From the Story Arc: The Wayward Spiral

Previous Story in the Arc: The Snake's Eye by Sturmfront (Sunday, July 03, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Eminence by Sturmfront (Friday, July 22, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005)

After a fashion, this was fun for Sturmfront. Mostly because it was different. Maybe it had been a mistake to let the Council know when and where he would expect them. It certainly was irrelevant now that he knew they would not possess any information he cared about. But damn it, he had said he would be there, and his word was his bond.

If all else failed, he could consider it an exercise. No aerial assault today. No lightning and hail raining from the sky. Not yet anyways. Looking through the sight on the lovingly restored Dragunov rifle, he scanned the perimeter. This was low-tech to say the least. No laser rangefinder, no night vision, no red dot. All parts mechanical, no particular heat signature, no telltakle electromagnetic fields.

He had been swimming for the most part of the night to get here, his equipment sealed in a plastic bag. At least he did not have to be afraid of hypothermia thanks to being a genetic anomaly. Likewise, his capabilities had come in handy when he needed to evaporate the water off of himself so as to not leave a wet trail to his hiding place. Then the wait began, and without much to distract him, the thoughts crept in.

It was a cacophony to say the least. There was usually hardly a quiet moment to be had. People vanishing and reappearing, sometimes abducted, sometimes simply derailed by their lifes, their loves, their histories. But now he was at rest and had no defences to keep him from actually thinking about... well, everything. His own life, and his history.

There was Bestla. Thinking of her made him bite down on some kind of guttural noise that was trying to fight its way up his throat. Of course he was happy to have her back. She was a reminder of his 'good old times' in the CCCP. A time when everything had seemed easier, more innocent maybe. But as soon as she had opened her mouth, he had also been overcome by the urge to strangle her. Undisciplined, reckless, loose-mouthed...

And what was worse, it rubbed off on him. Wolfgang Degenhardt could not deny it. Part of it was that he had to ignore much of his discipline to keep up with her and look after her. Because... because no-one got left behind. Because that was more important than anything else.

But what was worse, he enjoyed it. Being a warrior rather than a soldier. Tasting his own blood on his lips, mixed with the ozone in the air around him which he invariably generated. Heady, intoxicating, dream-like. Adrenaline played into it as well, of course. Which was when he realized why he had preferred to go out on his own if he at all could. Because that was when he could cut loose and would not have to stop to look after his comrades or yell tactical instructions across the battlefield.

The experience was part of why this had to be done the way he was doing it. Wedged between two boulders, in a self-made grey gilly suit padded with downs to further hide his body heat from the sensors of the Warcry robots and Drones the Council had patrolling the island.

'Your name. You know what it means.'

Of course he did. And even if he had not known it all along, he could always have used the internet to find out in less than a minute.

'Wolfgang. Wolfgaenger. The wolf walker. A warrior bearing the skin of a wolf.'

Yes, damn it. He knew.

'Degenhardt. Degan harti...'

'Yes. And?' He wanted to yell, scream, shout, but of course he could not. It was annoying enough to have to argue with himself, but he could not let his jeopardize this exercise.

'I am sure at least one of your new friends would be very happy to point out the power of a name.'

Ah yes. That had been another one of those encounters. Not that there had been any attempted strangling involved. It was just an odd thing to meet someone who came from similar ends of the world in methods or at least background, but from a completely different world on a philosophical and spiritual level. With an amused smile, he wondered how that worked out for Victoria Victrix and Red Djinni. Not that it mattered or was any of his business, but then the Djinni did display a rather naive approach to the problems everyone faced. No, really not his business.

Neither was magic in any form. He still had issues wrapping his mind around the concept, and he could not even say why. On a rational level, it was very clear to him. Or at least as clear as the workings of his own abilities, beyond the scope of the rationally possible for a human. But on an emotional level, which he had to have the luxury of possessing in this case, it rang all of his alarm bells.

Taking out magic-wielders was one thing. Becoming involved in these things a completely different one.

'I could tell you why that is, you know?'

'Probably. But I am not sure I would care to know the answer.'

'I know. But one day, you will. For now, though, there is one thing you must understand. We are old blood, you and I. If you wanted to...'

'One day. Not now.'

'Very well. Just remember what she said the next time you have to take that eyepatch off because the power is leaking through the empty socket.'

'One day. Not now.' He had to insist. Particularly since another look through the primitive sight on the rifle saw his supposed target stride into plain view with the setting of the sun.

Sturmfront took the time to survey the site one last time. The posts they had erected around the barricades pulsed a steady sky blue. If any of the soldiers passed through the invisible lines they drew, the air would ripple and shiver around their bodies. Obviously it was some kind of force field apparatus. As obviously, it was designed to not stop physical objects. If it was designed to stop electricity exclusively, he might even be flattered.

Homing back in on his target, he gave the Vampire commander a closer look. He had not expected Requiem himself to follow up on this little invitation, and of course, he had not come. For all intents and purposes, this assignment was probably a punishment for the officer. At best an unlikely chance to shine for a potential officer.

Picking the one bullet he had brough with him, he loaded the rifle and realigned it. Carefully, Wolf took aim. He squeezed the trigger until he found the right spot, then inhaled...

By the time they found his perch, he was long gone. Chances were he had taken to the sky, considering that there were no tracks around the site. The only way they actually knew this was the place was because of the brown paper envelope they found there, addressed to Requiem. Assuming a bomb or some other device inside, a young soldier was ordered to open it. Only to find a DVD case inside. The cover read 'The Great Dictator'.