The Shadows of Stalingrad

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The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:12 pm

NOTE: Just a little prologue I hacked together during my lunch break at work today. Since it's a prologue, nothing plot-wise happens other than the setting up. Just wanted to belt this out since this story's been gnawing at my brain since inspiration hit me.


The Shadows of Stalingrad


Prologue


Stalingrad, November of 1942

The steady snowfall slowly layered everything with a sheet of white. It was a constant ever since the Russian winter had made an undramatic but no less inexorable entrance. It would’ve been adequate inspiration for some sort of poetic sentiment, if it weren’t for the other constant preceding even the winter—the ugly dark wreckage and ruin sprinkled here and there with the bodies of dead soldiers and unfortunate civilians caught in the crossfire.

Here and there were the shattered remnants of concrete, brick, and steel marked what had once been a sizeable city. A few half-covered corpses, bodies no one had bothered to gather and bury for some reason or another, punctuated the destruction and desolation. As steady as the snowfall had been, it had failed to hide bleak remains of what had once been the proud city Stalingrad. As if to drive the point home further, the faint sounds of staccato gunfire in the distance was a telling sign that the battle for the city wasn’t quite over yet.

However, that didn’t matter, thought a figure clad in the winter overcoat of a German general. While the Bolshevik bastards had stubbornly held their ground against the weight of the Axis assault, they had finally been pushed back by a massive offensive push. Nearly all of the city was now in the firm grip of the Wehrmacht. The majority of the resistance was contained in about a tenth of the city, with some pockets of Communist resistance who’d been left behind in the areas they now controlled. Still, even these few bits of token resistance could only be, at best, an annoyance to the German juggernaut straddling the city.

The figure allowed himself a small, tight smile, brushing off the snow and frost which had gathered on his uniform.

Soon, he thought, there’d be no resistance at all.

He turned and regarded the forces under his command. Around him several Wehrmacht troops had formed a secure perimeter around a wide courtyard, which had been made wider several days earlier courtesy of high explosives and heavy ordinance. Many of the soldiers were stuck shivering in green warm-weather longcoats, as opposed to the rest who were shivering a little less in heavier white winter overcoats. The former had been victims of the overly-optimistic promises of Russia falling before winter came along, promises which were now a bitter joke in the bitter cold.

Supplementing the defenses were half-tracks of varied types and even a few panzers. The crews of the vehicles were nervous, which was understandable given that the tangled and debris-covered streets of the city were an absolute nightmare for such vehicles to negotiate, let along perform combat operations. Hulking around them were the humanoid, mechanical forms of the Teutonic Knights in their augmented armors.

Giving a small nod of approval, the figure changed his attention toward what the gathered troops were carefully protecting: Moving busily around a very recently cleared section of the courtyard were several figures mostly dressed in civilian winter gear.

Several of them were moving carefully under a large tarp roof held up by several iron poles. They moved methodically, streams of black ash pouring from the cloth satchels they carried. They were inscribing a complex circular diagram onto the snow. Already taking shape was a massive, modified Schwarze Sonne—the Black Sun.

Indeed, even those Ahnenerbe fanatics and Vril cultists had their uses the general mused. Still, he felt a wave of distaste as he regarded them. Useful or not, they were still Hitler’s pet fanatics, and they were every bit as twisted as that short, crazy loudmouth.

Outwardly, he showed nothing of his distaste. As much as he hated Hitler and all of his National Socialist Schweinerhunde, they still had control of the country; a brutal, paranoid control. As such, it would be unwise to show too much of anything which could be interpreted as dissent or displeasure against them. Besides, as much as he detested them, he loved Germany. And one thing the Nazis did manage to do was make Germany strong again.

After the war, there would be plenty of time to sort things out. For now, he’d work with the Nazis, pretending to be their loyal dog. He’d even try to gain Hitler’s favor, if only to use whatever resources and manpower Hitler would see fit to allot him to reward his loyalty.

He watched as the Ahnenerbe mystics put on the finishing touches on the massive Black Sun diagram. Around the Sonnenrad were several women—Vril mediums—whose heads were raised and eyes blank in a collective trance. In twelve other sister sites in the city, he knew the scene in front of him was being faithfully repeated, the remote contact between the Vril mediums coordinating the complex operation.

Soon, there would be more in the city which would become useful. Or, more precisely, useful again.

The city was already a sacrificial pyre; tens of thousands of lives had already been sacrificed by the two monsters leading both sides. Tens of thousands of soldiers who had done their duty at the behest of the two tyrannical madmen, Hitler and Stalin, whose souls were finally at rest, their bodies scattered and discarded throughout the city.

A ready-made army.

With the pact he was about to perform, it would be an unstoppable army ready-made to serve him.

In fact, he’d already performed a similar pact before. He’d used the dead from Hitler’s depredations in Warsaw, raised them to do his bidding. That test had exceeded his wildest expectations.

He’d won Hitler’s approval soon after, especially after he’d expressed his intentions to do the same to several Soviet cities—starting with Stalingrad.

Yes, the Führer had taken a special delight in that and had given the proposal his blessing about as fast as he could sign the contract. Hitler’s animosity with the city’s namesake could always be counted on.

As Stalingrad fell so would the other major Soviet cities, then more and more until, finally, The Soviet union itself would fall. Thus would end the Bolshevik menace, never to threaten, Europe and the Fatherland no longer. Without its greatest foe, Germany would thus stand bestriding the continent of Europe like the Colossus. The nation would be completely unopposed, protected by an army of abdead, an army which would grow the more it slew.

Yes, Der Führer would be pleased indeed.

At least, he would be for a while. What Hitler had so graciously overlooked was that he, Ludwig Schrödinger, would have complete control over the undying army. Hitler was so assured of the sincerity of Ludwig’s bootlicking that he wouldn’t see the betrayal coming until it was too late.

Ludwig allowed himself the slightest of smiles. He’d remove the madman holding the Fatherland hostage using the very army the man himself had so publicly sanctioned. The irony would be delicious and the final reward—the ascendancy of German as a proper empire—would be glorious.

In the distance one of the Vril mediums broke her concentration. Coming out of her communicative trance, she turned around and made eye contact with him. She gave him a nod. He nodded back curtly and turned to the uniformed figure standing quietly by his side.

“Well, Colonel,” Ludwig said in a slightly cheery tone, “time to get to work, ja?

His aide, Colonel Otto von Klausenburg, answered in his characteristically understated manner, “Indeed, mein Herr General.

Ludwig allowed himself another small smile before he made his way toward the now-completed Sonnenrad. If it wasn’t so unbecoming he would’ve done so with a spring in his step

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Utah Floodplain, Early Cretaceous Period

Eyes peered from the lush, dense undergrowth of conifers and ferns around the edge of the river mudflats. Usually, the eyes would have peered hungrily, searching for prey as they scoped out the watering area. However, this time the eyes peered curiously. The four Utahraptors stared with their intelligent eyes, wondering at the strange creatures that stood some distance before them.

They had never seen anything like them before. The two creatures had no tails and stood almost completely upright. One of the Utahraptors tried to do the same, but almost ended up falling over. The creatures skin were in differing bright colors, which seemed to differ from segment to segment. The larger one, tiny compared to a Utahraptor, had a pale and strangely squashed and snout-less head covered in a strange fuzzy tuft of grey, a green-and-blue torso, and brown legs legs. There seemed to be a third creature perched on its head too. The smaller one had an even paler head with a black covering and some yellow things on either side, a dark red torso, and a small grey area just above legs as pale as its face. Seemingly following the smaller one was a big patch of Dark. Dark as dark as a moonless night sky.

The Utahraptors turned to each other, making bodily noises and motions. They were talking, deciding amongst each other what to do about these… things they’d never seen before. Should they just keep watching, hidden? Should they approach them? Should they attack them? Were they edible? Or should they just leave them alone?

In the end curiosity won out and they decided to continue watching. However, it seemed that the creatures had noticed them. As they watched, the smaller one seemed to look right at them, the Dark with her flaring wide. The taller one also turned, and raised its arm at them. At this, the Utahraptors reared up, mouth opened and large foot claws raised and ready. Were the things about to attack them? Should they fight? Or should they run? The things were tiny after all.

Before either of the four could make the decision, they suddenly found the Dark upon them. They managed to lash out at it, but they didn’t feel their teeth and claws bite into anything. Instead, all they felt was a quick flash of pain, then there was nothing but Dark…

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


A boy and a girl stood over the torn pieces of what had once been four hapless dinosaurs. The boy leaned over, adjusting his glasses theatrically. He examined the pieces intently, making equally theatrical “uhms” and “ahs” and he gave them a thorough look over. Finally, the boy picked a piece up, alternately poking it with his fingers and looking it over up and down. He even took a bite our of the raw flesh and rolled it around his mouth like an Iron Chef judge taste-testing a contestant's offering. In perfect silence, the young Chinese girl watched his antics even as she coolly disregarded the latest victim of her murderous living shadow.

“Yup,” Justinian said, mostly to himself, “Utahraptors. Cool, finally saw them. Remember when we saw them a couple of years from now?”

The last question, spoken in perfect Mandarin Chinese like the rest of what he’d said, was directed toward the young girl accompanying him. If the girl was confused at the mixing of the tenses, she didn’t show it. Instead, she just looked up at the boy and stared at him quietly but intently.

“Did you really have to kill them, though?” Justinian continued.

At this, the girl replied, “Yes.”

“They could’ve been maimed. I’d’ve been fine with maimed. You can maim.”

“Yes.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No.”

As far as Rasa was concerned, the things had been about to attack Justinian. For Rasa Sceadwe, that was the ultimate sin. Justinian was her song. It was a nice song, a warm song. She would not let anyone or anything take his song away from her. Anyone who tried would no longer have a song of their own.

Apparently oblivious to the girl’s answer, the boy went on talking: “Always wanted to get one alive. I’ll have a few in my collection, but I’m getting one alive right now. But they’re all dead.”

The boy stuck the fingers of his right hand under the ushanka he wore on his head and scratched it thoughtfully. His left hand reached for Rasa’s head and began stroking her hair in the absentminded manner pet owners sometimes did with their pets.

Rasa leaned into the petting as she continued watching him. She liked being petted, she liked watching him. He moved with his song, his song moved with him. She glowed with the warmth of his song. The cold song of It echoed in the back of her mind—desperate, clawing, reaching—but Its song was nothing to Justinian’s song.

“What do you think?” Justinian finally spoke, talking to the California quail calmly and incongruously perched on his head. A moment of silence passed before, “Maybe not like chicken, that’s a cliché isn’t it?”

Another moment of silence.

“Oh, I thought that’s what you meant.”

Before the conversation could continue, however, something seized the boy’s attention. He turned until he settled his gaze upon the hollow of a fallen log.

It was in there.

Anyone else who looked at the same spot would’ve wondered about what the boy was staring at as they wouldn’t have seen anything themselves. He, however, saw something that had become quite familiar to him. He saw a wildly twisting and undulating pattern of space and time, a temporary knot in the fabric of the universe as it repeatedly folded in on itself to the ignorant bliss of the majority of its inhabitants. He saw them everywhere, all the time, but few lasted this long. It was always a special treat when he spotted something this big and long-lasting. The knot of space-time morphed into an almost psychedelic pattern of colors as it wound and unwound on itself. Justinian paused and stared, a smile on his face. He always found it beautiful, and he took time to appreciate its beauty whenever he could.

Finally, he started for the log, nonchalantly stepping over the torn bodies of the unfortunate Utahraptors and brushing past the thick Cretaceous foliage. As always, Rasa was by his side, hand clasping his arm firmly.

As they stepped up to the log, they boy gingerly rolled up the sleeve of his free arm. He reached into the log and pulled on the undulating knot of space-time. He tugged and kneaded it, shaping the knot until it began to take shape. Appearing almost crystalline at first the knot of space-time morphed in the boy’s hand until it turned into a shape that bore a great resemblance to a cube. The cube, itself, seemed to warp and twist around what looked like another cube within.

Justinian stared at tesseract as it languidly spun, hovering over the palm of his hand.

“Bright ‘n’ blue, as always,” he noted cheerfully before the blue-hued tesseract in his hand expanded into its net and flashed bright azure, obscuring him, the quail on his head, and the girl on his arm.

