Thursday, August 03, 2023

WoAF - Game Session 53

Major Hrodwulf
Major Hrodwulf, the inimical Nazi commander, fixed his gaze upon his arch-rival Major Hanna Schiller, with such a seething revulsion that it teetered on the brink of full-blown insanity. She stared back at him with her steely-blue eyes riveted to his forehead... the target of her next bullet should these negotiations break down any further.

Hanna felt quite convinced that Admiral Ludendorff (whom she did not know had already been killed by Jacob) was in the process of escaping the doomed Nazi Moon Fortress, Eisenhelm, with that conniving witch, Melitta Reitsch, (whom she also did not know had already been killed by Jacob) in Shadow Hawk, the mysterious spaceship the Nazis had discovered hidden in a secret sublunar hanger months earlier.  "If the leadership is going to be so disgustingly craven," she thought to herself, "then why should the rest of us be fools enough to sacrifice our lives for... for what?  So they can escape and we all die?  Never!"  

As it happened Hanna's assessment was perfectly valid.  Not only had Ludendorff and his little trollop Melitta conspired to flee the moon in Shadow Hawk, but General Hertling had also been in on the plot. The three of them had been on the verge of fleeing Eisenhelm.  After all, once Captain Helmund had triggered Plan Delta-Z, the moon fortress was certain to be destroyed by Hertling's Doomsday Robots, the Obliterators, just as earth was doomed to be annihilated soon afterwards by The Phalanx.  Hitler's ultimate revenge against all of humanity could not be stopped.  And therefore the three villains had decided the only logical thing to do would be to escape using the alien spacecraft.  Of course Hanna did not not know that General Hertling had also already been killed by Vallnam, either. And so her plan had been to take her squadron of Commando Elites to battle their way by any  means to Shadow Hawk before the Petty Triumverate could take off, leaving Eisenhelm to disintegrate behind them.  She so desperately wished to kill Melitta with a bullet to the heart she could taste it, thus avenging her one friend in Eisenhelm, Lieutenant Wagner. who happened to have been one of the very few actual gentlemen among the Nazi command elite, and who had been gratuitously shot dead by Melitta on her way to meet the two Great Commanders.  After she avenged herself on Melitta, the Admiral and General would be forced to accept her as their pilot. If not she planned to kill one or both of them without hesitation.  She cared nothing for anyone who might stand in the way of her escape at this point.  She was going to live, and escape with her prisoner, and that was absolutely final!

And yet, since meeting Jacob, her plans had suddenly changed. She now believed it was somehow possible to terminate the Robot Force and stop the evisceration of Eisenhelm. If that could be done, then she planned to find and kill the three villainous traitors in Hanger B where Shadow Hawk was secretly stationed.  Once that was completed she would take the Master Keys from their dead bodies and assume control of Eisenhelm by any additional means necessary.  That was her new plan.  And all it would take would be to gain entrance to the Command Center C3-DZ-A1 and enter the Robot Force Self-Destruct Sequence into the computer within.  And for this she needed the cooperation of a few unexpected purple-suited strangers, doubtless from an ultra-secret parallel command hierarchy hitherto unknown to her.  They had a Master Key, and they claimed they knew the Self-Destruct code.  How hard could it be?  After all she had eight crack Commandos and one of the more brilliant scientists from Science Center 7 with her.  She anticipated victory with relish.  Finally Eisenhelm would be hers to control and command!  Now she just had to make sure that nothing got in her way.

She stared at Major Hrodwulf, his sneer exuding a fantastic level of revulsion and hatred.  She returned his glare with a gaze equally full of utterly ferocious contempt.  What a outrageously stupid fool he was!  Did this arrogant little lapdog of Hertling dare impugn that she, the young, courageous, and utterly gorgeous Hanna Schiller was was his superior?!  How dare he?!  It was intolerable! She felt an overwhelming urge to shoot him between the eyes.  And she had just the weapon to do it with, despite his Class-2 Armored Suit.  Her Lugar was not an ordinary model, but in fact was a specially crafted pistol given to her by the scientists of Science Center 7, now deceased, when they gave her the experimental Duridium Armored Suit.  It came with several magazines of experimental Duridium-capped bullets.  She had been looking forward to an opportunity to try it out.

