[Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

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Invictus
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[Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Given the far from settled state of Comix history during the Second World War, this article is very much a work in progress. However, I will slowly fill in each individual profile in detail. As always, suggestions and ideas are welcome.

But enough chatter! Let me show you the foes of our fathers!

The Axis Commandos

The Axis was an alliance of convenience. Its member nations were not particularly known for their wartime cooperation, and there had never been anything but a lonely minority of internationalists who tried to change that. Nevertheless for Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, creating a joint international unit of extraordinary soldiers was propelled by its own imperatives. The countries have suffered considerably from enemy units which were decidedly unconventional, such as the illustrious Alexander Thaddeus and his Special Mission Unit, not to mention the many vigilantes, costumed adventurers and resourceful and patriotic individuals who fought alongside the Allied military, few and undisciplined but wreaking disproportionate amounts of mayhem nevertheless. The institutionalized nationalism of the Axis powers, ironically, simply did not produce nearly the same number of colorful individuals, so gathering a counter-force of similarly “talented” assets was only possible if the three countries pooled their resources. It was also an effort which was somewhat simpler than transporting delicate technology or tons of war material, all of which the embattled nations could hardly spare. In short, while there was little will for large-scale military coordination like there was among the Allied powers, there was room in the Axis nations’ vast war budgets to assemble a single commando unit. Other factors also played tug-of-war with the formation of the unit: the lack of enthusiasm for inter-Axis cooperation among the powers involved was at least tempered by the desire not to embarrass oneself before its peers, while the very serious effort by some Axis generals to build an effective fighting unit was hampered by the tight grip their governments had on their precious “unconventional” assets. The long rounds of negotiation, deliberation and coordination which marked the novel endeavor meant that the unit was only put to action late in the war, and not with much expectation or recognition. Despite that, they would become a constant thorn to the Allies’ side and one of the most tenacious enemies of freedom.

The Axis Commandos operated in the fissures of history. They were cloaked by propaganda and the fog of war, buried by the narrative of victory and the chaos of defeat. Surviving Nazi documentation variously referred to them as the “Vengeance Pact” (named after the initial cooperation agreement signed by representatives of the three powers) or the 333rd Special Warfare Troop. To the Japanese government they were the “Mockingbird Brigade” and the Italians had no official record of them at all. Furthermore, the unit received its orders from the paper organization known by the grandiose name of the International Intra-Axis Military Operations Command, which in reality was staffed by a handful of retired officers turned diplomats and intelligence officials. They ran a phantom operation which often overstepped the authority of their superiors and occasionally treaded the line on treason. As a result, it had never been quite clear who handed down missions to the Axis Commandos – not helped by the fact that the propaganda from every nation was not modest to claim their victories as their own. It was not until Hiyoku no Rei’s memoirs were published until historians could finally forge the disjointed data from classified Axis documents and Allied encounter reports into a coherent shape. In any case, there was little doubt that Sturmbannführer Hauptman was given great latitude in defining his operation parameters, as the recorded appearances of the Axis Commandos in almost every continent and theater showed. They have seen extensive action behind enemy lines in the Eastern Front, the Levant and Central Asia, and later transferred their sphere of operations to the Pacific theater as the Allied caught the Nazis in an iron vice. There, they fought on in Indochina, the Philippines and progressively more remote locales, sabotaging Allied bases and ambushing hostile patrols. Deprived of communication and supplies after the end of the war, the Axis Commandos nevertheless continued their bitter holdout action, waging a long guerilla war against local authorities. By their final capture in 1972, only two surviving members of the unit were left.

Almost certainly numerically few, the Axis Commandos were a collection of unlikely individuals who shared little common background or motivation. Yet, this merely added to the enigma of their effectiveness. In the unit’s endless running battles with their Allied counterparts, they were by all accounts a formidable enemy and not just by the virtue of their individual frightening abilities. Much had to be attributed to Hauptman’s leadership, but that alone could not explain why his unit continued fighting long after the surrender of their mother countries. Outside Hauptman’s own fanatical dedication to his Fuhrer, the loyalties behind the other members could at best be described as “unorthodox”. In fact, some historians speculate that the entire command structure behind the unit had gone rogue long before the war’s end, which had insulated the Commandos from the decimation and fall of the Axis governments. However, this would do nothing to explain why the team itself did not disintegrate in their harsh tactical environment but instead thrived as a tight-knit fighting force. It may be that the disparate soldiers found some common identity in the crucible of war that transcended nation and ideology, perhaps as physical and social outcasts. Whatever the key was, the Commandos have taken it to their graves.

The designated transport of the Axis Commandos was the hybrid airship Melissa, recently recovered off the coast of the Philippines. Equal parts glider, propeller plane and Cavor lifter, it was by all accounts a machine as elusive as the Commandos themselves, capable of many modes of landing and almost unlimited range. It was in many ways a typical product of German over-engineering, and the smooth running of its multiple systems was a testament to the unorthodox genius of the team engineer, Jaspare D’Arco. The wreckage showed innumerable signs of repair, cannibalization and jury-rigging, hinting at an immensely active and dangerous service life.


