Saturday, August 19, 2023

WoAF - Game Session 54

Moon Princess Ling

Amid all the hell that had broken loose inside of Eisenhelm, the ultra-secret Nazi Fortress constructed near the north pole of the moon in 1943, an especially vicious battle had broken out within General Hertling's Doomsday Robot Force Control Center.  The effects of the Nazi Civil War were on full display. Now, all of Hertling's Nazis were laying dead on the floor, whereas his scientists and technicians had scurried away like rats as soon as the fighting had broken out.  Major Hanna Schiller gloated briefly over the body of her long-time rival Major Hrodwulf, whose forehead she had neatly punctured with one of her Duridium-capped bullets, courtesy of the scientists of Science Center 7, now deceased.  She noted that Hrodwulf's nasty little smirk had been transformed into a grimace of raw hatred and rage, although at the last a disturbing expression of unimaginable horror etched itself into his eyes.  It was not a good look.  A brief enigmatic smile graced her lips as she turned her attention to the action on the other side of the Control Center.

Jacob, still badly wounded, but healing rapidly with the help of his purple-bubbled environmental suit, positioned himself between Ling and the machinegun fire that had erupted from within the bronze-rimmed inner sanctum.  He made a valiant effort to shield her while he removed his new model adaptive combat rifle from its sheath and slung it painfully into the cradle of his arms.  Ling hugged the wall behind him. Having used Ludendorff's Master Key  to open the Bronze Portal, she slipped it back into her pocket and zipped it shut.  She had no intention of letting Hanna get her hands on the key. She well understood the look in that Nazi Major's eye, and she didn't like it one bit.  

Inside the octagonal inner sanctum they caught sight of several men clustered around a door on the far wall.  One of the scientists, clearly shaken by the attack, was visibly trembling as he fired a machinegun towards the portal entrance.  The bullets peppered the side of the bronze portal frame with sparks. Jacob and Ling ducked their heads as bullets ricocheted around them.  They glimpsed an impression of the room as being similar to the outer Control Center, though smaller, more compact, and yet with similar purple paneled computer banks, and a smaller Observation Screen on one wall.  There was a small metal table with a control panel, and a chair.  The room looked like it was intended to be manned by three people, maybe four at the most.

Jacob assessed the the men were trying to escape out the door on the far wall, but for whatever reason they could not open it and so they were trapped there.  Jacob was aware that the scientists of Eisenhelm were not trained for combat, and it must have been out of sheer panic that one of them had picked up a machinegun and was shooting it wildly without looking where the bullets were landing. 

At that instant the wounded Nazi soldier, a ferocious Corporal who spent his free time punching bags of gravel, was beginning to spin around, swinging his machinegun into position.  Having survived the first round of fire unscathed, Jacob took a shot at the soldier with his combat rifle.  The the bullet hit him in the arm, and penetrated his armor plating, but still barely made him grimace.  Ling also took aim with her Lewiston Beam Pistol.  She wondered briefly if the plasma beam might scorch a hole through the wall, which could produce an explosive decompression event if the other side of the wall happened to be another airless tunnel, or even the surface of the moon potentially.  But the wall she was facing had a door on it that looked like an ordinary door, not an airlock, and so, taking the chance, she pulled the trigger.  The thin red beam instantly burned a searing hole through the soldier's leg, and then through the wall behind him.  Nevertheless, he continued his spin, landed on one knee, and aimed his machinegun towards the portal.  The Corporal was a brute with a vicious streak a mile wide, and was tough as nails beneath his armored space suit. 

Hanna, catching sight of the plasma beam, was amazed.  A hand-held Plasma Beam Pistol?!  Such things were unknown on the moon.  Yes, the Obliterators had giant Plasma Cannons, but pistols? Impossible! She looked down at her SC-7 Special Luger with its Duridium-Capped bullets, and suddenly felt it far less exciting than before. Snapping out of the annoying thought, she coldly considered her options.  Currently she only had three soldiers remaining, and one was wounded.  In the Pillbox remained the last of the SC-7 Scientists, Karl Hoffman, with her prisoner.  "That's not going to work," she thought to herself.  She ordered one of her Commandos to get Karl and the prisoner and bring them into the Control Center.  She figured the Pillbox was likely to be incinerated by the Obliterator Robot lumbering down the tunnel as soon as it stopped playing footsie with the Doom Spheres, and she didn't want her prisoner burnt to a vapor.  She wanted him alive!  The other Commando was ordered to take control of Hertling's Scientist, whose finger she had just, quite usefully, broken. Having made her assessment and barked out her orders, she ran towards the bronze portal. She planned to create converts, or clean out the beehive once and for all.

