Friday, May 30, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-09

"Did it ever occur to you that they're tracking our progress by the security sensors we destroy?" Longfellow said between explosions.

"Counting on it, actually." Tom said, blasting another Nazi stormtrooper in the face, "It's what makes them so predictable."

"See?" The Wizard said as he rapped Tom's head, "Not all air and rocks in there after all."

Tom, Longfellow, and the Wizard led their team through the Nazi base at a slow, slogging rate. The Nazis attempted multiple times to capture them in cross-fires, only to be met with bursts of overwhelming firepower and thus fried to a man where they stood. It soon became clear to the defending leaders that this was not the work of incompetent, but overconfident, lucky fool armed with far too much firepower. Rather, it was the deliberate plan of a ruthless invader to divide the defending forces, cut them down like wheat to a thresher, and thereby annihilate them to a man. This was the intentional extermination of every last Nazi in that base.

"42!" Tom said, as he shot down one who attempted a knife attack upon him.

Longfellow shot three down with one shot, as they were all in a line against him. "45!"

"Come now!" The Wizard said, "This is war, not sport." Then he waved his hand blindly behind him and two stormtroopers about to launch a rocket at them got tossed to the far wall, and when the launcher landed on the floor it had flipped end-over-end and blew those Nazis to bits as well as blowing a hole in the wall.

The Wizard looked over his shoulder. "Well, even war has his comic absurdities."

Not that the Wizard, Tom, or Longfellow cared because no one cares about the lives of Nazis- not even other Nazis.

Meanwhile, the fighting progressed as Tom and company proceeded to sweep, clear, and sanitize every last bit of the base. They swept around in a clockwise--more or less--fashion, leaving devastation in their wake as they deliberately bled the supply of resistors dry. By the time that they blew up the armory, the barracks, the infirmary, and the galley there was precious little left to blow up, so they headed to the secure center of the base where they knew that--trapped as they should be--the leadership of this little Nazi nest could not escape from, but only watch in increasing horror as they advanced upon them.

"This is going better than expected." Longfellow said.

"Don't jinx it!" Tom said and then the men finished blasted the doors off.

The doors fell away with a weighty crash, and in they went blasters blazing. The few armed men inside quickly went down, unable to make any meaningful hits in return, just the two senior officers remained.

"I recognize you, Wizard." the General said, "I knew this day would come."

"Indeed." The Wizard said, and with a wave of his hand both the General and the Major spoke no more. Rendered mute by means not known to anyone else, the Wizard smiled. "No monologuing for you."

"Well, Longfellow." Tom said, "This is it now. They're done. What shall be done with these senior Nazis?"

"Gentlemen," The Wizard said, "if I may, I suggest remanding these two to my custody. The General is still known, albeit said in the past tense, to the surface. Let him meet his end in an Israeli courtroom. As for the Major, he is the General's immediate subordinate and should likewise stand trial."

Tom chuckled. "The Israelis? That's not a trial. That's a history lesson, followed by an execution."

Longfellow nodded. "Indeed. Summary execution now is more merciful."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-08

The saucer landed at the Nazi stronghold, as Tom and company expected, under remote control. When stormtroopers came aboard, they found nothing and no one aboard, as everyone had crammed themselves into any little space that could be had.

"Somehow," Tom said as he emerged from his hiding place, "I doubt we'll have it as good as it worked in the movies."

"What do you suggest?" The Wizard said, emerging from his place.

"I expect," Longfellow said, likewise, "that they will keep eyes on the craft and wait for us to emerge."

The men gathered about, checking their gear, and hearing them they nodded their agreement one by one.

The Wizard smiled. "I concur. Leave this to me."

The Wizard left them to prepare. He dropped down a service hatch, and once out of sight he adjusted a subdermal control panel; his nano-technological enhancements altered the frequencies that his body resonated at, effectively cloaking him from visual as well as thermal detection. Secure in his invisibility, The Wizard confidently walked away from the landed saucer and made his way to the facility's hangar control room. Unseen, he slipped his hand over the deck officer's mouth and put the other one--holding a taser--to the man's back. Too late did the officer notice his undoing; at a moment when a loud noise of large machinery doing its work echoed through the hangar, The Wizard stunned the officer and took him down softly with none of the technicians wiser to his being there. Moments later, as more machinery made more noises, The Wizard used the sidearm pilfered from the officer's unconscious body to execute the technicians without so much as a mean look in their direction.

"The eyes and ears are now blind and deaf." The Wizard said as he reported back, "Come on now."

As Tom, Longfellow, and the men emerged from the saucer Tom looked over to Longfellow and said "Still too easy. It feels like we are going into a trap."

"I've seen that movie also." Longfellow said, "Let's spring it and get it done with."

Tom smiled. He may be in an absurd adventure, but at least he as company.

* * * * *

Well within the Nazi stronghold, two figures in crisp, clean SS uniforms looked on.

"All goes according to plan, sir." one said.

"Nonetheless, Major," the other said, "I cannot shake the feeling that we too are being played for fools."

