Monday, November 28, 2011

H:tV Bowen's journal 10/11/56

Angels and ministers of grace defend us! I’ve been in my first fire fight. I should probably knock on wood or throw some salt on a mirror or something, but I did pretty well. At first I choked, and I was even surprised that my gun was in my hand. I guess all that practice with Torsten really did take. Of all the people I’ve been tutored or instructed by, the old Swede was the best, and I miss him greatly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ve discovered two things. One: that there are dark things in this dark world. Two: I am one of those dark things.

The Russian is missing. Gone. Poof. Like a puff of smoke. When the Doc pushed Andray’s captain on details, we got nothing but a bum rush out the front door, hats and coats be-damned. Maybe we’ll find him in a couple of days at some German whore house, although I get the impression he isn’t the type. I have a feeling something more sinister has happened. Whether it’s linked to the eyeless, skinless bum, I have no idea. Worse, we’ve lost our safe passage into the Russian quarter, which means that my dream of running cigarettes and whiskey in, and vodka out will require heavy revision.

Without any concrete leads, either on the Russian, the eyeless bum, or safe passage, the Doc decided it was time to get some more information on the only thing we had: the Sanskrit message. There’s an expert at the Museum fur Naturkunde, so we made our way in that direction. That actually proved to be a good move all around, as I ran into a guard just getting off the night shift, Whats-his-name Malarkey. It might be Jim, or Sean or something. I don’t recall, and I’m never good with names. Malarkey was pretty memorable as an ironic name for such a serious guy. I got the immediate sense that he knew something, and he seemed like he knew how to handle himself. Two things that are definitely good for what we’re doing. I must have convinced him or something because he gave me his address before he headed off, and that may have made the difference between writing this journal and having someone else write my obituary.

I started shaking pretty badly after that, Mr. Jones was visiting with a fury, and it was well past time for me to figure out a backup plan. Doc wanted a root beer, and Pips is always up for a drink, and so am I if Pips is paying. I’d heard of a place where I might be able to make a connection, and luck was with me. Der Falcon was the guy’s nom de guerre, and he was charging an outrageous amount, but this is Berlin, and everything is outrageous, not just the French accents. I made a potential deal for a larger purchase which should keep me going for three months, and maybe I can track back to Der Falcon’s supplier. That could beneficial, dangerous, or both.

Der Falcon also provided me with a potential safe conduct contact, an MP named O’Hara at Checkpoint Delta. Turns out O’Hara is a tough-as-nails woman, and I certainly wouldn’t want to cross her. She was on duty, so we arranged to meet at the Eagle and Talon after her shift.

This is when my poor memory kicked out, and I told the others about a murder suicide that I’d read about in the American quarter. Some soldier had killed his wife and then himself. I’m not certain why it grabbed my attention at the time, but with nothing better to do, we headed in that direction.

Thank whatever benevolent gods there are for the Doc. It’s just not in his nature to adhere to most societal norms, and sometimes that’s a detriment, but when it comes to barging into a crime scene, almost no one stops him. He looks like he knows what he’s doing, and he looks like he belongs, and plain clothes usually says “higher rank.” I couldn’t pull it off, at least not yet, but so far it’s gotten us further than almost anything else. This clearly wasn’t a murder-suicide. Doc did his Sherlock Holmes thing, and I questioned the officer still at the scene while Pips kept watch. We got lots of information, but the best part was Pips. Some groundskeeper had caught his attention, and he’d tried to talk to him. The guy clearly knew something, but wasn’t giving it up easy. When Doc and I came down, Pip pointed him out to me, and then we did a little play acting where I pretended to hit Pips and Pips took it like a champ, selling it all the way.

That’s how we learned about the Well Dressed Man. He was there about the time the murder-suicide went down, definitely out of place, especially in his new silver Porsche.

Another lead.  And a potential car for me. I have a feeling this isn’t the kind of “discussion” that is going to take place reasonably. The guy may have killed Heinrich the bum, as well as this American soldier and his wife. He’s dangerous and isn’t likely to just turn himself over and answer all our questions while sipping tea. That means violence, and that also means, if we survive, a “free” car, perhaps some other resources.

By this point, it was time to head over to the Eagle and Talon, and O’Hara was waiting for us. She seems like a good sort (good by my definition), and capable. We made a quick deal, shook, and my dream of financing us with some initial crates of cigarettes and bottles of booze is back on the table. She also might be able to get me Vicodin for far less than Der Falcon, but that remains to be seen. If it’s real enough, we might even forego the cigs and whatnot and go straight for the higher priced grease.

I’m not exactly sure when, but at some point Pip made a squeal about getting his hands on a gun. Not wanting another repeat of bailing Pip out of jail for his gunplay, I loaned him one of mine sans clip and bullets. He kept on about needing a gun, after the German police took his. Apparently, they frown on shooting people, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, even if those people are homeless bums. So yeah, I loaned him one of mine, but no bullets, no clip, and no stops off at the store to get some. That was two mistakes all wrapped into one. No, it was three mistakes, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

My god, this was the day that just wouldn’t end.

