Catastrophe in Cairo
Dust falls all around Gerhard as a wayward British shell lands nearby. He huddles over the ancient books he carries to protect them. "The fighting--it draws close!"
Smack! "Show some spine, boy. You are a member of the master race--act like it!" Brauer's backhand knocks Gerhard to the ground, but he somehow manages to keep the tomes from touching the ground. Gerhard sneaks a glance up at the SS officer, seeing a sneer of contempt on his face, then gets to his feet and scurries deeper into the Pyramid's antechamber.
Gerhard rushes up to his master's side and offers him the books. He turns to look at the books, the light falls across his face, and Gerhard shudders. Even after so many months of serving the VernichtungTräumer, Gerhard can barely stand to glance at his face.
It's not a hideous face at all. In fact, it looks like a face that you might find on some of the German propaganda posters that got Gerhard to volunteer. There's just...something...wrong with it. Perhaps it's too perfect. Perhaps it's just all too clear that it doesn't belong to a real man. Perhaps his father was right and there is something called a "soul" and VernichtungTräumer just doesn't have one.
"Why are my books dusty?" asks VernichtungTräumer as he opens the first tome. Gerhard stares in shock. He had never been asked a question by VernichtungTräumer before. He had never met anyone who had. He stammered.
Brauer sneers at Gerhard. "Speak! You are a German! Act like one--or will I have to teach you again?" VernichtungTräumer looks at Brauer. Each member of the search party, almost without realizing it, holds his breath.
"My books must not be disturbed. They are worth more to the Reich than any SS Colonel,... Dietrich Brauer." As the terrible Annihilation Dreamer speaks Brauer's name, everything seems to recede. The war, the desert, eveything rushes away from Brauer until nothing is left.
The rest of the search party start breathing again, and turn away, intent on looking busy. Only Gerhard is brave enough to sneak a peak at the man-shaped hole in the air where SS Colonel Dietrich Brauer used to be. A familiar chill runs up his spine as the man-shaped hole follows Herr VernichtungTräumer as he goes about the business of opening the tomb.
The silence among the search party is total...
Dain McEwain moves to the next mummy tank. "Where is She" he says to himself with an absolute cold serenity. He reaches out his hand and pulls another desert imp out of the sands at his feet. To the sound of a wet rasping breath and the fearful yips of small dying animals that never graced this desert with their lives Dain speaks "I bind you here dry thing, to dry bound flesh in fighting form. When I call, do your will, and sunder well layed plans of men." The imp edges itself into the dry black flesh of the tank and melts away. Dain moves to the next tank down the row.
"She's very, very late." He reaches for another imp "I bind you here dry thing-" the process is repeated and on to the next tank. "I'm going to be very cross if she isn't here soon", He reaches for the next imp and finds the sands are depleted. "Unfortunate. I wonder if she can out run one of these tanks. No matter," The camera angle swings behind Dain to bring the pyramids of Giza into middle distance view "that will be after we've won or lost this day."
"...Golly," Lucy shouts down from a sandy hillock, "did you see that one?! I smashed right into that...old thing over there!" Lucy loads up her cannon and--KRPOWCH!!--slings another one in the general direction. "That oughta make those German guys a little salty."
She dusts off the gunpowder from her dress, and shouts down to Dain, "Hey, what are those things, anyway? Does the Doc have repellant for those mean little sand baby things?"
Meanwhile, inside the tomb, dust falls everywhere. The thudding of shells (Lucy's?) shakes the stones, and the very essence of the desert seems to press in upon the Germans.
Picked men push in certain hieroglyphics. They wince, as if in anticipation of the death-trap, but instead the door slowly grinds open, as if moved by a mighty hand.
"The power of the Pharoahs," one of the guards mutters. Then they stop, in shock, at what is revealed within.
A small woman, in dust-caked pants and a sweat-stained workman's shirt is fiddling with an apparatus of lenses and gears and ... well, gizmoes built in haphazard fashion around a large obsidian sarcophagus. Her black hair is drawn back and tied off with cord, to leave her free to peer into the eye-piece of a microscope.
Some sort of death-trap, laden with spikes and barbs, lies in disassembled pieces in the far corner of the room ... indeed, it appears that the woman crawled into the room from another part of the pyramid through the dismantled remains of the mechanism. An oversized greatcoat and a belt with two bulky pistols hang from the jackal-head of one of the statues nearby.
As the stones grind further apart, and finally settle into place with a bang, Doc Achilles looks up from her work. "Ah shit," she says with feeling. She picks up a lit cigarette that she wedged into the crevice of a decorative scarab on the sarcophagus, and takes a long drag. "Time flies when you're having fun," she says, exhaling a small cloud of curling smoke. "Dain is gonna be pissed."