"True, General." the Major said, "This feels like we're playing parts in a motion picture, and not a particularly good one at that."

Now clapping echoed throughout the room, the slow method of a golf cap intended as an insult. Both men drew their sidearms and moved back-to-back in response.

"You are being played." a voice said, "This entire incident is nothing more than a farce meant to demonstrate to parties far beyond this mythical location just how ridiculous this entire concept is in practice."

Just then, a hologram materialized, one of a severely-attired man who's much worse for wear- and yet, recognizable. The two officers, upon recognition, saluted.

"No need for names, gentlemen." the hologram said, "However, if you wish to survive and salvage this operation, then you need to listen very carefully to what I have to say- and follow my orders to the letter."

The General and the Major now paid full attention to the hologram.

"The one known to us as 'The Wizard' is with them. He has played you men like fiddles; all of the conflict between you and the enemy you've fought all these years is a carefully-controlled conflict meant to foster specific developments that he intends to take advantage of- at your expense."

"How so, sir?" The General said, "We've followed the protocols that you laid down during the war, fulfilling letter and spirit."

"Yes, protocols that the Allies captured and smuggled back to with them along with many of our surviving scientists. You were not the survivors of the Reich that you thought you were, gentlemen. The successor embedded itself deep within the establishment of our erstwhile enemies, and over the last generation or so we've come to power and consumed them from within. This conflict is as much a ruse as our post-war 'rehabilitation' was, as much as the war itself was, and your part in it is about to end."

"Disclosure." the Major said, "I think I see now what this is."

"Correct, Major." the hologram said, "The Wizard is there to ensure that the narrative we are to use regarding the emergence of our resurrected form goes smoothly. A certain degree of mutually-assured destruction occurs, acceptable losses incurred to sell the narrative to the audience, and meanwhile you gentlemen are allowed to recede into the background and enjoy the rewards for all your work. Rest assured that we shall soon see success that even the Reich could not conceive of achieving in so short a span of time."

The Nazi officers stood there, confused.

"Play your parts, gentlemen, as you were to do before, but when the time for your comeuppance arrives be certain to say to the Wizard that you feared that this day would come. He will know your sign, and he will act accordingly. That is all."

The hologram disappeared. "We have our orders then, Major." the General said.

Unseen and unheard, The Wizard smiled at them. "So close to the truth," he thought, "and yet still so very far indeed."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-07

"Of course, there just had to be a dogfight." The Wizard said.

"Strap yourselves in and hang on." Tom said, "We've been made."

Several other Nazi saucers bore down on their own at combat speed, opening fire at maximum range. Longfellow and his men did as Tom said, with some of them manning other stations aboard the saucer. They returned fire, forcing some of the Nazis to break formation and disrupting their attack.

"They've learned from World War 2 all right." Tom said, "They're reforming. Going for a wolf pack attack; gunners are cleared to fire when they've got a lock."

The severe maneuvering of the Nazi saucers put Longfellow on alert. "No man can handle that severe a shift of momentum."

The Wizard followed Longfellow's observations. "No men are in those saucers." he said, "They're drones."

"Well, I always wanted to fly down Beggar's Canyon." Tom said, and he dove for a narrow ravine beneath them. The Nazi saucers formed up to follow, and a couple of Longfellow's men caught them in crossfire and shot a few down. The saucers fired upon them, but Tom--barely--dodged their volley of fire as he entered the ravine. Some of the saucers pursued Tom, and the rest broke off to cover the ravine from above.

"Gunners, prioritize the saucers out of the ravine." Tom said.

The Nazi saucer drones attempted to herd Tom and company into crashing, but the gunners kept their cool. The back-and-forth as the drones engaged their saucer, and the gunners aboard fired back, kept most of them engaged while the rest in the ravine raced to put their own weapons to bear. Meanwhile, Tom did his best to defeat the flight computations that the drones used to defeat it; first drones in did not adapt fast enough, so they crashed against the walls when they failed to predict a turn. The gunners benefited from Tom's movements, as the drones above failed to anticipate the gunners firing upon them under such conditions, so several of them got shot down.

The drones adapted by firing head of their saucer, attempting to force a crash with falling debris or push the saucer into some lane that they could control. Tom's focus could not be shaken, however, and neither could that of the gunners aboard. Firing at angles and moments that the drones' scripts could not handle, Tom and the gunners used irrational and non-linear thought to put down their pursuers until the remainder withdrew.

After the group felt certain that they were in the clear, Tom brought the saucer out of the ravine and back up into the open sky of the Inner Earth. With the second sun high over their heads, and the skies about them clear of enemies, they relaxed and took deep breaths of relief.

"It's not over." The Wizard said, "They switched tactics."

Just then, the saucer turned and Tom lost control of the saucer.

"Well," Tom said, "this would be the switch. We're under remote control now. I would think that whomever's control is going to bring us in."

Longfellow smiled. "Then let them find nothing."