By mid-afternoon, we were at the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (German DMV), and Doc managed to talk his way into their records. Mein Got!, but they have a lot of records, and if it wasn’t for my years of trying to do nothing, with reading being only slightly more effort than nothing, it might have taken a leap year to get through all of them. But the Doc and I set to it with a vengeance, and we knocked one right out of the park, finding the Well Dressed Man, and also finding out that the same bums who rolled our dear Pips had also spoken with Porsche driver.

That meant Pips was likely to see his friends in the French Quarter again. But knowing what we knew, I strongly suggested we go see if Malarkey was up for this. I don’t think it’s possible to have too much muscle. It wasn’t easy to convince him, even though he’d caught glimpses, but the money is a motive with a universal adapter. God how I miss money! I think the majority of these operations would be about a thousand times easier if I had even a tenth of my father’s fortune.

With Malarkey now in tow, the Doc, Pips and I headed into the French Quarter. It wasn’t hard to find the bums, they were in roughly the same place, and doing the same thing. Malarkey and I approached cautiously, with Doc under strict instructions. Things went decently, until I pushed too hard, and then they broke. We were in a fight for our lives, and these bums seemed to have supernatural strength and absolutely no fear whatsoever. I mean Malarkey and I both pulled guns, and they didn’t even miss a beat.

I did. I didn’t exactly choke, but I made the mistake of thinking they could be stopped by the threat of violence. But Torsten always told me that if I pulled my guns I should shoot, not talk. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So here was my first mistake, I gave up one of my guns before a potential fight. I’m not very good at a great many things, life in general being at the top of the list. But one of the things I am good at is shooting. Being trained by a World Champion helped put a razor edge on that ability. It’s no brag to say that out of everyone in that fight, two guns in my hands would have ended things a great deal sooner. My second mistake, after giving up one of my guns was giving an unloaded weapon to Pips. He knows how to shoot, and giving him an expensive paperweight was a real mistake. I had reasons, but I knew that we might see violence, and I should have rectified the loaned gun one way or the other.

We won, but we I’m pretty certain we all bled too. The Doc was really banged up, so I grabbed him. Malarkey was solid enough, and he grabbed one of the unconscious bums. As the sirens started getting closer, we got the hell outta of Dodge, and made it to Pips place for some quick medical action.

This is where I made my third mistake. With everyone safe and sound, and the immediate emergency over, I realized I was better capable of defending myself, Doc and the rest if I had both of my guns. Maybe we would see more action, or maybe we wouldn’t, but I wanted my gun back. Pips refused, and then things got heated.

So much has been taken from me. My mother, my father, my home, my money, my life. Pretty much everything that I was or thought that I was. Everything I had, or thought I had. It’s gone. It’s all gone. I’m a collection of bad habits held together by an addiction and semi-disgraced professor. Of all the things I have, that connect me to my past, and that haven’t been taken away, these guns were not going to be among them. They were gifts from the man who taught me to use them, the man who saw something in me that was worthwhile. I wasted most of that, but not all of it, and if his gift and his knowledge can make the world a little better, a little brighter . . . 

I tried to talk to Pips, but he wasn’t having it. I don’t know where his head was, but my words had no effect at all. Malarkey must have understood. Just as things got heated, he walked over and clocked Pips a good one. If I had gotten the gun from him then, it would have been at an end, but the Resistance fighter was tough. He’s tougher than me, that’s for certain. We traded a couple punches, and I knew immediately it wouldn’t end well for me if it went on that way. I don’t recall the gun coming into my hand, but I recall exactly that I was ready to use it. I wasn’t beyond reason, I wasn’t going to kill Pips, but he wasn’t going to keep the gun a minute more. He made the decision for me when he pulled that wicked knife of his. I shot him. Shot him in the leg. He went down like a sack of flour. He was still conscious when I took my gun back from him, and I don’t regret it for a moment.

I feel bad it came to that. It’s really bad that we’ll be down a man at full strength for a week or three. But no one is going to take these guns from me.

No one.

Not while I’m alive.