VernichtungTräumer looks at this new element blankly and then nods. The hole in reality that used to be Colonel Brauer leaps at the woman, but the void that used to be his elbow catches on a strange piece of device lying among the remains of the booby trap, and with a loud POP, the air rushes in to fill the space that used to not be filled by Colonel Brauer. VernichtungTräumer prepares to summon the forces of death, for he can only completely annihilate someone if he knows their full name, and while this is clearly the notorious "Doc Achilles," he doesn't know her first name...
Gerhard gets up out of a pile of rubble and shakes himself off. He looks up and is confronted by an impossible sight. He can't possibly be seeing the girl he lost his virginity to, back on that lonely Frankfurt night. He shakes his head, but she's still there, standing up to the dreaded VernichtungTräumer. "Becky?"
VernichtungTräumer looks back at Gerhard, then at Doc Achilles. "Rebecca Ach--" he is cut off as a stone scarab, launched from some sort of hip slingshot attached to the infuriating woman's pants hits him in the face. "So, you refuse to be annihilated? Then you shall face a much worse fate...first! Durch die hoary Wirte von Hoggoth, rufe ich die Günstlinge des Angstlords zusammen. Lassen Sie die Macht des Vishanti Sie mit den Schädlingen von Visigoth anstecken!" Doc Achilles braces herself for impact, then unbraces herself after a moment passes with no apparent effect. She looks around, starts to smile, and then sees them...scarabs and scorpions and spiders by the hundreds are streaming from the walls, going past the Nazis, straight for her!
Becky throws Gerhard a venemous look. "What'd I ever do to you, anyway?" she says pointedly. Becky takes a moment to lay Gerhard out with a right cross, dropping him safely into the pit of the dismantled death-trap, before breaking for her gun belts. As the wave of scarabs pours toward her, she pulls out a wildly elaborated pistol and gives the crank on its side two quick spins. The weapon starts shaking slightly, and whirring like a buzz-saw. She points it at the approaching wave and pulls down the trigger. The machine pistol bucks like a bronco as it begins to fire, in a rapid staccato drum-roll. Scarabs explode in a jittery pattern of barely controlled devestation. Sparks scatter off the ground and the walls as Becky waves the gun like a hot lead fire hose.
and then... the threat of the scarabs over, Doc Achilles breathes a sigh of relief. She takes a breath and feels a sharp stinging sensation on her ankle! Shaking her leg, she sees that a scorpion has stung her, right through her boot! That's going to smart. She squashes it, but can only wonder how much of the venom made its way into her ankle...
"Hey, what are those things, anyway? Does the Doc have repellant for those mean little sand baby things?"
"No need. They are... depleted from this place." Dain replays, words carrying oddly well on the wind. "Let's get out of here. My work is done." Dain disappears behind a dune and his scream is heard transforming into a terrifying beastial roar. Out from behind the dune lopes a beast quite difficult to get a handle on. It seems to change size and shape as it moves, appearing taller, longer, shorter, or thinner by what stride it's on, but always over twelve feet tall and half again as long. Its features are no more clear, giving the impression of several mixed up animals trying to stand inside each other all at once. It trots up to Lucy on its flippered and bear-like legs, and, a little uncautiously, picks her up by the back of her dress and throws her into the air.
Lucy is pleasantly surprised to find she's landed on a feathered, furred, and, yes potentially scaled back. Before she can take a good look around Dain breaks into a bear like gallop. Lucy realizes he's going in the wrong direction to get back to the British line. Well, not exactly the wrong direction, unless you don't want to rush through the Nazi wave of mummy-tanks the British are about to engauge. A little smile creeps onto Lucy's face and she holds on tighter as Dain accelerates.
"Sir, I think you should look at something!" The junior tank commander yells over the moaning of the mummy-tank. "Really, and what is dat?" The Commander replies sarcastically to his subordinates simpering tone. "BANG!", The tank to the right of theirs explodes in a conflagration when, what high speed photography might reveal as a cannon ball, strikes it from behind. The junior commander's replay is lost in the noise, causing the Commander to yell "What!" The junior Commander just points to the rear of the tank. The Commander turns just in time to see four two six tons of ambiguous and highly suspect anatomy landing on top of his tank at aproximately thirty miles per hour.
As "Doc Ach" feels the venom course through her arteries, she starts to feel the unsettling feeling of being watched by something that Should Not Be Watching anyone. Much to his surprise, VernichtungTräumer feels unsettled as well. It feels as though the air is filled with a billion eyes, as if each molecule of air was a tiny monster.