Just like that, they were gone.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:55 pm

Niiiice. I love the Raptor Red, too bad the widdle dinosaurs got keeled though. :(

I can't wait to see this story get started. I swear you got those Vril mystic whores from that NatGeo documentary on those Nazi orgies that aired recently :P And, the Black Sun! :D

You sure made Ludwig very smiley, which suits him, and his entire brain-thought-perspective-line-stuff was good. Evil, dark arts and schemes and treachery! Those Ahnenerbe should be like that freak from Raiders of the Lost Ark, did you tell me in PM that they'd be like that guy from Raiders? With the coat hangers too!

I like Justinian's wrenching out bits and pieces of space-time anomalies by pulling up his sleeves and tugging them out from under a log. Rasa reminds me off ROBOT RIVER! I hope Justinian won't get too much ADHD though. I mean, he's supposed to be a bit like the Doctor, but it'd be cool to see something like how Doc was all going about how the Brits were so awesome during the Battle for Britain while everyone else was turning into gasmasked freaks. Justinian, by his ushanka alone, should sympathize with the Russians like how the Doctor does with the British. :D

I'd love to see Rasa's perspective after she ends up by her lonesome. Is her viewpoint dominated by that "song" and only that song?


Goddamn, it's good to see more Comix literature again!
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Booted Vulture » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:38 pm

A nice start, Malchusaurus! The Raptor/Pockets&Bells segment was interesting. I was expecting it to start in proper Doctor Who style with their arrival in the WWII time period.
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:10 pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Niiiice. I love the Raptor Red, too bad the widdle dinosaurs got keeled though. :(
I knew you'd catch that Raptor Red reference. You're the only other person I know who's read it. :mrgreen:

As for the dinos, well,they need not necessarily be the ones from the story. It could've been four other Utahraptors that ended up being shadow-killed. 'Course, they were still poor helpless dinos...
I can't wait to see this story get started. I swear you got those Vril mystic whores from that NatGeo documentary on those Nazi orgies that aired recently :P And, the Black Sun! :D
Actually, I read of the Vril society when i was in college when I borrowed my classmate's book on hokey "secret organizations" for a laugh. Although, I did kinda forgot about them until I was reminded of them thanks to the aforementioned documentary.
You sure made Ludwig very smiley, which suits him, and his entire brain-thought-perspective-line-stuff was good. Evil, dark arts and schemes and treachery! Those Ahnenerbe should be like that freak from Raiders of the Lost Ark, did you tell me in PM that they'd be like that guy from Raiders? With the coat hangers too!
Well, I didn't want to make Ludwig into one of Kamin's standard Grinning Overlord or Bombastic Bastard, so I opted for a smug scheming schmuck smiling secretly. As for the Ahnenerbe, well, they're gonna be mostly out-of-action most of the story. Justinian's tesseract intersecting with the summoned portal is gonna lead to a nasty backlash for all magickers in the vicinity.
I'd love to see Rasa's perspective after she ends up by her lonesome. Is her viewpoint dominated by that "song" and only that song?
"Song" is the only word she could think of for expressing the indescribable nature of Zul-Che-Quon's Eldritch Abomination mind taking over her own. The time when her mind was under its power seemed like a lifetime to her and pretty much broke whatever mind she had prior. After that experience, she sees everything in terms of "songs".
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Mobius 1 » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:19 pm

Hell, the Raptor Red reference made the story.
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:17 pm

EDIT: Well, here's chapter 2. I just typed this intermittently during my break time at work, and whatever comp time I had at home where I wasn't working on stuff for my Master's course. Given that, I hope this chapter isn't too disjointed.


Primary Sonnenrad, Stalingrad, November of 1942

Ludwig raised his eyes as his voice rose to a crescendo. He felt the power course through him with every word of his chant. It flowed from him, out like electricity in a circuit through the modified Black Sun in which center he stood. Around the numinous array the Ahnenerbe mystics closely mirrored his motions, chanting in a synchrony which appeared utterly eerie to the Wehrmacht men guarding them.

He felt the surge of the flowing mystical energy reinforce itself with the supplementary chanting and magical output of the mystics. Beyond the mystics stood another ring of practitioners—the Vril mediums. The women were standing quietly, seemingly in a trance, as Ludwig and the Ahnenerbe men chanted away. However, to the attuned the women would’ve appeared to have been bright pillars of arcane power. It gushed from the Sonnenrad and swirled around them, rising into great ethereal columns. The columns flowed into a spinning node from which lines of power shot horizontally, crisscrossing the air to join with that flowing from the twelve other Black Sun arrays placed around the city.

The interconnected stream pulsed and twisted as the joint chanting of Ludwig and the mystics reached an inhuman tempo, their mantra now sounding like a loud, reverberating hum. The energy spilling froth from the arrays roiled almost violently now, with several arcs of mystic power striking the city below like a lightning storm.

The Wehrmacht men, their Romanian allies, and Soviet conscripts around the city all shivered as an unidentifiable chill ran up their spines. Though most, barring a few of the attuned, couldn’t see the magical show happening right above, the raised hair on the back of their necks told them that something was up. The few who could see the web of eldritch power glowing in the sky above the city were on the verge of near panic. Most of these sensitives were the Soviet Socialist Sorcerers stationed around the Soviet-held patches of the shattered city. The Soviet communications lines and the telepathic mediums were nearly overwhelmed by the desperate inquiries from such Sorcerers and even most of the non-attuned who were likewise perturbed by his behavior of the combat wizards.

Ludwig and the supporting mystics and mediums were unaware of the wave of unease brought about by the ongoing summoning. They were close now, so close that they could feel it with every fiber of their being. Their focus was absolute, they thought as one. There was nothing which was their concern other than the pact and its completion.

“I call upon you, Schattenstämme!” the German sorcerer and general cried out in the midst of his chanting. He resumed the rest of the long, spoken invocation while the Ahnenerbe mystics began repeating the word “Schattenstämme” like a mantra.

The roiling, pulsating web of otherworldly power now resembled a bright, swirling galaxy. Then, slowly but steadily, the center of the lazily rotating disk became darker and darker. The dark patch grew like an ink stain spilled over a piece of paper. As it grew darker, it grew increasingly visible even to the non-attuned. The darkness permeated out through the edges of the unholy vortex, something began to seep out of the center.

Tiny wisps at first; tendrils of smoke-like ether-stuff which appeared to all who saw it to be as dark as a moonless night. Then, more and more of it emerged, like the steady creep of mist over a dank, wet bog. The dark tendrils curled downward, like a completely blackened hand reaching for the ground. As its presence grew, so did its voice. First, a whisper like a hushed conversation heard from another room. Then it grew louder and louder, becoming less indistinct and more chant-like in quality. In fact, it was chant-like for it echoed the now hum-like mantra of the German mystics.

As the unholy choir of human sorcery and the otherworldly sang in one voice, the shadowy portal over the city grew. In the Soviet-controlled patches, socialist sorcerers clutched their heads as they tried to block the unnatural voice whispering in the backs of their minds, battering their psyches. They didn’t know what it was, but they knew it was there—they knew it was coming.

The rift grew larger. The shadow-like tendrils were now a full-fledged torrent, covering the city in a blanket of dark, whispering something.

Suddenly, the whispering stopped. The suddenness almost caused Ludwig and the mystics to falter. The rift lurched, like an engine shuddering to a halt. It spun and stretched and twisted violently, and then its voice cried out. The inhuman shriek cut through the minds of the magically adept and the psychically gifted within a hundreds-of-kilometers-long radius around the city. Many screamed and crumpled as the magical backlash of the failed rift rebounded through everyone with even the tiniest bit of sensitivity.

As the rift collapsed, the dark shadow-stuff drew into itself rapidly, shrinking from a city-spanning shroud to a tightly compressed black clump of magical energy barely the size of a child. Then, just as suddenly, the dark clump exploded in a brilliant flash of bright blue. The flash was bright and powerful enough to illuminate most of the broken, wasted city like an incredibly tiny artificial sun.

The Vril mediums transferring the energy between the arrays suffered the worse. Their anguished wails turned into strangled gurgling as their own blood poured up and out of every orifice. Most of the Ahnenerbe fell like puppets with their strings abruptly hacked off as blood vessels ruptured into multiple aneurysms within their brains. The luckier ones dropped cold, thrown into a deep, painless coma. The rest became bleeding, twitching fetal forms screaming and writhing in pain as their bodies clung to life even as the magical backlash tore their very cells apart. Even in the Soviet positions, though relatively far from the locus of the failed summoning, many found several mystics coiled in pain and bleeding from the nose and eyes. Though, only few of the Soviet sorcerers on the outskirts perished all told.

At the very middle of the energy backflow was Ludwig Schrödinger. He curled on the ground, hands clutching his head even as he roared a coarse, animalistic howl—a howl both caused by and in defiance of the intense pain tearing through his body. A lesser sorcerer would’ve been dead long before this point, consumed by great magical power gone horribly awry. Ludwig held on, fighting the backlash at it ripped through his very fundament. His cells burst from the burning power even as he forced them back to life with every erg of his arcane abilities.

Colonel Otto von Klausenberg, Ludwig’s faithful aide, could only watch in helpless horror as his general was shredded by the outpouring of failed magic—the same dangerous failed magic that made it impossible for him to come close, let alone help his battered master. The only thing seemingly preventing the wizard’s total consumption was the man’s stubborn, unyielding will—no, more like a desperate need—to live.

Finally, the bright explosion of blue over the skies of Stalingrad flashed out, leaving in its wake hundreds of spots of blue light all over the city which themselves quickly disappeared in bright flashes. Had anyone been paying attention to the blue flashes, they would’ve noticed that the bright spots were actually blue tesseracts, tesseracts which had expanded to their nets just before disappearing.

Around the Black Sun sites, the Wehrmacht and Romanian men collected themselves, nervously peering at the dead or unconscious bodies of Ahnenerbe mystics and Vril mediums scattered all over the ground. In the center of the main array lay Ludwig. While all the other Wehrmacht men around the array were too nervous to approach the arrays, Otto ran toward his fallen general, ignoring the cackle of residual magic as it tingled around him. He kneeled beside Ludwig and quickly felt for a pulse. To the colonel’s supreme relief, there was one, and it was strong.

Otto spun and faced his men, when he spoke his characteristic calm, understated manner was gone, “What the hell are you doing standing around there and gaping, you Blödmanner! Get the medics, at once!”

Stirred out of their stupor, the Wehrmacht men sprang to action. They gathered around the fallen magicians and began to administer what medical attention they could. Through all that, none of them quite noticed that the summoning hadn’t… completely failed.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


As the Wehrmacht dealt with the aftermath of the failed summoning pact, several ethereal voices mumbled in unaccustomed confusion. Though the voices went unheard to the soldiers, any one spiritually attuned would’ve heard the growing hubbub in the air around Stalingrad. They would’ve seen the wispy dark manifestations of the voices, flowing and swishing about in near panic.

The multiple voices of the Schattenstämme were in an uproar. The last thing the multitude recalled was the call of the summoning, the attempted formation of the pact of whatever had called upon them. The Schattenstämme knew that the multitude had pushed out, they had called to summoner in eager reply. Then, it had happened. The multitude had been torn, yanked violently. The voices had dispersed. The multitude nearly broken.

The voices were shaken. There were mutterings, scared, angry, and confused. The voices raged, the voices demanded, the voices wailed. What had happened? Where was the pact? Why had the multitude been frayed apart? The voices grew louder and louder, the shadowy wisps in a tumult as the broken remnants of the multitude threw questions and accusations at each other. No one heard the voices, no one conscious in the vicinity could.

Then, one voice spoke, and another, then another, yet another. Hunger. The voices spoke of hunger. Others heard, others agreed. The multitude was fading, diminished. It had begun to fade, slowly but surely the Schattenstämme was disappearing. The multitude needed to be replenished. Hunger. The word passed from voice to voice, steadily rising, drowning out the fear, the anger, the confusion. Soon, there was only hunger. Again, the multitude spoke as one.

The Schattenstämme moved. The multitude needed to be replenished. It needed to feed, to grow again, or the voices would be forever silenced. The Schattenstämme reached out, grasping. Nothing could be touched. There were things, the Schattenstämme could see them. Strange things, many things, many strange colors. Mostly white. The multitude reached for the things, any of the things. They could not be touched. The voices cried out in frustration.

They could not feed.

Then, the Schattenstämme saw them. So bright, titillating, delicious. The multitude moved, swiftly and gracefully it moved to feed. It reached, but again they could not touch. The voices howled. The multitude reached and reached and reached again. It was there, the scent so close to that of their usual prey. So close, smelling so delicious. The Schattenstämme could not touch it. Why could they not touch it?!