Friday, November 25, 2011

H:tV Bowen's first journal entry 10/10/56

            My own allies are something of a mess as well. Consider who is writing this journal and you’ll understand just how thick the pudding is. I’ve already mentioned the Doc, and yeah, he’s great. Really swell. Picked me up, dusted me off, and saved me from some flop-house knife fight. I can stay in the Free University, continue my research and so forth so long as I help him out. Usually, not a problem, but the old boy seems to have a few lights off in his attic. When it comes to the . . . occult, for lack of a better word, he’s sword-sharp. But society in general, not so much.
            I really like to French guy, Pips. He seems to live up to the stereotype of freedom loving Resistance fighter, both the good and the bad. There’s a kind of dark romance to him of cigarettes and wine and beautiful women loved, lost but never forgotten. The other problem is that, like any Resistance member, he’s inquisitive, but not forthcoming. He asks A LOT of questions, but doesn’t give anything back. Nothing. He’s always asking us to go have a smoke with him, which seems to be French for “give you the third degree.” I don’t mind smoking his cigs, but it does get annoying. You’d think the Russian, as a detective, would ask all the questions, and the Frenchman would tell all the stories! He has little fear, but sometimes I wonder if the war didn’t rattle his noggin’ like the Doc’s?! This weekend, without telling anyone, he went over to the French Sector, apparently to question some street bums, and ended up getting bum-rolled himself! He’s lucky they didn’t kill him, and even more lucky that he didn’t do anything that would lead the police to start looking at our little group!
            Our group. That’s a gas and a tickle. The Doc pulled us together, but I wonder half the time if anyone even thinks of us AS a group except him. I don’t. I remember him telling us all that we have a primary goal and a primary means. The goal is to investigate the strange, the weird, the occult, but to do that we have to stay focused on the MEANS, making connections and running “goods” and “services” across the various sectors. Whiskey to the Russians, Vodka to the Americans, cigarettes to everyone.
            The Russian is the worst in this regard. Adrev, or Andray, or something. You can barely understand him half the time with his accent from “Muddah Russia”. I really, really like having him at my back, or my front. Wherever the bullets and the blood are, I want him standing between me and it. But he’s dismissive of everyone else in the group if they don’t help his immediate concerns. If you weren’t in the war, or in the war the way he was, then you have even less worth. Yeah, he’s big, and tough, and capable, but for all that he’s far too single-minded. He can’t seem to remember that there is a lot going on, and we should really be working together, or at least not whipping out our dicks at every intersection to see how they measure up. Does he really think we can run this operation on a detective’s salary? A professor’s salary? The pocket change we find in couch cushions?
            Last week, he got called in on a “strange” murder. Some bum skinned in an alley. Lost his eyes too. Gruesome business. Grisly. Disturbing. But the RUSSIAN. He’s there to investigate. ORDERED to investigate, but he can’t get anyone past the other Russian police except the Doc, leaving the rest of us to cool our heels. It worked out, because I made a contact with a Russian tobacconist willing to pay, and pay pretty, along with some good Vodka, for some American cigs. Then the big Russian comes stomping in like an idiot and nearly blows the deal.
            We need the money. NEED it. Not just one shot of funding, but a regular income, more than we could get legally. This could be the start we need, and that big bastard is all, “Vot eez das? Get in cah, kid.” I don’t tell him how to do police work. Does he even think before he cracks that square jaw?
            I guess we’ll see how things go from here. Right now, I have other concerns. I have to deliver on the cigs which means finding an American to either buy or steal from. If I can buy at a bulk discounter, maybe I can make a deal with the Vodka, but that would mean something on credit. I’m too new to all this, and our “petty cash” seems more like “petty change”. I have to keep away from all the eyes. I know they’re there, and they aren’t some drug-induced paranoia.
           I hope that everything comes together, instead of crashing down on our          heads. There are eyes watching us, and I’m not talking about the occupation forces. Something sinister is going on in Berlin. Something bigger than just the powder-keg politics of this place. If either of these go up, we might get caught in the explosion, and then everyone is going home. In a body bag.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

H:tV Andrei Baev's journal September 10th, 1956

I've kept a journal for months now, but things have gotten interesting, more to write about other than the odd, "Find criminal" or "Caught criminal" or "Investigating Currently" notes that I just jot down. Or the odd reminder note during an investigation to contact someone. I'm gonna break it down by the hour, because mechanically it produces a more effective method. My wife, Elizabeth Noel. My son, Afanasi Baev. The Immortal Storyteller. My daughter, Arina Baev. Peaceful Storyteller. I hope you both witness a new world. A free world, where tyrrany doesn't rule the people of the Motherland. Marx wanted a country where the country supported it's people, made them work in unison to produce a powerful force. I can already see that Stalinism is creating a society that forces it's people to work like dogs and be fed the same shit that the rats gnaw on.

What I do, I do for you my loves. My job pays well, the job you don't know I have. An informant for the Russian mob on police activities for the Russian Police. A Gun-Smuggler. And now, I've been hired by a crazy old man who claims there are 'lycanthropes' whatever that means in the Black Forest.

Here was my day:

5:30am - Wake up, stretch out, work out.

6:30am - Shower, Shave, Shit.

8:00am - Walk into office, get a call from врач. The Doctor. He said he wanted to talk about things, needed some eyes to spare his the, and I quote, "Useless boring shit that you do everyday." Such a polite man, I see. We set up a meeting for 1:00pm.

10:30am - I get a call from Boris. He wants information regarding police activity on Кровь Сербии, or the Blood of Serbia. They were a western expansion from the head core of the Russian Mafia. And tended to leave messes for me to clean up. I informed him that he should probably stay quiet in Pankow, the sector that I lived in. He should also dispose of the body in the most effective way possible.

12:00pm - I eat lunch. It's something with less meat, which I'm not accustomed too. It's a Salad. My wife made it for me.

1:00pm - I meet up with the Doctor, he called me from the station and told me to bring Jacques in, he was interested in some paper that he wrote on an incident he had while fighting the germans during the war. Patches, I call him. After all, the eye is the hardest spot to hit on the human body. And he was somehow able to get something in there deep enough to fuck it up. Idiot. During our conversation we decide to team up, I agree to be an investigator and supply arms in order to fund this crazy mans investigations. But who knows? Maybe there's something too this. Maybe we'll discover something to change the world...
... Maybe I'm just further enabling this man's delusions.

1:15pm - I get a call from the office, apparently there's a body in an alleyway. Fucking mafia.