Claus “Iron Fritz” Hauptman – Commander
A NSDAP loyalist who remained on top in the party’s early tumult, a model SS recruit who brought honor to his nation by winning the pentathlon gold medal at the 1936 Olympics at the age of 30, demonstrating his peak-human prowess as living proof of Aryan superiority. He grew to command a whole company of SS troops as the war began, guarding the vitally important castle headquarters of Field Marshall Paul von Austerlitz. Nevertheless, it was a personal shame of his that he failed to defend the castle against the Iron Demons’ devastating assault, toppling one of the three major pillars of German war research. Nevertheless, this led to another event that would define his life – the discovery of the crate of Vitamin X that survived the castle’s destruction. Hauptman saw the special serum, which was designed to selectively boost one attribute of the human body to superhuman levels, as the key to regaining his honor. Unfortunately, the subsequent purge of the Austerlitz faction also swept him up, destroying whatever prestige he retained within the Reich. Instead, he was given command over an Axis-wide band of misfits who were to be the three embattled nations’ paltry attempt at cooperation, the skeleton puppet of an initiative largely built to generate propaganda.

Cast into this dead end, Hauptman could have given up and accomplished nothing with his collection of outcasts. Indeed, the odds were against him. However, he proceeded to pull himself together and turn the Axis Commandos into an effective unit that boldly shot and burned their way behind Allied lines. They may have been foiled and fought off, but they became every bit the equal of the various Allied commando units during the war. Hauptman himself was loyal to a fault towards the Nazi cause, but he was not an ideologue. He preferred to lead by example, fighting at the midst of the action with his subordinates and complementing their superhuman powers with his brusque commands and the judicious activation of his own superhuman attributes. Nevertheless, what they accomplished was not enough to turn the tide of the war. The unit’s unconventional mobility was not quite sufficient to ignore the shrinking Axis territory and the increasingly strained lines of supply they worked from. Correspondingly, Hauptman’s command slowly fell apart.

Claus Hauptman was the third last Axis Commando to die. Trapped fighting in the Philippines decades after the end of the war, he knew he was growing old and losing his prized physical and mental prowess. Only taking doses of Vitamin X could restore him to a battle-worthy state, but he had long since run low on the superhuman formula. The futility of his resistance and the decline of his strength eventually worn down even his iron will. Using making a rearguard action for the two remaining commandos under his command to escape, he did something that Austerlitz’s instructions expressly forbid, and he was only ever tempted to do a few times – imbibe his two last doses of Vitamin X at the same time. The compounded side effects killed him, but not quickly. The bewildered patrol of villagers and local police arrived just in time to find the twitching corpse of an old man.


Hiyoku no Rei “Zero” – Scout/Marksman
When the Emperor of Japan called upon what was left of the martial lineages of Japan to aid the war effort, most were eager to answer, to take a chance to forget their fading reputations and declining skill in the modern era. As such, they poured forth their youngest generation of precious scions, armed with the ancient fighting skills passed down from their progenitors. Nevertheless, the application of such secrets varied at best, and few of these special recruits fared better than the average Japanese soldier against Allied bombs and guns. It also did not help that the Japanese high command, immersed in the theory of modern warfighting, lacked the imagination to know what to do with them. Some of the fighting scions were put together in special assault teams and expected to accomplish impossible objectives; these men were expended with unsurprising quickness. The high command then overreacted by stationing most of the remaining scions in reserve on the Japanese homeland, awaiting a decisive battle that never came.

But none of this mattered to one centuries-old alliance of martial lineages. Perhaps more prescient than most, they prepared for the inevitable diminishment of their legacy by pooling their resources to create an ultimate warrior. Through arcane martial research, intense cross-training and selective breeding, they aimed to create a single individual to exemplify the warrior ideal, an ideal they pursued with burning obsession. During the war, the massive mobilizations created the key conditions to catalyze the emergence of the being. And the young man who answered to the name Hiyoku no Rei was the result. Immensely talented and meticulously trained, he was deemed an unstoppable fighting machine, a master in all forms of combat. In his reflection, his patrons claimed, could be seen the martial arts masters of old, the likes of which have never been seen in Japan for centuries. The Japanese high command, not taking these claims with much gravity, at least found him a use that would satisfy the honor of his patrons – filling in for the Japanese in the Axis Commandos.

Rei did prove to be immensely deadly in small-unit combat. While he utilized modern weapons like any other solider, he skill with the longbow proved to be most remarkable, rivaling firearms in its power. His presence on the team was a quiet but indispensible one: doing reconnaissance with his stealth skills and acute senses, wilderness survival, and pinning Allied troops to trees. Combined with the tactical genius of Claus Hauptman, Rei raised such havoc in the Pacific Theater that it was said that until Vietnam, the American handbook on jungle warfare was written from the painful lessons he and he alone taught. Nevertheless, even as his skills were refined to a peak in the crucible of war, its revelations only made him more and more contemplative.