There was, of course, another matter tickling the back of Hanna's thoughts as well.  Not far down the tunnel outside Pillbox C3-PB-A1 thundered Obliterator Robot #5.   Having just destroyed the Military Headquarters in Cavern 7 it was now lumbering its way down the tunnel towards their position.  It could at any moment let loose with a massive scarlet Plasma-Ray from its cyclopean eye. Such a beam was capable of boring through solid steel in a matter of seconds, and she had no doubt that it could disintegrate the Pillbox with a single blast.  If it wished it could bore a hole straight through the Pillbox doors directly into the Command Center, which of course would mean the instantaneous incineration of them all.  To do this, however, it would need to bore a straight line down Pillbox entrance tunnel, and so it would take extra time for it to get into position in order to do so.  But one thing was certain -- at any moment a blinding red beam could put an end to all of her glorious plans.  Consequently, time was precious, and the sneering Major Hrodwulf had just presented himself as someone in whom she could place little confidence as a negotiating partner.  Her lips curved upwards at the corners, forming a vicious little smile that hinted at the dark thoughts lurking beneath the surface.

Meanwhile, Vallnam stood up inside the elevator.  He adjusted his machinegun, lowered his visor, and prepared to pressed the "up" button on Ling's command.  The shadowy dog-sphinx next to him sat motionless, staring with its infinite black eyes at the elevator door.  In his left hand Vallnam held his Elthos Tarot Card, the Empress, ready to "play" it just before the elevator door opened.  The Power of the Empress should, he believed, give him enhanced reflexes, although it was also likely to cause a notable decline in his mental acuity as that was purportedly the negative aspect of the card.  He gazed at the the Empress's beautiful image.  She looked uncannily like Moon Princess Ling, he thought with a little extra pitter-patter of his heart.  

"Frauline Hanna!" crackled over Hanna's headphone.  It was the scientist-medic, Karl Hoffman, whom she had left behind in the Pillbox to look after the prisoner as her Commandos made their way through the airlock and into the Control Center.

"I'm busy!" she barked as she turned to face Major Hrodwulf head-on.  Her armor was fantastically capable of warding off all manner of attacks, but it was not nimble.  It would take her a second or two to position herself properly. 

"Zee Obliterator has shot three of zee Commandos off zee ladder!" shouted the scientist excitedly.  "It is almost at zee Pillbox now!  I vill try to use zee Doom Spheres to distract it!"

"Draw it avay from zee Pillbox!" she commanded him in a low voice as she stared into Hrodwulf's glaring eyes.

"So, Major," she said, "you think I'm disloyal, do you?  So be it!" 

She pulled the trigger of her Luger SC-7 Special.

Fortunately for Major Hrodwulf, however, he was a crafty old salt, and he was very well aware that he had just provoked his young beautiful rival to the point of rash action.  At the last moment he shifted his bodyweight, causing her shot to miss his head by a fraction of an inch.  He pulled the trigger of his own Luger and took a shot at a spot between her beautiful blue eyes.  However, and quite unfortunately for him, the bullet simply ricocheted harmlessly off the armor's diamond-glass faceplate.  He had certainly not expected that, Hanna gloated to herself as she observed his surprise.

As soon as the first shots were fired, Ling radioed Vallnam, whispering, "Firefight! Come up!"  

With that, the stalwart pressed the indigo-colored "up" button, and the smooth gleaming white elevator began its ascent.  It would take five seconds.  He felt the shadow-sphinx stand up, readying itself to leap into the room, but he did not look.  He shuddered as a cold chill went down his spine.  The horror of the outer darkness devouring the souls of the recent dead was something he felt it was probably better not to see.  It was a fate no living creature ought ever wish on another, that's for sure.