1:30pm - It's not the mafia, it's something else, as I come into the alleway the man is up against the wall with some sort of sanskrit drawn around him. His skin has been flayed away from around his chest, rather like a sweater-vest. His eyes have been carefully removed, my guess is to not damage him. Apparently, he was found originally in the french quarter. But he's Russian. 

Something's off.

2:30pm - We finish investigating what amounted to a dead in, and drag the druggie... I forget his name, but he's American. He's got charm, and I bet he wracks in the ladies and whatever diseases they carry. He split up afterward and I'm dropped off at a hole-in-the-wall by the name 'Black'. Simple, straight to the point, and hiding more than it's fair share of criminals. I meet with Boris there. We discuss a firearms trade. An Kalishnakov for a box of twenty year old whiskey. I buy him a bottle after he tells me that he knows an organization by the name of 'Parliment' and head off for the French District.

4:00pm - I show my ID and tell the border patrol my business in france occupied germany. They let me pass, but I feel eyes on the back of my head.

5:00pm - I ask my way around town, and wind up in a rather shitty part of the French area. Figures, the germans humiliate them and they take it out on the honest public. I run into Patches coming back with a few scrapes and bruises. He lost to homeless men. Honestly, the man has no balls. I'll see to it that those homeless men talk. With, or without their tongues. After all they need hands to write. But I suppose I could take a few hands too and leave the tongues. There are four of them, so he says. Four hands, two tongues. Sounds like a fair trade.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HtV Character backstory: John Malarkey

John Malarkey lied about his age in 1943 (then sixteen) to fight for the Allies in World War II. 

In his company, he was known for never enduring a serious wound (fortunate but shameful), and for having the most time spent on the front line (unfortunate but praiseworthy). During demobilization, he wound up stationed in Hamburg, Germany. 

On May 18, 1945, just three weeks after Adolph Hitler committed suicide, a group of Malarkey’s disgruntled allies attempted to break into a wealthy German residence in Hamburg to pilfer a collection of fine German whiskeys. Malarkey happened to be at the scene, and turned back the group, many of whom were already intoxicated. The house’s owner was Alfred Lidenbrock, a linguistics professor of the University of Hamburg, a teacher of German and English literature, and a scholar of the Latin language. Out of gratitude, Lidenbrock invited Malarkey inside for dinner. That was the finest meal he’d had since 1943, and he sipped fine German whiskey with it. He called that “the biggest irony to date.”

At that dinner, Malarkey also met Lidenbrock’s daughter, Grauben, and spent most mornings of the following two weeks with her on the Hamburg wharfs. 

At the end of May, Malarkey’s company was moved to Frankfurt and out of the British occupation zone. After being restationed, he kept up correspondence with both Alfred and Grauben Lidenbrock, and left post on several occasions to visit Hamburg. Lidenbrock rekindled in Malarkey an old interest of language and literature. Malarkey learned some German during this time, but learned much more about composition.

This was the arrangement for many months. Like most others, Malarkey didn’t have enough points to return home immediately. Allied forces grew impatient and angry; Malarkey was content to stay in the company of the Lidenbrocks.

He was discharged and returned home to Pennsylvania in November of 1945. His correspondence with the Lidenbrocks did not end. Malarkey was met with an enthusiastic family welcome and began working at a paper mill near Allentown. He then struggled to enter a university, but found family and work soaking up most of his time. The free time he did have was spent reading, learning German, and studying Latin.

“It was all paper, back then,” he wrote at one point. “Get up at six. Get to the mill before seven. Pat and bag for eight hours, all paper. Go home, write a letter to Professor Lidenbrock, write a letter to my Grauben. Then it’d be dinner and books; pages in front of my face again. Somewhere in there I’d be helping my father with this or with that. But all the rest was paper.”

By 1948, Malarkey was feeling quite trapped. Lidenbrock began to pry into Malarkey’s mind through their letters, and found him wanting to leave home. The professor offered him a deal:
Malarkey would move to Hamburg and work for the professor in exchange for room & board. In the meantime, Lidenbrock would try to get Malarkey accepted to the University of Hamburg. Malarkey took the deal with little hesitation.

In October of 1948, Malarkey moved back to Germany. He called that “the biggest irony to date.”
By 1952, Malarkey was fluent in German, and in spring received his degree in Linguistics. In winter of 1953, he and Grauben were married, and moved into their own residence in Hamburg. After earning his degree, Malarkey struggled to find a job in Germany’s ruined economy. He ended up working for the linguistics department of the university, and had no complaints.

In the holiday season of 1955, Malarkey was approached by Wolfgang Crome, the newly appointed curator for arachnids & myriapods at the Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin. Crome had heard of him through Alfred Lidenbrock, and requested that he come work as night-watch at the museum – for a very generous pay. Feeling pressure to provide for his wife and the baby in her belly, Malarkey accepted the offer. They moved together to western Berlin.

During the meeting, Wolfgang Crome inquired about Malarkey’s military training and expertise. Malarkey was disturbed by this questioning.

On his first night of work, Malarkey found himself equipped with an old Karabiner 98K, a German bolt-action rifle widely used in World War II. He thought this strange, nearly offensive, but was assured that it was based in tradition. Malarkey detests the rifle because of its use by so many hostile Germans during the war, and because he does not understand the bolt-action function. He was also equipped with a belt and a holster with a Walther P38, the design of which he admires. 