Hiyoku on Rei was the last Axis Commando to die. He was one of the two last surviving members when the unit finally surrendered, and he in a sense he was the only one to survive the war. The return of Japan’s last martial scion raised many ripples in the seventies, ushering in a wave of remembrance across the country about its own past. There was the distinct sense though that nobody knew what to do with Rei – the right and left alike treated him with distant but worshipful reverence, more as a living ghost of Japan’s traditional past than a simple lost soldier. Apart from a few bitter and aging holdouts of martial tradition, his home society had simply moved on from him. Ironically, all this allowed Rei to live the quiet life he sought. Over the next decade or so, he slowly wrote and collated a book of his experiences during the war. The intensely personal memoir, “Tasogare no Busha”, was one of the decade’s bestsellers in Japan and the single most comprehensive account of the Axis Commandos themselves. It was later published in the United States as “Zero: The Last Ninja” and achieved similar popularity.


Jaspare “Electric Beard” D’Arco – Mechanic
The Italians were not known for their contributions in the Second World War, especially to the Axis cause. Their military was ill-prepared for the offensive operations it launched and perhaps for this reason it made no serious effort in putting the metahuman elements it found to effective use. Jaspare D’Arco was a mechanic in an armored division due for Egypt; his uncanny power to generate electricity was no secret amongst his comrades and in fact made him fairly popular in the logistically-challenged rear echelons of the Italian war machine. However, he fought as any ordinary tanker did, never really considering the offensive potential of his massive voltage – he simply was not that kind of person. It was the Germans who prevented him from being killed or captured like any ordinary soldier, literally flying him out of the shambles of Italy’s North African campaign and into the relative safety of Germany. There, he was kept as a “guest” for a few years, almost as a foreign dignitary, until the International Intra-Axis Military Operations Command had put all the political pieces in place and the Axis Commandos were put together. By then, whatever that was left of Fascist Italy was a puppet controlled by the German military, and D’Arco had no option to refuse.

Life in a rough-and-tumble raiding unit was a shock after the previous few years of comfort. Jaspere D’Arco was little enthused by the high standard that Sturmbahnfuhrer Hauptman held every member to, nor the distressingly direct uses he was ordered to put his powers to. However, there was one responsibility he welcomed happily: keeping the hybrid skyship Melissa in working order. The one-off model was as the Commandos’ exclusive transport and a technological marvel far ahead of its time. It resembled, and indeed was designed to function as a conventional jet plane, but was equipped with such an adaptable variety of landing gear, surveillance equipment and payload that the transport could perform any conceivable duty in any environment. Even more noteworthy was the tiny amount of precious Cavorite embedded into the airframe, allowing Melissa to perform short-distance takeoffs and aerial maneuvers impossible for a craft of her shape and propulsion. Though he constantly griped that it was a temperamental piece of junk, a typical victim of German over-engineering, D’Arco cared for the machine like no one else could. In fact, the very name of the aircraft was settled on by him.

If his teammates begrudged him for his lack of any real commitment to combat, they at least credited him for his useful tricks: keeping their ride in the air, jury-rigging mechanical contrivances, and hijacking the occasional Allied vehicle. In that sense, Jaspere D’Arco was as indispensible as anyone else in the small unit. His was the sole cautious voice beside the stoics and the daredevils. Nevertheless as the tide turned against the Axis, the facts began to mount on the side of D’Arco’s sardonic pessimism, and suddenly his opinions began to grind. The deterioration of the unit’s morale in a way mirrored Melissa’s accumulated damage. There was only so far German ingenuity could carry the skyship through its intense, secret campaign, and her mechanic’s field repairs could extend it little further. And if D’Arco’s electricity could provide a limitless supply of power for the team’s radios, it no longer mattered as their secret commanders fell silent in their bunkers one by one. Jaspere D’Arco was soon out of tricks.

Jaspere D’Arco was the second Axis Commando to die. With the unit falling back and falling apart against the American retaking of the Philippines, his dire predictions that they weren’t going to get out of this one alive rang truer than ever. But this time, something cracked. In a fit of rage, a fellow member of the unit tore D’Arco apart. Deprived of both pilot and mechanic, the surviving Commandos nevertheless took flight from the besieged island of Luzon on the Melissa. Perhaps something of D’Arco’s death echoed within the battered skyship, because its faithful engines finally gave out mid-air. It was all Sturmbahnfuhrer Hauptman could do to inexpertly crash-land it on a remote island.


Amada “Firebomb” Ryuusuke – Pilot/Demolitions
Amada Ryuusuke was obsessed with sacrifice. It was the motif that ran throughout his family and his nation, the constant and hoarse exhortation for a life well spent. Against the Westerners’ perfidious industrial might, sacrifice was Japan’s answer and sacrifice was Japan’s solution. As a child, Ryuusuke witnessed his home country wage war upon the world with breathtaking audacity, launching fleets and armies across the Asia-Pacific. There was no question that it could have been otherwise – for the nation to take even one step backwards was to succumb to encirclement and destruction. One by one, Ryuusuke’s older brothers left for the military, laying down their lives to the country’s summons. Soon enough, it was his turn as well. When he was sixteen years old, Ryuusuke was drafted into an IJN Special Attack Unit.

