dome dropped down and revealed a single hulking figure that stared at the assembles Wolf Brothers.
Nobody could find any words or any deed fit to the occasion, so the newcomer had the start.
“Well met brethren. What has one to do here to get some meade?

Landstuhl, Germany, same Date

Despite the room being heated to a nice temperature, Günter Koch was sitting in his favourite armchair, a blanket spread over him, but the wizard in training was still shivering. Which was something he did for the last 30 hours. Still, despite this Günter was rather happy.
As one of a few Germans of the first batch with seriously larger than average magical potential, he was packed into what on Earth would count as an accelerated apprenticeship. Like in the "normal" classes, the Imperial magisters and the German pupils learned much from each other, which hastened the development of both sides. It was not unusual due to the rapid growth in magical might and research, that wizards like Supreme Patriarch Balthasar Gelt or Masterseer Vybor participated in the training as trainers and observers.
But no matter how much raw potential a pupil had, there came the day when he or she had to deal with magical backlash or commonly known as Tzeentch Curse. A user of magic had ways how to wield the Winds. One thing that was early learned was fettering, the Art of willfully holding back. In exchange for an acceptable loss of power, the spell attempted would not bring forth the curse, no matter how good or how abysally the casting went.
On the other end of the spectrum was something non-chaotic magic users feared and respected. Pushing. Casting a spell with as much power as you could channel without burning out yourself. The potential effect could be a devastating success, but the downside was you always created magical sideeffects with it, up to really nasty variants of Tzeentch´s Curse if it went wrong.

As such, Imperial mages only casted in this way if the situation negated every other option. And the training to survive such a casting was gruesome. Whil several Master wizards were on station to contain larger manifestations of Tzeentch´s Curse, smaller effects had to be endured by the pupils themselves. This was both meant as a lesson of the responsibility the coming magicians were trusted with and as a survival lesson, so that the pupils learned what they could and should do to bear the pain and not let themselves be destroyed by the unleashed Winds.
Not surprisingly, the more potentially gifted students learned it earlier than most others. Günter, as did two other students, surprised several magisters with hisfell for the channeling of the Winds, but as always, pushing did not leave out even the truly talented.
As training for pushing always was dated just before important holidays, so the students could recover (if they survived) from the neccesary ordeal, Günter had been transported back home to Landstuhl. He was happy that he came so well through his first pushing attempt, even if the magical energies ran tolerable, but still painful havoc with his temperature nerves. And wuld do so for about six hours more.
He was reading a book to take his mind off the situation, when a "thunderbolt" vibrated through the Winds of Magic. A truly major magical event happened, feelable to any magic user in several thousand kilometers around the event horizon. Günter on instinct let his magical senses follow the sensation a bit, then he grabbed the telephone.

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