There he was, living in Berlin and holding a German rifle. He called that “the biggest irony to date.”

Malarkey finds the Museum fur Naturkunde extremely eerie during the night. He becomes grateful for the pistol at his side, and ashamed that he would allow himself so much wild imagination. It sometimes seems as if somebody else occupies the empty halls of the museum at night, and Malarkey is relieved by the end of every shift.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

HtV Character Backstory Jaques (Pip) Dupree

The Monsters of War (summaries of chapters from Pip's published Book)
       By Jacques Dupree

Chapter One: 1939 the Start of WW2
       The First Great War meant as little to me as school and the law enforcers of Lyon. My parents didn't do anything wrong, I was just the oldest of six boys which meant I was left to handle my self while our mom concentrated on my younger brothers, Pop was never around always working never making a difference. I started slipping in school after a few fights, most of them were protecting my little brothers, eventually I said screw it and dropped out. From there it was a never-ending drunken party and test drive on a few drugs, but nothing gave me the high or the thrill like a fight. I started hanging with some real tough bastards and we would get into turf fight after turf fight, we controlled at least ten square blocks of Lyon just the four of us.
When the Checks and Berlin were invaded my parents started to get worried and when Britain and France declared war in 1939 they had prepared to send my brothers to America to live with our Uncle, They gave me a choice stay or go. I decided to go with them, the only thing that kept me fighting was their safety and I couldn’t protect them if they were in the US and I wasn't.

Chapter Two: 1940 New Life in America
        My Uncle owned a farm in Georgia and he put me to work the next day. My uncle was more of a father than my Pop, he helped in my troubled teenage years and we started to go to a Catholic church every Sunday. In the end it was my Uncle who helped me in making the decision to join the Army, after living in the US for a year and attaining my citizenship. I joined in February of 1940 a few months after I turned eighteen. When they asked what job I wanted I half considered putting down on the form "Ass Kicker" but I went with Journalist instead. They had me shipped to boot camp two weeks later. Although America was calming peace and did not want to join the Second Great war but from what I could tell in my training everyone had an idea about what was going to happen in the next few years, they just needed a reason. Now I'd like to say that it was the occupation of America's ally, France, that sent the country into outrage and demanded war but the country hardly even noticed, sure it was on the news papers in one of the many pages but did anyone care, no, just another monster of war.

Chapter Three: 1941 Pearl Harbor, America's reason.
       The events of Pearl Harbor was a sad one across the country, I could understand the haltered as I lost my whole country, different Monster same pain. Just like a holy miracle every one in the country felt the need to fight, people were turning their home business into factories of war, men were enlisting so much that I was promoted to squad leader just so we could train them all. The only problem was there was a great chance that I wouldn’t even be on the same continent of my home country. After brief month of training with my new squad we got our orders to move out, our ship was in Ney York, that was good news. As soon as I met my commander and got my squad in their bunks, we were briefed and told that The 1st Infantry Division was headed to Beaminster of South-west England.

Chapter Four: On the path to War

1942 August 1st
I've been in the American Army for a year now, as a French immigrant and a Journalist I'm the fist to make Corporal this fast. I'm sitting on the S.S. Jefferson the boys call it the S.S. shoot em' up.  The 1st Infantry Division, The fighting first, the Big Red One as some call us thanks to the badge, I had trained with these guys, drank, fraught, had all kinds of fun, but I also know that I might end up dying with them. The ocean was calm for us, paving the way to save Europe from the claws of the Monster of War. Some guys were nervous, some were just kids, probably lied to get in, not that his commanding officer would care to check just another kid's life for the country's safety, no one cared that he might have a family or a girlfriend, they just gave him a rifle taught him how to not shoot off his own foot and sent him on his way to War.

1942 October 20th
We'll hit port soon, the guys have been restless, some say they can't wait to hit a pub or try and seduce the local women, animals, but aren't we all. The commanders are to be briefed on our destination; I pray they will send us to France.

1942 October 21st
We make port and the Commanders tell us we can stretch our legs and have a good night but be back strictly at 2200 and ready to go in the morning at 0500. The English really know how to make their Ale, and how to fight. That night me and the squad had a nice night out drinking but something about me always gets me in a fight and the fact that I was at war or in a country I didn't know anything about didn't matter. My squad and me got in a little scuffle and some damage was done but the worst we got was clearing duty for the whole ship. Worst yet I find out we are headed for the French territory of North Africa. We set sail in a few months, after training with the Brits; even I must say the term "dough boy" has its humor. "At least we got a warm up fight" was they only thing I could tell my squad while we cleaned and passed a bottle of whiskey around.