Vallnam, meanwhile, was busy trying to put out the computer fires with the extinguisher he got from the power room. The enormous Observation Screen was cracked and dangling by its cables against the west wall, while the room was being filled with dark gray smoke and showered with sparks from all directions.  He could still see the red blips that represented Giant Nuclear Missile Robots heading towards earth through the screen's shattered surface, despite its fits of static.

Inside the inner sanctum the machinegun toting scientist continued firing wildly towards the portal entrance, his mind quaking with fear, his teeth rattling in time with the bullets.  Nevertheless, his luck was with him and he hit Jacob squarely without any idea how he had done it.  Pure luck. As our hero was wearing his purple bubble suit, and merely a set of riot armor overlaying it, the bullets strafed him along the right side and put him back on the ground, deeply wounded.  His suit immediately set about the healing process, but he down once again.  At the same time, the Corporal, having been hit twice, shot with his machinegun towards the door, but the pain of his wounds threw off his aim and the bullets went stray by mere inches, strafing along the wall next to Jacob's head.  Jacob leaned against Ling, gasping for air. The other two scientists on the far side of the inner sanctum panicked and made another attempt at opening the door.  But door was locked, required a special key, and they couldn't open it. It was impossible. They turned around, one in despair waiting to die, his face haunted with terror, the other glancing around for a new plan, his eyes gleaming with a fierce light.

Hearing the firefight Vallnam turned towards the bronze portal, and saw Jacob and Ling huddled at the door.  He took note that Jacob was badly wounded, again, but Ling was behind him, and he felt she was well enough protected by Jacob's body to be relatively safe for the moment from the machinegun fire.  He believed that the fires, which were starting to billow with flames from the open panels of the computer banks, were the most urgent matter facing them and continued to try to put them out.  Again he noticed that on the computer bank which he was standing in front of, there was a large red button under a glass dome, but he was determined to put out the fire before doing anything else.   

Hanna came running up to where Jacob and Ling were and peered around the edge of the portal door.  She no longer felt much for Jacob, now that she had met Ling, and discovered that Jacob was not really what he seemed.  Perhaps she was jealous. Perhaps Jacob had broken the frozen heart he had so recently, and momentarily thawed.  Either way, it no longer mattered.  Hanna was now back in control of her emotions, and she wasn't about to slip up again.

"All that suave talk from before has worn out, Otto" she said to Jacob.  "You and a Japanese girl, eh? Who knows what you're really up to?" she added as she glanced around the inner sanctum. The scientist and soldier were in motion, swinging their machineguns towards her as the other two were backed against the rear wall.  Suddenly, one of scientists bolted across the room towards the computer bank on the south wall with a fierce determination.  Jacob took shot at him, but he was too wounded to be effective and the bullet went wide, hitting a computer bank, showering the man with sparks, but this did not slow him down in the slightest.  At this Ling began to try to drag him away from the portal, hoping to get him out of the line of fire from within.  There was a good chance that one more hit would kill him.

At this point Hanna stepped forward through the circular bronze portal, taking on the machinegun barrage from the soldier and scientist.  Her Duridium armor deflected all the bullets, scattering them around the room. Hanna put her hands on her hips and laughed mockingly.  She strode to the room's center point and returned a single shot with her Luger SC-7 Special.  The Duridium bullet punctured straight through the armor of the Corporal's left leg, staggering him to the ground in agony. She did not wish to kill him, as she was hoping to convert as many of Hertling's men over to her cause as she could.