Finally, the multitude grew tired. Many voices had gone silent. The desperate attempt to feed had only made the fast-disappearing Schattenstämme disappear even faster. The remaining voices wailed, hunger accentuated by despair. They could not touch, they could not feed. The prey wore the untouchable around them, all the prey they could see. Armored, protected. Made unreachable by the untouchable.

It wasn’t fair.

The voices decided. The Schattenstämme needed to find a way to break open the untouchable, releasing the prey. Then the many which was all could feed. The multitude searched, desperate. It needed to feed, it needed to feed, IT NEEDED TO FEED. Despair was gone, hunger was back, in desperate force. So it searched, it searched, and it searched.

Finally, it found.

There were broken shells of the untouchable, wisps of prey-remnant leaking out. The Schattenstämme set upon the shells greedily. The multitude fed, they little bits of energy taken and converted. Not enough, far from enough. It was a start. As the multitude clawed desperately at the lingering prey-stuff clinging to the shells of untouchable, the shells moved. They fed, they chewed. It stuck, it pulled, it moved. The Schattenstämme stopped. Even in the desperate hunger of the multitude, the all-mind could still think, could still realize. It realized that it had made the untouchable move. It could not touch it, but they could move it. The multitude had tugged on the stubbornly clinging remnant, and the untouchable moved with it.

It moved. The Schattenstämme could move it. The untouchable was not untouchable to other untouchables. It could touch the other untouchables, and they could move it. If it could touch, it could break. If they could move it, they could make it break something.

They could feed.

The multitude flowed into the broken shells. The voices clamored, bellowing maniacally as they tugged and pulled and clawed at the lingering prey remnant stuck on the untouchable. The untouchable things jerked and twisted and flopped as the pulled. They would make the things move. They would make the things hunt.

They would feed.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


The broken edifice sat in the middle of the snowy avenue. It was one of the many countless once-proud buildings in the city of Stalingrad which had been reduced to partially standing walls around a core of bomb- and artillery-shattered rubble. In all of the tumultuous clamor after the botched attempt at a magical summoning, no one was particularly interested in the ruins of an old textile warehouse in the middle of German 6th Army-controlled Karpovka district.

No one saw the momentary blue flash within the building as a tesseract sprang into momentary life, expanding into its net as it deposited something onto the debris-covered floor of the broken building. As quick as it had appeared, the tesseract was gone. The only sign that it was there was the thrashing shape it had deposited upon the floor. It was boy, roughly appearing to be around his mid-teens. As the boy twisted and turned on the floor, face scrunched in apparent pain, his Red Army ushanka hat fell off revealing his mop of messy brown hair. His glasses crunched audibly as he rolled over the frames, left lens now irreparably cracked.

The boy groaned weakly, clutching his abdominal area—looking for all the world as if he was suffering from the worst stomach ache in his life. The attuned, however, would’ve seen something quite different.

From the boy’s body came a horrifying sight, completely unseen to the non-sensitive if any were around. Great globes of light seemingly massed under the boy’s flesh, shining through skin and clothing as they bubbled up, seemingly trying to force their way out of the boy. The visible flesh around the pulsating underskin globes began to ooze, becoming almost protoplasmic in appearance as it seemingly melted and flowed blackly outward. The melting flesh bubbled and twisted, pouring off of the boy’s body and congealing into something resembling a tentacled, amorphous monster whose mask was as a congeries of iridescent globes, noxiously frothing a slick, pus-like slime from erupting orifices.

Then, even the nightmarish thing melted, boiling globular flesh exploded into a primordial slime that washed over the tormented lad. Then the unearthly slime receded, seemingly absorbed back into the writhing, painfully moaning teenage lad on the debris-strewn floor.

The lad’s thrashing and whimpering steadily petered out as he seemingly recovered from whatever had been paining him. The boy lay on the snow-covered debris, completely still. So still that the only sign he was alive was the rising and falling of his chest. He continued to lie there, staring at the sky as the falling snow began to cover him in a thin layer of white snowflakes.

Finally, the lad moved. He took a deep breath and grunted as he stretched on the ground, like a child picking himself off the couch after a lazy Saturday morning watching cartoons. Like a child, the boy sat up suddenly with a loud “uhn.” He looked around and blinked as he dusted off the snow from the multi-pocketed vest he wore over a faded blue hoodie.

“Well,” Justinian said, “that was certainly different, eh, Tribonian?”

The boy paused, waiting for a reply. Hearing no reply after a short moment of waiting, the boy reached up toward his head and found nothing but hatless hair.

“Okay, that can’t be right.”

He looked around at the snow covered debris around him. Broken but still standing brick walls around piles of broken brick, twisted steel, and scattered concrete pieces. Oh, and a grey ushanka lying discarded on the floor.

His grey ushanka.

The boy blinked before picking up the hat and setting it upon his head. He fussed with it for a bit until he found himself satisfied with the arrangement. However, it was still incomplete. He looked around again. He pushed his hands through the snow, feeling for any quail-sized lumps under the layer of powder.

“Rock, rock, brick, rock, shell casing, rock, rock, pistol, rock…” he called out as he dug through the snow until, finally, his hands hit something soft, “Ah hah! California quail!”

The boy scooped up the bird, carefully brushing away the snow. He looked at the mass of black, blue-gray, and brown feathers carefully. Satisfied that the quail was breathing, the boy placed the bird atop his hat. The quail promptly slipped off. The boy caught it before it fell below ear level. Justinian pursed his lips in thought. Whatever had pulled him out here had also knocked Tribonian out from the sheer mystical backlash. At least, that’s how it smelled.

“Yeah, this really isn’t feeling right.”

Carefully cradling the unconscious quail in his left hand, Justinian stood up and walked toward one of the now-glassless windows in the wall of the old warehouse. He carefully peered his head out of the window and took a look around.

More broken brick, twisted steel, and scattered concrete pieces. Oh, and a few bodies.

“Hm, wartime Stalingrad chic,” he assessed. Justinian took a quick sniff, then another for good measure. “Circa 1942, November. Ish. What do you think?”

He looked expectantly at the bird in his left hand. No reply.

“Oh, you’re no help.”

Justinian peered out the window, this time looking thoughtfully. Alright, he’d established that he’d been pulled out of a tesseract in a manner he wasn’t used to, Tribonian was out cold, and he was in the middle of a warzone in Stalingrad in the winter of 1942. Okay, that should be quite interesting, and interesting was always fun. Really painful and frequently almost lethal, to be sure, but always fun.

Still, he could shake the feeling that something was missing. Something…

He looked down at his right arm. Nothing clinging there. He looked down at his left. Bird in palm, yes. Clinging little pet girl... no.

Oh. Huh.

Well, bugger.

“This could be a problem.”


64th Army encampment, west bank of the Don River, Stalingrad

He felt the throbbing in his skull spike as he leaned down to enter the covered portion of the ditch-turned-combat-trench. His head still hurt like hell, and sudden pressure when he made major movements in his upper torso did not help in the slightest. The fact that the path to where he was going was a complex series of ditches, tunnels, and bombed out but still standing buildings—a path that required a lot of ducking and leaning—made things even worse.

Still, it was easy enough to ignore the severe head pain. After all, there were things which made such headaches trivial in comparison. Nearly three decades as a special guest in the gulag tended to make everything look like a luxury. Even so, the cause of this particular headache was of some concern, especially after the earlier light show.

Whatever that was, that had been a lot of magical energy. Judging from the backlash, the very same one that had caused his head to start pounding, that had to have been quite a spectacular mistake.

Well, whatever kind of mistake that was, it had affected pretty much all of Tsaritsyn—he just wasn’t used to the name Stalingrad, and always found himself slipping into the one he was familiar with before they’d tossed him into the gulag; much to the displeasure and discomfort of certain and to the great amusement of himself—and possibly beyond. The Germans had done something, alright. Something big. Given that, whatever it was couldn’t be good.

“And where would you be going, Comrade Igorov?” an all too familiar and all too unwelcome voice asked.

Colonel Makar Daryevich Igorov turned and regarded the man who had fallen into step beside him. The man was thin and gaunt—who wasn’t these days?—which would have made him quite sinister-looking in his NKVD uniform. Would have, except that Igorov was quite familiar with him and familiarity, as the English axiom goes, breeds contempt. He smiled inwardly at the thought of what the NKVD man would’ve thought about him thinking of such a bourgeois English adage, especially since it was used in relation to the thought of contempt for him.

“And a good day to you too, Pasha.” Igorov greeted cheerily.

His good cheer only rose as he saw the deeply disapproving look pass over the face of the NKVD officer. Being the self-important, jumped-up little man he was, as was fitting for a man of the Narodniy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, Pavel Andreyevich Koslotsov naturally hated how easy and familiar he always was with him. The man had trouble with dealing with anyone who didn’t get intimidated by his little acronym, of which there were admittedly not a lot in Russia these days.

“Answer the question, Comrade.” he grunted sourly. “General Chuikov wants to see you. You’d better have a good excuse for blowing him off.”

“You saw that, didn’t you Pasha?” Igorov answered, keeping his expression good-natured. “The dark vortex, the big blue light? The reports of the Motherland’s own sorcerers reacting quite badly?”

Of course he’d have heard it, Igorov thought. The wires and radios were clogged with a flurry of incidents about the German stunt earlier, and people were still sorting things out. Igorov had to resist the urge to laugh. He’d always found it funny when things didn’t go according to plan, at least for these Bolsheviks. They always reacted so poorly to those when they happen. It always ended up in threats of removal and replacement, followed by that of a revolver. Usually to the head. Well, alright, not always, but often enough for him to take some amusement from the whole thing.

“Exactly my point, comrade,” the man straightened his NKVD uniform, as if to remind him of who he was, “The General wants your opinion on that very matter, and he wants it now. We have to know if this will affect Operation Uranus in any way.”

Operation Uranus was the planned counteroffensive against the 3rd and 4th Romanian armies, with the ultimate goal of encircling and cutting off the German 6th Army that lay before them. Given the dire situation of Tsraritsyn, it had to succeed. Igorov nodded, and decided to relent a bit. He may not particularly love the NKVD or the USSR, but he was solidly behind anything that would kick the German bastards out of Russian soil.

“I believe the General would also want to confer with who I’m going to meet.”

“The Troika?” Koslotsov ventured. “You wish to check on your comrades?”

“Yes. Backlash like that, better safe and sorry. And I’m worried about the boy.” Igorov admitted.

Da, Makar Daryevich,” the NKVD man agreed. Igorov scrutinized his face to see how much he was loathing himself for doing so, “It would be prudent to make sure such an asset to the Motherland remained undamaged and viable. Is it not, comrade?”

“Of course.” The Russian sorcerer agreed neutrally. Inwardly, he had to prevent him face from twisting into a mask of rage as his thoughts took on a rather different position. That’s all people are to you, eh Pasha? The only consideration being ‘what’s of use.’ You cold-hearted bastard.

Again, Pasha pursed his lips in disapproval, and again Igorov had to check himself to keep from smiling. Despite the NKVD man’s dropping of the word “comrade” in pretty much every line of his speech, Igorov steadfastly refused to follow suit. It was just a little bit of petty resistance which he did because he found it so funny and because, well, people sort of expected that of him anyway.

Igorov had been a sorcerer-soldier of the tsar’s army, serving the Russian Empire to the best of his capacity during the Great War. Since he had studied the great magical works all over Europe, he’d been able to offer quite excellent service in the battlefield in the name of the tsar. ‘Course, they still lost, the tsar ended up overthrown and murdered shortly after, and he’d found himself at the mercy of the government the revolutionaries set up. Naturally, since his magical abilities—learned from the great nations of Europe—were considered to be “decadent,” “imperialistic,” and “bourgeois,” he’d been tossed into the gulag as a political. A magically-backed attempt to escape later, and he’d found himself in a gulag that regularly donated prisoners for experimentation in the name of magical, technological, or medicinal purposes. Of course, he’d been chucked into the former of the three purposes.

Still, after almost 30 years, Igorov had long since stopped caring. He’d hadn’t really been surprised when they scrounged him out of the gulag when the Germans seemed to have been driving into the Motherland practically unopposed. Suddenly, his decadent, imperialistic, and bourgeois magic was ideologically and dialectically acceptable and they stuffed him into a uniform and pointed him at the Germans, expecting him to fight and die for a government that had tossed him into a work and magical experimentation camp for nearly three decades. Yes, perfectly reasonable.