Ryuusuke had only ever received a few weeks of training as a pilot, but that was because he was only expected to make one flight. However, his flight instructors noticed how quickly he took to the controls and managed to put his plane through beautiful loops and dives. If he was a few years older and drafted a few years earlier, Ryuusuke would have likely become an ace pilot. But for him and his desperate country both, there was simply not enough time. Ryuusuke's piloting talent was borne out on his first sortie, launched alongside his squadron of suicide pilots against an American fleet. His was the only plane that made it within a kilometer of their strike target, dancing through swarms of interceptors and thickening webs of anti-aircraft fire. Nevertheless, Ryuusuke's Ohka was hit and caught fire. As orange flames wreathed his sealed cockpit, he concentrated even harder on steering his faltering plane towards the carrier in his sights. The canopy glass cracked, and with a deafening whoosh fire rushed into Ryuusuke’s cockpit. Instantly, he was immersed in furnace-like heat, but was not burnt. He was too intent on his suicide dive to notice this odd fact, or how the flames hollowed out his plane and took on its shape even as the fuselage melted and fell away. By the time Ryuusuke struck the island of the American carrier, there was no plane left, only the apparition of fire. He only realized his newly-awakened power when he had flown halfway back to the mainland, feeling inexplicably empty at his survival.

Ryuusuke's glorious return had enough to make him a national icon, should he choose to - his newfound status as a powerful metahuman afforded him an aura that not even regular war heroes possessed. In that brief moment of his return, he truly had the chance to make his words heard in the highest echelons of the Japanese military beyond propaganda and politics. To the disappointment of those admirals who wanted a figurehead to flaunt, Ryuusuke was too much of the model Japanese volunteer. He did not want glory, only the opportunity to keep flying and fighting. In fact, the young pilot was the only member of the Axis Commandos who volunteered to join the unit. Reluctantly, the admirals agreed – an absent icon was easier to trumpet about than a close and potentially defiant metahuman. The other unit members – especially Jaspere D’Arco – opposed his job to pilot the Melissa once they learnt of his background, but Ryuusuke was the only one on the team with any piloting experience and he filled the gap nicely. More appreciated were his “Wings of Fire”, the ability to create fantastic shapes of pressurized flame which could crack fortresses and incinerate men. Ryuusuke’s firepower was amongst the most powerful of his unit and he was always eager to apply it. Sturmbahnfuhrer Hauptman managed to hammer a bit of tactical prudence into the young man as he did with all the others who lacked it, but his borderline dangerous enthusiasm for risk – for sacrifice, as it were – never diminished.

Amada Ryuusuke was the first Axis Commando to die. The unit was trapped in the Philippines, surrounded by American forces from land, sea and air. They had seen increasingly vicious and futile fighting against the tide, escaping the ruin of the Third Reich to be hunted by an ever-increasing force of Allied unconventional assets transferred from the European Theater. Hauptman was at a loss for strategy, D’Arco was suggesting surrender, and even Rei seemed more philosophical than usual. At that moment when seemed lost, Ryuusuke knew it was his chance. In halting German, he volunteered to lead a diversion to allow the rest of the unit to escape; his comrades understood what that implied as soon as the words left his lips. But in a decision he would regret for the rest of his life, Hauptman approved the request, and Ryuusuke parted ways. Through years of audacious missions, not a single member of the unit would become a casualty before now. They would not know it, but this was the beginning of the end of the Axis Commandos. What followed was probably one of the only U.S. naval actions against a single individual. Flak and rockets filled the sky, but were swatted aside by Ryuusuke’s constructs; incandescent bolts sniped fighters from the sky and tore glowing holes in turrets and hulls. In the climax of the battle, Ryuusuke took it upon himself to charge the largest ship he could find, repeating his very first flight in a culmination of frenzy. However, the American fleet carrier he rammed full force was much larger this time round. Plunging through the flight deck and deep into the hold, Ryuusuke belatedly realized that his angle was wrong, that there would be no final, sweet detonation. Not even his fire was enough to melt through thousands of tons of collapsing superstructure before he was crushed underneath.


Bedrich “Vagyr” Schwarz – Infiltrator/Assault
It is unclear what exactly Bedrich Schwarz was, especially given the paltry scientific data on metahuman phenomena in interbellum Eastern Europe and the obscuring mystique cast by the peculiar mythic resonance of his appearance and abilities. All that is known is that he was born as the bestial aberration that he later appeared as, abandoned after birth by an unidentified family. A kindly local priest took him in, ensuring his survival. Nevertheless, Bedrich physically resembled a cross between man and wolf, with modes of perception and bloodthirsty instincts to match. He still possessed a human intelligence, but that was hardly apparent to the unsettled Czech villagers he encountered throughout his childhood. The only individual who did not approach him with fear or disgust was the old priest who raised him, patiently educating young Bedrich on good and evil, on the distinction between the inner and outer self, and on how even monsters can find redemption in Jesus. Though the teachings did not help him develop self-esteem – the disapproving gazes everywhere was too much for that – he learnt at least to do good to society by appearing in it as little as possible. So when the priest died, Bedrich felt truly alone in the world. However, some strange instinct overwhelmed him as he stumbled upon his foster-father’s corpse, a little inner voice that told him the best way to hide from the world. Soon, he found that he could not only flawlessly skin the man who raised him, but also fit his hulking, twisted frame inside in perfect mimicry of its previous occupant.