Chapter Five: Operation Torch
        The German control of Europe's main land and the Italian control of the Mediterranean made a full-blown assault on Europe just short of impossible. So the Brits have come up with a plan for a three-pronged attack into German controlled territory in North Africa, if we are successful this could help regain naval superiority and cut their supplies.
        The First Infantry Division, The First Armored Division, and 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, we were the Central Task Force led by Major General Lloyd Fredendall and pulled into II Corps. We called ourselves the Firsts, on account that including my division and the armor division the 509th were the first parachute regiment, and we were the first to land.
1942 November 8th, Oran
        Its a cold morning and the sun hasn't even come up yet, the salt water chops up in waves and hits us from time to time just to remind us how cold it is. I sat there cold and wet smoking maybe my last cigarette, holding my M1 Carbine. Some of the boys are excited, some don't know why they enlisted in the first place, I kept my cool. As the commander of my squad I can't show any weakness, truth be told, I was scared shitless, but I was ready to kill me some Nazis.
        The sarge hollered at me " when we get on the beach stay on the Ranger Battalions ass and cover their flanks while" and suddenly the SCV lurched forward and stopped, we must of hit a sand bar. The metal landing way fell down into the water, but I knew better I jumped off the side and my squad followed. The water wasn't so called anymore not after being shot at from five different directions, the rangers were on the move and I knew my battalion had a job to do. So we headed for the beach screaming, "Fire" and the top of my lungs, a rage of gun blasts fired back and forth. I remembered my training the first task was done, shoot back, the next thing was to find cover. The sand bar was pretty high enough for the water to stop at my knees, so I ordered my squad to get behind the SCV, we sat there for an unknown amount of time, just firing blindly at what ever was shooting at us, until the gunners nest stopped firing in our direction. I knew that meant one thing, they must have noticed the rangers and it was our job to make sure they could get close enough to take out the gunners, I without saying a word rushed up to the beach my squad following right behind, I grabbed a grenade and chuck it has far as I could towards the nest and dived down were body of our comrades lay the squad did the same. A second later and a load boom came just near the nest and they began firing back at the SCV we used for cover, I got up and shouted a war cry and opened fire on the nest, being closer than were I was I had a better shot and a hail of lead from five riles can really do some damage. We nailed one but the rest ducked beyond our line of sight, good thing too, we had no cover at the time, but I knew it was only a matter of seconds before another nest noticed us so we rushed for the hill the nest were set on. We were safe from gunfire for now only a fraction of what was set on the beach, made it to the wall. I made a head count of my squad, only four of us made it. I found a few broken up squads but no sarge, I rallied what soldiers I could and headed for the west hillside to giver better fire support to the Rangers. "All right Firsts this is our time to show the rest of the world what we got, I've never lost a fight and I don't expect to loose this one. We need to get to that hill and cover the Rangers so they can clear the way for the Armor, lets go, spread out, keep your heads low, and fire back when you can" It was a long rush to the top of the hill, right before we darted I told my soldiers to throw any grenades you have at the nests to gives us some momentary cover. Once we got to the hill I could see were the rangers had moved out and around to their flank, we kept fire on the nests and used whatever cover was around us. This continued for hours but we finally made it through, all the nest gone.
        I was shocked and appalled at what we had been fighting; I met up with the sarge of the Ranger's Battalion, our new commander, and settled into the holding tent of the captured. They were French; we've been fighting the French the whole time, when I thought they were Nazis. The sarge asked for me to translate.
        As it was after German occupied France a new political power called the French State or the Vichy French, named after the Prime minister, collaborated with the Axis powers after the take over.
         I wanted to beat the living shit out of every one of these traders, but I had to be contempt with only one. I "interrogated" one of the Vichy French commanders, even when we look at ourselves we find another Monster of War.

Monday, November 21, 2011

HtV Character Backstories Marshall Bowen Forest III

  • Marshall Bowen Forest III has a particular dislike for his given name. Perhaps it was the fact that his father always introduced him using every syllable as if it added additional weight and lineage to what was essentially a “new money” family. Or perhaps it was the fact that while his father was named Marshall Forest, there was no grandfather who held either of those names. In fact, there was no grandfather on either side, as Marshall Forest II was an orphan. A bastard child, most likely of a young prostitute, too poor or too uncaring to keep the child fathered on her by a nameless sailor or travelling salesman. But most likely, it was the fact that while his father had worked for the small fortune he’s amassed, he had never actually gotten to know his son.

    The elder Forest had made shrewd investments in hand-held power tools, first supplying the American Army Corps of Engineers during the fighting, and then major public works projects in during the reconstruction, in addition to the thousands of “craftsmen” and “do-it-yourselfers” that sprang up during the post-war boom. This created a life of luxury for the Forest family, providing maids and servants for the peasant-looking Maude Forest, a row of factories accountants to increase the wealth, and the ability for both parents to relegate their only child into the care of professionals. Professionals who, at best, could claim to be fond of their charge, but no more so than the child of any given neighbor.

    As a consequence of both his father’s money and his father’s influence, the only child and heir to the not-insubstantial fortune, was able to leave distant parents, professional tutors, and his pretentious-sounding name behind when he went first to preparatory school and then to university. He made a point of never identifying himself by anything but his middle name, and so those who didn’t know him well enough, which was nearly everyone, were at a loss as to whether Bowen was his first or last name. This slight air of mystery and confusion pleased Bowen, though he could not have said why, and he was too lazy to delve deeper into the emotion.

    Laziness was practically the defining term for Bowen’s life, and permeated nearly everything he did. His father’s money had allowed him to develop his talents in any arena he desired, and to date he had little desire whatsoever. He had proficiency for the use of pistols and revolvers, and under the tutelage of Swedish champion Torsten Ullman, he had shown great promise. But that promise was never fulfilled. Ullman found the boy more than capable, but unwilling to actually compete and hone his craft to perfection.