Becky leaps into the machinery-filled hole, dragging her overcoat across the opening like a tent. She pulls a rip cord, and the coat starts humming rather alarmingly. Gerhard starts rising from his cold-cocked stupor, and looks vaguely terrified. "Electric charge," she reassures him. There is a sizzling sound as the wave of poisonous vermin strikes the coat and burns.
The watching eyes, so many eyes, glint mischievously.
The inside of the coat is like a folded and pressed laboratory. Doc Achilles grabs a flask-slash-test-tube from one pocket and holds the end near a flexible hose. She turns a valve, and the hose whirs. Cold smoke rises and swirls from the hose. An amber liquid pours out, half-filling the flask. She knocks back the entire contents of the flask in a single, practiced motion.
"An antidote?" Gerhard asks.
"Better," Doc Achilles insists, "Bourbon."
"That's right," the Annihilation Dreamer says, "Huddle behind your inventions, Rebecca ..." Again, he is cut off, this time by another burst of gun-fire from under the coat.
Rebecca Achilles rises, slipping into her great-coat as she strides over the charred corpses of the creatures sent to kill her. "You picked the wrong side, VernichtungTräumer!" she insists, firing burst after burst as she advances toward the exit. "Since the dawn of time, bastards like you have clung to whatever shreds and scraps of power were to be had. It's people like you that made the saying 'Power corrupts.' But now that's all falling apart, isn't it?"
Her voice rings inside the tomb. "Because Science! is giving power to everyone. And when all the world's people have the power to do what they want, you'll discover that most people, deep down, want to do the right thing."
She shakes her head. "It's fitting that der fuerher has you people searching the tombs of a dead past," she says. "The future is rising ... and we will bury you."
Then she staggers. The leg where she was stung folds limply under her, and she slumps to the side, leaning heavily on a catafalque. The machine pistol drops from her grip, and goes skittering across the floor, bouncing and weaving giddily under the influence of its internal gyroscopes.
Dain dodges, as much as something that size can dodge, between the desiccated undead tanks, disrupting their formation. He tears his wicked beak along the side of one tank at high speed, ripping out its caterpillar tread made of human feet.
The tanks begin to open fire, lobbing dehydrated, animated limbs as hard as iron. Dain's body writhes and twists to avoid the fire, like a giant animal as seen through transparent fun house mirrors. One of the projectiles strikes true, gouging into Dain's side, and starts to pound at his rib cage. The edges of the wound change from distinctly torn flesh, to ghoulish blood soaked teeth, which promptly snap shut. The mouth grinds for moment and spits out the remains of the arm as Dain crushes a tank turret with a club-like flipper paw.
One of the tank commanders shouts at the Dain-thing that's attacking his allies. "You think you are the only ones that control hideous things from beyond? Take a look at this!" and he pulls out the box that VernichtungTräumer had given him before the battle. "Behold the might of the Reich!" The tank commander opens the box and the battlefield goes completely silent for a moment.
Everything seems stopped in time.
With a rush of noise, the air swoops in to fill the space that had formerly been occupied by Dain, the tank commander, several tons of sand, and a half-dozen mummified tanks. Lucy looks on in horror. Is this the end of Dain? Certainly nothing could have survived that... but then, the sands start shifting, and Dain reappears in the sand. Boom! Lucy is knocked down by the concussion of a blast from one of the tank guns that hit just a bit too close!
"Oof!" *KERPLOW!* Lucy lands on her back, and her cannon arm goes off. The cannonball blasts into a field of closely running tanks. The ball whistles into one tank's armored side at a funny angle and pinballs towards the tank commander. The tank crumbles slightly at the impact and explodes in a shower of reinforced giblets which slice into the fleshy padding of the nearby tanks' treads. The cannonball decapitates the tank commander with a splurch, and the ball finally shatters on impact with a third tank, spraying nearby Nazi troops with shrapnel.
"Wha?! Oh, look at 'em squirm! Dain?" Lucy looks around confusedly at the panicking Nazi pandamonium. "Where'd he get off to?"
When Lucy finds her bearings, she sees an obelisk poking out of the sand, exposed by the Nazis' diabolical weapons. As she walks towards it, the sand loosens around her and starts being pulled. Unseen forces tug her through the sand, and she can feel the Eyes on her.
Suddenly she's jettisoned out of the sand, and lands on the floor of a darkened room. "Where are we," someone asks in the blackness. Is it Dain? Yes, that's who it is, she thinks.
"I don't know, Dain. I was having fun watching those Nazi guys skitter around like dancing beans on a hot plate, but then I got sucked in here all-of-a-sudden-like."
"Come over here," the voice that sounds like Dain's says. "I think I found something."