Thus did Bedrich Schwarz discover his true power. As long as he lived carefully and moved often, he could quite easily merge into human society, passing notice with the aid of a succession of flayed hosts. On the other hand, the newfound power also confirmed his fears: that he could not be human without stealing the lives and identities of others. The sense of morality that the old priest instilled within compelled Bedrich to do no evil, but how could a being as fundamentally monstrous as him live up to that code? He tried to maintain his solitude as a much as he could, taking as few skins as possible and only entering civilized society when he absolutely needed to. His lifestyle grew more desperate as the Nazis swept across the continent, sweeping away the veneer of order and tossing him into the chaos of war. Even as he struggled and slipped to maintain some level of morality in his life, he was slowly tracked down and cornered by a cadre of strange men, who uncovered his true nature despite all his caution. The Ahnenerbe, the Third Reich’s occult vanguard, had found him. But they were not there to put him down; they had come to offer him a cause.

A sober, dispassionate appraisal of Bedrich Schwarz’s abilities would find that he was an excellent addition to the Axis Commandos. His true body was that of a hulking wolf-creature with razor-like teeth and claws, gifted with superhuman strength and vitality. This made him fearsome in the direct assault role, but that would be wasting his natural aptitude in infiltrating both civilian populations and Allied formations. In both roles, he proved to be tactically invaluable. But Bedrich’s military contributions were scant balm for the discomfort of his teammates and the constant violations of the moral compass which had been ingrained in him. The role that the war forced upon him, the constant killings and skinnings, was precisely what he railed against. The rest of the Axis Commandos did eventually grow to accept him, but he was never sure if the acceptance was for what he struggled to be or simply the useful monster inside. Slowly, and with gathering speed, Bedrich Schwarz began to accept and even revel in exercising his powers, letting himself loose as a pure and unrepentant monster.

Bedrich Schwarz was the third Axis Commando to die. As his appetites grew and his restraint diminished, a harried Sturmbahnfuhrer Hauptman found him increasingly difficult to control. The general degradation of the team’s morale throughout the war exacerbated all the way up to Amada Ryuusuke’s last mission, the impact of which was unprecedented. As the remaining Axis Commandos contemplated their mortality even as they took advantage of the pilot’s sacrifice to retreat to the Melissa, Bedrich, naked and unbound, also reached a boiling point. A general quip from Jaspere D’Arco awoke a desperate rage within him, causing him to lash out and tear the mechanic open. The others, mortified, abandoned him to his own devices as he instinctively skinned his comrade’s corpse and slunk into the jungle. There, he haunted the wild of the Philippines for years after the war, almost as a wild beast, evading hunters with his cunning and training and ambushing the unwary for their skin, though he no longer even wore them. Finally, as Bedrich accosted a young priest by the name of Jaime Sin, something inside him made him pause. Instead of ripping and tearing his latest victim, he silently surrendered himself to the surprised cleric. In return, Sin offered a prayer for him before delivering the beast into the hands of the waiting mob.


Codename “Matthias” - Shock Trooper
German attempts to create a response to the legendary Major Britannic began years before the outbreak of the war, continuing in various forms right up to the eve of the Third Reich’s defeat. Of these attempts, the one known as the Gruppenfuhrer Germanic Project was the first and most straightforward. Almost flattering in its imitation, the project selected hundreds of SS volunteers on the basis of their determination and loyalty through a process which had more in common with methodical torture. Then by subjecting these volunteers to a battery of “stressful battlefield stimuli”, most prominently poison gas, it was vainly hoped that the set of freakish circumstances that bestowed Uther Armagh-Strathclyde his invulnerability could be reproduced. It was known that an entire countryside was converted into an authentic reproduction of Great War trenches with the extra flourishes of an obstacle course, complete with barbed wire, simulated machine-gun fire and artillery batteries ordered to fire randomly into the theater. Subjects were ordered to cross the hellish field and capture a nondescript building at the end of it, which was a self-sealing gas chamber.

The painstaking effort put into the reproductions really concealed the fatal lack of information that the Project’s planners possessed of Major Britannic’s origins. It produced no results for the Fuhrer to see, and given that the entire approach seemed so overtly self-defeating, that would have seemed to be a bygone conclusion. It was again not until the publication of Hiyoku no Rei’s memoirs would historians put the pieces together and show that it was not the case. The scientists of the Major Germanic Project, treading water and gradually overtaken by Mengele and the Technowaffe in the bitterly competitive atmosphere of Nazi R&D, resorted to increasingly esoteric gas compounds to obtain results. Despite being stonewalled by Stalag Luft II, they eventually got their hands on and put into use alchemical recipes invented by the techno-sorcerer’s father, Stalag Luft I – deadly substances remarkably similar to those employed during that one fateful engagement during the Great War. This finally led them to success of a sort, melding half a platoon of bloodied Aryan soldiers into a creature the likes of which has never been seen on Earth. But one glance was enough to tell the horrified scientists that their work could never be accepted by Hitler as a paragon of Aryan puissance – let alone human at all. A thing of misjoined muscle writhing under steely grey skin, of unwholesome, many-jointed limbs moving ungainly, its existence was suppressed by its creators, who would rather report complete failure than confront the implications of their partial success.