    He was too young to even consider joining the services when Germany and Japan declared war across the world, and his father would never have risked the heir apparent to his growing empire. As such, he was too young to know better while he was in school, and when he did know better, the war was already rounding out. Bowen did not particularly regret being caught in the middle of not-quite-but-almost as some of his schoolmates. Their lust for glory on the distant battlefields held no infectious joy for him.
  • Shortly before his graduation with mediocre standing from preparatory school, Bowen’s mother died. There was nothing overly dramatic or traumatic about her passing, but while he stood next to his father at the gravesite, remarking on how the warmth of the sun caused a bead of sweat to run down the middle of his back every few minutes, he realized that he had no love for either parent. They were blood-related only by chance and social structure. What little emotional impact he felt for his mother’s passing was based on the realization that he, too, someday would be planted into the ground. Bowen saw that life was short, and resolved to see just how far his father’s money could take him.

    His father, ever the businessman, had practically called a meeting shortly after the conclusion of his wife’s funeral. Bowen had sad in a hard, leather-bound chair while his father laid out the groundwork for their future association. Bowen could attend the college of his choice, and would be granted living expenses, tuition, and an entertainment stipend provided he maintained a degree path and showed results. The elder Forest didn’t so much care what his son studied, only that the university be a recognized institution, and that degree be socially respectable. Something he could mention over cocktails and boardroom meetings. Quarterly reports (he actually used the term reports, rather than letters or correspondence) would be submitted, and funding would be contingent upon success. In order to further Bowen’s understanding of economics, the funds would be placed into a private bank account.

    Bowen couldn’t have been more pleased by the arrangement.

    For the first time in his life he would be free of tutors, professionals, hirelings, and headmasters. Much to his surprise, he found university life greatly to his liking. He could select classes based on his own schedule and lifestyle, he could attend lectures that caught his fancy, and he could make his own living arrangements in any fashion he liked. He quickly sought out what he thought was the easiest path to maintaining this arrangement and pursued a liberal arts degree in Medieval history.

    Unconsciously, or perhaps subconsciously, Bowen filled his social life with individuals who similar to those he had from his youth: professionals and associates paid for their time. His “group” was greatly interested in the joys of the night, and his dalliances with women were distractions that never lasted from one season to the next. He frequented jazz clubs, danced and drank through the twilight hours, and staggered through his classes with as little effort as he could manage, and still maintain his revenue stream.

    This, then, was the good life. It was also a course for disaster.

    Bowen enjoyed drinking and buying drinks. He enjoyed smoking, and the process which surrounded tobacco. He was then introduced to “harder” elements of distraction, starting with marijuana and other assorted narcotics and leading up to the hydrocodone-based Vicodin.

    Vicodin was not a harsh mistress by any means. It was a tender embrace of warmth and distance that Bowen found suited him. He could much more easily enjoy the slowing of time and of cares after a tablet or two, whether he was out at a jazz club, or self-imposed into a lecture hall. But as weeks and semesters passed, he found his tolerance for the drug increased and the inevitable decline into addiction began. He managed to receive an unremarkable degree, and eked into a graduate study program, but nipping at his heels, and catching quickly, was the greater and greater dependence on his drug of choice. If not for the sudden death of his father, Vicodin might have spelled disaster for Bowen.

    Bowen discovered that his father had died not via telegram from the company, the board or anyone else. Instead, he found out when he attempted to make a withdrawal from his bank account and found it bone dry. The bank manager, happy to oblige such an esteemed customer, made inquiries and discovered that Marshall Forest II had died of a stress-induced heart attack nearly six weeks prior.

    Uncharacteristically, no will or other legal documents regarding the various businesses, fortunes, or properties of the elder Forest were found. Instead, the impressive empire the orphan-child had built over his lifetime seemed to disintegrate over night. Telegrams and wire messages were unanswered. Phone calls dead-ended with disconnections and unknown numbers. Travel home was well out of Bowen’s financial ability, and he was effectively trapped.

    That’s when the package arrived. It was addressed to Bowen in a harsh, heavy script that at first Bowen didn’t recognize. As he unwrapped the plain brown paper, he found a note addressed to him from his mother. His mother, who had been dead for more years than he could remember, and yet there was no yellowing of the paper, or signs of years of wear. Inside, he found a first edition copy of Johannes Nider’s “Formicarius”. The note was note was signed, but not addressed, and cryptically said, “They know me. They know him. This might save you.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hunter the Vigil

I'm not much of a writer when I'm not motivated (like most things in my life when I'm motivated I'm unstoppable, however when not ... ) to write.  How ever a few of my players have been.  Since I do want to blog a bit I thought I'd present you with the journal entries of my players for our Hunter game.  We've run three sessions in the Chronicle and we are still in the awakening phase of the chronicle, one think I asked them to do was build an heir in to their back story and journal so we could fast forward a generation after we sustained enough loses.  the chronicle is set in post WW2 Berlin (1956).  First up Character back stories.