Lucy heads over to the sound of Dain's voice. "What did you find?" she reaches out ahead of her in the darkness with her cannon hand to keep from walking into a wall.
Meanwhile, up above in the pyramid's antechamber, VernichtungTräumer faces off against Doc Achilles. "Where are we," he says to her in a monotone. "Huh?" Doc Achilles looks at VernichtungTräumer as if he's grown a new head. "Come over here,...I think I found something." As the mystical energies flow off of VernichtungTräumer's form and seep into the ground like a cheap dry ice effect, Doc Achilles realizes that he's not even looking at her!
Below, Lucy's cannon hand bumps into something, something squishy. She feels the cold metal of her cannon hand warming up as something oozes up towards her shoulder!
VernichtungTräumer looks quizzically at Doc Achilles and her ludicrous coat filled with gadgets. "What sort of creature are you anyway? Where do you end and these..." he reaches out and grabs a device, "things..." the device turns to dust in his clutch, "begin?"
Gerhard grabs Doc Achilles and tries to pull her toward the exit. "You must flee. You don't understand what he's capable of,... what he is." Doc Achilles digs her heels in and looks back at VernichtungTräumer, in time to see his eyes disappear!
"Ah. I see it now." VernichtungTräumer's face turns in Doc Achilles' direction. "How intriguing. Truly you serve a power you can't hope to understand by coming here, Doc'...but enough of this distraction, Gerhard Schroeder." Gerhard barely has a chance to look shocked before he is annihilated. Doc Achilles lurches toward VernichtungTräumer as the force of Gerhard's pulling disappears.
"I don't serve... ANYONE," Becky grates as the force of Gerhard's sudden vanishment pulls her in toward the Annihilation Dreamer. She staggers, barely able to remain upright, and falls into the abomination's arms. His eyes, glassy and controlled, seek to focus on her ... and she snaps her head forward, head-butting him across the bridge of the nose.
"Sucker ..." she mutters. Then she looks up. VernichtungTräumer is still staring at her, with blood streaming down his face. The german's eyes are like portals into a domain of pure evil. His arms close tightly on her shoulders, holding her slightly off the ground.
"Uh oh..." Rebecca says slowly.
Rebecca's mind starts to spin like the time she drank absinthe in Algiers with the foreign legion. VernichtungTräumer's eyes pull her in and she starts to wonder if she'll ever be able to pull herself out. As the pure evil wafts across her soul, she begins to wonder if she even deserves to be able to pull herself out. After Liverpool, can she honestly say she deserves to exist? And if not Liverpool, what about Calcutta? She shivers at the thought of what went down in Calcutta...
Still, she consoles herself with the certainty that she is the greatest Scientific mind of the age. Surely that alone assures her a place in the world, no matter her other short-comings.
And then ...she remembers Albert Einstein. Damn him! Second best scientific mind is ok, though, right?
Through the mists that surround and befog her brain, she hears the voice of the Annihilation Dreamer speaking to her "once you are no more, you will have none of these feelings of worthlessness nor delusions of grandeur, you will finally cease your incessant prattle as the peace of oblivion overtakes you..." the words sound so good to Rebecca for a moment "...until even the peace of oblivion is gone. You will cease to exist, as will your friends and compatriots. All that will remain is the Reich."
Dain looks out over his beak at the last retreating mummy tanks. His flowing flesh begins to fold inward, diminishing. As he shrinks, he disappears behind a wrecked tank that he towered over before. Dain, fatigues in impeccable disarray, steps out from behind the ruined tank to watch the next wave of mummy tanks crest a dune to meet their fleeing comrades.
Dain raises his hand to the new wave, and the sound of small animals crying in the night returns. "Bound ones, I free you to your nature, chaos and havoc. Wreak it well and return to the sands."
A Nazi tank commander looks down on the broken field of battle, and the lone man that stands there. "What happened? Where are their tanks? It must be a mine field, but could they get it out here so fast?" Barking over the radio he says "All slow! There is a mine field!" He looks down at the desiccated face that is the tank's interface "Tank, slow to one quarter speed!" The face cracks its skin in a dry smile and sticks its thick tongue out at the commander. "What!" He yells as his tank swerves at high speed, slamming it the next tank over.
Dain doesn't pay any attention to the mayhem, thuds and crashes of the sand imps doing their job. "Lucy!" He calls out, "Where has she gone now?" he says impatiently. He searches the decaying wreck of one of the tanks to find the chest artifact they used against him, and starts running, very fast, on foot towards the pyramids.
Dain rushes up to the pyramid with all of the tents and research equipment next to it and sneaks over to the entrance, picking his way over a few dead researchers until he gets to a broken wall. He peeks through the large hole in the wall and sees the dreaded VernichtungTräumer!