"Stop shooting now, or I vill kill you all," Hanna yelled.  Recognizing the tone of command in her voice the Corporal and scientist dropped their machineguns and put their hands up. But the third scientist, a true fanatic by the name of Konrad Schäfer, ran towards the computer bank at full tilt.  He was aiming for a certain red button.  Hanna suspected he was planning to pull the trigger on one of Hertling's Doomsday Traps, of which it had been rumored he had many.  She tracked him with her Luger, planning to put him down before he could do any such thing.

Vallnam was still eying the other large red button, thinking it was very interesting looking indeed,  Yet the extinguishers were specifically designed for electrical fires and thus quite effective, and the fire in front of him was put out shortly, and so without further ado he spun around and ran to where Ling and Jacob were to see what he could do to help.  Ling was dragging Jacob along the floor, a thin slick of blood trailing behind him. Vallnam skidded to a halt by her side, his gaze locking onto hers for a single moment. Then with a glance into the inner sanctum, he deftly retrieved his single Thermobaric Grenade from his satchel.  He prepared to pull the pin and throw it inside. At this Ling's eyes went wide, and her mouth opened as if to scream. Fortunately, a small yellow label on the side of the mighty weapon caught his attention at the last possible moment, mercifully.  It read "Thermobaric Grenades are used to destroy entire three story buildings or their equivalent.  Avoid using indoors unless you wish to die along everyone else within three hundred feet," or something to that effect.

"...Nah..." he said quietly, and gingerly put the Thermobaric Grenade back in his satchel. Instead he pulled out... his Mini Flame Thrower!  Ling raised an eyebrow.  Without hesitation, he aimed the barrel towards the inner sanctum and squeezed the trigger. In an instant, a torrent of fiery napalm erupted from the nozzle, morphing into a sinuous, blazing serpent that coiled its way through the air, devouring the hapless occupants in its merciless embrace. The room erupted into an inferno, its every corner consumed by the relentless onslaught of billowing flames.

"Toast," said Vallnam over the screams of the scientists and soldier as the room was engulf in fire.

"OMG! You stupid oaf!" yelled Ling.  "What if the Robot Force Self-Destruct Computer is in there?!"

"Um, maybe we should close the door," said Vallnam sheepishly, shielding his face from the infernal heat with his arm.  Ling, seeing the utility of not allowing the flames to flood into the main control room, reluctantly slid the Master Key into the lock.  The enormous bronze doors slid silently shut.  She was beside herself as that was likely their last and only chance to to enter the Self-Destruct Sequence into the computer.  "So the earth is doomed after all," she thought with a sudden feeling of overwhelming despair.

Meanwhile, inside the chamber, a bit startled by the sudden blaze, Hanna looked around.  The billowing flames all around her were disorienting, particularly since she was unsure where they had come from.  She turned around to see the portal had been sealed, so there would be no exiting in that direction.  The scientists and Corporal were shrieking and running through the fire with their burning arms flailing helplessly in the air.  The scientist who had been running to the computer bank perished horribly with one blackened hand reaching out towards the button on the computer bank.  She thought it must have been one of Hertling's traps, but wondered how the scientist had managed to trigger it, since he died in a burning heap before making it to the button.  She shrugged and continued scanning the room.  Inside her Duridium armor she felt quite comfortable, actually.  She discovered to her satisfaction that there was no danger of mere fire harming her in the slightest, as the armor was impervious to all forms of energy attacks, hermitically sealed, and had its own internal oxygen supply and temperature control system.  She looked around the room at the burning bodies, computers, Observation Screen, now melting, and purple-hued computer banks, much of which were engulfed in flames.  It struck her all as rather amusing.  

On one of the computer banks which hadn't caught on fire yet she noticed an array of black and white buttons in a checker-board configuration.  This must be, she thought, the panel that the Japanese girl had been looking for.  She walked over to it. Indeed there was a bronze trapezoidal shaped plate above it.  It must be the one!  Unfortunately, she had no idea in what sequence the buttons had to be pressed in order to execute the Robot Force Self-Destruct command.  She was even still a bit doubtful that Hertling would have programmed in such a thing in the first place, as this seemed somewhat out of character for the old buzzard.  Yet, Jacob and his friends believed it was so, and she was willing to believe it was at least possible.  Somewhat concerning was the fact that the black and white buttons were starting to smolder under the intense heat of the blaze.  