Andrei Baev - Russia's Patriot

(This man stands at roughly 6'1". He's built sturdy, with enough muscle to give him strength without slowing down what appears to be a fair amount of physical dexterity. There's a hollowness in his Ice-blue eyes, and most people cannot stare into them too long. He's blonde, with his hair cut short in a typical military crew, and apparently he's growing the beginnings of a goatee. He wears what he likes to call 'american grease', a leather jacket over a white wifebeater. Jeans, and combat boots that seem to be old but still in rather fair condition cover him from the waist down. In a society that gives all it can to it's government, a society that for the most part lacks individuality, this man seems to hold on to whatever individuality he can. Although still in his youth, he shoes evidence of wrinkles and crows feet early on his face. A few silver strands also have sneaked their way into his hair. Obviously from stress.)

My father, Fyodr Baev, was a very large man. A very proud man. He viewed the previous regime of the Czar's to be a tyrranical one. One that cared only for the higher class, and catered to none other than them. So it was no surprise that Marx and his son's: Stalin and Lenin were icons to the soviet people. They preached an ideology that appealed to many, and my father fought proudly in the Revolution. So from the start, my family was baptized in Red. 

I was born shortly after the Motherland got her footing under the glorious hammer and sickle. The farmer's tools. March 13th, 1925 was my birthday. Friday. My parents said that I was unlucky, so they gave me my name: Andrei. It means warrior. My last name names story-teller. So I guess that means they wanted me to remember what happened during the second great war. My father, at the time, was a Starshina. A Junior Commander. I should state this now, but you should forgive me if I can't inform you about my mother. She left shortly after giving birth to me. All I know her as, is a whore. My father's words.

I grew up in Stalingrad, it was my home, my pride, and my heart. Despite the fact that my father had seen the outcome of this new regime would be no different than those of it's predecessors he still followed the communist party with his heart. As did I. When the treaty between the Fatherland and the Motherland was broken, and Leningrad was Seiged my father was called in to reinforce it and to evacuate any civilians left. I was 16 when my father was called into leningrad. He knew that the German Scum would push further in and in some twisted way, drafted me into the military. I loved the thought, I thought i'd be fighting for my country. To beat back those dogs back to the pound they came from only to slaughter them in their own houses. The filth needed to be put back into it's place.

I was put into accelerated training, which was fancy wording for: "We teach you how to shoot, live, and kill. Then throw you into company with more than four privets to one german soldier." I was given the PPD, F-1 Grenades, and designated as a Krasnoarmeyets. A red army man. I was put into the Bryansk Front which eventually changed to the 1st Ukranian Front as it penetrated into Berlin, and ignorant of the hell that I would witness. And eerily. The hell that I would grow accustomed too. After all, a Russian winter is cold. And there are two ways to stay warm: Vodka, and Hell.

The battles I participated in are many: Smolensk, El'nia, and Roslavl. The battles of Voronezh, the defensive operations on the approaches to Stalingrad, and in the December 1942 Operation Saturn, the follow-on to the encirclement of German 6th Army at Stalingrad where it destroyed Hungarian Second Army. During 1944, the front participated with other fronts in the battles of Korsun-Shevchenkivskyy, and the battle of Hube's Pocket in Ukraine. It conducted theLviv-Sandomierz Offensive, during which the Front was controlling the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army, 3rd Guards Tank Army, 4th Tank Army, 3rd Guards, 5th Guards, 13th, 38th, and 60th Armies. It then took part in the battle for Ternopil'. In 1945 the front participated in the Vistula-Oder offensive, and conducted the Silesian and Prague Operations, and the siege of Breslau. It also participated in the Berlin operations in Germany and Poland. The front also conducted the major part of the Halbe Encirclement, in which most of the German 9th Army was destroyed south of Berlin. By this time the Polish Second Army was operating as part of the Front. Finally 1st Ukrainian Front provided the defence against the counter-attacks by Armee Wenck which aimed to relieve Berlin and the 9th Army. It refers to the fronts that I was stationed in. Transfered too. For some reason, I was an unlucky enough bastard to always be at the front line. 

I was not left without my fair share of scars, but my father raised me to be big, strong, and keep on moving. My ear drum on the left side is perforated, so my hearing is shit. Not only that, I'm not for the big crowds. They make me uneasy, and remind me of the many dead and dying on the battlefield. The pain was large, and what I did was monsterous. I killed many fathers, sons, cousins, and nephews. Many Men, and Many boys. I also saw something that disturbed me. It was during the war, when, for some reason, my superior officer had me perform a strike operation with a number of other men from all different companies. This idea was so that the operation, if found out, could not be pegged on any one company and could not be definitively traced back to any special forces. 

We were going into a warehouse, Warehouse 17 in the industry district of Berlin. What we saw there, not only stained my mind, but gives me nightmares. 'Herr Doktors' there had been performing some sort of sick genetic testing, perhaps for some biological weapon, perhaps to create the 'Super Soldiers' that the mad dog of a Furher wished to create for his failing army. Some had fur, and looked more like dogs than men. Others, looked more like men than dogs. Their muscles were bigger than my thigh, I swear! And those that did not make it had been sliced up and put into large vats of green viscous liquid. I never saw anything else besides that, but since then, I've been watching the shadows, never allowing them to leave my sight.