The being codenamed Matthias was in every respect a shadow to its ultimate spiritual successor, the Aryan. While physically it was stronger and tougher than any human, it nevertheless failed to receive the kind of inexhaustible power behind the Aryan or Major Britannic. In comparison, Matthias was merely a self-perpetuating alchemical process, craving and rendering down external sources of life energy for its own use. It had the ability to suck scores of living men into its own form as if it was bigger on the inside and extrude their denatured corpses whole from its skin, retaining the extracted essence in its reserves. As long as it had a supply of life to feed on, Matthias could never falter – and that was the reason it was assigned to the Axis Commandos, whose off-the-book operation, self-sufficiency and occasional use of terror was admittedly perfect for its entry. Eager to find a use for their failed prototype, the scientists of the Major Germanic Project foisted Matthias to Sturmbahnfurher Hauptmann as a living weapon. And that was how it served – smashing tanks, cracking open bunkers with its unnatural strength and gassing whole enemy companies with its toxic breath.
Ironically, Matthias did possess an average, curious intellect of sorts, but unlike some of its comrades it never saw its humanity as anything more than a facade. Simple in thought and free of angst, the corpse-golem went about destroying the enemies of the Axis with quiet obedience.

Matthias was the second last Axis Commando to die. Following the loss of its commanding officer, it was left stranded with the recalcitrant Japanese warrior, Hiyoku no Rei. Technically, neither of them outranked the other, but Matthias did consider itself more as a tool than a soldier, and quickly acceded to Rei's tactical decision to disengage hostilities and remain hidden in the wild. It did not consider that the order would mean its death – that its hulking form and unnatural vigor had to be fueled by battlefields' worth of slaughter, not wallowing in a verdant rainforest it could not touch for fear of exposing its trail. Starved but patient, Matthias withered over the decades until the ultimate surrender of the unit, when its appearance was that of a tottering, misshapen skeleton, barely able to stand. It did not resist capture and repatriation to Germany, but withheld its actual surrender until it could tour the remains of the Third Reich. And so escorted by nervous soldiers Matthias inspected the graves, the secret labs and the death camps, where the same techniques that created him were used by the SS to mount a fighting retreat; it sought to know the ultimate fate of its super-soldier successors and what remained of its political cause. After all these things were painstaking explained to it and after it had slowly digested all of it, Matthias presented its formal resignation to the highest-ranking officer present and crumbled into dust.
Last edited by Invictus on Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:53 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The Axis Commandos

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

I like this. Once again, you make a bunch of interesting characters - 'Axis Commandos' who aren't just the cardboard villains someone like me would suggest, but actual-factual people who might be sympathetic and who have evidently become a band of brothers, fighting desperately not just for Fuhrer, but for kameraden! Vitamin X! VENGEANCE PACT!

Please expound on Matthias! He sounds horrific, though I wonder if he's an actual person or more like some mindless monster on a leash.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Siege »

Man, Iron Fritz! That's awesome. I like how they come off more as guys who happened to be caught on the wrong side of the law instead of the RAR EVIL! stereotypes seen in most mainstream comics. Great work as usual Vic!
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Vagrant Orpheus »

Definitely very cool. Somebody for Soldier to face off against in the fires of war.

But as a note, Special Missions Service wasn't put into action until after the war ended. It was a revamped version of the experimental unit that Thaddeus led during the war, Special Covert Operations Service.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Content!

The Early Days of Claus Hauptman

Born in Bavaria in 1906 to working-class parents, Claus grew up in the toxic atmosphere of anger and resentment which brewed in postwar Germany. He soaked up the beer-hall tales recited by bitter veterans on the glory of the Second Reich and the humiliation of Versailles. It was not long before he joined the Sturmabteilung not just in his commitment to a more militaristic Germany, but also out of a desire to distinguish himself personally and exceed his family’s modest circumstances. A man of imposing appearance and uncommon physique, he fought impressively for the NSDAP cause and his fortunes rose alongside those of his party. But as the Fuhrer took power in 1933, Claus also grew uneasy with Ernst Rohm’s rumored homosexuality and his increasingly willful leadership of his mother organization. His loyalty was ultimately to Hitler and the superiority of the Aryan race, not the facile process of class struggle. Fortunately, higher-ups in the Party had their eyes on Claus’ impeccable ability, and Reinhard Heydrich himself personally invited him to join the ranks of the expanding Schutzstaffel. Claus, seeing the blood and honor of the SS as more in line with his personal philosophy, accepted the offer and therefore stayed on the winning side of the Night of the Long Knives, while putting him even closer to the Party’s inner circles. As the Nazis remade Germany, he continued to distinguish himself as an officer and a living model of Aryan virility. Claus’ crowning achievement before the war was in the Berlin Olympics of 1936. At the age of 30, he won the gold medal for the grueling pentathlon event, earning recognition from Hitler himself. The triumph would define his future in ways he could scarcely expect.