As the elevator rose, he "played" the Empress card. Its subtle glow suffused into him.  He suddenly felt extremely light and agile, but his mind seemed to fog over, and his thoughts became single-minded, focusing on the coming battle.  He slipped the card back into his pocket as he took note that his "Mighty Eyes" power was diminishing, and his vision of the shadow-sphinx was rapidly fading away.  Its Anubis-like head, shrouded in a dark smokey mist, was the last he saw of the nightmare-horror as it faded completely from his sight.  He knew, however, that the monster would leap into the room along side of him as soon as the elevator door opened, and it would devour the souls of those who died there, including his own, should it come to that.  He shuddered at the thought and a cold sweat dripped down the back of his neck.  This would not be a good day to die, he thought.

Hanna strode directly towards her target as she took three more shots at Major Hrodwulf in rapid succession.  His armor was designed to absorb a good deal of damage, but her Luger SC7's Duridium-capped Bullets easily punctured holes through the woven steel-fiber mesh.  He was driven backwards, his suit punctured with three crimson spots.  He was badly wounded, but not yet dead.  As he stumbled backwards three of his soldiers turned the corner of the computer banks and began shooting their machineguns at the invaders.  Hanna turned towards them and stepped into the line of fire to cover her men.  Bullets bounced off her armor with a profusion of glinting sparks and flashes. Nevertheless, one of her Commandos was hit, and he went down to the ground, his hands grasping in the air at nothing.  And so the gallant Commando, Fritz von Eisenhelm, perished in the heat of battle.  

Hanna strode steadily forward, signaling her Commandos to open fire at the armored soldiers as they ran to positions where they could gain line-of-sight.  No one had been expected a firefight to break out so suddenly and so the soldiers had been caught completely by surprise.  The Command Center was suddenly ablaze with machinegun fire.  The Commandos concentrated aim on Hertling's soldiers as they came into view.  Bullets ricocheted off armor plating with a cacophony of sparks, but the concentrated stream took two of the soldiers to the floor, one dead, the other badly wounded.  

Hanna stood front and center, taking the incoming barrage at point blank range.  Her Duridium armor was practically impenetrable, however, and every bullet that hit it merely sparked as it ricocheted off at random angles around the room. The Observation Screen tracking the Phallanx Force on its way to Earth was hit several times, and a spiderweb of cracks appeared across its surface.  Hanna, bullets sparking harmlessly across the surface of her armor, admired herself greatly, and grinned fiercely as the firefight erupted around her.  Yet, Hrodwulf had not been disposed of and still presented a considerable threat.  Hanna was quite familiar with the kinds of diabolical tricks he might have up his sleeve.  

Ling was hidden in the shadow of the Pillbox doorway waiting for her chance to sneak in and start searching for the checkered panel into which she must enter the Self-Destruct code.  There were numerous large mauve-colored computer banks throughout the Control Center, but she had no idea where the Self-Destruct panel was located.  She only knew in her mind's eye what it looked like.  Twelve black and white checkered buttons and a small bronze trapezoidal plate above them.  She scanned the computer banks that she could see from her position but none of them had any panels that looked remotely like it.  

Meanwhile, Jacob, still seriously wounded, but healing rapidly with the help of his purple bubble suit, crawled out of the Pillbox and came to where she was.  He glanced back over his shoulder at Karl, the scientist-medic who was using a small remote control to guide the Doom Spheres around the feet of Obliterator Robot #5.  Occasionally the Obliterator would release a barrage of machinegun fire from its shoulder-mount, but the Doom Sphere had skin that was infused with the same Duridium infused in its own armor plating, and so such weapons had no effect whatsoever.  Bullets simply sparked harmlessly off of their surfaces.  Karl knew, however, that soon the Obliterator would observe this fact and its choice of weapons would drastically change, and at that point all hell would break loose in the tunnel.  But how long would that take?  He couldn't guess.  

Jacob then looked over to the prisoner in the yellow spacesuit, whom Hanna had taken pains to bring with her from the military complex in Cavern 8.  Jacob figured there must be something special about him, but he couldn't imagine what that might be. He waved the man over, and seeing this the prisoner pulled himself along the grated floor and made his way to where Jacob and Ling were secreted.  Through his yellow helmet visor Jacob could see a gaunt face with tawny eyes and a beard peppered with gray.  He wondered who the man could possibly be.  There was something almost familiar about him, but there was no time to find out anything.