Of course, it wasn’t so bad. Certainly more things to see and do in a war than in the dull old gulag, with which he’d become rather infinitely familiar over the years. Sure, there wasn’t much to see in a war other than things and people blowing up, and most of what he had to do was try to survive people trying to kill him while using his magic to try and kill them. But, hey, he’d done all that the first time around, and it wasn’t so bad. Plus he got to annoy the NKVD man they had keep an eye on him. That definitely wasn’t so bad.

So what if the NKVD man got pissed at him? What were they gonna do? Toss him in a gulag? He’d be back there the moment the war was over anyway, provided that he survived. That’d be better than being out in the front risking his ass for a government he didn’t particularly care for. Summary execution? A penal battalion? Well, then the parody of farce which could charitably be called his life would end that much sooner.

Presently, they reached the hastily set-up hospital tent after finding their way through the maze of urban ruins and ad hoc fortifications and emplacements. As he pushed aside the flap and strode in, the tang of blood assaulted his nose. Even in the cold of winter, blood could and did reek. He moved purposefully through the beds of the injured and dying, moving toward a familiar crop of dark brown hair. Trailing him closely was dour-faced Pasha.

Many of the more recent patients on the beds Igorov recognized as some of the minor socialist sorcerers in the service of the Winter Corps, a specialized band of soldiers with special abilities Stalin found useful for throwing at the Germans. He nodded at the conscious ones who recognized him. Most of their injuries seemed minor, mostly the standard bleeding eyes, noses, and/or ears of a bad magical backlash.

He reached the crop of dark brown hair he was heading for and called out. The owner of the hair turned to greet him, and he was reminded of yet another reason of why being brought back for the war wasn’t so bad: Major Antonina Dima'cha Shvetsa. A half-Ukranian beauty and impressively powerful witch, which was quite impressive seeing how she was still in her late twenties. Most witches took a lifetime to develop the abilities she wielded with ease. He was also lucky enough to have her work with him in the Troika, a special-action group of powerful Soviet Socialist Sorcerers he just happened to lead. This, of course, meant that he could be in the presence of her beauty most of the time. True, she was a bit skinny, but in these lean times everybody was anyway. Of course, he was too old and she too young for any kind of foolishness between them, but there was nothing wrong with a old man appreciating a young beauty with his eyes, da?

Tovarisch Polkovnik,” Antonina nodded to him defferentially.

“Major,” he replied amiably. As always, deliberately forgoing the word ‘comrade,’ “How is the little one?”

“I told you to stop calling me that” an annoyed voice spat before Antonina could say a word. Then, almost as an afterthought, the voice added, “Comrade Colonel.”

On one of the cots sat a boy in his early teens. The curls on his hair not only made him look even younger than that, but also betrayed his Jewish heritage—not that the Hebrew scrawl carved onto his forehead was all that subtle anyway. The boy clutched a rag which was soaked red with blood. Lines of smeared red trailed from is eyes, ears, and nose, showing exactly what the backlash had done to him. Most of the red, however, was bleeding from the word “emet”, life, carved onto his skull, which seemed morbidly ironic. As if to accentuate the whole thing, there were also red stains on his winter telogreika. Stains caused by the blood which had dripped onto them.

“How are you then, boy?” Igorov asked.

“Bloody,” Lev Rabinovich Brodsky snarked, “Ever have blood freeze on your goddamned face? Hurts more than the fucking bleeding.”

“He’s quite well, Comrade Colonel,” the major replied, “Nekulturniy and vulgar, yes, but generally well.”

Lev retorted by giving her a rude noise and an even ruder gesture as he wiped off the few trickles of blood which still bled slightly from the word gouged on his forehead. Antonina responded by slapping the boy’s offending hand as hard as she could, causing him to yelp in pain.

“I take it that you’re well also, Tonya?” the colonel inquired, ignoring the sibling-like spat.

Before she could reply, the young lad took the opportunity to speak for her, “She’s quite well, Comrade Colonel. Bitchy and overbearing, yes, but generally well."

The pretty witch stepped toward him and, quite accidentally, stepped on his foot. She accidentally did it a few more times as well. The boy cried out yet again.

“Other than a headache, Comrade Colonel, I am quite all right.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Igorov caught sight of Koslotsov grimacing. The NKVD man apparently did not approve of the boy’s swearing in the face of superior officers. Even if one of those officers just happened to be someone he did not particularly like. That, or he just found the boy’s blood-smeared face ghastly to behold. Or maybe it was because the boy was a Jew. The NKVD man certainly had enough Cossack features about him to be of the pogrom instigating sort.

Igorov gave a mental shrug. Whatever the NKVD man felt was not his concern unless the man wanted it to be.

“Well, you’re both well enough to ass each other about,” the Colonel cum sorcerer noted, “I’d say you’re good to go.”

“Comrades,” Antonina cut in with a very sweet—so obviously sweet as to have the sound of a threat—voice, “Language.”

Igorov and Brodsky glanced at each other and smirked knowingly.

“Our apologies, major.” They said together, with Lev adding “comrade” before “major” of course.

“Apology accepted.” she smiled slightly, giving an exaggeratedly caricatured curtsey.

“Anyway,” the NKVD man interrupted, “get yourselves cleaned up, all of you. General Chuikov would like a word with you, and we can’t have you looking like poor excuses for soldiers. You’ll give the Troika a bad name.”

The boy laughed, a cynical laugh not at all befitting his age. Koslotsov shot the young teen a dirty look. Lev gestured around at the tent full of wounded, “Look around, Comrade. We all look like poor soldiers.”

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Below the streets of Stalingrad, a sewer tunnel flashed blue momentarily. A soft “whump” resounded in the concrete tunnel, which was now darkened again. More sounds—this time of scraping, scratching, and, strangely, of tinkling bells—could be heard as a figure in the darkness struggled to pick itself up off the ground.

The figure pulled itself up along the curved side of the concrete tunnel with one hand, the other clutched at its head. A small whimper escaped from the figure’s lips. It was the voice of a girl.

Rasa Sceadwe dragged herself into a sitting position and slumped against the wall of the dark tunnel. She brought up her hands and clamped them to the sides of her ears, as if the block a loud noise. She screamed, less because of any pain and more because she wanted to drown It out.

It sang; loud, shrill, harsh. The song was all over the place, in the air, in the ground, everywhere the shadows touched. The song echoed through her mind, through her bones, through her very body. It sang, drowning out both everything that was Rasa Sceadwe and everything that had been Ann Ying. She screamed louder, screamed her throat raw, screaming in the hope of shouting down Its song even as she slipped under the onrushing torrent of its desperate, piercing music.

The song pulled her in, grabbing and clawing at every facet of her psyche. It tore through her memories, her thoughts; leaving nothing other than the song It wanted her to sing.

It sang of her fear. She shrank back, whimpering and covering her ears, tears pouring from her face as the bore the enraged bellowing of her father. She recoiled as her father struck her. Again and again and again and again… She begged, she pleaded. Her pleas for mercy were like hushed whispers, and they were left unheard.

Her fear became her song, and she sang with It even as the weight of her despair crushed her.

The song turned to her loneliness, and unwillingly she sang back. She stared out from the kitchen, through order window, watching the diners eating in her parents’ restaurant. She saw a mother, a father, and their children on one table. She watched them intently as they ate, they talked, and they laughed. Her mother barked at her sharply, and she jerked back as she quickly looked away. Her mother pointed at a refuse bin full of garbage. She got and the bin and carried it out to the back, passing by the rest of the kitchen. There were several cooks busy preparing their respective orders. They all ignored her.

Her song. Its song. She could hardly tell the difference now. They sounded so alike.
They sang as one. The song was their song.

Her anger was the next song. They sang it together. She felt it rise inside her, hot and boiling like steaming water bubbling from within her very core and out her eyes as she stared daggers behind her father’s back as he played cards with his friends. She saw him laugh, and her resentment piqued. He’d struck her for laughing earlier. Why could he do it and she couldn’t? She glared at him, and wished that she could hit him the way he hit her.

She was out at the back of her parent’s restaurant, dumping the refuse bin’s contents into the dumpster. They were there, a group of older boys and girls. They yelled out at her, called her things she couldn’t understand. They only became louder and more incessant he more she kept silent. One of them came near her, making faces, shouting at her. She couldn’t understand him and she was afraid, she tried to back away but the others were behind her. One of them grabbed her and she screamed, wildly swinging the now empty refuse bin. She felt it make contact a few times, followed by some of their yelling. They back away. She ran into the back door and slammed it behind her.

She hated them. It knew that song. They sang.

She saw, she felt. The hot anger, the cold fear, the painful loneliness, the medley of their song. So many notes and rhythms brought froth from the depths of her memory as It weaved a song out of them. And she sang, and sang, and sang. It made her croon despair, play the heavy notes of fear, dance to the hot rhythm of fury. Over and over, unceasing. They sang.

She grew warm, and a distant part of her noted helplessly that the song had reached yet another cycle of rage.

Ting.

She felt it, the familiar all-consuming heat of the dance of anger. She felt herself grow warm and… and… and she grew warm. Something was different. The warm enveloped her, but it did not boil, it did not burst from her very core It felt... peaceful.

Ting.

“There, that’s a good girl,” the voice said.

She cringed, and drew back as she felt the hand come down upon her head. She tried to run, but no matter how she tried something held her. She tensed, and braced herself for the familiar
whap of flesh upon flesh…

The hand reached her head. It began to scratch and rub her hair. She was still curled up, shaking as she waited for the blow.

It never came. The hand continued to ruffle her hair.

Finally, she dared look up. She opened her eyes, one first, then the other. Her head turned slowly, hesitantly as she faced the one who was caressing her head.

It was a boy. He was smiling.


Ting.

“…Justinian.” she breathed.

There was an explosion, and she was thrown back. She lost feeling, everything felt so distant. She felt like she was slipping from something, the last bit of her grip failing…

Ting.

Suddenly she snapped back, an experience almost as disorienting as the explosion that nearly wiped her away. She heard nothing but a loud roaring around her, like the chaotic winds of a tornado whipping past her ears. For the longest time she listened to it uncomprehending.

Then, a forever later, she realized what it was. It was still singing. That was Its song.

And she was no longer singing with It.

Ting.

A bell.

She heard it. It howled, attempting to drown out the steady ringing. However, it was useless. Rasa—yes, that was who she was; He gave her that name—focused on the ringing bell. It was barely a tinkle against the desperate baying of Its song. But now that she’d heard the bell, it was all she could think about.

It raged at her, demanded that she sing with It. It grabbed and struck and tore, trying to pull her away from the ringing. But the bell was getting louder and louder and louder. The ringing came faster and faster, its rhythmic tinkling increasing in complexity. It was a song. The Bell song.

The song Justinian taught her.

Her hand found the bells dangling from her hair, the other found the one around her neck. She didn’t realize or really comprehend how, but she didn’t care. She rang the bells, one after the other. Just like Justinian’s Bell song. It reached out and grabbed her, snarling Its song at her face in a last, desperate bid to make her sing with it. She continued to play. Its song weakened, faltered even as the Bell song grew louder and louder. It scratched at her mind violently as it rasped Its weakening song. She paid it no mind, wholly focused on the song of her bells.

She played, flicking and ringing one bell after another in a sequence so fast as to have been a blur had there been adequate light and anyone to see.

Finally, Its song receded into a whispering in the back of her mind. She was back in control. She stopped playing, and the Bell song ceased.

She slumped backwards and leaned. Belatedly, she realized she was no longer in the tubular sewer tunnels. It had moved her while they were singing.

She opened her eyes and squinted as light poured into them. As her eyes adjusted, she looked around. She was in a building, a broken building with shattered walls and rubble all around her. She felt something cold against her bare ankles and looked down.

White. Snow.

She blinked. She wondered if she and Justinian had ended up in—

Her thoughts ground to a halt and her eyes widened. She sat up and looked around, head pivoting as she searched desperately. She ran, all over the building, out of it, into another.

Nothing.

Justinian wasn’t there.

To her rising horror she realized one thing: Its song was gone, nothing but a whisper now. However, she could not hear Justinian’s song either.

There was nothing but the quiet sounds of the wind and the snowfall.
Last edited by Malchus on Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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I admire the man, he has a high tolerance for insanity (and inanity - which he generously contributed!). ~Shroom, on my wierdness tolerance.