Having been too young to serve in the Great War, Claus was eager to take to the front lines as the Third Reich prepared for war again. He was in the first Waffen-SS regiments to be formed, fighting alongside many of his old Stormtrooper comrades and rising to officer position in the short time between the Blitzkrieg and Operation Barbarossa. Outstripping the regular Heer units in efficacy, Claus’ division was reassigned to the command of Baron Paul von Austerlitz, then Field Marshall of the Wehrmacht, as a full part of the Special Warfare Section. It was ostensibly a gift, placing a division of elite troops under his direct disposal, but von Austerlitz knew well enough that Claus and his soldiers’ ultimate loyalty were to Himmler and the Party ideologues. It was a gift though he could not refuse without arousing suspicion from paranoid Nazi higher-ups, so he set them to work protecting his castle stronghold and field-testing his many scientific creations. Thus while Claus did not see heavy action at the Eastern Front, he witnessed first hand the wonders and horrors of science in equal measure. He was responsible for commanding the magnificent war machines rolling out of secret factories, impregnable juggernauts of steel leaving trails of wrecked Soviet armor in their wake, and from the bottom of his heart felt hope for Germany’s triumph; at the same time he was there to see his men torn apart by experimental suits of power armor or remade into cybernetic monstrosities which were barely human, let alone Aryan. But most alarmingly of all, Claus’ intimacy with the Special Warfare Section’s daily affairs was beginning to alert him to certain production and logistical irregularities.

Before he could voice his doubts on Paul von Austerlitz’s loyalty to the Nazi cause, an old enemy struck – Jason Goldstein and his Iron Demons, whom Claus had already crossed swords with many times, both sides fielding wondrous inventions in a proxy war of national ingenuity. But this time, a pitched battle between their respective creations wasn’t the intent, which Claus realized too late as the Allied commandos struck directly at the Special Warfare Section’s nerve center - Paul von Austerlitz’s own ancestral castle. The Field Marshall did not trust the SS men enough to have them garrison the castle itself, so by the time Claus arrived with his fastest elements, it was already a gutted ruin and von Austerlitz’s close followers were busy fighting to save his life. In the chaos of the command vacuum, Claus vaguely ordered his soldiers to secure the site while he himself wandered into the smoldering wreckage, brooding on what he saw as a personal failure to the Fuhrer. However, the sharp but strangely attractive smell of leaking fluid led him to a pile of crushed crates under the ceiling of what used to be a storeroom. Claus ordered his men to remove the wreckage, who managed to find a single intact crate. The markings which labeled the crate as “Vitamin X” further intrigued him. With the bloodless defeat of his division still weighing on him heavily, Claus made a decision – he had his troops spirit the surviving crate away, along with any research notes on it he could find – and von Austerlitz’s decimated staff was in no state to stop them. Claus had always been ambivalent about the Field Marshall's research efforts. While he was impressed only as a vastly less educated man can‚ the apprehension generated by the same arcane processes was compounded by his political suspicions. That von Austerlitz fell in battle only decisively proved his unworthiness in Claus's eyes. Against the prowess of the Jew Goldstein and his American allies‚ he and his mechanical solutions simply could not be depended upon - Claus was convinced that the key to victory was in something more fundamental to the supremacy of the Aryan race. And it was up to Claus himself to fashion a weapon of revenge.

According to the research notes‚ Vitamin X was an experimental family of drugs which could be administered on the field by direct injection. Each complex cocktail supercharged a particular aspect of the human body beyond its normal limits: strength, speed, sensory acuity or natural healing. A sufficient supply of these drugs could, with terrifying precision, transform entire battalions of Axis soldiers into superhuman fighting machines. However, von Austerlitz's scientists had focused on making the formula's intended results reliable and had yet to work on eliminating the side effects. The timing of Vitamin X’s effects varied wildly depending on the individual taker, as Claus and a select circle of men discovered. In their own furtive experiments with the drug, some found that the effects only took hold for a few minutes then cut out erratically, hardly enough to create a reliable super-soldier. Coincidentally but perhaps not unsurprisingly, the Vitamin X worked best on Claus himself. The fragmentary documentation he recovered did not explain why, but it was certainly possible that the drug resonated particularly well with his almost peak-human physique. If Claus’ subsequent exploits were a result of the drug’s typical effects, then it would have been a supreme irony – that the secretly anti-Nazi Paul von Austerlitz would create a weapon which perfectly exemplified the ideal of Aryan biological supremacy. In any case, the production of Vitamin X was far too expensive and time-consuming for a general dietary supplement, as it was originally envisioned. Bureaucratic infighting between the Nazi research departments prevented it from being repurposed, and on this basis the project was judged a failure and terminated, leaving the drug languishing in storage.

The organizational limbo which followed Paul von Austerlitz’s incapacitation did not stop Claus from carrying out his plan. He personally applied for reassignment to the front lines, with the reason of avenging the cowardly blow the Jewish race struck against the proud German war machine. To make himself more persuasive, he demonstrated his newfound abilities with Vitamin X, albeit with a cover story that it was a casual gift from the Field Marshall. Unfortunately, the assassination plot against Hitler went off at the same time, uncovering the extent of von Austerlitz’s conspiracy which not just appalled the Wehrmacht High Command but Claus himself. It also made the Sturmbahnfuhrer’s transfer request a political mistake, implicating him in the massive purge that followed. For Claus, it was a matter of sullied honor both personal and racial, not of any personal tie to the disgraced Field Marshall, but Hitler’s wrath was not to be deterred. Under the military tribunal, Claus was forced to reveal the truth – that he and his troop had simply looted the Vitamin X from the wreckage. The confession brought another kind of dishonor upon him – a disaffected aging athlete, a shady combat drug – which belied the professionalism of his service and threatened to destroy his reputation altogether. Nevertheless, there were three mitigating factors: officials failed to find any suspicious connections between Claus and von Austerlitz; his mastery of Vitamin X was admittedly of great practical use; and he was in the perfect position to fill a persistent and irritating request from the Foreign Ministry. In the end, while Paul von Austerlitz fell even further, Claus was officially cleared of any wrongdoing. His transfer to the commanding position of a brand new unit of international commandos did not lower his rank of Sturnbahnfuhrer, but he himself knew that in truth, it was a punishment to get him somewhere out of the way politically.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Vitamin X!