Hanna strode to a position directly in front of Hrodwulf as he tried to pull himself up from the computer console he had fallen backwards onto.  He intended to take another shot at her with his Luger, but she shot him straight through the faceplate, penetrating his forehead with a Duridium-capped bullet.  He fell backwards with a look of supreme shock and hatred in his eyes.  And that was the end of the arrogant Major Hrodwulf and all of his grandiose plans.

At that moment the elevator door slid silently open, and out sprang Vallnam with his machinegun blazing.  He saw soldiers scrambling into the Control Center from a set of open double doors on the west wall beneath the cracked and fritzing Observation Screen.  Bullets were flying everywhere.  The computer bank on his left had been hit several times and caught on fire.  A cloud of gray smoke was rapidly filling the room.   

Vallnam quickly glanced around for Ling.  He spotted her tucked away next to Jacob at the entrance of the Pillbox.  Directly in front of him, however, were a number of soldiers. Two were falling to the ground from the barrage of machinegun fire blazing out from the squad of Commandos to his right.  Others were on the floor, now streaked with blood, and several were running up through the double doors on the west wall.  Hanna stood in a commanding position covering her team, her dark gray armor randomly flashing from bullets as they ricocheted off.  One stray bullet whizzed past Vallnam's head, but he took no notice of it.  He couldn't be absolutely sure who was who in the room, but based on the radio messages he had been overhearing throughout, he figured that the central figure must be Jacob's new ally, the star pilot, Hanna Schiller, and the squad in front of the Pillbox were her Commandos.  

He hefted his machinegun and leapt into the room firing as he ran, every shot hitting its target.  He had the vague impression that a shadow flitted across the room from the elevator to where Major Hrodwulf lay on the ground, but he was not sure at that point whether it was the flickering of lights, or the cosmic horror on its way to its next meal.  He chose to leave the thought behind and focus on the fight.  

"Ratta-tatta-tatta-tatta," blazed Vallnam's machinegun, muzzle-flashes brightly illuminating the area directly in front of him. Bullets bounced off armor the plating of Hertling's soldiers, but his aim was perfect, and as a result several bullets landed on the same exact spot, and so more Nazi soldiers fell to their doom.  The defenders were now being attacked from two sides.  

Nevertheless, through the double doors along the south wall more soldiers charged into the room, machineguns blazing.  They focused fire on Hanna, but their bullets merely sparked harmlessly as they bounced off her armor.  Behind her several more Commandos hustled in from the Pillbox to join the squad, and opened fire.  Hanna ordered her men to take cover behind the computer banks while she moved toward the center of the room.   As she strode forward she aimed her Luger at one of the incoming soldiers and took him out with a single shot to the head as he cleared the door.  The armored suits they wore were no match for her SC-7 Special's Duridium-capped bullets.

Vallnam kept a steady stream of fire as he moved, taking out two more of the soldiers, as others came charging through the double doors.  His movement was fast, and his reflexes super-accelerated, and so none of the defenders managed to get a bead on him.  Hanna ran to position where she could see through the double doors to get an idea of how many more soldiers were coming forward from the interior.  Five more were entering in from a side room.  She felt no fear of the machineguns at all.  She smiled grimly as they rushed towards her.

"Fredrich!" yelled Hanna to one of her Commandos, "Vee need a grenade into zee room!"  Fredrich grabbed a grenade from his satchel and ran forward, covered by fire from the other Commandos.

Vallnam decided that Hanna had things under control.  Between the burning computer banks he darted to get to where Ling was still hiding.  Foremost on his mind was protecting her as she made her way among the computers to try to find the panel into which the Self-Destruct sequence had to be entered.  She had been trying to spot it, but none of the panels she saw looked anything like it.  However, she wasn't about to go running into the fire fight, so she had stayed where she was, waiting for the coast to clear.  Vallnam took up a position next to her and Jacob and waited.