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-06

Tom, The Wizard, Longfellow, and Longfellow's men rushed to a set of hills wherein a saucer would likely set down to drop or get a foot patrol. They concealed a pincer position in the available foliage and rocks, camouflaging themselves as best their tools did allow--which was quite a bit, with active cloaking technologies and sound dampeners doing far more than Tom had ever imagined--and then projected a hologram of themselves in the clearing slowly passing through as the saucer approached. As expected, they found that saucer by itself; the other went elsewhere. The hologram showed them dispersing into the cover on the ground, and the saucer made an attack run before landing to pursue.

Out of the saucer came a squad of armed and armored men, each wielding what might as well be a squad-level light machine gun. The Nazi stormtroopers' commander, a lieutenant by displayed insignia, wielded only some sort of oversized pistol. Wordlessly, he put forth orders to seek and destroy. Tom had other ideas.

"I want the officer alive." Tom said, "Open fire!"

The Longfellow men shouldered their weapons and revealed them to be beam weapons. First a pin-prick of a laser, invisible to the naked eye save for where it stops, and then instantaneously the power of that laser is amped up and ionizes the air along its path- and down that path travels a plasma charge. All that in the snap of one's fingers, and instantly the shots go from weapon to target as if they were flashlight beams. In that first volley a handful of stormtroopers went down, plasma bolts burning through their armor and into their flesh, screaming in pain before slumping to the dirt.

The survivors took cover, dropping prone or rolling underneath the saucer, and returned fire with their machine guns. The officer fired his pistol, revealing it to be a latter-day gyrojet. The first shot hit just over Tom's head and exploded; if not for the helmet, he would've taken head wound from shrapnel and been out of the fight immediately. Tom drew his revolver, and as expected the cartridge conversion worked just fine; he blasted that lieutenant down, then shot the pistol out of his hand for good measure.

The firefight went on for another few minutes before the Nazis were all dead or disabled. This time, Tom and his allies came out unscathed, and Tom silently thanked whatever powers existed for their mercy. Instead, he advanced upon the lieutenant, tore open the armor suit, grabbed the man by the collar and hoisted him off his feat.

"I can't believe I fell for such a childish trick." the Nazi said, "I expected better of you untermensch."

Tom opened his visor. "Think again," he said, "and fast."

The Wizard came up behind the Nazi and frisked him. He found a key card and a crystal rod.

"No need to keep him hanging, General." The Wizard said, "We've got what we needed."

"Ack!" the Nazi said, "The Wizard, and an American, here? The Demagogue must, agh!" and then went limp.

Tom let the Nazi officer go, and he fell dead in a heap. "Kill switch." he said, "We need to get moving."

Longfellow gathered his men, and they all piled into the saucer. Tom and the Wizard took the controls.

"I hope you have the keys." Tom said.

"I hope you can fly this better than that plane you flew in Siberia."

Tom spied the controls. As he expected, they seemed to be akin to a VTOL fighter's controls; once the Wizard turned the machine on, Tom quickly got the saucer aloft and level in flight, but he strained to concentrate.

"Beside on the flip-side of the world really screws with my sense of direction." Tom said, "How can flip form inside and outside flight so easily?" as he followed the Nazi navigation systems back to the saucer's base of operations.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-05

"You're certain that he's just your standard Nazi ideologue, but super-powered?" Tom said as he and the Wizard entered the commons of Longfellow Hold.

"Pretty much." The Wizard said as he hailed Longfellow.

Tom took in the sight of Longfellow and a dozen men like him--fit, athletic ginger men of indeterminate age with eyes of brilliant emerald--arrayed for battle and being fitted by the hold's women into their armor. He then noticed a pair of suits and attending women.

"For us, I presume?" Tom said and Longfellow confirmed with a nod.

The two of them wasted no time on it; they walked over and let the ladies do their work. Stripped to undershirts first, and then pieces are strapped to their body from the legs up, before handing them their helms and expecting them to be worn. Then, at the last, they don their gear--both what they wore and what Longfellow got for them--and now they are arrayed for battle. Armored, armed, and ready for their damn fool idealistic crusade.

Longfellow and his men approached. "General," Longfellow said as he addressed Tom, "we await your orders."

Tom smiled. "Move out." he said, "We've got a world to save, and some Nazis to smash!"

Longfellow smiled, and the men soon followed. Together, that band of 15 men-at-arms departed from Longfellow Hold and marched into the Hollow Earth.

* * * * *

"That's different." Tom said as he watched a flight of Nazi saucers fly by overhead, "They're flying in force, and formation, now?"

Longfellow nodded. "They must have noticed that the hold moved again."

"They must have been about to assault it then." The Wizard said, "Tom, I think we should check our beacons."

Tom looked at the Wizard for a moment, and then the man's meaning became clear. "Beacon check." he said, "Nod only." One by one, the men nodded that their beacon functioned properly and awaited transmission of return coordinates.

"Pretty spiffy." Tom said, "A mobile fortress. That explains a lot right there."

Longfellow smiled, hearing the comment. "General, shall we do the obvious thing?"

"It's what our enemy, being too clever, would not expect." The Wizard said.

"Agreed." Tom said, "We'll wait for the flight to break up and spread out to cover ground. Then we ambush one of them."