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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:17 pm

Holy Lenin, on man. That was just some fine-ass writing, as in sublime, like fucking poetry. I don't know why you preface them with "oh I was just wrietings whiel workings" or something, because that was... that was... mang. That was mang! That was awesome stuff. I really liked it, and the whole reading experience was bloody immersive. Maybe it's because I'm taking a procrastinating break from my school work, but damn mang. That's good stuff. Real good. You wrote bloody poetry! LITERALLY too! This is a great thing.

First off, I just love how you wrote it. How you describe the scenes. It's bloody brilliant. The way you just set the whole thing up. From Ludwig's fucked up ritual, to the massive fuck up and the horrific consequences. Oh man. That's some Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark shit, man! Serves those fucking Nazis right, too. :P

And, man, the schatters. Oh shit. That was a wonderful description of fucking ancient eldritch Lovecraftian (though it's technically NOT Lovecraftian... did you come up with it by yourself, btw?) horrorstrosities. Fucking horrorstrosities. I love the wordless way the thing and things just moved and transpired and how you described their eventual insinuation of the dead and their pronouncement of hunger and "brrraaaaaiiiiiiinnnnssssssssss....."

Now this is how you do zombie-ass shit! THIS is how you write Night of the Living Malachuschus!

Fuck yeah.

And Justinian's entry. What the hell was that thing that metaphysically melted out of him? Was it the Yithianoid that's interconnected between him and Tribbles? Man, there's something definitely wrong with that boy. A perpetually cheery-seeming strange kid with gnarly powers, like something out of the Twilight Zone. Except he isn't, you know, doing evil shit like that Treehouse of Terror episode where Bart Simpson turned Homer into a Jack-in-the-Box. He's actually the good guy in this story. Man, oh man.

(It makes me wonder about the writing "style" that might be taken when it comes to Justinian and Rasa, Bells and Pockets*)

*EDIT: I am thinking that Bells and Pockets' stories are not just stories about the midsadventures of the duo. Justinian and Rasa seem to be very consistent character, and from my point of view they don't seem to change much as they travel from place to place or time to time. They don't even age. I think that the stories of Bells and Pockets are as much about the whacky hijinks the two encounter as they are about the people, places and events they meet, venture, witness and partake in.

Also. Way to go to set up the Troika. Igorov is totally cool, your description of him on MSN was certainly accurate to the tee. I like the interplay between his two subordinates too, and the whole "comrade" shtick and the NKVD mang (what a guy). That's a good way to introduce the characters, and certainly Igorov's perspective piece was an interesting one. Tsarist white gulagnik! :D

We should see more of them. Way, way more. Mangs.

As for Rasa. Oh man. Consider my skepticism officially shut-the-fuck-upped, for now at least. That was a wonderful piece. Wonderful. I don't know why, but through your pure descriptive word-weaving you are somehow able to en-eagle and en-awesome not only Trans-Yuggothian monstroids and Men in Black dickeries, but now you've somehow written into odd words and odd scenes a very nicely compelling piece of a little girl who's hurt and broken and lost. A Little Girl. Monster. :twisted:

Seriously, that was pretty powerful stuff. Visualized, it would be out-standing. Jesus, man. That one scene where Rasa, alone in the darkness, confronts her literal inner demon in the form of her own shadow and all shadows, and upon defeating it with the song of bells, leaves the darkness and shadow and enters a place where there is no darkness.

White. Snow.
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Booted Vulture » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:24 pm

Aww, mang That. Was. Awesome.

And poor Rasa.
Ah Brother! It's been too long!

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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:35 pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote: I don't know why you preface them with "oh I was just wrietings whiel workings" or something, because that was... that was... mang.
I prefaced it with that because, well, I did write while working. And It's plagued with typos which I'll now attempt to rectify.

First off, I just love how you wrote it. How you describe the scenes. It's bloody brilliant. The way you just set the whole thing up. From Ludwig's fucked up ritual, to the massive fuck up and the horrific consequences. Oh man. That's some Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark shit, man! Serves those fucking Nazis right, too. :P
And, man, the schatters. Oh shit. That was a wonderful description of fucking ancient eldritch Lovecraftian (though it's technically NOT Lovecraftian... did you come up with it by yourself, btw?) horrorstrosities.
Yeah, the Schattenstämme is all mine. I based it on one issue I always have with Romero zombies, which is the need to feed on human flesh.

I figured, if zombies have to feed on somebody, why not have them feed on the poor bastard's soul then use the empty shell of a corpse to kill more instead? That way, the zombie army grows the more it feeds and, since the corpses are literally meat puppets, you have to petty much blow up the bodies entirely for them to stop being a threat.
And Justinian's entry. What the hell was that thing that metaphysically melted out of him? Was it the Yithianoid that's interconnected between him and Tribbles?
Nope, it's actually a shout out to another well known Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror. I even used many of the words of the exact description in the referenced work in question.
I think that the stories of Bells and Pockets are as much about the whacky hijinks the two encounter as they are about the people, places and events they meet, venture, witness and partake in.
That's pretty much most of the point for the stories I have planned for 'em. Most of the time, they're just along for the ride.
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I admire the man, he has a high tolerance for insanity (and inanity - which he generously contributed!). ~Shroom, on my wierdness tolerance.

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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Peregrin » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:01 am

Wow, this is just unbelievable. A total out-of-the-blue home run . First, there's how it takes characters of Kamin's creation (out of everyone here) and does something truly interesting with them. Then there's how it's a mostly serious work of Malchus', this is something truly unique. It's a World War Two cosmic horror story thrown into a blender with psychedelic paranormal sci-fi, stargates and moonspheres and black suns. I actually like how the story keeps all but the very most necessary details from the reader, creating the "we know what is going on but not why" kind of feeling that makes for some good supernatural horror and the prose is simply on at least a professional level in its beauty.

The part about the poor quail being unconcious when Justinian found me struck me quite a bit, since here in Denmark right now there's a snowstorm going on and occasionally there's some birds outside freezing we go out to feed with apples and bread.

By the way, I have a question: Will this story go into the connections between the Bells and Pockets universe and OZ Comix!, or is that meant to be unexplained too? I know there are (or were at some point) some "canonical" alternate universes of OZ Comix! here...
"You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." - Heraclitus

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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:25 pm

Peregrin wrote:The part about the poor quail being unconcious when Justinian found me struck me quite a bit, since here in Denmark right now there's a snowstorm going on and occasionally there's some birds outside freezing we go out to feed with apples and bread.
:cry: Aww, man. That really sucks. I have a soft spot for birds.
Peregrin wrote:By the way, I have a question: Will this story go into the connections between the Bells and Pockets universe and OZ Comix!, or is that meant to be unexplained too? I know there are (or were at some point) some "canonical" alternate universes of OZ Comix! here...
Actually, the Comix Bells and Pockets were supposed to be different from the originals. Likewise the Bells and Pockets in that OZ Unlimited RPG. Alternate universe counterparts like Shroom's (and everyone else's John Baylors). Then again, I have been toying around with their conceptualizations, so who knows what I may finally decide?
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Peregrin » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:53 pm

Eh, I can understand that because there's a few of my SOTS characters I'm giving OZC! analogues too. Hell, the Orionian Greys are already implied to be ancestors of the Apexai. Oh yeah, and those birds in my garden seem to be surviving. I gave them some more bread and seeds this morning and there's coming more of them. :)
"You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." - Heraclitus

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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:22 pm

Note: I wanted to put the complete chapter up yesterday, but I'm also working on one of the papers for my Master's classes. Doing those dry, boring academic papers always saps me of energy, and I had to force myself to do this chapter so as not to leave this fic to wither and die. Hell, this isn't even the complete chapter yet. I decided to split it into two parts so as to put something up. Hopefully, I'll be able to complete and post the rest of it by tomorrow.

Anyway, enough Mal-whine. Here's the first half of the next chapter:

EDIT: Added the rest of the chapter.


Primary Sonnenrad, Stalingrad

Oberst Otto von Klausenberg watched as a pair of Wehrmacht soldiers carefully laid Generalmajor Schrödinger on the stretcher and gently hoisted him up. Though he kept his face rigidly composed—he was, after all, a senior officer—he was quite worried about his general. He might not have known that much about magic himself, but he knew that anything that could’ve affected so great a sorcerer as his commanding officer so severely was nothing to take lightly. There was some comfort in the fact that the general was breathing steadily, and the medics had pronounced the man stable, but while the general lay unconscious any comfort was still all too little.

Around the colonel other soldiers were also busy tending to the other fallen mystics. Some of them were carried along in stretchers like the general. The breathing of the poor souls was visibly much more labored than that of his general, and a few were even twitching—some violently. Otto would’ve thought that a testament to how powerful his general was, to have come out with nothing worse than unconsciousness from a nasty, city-spanning magical mishap that had so severely affected the other clearly lesser mystics. He would have thought that, if the sight hadn’t so deeply perturbed him. The fact that the rest of the arcane practitioners were being carted off in body bags rather than stretchers didn’t help any either.

A grimace found its way to the carefully stoic expression he was trying to keep. If this was the effect on one of the Black Sun arrays, how much worse could those around the other array sites have been affected? Even as the question formed in his mind, he already knew the answer. As if on cue, he saw a Wehrmacht hauptmann walking hurriedly up to him.

Heil!” the officer saluted as he stood before the colonel. He even gave a parade-ground heel click.

Ja?” Otto prompted tersely.

Herr Oberst,” the captain reported, “we’ve received reports from the other Sonnenrad array sites. Most of the Ahnenerbe people are—”

“Dead,” Otto stated bluntly, “or incapacitated, am I right?”

Ja, mein Herr,” the captain nodded uneasily, “Reports from the other units not near the arrays, the ones with psychics and mystics attached to them, also say the same. The few who remain conscious are in no condition to fight.”

The colonel’s frown deepened. This wasn’t good. The psychics and magicians had been their best counter to their opposites on the Bolshevik side. Say what you will about the damned Bolshies, the witches and warlocks of their Winter Corps were trained and skilled enough to be quite a genuine threat. Without their own to stay them…

“What about the Soviets?” he demanded, “How would their own arcane practitioners fare? We all saw that explosion of light, and it covered the entire city.”

“I honestly wouldn’t know, Mein Herr,” the captain said apologetically, “Magery is not my forte, but if I may hazard a guess: Since the arrays were well within our lines, then, er, y’know…”

The man trailed off, but it was clear what he was trying to say. The… accident would likely not have affected the Soviet counterparts as badly, which meant that the Winter Corps was still an active threat. And now they had no direct counter, and they still didn’t know what other trouble the botched spell would bring itself.

“All right, get on—”

Whatever Otto had been about to say was interrupted when one of the soldiers let out a yelp. The colonel and the captain spun, their hands instinctively reaching for their sidearms. They saw a soldier pointing at a writhing body bag.

“I-it moved!”

“Then get the poor bastard out!” another shouted, “He’s still alive.”

“B-but there was no pulse,” the other stammered, “I'm sure of it—”

The body bag suddenly jerked and launched itself at the soldier, knocking him to the ground, much to the surprise of his compatriots. The soldier groaned, raising a gloved hand to cover a bloody nose. The body bag kept twisting and turning wildly, looking absurdly like a giant worm trying to beat the poor hapless trooper into submission.

Otto frowned. Something about this wasn’t right, he could feel it. His hands reached for the two Luger pistols holstered to his hip. He’d just unlatched the holster flaps when another one of the soldiers reached for the crazily convulsing canvas bag…

“Hey, HEY!,” the soldier shouted, reaching for the bag’s zipper, “Calm down! We’ll get you out of there soon enough.”

“No, don’t!” Otto yelled just as he pulled out his pistols.

Too late. The soldier reached down and unzipped the bag as two other soldiers held down the violently shaking form.

The results were immediate.

An arm shot out of the body bag and slapped the soldier in the face hard enough for the sound of bones breaking to be heard—whether from the soldier’s skull or from the arm, no one was sure (it was likely both). The soldier’s head snapped to the side and he crumpled. The other troopers were too surprised to react quickly. Not so Otto, who aimed his Lugers and fired four shots into the figure in the body bag. Without a word, without even a grunt or groan, the occupant tore itself out of the canvas bag and fell upon the soldier she—it was one of the Vril mediums—had knocked down. The four bullet holes she sported didn’t even seem to slow her down at all.

Schiesse,” Otto hissed under his breath as the troops finally started to react to the seemingly crazed woman as she began to savagely beat the fallen soldier with a wild, uncontrolled flailing of her arms.