Meanwhile, several of the Commandos had been wounded.  One took a bullet to the throat, and went down gurgling.  Fredrich, her top man, had zig-zagged between the burning computer banks and made it to Hanna.  She covered him as he threw his grenade through the door.  It bounced along the floor and stopped just inside one of the side doors along the south wall. There was a terrific explosion and down went the soldiers within, with two of them hurled forward into the Command Center already dead.

The Commandos had little trouble taking out the remaining soldiers and the battle ended as quickly as it had begun.  Hanna flashed a glance over towards the Pillbox entrance.  She had not forgotten about the Obliterator in the tunnel outside, or her prisoner.  But still, she needed to make sure the Command Center was secure.  Looking around she realized that the scientists who had been operating the computers had scurried away as soon as the battle began.  As they were non-combatant scientists they had been completely ignored, but Hanna thought they had fled out through one of the doors on the east wall.  Meanwhile the room was filling with smoke and it was getting hard to see.

"Jacob, let's shield Ling while she searches for the control panel," said Vallnam as he shot the last of the wounded Hertling soldiers in the head to put him out of his temporal misery (and consigning his soul to the eternal torment of the cosmic horror that had entered the chamber by his side, but Vallnam's mind had been dulled by the Empress, and he had forgotten that salient fact in his zeal for victory).  They began to hustle Ling from computer bank to computer bank, but none of the ones near the Pillbox had the panel she was looking for.

One Commando was dead, and one was wounded, and three had been killed by Obliterator #5.  That left Hanna with three healthy Commandos.  She was not pleased at her losses.  Meanwhile, several computers were on fire and the Observation screen was badly damaged, and slid from its mount on the wall, falling halfway to the ground before being stopped by its cables.  Although there was a lot of static on the screen she could nevertheless still make out the red blips and dashed lines that represented the Phallanx, the fifty Giant Nuclear Missile Robots, on their way to decimate the Earth with their arsenal of 500 megaton cobalt-encased weapons of absolute extinction.    

"Karl," said Hanna into her mic, "how are things going back there?"

"Zee Doom Sphere's are distracting zee Obliterator, but it vill not last much longer I'm afraid, frauline."

"I need you to get back here with my prisoner! Can zee Doom Spheres climb up zee ladder from zee tunnel?"

"Nein, Frauline, but they can hover briefly over zee ground" reported the last remaining SC-7 scientist.

"Order them back to Cavern 8 and get in here.  Close the Pillbox door behind you."

"Vat about zee Robot?" questioned Karl at risk of infuriating his young commander. 

"It vill follow zee Doom Spheres?" she wanted to know.

"Vat if it does not do so, Frauline?" asked Karl.  "Perhaps, it would be better for me to continue distracting zee robot with the Doom Spheres.  It is possible I may be able to lead it down zee tunnel by taunting its sensors!"

"Ja, but if it seems like it is not working, then come to zee Control Center and seal zee doors behind you," ordered Hanna.  He went back to working the Doom Spheres.

Hanna marched through the double doors on the west wall, Lugar in hand, and found a wide corridor, about sixty feet long.  There were another set of double doors at the far end, and another opening covered with a plastic sheet on the north wall.  Two wide openings on the south wall lead into a large empty room scattered with debris from the grenade explosion.  There were a number of dead soldiers scattered across the floor. She was reasonably sure that no more soldiers were there.

As Hanna examined the corridor, Ling, Vallnam and Jacob were inspecting each computer bank, looking for the panel.  Ling described the panel to them, but they didn't see any that had anything like the configuration she described: A series of black and white checkered buttons with a small trapezoidal plate above them.  

Hanna came back into the Control Center and issued orders for her men to hunt down and kill any remaining Hertlingians in the complex.  Two Commandos checked a doorway on the north west wall.  Inside they found the kitchen, pantry and dining area.  There was a cook, now deceased.  Other doors lead into a power station room, and storage room.  On the south wall was a large circular door made of solid bronze.  Hanna eyed the door suspiciously.  Suddenly a crackling sound was heard, and as she turned Hanna saw another computer bank explode.  The upper half of the machine was engulfed in flames, and sparks showered the room.  She ordered her men to ignore the fire and continue the searching the premises.  