"Hello.  Otto.  I don't know what happened," said Hanna into her radio mic, "but zee entire room is in flames, Hertling's men are all dead, and zee bronze portal is sealed shut.  Zee good news is that I have found zee Self-Destruct buttons," she added.  Jacob heard her over his headset.  

He grabbed Ling's arm weakly and groaned, "She found the panel. You have to get in there."  But Ling just stared at him without moving.  She imagined that if she opened the portal the fire would come roaring into the main control room and kill them all.

"Ling, can you hear me over zee radio?" barked Hanna impatiently.

"Yes," replied the Moon Princess.  "I can hear you."

"Good," responded Hanna. "There are only a few moments before zee buttons catch on fire.  Already they are starting to melt.  What do you need me to do?"

"Do you see the bronze trapezoidal plate above the buttons?" asked Ling.

"Ja, I see it," answered Hanna.

"The Master Key is necessary for the buttons to operate. It must be put into the bronze plate, and then the buttons can be pressed.  Without it pressing the buttons will trigger some sort of deadly Doomsday Trap.  The Control Center will explode, I think."

At this, Jacob understood that the Master Key had to be used all along the route to the Self Destruct Sequence.  The Nazis were nothing if not thorough, he thought.  He began trying to push Ling's hand towards the bronze plate that was along the circular rim of the Bronze Portal, but he was too weak to do more than move her arm a little bit.  He sputtered some blood.  She looked down at him, concerned that his wounds would do him in, despite his purple bubble suit's healing powers.

"I'll go in and bring the key to her," offered Vallnam. "After all, my purple bubble suit seems like it might protect me from flames.  I think I can make it.  And after all, it's my fault Hanna is stuck inside the inferno and we're out here."

At this suggestion Jacob reached up and grabbed hold of one of the hanging straps of the Flame Thrower.  

"You don't trust me with the Master Key, Jacob?" asked Vallnam.

"Leave the Flame Thrower here," rasped Jacob, "you don't want Hanna to see you carrying it, do you?"

"Oh, that's a good point, there," replied Vallnam as he shoved it back into his satchel.  While he did this, Ling was puzzling over how they should deal with the young, beautiful and extremely ambitious Nazi Major.  

"Whatever you do," she said, "don't let Hanna get her hands on the Master Key.  In fact, I'll go in myself.  I am, after all, the only one who knows the code. And I have the same purple bubble suit as you, so mine should protect me just as well.  I can do it."

"We'll go in together, then," said Vallnam, with his hand on her shoulder.  They agreed on this and she took out the Master Key and opened the portal door.

Black smoke and flames came billowing out of the inner sanctum, pouring along the ceiling like a malevolent river of seething chaos, casting shadows that danced and writhed eerily all around the entire Control Center. Vallnam was dimly aware that amid the writhing shadows there flitted a dark dog-like shape, like a whirlwind of black smoke streaming from corpse to corpse, each of which was staring into space with an expression of ultimate horror etched into their stark dead eyes.  He shuddered at the recollection of the entity from the outer dark.

Ling scrambled inside beneath the billowing flames, followed closely by Vallnam.  They ran to the far side of the room where Hanna was pointing to the panel, one fist squarely planted on her hip.  Seeing as the black and white buttons were already smoking, and starting to melt, and knowing that the fate of the Earth hung in the balance, Ling was actually extremely nervous.  Her hand trembled as she tried to fit the Master Key into the bronze slot above the panels and she wasted precious seconds unable to steady her hand and get the key into the slot.