There was a sick crescendo of flesh upon and flesh and broken bones even as the soldiers dove at the woman. Since the woman had been right on top of the unconscious soldier, they dared not fire at her. The woman’s crazed flailing continued even as three strong Wehrmacht men pulled her off of their comrade and tackled her to the snow. One of them, the stuttering bloody nosed soldier, lost his grip when the woman’s elbow caved in his larynx. His other two buddies violently started to stab the woman with their combat knives as the soldier rolled off, loudly gurgling as he gasped for breath.

Colonel vol Klausenberg had seen enough. Even as more men leaped into the tussle with the mad, inhumanly strong woman, he turned to the stretcher-bearers carrying the wounded and began barking out orders.

“Get them to the nearest vehicles, now!” he ordered, “Preferably something fast. A half-track.”

“But Herr Oberst—” one men began to protest, but Otto cut him off.

“Now!” he snapped, “We haven’t much time. Schnell!

As if on cue, several more body bags began to twitch and move. Some quick-thinking reacted fast and tackled the things to the ground, others didn’t even bother and began to shoot into the bags. This proved not only futile—as the writhing bodies in the bag didn’t even seem to feel the shots and just kept trying to wriggle free—but also foolish as some of the shots actually ricocheted off the cold, now partially uncovered concrete and slammed into the legs of other soldiers.

Otto knew all of that was to no avail. He’d seen this before, in Warsaw. There was no way they could win this, not with what they had right now. They needed the 6th Army consolidated, with all the surviving sorcerers evacuated and kept safe, to even begin to battle this threat.

“Don’t bother!” Otto shouted at them, “Get into the nearest vehicle now! Half-tracks, trucks, tanks, anything you can ride on! We need to evacuate and link up with the main body of our forces immediately!”

The words were barely out of his mouth when everything went hell.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


The multitude was in exultation as it began to coalesce around the remnants of the summoning arrays around the city. They grasped greedily for the nearest of the soul remnants lingering in corpses of the slain around the city. Pulling, tugging, almost tearing, but not consuming. The restraint to do the last would have resulted in cries of frustration from the voices, but it was more than offset by the promise of more than mere scraps to feed on. The tugging and pulling made the things move. They could make the things hunt. And, oh, they could finally feed!

Small movements at first; nothing more than jerks and twitches. However, the multitude could learn quickly, spurred on by the promise of prey. Like a violent ripple, the corpses were torn from their resting places as the Schattenstämme dragged them by the lingering soul-stuff on the cold-preserved flesh like children dragging puppets by the strings.

The movements were far from elegant. The things moved in jerky, unpredictable ways, limbs swinging and shooting out in ways that would’ve torn muscles and dislocated joints. Mostly, the bodies just rolled and drag themselves across the ground with random movements. The people watching would’ve found it almost comedic, had they not been overwhelmed by horror and revulsion.

The Schattenstämme didn’t care; didn’t even notice. To them the people where nothing but shells within which the prey hid, shells which they could not touch, could not break.

No longer.

The exultant cries of the voices had taken on a predatory edge now. They now had something with which to break the untouchable shells and feast on the prey within. As one, the multitude pounced.

The areas around the Black Sun arrays erupted as hundreds of reanimated dead surged from shallow graves and hastily made corpse piles. Jumping, rolling, flailing, clawing—some even seemed to be half-flying as they were dragged forward by unseen forces—they came, impelled by an inhuman hunger. The mobs of abdead quickly coalesced into a nightmarish parody of an army, dressed as most of them were in the Soviet and Axis uniforms in which they had died. They sped down the streets and tore through shattered buildings, a roiling wave of undead, heading toward the locus of the failed arrays.

Toward prey.

The troops around the Black Sun arrays, already trying to fight of the suddenly reanimated bodies of the Vril and Ahnenerbe mystics, felt their rising horror turn into sheer, unbridled terror as they caught sight of the wave of undead rushing toward them from all directions. Some were so horrified that they just stood there, mouths agape in aghast disbelief, as the horde slammed into them. They disappeared in a cloud of wildly thrashing limbs, beaten to death within seconds.

Unthinking terror was suddenly joined by desperation, and the rest of the soldiers began to open up in earnest. The originally staccato gunfire had erupted into a massive firestorm as soldiers began firing in earnest at the reanimated bodies of the Ahnenerbe and Vril mystics. Older Kar98K rifles, semi-automatic Gewehr-41s, Schmeissers, and even pistols all roared as one, sending a wall fire that would’ve stopped a conventional advancing force cold. The weapons mounted on the vehicles began to open up as well, and the sound of heavy machineguns and cannon fire were added to the fray.

Abdead bodies twitched as round after round struck them, turning the bodies into Swiss cheese. However, they kept on coming. Bodies which were taking fire from the machineguns of a panzer and a half-track had lost heads, limbs, even entire torsos; many disintegrated into fine mists of practically liquefied flesh and powdered bone by the sheer volume of fire. Some of the advancing bodies even seemed to be little more than bloody pulp held together by gristle. And still many kept going. If anything, the things seemed to be getting better at moving, their movements becoming less and less random and jerky and more coordinated. The others similarly ignored the gunshots and tore after the soldiers with a horrific single-mindedness.

Worse yet, some of the soldiers they had beaten to death started to spasm and jerk as their souls were consumed, adding their ethereal energies to the now-growing Schattenstämme. These bodies were quickly infused by the gibbering multitude of the Schattenstämme, quickly rising and joining the seemingly unstoppable mass.

The Wehrmacht men fell back as they kept firing, scrambling toward the nearest vehicles and trying to clear the shot for the heavy weaponry at the same time. Many of the vehicles stayed, heroically waiting until the last possible minute to load retreating troops—at times over the capacity of the vehicles in question. Other vehicles were less inclined to do the same. A number gunned their engines and tried to tear through the army of abdead even as officers screamed into the radio orders to keep the force together. The heavier vehicles, such as the panzers and half-tracks, managed to use their sheer mass and armor to brute force their way through. The sickening sound of mulched corpses was added to the noise of engines and gunfire as undead body after undead body disappeared under steel treads.

Even then, the horde kept coming. Many of the troops clinging to the hulls of the armored vehicles forcing their way through found themselves pulled off of the vehicles, kicking and screaming. Those who couldn’t make it into the vehicles were simply overrun, no matter what resistance they attempted in sheer desperation. They were dead within seconds. A few, seeing the inevitable, turned their weapons on themselves and committed suicide. Better death by your own hand than by an unholy army of reanimated monstrosities, after all.

This time, even the bravest or most foolhardy of the vehicles could wait no longer. They revved their engines and tried to bull their way through the tightening press of abdead. Again, the heavier vehicles had the advantage. The occupants in the trucks held on for dead life as the vehicles drove over the moving corpses. Even then, the sheer number caused some trucks to stall or shudder to a halt, their occupants set upon by the horde in a flash. The smaller cars had it worse. All of them only made it a few meters or less before they crashed to a halt and disappeared under a pile of zombies.

Even something with the sheer weight and armor of a panzer weren’t guaranteed an escape. One which had stayed behind to cover the evacuation had charged, roaring forward onto the onrushing mass of undead. A few of them fell, crushed into red paste under the treads and tonnage of the Panzer II. The tank commander had even cheered, but his cheers quickly disappeared when several of the reanimates simply launched themselves at the tank. Several slammed into the sides of its hull and fell off, some getting crushed, but one managed to jump right at the tank commander and pull him off the tank screaming. A second one managed to land on the turret and hang on, before pulling itself into the now vacated top hatch. The vehicle suddenly veered off and slammed right into and through the wall of one of the crumbling buildings, bringing the entire structure down upon it.

Similar scenes repeated themselves all over the array sites. The pandemonium of weapons fire, vehicle engines, and even the desperate, terrified screams could be heard for practically miles around. Over the air waves a veritable cacophony of panicked radio messages were streaming out, only to be met by confusion and demands for clarification. The Axis radio communication around Stalingrad essentially disabled itself, as the great volume of traffic simply overwhelmed any attempt to make sense of it all.

Over the noise of the sound and radio waves, however, was an unheard clamor. For as the Schattenstämme fed, it grew. As it grew, the excited, frenzied jabbering of the multitude became the heady roar of euphoria and predatory bloodlust. They needed to grow more. They needed to feed more.

They would have more.


Somewhere on the outskirts of Stalingrad

Efreitor Mikhail Florianovich Gapanov was bored. Dead tired and bored, not to mention cold. He yawned, his breath visible in the winter air. He rolled his shoulders and tried to shift the Tokarev semiautomatic rifle he had slung over his right shoulder into a more comfortable position. The rifle wasn’t that heavy, all things considered, but after over an hour of sentry patrol duty he almost wondered how the strap hadn’t sawed clean through his shoulder by now.

He stopped at the remnants of what had been a brick wall and stared out toward the bombed out shells of buildings just beyond the forward outpost he was currently guarding. Well, alright, perhaps “outpost” was just too generous a label for where he and his platoon were hunkering down right now. They were just a small force holed up in what had once been a small apartment complex of some sort, looking out at the rest of the city, which was currently infested by fascists. They were basically there to observe, report, and even do target spotting for artillery if they needed to. In some moments, being close to the front was actually kind of exciting, in the nerve-wracking sometimes terrifying sort of way. However, such moments often occurred between long stretches of mind-numbing monotony and boredom.

Mikhail shifted his rifle again. Damn, this really was stupid. Walking a beat like this made no damn sense. Why the hell did he need to patrol out in the open when the rest of the company was hidden within the damn buildings? That would just tell any German who’d come out this far would immediately see that there was somebody out here, meaning that they’d lost any opportunity for surprise or ambush. Not to mention that his patrolling out in the open made him a target for any Nazi sniper who felt like taking a shot.

You’d think that an officer who’d survived fighting in Stalingrad this long would have developed some kind of common military sense. He let out a grunt sourly. Of course, survival didn’t always mean you were smart enough to survive, just lucky enough to have lived this long. The young lieutenant commanding their little forward force was certainly not one of the smart ones by any stretch of the imagination—which was something he had little of as well—and he had the bad habit of not listening to the experienced sergeants who were.

He came to the end of another patrol circuit and started back the other way, cursing softly under his breath and leaving a wispy trail of mist behind him. He’d wanted to go some place that was at least a little warmer than walking around out in the open air of winter, but his assigned shift wouldn’t end for quite some time. Mikhail promised himself again—he’d lost count of exactly how many times he had done so—that if he lived to see the war end, he’d be out of the army as fast as he could get the paperwork all filled out. He’d done more than enough of his duty to the country in this damned place, so he wouldn’t give any more than he needed to. He’d started imagining what he’d do once he’d finally gone back to the safe, satisfying life of being a civilian. First, he’d gorge himself on as much food as he could get. Rations were terrible these days, even for a civilian. Then he’d sleep for an entire week. No interruptions. Just a good, long rest…

Mikhail never saw it coming. Everything suddenly went dark just before he felt something slam into him, knocking the breath out of him. Before he could gasp for air, he felt himself get slammed back-first into the wall, which rattled any coherent thoughts out of his head for moment. Just as suddenly as it had enveloped him, the darkness pulled back and he could suddenly see again. Something was right in front of his face. Something pale capped by something black. There was also a sound. After a moment he realized that that something was someone’s face. A small, pale Oriental-looking female face with short black hair. The face had an angry expression, and it looked like she was yelling at him. Well, that explained the sound.

His momentary stupor suddenly broken, he began to struggle and yell back at the strange girl—she looked hardly into her early teens—trying to reach for his rifle. He couldn’t. Something seemed to be binding his entire body. He looked down and saw nothing but pure blackness, darker than a moonless, covering everything up to his chest. More horrifying was the fact that the darkness seemed to be spilling right out of the girl’s body.

He looked back up at her face, his eyes now wide with fear. She was still screaming at him in some gibberish that he couldn’t understand (Chinese?), her voice punctuated by the tinkling of the bells hanging from hair tufts on either side of the girl… thing’s head. What the hell did she want from him? And just where the hell did she come from?!

Ya ne panimayu tibia!” he yelled, hoping that she’d understand from the tone that he was saying that he didn’t understand her.

This only seemed to infuriate the girl-creature, however, as he felt the darkness tightening around painfully around his body. His scream strangled on his throat as he felt the air being squeezed out of him.

“Please,” he managed croak, “What do you want from me? What the hell do you—”

His sentence dissolved into a gurgling scream as pain erupted all over his lower body. He heard the sickening crunch of breaking bones, bones he immediately realized were his even as his vision turned white from sheer agony before beginning to darken.