And I do like how this ties in to Unit Zero, and how gradually a web between the niche of soldiers and spies is being weaved. Soldiers, mercenaries, legendary warriors throughout the history - from the World Wars, to the Cold War and beyond!

EDIT:

Posted Queen Bee in the REPOST THREAD thread.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Expanded profiles for the first three members are here! The other three will be up soon.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Magister Militum »

Very interesting, Vic. So, does Hauptman meet his end as he originally did, or are you going to expand on it some more?
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Magister Militum wrote:Very interesting, Vic. So, does Hauptman meet his end as he originally did, or are you going to expand on it some more?
I'm not sure what you mean by the question. I've only ever had one end planned for Hauptman and it's in the extended profile. Or are you talking about something else?
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Mobius 1 »

I'd actually like to see more of Ryuusuke next if you have a go at him - I want to see how much there is behind is already neat powers.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

I love the melancholic take on these guys. It's really sad, Hauptman ending his own life in a very excruciating way, D'Arco becoming an unfortunate casualty of the war almost like any other bystander, and Rei surrendering and living on quietly as a silent reminder of who they all were, why they fought, and everything that was. I love the fact that their story has a beginning, a middle, and an end - like any good story. And their portrayal is something different from the usual freakteam of supervillainous Nazis/Italians/Japanistanis. Man, Vic. You never fail at this stuff!
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Magister Militum »

Invictus wrote:
Magister Militum wrote:Very interesting, Vic. So, does Hauptman meet his end as he originally did, or are you going to expand on it some more?
I'm not sure what you mean by the question. I've only ever had one end planned for Hauptman and it's in the extended profile. Or are you talking about something else?
I was referring to his end as described in the original description, i.e., he becomes a twitching corpse in the Philippines.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Magister Militum wrote:
Invictus wrote:
Magister Militum wrote:Very interesting, Vic. So, does Hauptman meet his end as he originally did, or are you going to expand on it some more?
I'm not sure what you mean by the question. I've only ever had one end planned for Hauptman and it's in the extended profile. Or are you talking about something else?
I was referring to his end as described in the original description, i.e., he becomes a twitching corpse in the Philippines.
That's about all there is to it. If you read the bit of Hauptman's early life I posted, it was really up to him and his men to discover the effectiveness of Vitamin X, but that didn't mean Austerlitz didn't leave behind some documentation about what it actually did. One dose of Vitamin X produces miraculous effects but puts quite a bit of strain on the recipient's body as well, to the point that only peak-humans like Hauptman could use it with any regularity. The effects of knocking back a second dose before the first dose wears off is at this point self-explanatory.

As to why Hauptman kept a reserve of two doses for himself to the very last, I suppose he at least subconsciously had this in mind, yes.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

And here is Ryuusuke.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Holy crap! Ryuusuke! Woah! Kamikaze! BANZAI!

HOT BLOOD AND GUTS!

A simple, and simply powerful, character. What a guy. He flew in a Zero made out of fucking FIRE! He shot FIRE at American warships and EXPLOSIONS!

What a way to go. Poor guy. I guess through the Axis Commandos, you are basically exploring the NINE DEATHS of the NINJA!
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Ford Prefect »

What followed was probably one of the only U.S. naval actions against a single individual.
What a complete badass. Another impressive entry. There's a lot of melacholy to these characters, which is entirely suitable.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Here's Schwarz!
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

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Soon, he found that he could not only flawlessly skin the man who raised him, but also fit his hulking, twisted frame inside in perfect mimicry of its previous occupant.

This is so Vic. Man, you love writing about the Inhuman Condition, dontcha? :twisted:

I liked the fact that he was 'defeated' by a lowly priest who would become our own Cardinal Sin, though I was expecting more of some grand battle culminating in an impalement-by-crucifix or something. What happened to Schwarz when he got handed over to the mob? :(
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

Post by Invictus »

Finally, the circle is complete. The last member of the Axis Commandos is up.
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Re: [Foes of Our Fathers] The Axis Commandos

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Wow. That's really something, mang. The ending itself is kind of sad, but makes very good and very melancholic sense. He decomposed over time, just like any veteran, but then before he finally surrendered he wanted to know what happened. Then he knew, then he surrendered, and then he turned into dust.

It's a very contrasting way to end for something born out of Nazi horror-experiments, and despite the fact that Matthias IS an absolute monster, it turns out that it's not REALLY a monster since it's just a... a half-minded tool. Man.
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