Seeing this, and infuriated at the sheer incompetence of her lovely rival, Hanna reached out suddenly to grab at the Master Key.  It was, in fact, vital to her plans that she obtain the key, and this seemed the perfect excuse to do so.  However, before she could, Vallnam interposed his body between them, and turned to Ling saying, "Now, now, darling, just take a deep breath and relax.  You can do this."  Jacob, still leaning against the bronze frame of the portal, conjured a Mental Power that he had learned at Federation Academy, known as "Influence Emotions".  With this he contributed to helping to calm her frayed nerves.  Meanwhile Hanna had been reaching for the Master Key, but could not make it around Vallnam, who held a steady and formidable stance as he rooted himself in front of Ling. Hanna recognized that forcing the issue now was probably a poor choice, and so she relented. With both of her compatriots helping to calm her, Ling took a deep breath, and slid the metallic key into the bronze slot.  The buttons on the panel activated with glowing green patterns on their surfaces.  She recognized the symbols from the deep recesses of her mind, and with an unwavering focus, she deftly maneuvered her nimble fingers across the button array, each press a precise and definitive action. In the span of a few seconds, she reproduced the entire sequence etched into her memory by the long forgotten Modroni who had sent her there.  It was as if the buttons themselves were but extensions of her will.  

They all watched as flickering green indicators across the surface of the computer one by one turned yellow then red until the entire panel was illuminated by tiny flickering red lights.  Then the computer began ticking loudly as a metallic strip passed across a grooved track, while on the Observation Screen the fifty blips that signified The Phalanx on its way to Earth one by one turned gray.  After ten seconds there were fifty gray blips on the screen.  At the top of the screen the following words appeared.   



At that moment one of the computers burst into flames, shattering their brief sense of giddy triumph with a renewed realization of the extraordinary danger they were all still in.  Ling stuffed the Master Key into her side pocket and they scrambled out of the Inner Sanctum as the remaining computers began to explode with showers of sparks and shards of searing metal.  Once outside, Ling sealed the door shut.  They looked at each other with expressions mixed with jubilation, and anxiety.  After all, they had stopped the Giant Doomsday Robots, and thus saved the Earth, and Eisenhelm from utter destruction, but they were still surrounded by innumerable dangers, not the least of which was Hanna, who now lusted for power greatly, and would stop at nothing to obtain it.

"Let's get to Hanger B," said Vallnam to Ling, "My technicians are working on repairing the UFOs to get us out of here!"  As he spoke he felt the power of the Empress of the Elthos Tarot began to fade, and after a moment of dizziness he no longer felt so highly tuned and optimized for physical combat, but at the same time it was a relief to notice that his mental capabilities were also returning.  It occurred to him that he could no longer understand German, and so he used his Mental Power of Knowing Languages to instantly learn perfect German again.  He looked over at Hanna, who had come stalking out of the fiery sanctum glaring slyly at the three heroes in their purple bubble suits. 

Hanna was then distracted momentarily by the voice of Karl Hoffman which broke in over her headphones.  Ah yes, she almost forgot in all the excitement the scientist whom she had left in the Pillbox to try to distract the Obliterator Robot with the Doom Spheres and watch over her prisoner.

"Frauline!  Frauline!" he shouted excitedly.

"What is it, Herr Karl?" 

"Zee Obliterator has stopped moving!"

"Be careful," she replied.  "It might activate again.  Keep your eyes on it.  Where are the Doom Spheres?"

"I sent them down the tunnel towards Cavern 8 as you ordered, Frauline," replied Karl.

Hanna now knew for a certainty that all of the Robots, both the Phalanx of fifty and the Ten Obliterators had been under Hertling's Command.  It looked like the Oriental girl had pulled it off after all.  She allowed herself a moment of glee as she thought about her next steps towards Supreme Command of Eisenhelm.  All she needed to do now would be to obtain the Master Key, avenge Lieutenant Wagner by killing the three traitors Melitta Reich, Admiral Ludendorf and General Hertling (all of whom, as we know, had already been killed by Jacob and Vallnam, but she did not know), and then defeat the monstrosities released from the Science Centers, whatever they were, then quell the Nazi Civil War, and take ownership of the UFO fleet and Shadow Hawk.  Piece of cake!  

She radioed her Commandos to ensure that Karl kept his eyes on the Obliterator, while her prisoner was secured and escorted inside, which he was.  Now she felt at the height of her powers as she issued orders and contemplated her bright future.  Out of the corner of her eye she watched Ling's movements carefully, a thin smile hovering over her lips.

And that is where we left things that night.

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