As the dark overcame him, whether it was his own vision or because of the black mass flowing from the girl, his last thought was that, at the very least, he could get his long rest after all…

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


As the soldier disappeared into her shadow, Rasa snapped her hand forward and grabbed the man’s hat. It had looked at lot like Justinian’s at first glance, but looking at it now she realized that it was the wrong color. A quick sniff also revealed that it smelled wrong too. She knew what he smelled like, this wasn’t it. It was disgusting. Any smell that wasn’t Justinian’s was disgusting.

She crumpled the hat, letting out a howl of frustration before throwing it onto the ground with great force. The small cloud of snow it kicked up hadn’t even settled when she stormed off, the pure black mass of her shadow swirling angrily behind her.

Where was Justinian? WHERE WAS HE?! She’d been going from shadow to shadow, desperately looking for him while now, but could find no sign of him. Her body began to tremble in fury, frustration, and fear. Why couldn’t she find him? Why were they separated? Had he abandoned her? NO! No, not Justinian. Never. He’d never abandon her. He was Justinian. No. Never…

Would he?

She fell on her knees, grasping at clumps of her hair. She shook her head violently as she slammed her fists against the snowy ground again and again.

“NO!” she shrieked again, this time out loud, “He won’t do it. Not him!”

But even as she said it to herself, the doubt was still there. The fear was all to real. The sound of it ringing across her mind. It heard it. And It took it, the sound of her doubt and fear. The maddening, incessant ringing of her frustration. The loud, unthinking frenzy of her anger. It took them all, and began to sing.

Faint at first, a mere whisper in the back of her mind since she had just forced It back there recently. But It was always back there, always waiting. Dancing with the music of her emotions until they got loud enough, impassioned enough, tumultuous enough for it to start singing. And so they had, and so It did. Humming at first, unnoticed in the chaos of her thoughts. Then mouthing out the song in Its wordless ways. Then the half-whispered sounds, fleeting in the din of her mind before, louder and louder, she began to here It. Its song. By then it was almost too late.

Almost.

“No,” she again. This time a soft murmur not a shriek. This time at IT.

She was dimly aware of sounds coming out from around her as she began to stand up. The voices of people hidden in the buildings in the surroundings, people pointing at her. As she straightened up, she heard several loud pops. Guns. They were shooting. At her. But she wasn’t paying attention to them, not early, even as her shadow flared up around, encasing her in protective darkness.

No, they did not worry her. She would deal with them after it dealt with the real enemy. The only truly dangerous one. It.

She screamed at him in defiance, in her mind and with her mouth. Having just so recently subdued by the bells Rasa possessed, It could put up not real fight. So weak that Rasa would not even need the bells, not this time. The girl’s savage roar shouted down It, sending it scampering back into the dark corner of her mind. She didn’t want to her Its song. She WOULD NOT hear Its song, and It WOULD BE QUIET! There was only one song she wanted to hear. His song. Justinian’s song.

She would find him, and she would hear it again. And It WOULD NOT interrupt her.

Her eyes snapped open, and she stopped yelling. A savage expression entered her face as her eyes turned toward the general area from where the Red Army soldiers were shooting at her. Her eyes saw nothing, encased as she was in depths of her shadow. However, she did not need her eyes. She drew on the otherworldly senses of shadow, and she could feel them. Feel where they were, especially those within the shadows of the apartment complex they were holed up in.

Her shadow suddenly shot out, zipping in through a window and merging with the shadows of the apartment buildings. Every shadow in the building suddenly became unnaturally dark, as if nightfall had suddenly come in the places where the shadows touched. Happening too quickly for most of the soldiers to properly process, many were gaping in stunned astonishment when the pitch black reached out and grabbed them, sucking them into its darkness before they could even fight back, not that it would’ve helped.

And even if their guns could’ve harmed the shadow, the point was quickly rendered moot. Just as quickly as the shadow had seized them it had also crushed their weaponry, as well as the arms that held them. Before they could even yelp in surprise, the soldiers found themselves crying out in pain.

Only one soldier had not been seized instantly. It was the officer commanding the platoon. Though Efreitor Gapanov had, somewhat uncharitably, thought of him an unimaginative dimwit earlier, he had the presence of mind to grab the radio and jump out one of the windows before the shadow could grab him. It helped that he had been sitting closest to the small fire they had been using to keep warm, and thus had been far enough away from the shadows when the shadow-thing had merged with them. It had been occupied with grabbing the soldiers closer or within the shadows when he had shaken away his shock and made a run for it.

He was already in contact with headquarters with his field radio, having managed to make it a few meters away from the apartment complex. He was in the process of hurriedly, in an almost panicky manner, reporting the attack on his unit when something took hold of his legs, causing him to crash face-first into the ground. He reached for the radio, determined to complete his report, when he felt his legs being crushed. Pure agony came over him as the shadow moved up his body, over his arms, and around the radio. Thinking it a weapon, the shadow crushed the radio as well as his arms, worsening the sheer pain already flooding through him. The officer was still screaming when he was dragged back into the shadows.

Rasa extruded from her now-expanded shadow, appearing before each captured soldier one by one. She focused first on the ones with hats similar to Justinian, for she had realized something. Justinian hadn’t left her. He’d never done so before, and she was absolutely sure he never would. Not him. No, he had been taken from her. That was the only explanation. The proof was in the hats. Why would they be wearing hats like Justinian’s unless they knew something about it? About him. It made sense.

They had taken him from. She would take him back.

She would make them give him back.

The girl leaned over a soldier, grabbing the back of his head to make him look right at her. She screamed at him, demanding that he tell her where Justinian was. She had her shadow crush him slowly when he wouldn’t answer her properly. She’s stop if he told her where Justinian was. She didn’t care about him anyway, all she wanted was Justinian. The soldier still didn’t answer her properly. In rage, she had him crushed completely and consumed by her shadow.

She receded into her shadow, only to appear before another soldier. She repeated the process. Again and again and again until, finally, there were no more soldiers.

She felt her frustration and anger practically boiling within her. None of them had answered her properly. However, she did not howl or shriek or cry. She had a direction to her purpose now.

People were hiding Justinian from her. She would find them. She would find him.

She would make them talk or she’d destroy them. Eventually, someone would tell her.


64th Army encampment, west bank of the Don River, Stalingrad

General Chuikov welcomed them without much preamble. The general was a direct man, not given much to bluster or painstaking protocol. His headquarters reflected that. It was a simple collection of radios, maps, documents, and staff officers assembled efficiently in one of the more solid buildings on this side of the river, in such a way that allowed for quick packing and transfer when necessary. There was little, if any, of the minor luxuries most general officers and their staff always managed to wrangle for themselves (ha, so much for classless equality). Indeed, other than that which a military command center needed to operate, there wasn’t much difference between Chuikov’s headquarters from the quarters used by the men of the 64th Army.

That earned the man Makar Daryevich Igorov’s respect. Real respect, not the grudging variety he allowed the puffed up little bastard who nonetheless could fight when needed. If nothing else, the man was doing his job of defending the Motherland rather proficiently. Though he vehemently disagree with the mockery that was the so-called Party of the People currently in power, the Motherland was still the Motherland. Any soldier who defended her, and did it very well, deserved some respect.

“The Troika reporting as ordered, General.” Igorov saluted smartly, his two subordinates and the NKVD man, Koslotsov did the same.

The latter shot him a quick look of disapproval at his conscious omission of the word “Comrade,” as he always did. However, the man said nothing. Igorov had to repress to urge to chuckle. Just because he respected the general doesn’t mean he’d go into that whole overwrought “comrade” business just for him. If anything, it was more respectful that he didn’t as any attempt to do so on his part would have resulted in something clearly ironic sounding, which wouldn’t be respectful in the slightest.

The general didn’t seem to mind either as he merely nodded at them agreeably before he strode over to a chunk of concrete debris and promptly sat down. He gestured to them saying, “Be seated, comrades.”

His subordinates quickly found seating places of their own, quietly positioning themselves behind and slightly to the side of their superior officer. Koslotsov seemed to have been hit by momentary indecision, eyeing a stool within his reach. Protocol-conscious careerist as the man was—to Makar’s unceasing annoyance—he was probably worried about the propriety of grabbing a stool when the highest ranking officer in the room was only seated on a mere piece of debris.

The warlock colonel decided to relieve him of his indecision by simply walking over, grabbing the stool, and carrying it back to where he had been standing. He willfully ignored the outraged look the NKVD officer shot at him, though he had to resist the temptation to laugh as he felt the man’s glare trying to burn a hole a through his back. He knew that Lev, his teenage subordinate was fighting hard not to laugh. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Antonina shoot the boy a reproving look while trying to hide a smirk herself. All of this did not get past the general, and his only sign of reaction was a very slight twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

After all, practically no one liked the NKVD.

While a sound behind him indicated that Koslotsov had finally sat down on something, the general began to speak, ignoring any pleasantries.

“I assume you know why I’ve called you here.” General Chuikov stated. Without waiting for a reply, he went on, “That little stunt the fascists just pulled is raising quite the heckle among high command. Everyone’s wondering what the hell just happened.”

Chuikov unconsciously ran a hand through his disheveled hair before continuing, “Generals Zhukov and Vasilevsky, in particular, want to know, and they’d like any input on how this may affect Operation Uranus.”

Operation Uranus was a massive counteroffensive push scheduled to begin in a few days. The primary commanders were Zhukov and Vasilvesky—the latter of which being Chuikov’s superior—and, if their plan succeeded, they’d encircle and completely cut off the German 6th Army and their Romanian allies. After the armies were encircled and cut off, all they’d need to do was starve them out and either systematically eliminate the dwindling remnants, or force them to surrender.

Easier said than done, of course, but it was a sound plan. Certainly, from what information he’d been given—and Chuikov respected his rank and abilities enough to allow him to be privy to certain bits of information despite his status as an unrepentant tsarist—they’d gathered more than enough of the forces needed to do so over the past few weeks with more than decent secrecy. However, whatever plans had not expected whatever the Germans had just done. And any strategist with sense knew that it was often the unexpected which made the best laid plans go completely to seed.

Since whatever the Germans had done was magical in nature, and since he was probably the most experienced in the mystical arts in the area, they’d naturally consult him, whatever they felt about him. Rightfully so, too.

The general looked at him expectantly.

“Honestly, sir,” Igorov began, “I am not completely certain. It was something big, no question about that.”

He could almost feel Lev wincing, and he knew the normally outspoken boy was biting whatever comment he wanted to add—he was in the presence of a general officer, after all. Still, he had been the most affected by the earlier magical backlash. His telogreika his had blood stains from the backlash-induced bleeding of the symbol carved onto his forehead.

“However,” the aging colonel continued, “I haven’t been able to find out exactly what it was. I tried scrying, but something’s obscuring any attempt at remote viewing. Like some sort of shadowy mass is obscuring everything around the Nazi arrays.”

Makar noted that the Chuikov’s eyebrows quirked at the mention of the “shadowy mass.” The general, however, kept silent and seemed to be waiting for him to continue. The sorcerer shrugged mentally. The general would tell him when he felt like it. Of course, a little indirect prompting couldn’t hurt.

“I tried asking around, but no one else seems to have any idea either. We don’t have any observational forces that deep into the German-held parts of the city. At least, none with any radios.”

The general grimaced at that, mostly because that hadn’t always been true. Chuikov was an ardent advocate of “hugging the enemy,” and he’d always placed pockets of troops in and around any enemy-held areas. Not just for scouting and forward observation, either. Such units had been raising hell in Stalingrad for a while now. Raids, sabotage, and ambushes had constantly harried the Germans, adding up to a not inconsiderable amount of enemy attrition, not to mention how much the Germans’ morale had suffered. The Troika had actually participated in quite a number of those, as a matter of fact, since they were under Chuikov’s command. Although, they’d been recalled just shortly before the Germans had acted.

Just prior to that botched magical business earlier, the Germans had spent days leveling and cleaning out entire city blocks in the areas they held. The massive operation had forced many of Chuikov’s holdout units to move away to a safer distance, so there hadn’t been any observers anywhere near to arrays to report any details. It had alerted that them that the fascists were up to something, but since they knew nothing about that all they could do was fortify defensive positions and see what happened.

General Chuikov seemed to mull it over for a bit before he looked back up at Colonel Igorov.

“I’m sure you have thoughts about what it probably was, though,” the general stated, “Da, Tovarisch Polkovnik?

So he wasn’t quite ready to enlighten him yet. Alright, he could wait.

“Very likely a failed large-scale summoning, General.” Makar ventured, “Athough, I’m not sure if the shadowy obstruction was the summon itself, or merely a side-effect.”

A little reminder couldn’t hurt either.

The general quirked his eyebrow. “Well, I may have something which could provide some illumination on the matter.”

Finally.

“Just a few minutes before you arrived, we received a message from one of our forward units across the river,” he began, “The unit’s commander managed to report that they were being attacked and overrun.”

The general looked at him squarely.

“Before we lost contact, the commander was able to scream out one word: ‘Shadows.’”

This time, it was Makar’s turn to quirk an eyebrow in curiosity.

“We haven’t been able to reestablish contact ever since.”

“I see,’ mumbled the Troika’s commanding officer, nodding slowly, “Definitely a summoning then.”

He put his hands together in front of his face and lapsed into a thoughtful silence for a long moment. Finally, he slowly came out of his reverie and turned his head. Atonina caught his gaze levelly. The pretty, young major’s expression was its usual carefully impassive self, although there was a definite knowing quality in her eyes. He also caught Lev’s glance, and saw the boy’s lips quirking into a slow smile.

He sighed. They just knew him too well.

Makar turned to look at the general.

“Well, general, I guess we’ll have to go and have a look then.”


Somewhere in the Karpovka district, Stalingrad

“Hm, cold.” Justinian observed. A blatant understatement, and a stupidly obvious one to boot. But no one was around to call him out on it anyway, not that the boy would’ve cared much one way or another.

Still, the freezing air was just a minor annoyance to him, if anything. Honestly, he couldn’t understand why people always went on about how bad Russian winters were. He wasn’t even in any proper winter gear, and it wasn’t really bothering him too much. Then again, extremes in temperature and environment never had bothered him that much as far as he remembered. Maybe it was a matter of perspective?

He shrugged and kept going.

Awkwardly he crawled forward, try to keep his profile well within the narrow trench between the pile of debris leading from the building he’d just crawled out from to the building he was crawling too. Not too much trouble finding piles of debris this deep into the city. In fact, it seemed that the entire city was nothing but piles of debris approximating the shape of urban sprawl.

“Hey,” he whispered to himself, “That thought was actually kinda poetic. I gotta remember that.”

Normally, he would’ve stated the observation to Tribonian. After all, why talk to yourself when there was someone else to talk to? However, his ever-faithful companion had been knocked out cold by the backlash of whatever had yanked them out in the middle tesseracting. He looked down at the hand pocket (on his hoodie, not one of his vest pockets) where he had stuck the bird in and pulled him out a bit—still unconscious, but also still breathing. He pushed the quail back in carefully.

As for his other companion, well, he had no idea where his little pet shadow girl had gone. Well, no, that wasn’t completely true. The bells he’d given her had this distinctive and strong aura, one he could sense for probably hundreds—maybe even thousands, he wasn’t sure as they’d never been separated before—of kilometers. He didn’t know exactly where she was, but he did know that the aura was stronger in a certain direction. That was a start.

So, he was making his way through the city to find her. After all, what kind of pet owner would he be if he just let her wander off with out going to look for her. He may have been many things, and sometimes he wondered if he was also some certain other things, but he knew that one thing he was not was a bad pet owner. His parents would’ve been proud, if he even had parents.

As he crept his way forward, he could hear the faint sounds of weapons fire way off in the distance. It seemed to be getting louder every second, though it was still pretty faint. He slowly looked around toward the general direction of the weapons fire. Along with the usual view of the strands and threads of the fabric of space-time twisting and undulating, there seemed to be a cloud of dark, shadowy something spiraling toward the ground. It reminded him a bit of Rasa’s shadow, although it was a lot more wispy and pulsating-y than hers ever was.

At any rate, whatever it was couldn’t be good. Especially with all that weapons fire. Still, he shrugged. He’d worry about it when it got close enough to really be worried about it.

Not that he didn’t have enough to worry about already. After all, it was the first time since, well, he wasn’t sure how long, that he was going on without any protection from either of his companions. He’s usually be strolling along casually, confident in the psychokinetic protection of Tribonian and the guard dog devotion of Rasa. Now, he only had himself to rely on for protection.

It was honestly pretty darned annoying. It bothered him far worse than any temperature ever did. He’d had to do all his sneaking around just so he wouldn’t get spotted and shot at—which was something that would quite possibly bother him the most. After all, he was deep in German-held territory, and he doubted that they’d appreciate his choice of Soviet-chic headgear. Unconsciously, he reached for his Red Army ushanka with one hand and adjusted it. To be fair, though, Nazi German headgear wasn’t all that shabby either.

He let out a sigh. Ah, well, such is life.

Finally, he reached the building and slowly began to crawl forward within it. He looked around. It was a big building, whatever it had been. Though the walls were still up, the floors from all the upper levels had caved in and there was nothing but several big piles of rubble within. There was also sunlight shining through the multiple gaping holes up on the roof.

Suddenly Justinian froze—no, not from the cold. He’d heard noises coming from behind one of the big rubble piles within the building. Looking closely, he could see the faint flickering glow of a small fire. There was definitely someone behind that pile. No question that they would be soldiers.

After a moment, he began inching forward again. With all the rubble in the place, maybe they wouldn’t notice him at all. Then again, maybe they would. He sighed again. This would be so much simpler if he had a kinetic push handy, or an all-consuming shadow. Or even a weapon of some sort. He knew there were for than a few weapons in his collection. Of course, digging out the right storage tesseract was the problem. Most of the time, when he fished out any of the myriad of storage tesseracts from his pockets he usually got the out by random.

He didn’t have time to try and go through as much as he could before he stumbled across something useful. Besides, the noise from all the objects be splurged out of the tesseracts would be pretty loud, and they’d be bound to notice the green flash every time he opened out a tesseract.

Then again, that reminded him. You didn’t just pull stuff out of storage tesseracts, you could put stuff in too! And he wouldn’t mind another gaggle of soldiers for his collection.

The boy looked around again, this time observing the strands of space-time around him. There actually was one knot folding in on itself a few feet away from him, unseen by ordinary eyes. How convenient. Or, well, it would be if he wanted to grab it and weave and blue tesseract. However, he didn’t want to port out of here. Not yet. Not until he found his errant little pet.

With a sigh, he turned away and resumed looking. After a moment, he found one. An errant, stray thread of space-time. It was a little thing, happened all the time. Even more often the twisting and folding which resulted in the space-time knots he used to weave out a blue tesseract. Like the knotting, it was a fairly minor thing and did nothing that could affect—or even be noticed, for that matter—by most people.

He wasn’t most people.

Justinian crawled slowly toward the free thread, hoping that it wouldn’t drift away or wind back into its proper place in the fabric of space-time. Slowly, steadily he went forward until, after what seemed to be hours for all the careful anticipation, he grabbed hold of the free flowing string with his right hand. With a quick tug, it broke lose and he quickly would it up in his hand. Then, with deft movements of his fingers and wrist, he weaved the string of space-time into a pulsing, glowing green tesseract.

“Yup,” he whispered under his breath, “still got it.”

The boy began to crawl forward again, inching purposefully toward the slight flickering behind one of the rubble piles. He was hoping that, since the rubble pile obscured his view of the soldiers, it would obscure their view of him as well. He just hoped that nobody was set up in another place, looking out and around. And that the faint green glow of his tesseract wasn’t too visible over the piles of rubble.

This time, the crawl seemed even longer than the one he did to grab the string of space-time. Maybe because he had to hold the tesseract in his right hand, so he only had his left to support the weight of his upper torso. Or maybe it was because he was even more nervous than he had been when crawling toward the loose thread of space-time. Or, y’know, maybe it was both.

Anyway, after a forever longer than the forever earlier—if that made sense—he finally reached close enough to make out definite voices. He still couldn’t make out what anyone was saying, since the conversation was in hushed whispers. Still, at least he now definitely knew that there was someone there, and that there was more than one someone.

Now all he needed to do was close the distance, quickly toss the tesseract from out behind the rubble pile, and hope that the soldiers were packed tightly enough around the flame for the tesseract to suck them all in.

Yeah… Why do things like that always sound easier in your head? And just who was he asking anyway? He was the only one who could hear himse—

Justinian’s train of thought was abruptly cut off because, at that moment, his left had had caught a piece of debris; a piece of debris that had fallen on top of a thick bunch of snow, compacting said snow into ice. Since most of his forward weight was being supported slowly by his left hand, he found himself face-planting as his weight made the rock his left hand had landed on slip over the ice beneath it. As his face smacked into the layer of snow on the floor, his right arm was jarred enough for him to let go of the storage tesseract.

The twisting and pulsating hypercube landed on the pile of debris in front of Justinian, which was sufficient enough to set it off. The tesseract expanded into its net, momentarily flashing bright green as it sucked in the pile of debris. As quickly as it had opened it closed, reverting back into a small, softball-sized cuboid.

Of course, the bright green flash had been more than sufficient for the soldiers to whirl around, guns up and ready. By the time Justinian picked his face up off the floor and wiped the snow off, he was looking up at a bunch of soldiers looking down at him. Their expressions quickly narrowing from wide-eyed surprise to hostile suspicion. Oh, and their guns were pointed right at him too.

For a moment, nothing happened. Justinian and the group of soldiers just stared at each other in tense, uneasy silence.

Justinian blinked. Then blinked again.

Almost incongruously, a bright, friendly grin bloomed on his face.

“Hi!”
Last edited by Malchus on Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:54 pm

Oh shit. Just when you thought Stalingrad, of all places, just couldn't get any worse. Then it does. :twisted:

Of all the place to put freaky-deaky Super Romero shambling zombies in, it had to be Stalingrad! Man! Oh man! Nazzies, getting eaten by other Nazzies! Man!

Make more, Malachuschuses! More! This must continue! IT MUST!
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Malchus » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:29 pm

Okay, I edited my previous post to add the rest of the chapter. So, I guess this installment is complete.

*whew*

The hardest part, and the part that bogged me down, was writing Rasa's POV. I mean, I know how to write her. I just continue on with the "song" theme of her thoughts. However, that limitation is kinda hard to keep consistent while trying to keep it from being too repetitive. And I also just realized that Rasa is probably the most mentally broken and emotionally twisted character I've written so far. It's kinda hard trying to convey that properly, and I had to got through several versions of her scene before I finally settled on this one.
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:23 pm

Goddamn. That is one freaking scary, inhumane, and downright monstrous little girl... monster!

As said in MSN, she's hardly a sympathetic character at all. I guess that IS your point. But still. Man. She's inhuman! Very much so!

And I guess it contrasts very much with how Justinian is nonetheless inhuman, but somewhat still cheerfully weirdo and perhaps a bit benevolent (being nice to his... pets), or something. It's kind of odd to have two such hard-to-relate-to characters, and I kinda hope that they do kinda get some sorta development (at least for Rasa, since it'd suck for her to stay the way she is now), but hey, your call.

Nonetheless, the execution has been very good and I love the Troika. Igor's a complete ass! And Chuikov is a pretty cool guy. :D

I guess putting Bells and Pockets in interesting times, around all sorts of characters who're human and such, is part of the point (I think I mentioned this before). So, yay Troika!

Also, there are some type-poos here and there, but that's no biggie.

AMYway, while Rasa is a friggin' scary little girl monster, scarier than even FROD's littel girl monsters, I cannot wait for the impending Justinian action. It'll be an excellent counterbalance to Rasa, even if both of them are utterly inhuman nigh-Lovecraftianoidish peoples who'd be all freaky-deaky and outright scary for normal people to behold.

I guess they're Lovecraft's version of what a Doctor Who and a companion should be like.

Goddamn fucking Lovecraft.

:mrgreen:
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Re: The Shadows of Stalingrad

Post by Booted Vulture » Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:30 am

Aww, Man Rasa's not unrelatable. She's just a scared little girl in need of a hug. Ignoring the killer god like shadow entity thingie.

Excellent chapter Mal, all the different views melded together well to give us the overview of the situation. And A very sort of Doctorish moment at the end there. Though its plain Justinian doesn't go for the technical pacifist schtik the doctor has. (oh noes! I be using TVTropes terms, i shall be flamed. ;) ) On the other hand he achieves the same effect just by being absented minded and disorganised :D
Ah Brother! It's been too long!

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