Seeing that the fires were spreading across the computer banks Vallnam glanced around looking for fire extinguishers.  The Power Station room seemed like a good bet. Suspecting more fires would break out there, he politely asked his purple-bubble suit to afford him some extra protection against heat, and dashed through the doorway.  Within he found one of the scientists cowering in a corner.  He had been separated from is peers by machinegun fire, and had taken refuge behind one of the heavy steel converters.  Seeing him, Vallnam pointed his machinegun at the gaunt little man in the white lab coat, and ushered him out into the Control Center where Hanna took charge of him.  

One of the Commandos investigating the storage room shouted that he found another door.  However, before he could complete his sentence there was an explosion and the Commando was hurled through the doorway, his armor shattered.  He died as he skidded to a stop below the main Observation Screen.  Hanna was down to two healthy Commandos, and one wounded.  She grimaced at the thought.

Inside the power station room Vallnam found a small rack of fire extinguishers and grabbed one.  He ran outside and began extinguishing the largest of the electrical fires.  It was spewing out a great deal of smoke and so visibility in the Control Center was rapidly diminishing.  At that moment a control box on the ceiling exploded with a shower of sparks and the overhead lights flickered out.

Hanna interrogated the scientist who had emerged from the supply room with single-minded ferocity. 

"What happened in there?" she asked coolly, pointing to the storage room where her Commando had just sacrificed his life.

"Things are exploding!" said the scientist, fearfully.  "Look around you!  Zee whole complex is going to be destroyed!  Vee are all going to die!"  he bellowed loudly.  

"Where did the other scientists go?" she demanded with a hiss.

"They vent to their deaths, like good scientists!" he shouted at the top of his lungs.

She grabbed his left hand and with a violent twist broke one of his fingers.  This caught the scientist's attention, and now he was suitably convinced by her brutal gaze and the searing pain shooting up his arm that the young and beautiful Major would torture him without hesitation or mercy for answers, and so his morale instantly collapsed.  He spilled out anything she wanted to know after that, and divulged that the other scientists had escaped through a secret tunnel that was accessible through a secret door in the conference room which could be accessed through the Power Station room.  

As he was struggling to put out the Control Center fires, Vallnam discovered a large red button under a small transparent dome on the computer bank he was spraying.  He wondered what it was for.  He had the notion that it was probably an Emergency button of some kind but declined to break the glass and press it on the grounds that he had no idea what the Nazis might consider a suitable response to an emergency.  He thought it safer to leave not-nearly-well-enough alone.  

"Weren't you people supposed to stop the Robots?!" demanded Hanna with a stomp of her boot. "Why the hell haven't you stopped the Robots, yet?!" she thundered at Jacob, who at the moment was hobbling forward with Ling at his side helping him along.  Hanna had just lost five of her eight Commandos in less than a minute and she was quite a bit beyond "extremely angry".

Hearing this, and realizing that Jacob was not in any condition to argue with the overwhelming young Major, Vallnam shouted back over his shoulder.

"That's what we're doing now, so why don't you shut your trap and help us find the button panel we're looking for?" he yelled over the commotion.  The room was loud with groaning, electrical explosions, and popping, sizzling, crackling computer fires.

"What damn buttons?!" she yelled back.

"We're looking for a panel array of black and white checkered buttons!" said Ling.  

"You!" Hanna shouted at the captive scientist, "Where the is the damn button panel?!"

The scientist wet his pants as he pointed to the large circular door on the south wall of the room.

"Alright, we need to open to this door!" she shouted.  "What happened to the Master Key?"

"I have it," said Ling.

"Over there!" Hanna yelled, pointing to the bronze door, and with this Ling ran forward, followed closely by Jacob who hobbled as quickly as he could behind her.  She took the Ludendorf's Master Key and slid it into the thin slot of the bronze trapezoidal plate next to the door.  As Jacob came up, there was a hiss, and the heavy bronze center-opening doors slid apart, revealing an inner chamber through the circular portal.  It was dark but they could make out an octagonal shaped chamber, filled with whirring, blinking computers.  Before they could take any further action, however, there was a burst of machinegun fire from within!  

Obliterator #5

And that is where we left things that evening.

No comments: